Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his wife, actress Louise Linton, like nice things. The former Goldman Sachs banker, of course, has hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase nice things of his own, but now that he’s in government the real pièce de résistance is the stuff that money can’t buy. Mnuchin and Linton have taken a special liking to America’s taxpayer-funded planes, which has raised questions about whether the couple is overindulging in the American people’s largesse. On Wednesday, ABC News added fuel to that fire reporting that the Treasury Secretary requested the use of an Air Force jet on the couple's European honeymoon this summer.
Mnuchin, 54, married the 36-year-old Linton in June and the pair later honeymooned in Scotland, France, and Italy. “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,” according to ABC News. While the pricey lift to Europe didn’t end up happening, the request itself was unusual enough to trigger the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General to launch an inquiry into the circumstances under which Mnuchin might need a Top Gun-style honeymoon.
A Treasury spokesman explained to ABC News that the reasoning behind the request was that Mnuchin, as a member of the National Security Council, needed to maintain secure line of communication with the White House while sipping aperitivos in Italy. “The Secretary is a member of the National Security Council and has responsibility for the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence," the spokesman said in a statement. "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."
I mean, maybe. If we added annexation of Italy and France to the “range of options” then we wouldn’t have this problem. If the Commerce Secretary thinks it's too hot outside, he can’t have the Pentagon nuke the sun. It is, of course, a matter of degree what is appropriate here. How out of the ordinary was Mnuchin’s request? Here’s some context from ABC News:
Aside from the President and Vice President, travel on military aircraft is typically reserved for cabinet members who deal directly with national security, such as the Secretaries of Defense and State. One senior Treasury official who has worked with a number of past secretaries said that military aircraft are only used in "extreme" circumstances, such as if the secretary had to be rushed back to a meeting in Washington, D.C., with the President. Another former senior Treasury official who worked closely with Mnuchin's predecessor, Secretary Jack Lew, said it would have been "exceedingly rare" for Secretary Lew to use military aircraft for official business.
The couple’s case isn’t helped by the fact that Mnuchton doesn’t have a great track record in not using taxpayer-funded planes for what appear to be personal trips. Let’s go back three short weeks ago, to when the pair traveled to Kentucky aboard a military plane for what looked a lot like a “#daytrip” to watch the eclipse from within the path of totality. Mnuchton denies the trip was eclipse-inspired. Linton posted a picture on Instagram of the plane with the caption: “Great #daytrip to #Kentucky!” and added hashtags for the pricey designers she was wearing in the photo “#rolandmouret,” “#hermesscarf,” “#tomford” and “#valentino.”
Fellow Instagram users were not impressed by the display and told the Treasury Secretary’s wife so, to which Linton proceeded to lose her mind, uncorking this response.
One part sticks out given the latest honeymoon allegations: “Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable!” Linton wrote. “Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol.”
That’s a peculiar coincidence.