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Trump's White House takes on retailer over his daughter's deal

Donald Trump's tweet about Ivanka Trump was an important mistake, but Sean Spicer made matters dramatically worse.
Ivanka Trump, right, listens as her father Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a policy speech on child care, Sept. 13, 2016, in Aston, Pa. (Photo by Evan Vucci/AP)
Ivanka Trump, right, listens as her father Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a policy speech on child care, Sept. 13, 2016, in Aston, Pa. 
Nordstrom, a prominent high-end retail chain, had a business arrangement with Ivanka Trump, one of Donald Trump's adult children, which recently ran its course. Nordstrom said last week that her products simply weren't selling: "Based on the brand's performance, we've decided not to buy it for this season," a Nordstrom spokeswoman said Thursday. Other retailers featuring Ivanka Trump's products made a similar decision.Apparently, the president is not handling the developments well. Donald Trump interrupted his busy work schedule this morning to declare via Twitter, "My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!"It was a bizarre message, and not just because his poor writing skills made it seem as if he thinks it's terrible that his daughter is always pushing him to do the right thing. In practical terms, the message was unprecedented: a sitting president used his position to criticize a private entity, targeting an American company for hurting his daughter's bottom line.Given Trump's existing conflicts-of-interest troubles, this showed ridiculous judgment. The president should at least try to separate himself from his family's business interests, instead of using his office to interfere in his daughter's retailing opportunities.It's one thing to badger companies on issues such as foreign manufacturing; it's something else to use the presidency to harass a company over his family's profits. (Note, Trump's tweet about Nordstrom was soon featured on the official presidential Twitter account, as well as Trump's Instagram and Facebook accounts.)But as outlandish as this was, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made matters considerably worse with his defense of his boss' tweet:

"I think this is less about his family business and an attack on his daughter. He ran for president; he won; he's leading this country. And I think for people to take out their concern about his actions or his executive orders on members of his family, he has every right to stand up for his family and applaud their business activities, their success. [...]"For someone to take out their concern with his policies on a family member of his is not acceptable and the president has every right as a father to stand up to them."

We're getting into some pretty alarming areas here.A retailer had a business arrangement with a private citizen; that person's merchandise didn't sell well; and the retailer made a business decision to go in a different direction. According to the White House press secretary, this decision represents "an attack."Nordstrom made no mention of politics or Ivanka Trump's father, but to hear Spicer tell it, that simply doesn't matter. The company's decision was "not acceptable" -- and it warranted a rebuke from the chief executive of a global superpower.Even for Trump World, this is bonkers. Every conservative who's ever complained about "crony capitalism" has reason to speak up.