Washington: The White House has “counseled” a top aide to US President Donald Trump after she promoted Ivanka Trump’s fashion line during a national cable television appearance from the White House.
But House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz says that’s not enough, calling what Kellyanne Conway did “wrong, wrong, wrong, clearly over the line, unacceptable”.
The Utah Republican congressman and Democratic Oversight Leader Elijah Cummings jointly asked the Office of Government Ethics to review the matter.
Chaffetz also said he will write a formal letter to the White House lodging his irritation. He said White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s remark Thursday that Conway has been “counseled” doesn’t go far enough.
“It needs to be dealt with,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. It’s the first time during the young administration that Chaffetz has questioned an ethical matter.
Speaking later to Utah lawmakers, Chaffetz added: “Of course I’m going to call that out. My job is not to be a cheerleader for the president.”
The White House said later Thursday that Trump “absolutely” continues to support Conway. In response to questions from The Associated Press, the White House said Trump didn’t see Conway’s interview on Fox News. But a spokeswoman said Trump “understands she was merely sticking up for a wonderful woman who she has great respect for and felt was treated unfairly.”
The ethics dustup began on Wednesday with the president himself.
Reacting to news that a department store had dropped his daughter’s line of clothing and accessories, Trump tweeted and retweeted from the official presidential account that Ivanka Trump had been treated “so unfairly by @Nordstrom.” Ivanka Trump does not have a specific role in the White House but moved to Washington with her husband, Jared Kushner, 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.
In a Thursday morning interview with Fox News from the White House briefing room, Conway urged people to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” boasting that she was giving the brand “a free commercial here.”
While Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are not subject to ethical regulations and laws for federal employees, Conway, who is a counselor to the president, is. Among the rules: An employee shall not use his or her office “for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.” (AP)