Controversial Trump appointee Steven Mnuchin wins confirmation

Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, image derived from official Federal Government photo. (Public domain)

WASHINGTON, February 13, 2017 – Despite harsh criticism from the opposition, Steven Mnuchin was confirmed as Treasury secretary after a lengthy hearing. The Senate confirmed the former CEO of OneWest Bank by a vote of 53-47.

Mnuchin was one of Trump’s most controversial cabinet picks and his background runs counter to Trump’s message of reining in Wall Street’s influence.

The harshest criticism of Mnuchin came from Senate Democrats, who alleged that the banker will not support American workers. Democrats boycotted a committee vote on Mr. Mnuchin, and only one Democrat – Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia – voted for his confirmation.

Mnuchin is the latest Trump nominees to edge through a confirmation vote. Last week, Tom Price was approved as secretary of Health and Human Services and Betsy DeVos narrowly won confirmation to lead the Education Department.

Democratic leader Sen. Chuck Schumer called the appointment of Mnuchin a “broken promise” by Trump to hold big banks accountable. Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner said in a statement, in part, “though I did not support this nomination, I intend to work with him on areas of agreement,” adding that if Mnuchin does not help rein in Wall Street, “the American people will be watching.”

Mnuchin has had strong ties with President Trump for a long time. Mnuchin invested in two Trump real estate projects and most recently served as finance director for the Trump campaign. Mnuchin is a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs who left in 2002 and increased his fortune investing in several firms.  During his confirmation hearing, he faced questions about using a Cayman Islands entity to avoid paying taxes, an accusation he denied.

Mnuchin recently bankrolled the production of Hollywood blockbusters including Avatar, American Sniper and The Lego Movie. Mnuchin is also set to appoint a handful for former bankers to key positions within the Treasury department.

Mnuchin will now tackle Trump’s tax plan, to accelerate the rollback of regulations, and raise the government’s borrowing limit.

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