Just when you think Trump administration officials, especially those who share a bloodline with the President, can get away with anything – seemingly without any checks and balances – Ivanka Trump announces that she has decided to shut down her fashion company to pursue a career in public policy.
“When we first started this brand, no one could have predicted the success that we would achieve,” she said in a statement. “After 17 months in Washington, I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business, but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington, so making this decision now is the only fair outcome for my team and partners.”
She expressed gratitude to her employees: “While we will not continue our mission together, I know that each of them will thrive in their next chapter.” Some of them may well thrive in the future, but the reality is that all of Ivanka’s employees are being laid off in the present.
This decision is more than overdue. It was always a terrible idea for the President’s daughter to keep running a company that manufactured its products overseas while he was campaigning to restore American manufacturing – and one which profited from the widespread attention Ivanka Trump received, especially once she was working in the White House.
Her decision is truly surprising, considering how the President’s daughter has been able to run both her company and her White House role without any consequences despite raising bright red conflict-of-interest flags since stepping into Washington in her eponymous shoes, made with love in China.
Take, for example, her family’s dinner last year with the Chinese President and his family on the same day her company secured provisional approval for three new trademarks to sell the Ivanka Trump brand’s jewelry, bags and spa services in the world’s second-largest economy.
Though there is no direct evidence linking her trademark approval to the dinner or any other meeting with the Chinese government, the story is just one example of the very thin line the Trump White House is walking when it comes to maintaining its family businesses and not violating ethics laws.
And no one has better experience at the ethics dance than the President’s eldest daughter.
Ivanka Trump and her company have been tangled in controversy and criticism since she started wearing her own brand during interviews and speeches she gave while her father was still campaigning, and only intensified after Donald Trump became president and she took on an official role advising her father.
A source told CNN that although Ivanka’s company saw an initial increase in profits early last year after Trump came into office, profits have since declined. The brand was hit by boycotts and by her father’s own problems, including allegations of (and bragging about) abusing and assaulting women.
The line was even dropped by department chain Nordstrom, an event that prompted direct criticism on Twitter from the President himself and an eyebrow-raising booster statement on Fox to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff” from fellow White House adviser Kellyanne Conway. That statement did lead to a short-term boost in sales.
While it’s great that Ivanka Trump is finally beginning to act like she cares about the concept of ethics or violations, almost two years into her father’s presidency, the move is too little, too late.
Whatever may have prompted Ivanka Trump to close her company, her decision to remain in her father’s administration revives and intensifies many questions about her record while in the White House. While she has advocated for some family leave policies, she has largely failed to deliver on her pledges to move forward policies for women and children. She has stayed quiet during the crisis of detaining children and separating families at the US border (she broke her silence only to thank her father for ending his own administration’s disastrous policy).
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After all this, one can only ask: Why is Ivanka leaving her company now?
Maybe Daddy’s little girl decided that making America great again meant running a company that actually produces its products in America.