Yesterday, a government inquiry into Steven Mnuchin and Louise Linton’s use of government travel – sparked by her patronizing response to a critic on Instagram – revealed that the Treasury Secretary requested a government jet for him and his wife to travel on their honeymoon to France, Scotland, and Italy this summer. Today, Trump’s Treasury Secretary finally broke his silence on the issue.
I didn't use a government plane on my honeymoon, and if I had I would have paid for it myself. #FakeNews
— Steven Mnuchin (@stevenmnuchin1) September 14, 2017
Mnuchin’s response, of course, is purposefully misleading. The issue at hand was not that Mnuchin used a government plane on his honeymoon, but that he requested one. Mnuchin’s comment, then, serves only to deliberately confuse the public, a tactic that has become a staple for the Trump administration.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General, for its part, has verified its launch of official “inquiries” into the honeymoon travel request, as well as a trip the couple took to Kentucky, during which they viewed the solar eclipse.
Several weeks ago, the wife of Trump’s Treasury Secretary, Louise Linton, made national headlines for posting a photo of herself deplaning a U.S. Air Force jet in full high-fashion garb, tagging luxury brands Hermes, Tom Ford and Valentino in the photo. A critic commented on the fact that the trip, presented as a high-class getaway, was paid for by taxpayer dollars, prompting Linton to lash out with a tone-deaf and condescending response.
“Aw!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Did you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol,” read part of her comment.
Per Mnuchin’s request, it turned out, they did try to get the government to pay for those things.
Mnuchin and Linton have also come under fire for allegedly using a U.S. Air Force jet – which comes at a cost of $25,000 per hour to operate – to view the solar eclipse last month in Fort Knox, Kentucky, which falls within the “line of totality,” where the eclipse could be best experienced.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, lashed out at the absurd request.
“You don’t need a giant rulebook of government requirements to just say yourself, ‘This is common sense, it’s wrong,'” Wyden said. “That’s just slap your forehead stuff.”
Not only was Mnuchin’s request disgustingly inappropriate, but his response to the controversy – to obfuscate the facts to fit his narrative – is even more unbecoming of a public servant. Mnuchin’s behavior at every step of this scandal is a testament to just how unfit for office he is.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.