Obama ethics czar: Trump's Nordstrom tweet an 'abuse' of presidency

Former President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaConservative media struggles with new prominence under Trump Speculation grows over Trump FCC pick Graham: Left is 'going insane' after Trump's win MORE's ethics czar said Thursday that President Trump’s criticism of retail outlet Nordstrom for dropping his daughter’s apparel brand is "an abuse of the office of the presidency."

"It is an example of why Donald TrumpDonald TrumpCould Trump and the Democrats make 'ObamaCare Lite' any lighter? Week ahead: House Intel chair under fire over Trump surveillance claims Jeb Bush: Trump a ‘distraction in and of himself’ MORE and his family needed to step away, needed to make a more definitive break," Norm Eisen, who later served as U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic under Obama, told MSNBC's Katy Tur in an interview.

"And I think it's an abuse of the office of the presidency. He's putting the bully in the bully pulpit."

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Trump on Wednesday criticized the department store chain after it said last week it would no longer carry Ivanka Trump’s line.

"My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!" Trump wrote on Twitter using his personal @realDonaldTrump account. 

That tweet was later shared by the official @POTUS account.

Eisen, who has criticized Trump for his business dealings, said Nordstrom now has a “cause of action” against the president for his comments.

"To attack this company on dubious factual assertions in order to promote his daughter, whatever degree of separation she has, we still don't know if Donald Trump himself is invested in those businesses,” he said. “And it's just the latest in a series of these entanglements."

White House press secretary Sean Spicer defended Trump's tweet later in the day Wednesday, claiming that the company was "targeting" Ivanka Trump for political reasons.

"When it comes to his family, he’ll be clear about how proud he is and what they’ve accomplished. 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 for them," Spicer said.

Nordstrom reiterated that its decision was "based on performance" of Trump's brand.

"Over the past year, and particularly in the last half of 2016, sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn't make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now," a Nordstrom spokesperson said in a statement.

The spokesperson added that the company has had a "great relationship" with Trump's team, adding that "Ivanka was personally informed of our decision in early January."