14:17 GMT +322 October 2019
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    Ivanka Trump listens at the beginning of a policy and strategy forum with executives in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (File)

    For Confluence of Money and Power in US, Look No Further Than Ivanka Trump

    © AFP 2019 / Brendan Smialowski
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    If the influence of money in politics has been prevalent throughout US history, it has never been as glaring as it is now.

    First Daughter Ivanka Trump, a federal employee, owns a company that received monopoly rights for three trademarks on the very same day she dined with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, it emerged on Tuesday.

    In a video circulating on social media, she is also shown putting children Arabella and Joseph in front of Xi to sing an ancient Chinese hymn in Mandarin.

    ​Aside from being awkward to watch, it raises the question of how Ivanka Trump will use privileged information about her dad’s plans and whereabouts – the visit from the Trump-Kushner clan was a surprise one – to curry favor from some of the world’s most powerful influencers. 

    In other words, is Ivanka using her highly exclusive access to Xi and to other world leaders to her own benefit? Some might argue she is exploiting her position as daughter to the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, to line her own pockets. 

    After all, the use of White House props and surrogates to promote Brand Ivanka isn’t anything new. Who could forget White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway openly promoting the Ivanka Trump brand on TV, while the White House insignia and American flag flanked both sides of the picture? “Go buy Ivanka’s stuff,” Conway said on Fox & Friends. “I hate shopping and I’m going to go get some myself today.” 

    Ivanka has failed to fully divest from her eponymous company. Her firm is valued at upwards of $50 million with more than 1,000 stores carrying her products in addition to e-commerce platforms like Amazon. 

    Ivanka has “so many China ties and conflicts [of financial interest], yet she and Jared appear deeply involved in China contract and policy,” says Norma Eisen, former head White House ethics attorney. 

    The Trump family may be turning into a Bush- or Clinton-type dynasty before America’s eyes, and those eyes should be keenly trained on the family’s evolving business interests. Jamie Gorelick, a former Justice Department official in the Clinton administration, said Ivanka “has retained the authority to direct the trustees to terminate agreements that she determines create a conflict of interest or even the appearance of one.”

    Whether she does indeed avoid the appearance or substance of conflicts of interest remains to be seen. So far, it appears that Ivanka is actively using her position to generate new agreements that bode well for her and her family’s long term financial prospects.

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    Xi Jinping, Ivanka Trump, China, United States
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