This Week in Conflicts: Ivanka Trump Accused of Violating Conflict of Interest Law, Clock Tower in Trump’s D.C. Hotel Remains Open and NYT Says FBI Investigated if Trump was Working for Russia


Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump at the Charleston International Airport, February 2017. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Ryan Johnson)

This week, a watchdog group is accusing Ivanka Trump of violating a conflict of interest law for her involvement in a tax break program, the historic clock tower located in President Donald Trump’s Washington D.C. hotel is open and staffed by federal employees during the partial government shutdown and China’s biggest bank plans to reduce its office space inside Trump Tower in New York City.

Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s daughter giving a speech. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, A. Shaker/VOA)

Ivanka and the Opportunity Zones Program

Ivanka Trump, President Trump’s daughter and a White House senior adviser, is being accused of violating the conflict of interest law.

According to CNN, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is asking the Justice Department to investigate Ivanka Trump’s involvement in the “Opportunity Zones” program which gives tax breaks for investors in certain neighborhoods across the country.

The conflict of interest law CREW alleges Ivanka violated, prohibits executive branch employees from participating in matters that have a direct effect on their financial interest. The law also applies to their spouse’s financial interest.

“Ms. Trump was required to recuse from participating in the implementation of the opportunity zones program. She clearly did not,” CREW wrote. “Thus, Ms. Trump appears to have participated in a particular matter that affects her imputed financial interests, and may have violated the conflict of interest law.”

A spokesperson for Trump’s ethics attorney told CNN CREW’s request is “politically motivated and (a) meritless complaint.”

The zones were included in the federal tax overhaul passed in December 2017. Kushner Companies, Jared Kushner’s family company, has purchased three properties located in the zones since the tax overhaul passed. Kushner, Ivanka Trump’s husband, and a White House senior adviser, has resigned as the chief executive of Kushner Companies but still retains most of his stake in the company.

Trump hotel Washington D.C. (Image Credit: Flickr user Maxence)

Clock Tower in Trump D.C. Hotel Spared During Government Shutdown

As the current partial government shutdown enters its 22nd day, becoming the longest shutdown in U.S. history, people are questioning why the historic clock tower inside the Trump International Hotel D.C. remains open and staffed by National Park Service rangers.

As the Associated Press reports, one NPS ranger was declaring “we’re open” while pushing an elevator button for a visitor riding to the top of the 315-foot-high clock tower this week.

“The Trump administration appears to have gone out of its way to keep the attraction in the federally owned building that houses the Trump hotel open and staffed with National Park Service rangers, even as other federal agencies shut all but the most essential services,” The AP reports.

Other national parks and the Smithsonian museums have been left unstaffed and closed during the partial shutdown.

The General Services Administration owns the building and leases it to the Trump Organization. A spokesperson for the agency told the AP, the shutdown exemption for the almost 120-year-old clock tower was “unrelated to the facility’s tenant,” the Trump Organization. According to the spokesperson, a law that put GSA in charge of the site requires the agency to keep it open, even as federal offices close around it.

“But the scene at the modest historic site at the Trump hotel building, where rangers often outnumber visitors, marked the latest episode in which Trump’s business interests have overlapped with the work of the federal government, creating at least the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the AP reports.

Trump Tower located at 725 Fifth Avenue, at the corner of East 56th Street in Midtown Manhattan. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons user Jorge Láscar)

Chinese Bank Reducing Space at Trump Tower

China’s biggest bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., plans to reduce its space in Trump Tower, Bloomberg is reporting.

The lease between the bank and the Trump Organization ends in October. The bank is a state-controlled organization and is one of Trump Tower’s largest office tenants.

Currently it “occupies space on three floors in the Fifth Avenue building, where it has a bank branch and about 100 employees,” according to Bloomberg. “It plans a substantial withdrawal from the building while retaining one floor for executive offices.”

A spokesperson for the Trump Organization did not respond to Bloomberg’s requests for comment.

More conflicts of interest in the news

About this Project

Sunlight’s “Tracking Trump’s Conflicts of Interest” project provides a free, searchable database detailing President Donald J. Trump’s known business dealings and personal interests that may conflict with his public duties as President of the United States. The project also documents news coverage of these potential conflicts. Read our reporting to stay current on related news, explore our database, and learn more about the project. As we continue to learn about the First Family’s business holdings, the database will be updated. To help with those updates, get involved by contacting us here. You can also contact us if you’re familiar with any of the conflicts we’re tracking.

Lynn Walsh is an Emmy award-winning freelance journalist who has worked in investigative, data and TV journalism at the national level as well as locally in California, Ohio, Texas and Florida. She produces content focused on government accountability, public access to information and freedom of expression issues. She’s also helping to rebuild trust between newsrooms and the public through the Trusting News project.