Ivanka Trump is closing her fashion company
The company’s president announced on Tuesday that the Ivanka Trump brand is closing. The business of President Trump’s daughter has been the focus of conflicts of interest for many years.
AUDIE CORNISH, moderator:
The first daughter, Ivanka Trump, is closing her eponymous fashion brand. This has been the focus of attention since her father was elected to the White House. Ivanka Trump moved to Washington in early 2017. She became a senior presidential adviser. When she resigned from the management company, she still owned it. NPR’s Alina Selyukh comes here to tell the story of shoes, wallets and potential conflicts of interest. Hey, Alina (Laughter).
ALINA SELYUKH, BYLINE:
SELYUKH: Right. So Ivanka Trump said she is closing her fashion brand. She said that it has been 17 months in the Capitol. She is not sure when or if she can re-start her business. Therefore, she chose to focus on her work in Washington, and for her team and her partners, it is fair to let the company relax. They basically work through anything sold in department stores and online, and that’s it.
Cornish: Since Ivanka Trump joined her father as a White House consultant, do we know how the business is?
SELYUKH: The company is a private company, so we don’t have much detail. When President Trump took office, he and his family made this controversial decision. As you said, they have stepped down from managing their business, but they continue to profit from any profitable profits. They put their own economic interests in trust.
For example, President Trump himself placed his Grand Trump organization in trust. The company handles hotels and golf courses as well as the notorious Mar-a-Lago resort that the President calls the Winter White House. This is what Ivanka Trump did to her fashion brand. She put it in the trust, so she didn’t run it, but still own it. What we know is that in the first year of the White House, Ivanka Trump earned more than $5 million from the trust that controlled her brand.
CORNISH: We know that the Trump family business has been strictly scrutinized by ethics experts – right? – All these months. Is this considered a conflict of interest?
SELYUKH: Well, her brand has definitely received a lot of support from ethics experts. For example, during the campaign, Ivanka himself promoted the clothes she wore during the Republican convention. This is one thing. But when you become a White House official, the rules do change, and after Ivanka wears it on CBS “60 minutes,” her brand began selling in the early days, worth nearly $11,000.
You know, fashion bloggers and observers often skip any equipment worn by White House officials, or especially the equipment worn by the first family. In this case – in the case of Ivanka, this is her own brand, she profited from it. At the beginning of last year, Nordstrom removed Ivanka Trump products from the shelves, which is a big deal. They said that sales were not good. President Trump himself said on Twitter that his daughter was treated unfairly. Then another government official, White House consultant Kelly Ankang, continued Fox News and basically promoted Ivanka Trump’s brand.
(SOUNDBITE for archived records)
KELLYANNE CONWAY: This is a great route. I have some. I am completely – I want to give it – I want to give…
Unknown person: Good (laughter).
CONWAY: …free commercials. Let’s go buy it today.
Unknown person: (Laughter) Ok.
Conway: You can find it online.
SELYUKH: The Office of Government Ethics recommended an investigation at the time and may take disciplinary action against Conway. However, the White House said that Conway was “advised. This sentence is unintentional.”
CORNISH: Do these concerns really affect the decision to resolve the business?
SELYUKH: The company now does say that Ivanka no longer manages the brand and all the restrictions that White House employees have – all of which limit the brand’s ability to develop. But the company said the decision to close the brand has nothing to do with performance, and it is related to Ivanka’s decision to stay in Washington indefinitely.
Cornish: What is the next step for Ivanka Trump?
SELYUKH: Well, you know, she is a White House consultant. (Laughter) Her plate is full. She travels frequently and represents the White House. She accepted some policy initiatives. Recently, she has been encouraging companies to hire Americans and is promoting her new country, paid family holiday policy plan.
CORNISH: That is Alina Selyukh of NPR. Thank you.
SELYUKH: Thank you.