Ivanka Trump can be an adviser in her father’s White House, but two Democratic senators say she shouldn’t be allowed to reap the benefits to her namesake fashion and accessories brand at the same time.
Senators Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Tom Carper (D., Del.) urged the U.S. Office of Government Ethics on Wednesday to layout which ethics rules Trump will need to follow in the event that she takes an official position in the administration of her father, President Donald Trump.
The senators pointed to media reports saying Ivanka Trump will “soon” become a presidential adviser, despite her remaining business interests and earlier claims by the White House that she would not become a formal employee, and noted that she’s previously expressed her intention to follow any and all ethics rules.
“Ms. Trump has substantial interests at stake: for example, she has retained ownership of Ivanka Trump Marks LLC, a retail clothing brand,” the senators said in their letter. “Ms. Trump’s increasing, albeit unspecified, White House role, her potential conflicts of interest, and her commitment to voluntarily comply with relevant ethics and conflicts of interest laws have resulted in substantial confusion.”
That confusion includes whether the White House has sought or received any formal ethics guidance on Trump’s role, which government officials determined that she would take on seemingly formal government responsibilities without being an official employee, and what laws exactly apply to her current and planned White House position.
The senators asked the Office of Government Ethics to answer these questions by April 13, along with a determination of whether Trump’s role is lawful and what disclosures, financial and otherwise, will be required should she become a formal White House advisor.
In the letter, Warren and Carper cited the Constitution in saying any employee of the executive branch “including those with positions in the White House” are prohibited from “participating in matters that have a direct impact on their personal and their family members’ financial interests.”
Trump’s husband, Jared Kushner, was recently named a senior adviser to Donald Trump, and also put in charge of the newly created Office of American Innovation, an agency aimed at improving “government operations” and job creation, according to the White House.
A White House representative could not be reached for comment.
The Ivanka Trump brand is also at the center of another ongoing ethics issue stemming from television remarks by counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, in which she gave a “free commercial” from the White House urging viewers of Fox & Friends to purchase from the “wonderful line.”
While the OEG has since said disciplinary action against Conway is likely warranted, the White House has argued the comments were inadvertent and made in a “light, off-hand manner.”
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