Top White House aide promotes Ivanka's products; counselled

The White House yesterday said that a top adviser to president Trump had been ''counselled'' after using a television appearance from the West Wing to promote the clothing and jewellery line sold under the brand of Trump's daughter.

The endorsement, in which President Trump's councellor  Kellyanne Conway told Fox News Channel viewers to ''go buy Ivanka's stuff,'' seemed to run counter to an ethics rule, which barred federal employees from using their public office to endorse products. According to commentators, the news came as rare acknowledgement of a wrong step by the White House.

House Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chhaffetz (Republican-Utah) said that Conway's comments were ''absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong'' and ''clearly over the line.''

Chaffetz, who had ignored calls by Democrats to investigate potential conflicts related to president Trump's businesses, joined with the Oversight Committee's ranking Democrat, Elijah Cummings in writing a letter to the Office of Government Ethics calling Conway's comments ''unacceptable.''

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Conway had been ''counseled on the subject'' but did not say whether she would be disciplined. Spicer gave no reasons why Conway's statements had required the intervention, and the White House declined to answer further questions.

''Go buy Ivanka's stuff is what I would say,'' Conway said in the interview with Fox News, speaking from the White House briefing room. ''I'm going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.''

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Public Citizen, nonprofit advocacy groups, have also called on the ethics office to investigate whether Conway's comments breached rules.  The director of the office, Walter M Shaub Jr, had publicly stated that the president needed to do more to separate himself from his businesses.