In one of the most important elections in United States history, the fight has extended beyond Trump and Biden, beyond Republicans and Democrats, beyond right and left, down to the nominees’ prodigal offspring.
Trump used the first Presidential debate to lash out at Hunter Biden for alleged China links, even as his own daughter Ivanka has been known to have secured more than 34 trademarks from China between 2018-19. Leveraging family connections to gain position, power and wealth is hardly unheard of in political circles around the world.
The offspring of the current duo vying for power in the US are no different. However, the all-out attack on presidential nominee Joe Biden’s surviving son, Hunter, is a bit baffling even for the staunchest Trump enablers, given a very similar trajectory of nepotistic, underhand dealings by the President’s own daughter, Ivanka Trump.
In the first debate, Trump lashed out at Hunter Biden for alleged China links, even as his daughter Ivanka secured more than 34 trademarks from China between 2018-19.
Nepotism and Hypocrisy
It is widely acknowledged that Hunter Biden may not have been the most qualified person to be appointed to the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company, Burisma in 2014. He was reported to be receiving $50,000-a-month.
Donald Trump and his enablers launched a vicious campaign over corruption and what they termed a nepotistic appointment. This was followed by an equally aggressive attack over Hunter’s position with a Chinese-backed private equity, a position he announced he would step down from in Oct 2019 to avoid further controversy during his father’s presidential run.
The attempts by staunch Trump supporters to give these positions a scandalous ‘conflict of interest’ twist has been nothing short of ironic. Another prodigal child, very much part of the Presidential inner circle, is embroiled in serious probable conflicts of interest engagements in much larger deals. For while it took Hunter Biden 5 years to collect $3 million, Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, senior advisers to the president, clocked in an income of $135 million within a year, something Republicans have conveniently turned a blind eye to.
It took Hunter Biden 5 years to collect $3 million, while Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, senior advisers to Trump, clocked in $135 million within a year
Interestingly while the allegations of trading in the family name do hold water, reports found no breach of legalities in Hunter Biden’s time with Burisma. Conversely, Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand, which she shut down in 2018, has raised eyebrows for violating federal laws and reaping millions of dollars in profit. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has repeatedly called for formal investigations into Ivanka Trump’s actions for violating federal ethics laws. As late as July 2020, CREW filed an ethics complaint against Ivanka for her official endorsement of Goya products on social media.
Federal ethics regulations prohibit any employee from endorsing “any product, service or enterprise.” If White House officials start directing business to supporters of a president, ethics are bound to be questioned.
The Trumpian Abuse of Power
The alleged abuse of power started much earlier. Just four months into her father’s administration, the President Trump’s daughter dined with the US and Chinese Presidents at a Trump resort. Ethics concerns were raised even prior to the meeting by Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
Ivanka Trump’s alleged abuse of power started much earlier… just four months into her father’s administration.
As the dinner progressed, a government office in China quietly gave preliminary approval for trademarks covering jewelry, bags and spa services for her company, Ivanka Trump Marks LLC. According to an AP news report in April 2017, “global sales of Ivanka Trump merchandise” surged since her father’s presidential tenure started and her company applied for “at least nine new trademarks in the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Canada and the U.S”.
Watch: Ivanka Trump’s China Links
Ivanka Trump’s actions have since continued to raise serious concern over the question of mixing personal business with her official White House position. This was particularly noticeable in the context of China with whom the President has had a blow hot, blow cold relationship through his tenure. It could hardly be a coincidence when in May 2018 Trump lifted a ban on the Chinese telecom giant ZTE from buying American goods and near-simultaneously, Beijing sanctioned seven new trademarks for Ivanka Trump’s company. This sparked much outrage over Ivanka gaining approval in country where US business had started increasingly unwelcome.
Alarm bells were also raised by CREW about “the potential conflicts her business interests present,” noting that “although Ivanka has stepped down from her role at her business and has placed it in a trust, she continues to receive profits from the business.”
Ivanka Trump’s actions have continued to raise serious concern over the question of mixing personal business with her official White House position.
So while Ivanka announced in plans to close her brand, she had already bagged approvals for 34 new trademarks from 2018 to early 2019. Ranging from child care services and wedding gowns to voting machines, this enables Ivanka Trump to benefit from these trademarks whenever she starts her company back again, something she could do at any time.
This, and several other potentially questionable deals made by Ivanka, her husband and her brothers make more than a case for them to be investigated for violating federal laws. And in this context when the Trumps raise charges of nepotism or conflict of interest against Hunter Biden, it can be seen as a classic example of near-ironic hypocrisy.