Washington: Donald Trump criticized Nordstrom Inc. for dropping daughter Ivanka’s brand from the department-store chain, drawing a new company into the president’s ongoing skirmishes with corporate America.
"My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly,” Trump said on his personal Twitter account Wednesday. "She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” He later retweeted the message from the official presidential account, @POTUS.
Nordstrom said last week that it would stop selling Ivanka Trump’s brand this season, citing poor sales. The retailer had come under fire from the Grab Your Wallet campaign, a critic of the administration that is asking shoppers to boycott retailers that carry Ivanka Trump or Donald Trump goods.
Trump’s tweet renewed questions about whether he’s using the presidential pulpit to sway business interests for himself or his family. In addition to starting a lifestyle brand, Ivanka Trump has worked for the Trump Organization, and husband Jared Kushner serves as a presidential adviser. Ivanka Trump said last month that she was handing day-to-day operations of her brand to lieutenant Abigail Klem.
"It’s never great to have these questions about dual allegiance,” said Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan watchdog group. "But certainly we’ve never seen before a president using the power of the presidency to pressure businesses for the obvious benefit of his family.”
Nordstrom said on Wednesday that sales of the brand have "steadily declined,” especially in the second half of last year, and continuing to offer the line no longer made sense.
"We’ve had a great relationship with the Ivanka Trump team,” the retailer said in an e-mailed statement. "We’ve had open conversations with them over the past year to share what we’ve seen, and Ivanka was personally informed of our decision in early January.”
The Nordstrom tweet went out at 10:51 a.m. Washington time -- just 21 minutes after Trump was scheduled to receive his daily intelligence briefing.
Shares of Nordstrom dipped after Wednesday’s tweet was posted, though they quickly recovered. The stock climbed 4.1 percent at the close in New York to $44.53.
Ivanka Trump had nothing to do with the president’s decision to tweet about Nordstrom, according to a person close to the first daughter who asked not to be identified.
‘Attack’ on Daughter
White House spokesman Sean Spicer defended the tweet at a press briefing Wednesday, saying it came in response to efforts to target Ivanka Trump and "undermine that name” based on the administration’s policies.
"This was less about his family business than an attack on his daughter,” Spicer said. "For someone to take out their concerns with his policy on a family member of his is not acceptable, and the president has every right as a father to stand up for them.”
Once again, a company is now engulfed in a political controversy with a single tweet from the president. Trump’s personal account has 24 million followers, and he’s frequently used it to browbeat businesses -- often without warning. He also gained use of the official @POTUS account, which has about 15 million followers, when he was inaugurated on Jan. 20.
Lockheed Martin Corp. was a target last year, when then President-elect Trump said the costs of the F-35 fighter jet were out of control. The comment sent the stock down 2.5 percent and erased almost $2 billion in market value. He’s also used his account to praise companies, such as L.L. Bean. In January, he urged people to buy products from the catalog retailer after the founder’s granddaughter sparked controversy by donating to a political action committee that supported his campaign.
Nordstrom had been an early supporter of Ivanka Trump’s shoe line after it launched in 2011. It was one of the first retailers to offer her wares, which span footwear, apparel and accessories. But recently her products began to disappear from its inventory, raising questions about the relationship. That’s when the chain confirmed that it decided not to reorder the brand’s merchandise.
"Based on the brand’s performance, we’ve decided not to buy it for this season,” the company said last week.
In another blow, the T.J. Maxx and Marshalls chains have stopped presenting her merchandise in separate branded areas, instead putting the items in with the rest of their wares, according to spokeswoman Doreen Thompson. Employees were instructed to throw away the Ivanka Trump signs, the New York Times reported.
"At this time, we continue to offer this line of merchandise,” Thompson said. "The communication we sent instructed stores to mix this line of merchandise into our racks, not to remove it from the sales floor.”
Donald Trump had an earlier feud with Macy’s Inc., which previously sold his brand of menswear. The department-store chain split with him in 2015 after he criticized Mexican immigrants at the outset of his presidential campaign. Trump called Macy’s a "very disloyal company” and urged a boycott.
First Lady Melania Trump, meanwhile, is in a legal battle over her own brand. She’s suing the Daily Mail, saying a defamatory article deprived her of the chance to sell clothing, shoes, jewelry and perfume. The $150 million suit said the London tabloid, which later retracted the story, made it almost impossible to take advantage of "major business opportunities.”