Ivanka Trump's Defense for Wearing Her Company's Clothing Is 'Laughable,' Former Ethics Chief Says

Ivanka Trump, adviser and daughter of President Donald Trump, attends an event highlighting the opioid crisis in the U.S. on October 26, 2017, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. An ex-ethics chief said that Ivanka Trump is close to committing an ethics violation by profiting from her clothing brand while serving as a White House adviser.  Getty Images

Updated | First daughter Ivanka Trump's defense for her documented practice of wearing her company's dresses, jewelry, bags and shoes to political events is "laughable," a former ethics chief under ex-President Barack Obama said.

Trump wore apparel for sale from her company, IT Collection LLC, in 46 out of 68, or 68 percent, of pictures she posted on her social media accounts from March to October, converting herself into a "walking billboard for her brand," The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

The first daughter responded to the report with an emailed statement: "If what motivated me was to grow my businesses and make money, I would have stayed in New York and done just that."

Walter Shaub, who was director of the Office of Government Ethics, also said on CNN's New Day show Tuesday morning that a misuse of government position for private gain is the "international definition of corruption."

"The reality is that the core principle of the ethics program is that you're not supposed to misuse your government position for private gain," Shaub said. "This is the principle that George H.W. Bush founded as the cornerstone of the ethics program."

Shaub said that Trump is very close to committing an ethics violation by profiting from her clothing brand while serving as a White House adviser. He said the first daughter can wear whatever she chooses but has a higher burden to steer clear of potential conflicts of interest.

"We're in this situation because she is one of the rare government appointees in the White House who has not divested her financial interests," Shaub said. "She's one of the top presidential advisers and the daughter of the president in that role because the Department of Justice threw away almost half a century of precedent that nepotism is not allowed in the White House."

Ivanka sometimes wears her own brand at official events--a reminder that she still owns and profits from her business while serving in the White House; @waltshaub and I discuss on @NewDay

— Cristina Alesci (@CristinaAlesci) January 2, 2018

The first daughter is not the only member of the Trump family coming close to ethics violations, Shaub said, pointing out President Donald Trump profiting off of doubling the cost of Mar-a-Lago initiation fees.

"What we're seeing across the board is an effort to monetize the presidency. No, it's not OK. He shouldn't have kept those assets in the first place," Shaub said. "And the only reason people are paying higher membership fees or higher fees for the New Year's Eve party, or above-market rates to stay in his hotel in Washington, is they want to purchase access to the president. And access to the president shouldn't be for sale to the wealthy people who can pay the price."

This story has been updated to more accurately represent Walter Shaub's comments about Ivanka Trump.