President Trump’s ethics lawyer talked to the top lawyer at the Office of Government Ethics virtually immediately after the President raised Nordstrom department store dropping Ivanka Trump’s clothing line in a tweet, according to newly surfaced emails.
Just days after Nordstrom announced that it was discontinuing the First Daughter’s product line, Trump lashed out against the retail giant in a morning tweet on February 8 saying “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
At 3:56 on the same day, the top lawyer at OGE, David Apol, emailed Trump’s White House ethics lawyer, Stefan Passantino, asking for a call to discuss “the President’s tweet concerning the decision of Nordstrom to stop carrying his daughter’s line of products,” according to emails examined by NBC News.
Passantino called Apol just five minutes after the email according to records, at which time, the ethics watchdog recommended to Passantino that Trump abide by the typical standard of conduct that precludes the President from using his office for personal gain.
However, that request seems to have fallen on deaf ears as the following day, during an appearance on Fox News, Kellyanne Conway openly promoted Ivanka’s product line going so far as to say that she was doing “a free commercial” for the brand during her appearance.
Conway’s comments immediately started a firestorm, including leaders of the House Oversight Committee calling on OGE to recommend discipline for Conway, which the office swiftly did.
It also prompted another call by Passantino to Apol, at which time he informed the government watchdog that he would “be taking appropriate action to address her conduct.”
However, the White House later took the position that the Counselor to the President acted “inadvertently” when she did the promotion, and declined to discipline her. Passantino sent a letter concluding that Conway was speaking in a “light, offhand manner” and was addressing efforts by activists to persuade retailers to drop Ivanka’s line.
On Thursday, OGE sent the White House a letter expressing its disapproval of the administration’s refusal to discipline Conway’s “free commercial,” saying the move “risks undermining the ethics program.”
— Alex Mallin (@alex_mallin) March 9, 2017