WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday he had no idea that a photo of him and his wife posing with a sheet of newly printed money would go viral.
And he said he's not bothered that some commentators suggested the pair looked like James Bond villains.
Mnuchin had invited his wife, Louise Linton, to join him for what is usually a routine photo of a treasury secretary examining currency being printed with his signature.
But the photo from Wednesday's event became an internet sensation. It showed Mnuchin and Linton — who was wearing long black-leather gloves — holding the sheet of $1 bills.
Mnuchin, a former Hollywood producer, said on "Fox News Sunday" that he probably should take it as a compliment that he's being linked to a "great, successful James Bond movie."
Mnuchin said he wasn't bothered by the Twitter attacks over the photo.
"People have the right to do that. People can express what they want," he said. "That's the great thing about social media today. People can say and communicate what they want."
Mnuchin's wife created a furor on social media in August when she posted an Instagram photo of the two of them stepping off a government jet on a trip to Kentucky. In the photo, Linton had included hashtags of various luxury designers she was wearing. That prompted criticism from an Oregon woman who said, "Glad we could pay for your little getaway."
Linton responded: "Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you'd be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours." Linton later apologized for her comments.
On Sunday, Mnuchin did clear up one mystery: why he had decided to print his signature, which will appear on all new bills produced while he is in office, rather than writing it, as past treasury secretaries had done.
"I had a very, very messy signature that you could barely read," Mnuchin said. "I felt that since I was going to be on the dollar bill forever, I should have a nice clean signature."
The signatures of treasury secretaries have been appearing on U.S. currency since 1914.