New Yorker: Carl Icahn's Failed Raid on Washington
Icahn’s role was novel. He would be an adviser with a formal title, but he would not receive a salary, and he would not be required to divest himself of any of his holdings, or to make any disclosures about potential conflicts of interest. “Carl Icahn will be advising the President in his individual capacity,” Trump’s transition team asserted.
It is ironic for Passantino to rule on the controversy surrounding Icahn’s conflicts of interest—because Passantino has a conflict of his own. On June 28th, Walter Shaub, the head of the Office of Government Ethics, wrote a letter pointing out that Passantino, in his mandatory disclosures as a full-time White House employee, noted that before joining the Administration he had been a corporate lawyer. He listed the clients for whom he had done work in the two years prior to joining the government. One of them was Icahn. At the time that Passantino was initially queried about the propriety of Icahn’s position, he made no mention of this relationship.
Two weeks after Shaub sent his letter, he resigned, saying that he could no longer meaningfully perform the function for which the Office of Government Ethics was designed. Shaub warned that the United States was facing a “historic ethics crisis.”