WASHINGTON ― The Office of Government Ethics released a stream of odd tweets on Wednesday that praise President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to hand control of his real estate empire to his three eldest children.
It was a very strange use of Twitter by a government agency.
“We can’t repeat enough how good this total divestiture will be,” read the first tweet from the main ethics agency overseeing the executive branch.
Earlier, Trump had tweeted that he was leaving his “great business in total” to his children Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric Trump, following promises to hand them control of his Trump Organization and its subsidiaries after winning the presidential election.
Yet he has never stated that he would completely divest from the business, liquidate its assets and put them in a blind trust ― which would actually alleviate concerns about conflicts of interest.
Still, the OGE appears to be framing Trump’s decision to consciously uncouple from his business as a “total divestiture” that does “what handing over control could never have done.”
Because Trump did not explicitly mention divestiture, which would involve selling his business, it’s possible the tweets were meant sarcastically, as a way to force the president-elect to engage with the agency or admit that he has no actual intention of divesting.
Some of the OGE’s tweets appear to mimic the prose style of the president-elect: “Brilliant! Divestiture is good for you, very good for America!” The agency also echoes Trump’s vague claim about leaving his business “in total”:
One tweet hinted at conversations the agency has had with Trump’s lawyers: “We told your counsel we’d sing your praises if you divested, we meant it.”
Similar tweets sent from the account Wednesday morning were subsequently deleted, causing speculation they were the work of a hacker or a rogue employee. The tweets were re-sent in the afternoon, however.
A statement from the agency’s spokesman, Seth Jaffe, confirmed that the agency meant to send them.
“Like everyone else, we were excited this morning to read the President-elect’s Twitter feed indicating that he wants to be free of conflicts of interest,” the statement reads. “OGE applauds that goal, which is consistent with an opinion OGE issued in 1983. Divestiture resolves conflicts of interest in a way that transferring control does not. We don’t know the details of their plan, but we are willing and eager to help them with it.”
“The tweets that OGE posted today were responding only to the public statement that the President-elect made on his Twitter feed about his plans regarding conflicts of interest. OGE’s tweets were not based on any information about the President-elect’s plans beyond what was shared on his Twitter feed. OGE is non-partisan and does not endorse any individual.”