Ivanka Trump Marks LLC got provisional approval for three new trademarks from the Chinese government on April 6.
On the same day, first daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, sat next to Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife during a dinner at President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, reports The Associated Press.
Although Ivanka is not actively managing her company while working as a White House adviser to her father, she still owns her business, which applied for new trademarks in China, Canada, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and the U.S., after her father won the presidential election.
Ivanka's company said she has not yet given final approval on the new trademark applications, which are "not necessarily an indication that the brand is planning to launch a category or a store in a specific territory."
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Conflict of interest laws do not allow federal officials, such as Ivanka, Kushner and the president, from taking part in government issues that can influence their financial interests.
"Put the business on hold and stop trying to get trademarks while you’re in government," said Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush. "The danger is that with any discussion with the Chinese, one party or the other may try to bring up trade. That’s a slippery slope that may require her or Jared to step out of the room."
Ivanka's lawyer, Jamie Gorelick, said in a statement: "Ivanka will not weigh in on business strategy, marketing issues, or the commercial terms of agreements. She has retained authority to direct the trustees to terminate agreements that she determines create a conflict of interest or the appearance of one."
Norman Eisen, the chief White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama, opined: "Ivanka has so many China ties and conflicts, yet she and Jared appear deeply involved in China contacts and policy. I would never have allowed it. For their own sake, and the country's, Ivanka and Jared should consider stepping away from China matters."
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Gorelick said Ivanka would stay away from specific areas that might impact her business, but is not legally obligated to avoid issues such as trade with the Chinese.
Gorelick added that Ivanka would not participate in talks about tariffs on clothing imported from China, but could still be in on broad conversations about foreign policy.
"In between, you have to assess it case-by-case," Gorelick stated.
Ivanka and Kushner are allowed to join lunches with foreign leaders, sit in on any meeting, and have "walk-in privileges" in the Oval Office, reports The New York Times.
Trump's family-run White House has reportedly experienced friction with his chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Before taking their powerful positions, Bannon, Ivanka and Kushner had no government experience.