In a White House press briefing on Thursday, press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about Senior Advisor Kellyanne Conway’s controversial comments asking people to buy clothes from Ivanka Trump’s clothing line.
Conway made the comments in an interview with Fox News on Wednesday morning in response to decisions made by numerous retail outlets, including Nordstrom and Nieman Marcus, to drop or scale back sales of Ivanka Trump-labeled merchandise. Conway stated that she was going to give a “free commercial” and enthusiastically recommended to supporters of President Trump that they go out and purchase Ivanka Trump branded clothes. Conway even went so far as to say, ““Go buy Ivanka’s stuff, is what I would tell you. I hate shopping but I’m going to go get some for myself today.”
Numerous ethics experts immediately questioned Conway’s statements, noting that the comments appear to have clearly violated ethics rules preventing federal executive branch employees from promoting private businesses associated with friends and family of the president.
When the subject arose at today’s White House press briefing, Spicer seemed to acknowledge that Conway’s comments were problematic. John Roberts of Fox News asked Spicer, “Sean, questions have been raised about Kellyanne Conway gave an interview, I believe it was with Fox News this morning, where she appeared to, from the confines of the briefing room, promote the products of Ivanka Trump. Do you believe that she crossed an ethical line?”
Spicer responded, “Kellyanne has been counseled about that, and that’s all we’re gonna go with. She’s been counseled on, on that subject, and that’s it.”
Although the White House seems disinclined to comment further on the topic, the liberal-leaning ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has already filed an ethics complaint against Conway. And Democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.), the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, has sent a letter to Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) asking for a formal investigation.