The top adviser to the president apologized to him on Thursday after telling a Fox News audience to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff” — a remark that rankled both Republicans and Democrats and led to Conway being “counseled” by White House staff.
According to a senior administration official who spoke with CNN, Trump told Conway in that meeting that he backed her up “completely” and that he “hated” the word “counseled,” which press secretary Sean Spicer used in a White House briefing to describe the White House response to Conway’s comments.
Conway took her good news to Twitter on Friday, writing: “POTUS supports me, and millions of Americans support him & his agenda.” She also linked to an Associated Press article about the president backing her.
On Thursday, Conway urged Fox News viewers to buy Ivanka’s merchandise after Nordstrom said it was dropping the first daughter’s clothing line due to poor sales.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff, is what I would tell you,” Conway said. “It’s a wonderful line. I own some of it. I fully — I’m going to just, I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.”
Several attorneys told PEOPLE that Conway appeared to have broken a rule of the Office of Government Ethics that forbids government employees from using their public office for private gain, or for the endorsement of any product, service or enterprise.
Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings and Jason Chaffetz, Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, co-wrote a letter to the Office of Government Ethics on Thursday, asking the government agency to look into Conway’s comments.
The letter requested that the agency “use authority Congress granted to you…to ‘recommend to [Trump] the appropriate disciplinary action be brought against” Conway.
An official told CNN that The White House counsel’s office talked to Conway shortly after her Thursday morning TV interview and told her that her remarks violated ethical guidelines.
But according to a White House spokeswoman who spoke with Associated Press, the president told staff he believed Conway was “merely sticking up” for his daughter after Nordstrom dropped her brand — something he also did himself on Twitter.
Elsewhere on Twitter, some people wondered what it really meant to be “counseled,” and others expressed zero surprise that Trump didn’t seem all that bothered by Conway’s comments.
Joked one Twitter user: “Kellyanne Conway has been counseled and will be doing her next TV appearance from Trump’s DC hotel.”