In business dealings, Donald Trump has ignored buy-American ethos

Trump-owned hotel contains several products manufactured overseas.

ByBrian Ross, Rhonda Schwartz and Ali Dukakis
April 18, 2017, 7:02 PM

— -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order to tighten requirements that federal agencies buy American today, but it’s a concept that Donald Trump regularly ignored as a businessman.

The executive order, signed before cheering crowds at a rally at Snap-on Tools in Kenosha, Wisconsin, mandates that the government “fully monitor, uphold and enforce” laws requiring federal agencies to favor American-made goods and services.

“We’re going to do everything in our power to make sure more products are stamped with those wonderful words ‘Made in the USA,’” Trump declared.

During a December visit to the recently opened Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., however, ABC News found several items from at least six foreign countries scattered throughout a fourth-floor king deluxe suite, contrary to the spirit of Trump’s latest push toward economic nationalism.

In the marble and gold bathroom, the fixtures were made by Kohler, an American company based in Wisconsin, but there was soap made in Canada, towels made in India and bathrobes made in China. Several additional products in the suite arrived in the United States from Europe — specifically, Italy, France and the United Kingdom.

When reached for comment by phone, Patricia Tang, the director of marketing for the hotel, offered only a brief comment before abruptly hanging up.

“Nothing has changed,” she said. “We have nothing to do with the [Trump] administration.”

PHOTO: The 'Trump Hotels' bathrobe was made in China.
The 'Trump Hotels' bathrobe was made in China.
ABC News
PHOTO: The hand towels in the bathroom were made in India.
The hand towels in the bathroom were made in India.
ABC News
PHOTO: The 'Trump Hotel Collection' toiletries were made in Canada.
The 'Trump Hotel Collection' toiletries were made in Canada.
ABC News

As he laid the foundation for his presidential run, Trump tried to laugh off the fact that so many of his branded products were not made in America. In an appearance on “The Late Show” in 2012, David Letterman pointed out that even as Trump was railing against U.S. companies outsourcing manufacturing overseas, Trump’s line of dress shirts was being produced in Bangladesh.

“Well, that’s good,” Trump replied. “We employ people in Bangladesh.”

Even several years later in the heat of the campaign, it became clear that the Trump Organization’s policies on overseas production had not changed. In an interview with ABC News’ David Muir, then-candidate Trump confirmed that he sold Trump-branded products manufactured in China, Mexico, Turkey and Slovenia.

“It’s true,” Trump said. “And you know why? Because they devalue their currency and they make it impossible for companies to compete.”

First daughter and official White House adviser Ivanka Trump has also profited from overseas manufacturing. The Associated Press reported today that shipments for her company from China — where the shoes, handbags and clothing for her fashion line are produced — have more than doubled in the last year.

Ivanka Trump says she is no longer involved in her company’s business strategy, but last week, as she sat next to Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, the Chinese government granted her company three new trademarks, raising questions from ethics experts concerned about potential conflicts of interest.

When reached for comment, her lawyer Jamie Gorelick dismissed any suggestions of impropriety.

“Since she resigned her position, Ivanka has had no involvement with trademark applications submitted by the business,” Gorelick said. “The federal ethics rules do not require you to recuse from any matter concerning a foreign country just because a business that you have an ownership interest in has a trademark application pending there. Ivanka will recuse from particular matters where she has a conflict of interest or where the White House counsel determines her participation would present appearance or impartiality concerns.”

Abigail Klem, the president of Ivanka Trump’s company, told ABC News that those filings were merely a routine part of protecting the company’s overseas business.

“The brand has filed, updated and rigorously protected its international trademarks over the past several years in the normal course of business, especially in regions where trademark infringement is rampant,” said Klem. “We have recently seen a surge in trademark filings by unrelated third parties trying to capitalize on the name, and it is our responsibility to diligently protect our trademark.”

ABC News’ John Santucci, Zunaira Zaki, Cho Park and Randy Kreider contributed to this report.

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