Since her father was elected president of the United States, global sales of Ivanka Trump merchandise have surged and the company has applied for at least nine new trademarks in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Canada and the US.
The commercial engine of the first daughter’s brand is stronger than ever even as she builds a new political career from her West Wing office
The brand, which Ivanka no longer manages but still owns, says distribution is growing. It has launched new active wear and affordable jewellery lines, and is working to expand its global intellectual property footprint. In addition to applying for the new trademarks, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC has won provisional approval from the Chinese government for four since the inauguration.
Using the prestige of government service to build a brand is not illegal. But criminal conflict-of-interest law prohibits federal officials, like Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, from participating in government matters that could impact their own financial interest or that of their spouses. Some argue that the more her business broadens its scope, the more it threatens to encroach on the ability of two trusted advisers to deliver credible counsel to the president on core issues like trade, intellectual property and the value of Chinese currency.
“Put the business on hold and stop trying to get trademarks while you’re in government,” advises Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under George W Bush.
“Ivanka has so many China ties and conflicts, yet she and Jared appear deeply involved in China contacts and policy. I would never have allowed it,” said Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama. “For their own sake, and the country’s, Ivanka and Jared should consider stepping away from China matters.”
Instead, the first daughter and her husband have emerged as prominent interlocutors with China, where they have both had significant business ties. Last year, Mr Kushner pursued hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate investments from Anbang Insurance Group, a financial conglomerate with close ties to the Chinese state. After media reports about the deal, talks were called off.