Trump Treasury pick Steve Mnuchin blames ‘complicated’ forms for failure to report $100M in assets

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Steve Mnuchin, President Donald Trump’s choice for Treasury secretary, said he failed to disclose over $100 million in assets unintendedly due to complicated government forms.

Mnuchin, a former executive for Goldman Sachs and Trump’s campaign finance chief, told lawmakers Thursday during a Senate confirmation committee hearing that the omission, reported that day by The New York Times, “was unintentional.”

“I assure you that these forms were very complicated,” he said.

The undisclosed assets included homes in Los Angeles and the Hamptons, in addition to real estate holdings in Mexico. Mnuchin, who is Jewish, also omitted his role as head of Dune Capital International, a firm that is incorporated in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands. He said during the hearing that he did not use the firm to evade paying taxes.

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Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., the new minority leader in the Senate, called Mnuchin typical of Trump’s nominees.

“Never before has the Senate considered such an ethically challenged [group],” Schumer said. “Mr. Mnuchin’s failure to disclose his Cayman Islands holdings just reeks of the swamp that the president-elect promised to drain on the campaign trail.”

During the wide-ranging, five-hour hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Democrats pressed Mnuchin for details on everything from his thoughts on tax reform to his defense of foreclosures carried out by OneWest Bank while serving as its top executive.

Ultimately, it appeared that Mnuchin could still rely on enough Republican support to win the job, according to The Hill.

The Finance Committee’s chair, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, heaped praise on Mnuchin, lauding his extensive private sector experience as a boon to the government.

“You’ve made tremendous sacrifices to take this job, and I hope our colleagues at the other side of the aisle will come to appreciate that,” Hatch said. “You’ve certainly impressed a lot of people here. Certainly me.”

The only Republican senator to express some reticence was Dean Heller of Nevada, according to The Hill.

After reviewing the nomination, the committee  refers it to the full Senate favorably, unfavorably or without recommendation. The nomination needs a simple majority from the committee for referral; the nominee is appointed with a simple majority from the full Senate.

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