WASHINGTON (Reuters) –
Urged by his Yale University classmates to resign as treasury
secretary following President Donald Trump’s response to a white
nationalist protest, Steven Mnuchin said on Saturday he would
stay in office and that Trump “in no way, shape or form” equates
neo-Nazis with peaceful protesters.
Mnuchin, along with other members of the cabinet, stood beside
the president at a Tuesday news conference as Trump blamed
violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend on not just
white nationalist rally organizers but also counter-protesters,
and said there were “very fine people” among both groups.
A letter, dated Aug. 18 and signed by more than 350 members of
the Yale class of 1985, argued it was Mnuchin’s “moral obligation
to resign” immediately because, it said, Trump had “declared
himself a sympathizer with groups whose values are antithetical
to those values we consider fundamental to our sacred honor as
“We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to
do the right thing,” the letter said.
Mnuchin issued a statement on Saturday responding to his
classmates and what he said were many other comments urging him
to “speak out.”
“I strongly condemn the actions of those filled with hate and
with the intent to harm others,” he said. “They have no defense
from me nor do they have any defense from the president or this
Mnuchin, who is Jewish, added: “While I find it hard to believe I
should have to defend myself on this, or the president, I feel
compelled to let you know that 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.”
Ultimately, he said, his classmates should be comforted by his
remaining in the administration.
“I don’t believe the allegations against the president are
accurate, and I believe that having highly talented men and women
in our country surrounding the president in his administration
should be reassuring to you and all the American people,” he
In his statement, he also noted the policy priorities he hopes to
achieve in office, including tax reform, economic growth, and
stopping terrorist financing.
(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Mary Milliken)