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Trump uses presidential power to criticize Nordstrom; an issue of ethics

Nordstrom drops Ivanka Trump's fashion line, her father tweets on personal account that it is "unfair"
Photo credit:
uspolitico.com

President Trump may have crossed some ethical business and presidential lines when he tweeted about his daughter’s line of clothing and accessories being dropped from Nordstrom.

The upscale department store said they dropped the first daughter’s line because of faltering sales.

In a tweet on the president's personal social media page, her dad came to her defense.

“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”

This may seem like a father trying to support his daughter, but some ethics questions have arisen because of his criticism.

Kathleen Clark, a government ethics expert and law professor told the The Los Angeles Times she believes that Tweet may intimidate other companies that carry Invanka’s brand.

“The implicit threat was that he will use whatever authority he has to retaliate against Nordstrom, or anyone who crosses his interest,” said Clark.

Nordstrom released a statement last week which explained their decision to drop Trump’s name from their stores, saying it was not about presidential policies rather the brand had stalled. 

“Reviewing their merit and making edits is part of the regular rhythm of our business,” Nordstrom said in a statement about their merchandise.

“We’ve had a great relationship with the Ivanka Trump team,” the retailer said in an email. “We’ve had open conversations with them over the past year to share what we’ve seen, and Ivanka was personally informed of our decision in early January.”

The White House responded to the controversy. Spokesman Sean Spicer said the remark was about being supportive of a family member’s success. And despite Nordstrom's claims that they aren't retaliating, he honed focius on that aspect of the discontinuance. 

“This was less about his family business than an attack on his daughter,” Spicer said. “For someone to take out their concerns with his policy on a family member of his is not acceptable, and the president has every right as a father to stand up for them.”

Despite Spicer’s explanation, the tweet by Trump brings into question how far the president will go to use his power for personal reasons.

His wife Melania is currently embroiled in a controversy of her own. She is suing a UK tabloid that accused her of being a former escort, something she says in the $150 million lawsuit, has forever soiled her attempts at “major business opportunities” as first lady.

That story was later retracted.