Trump critics have long kept an eye on exactly how the various family businesses have fared since its patriarch assumed the presidency nearly a year and a half ago. This week, yet another member of the first family is facing scrutiny as her company continues to grow while its namesake lives and works in Washington. This time, it's first daughter and presidential advisor Ivanka Trump, whose company received several new Chinese trademarks this month.
According to multiple news outlets, Trump's company received approval for the additional trademarks just a few days before her father announced a plan to help bolster job growth for the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE. The proposed deal has received criticism from both Republicans and Democrats, who say that such a proposition risks compromising national security because some of the company's technology could be used for spying on American customers.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reported that Ivanka Trump's business trademarks were applied for in March 2017. According to CREW, the trademarks pertain to products like bath mats, textiles, and baby blankets. While the announcement does not indicate any wrongdoing, CREW described the news as a place for potential conflict of interest because of the role the first daughter has been playing as an unofficial U.S. diplomat to foreign powers, the most recent of which was to Israel. Ivanka Trump's company already reportedly holds over a dozen trademarks in China.
This is not the first time that Trump's company has received approval for Chinese trademarks since her father was elected. Huffington Post reported that her company received several Chinese trademark approvals shortly after she began working in the White House. In one instance, approval reportedly came on the same day that she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Again, it's important to underscore that Trump and her brand have not done anything wrong, despite the eyebrow-raising some critics are doing.
Outside of trademarks, this week's news isn't the first time that the Trump administration has received criticism for potentially bolstering Ivanka Trump's brand. Back in April, when the Trump administration proposed a series of tariffs that it wanted to see imposed against China, the internet erupted with cries of nepotism when it appeared to some that Ivanka Trump's brand had escaped additional financial burden. The list of goods on the tariff proposal included some electronics, aerospace, and machinery products, but notably didn't include clothing.
Although Ivanka Trump's company wasn't explicitly excluded, it was another situation that drew a level of concern from skeptics. The main concern then (and now) was whether or not Trump (and other family businesses) were going to benefit because of the family's work within the administration. As both a candidate and as president, Donald Trump has long riffed on the U.S.-China trade relationship, and has largely made altering it a recurring priority.
As for Ivanka Trump and her eponymous business, though they receive quite a bit of attention, it's important to remember that she chose to step down from company leadership after her father was elected president. Her husband, Jared Kushner, did the same thing with his own business dealings. Both Trump and Kushner did so after opting to join Donald Trump in the White House, where they work as special presidential advisers.
Donald Trump isn't the first president to trade business dealings for the Oval Office, but he and his children are virtually indistinguishable from the businesses that they lead or have led. The Trumps cannot work in or around the White House forever, and in several years will likely find themselves returning to the brands that they have spent their lives developing. That being said, it can be difficult to delineate how much thoughts of their future livelihood occupy the decisions they make the present.