Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin apparently realized a little too late that requesting the use of a military aircraft to fly he and his new wife, Scottish-born actress Louise Linton, to several European countries for their honeymoon was in poor taste, because he later withdrew the request.
According to a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday, Mnuchin asked to use the government jet to travel with his bride to Scotland, France and Italy after their June wedding, sparking an “inquiry” by the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General.
ABC News was the first news outlet to break the story, noting that “officials familiar with the matter say the highly unusual ask for a U.S. Air Force jet, which according to an Air Force spokesman could cost roughly $25,000 per hour to operate, was put in writing by the secretary’s office but eventually deemed unnecessary after further consideration of by Treasury Department officials.”
ABC went on to quote Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, as saying that Mnuchin’s request for a government jet on his honeymoon “defies common sense.”
A former Goldman Sachs banker and Hollywood financier, Mnuchin reportedly made the request for a military jet during his extended travel because he is a member of the National Security Council, is directly involved in national security issues and needed secure communications while he traveled.
“It is imperative that he have access to secure communications, and it is our practice to consider a wide range of options to ensure he has these capabilities during his travel, including the possible use of military aircraft,” a Treasury spokesman said, adding that the Treasury withdrew its request after another secure communications option was identified.
The request was withdrawn before the inquiry, a Treasury spokeswoman said.
This is the second time Mnuchin’s travel plans have been questioned by the government. The inspector general is already looking into a trip the secretary took on a government plane with his wife last month to Louisville, Ky., where he attended an event with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and visited Fort Knox. A government watchdog group has raised questions about whether the pair intended to use the trip as an opportunity to view the solar eclipse, a charge the Mnuchin denied in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last month.
Motivation for the review came from a photo posted by Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton, on Instagram, which depicted the couple in swanky clothes happily deplaning in Kentucky with hashtags #rolandmouret, #hermesscarf, #tomford and #valentino. When users angrily responded to Linton’s photo, with remarks such as “glad we could pay for your little getaway,” she called them “adorably out of touch,” adding that she and Mnuchin “sacrifice” more to the U.S. government.
“The Secretary of the Treasury at times needs to use a government aircraft to facilitate his travel schedule and to ensure uninterrupted access to secure communications,” a Treasury Department spokesperson said earlier this week, adding that the Kentucky trip was approved by the White House and that Mnuchin had reimbursed the government for Linton’s portion of the travel.
Linton later apologized for the post and her response, which she called “inappropriate and highly insensitive.”
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