The Trump administration has thrown up more ethical concerns over the potential conflict between the Trump family's business empire and their role in the executive branch of the United States. President Trump is no stranger to the alleged ethical problems which can arise from being both a business mogul and the President of the United States, particularly in his dealings with China, which we have previously discussed here.
It is not the actions of Trump himself which has given rise to these concerns, rather the Chinese government in giving the preliminary approval to three trade marks for Ivanka Trump's namesake brand, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC. This approval was given whilst the Chinese President was in Florida for meetings with the Trump administration, including Ivanka Trump.The trade marks in question cover jewellery, bags and spa services, but another 32 are also pending with the Chinese administration.
Ivanka Trump still owns the brand but has placed the running of the business in the hands of family members via a trust. However, it is still the case that US law strictly prohibits government officials from handling any government matters which could enrich either their business or their spouses.
Ivanka Trump's lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, has come to her defence in pointing out that an official does not have to refrain from dealing with a foreign country in which they have a business interest just because that business interest has a pending trade mark application. She also said that, where appropriate, Ivanka will not be involved in situations which could give rise to appearance or impartiality concerns.
The approvals are still likely to cause concern amongst critics of the Trump administration. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit organisation focusing on public officials, announced that it would be bringing a law suit against President Trump for violations of the US Constitution and has stated that the trade marks granted to Trump were part of a wider list of violations. This is a further example of the Trump business empire causing controversy for the Trump administration and it does not appear that these issues will go away anytime soon.in: News, Trade Marks