Mnuchin: Jet re­quest was about se­cu­rity

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - NATION - By Martin Crutsinger The As­so­ci­ated Press

WASH­ING­TON — Trea­sury Sec­re­tary Steven Mnuchin said Thurs­day the ini­tial re­quest for use of a gov­ern­ment plane for his Euro­pean trip last month was about na­tional se­cu­rity and not per­sonal con­ve­nience on his hon­ey­moon.

Mnuchin said that, as a mem­ber of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, he needed a se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tion link with Wash­ing­ton, and his staff put in a re­quest for an Air Force jet for his trip with his wife Louise Lin­ton to Scot­land, France and Italy.

But he said it was just an op­tion be­ing ex­plored and once it be­came clear he could ob­tain se­cure com­mu­ni­ca­tions links with­out a gov­ern­ment plane, the re­quest was with­drawn.

“Let me just set the record straight. First of all, the gov­ern­ment never paid for any of my per­sonal travel,” Mnuchin said at a con­fer­ence spon­sored by Politico. “This had noth­ing to do with con­ve­nience. This was purely about na­tional se­cu­rity.”

Mnuchin de­nied re­ports that he and his wife used a gov­ern­ment plane to travel to Ken­tucky so they could view last month’s so­lar eclipse. He said the trip had orig­i­nally been sched­uled for a dif­fer­ent time.

“You know, peo­ple in Ken­tucky took this stuff very se­ri­ous,” he told the con­fer­ence. “Be­ing a New Yorker and (liv­ing for a time in) Cal­i­for­nia, I was like, the eclipse? Re­ally? I don’t have any in­ter­est in watch­ing the eclipse.”

He did view the event with Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mccon­nell, R-KY., as part of a visit to Fort Knox. He said he scrapped a staff plan to view it from the roof of a build­ing at Fort Knox and in­stead looked at it briefly from the ground.

Asked by the mod­er­a­tor if it was an “eclipse boon­dog­gle,” Mnuchin said, “We went to see Fort Knox … Fort Knox is a sym­bol of the eco­nomic might of our coun­try.”

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. “He is a very straight shooter.”

The Trea­sury’s Of­fice of In­spec­tor Gen­eral, how­ever, con­firmed Thurs­day that it was look­ing into “all re­quests for and use of gov­ern­ment air­craft” at the de­part­ment.

The Ken­tucky trip sparked con­tro­versy af­ter Mnuchin’s wife posted a photo on In­sta­gram that showed Mnuchin and Lin­ton step­ping off the gov­ern­ment jet.

Steven Mnuchin

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