In a letter posted on his website addressed to POTUS, Icahn responded to criticism on the Democratic side that his role might create a conflict of interest. “I never sought any special benefit for any company with which I have been involved, and have only expressed views that I believed would benefit the refining industry as a whole,” he wrote.
According to the letter, Icahn is stepping down to avoid the distraction of “partisan bickering.” The investor’s announcement comes on the same day that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon exited the White House — whether Bannon resigned or was fired is currently unclear.
The announcement also seems to top off an already tumultuous week for the White House. Trump has been criticized over the past week for failing to sufficiently condemn white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other hate groups, and drew massive backlash when, in a combative Tuesday press conference, he blamed “both sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, Va.
Several CEOs subsequently resigned from advisory boards before both the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy and Policy Forum dissolved altogether. Members of his Arts and Humanities Committee also resigned in protest, though the White House later issued a statement arguing that Trump had already decided not to renew the executive order for the group.
Read Icahn’s full statement below.
Dear Mr. President:
This will confirm our conversation today in which we agreed that I would cease to act as special advisor to the President on issues relating to regulatory reform.
As I discussed with you, I’ve received a number of inquiries over the last month regarding the recent appointment of Neomi Rao as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (or “regulatory czar,” as the press has dubbed her) – specifically questions about whether there was any overlap between her formal position and my unofficial role. As I know you are aware, the answer to that question is an unequivocal no, for the simple reason that I had no duties whatsoever.
I never had a formal position with your administration nor a policymaking role. And contrary to the insinuations of a handful of your Democratic critics, I never had access to nonpublic information or profited from my position, nor do I believe that my role presented conflicts of interest. Indeed, out of an abundance of caution, the only issues I ever discussed with you were broad matters of policy affecting the refining industry. I never sought any special benefit for any company with which I have been involved, and have only expressed views that I believed would benefit the refining industry as a whole.
Nevertheless, I chose to end this arrangement (with your blessing) because I did not want partisan bickering about my role to in any way cloud your administration or Ms. Rao’s important work. While I do not know Ms. Rao and played no part in her appointment, I am confident based on what I’ve read of her accomplishments that she is the right person for this important job.
I sincerely regret that because of your extremely busy schedule, as well as my own, I have not had the opportunity to spend nearly as much time as I’d hoped on regulatory issues. I truly appreciate the confidence you have in me and sincerely hope that the limited insights I shared have been helpful to you. I love our country which has allowed me to achieve so much and I thank you for the informal opportunity you have given me to aid it.