TV News Scrutiny Of Ivanka Trump’s Conflicts Of Interest Spurred By New Bombshell

Trump Apologists Continued To Deflect Concerns Over Conflicts And Corruption In The White House

››› ››› ALEX MORASH

Broadcast and cable news programs heaped additional scrutiny on Ivanka Trump in the hours after The Associated Press broke a bombshell report that the lifestyle brand she owns had secured valuable trademarks in China before she met with the Chinese president for dinner at her father’s private Mar-a-Lago resort. News of the glaring conflict of interest between Trump’s role as a White House adviser and her private business empire was carried by the major broadcast networks --ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS -- as well as CNN and MSNBC. Fox News ignored the issue entirely during its evening and prime-time programming, and longtime Trump apologist and former Fox host Greta Van Susteren actually defended Trump during her program.

Ivanka Trump Secured Chinese Trademarks Just Before Meeting With President Xi

AP: Chinese Government Granted Ivanka Trump “Provisional Approval … For Three New Trademarks” Just Before She Met President Xi. On April 18, The Associated Press (AP) reported that Ivanka Trump, a senior White House adviser and daughter of President Donald Trump, had secured valuable merchandising rights in China just hours before sitting with that country’s president for dinner at her father’s Mar-a-Lago resort. The article, which described the Trump family’s intermingling of private and public business as “unprecedented in modern American politics,” explained that Ivanka’s commercial interests in China are “a nagging concern” for a Trump administration in which she and her husband seem to have significant influence over American foreign policy:

In fact, on April 6, Ivanka Trump's company won provisional approval from the Chinese government for three new trademarks, giving it monopoly rights to sell Ivanka brand jewelry, bags and spa services in the world's second-largest economy. That night, the first daughter and her husband sat next to the president of China and his wife for a steak and Dover sole dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

The scenario underscores how difficult it is for the president's daughter, to separate business from politics in her new position at the White House.

[...]

"Ivanka has so many China ties and conflicts, yet she and Jared appear deeply involved in China contacts and policy. I would never have allowed it," said Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama. "For their own sake, and the country's, Ivanka and Jared should consider stepping away from China matters."

Instead, the first daughter and her husband have emerged as prominent interlocutors with China, where they have both had significant business ties. Last year, Kushner pursued hundreds of millions of dollars in real estate investments from Anbang Insurance Group, a financial conglomerate with close ties to the Chinese state. After media reports about the deal, talks were called off. [The Associated Press, 4/18/17]

AP: Trump Secured Other Valuable Chinese Trademarks Of His Own Soon After Taking Office. According to a February 15 report from the AP, the president was able to secure several other valuable trademarks, which had been held up for years by the Chinese government, just days after his inauguration. The report noted that experts believe Trump’s personal business interests could represent an unconstitutional violation of stipulations governing the presidency:

Critics say Trump's global intellectual property interests could be used by foreign states as leverage over the president and may violate the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars public servants from accepting anything of value from foreign governments unless explicitly approved by Congress. These concerns are particularly sharp in China, where the courts and bureaucracy reflect the will of the ruling Communist Party.

[...]

Any special treatment from China would mean that Trump effectively accepted a present from Beijing, an act that would violate the Constitution, Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush, said in an email. "A different conclusion might be reached if Trump had been treated like everyone else seeking a trademark, but the evidence does not point in that direction." [The Associated Press, 2/15/17]

Broadcast And Cable News Shine Light On Trump Conflicts Of Interest

All Four Major Broadcast Networks Reported On Ivanka Trump’s Conflicts Of Interest. On April 18, ABC’s World News, CBS’s Evening News, NBC’s Nightly News, and PBS’ NewsHour all covered the AP report that Ivanka Trump secured valuable trademarks from China the day she sat down to a formal dinner with her father and the president of China. NBC noted that Ivanka Trump’s lifestyle brand has “more than doubled” shipments from China in the last year and that while she claimed to avoid conflicts of interests, “the lines can become blurred” because she is still profiting from the company while working at the White House. From the April 18 edition of NBC’s Nightly News:

[ABC, World News, 4/18/17; CBS, Evening News, 4/18/17; NBC, Nightly News, 4/18/17; PBS, NewsHour, 4/18/17]

“It Is Very Clear That The Presidency Is A Wonderful Business Opportunity For The Trump Family.” On the April 18 edition of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, correspondent Tom Foreman noted that the trademark acquisitions are “big business” for Ivanka Trump’s brand and added that the president’s staff are held to legally enforceable prohibitions against conflicts of interest. Host Anderson Cooper followed the report with a discussion with Richard Painter, a former White House counsel and ethics watchdog under President George W. Bush. Painter blasted the president and the entire Trump family for treating the White House like “a wonderful business opportunity” while noting that “foreign governments all over the world” are likely to offer Trump’s children favorable and lucrative business arrangements in order to curry favor with the White House. From the April 18 edition of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360:

[CNN, Anderson Cooper 360, 4/18/17, 4/18/17]

Trump Sycophants Defended The President’s Daughter Against Conflicts Of Interest

MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren Defended Ivanka Trump. On the April 18 edition of MSNBC’s For The Record, former Fox host and longtime Trump apologist Greta Van Susteren disagreed with her entire panel -- Politico’s Daniel Lippman, the Chicago Sun Times’ Lynn Sweet, and USA Today’s Eliza Collins -- while defending Ivanka Trump. Lippman noted that as Trump’s policy portfolio in her father’s administration increases, she is “edging toward” issues that will affect her private business. He argued that while she may not have been directly involved in securing these trademarks, it was unlikely a foreign government would deny a request from a company owned by a family member of the president. Sweet argued that the Chinese trademarks carry “the appearance of impropriety” because “it is possible that she knew about these pending business deals” after taking a role in the White House. Collins noted that the conflicts of interest swirling around Ivanka are similar to those that have nagged at her father since he launched his run for office. Despite these arguments, Van Susteren still defended Ivanka, claiming “she hasn’t done anything wrong” because she needed trademarks to protect her company. The host failed to note that Ivanka could have avoided the situation by either divesting from the company or removing herself from involvement in policymaking:

[MSNBC, For The Record, 4/18/17; Media Matters, 2/2/17]

Trump Devotees At Fox News Ignored The Issue, Interviewing Donald Trump Jr. Instead. On the April 18 edition of Fox News’ Hannity, host Sean Hannity offered the president’s son Donald Trump Jr. a softball interview in prime time. Hannity mocked the so-called “Russian conspiracy” linking the Trump campaign to agents of the Russian government intent on defeating Hillary Clinton, and asked Trump Jr. if watching news outlets scrutinize his family upsets him. Trump Jr. responded that he finds media reports on his family in the White House “very frustrating” while falsely claiming that “basically the entire map of the United States” approved of Trump’s election. Hannity actually encouraged Trump Jr. to get more involved in policymaking at the White House and concluded the interview by plugging Trump Jr.’s latest business endeavor. [Fox News, Hannity, 4/18/17]

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