Trump vs. Nordstrom: Spicer Used Daily Press Briefing To Attack US Business For Dumping Ivanka
Spicer Adds To Trump’s Raging At Nordstrom
The White House declared war on the American luxury department store company, Nordstrom, Wednesday. Nordstrom had decided nearly a week earlier to drop Ivanka Trump’s line of jewelry, citing declining sales of her brand. Grab Your Wallet activists who organize boycotts of all things Trump considered this a victory notched in their belt. On Wednesday, Donald Trump tweeted,
“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
On one hand, it’s shocking how brazen this conflict of interest and abuse of elected office is. On the other, this is precisely the kind of thing anyone who was paying attention knew that America was signing up for if Trump got into the White House.
This seems to be smoking gun evidence that Trump’s attorney’s dog and pony show about how he was “distancing” himself from his company was a farce. This shows that not only has he not divested, but he’s using the power of his office to intimidate businesses into benefiting him and his family financially. Like he thinks the Sheikh of America.
Nordstrom’s stock tanked immediately after the tweet, but bounced back within minutes and rose throughout the afternoon. Shortly after Trump won the electoral college and tweeted tirades against Boeing and Lockheed Martin, Wall Street-watching media was biting its nails that he had the awesome power of crushing a company’s stocks. The market is learning to ignore him already, though.
Norm Eisen, President Barack Obama’s ethics czar and co-founder of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has hounded Trump about the issue of his apparent ongoing violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars an elected official from receiving payment or gifts from foreign powers. Eisen urged Nordstrom to sue and offered to help.
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) February 8, 2017
It’s hard to imagine that White House staffers who enjoy having careers longer than a few months were not desperately trying to yank Trump’s phone away and walk him away from this ledge. Yet, as the reaction to his self-serving attack on Nordstrom reached a fever pitch, Press Secretary Sean Spicer went even further than the Republican president did. According to Talking Points Memo Spicer told the press in his daily briefing,
“I think this is less about his family’s business and an attack on his daughter,” Spicer said. “He ran for president. He won. He’s leading this country. I think for people to take out their concern about his actions or his executive orders on members of his family, he has every right to stand up for his family and applaud their business activities, their success.”
“There’s a targeting of her brand and it’s her name,” Spicer said. “She’s not directly running the company. It’s still her name on it. There are clearly efforts to undermine that name based on her father’s positions on particular policies that he’s taken. This is a direct attack on his policies and her name. Her because she is being maligned because they have a problem with his policies.”
The idea that Nordstrom’s decision was political runs counter to what the company has said. In November, the company publicly responded to a complaint by a customer asking them to drop Ivanka’s line saying,
“We hope that offering a vendor’s products isn’t misunderstood as us taking a political position; we’re not. We recognize our customers can make choices about what they purchase based on personal views and we’ll continue to give them options.”
Jeez, why don’t you just roll out the guillotine, Nordstrom!
It’s pretty clear that Nordstrom had no intention of making any political statement, and did not prefer to drop Ivanka’s line. They dropped it when it stopped selling bad, because public disgust with all things Trump has made her brand radioactive.
Spicer’s comment is deeply irresponsible. It politicizes something that shouldn’t be political. It forces an American company into the heated center of a wedge issue that was entirely created by Trump.
The ongoing attack against Nordstrom by the Trump White House is a significant abuse of power. It sends the message that Trump views American businesses as subservient to his interests. It implies that companies should aggrandize his brand, even in ways that damage their own brand, and hurt their own bottom line. That’s not capitalism, it’s aristocracy.
Imagine this series of events from the point of view of the Nordstrom boardroom. Nordstrom turns a profit on Ivanka’s line, so it has no intention of dropping it. Trump’s bullying behavior is so toxic that it causes Ivanka’s line to fall into the red. Nordstrom decides to drop it. Trump bullies the company over dropping a line that his behavior caused to tank in the first place, in an attempt to intimidate the company into holding onto a brand that now has negative value. Trump is telling the company: “You’d better lose money to protect my PR image that I’ve trashed, or else!” How does a company respond to that?
Trump is quickly starting to rack up enemies who collectively have quite a lot of power. He’s already at Watergate levels with the media and the courts. If the gloves start coming off of some of the biggest American companies, his staff might want to think up a better strategy than angry tweeting.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images