On MSNBC, Former Obama Ethics Czar Explains That Kellyanne Conway Urging Viewer To Buy Ivanka Trump's Products Is "Contrary To Federal Law"
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From the Februrary 9 edition of MSNBC's MSNBC Live with Hallie Jackson:
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HALLIE JACKSON (HOST): Norm Eisen, former Obama White House ethics czar. Norm, Thanks for being with us here. Let's start with Kellyanne Conway here. Did she violate ethics rules, federal ethics rules on endorsements?
NORM EISEN: Hallie, thanks for having me and I'm going to say something that's seldom heard on television. 5 CFR 2635.702. That is the code of federal regulations that prevents government employees from using their public office, she was speaking in her public capacity, to benefit private parties for private gain. In this, case she was doing an advertisement for Ivanka Trump's products. It is contrary to federal law to do what she did. I believe that it's a violation of the rules and she's going to need to be disciplined for it.
JACKSON: What does disciplined mean? What does that mean? Who is going to discipline her?
EISEN: Well, in the first instance, this is a serious matter. Hallie. It's not an isolated incident. What we’ve seen is the tone at the top from Donald Trump, himself violating the ethics rules in the Constitution, the Emoluments Clause, forbids him to take foreign government payment, he’s taking them. Of course we're litigating over that at CREW. And it set off a terrible tone at the top that is permeating. You have this cabinet that is profoundly conflicted, the worst ethics mess we've seen in a cabinet. And now you have White House officials, like Ms. Conway, who are flouting one of the most basic rules, you don't use public office for the private gain of another and the White House counsel is now going to be responsible, ultimately the president, is going to be responsible for doing something about that. We can’t have federal officials breaking federal law.
JACKSON: Speaking of the president, the white house is obviously defending what Donald Trump did and said on Twitter.
JACKSON: Press Secretary Sean Spicer is essentially making the point there's nothing wrong with a father defending his daughter. So I pose the question to you is there anything wrong with a dad defending his kid?
EISEN: Hallie, of course, we're all sympathetic to a father who wants to defend a daughter. I have a daughter. And of course I want to protect her. She's a pretty tough kid, she more often ends up protecting me. But what he's done here, there have to be limits, Hallie. And we have those limits. It’s called the Constitution, it’s called American law. ... The tweet, which misrepresents what happened. Mr. Spicer pouring it on, suggesting it was a political retaliation. Nordstrom says they just weren't able to sell the products. That's the most fundamental principle of American capitalism. Now Eric getting into the act with his tweet suggesting a boycott. American law doesn't allow this. There are rules preventing attacking a business in this way. For example, the California unfair competition law where Nordstrom has a lot of stores. One of the broadest laws of its kinds in the country, it says you can't unfairly attack a business. And that's what's happening here. This is the behavior of a Mafia Don defending his turf, not the president of the United States.