Trea­sury: Mnuchin’s hon­ey­moon plane re­quest was about se­cu­rity

Houston Chronicle - - NATION - By Martin Crutsinger

WASH­ING­TON — The Trea­sury De­part­ment said Thurs­day that a con­cern about se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions is what prompted Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin to in­quire about us­ing a gov­ern­ment plane for his Euro­pean hon­ey­moon in Au­gust.

In a state­ment, the de­part­ment said the re­quest for a gov­ern­ment plane was with­drawn be­cause a “se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions op­tion was iden­ti­fied” with­out the use of a gov­ern­ment plane.

While the de­part­ment’s of­fice of the in­spec­tor gen­eral said it was look­ing into Mnuchin’s use of gov­ern­ment planes, President Don­ald Trump said he had “to­tal con­fi­dence” in his Trea­sury sec­re­tary.

“I have known him a very long time,” Trump told re­porters on Air Force One af­ter view­ing hur­ri­cane dam­age in Florida. “He is a very straight shooter . ... He’s a very hon­or­able man.”

Mnuchin and his wife Louise Lin­ton were mar­ried in June. The two went on a hon­ey­moon in Au­gust to Scot­land, France and Italy.

Trea­sury’s state­ment noted that Mnuchin is a mem­ber of the president’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil and over­sees the Of­fice of Ter­ror­ism and Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence.

“We have mul­ti­ple is­sues around the world where the sec­re­tary is di­rectly in­volved in na­tional se­cu­rity, no­tably North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, among oth­ers,” the state­ment said. “It is im­per­a­tive that he have ac­cess to se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions and it is our prac­tice to con­sider a wide range of op­tions to en­sure that he has these ca­pa­bil­i­ties dur­ing his travel ...”

Mnuchin’s ini­tial re­quest for a plane for his hon­ey­moon, which was first re­ported by ABC News, is the sec­ond con­tro­versy re­gard­ing Mnuchin’s travel at Trea­sury. The agency’s Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral con­firmed Thurs­day that it is also look­ing into a trip Mnuchin and his wife took to Ken­tucky last month on an Air Force plane.

Rich Del­mar, coun­sel to the In­spec­tor Gen­eral at Trea­sury, said the IG’s of­fice was “look­ing at all re­quests for and use of gov­ern­ment air­craft” at Trea­sury.

The Ken­tucky trip sparked con­tro­versy af­ter Mnuchin’s wife posted a photo on In­sta­gram that showed Mnuchin and Lin­ton step­ping off the gov­ern­ment jet. In her post, Lin­ton in­cluded hash­tags of var­i­ous lux­ury de­sign­ers she was wear­ing, which prompted crit­i­cism from an Ore­gon mother of three who wrote “glad we could pay for your lit­tle get­away.”

“Pretty sure the amount we sac­ri­fice per year is a lot more than you’d be will­ing to sac­ri­fice if the choice was yours,” Lin­ton wrote back.

Lin­ton later apol­o­gized for her com­ments.

Trea­sury has said that Mnuchin’s trip, which in­cluded a stop to watch the so­lar eclipse with Sen. Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., was pri­mar­ily to dis­cuss tax re­form and also tour the na­tion’s store of gold at Fort Knox.

Trea­sury sec­re­taries in the past have flown com­mer­cial on do­mes­tic trips but have used Air Force jets on of­fi­cial travel over­seas.


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