Is corporate America worried about being in Trump's crosshairs?

Last Updated Feb 9, 2017 8:04 AM EST

The president of the United States is defending his daughter after Nordstrom cut ties with her brand last week. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump slammed the upscale retailer on Twitter, saying: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She is a great person -- always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” 

Nordstrom continues to maintain the severed ties with the Ivanka Trump brand has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with business. But Mr. Trump seems to think differently, reports CBS News’ Alex Wagner.

On Wednesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer also hit back against Nordstrom. Spicer said Mr. Trump has “every right to stand up for his family.”

“This is a direct attack on his policies and her name,” Spicer said. “There’s clearly an attempt for him to stand up for her because she is being maligned because they have a problem with his policies.”

But Nordstrom says it’s not politics; it’s business. In a statement, the retailer said: “We made this decision based on performance. 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. We’ve had a great relationship with the Ivanka Trump team. We’ve had open conversations with them over the past year to share what we’ve seen and Ivanka was personally informed of our decision in early January.”

Days before Nordstrom dropped the 35-year-old’s brand last week, the retailer sent an email to their employees offering support to anyone affected by Mr. Trump’s executive order on immigration.

“If this brand were making money, it would be in that store and they would be promoting it,” CBS News financial contributor Mellody Hobson said.

Hobson said despite the insistence by Nordstrom that the split was over sagging sales, corporate America is worried about being singled out by Mr. Trump.  

“I think it’s very clear no one wants to be in the crosshairs of the President of the United States,” Hobson said.

Ivanka, who relinquished control of her company last month, has no formal role in the Trump administration but remains very close to the White House. Last week she was seen at a meeting with business leaders in the state dining room. Her husband, 36-year-old Jared Kushner, is a senior adviser to the president.

Richard Painter, chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush, said Mr. Trump is not conducting himself in a way that is consistent with the office. 

“We need his undivided attention to the affairs of the United States. We cannot have him out there schilling for the family businesses on Twitter or anywhere else,” Painter said.

In a statement, the Ivanka Trump brand told CBS News they continue to experience significant year-over-year revenue growth. T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have reportedly asked their employees to remove signage, but not merchandise featuring the Ivanka Trump brand.    

After this piece aired, a spokesperson for TJX Companies, which owns T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, told CBS News: “From time to time, we communicate with our stores about how to handle merchandise. The communication was intended to instruct stores to mix this line of merchandise into our racks, not to remove it from the sales floor. The message to discard signs was a mistake and we plan to make more signs. Merchandise is featured based on a number of factors. We value the patronage of all of our customers.”