President Donald Trump is known for shattering political precedent, but experts say the White House's war on Nordstrom for dropping his daughter's clothing line is ordinary behavior.
Just not in America.
"This is so common in so many parts of the world that perhaps we shouldn't be surprised it eventually happened here," said Matthew Stephenson, a Harvard law professor who studies international corruption. "I'm hoping we find a way to nip it in the bud before it gets out of control."
Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway got a strong bipartisan rebuke on Thursday for promoting Ivanka Trump's clothing brand in a TV interview.
But ethics experts say the broader conflict between the White House and Nordstrom is more worrisome, raising questions about whether the United States is entering a new environment in which presidents use government to steer money to their inner circles.
Around the globe, and especially in developing countries with weak government institutions, leaders frequently become enmeshed in scandals for allegedly mixing personal business with their public duties. Many cases involve friends or relatives who use official ties to land sweetheart deals.
Recent examples included Argentina under the Kirchner dynasty, South Africa under President Jacob Zuma and Thailand under Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. In South Korea, President Park Geun-hye faces impeachment over charges that a family confidant used their relationship to extort millions of dollars from businesses.
"Over and over again, you see this pattern of populist leaders, often democratically elected, who use the power of office to enrich themselves, their families and their cronies," Stephenson said.
In that context, Stephenson said the White House's recent behavior was "extraordinarily and depressingly familiar."