White House Parries OGE’s Request For Probe Into Conway’s Ivanka Promo

AP

Under pressure from the Office of Government Ethics, the Trump White House has formally responded to OGE’s request for an investigation into comments President Donald Trump’s top advisor Kellyanne Conway made promoting Ivanka Trump’s clothing and accessories line.

The White House’s response: It was an accident, it won’t happen again and that’s the end of that.

The White House’s conclusions came in a letter from a White House lawyer to the OGE. It concluded Conway acted “without nefarious motive or intent to benefit personally.” CNN first reported Wednesday on the letter, which was dated Feb. 28, 2017.

“Upon completion of our inquiry, we concluded that Ms. Conway acted inadvertently and is highly unlikely to do so again,” White House deputy counsel for compliance and ethics Stefan C. Passantino wrote in the letter. “Ms. Conway made the statement in question in a light, off-hand manner while attempting to stand up for a person she believed had been unfairly treated.”

Neither the OGE nor the White House immediately responded to TPM’s request for comment.

The OGE sent a letter to the White House in February calling on it to investigate whether Conway broke ethics rules after she used a Fox News appearance to encourage people to buy items from Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.

“I’m going to give a free commercial here,” Conway said. “Go buy it today, everybody, you can find it online.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said later the same day that Conway was “counseled” for her remarks. He declined to comment further.

In his earlier letter to the White House, OGE director Walter Shaub wrote that “there is strong reason to believe that Ms. Conway has violated the Standards of Conduct and that disciplinary action is warranted.”

He asked the White House to investigate whether Conway broke ethics rules and to contact the OGE with its findings and notice of any disciplinary action by Feb. 28.

Shaub noted in the letter that OGE previously spoke with Passantino and asked for notice of any disciplinary action against Conway, but said his office had not heard anything back.

Read the White House’s letter:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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