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Trump backs aide who promoted his daughter’s fashion on TV


    This frame grab from video provided by Fox News shows White House adviser Kellyanne during her interview with Fox News Fox and Friends, Thursday, in the briefing room of the White House in Washington.

WASHINGTON >> Kellyanne Conway, the high-profile White House counselor, has come under fire from Democratic and Republican lawmakers, fact-checkers and the media. But she’s so far maintained the support of her boss, President Donald Trump.

Trump backed Conway both publicly and privately Thursday after House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, criticized her for promoting Ivanka Trump’s fashion line during a television appearance and urged the Office of Government Ethics to review the matter. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Conway had been “counseled” on her comments, but he would not expand on what that entailed.

The president appeared to take issue with his own press secretary’s depiction, telling staff that he believed it was unfair to Conway and made it sound like she was in trouble, according to a person with direct knowledge of his comments. A White House spokeswoman said that while Trump didn’t see Conway’s television comments urging people to buy Ivanka Trump’s products, he believed she was “merely sticking up” for his daughter after Nordstrom dropped her brand.

The flare-up came in the midst of a rough stretch for Conway, who is among Trump’s most visible advisers.

Her reference to a nonexistent “Bowling Green massacre” made her a punchline for comics and internet pranksters. She said it was a slip of the tongue as she was describing the 2011 arrest of two Iraqi nationals in a failed plot to send weapons overseas to al-Qaida. It was later discovered that she had made that misstatement before.

Conway was then caught up in the bad blood between the Trump administration and CNN. The news network was angered last weekend when Vice President Mike Pence made the rounds of Sunday talk shows and pointedly left out Jake Tapper’s CNN show. CNN said it “passed” when Conway was offered instead, while Conway said she was unable to appear.

Conway’s high-profile and close relationship with Trump has created tension with some other advisers. One Trump associate said Conway’s standing with some senior staff had been hurt by her recent missteps, though the person noted that her relationship with the president remained strong.

The Trump associate and the person with knowledge of the president’s comments about Conway insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss internal matters.

Conway’s sales pitch for Ivanka Trump was particularly notable in that it sparked a rebuke from Chaffetz, a Republican who until now has not questioned the young administration on ethical matters. Chaffetz said Conway’s actions were “wrong, wrong, wrong, clearly over the line, unacceptable.”

The Utah congressman and the ranking Democrat on the committee, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, jointly asked for the ethics review. The Office of Government Ethics advises federal employees on such issues but is not an enforcement agency.

While Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are not subject to ethical regulations and laws for federal employees, Conway is. Among the rules: An employee shall not use his or her office “for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.”

But because Conway reports only to Trump, it would be up to him to punish her for any ethics infraction and that seems unlikely.

“For whatever reason, the White House staff evidently believes that they are protected from the law the same way the president and vice president are,” said Stuart Gilman, a former special assistant to the director of OGE.

In addition to the House Oversight Committee, two liberal-funded government watchdog groups pounced on Conway’s comments, filing ethics violation complaints with OGE. A third group, the Project on Government Oversight, asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to open a Justice Department investigation.

Nordstrom reiterated that its decision to drop Ivanka Trump’s brand was based on its performance, not politics. The company said sales of her items had steadily declined over the past year, particularly in the last half of 2016, “to the point where it didn’t make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now.”

While Ivanka Trump has handed over management of her company while she is in Washington, like her father, she retains ownership of it.

Associated Press writers Bernard Condon, David Bauder and Anne D’Innocenzio in New York contributed to this report.

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  • Kellyanne Conway is the best. She played a major roll in getting POTUS Trump to be the POTUS.
    Of course he’ll support her…only a dummy wouldn’t.
    Robby Mook can only wish he was in KC’s position.

    • Correction, Kellyanne Conway is a HE. Trump doesn’t talk to any women less than an 8. Conway is like a solid 1.5, maybe a 2 when HE dresses up in Napoleon costume. Trump hired HIM because HE is very good at either believing or pretending to believe whatever he says. HE may be feeling a bit stressed nowadays with the endless spinning HE has to do daily whenever Trump says or Twitters anything. HE’s been making errors lately, getting caught mentioning the “Bowling Green Massacre” and “Alternative Facts.”

      I wonder when Trump will tire of HIS drawn-out face and say to HIM, “You’re FIRED!”

      • MillionMonkeys> Terrible things vacated your mouth. I would never ever have considered a thoughtless comment such as yours regarding, Ms. Conway. The LADY is smarter than you and she knows what she can say and do, and more than likely get away with it. So, don’t give up your despicable hate of her but tone it down with the lies. Have a nice day.

      • Allie, I don’t think she is lying. I believe she is just in shoes too big for your IQ. Granted, she has said some bad/wrong information, but, I do not think she lies-She is just not bright enough to be in the position she is in.
        She will in fact end up shooting herself in the foot and will eventually fall by the wayside on her own terms or thru Donalds.

        • what U really meant to post is “…she distributes bad/wrong information… aka lies, and she is just not bright.”
          There, fixed it

    • yup, no suprise here…
      “I always support people who support the Trump brand” DJT

      “as POTUS, I promise to divest any & all Trump business interests” DJT

  • Of course Trump backs someone in his administration who violates ethics laws. The White House has become an ethics-free zone as the Trump family tries to cash in.

  • Get used to it, folks. The Trumps never, never, ever do anything wrong. If they do it or say it or support it, then it must be legal, constitutional, proper and moral.

  • So, if jeff sessions actually opens an investigation, he’ll do….what? He doesn’t have the balls to piss off his boss who just gave him his dream job. This is how it will be with any close trump associate accused of committing any violations.

  • The cost to transport Mr. Trump last week to Mar-A-Lago to watch the Super Bowl was $3 million. The estimate now for his travel and security expenses will be perhaps 10 times the annual budget for President Obama. The bill to keep Mrs. Trump in Trump Tower is costing about $1 million every single day, according to the GAO.

    I wouldn’t expect Trumpsters to write a single word of complaint. The swamp gets deeper every day.

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