Shortly after White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders threatened to revoke the security clearances of former high-level officials for criticizing President Donald Trump, the president’s eldest daughter announced she is shutting down her fashion brand due to a potential conflict of interest. Instead of succeeding in bullying the intelligence community, the president merely created another wave of backlash by highlighting the difficulty of obtaining security clearances and conflicts of interest within his own administration.
After President Trump privately met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, many former senior officials within the intelligence community publicly criticized Trump for cutting them out of the loop. Last week, former CIA Director John Brennan referred to Trump’s performance at the summit as “nothing short of treasonous.”
“Not only is the president looking to take away Brennan’s security clearance, he’s also looking into the clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice, and McCabe,” Sanders stated during a press conference on Monday. “The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearance because they’ve politicized, and in some cases, monetized their public service and security clearances. Making baseless accusations of improper contact with Russia or being influenced by Russia against the president is extremely inappropriate.”
According to reports, the threat seemed empty to former FBI Director James Comey and ex-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who no longer have security clearances anyway.
By drawing attention to security clearances and potential conflicts of interest, Trump’s attack against the intelligence community appeared to backfire against his own family and administration. Critics immediately noted that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had varying issues with their security clearances, while Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway broke ethics rules by telling Fox News viewers to “buy Ivanka’s stuff.”
In response to recent protests and criticism, Ivanka announced Tuesday that she is closing her fashion brand in order to focus on her work within her father’s administration.
“When we first started this brand, no one could have predicted the success that we would achieve,” Ivanka said in an emailed statement to CNBC. “After 17 months in Washington, I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business, but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington, so making this decision now is the only fair outcome for my team and partners.”
According to documents that the White House released last month, Ivanka’s fashion and clothing brand generated at least $5 million for her via the trust she formed to control it last year.
In May, the Chinese government awarded her fashion line seven new trademarks. Last year, Kushner Companies received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after allegedly misusing a controversial visa program in exchange for large investments from wealthy Chinese citizens.