Ivanka Trump abruptly leaves conference call after question about China trademarks

Ivanka Trump, a top-ranking White House official, rarely takes questions from the news media in uncontrolled settings.
Ivanka Trump, a top-ranking White House official, rarely takes questions from the news media in uncontrolled settings.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - Ms Ivanka Trump abruptly left a conference call on Tuesday (May 29) about a coming fitness event after receiving questions about her company's trademarks in China and her father's exercise regimen.

White House officials insisted that she had always been scheduled to leave.

Ms Ivanka Trump and Ms Holli Richmond, the director of the White House Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition, both hosted the call with reporters before a field day President Donald Trump was to host on Wednesday at the White House.

At the outset, a White House official said that Ms Ivanka Trump would take a few questions before departing for a meeting and that Ms Richmond would handle the rest.

But the first reporter to ask a question broached the number of trademarks that China recently awarded Ms Ivanka Trump's private, eponymous brand.

Around the same time, her father, the President, endorsed saving Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, a move that surprised several people in his own administration.

The company was left paralysed after it was recently banned from buying US technology components for seven years as punishment for breaking US sanctions against some countries, including Iran and North Korea.

When the reporter, from NBC, asked whether Ms Ivanka Trump would weigh in on the matter, the official, Mr Ninio Fetalvo, said that he had to "refer those questions to the press office".

He quickly moved on to the next question.

Ms Ivanka Trump, a top-ranking White House official, rarely takes questions from the news media in uncontrolled settings.

The issue of overlap between her brand and her work at the White House has frequently raised eyebrows, including among ethics watchdogs.

Later on the call, a question came up about whether the President has changed his fitness and diet routine, which Dr Ronny Jackson, his White House physician at the time, had recommended this year.

Ms Ivanka Trump, Mr Fetalvo said, had departed for another meeting and could not take the question.