"Go buy Ivanka's stuff," a top White House adviser urged American shoppers on Thursday, a day after President Donald Trump sharply criticized a department store for dropping his daughter's clothing line.
"I hate shopping," Kellyanne Conway told the Fox network in a televised interview, with the White House seal clearly visible over her left shoulder. But "I'm going to go get some myself today."
"This is just a wonderful line," she added. "I own some of it. I fully -- I'm going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online."
To Washington traditionalists, Conway's direct pitch from the White House for a product line sold by the president's child seemed a jaw-dropping use of presidential prestige.
But she was clearly channeling the anger expressed a day earlier by the president himself, when he tweeted that Ivanka had been "treated so unfairly" by Nordstrom, the upscale department store chain that dropped her line. "Terrible," he added.
The message from the White House again fanned debate over the unprecedented level to which the new president -- despite his protestations to the contrary -- has mixed politics, business and family, raising questions about conflicts of interest.
After Trump's tweet, shares in Nordstrom briefly dropped but soon began to rise. Toward midday on Thursday, the company's stock was trading up nearly 7 percent over its closing price from two days earlier.
Since his election in November, Trump has targeted a series of American multinationals by name (General Motors, Ford, Boeing, Lockheed and others) for moving production overseas or for allegedly overcharging the government.
But this was the first time he had complained directly about the business interests of one of his adult children. The tweet appeared both in Trump's personal feed and on that of the official presidential Twitter account, @POTUS.
The Nordstrom group, with 350 stores in the United States and Canada, has repeatedly denied any political motive to its dropping of Ivanka Trump's clothing line, saying it was motivated purely by "performance" considerations. Sales had fallen, particularly in last year's second half.
But products carrying a Trump brand, including Ivanka's, have been boycotted by critics of the new president, leading to his complaint of a political motivation behind Nordstrom's move.
TJX Companies, which operates the clothing store chains TJ Maxx and Marshalls, told AFP on Thursday it had instructed store employees no longer to display Ivanka Trump products separately.
"The communication we sent to TJ Maxx and Marshalls in the US instructed stores to mix this line of merchandise into our racks, not to remove it from the sales floor," a spokesperson told AFP, confirming an earlier report in The New York Times.