Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin issued a strong defense of President Trump on Saturday after facing calls from his Yale classmates to step down over the president’s response to the Charlottesville violence.
“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,” Mnuchin, who also discussed his Jewish faith, said in a statement.
Mnuchin received a letter from nearly 300 of his 1985 Yale University classmates urging him to step down because the president “declared himself a sympathizer with groups whose values are antithetical to those values we consider fundamental to our sacred honor as Americans.” They argued it was his “moral obligation” to resign.
“We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing,” the letter stated.
The Treasury secretary disagreed and said the president’s statements about the violence in Charlottesville were misrepresented.
“I don’t believe the allegations against the President are accurate,” he said. “As the President said in his very first comment on the events that were unfolding in Charlottesville, ‘[w]e all must be united and condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one.’”
Many on the left and right took issue with the president saying there was blame on “both sides” and that “fine people” participated in the rally and counter protest.
“You have some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides,” Trump said. “You had people in that group … that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.”
Mnuchin closed by saying he will continue to serve as Treasury Secretary and his classmates should have confidence in the caliber of men and women serving in the administration.
“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 said. “As long as I am Treasury Secretary I will do the best job I can for the American people and provide the best advice I can to the President.”
Who would have thought that the treasury secretary would be the one with the most spirited defense of the president? pic.twitter.com/BxPAUPfWxR— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) August 20, 2017