When Nordstrom department store dropped Ivanka Trump’s clothing line in February, the White House’s objections drew fire for blurring the line between government and business.
The responses — a tweet by President Donald Trump and an unusual TV appearance by adviser Kellyanne Conway — alarmed Trump’s ethics lawyer enough to swiftly huddle with the federal ethics office, which has tangled with the Trump White House, according to new emails obtained by NBC News.
After Nordstrom’s decision was announced, Trump lashed out in a Feb. 8 morning tweet, “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!”
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
By 3:56 p.m. that day, the top lawyer at the Office of Government Ethics, David Apol, asked Trump’s White House ethics lawyer for a phone call to discuss “an issue that has come up.”
Records show Trump’s lawyer, Stefan Passantino, called the ethics office five minutes later. A summary of their discussion is now public for the first time.
In his email to the White House, Apol, the ethics office lawyer, said the phone call was to discuss “the President’s tweet concerning the decision of Nordstrom to stop carrying his daughter’s line of products.” The ethics office recommended the president follow basic standards of conduct that forbid misusing his position for personal gain, Apol explained, an ethical standard that is common but not legally required for a President.
By the next morning, the two lawyers were talking again, this time about another Nordstrom response from the White House.
Passantino called about Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway’s plug for Ivanka Trump’s clothing line in a comment she made to Fox News on the morning of Feb. 9.
“I’m going to give a free commercial here,” Conway said on…