Carl Icahn, the billionaire activist investor who surged to prominence with a hostile takeover of Trans World Airlines in the 1980s, has stepped down as a special adviser to President Donald Trump on regulatory issues, he said in a statement posted on his website.
Scores of Republican politicians and business leaders have distanced themselves from the president after his comments following the terrorist attack in Charlottesville, with the president’s business advisory councils choosing to disband, and former Republican elected officials Mitt Romney and Arnold Schwarzenegger blasting Trump’s excuse-making for participants in a march that attracted neo-Nazi and white supremacist elements.
However, Icahn did not cite Charlottesville in his decision to step away from his advisory role, insisting in his statement that he had “no duties whatsoever” and choosing to move on to avoid “partisan bickering” about his role.
The full statement is 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.
Carl C. Icahn
More to come…