Senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump won preliminary approval from China for an additional 16 business trademarks last month, including one for voting machines, according to Chinese records released by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington.
The daughter of President Donald Trump announced in July that she was shutting down her fashion brand. But she could transfer the trademarks — or even relaunch her fashion business. The Washington Post reported at the time that she planned to continue to seek trademarks.
“She’s dissolving the company now but is continuing to get trademarks so she can sell her stuff all over the world later,” Richard Painter, chief White House ethics lawyer for former president George W. Bush, told the Post then. “What better time to get those trademarks than now, when every government around the world wants to play nice” with her father?
The news again raises concerns about the Trumps mixing their private businesses with their responsibility to represent American taxpayers as they negotiate with the same interests they deal with in the White House, CREW noted Monday in its statement. Business arrangements with foreign entities that profit the Trumps could potentially function as bribes while nations angle for favorable treatment or deals from the administration.
Since Trump has “retained her foreign trademarks, the public will continue to have to ask whether President Trump has made foreign policy decisions in the interest of his and his family’s businesses,” CREW said.
Granting the latest trademarks could be viewed as a way for China to curry favor with the Trump administration amid a trade war between the two nations.
In May, Ivanka Trump’s business won approval for at least five Chinese trademarks just days before the president announced plans to help lift U.S. sanctions on China cellphone manufacturer ZTE. (Shortly before the president’s statement, the developer of a theme park resort near Jakarta with a Trump licensing agreement also signed a deal for up to $500 million in Chinese government loans.)
The first daughter’s business was also granted three new Chinese trademarks last year on the same day she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Ivanka Trump’s business applied for the latest trademarks in 2016. They include trademarks for shoes, wedding dresses, jewelry, nursing homes, sausage casing — and voting machines.
Many of the Chinese trademarks she has obtained will be active until 2028, according to CREW.
She also continues to have a stake in other family business operations, including the Trump International Hotel in Washington. That’s currently the subject of a lawsuit accusing the president of violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution. The clause prohibits federal officials from receiving gifts or benefits from foreign leaders or governments. Several foreign leaders and government entourages have spent significant amounts of money in the president’s hotel.