President Trump declared it "Made in America" week — but White House spokesperson Sean Spicer struggled on Monday to answer whether Donald and Ivanka Trump's brands will stop making many of their products outside the United States.
A reporter asked during the daily press briefing — which, again, was not allowed to be televised — if "as part of 'Made in America' week, the Trump Organization or Ivanka Trump's brands will make any kind of commitment to stop manufacturing gifts, clothes and other wares abroad."
"I can tell you in some cases there are certain supply chains or scalability that might not be available," Spicer said. "I'm not going to comment on specific products, but I will tell you the over-arching goal is to grow the US manufacturing base and to grow US workers here."
Asked about Ivanka Trump products again later in the briefing, Spicer replied, "I can tell you it depends on the product. Certain industries we don't do as much anymore in terms of scalability. Certain things we may not have capacity to do here in terms of a plant or a factory."
BuzzFeed News has reported on the factory in Honduras that produces Trump-branded clothing, and other outlets have found the line's shirts are made in China, Bangladesh, Honduras and Vietnam, sport coats in India, and eyeglasses in China. Trump Home products, including light fixtures and kitchen wares, are made in China, and Ivanka Trump’s apparel brand manufactures products in China and Singapore, CNBC has found.
"We will protect our workers, promote our industry and be proud of our history because we will put America first," Trump said while delivering a speech on Monday, kicking off "Made in America" week. "America will be first again. We will make America great again. Remember that," the president said.
"We will turn boarded-up communities into new outposts of American commerce," Trump later said. "And we will once again rediscover our heritage as a manufacturing nation. We used to be a manufacturing nation. Not so much anymore."
Given the dissonance between the message touted on Monday and the reality of the Trump brands' producing goods abroad, Spicer was asked whether Trump was the correct "vessel" for supporting home-grown manufacturing.
"I look at it in a very different way," Spicer said, arguing that Trump's experience in business leads him to better understand the tax and regulatory burden in America, and the disadvantages of tariffs and "arcane trade laws."
Spicer went on to tie a lower tax rate to more investment in the United States.
"The beauty of a capitalistic society is a lower tax rate will grow businesses," Spicer said. "Business leaders, when asked, 'What will you do if the tax rate drops?' say they will invest and build more."
Pressed further, Spicer declined again to comment on Trump's own branded products.
"With respect to his own companies, obviously it’s inappropriate to discuss how anything will affect his own companies," Spicer said. "It’s not appropriate for me to comment. That’s out of bounds."
Cora Lewis is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Lewis reports on labor.
Contact Cora Lewis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at email@example.com.
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