Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during the White House press briefing today that Special Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway “has been counseled” after having told Fox News Channel viewers, from the White House, to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff.”
Conway got asked during an appearance on Fox & Friends this morning to weigh in on President Donald Trump’s tweet of previous day bashing Nordstrom for dropping his daughter Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. Nordstrom said in a statement that the line was being dropped due to lousy sales, nothing more.
Speaking from the White House Briefing Room, Conway this morning said of Trump that the department store chain was “using [Ivanka] to get to him.”
“I think people can see through that. Go buy Ivanka’s stuff – that’s what I’d say.” She added, “I fully — I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
In the same room from which Conway had delivered her QVC-esque clothing-line plug, Spicer said, a few hours later, “Kellyanne has been counseled, and that’s all we’re going to go with. She has been counseled on that subject – and that’s it.”
Spicer was responding to a question – from Fox News Channel’s John Roberts. And, as Spicer’s newser was wrapping up, FNC announced Conway had been booked on its program The First 100 Days for tonight.
By the time Spicer’s briefing got underway, Conway’s pitch had triggered complaints it violated executive branch ethics regs.
The Office of Government Ethics’ regulation bars staff from endorsing products and prohibits using the staffer’s position for private gain of themselves or for friends or relatives. OGE response to a violation can range from getting the hook or being suspended to issuing a warning if it’s a first offense.
Politico reported shortly before Spicer’s briefing that House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote a letter to committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz asking for a review and potential disciplinary action, calling Conway’s televised remarks “a textbook violation of government ethics laws and regulations enacted to prevent the abuse of an employee’s government position.”
Ironically, right before she started plugging Ivanka’s wares, Conway had done Spicer a solid, saying he “has the president’s ear and his full confidence.”
That, in response to a Politico report that Trump was upset with Spicer’s depiction on last weekend’s Saturday Night Live, and particularly that he was played by a woman, Melissa McCarthy.
“The president is very protective of us,” Conway explained of Trump’s unusual Twitter silence after last weekend’s SNL.
Conway also gave Spicer her own vote of confidence, saying, “I think he’s doing an excellent job, frankly.”
Spicer’s work is “exceptionally important” to a Trump White House, she said, because Trump is a “TV expert” himself, what with having “had the No. 1 show on NBC when The Apprentice came out.”