It’s been a week, but nothing seems to have changed for retail giant Nordstrom Inc. as it continues to find itself in the eye of the political storm that has ensued in the wake of its decision to dump First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s brand. The luxury department store became the recent victim of President Trump’s wrath on Twitter when the 70-year-old tweeted, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” The company share prices rebounded after suffering a momentary fall soon after the President’s tweet.
Some government ethics experts went on to regard Trump’s angry outburst on Twitter as an unethical act. The Twitter post first went live from the personal account of Mr. Trump but was then sent again by his official White House account.
This has once again put the new President elect in a fix as the Code of Federal Regulations state that White House officials are not to use their public office “for the endorsement of any product, service, or enterprise”. It also prohibits government officials from giving the impression that the government “sanctions or endorses” the activities of a private party. Although the law is applicable to every government employee except the President and the Vice-President of the U.S., the views on this statement diverge widely.
Kathleen Clark, an expert of government ethics and a law professor at the Washington University, told Fast Company, while referring to Trump’s initial tweet, “I interpret this tweet to mean that Donald J. Trump is acting in his personal capacity, not on behalf of the United States government. He’s talking about his daughter and he doesn’t invoke anything about the government here.” Further elaborating, she explained, “It’s absolutely critical that government officials, in general, make communications in their personal capacity, and that the government not be able to shut down or gag government employees by prohibiting them from speaking on their own behalf.”
However, President Trump took things to another level when he re-tweeted the exact words of his earlier tweet through the official @POTUS handle. This did not go down too well with Clark, as she added, “The @POTUS handle is seen as government property. It’s an official government organ. It may seem like a technicality. But I would say this is about using government resources and government symbols—like saying something standing in front of the seal of the presidency—that would be indicating that his words have a different social meaning.”
After assuming office in January this year, President Trump has given up partial control of the Trump Organization but continues to gain financially from the company’s deals. Ivanka too distanced herself from the Trump Organization and her own brand line. “When my father takes office as the 45th President of the United States of America, I will take a formal leave of absence from the Trump Organization and my eponymous apparel and accessories brand. I will no longer be involved with the management or operations of either company,” Ivanka had announced on Facebook in January.
Despite this, the New York Times correspondent, Maggie Haberman reported that Ivanka’s close sources claimed that she was upset By Nordstrom’s decision to sack her brand.