Mnuchin Defends Trump's Response to Protests

Steven Mnuchin and President Donald Trump at a Trump Tower press conference August 15. Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Steven Mnuchin and President Donald Trump at a Trump Tower press conference August 15.

August 20, 2017 05:35 PM

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is defending President Donald Trump's response to the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, and rejecting calls from a group of his Yale University classmates that he resign from the administration in protest.

In a statement issued by the Treasury Department, Mnuchin said "the president in no way, shape or form believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways."

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Mnuchin said that "as someone who is Jewish, I believe I understand the long history of violence and hatred against the Jews" and other minorities.

Mnuchin's statement was in response to a letter signed by more than 300 Yale alums urging Mnuchin to resign. Mnuchin graduated from Yale in 1985.

The letter to Mnuchin, which was posted online said, "We call upon you, as our friend, our classmate, and as a fellow American, to resign in protest of President Trump's support of Nazism and white supremacy. We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing."

In his reply, which Treasury released late Saturday, Mnuchin said that he was proud to be serving as the nation's 77th Treasury secretary and saw it as a great opportunity to pursue initiatives to boost the U.S. economy.

Both Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, who is also Jewish and is head of the administration's National Economic Council, were standing with Trump at a news conference last week in the lobby of Trump Tower when the president said that there were "very fine people on both sides" of the Charlottesville protests. There has been speculation in financial markets over whether both Mnuchin and Cohn might soon decide to leave the administration.

In his response to the letter from classmates, Mnuchin offerred a strong defense of Trump, saying that "our president deserves the opportunity to propose his agenda and to do so without the attempts by those who opposed him in the primaries, in the general election and beyond to distract the administration and the American people from these most important policy issues — jobs, economic growth and national security."

Credits

The Associated Press

(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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