WASHINGTON (WDTN) – Employees at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls stores were instructed to throw away all signs indicating Ivanka Trump’s clothing line, according to a letter obtained by the New York Times
“Effective immediately, please remove all Ivanka Trump merchandise from features and mix into [the racks,]” a letter obtained by the New York Times read. “All Ivanka Trump signs should be discarded.”
Doreen Thompson, a spokeswoman for the TJX Companies, the retailers’ parent company, said the instruction wasn’t to remove the items from the sale floor but rather “eliminate special displays for the merchandise.”
Though Thompson did not directly respond to questions regarding reasons for the sign removal, an employee told The New York Times that she had never received a request as such in her several years working there.
The news comes on the coattails of Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus’ announcements that they will no longer be carrying Trump’s clothing and jewelry line, citing brand performance.
President Donald Trump added to a string of presidential firsts on Wednesday, and drew fire from ethics lawyers, with a Twitter attack on Nordstrom. The Seattle-based retailer stoked Trump’s rage by dropping his daughter Ivanka’s clothing and accessory line.
The implication, intended or not: Hurt my daughter’s business, and the Oval Office will come after you.
“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom,” the president tweeted. “She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
The government-led cheerleading for Ivanka Trump’s private enterprise didn’t end there.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, in an interview Thursday with Fox News from the White House briefing room, encouraged people to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” She boasted that she was giving the brand “a free commercial here.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s said that Conway has been “counseled” about the remark.
While Trump himself is not subject to the standards of ethical conduct for federal employees, Conway is. Among the rules: An employee shall not use his or her office “for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.”Ivanka Trump does not have a specific role in the White House but moved to Washington with her husband, who is one of Trump’s closest advisers. She followed her father’s approach on business ties by handing over operating control of her fashion company but retaining ownership of it.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz says that’s not enough, calling what Kellyanne Conway did “wrong, wrong, wrong, clearly over the line, unacceptable.”
“It needs to be dealt with,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.”
“For whatever reason, the White House staff evidently believes that they are protected from the law the same way the president and vice president are,” said Stuart Gilman, a former special assistant to the director of Office of Government Ethics.
He called the Conway comments “unbelievable,” adding that they risk wrecking the U.S. reputation around the world as a model for government employee ethics.
Though Trump has tweeted about companies such as Boeing, Carrier and General Motors, ethics experts say this time was different. It involved his daughter’s business, which raises conflict-of-interest concerns.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump was responding to an “attack on his daughter” when he posted the tweet and that “he has every right to stand up for his family and applaud their business activities, their success.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.