Conflict of interest concerns have arisen once again within the Trump administration as White House adviser Ivanka Trump won approval for at least five new trademarks in China just days before her father, President Donald Trump, announced a sweet deal for Chinese telecom giant ZTE.
The trademarks grant Ivanka Trump operations exclusive rights to market a variety of products in China that could potentially amount to millions of dollars in profits. Ivanka Trump Marks LLC received approval last year for several other trademarks after she began working in the White House. Three of them were granted the same day she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago.
The applications for the trademarks were submitted over a year ago, and the trademark registrations were accepted May 7. Just five days later Trump announced he was working on a deal to lift U.S. business barriers against ZTE in order to save Chinese jobs.
The non-profit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, D.C. voiced concern that the trademarks constitute another conflict of interest:
“As a White House adviser, Ivanka has represented the United States at multiple diplomatic events despite the potential conflicts her business interests present,” CREW said in a statement.
Equally of note, just three days before Trump announced via tweet that he would work with China to help ZTE, the Chinese government decided to loan $500 million to an Indonesian theme park project which involves Trump himself, along with an additional $500 million from Chinese banks.
The president concluded a deal with ZTE last week:
Trump settled on a ZTE deal Friday that will require the nation to pay a $1.3 billion fine. ZTE, one of the world’s largest telecom equipment makers, suspended its main operations after it was barred in 2016 from doing business in the U.S. for violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans were thrilled with the deal, pointing out that ZTE poses a national security threat.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said Friday that ZTE will “crush” U.S. companies and “spy and steal from us.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York) said in a statement Friday: “We all know that China is involved in stealing our intellectual property. There is no better way to do it than through ZTE, and we’re going to let them be here, and slap them on the wrist with a fine? That’s a dereliction of our duty here in the Congress, and it’s the president’s duty to protect us.”