Treasury Secretary Mnuchin asked to use government plane for honeymoon

Published: Thursday, September 14, 2017 @ 11:39 AM

In this Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, file photo, then Treasury Secretary-designate Stephen Mnuchin and his then-fiancee, Louise Linton, arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington, for the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. Linton responded to a social media critic on Aug. 21, 2017, telling the mother of three that that she was
In this Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, file photo, then Treasury Secretary-designate Stephen Mnuchin and his then-fiancee, Louise Linton, arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington, for the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. Linton responded to a social media critic on Aug. 21, 2017, telling the mother of three that that she was "adorably out of touch."€ Mnuchin and Linton were married in June. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP, File)(Saul Loeb/AP)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin inquired about using a government jet for his European honeymoon after marrying Scottish actress Louise Linton in June, officials confirmed Wednesday in a statement.

The request was later deemed to be unnecessary, a Treasury Department spokesman said.

>> Read more trending news

Mnuchin asked about using a government plane in an effort to ensure that he had access to secure communications while on his honeymoon, according to the Treasury Department.

“We have multiple issues around the world where the secretary is directly involved in national security, notably North Korea, Iran and Venezuela, among others,” a department spokesman said. “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.”

Another way to provide Mnuchin with access to secure communications was instead found, and the Treasury Department deemed his request to be unnecessary, officials said.

>> Treasury secretary won’t commit to putting Tubman on $20 bill

Critics slammed Mnuchin’s request, characterizing it as another example of the treasury secretary attempting to use tax payer dollars to fund personal travel. Also under scrutiny is a trip he and his wife made last month to Kentucky in which a government plane was used.

“You don’t need a giant rule book of government requirements to just say (to) yourself, ‘This is common sense, it’s wrong,’” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, told ABC News on Wednesday. “That’s just slap-your-forehead stuff.”

 Politico reported that requests to use military jets for personal travel are unusual, but not unprecedented.

“Such trips can cost tens of thousands of dollars to operate per hour,” according to the news site. “Treasury secretaries tend to fly on commercial airlines but have used government planes for overseas work trips.”

Mnuchin, a wealthy, former Goldman Sachs banker, was criticized last month after he and his wife took a government jet to fly to Kentucky. Linton posted a photo to Instagram after the trip in which she promoted the high-end designer brands she wore while disembarking the government plane.

>> Treasury secretary's wife mocks 'adorably out of touch' critic on Instagram 

The Treasury Department is reviewing the flight to determine whether any ethical violations were made, The New York Times reported

A Treasury Department spokesperson told The Associated Press last month that Mnuchin and Linton are reimbursing the government for the cost of Linton’s travel and added that she was not given compensation for promoting the luxury brands on Instagram.

Some critics suggested Mnuchin and Linton traveled to Kentucky to get a better view of the solar eclipse, Politico reported, although Mnuchin has denied the allegation. He said that he was in the state, which was in the path of totality for the eclipse, for meetings on tax reform, according to Politico.

In a statement released to the Times, Richard Delmar, counsel to the inspector general, said, “We are looking at all requests for use of government aircraft.”

Fast Facts Louise Linton

Trump nominates Kirstjen Nielsen for Homeland Security secretary

Published: Thursday, October 12, 2017 @ 2:49 PM

In this Aug. 22, 2017 photo, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Deputy Chief of Staff Kirstjen Nielsen speak together as they walk across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. President Donald Trump nominated Kirstjen Nielsen as his next Secretary of Homeland Security. Nielsen was former DHS Secretary John Kelly’s deputy when he served in that role and moved with Kelly to the White House when he was tapped to be Trump’s chief of staff.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Andrew Harnik/AP
In this Aug. 22, 2017 photo, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Deputy Chief of Staff Kirstjen Nielsen speak together as they walk across the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. President Donald Trump nominated Kirstjen Nielsen as his next Secretary of Homeland Security. Nielsen was former DHS Secretary John Kelly’s deputy when he served in that role and moved with Kelly to the White House when he was tapped to be Trump’s chief of staff. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)(Andrew Harnik/AP)

President Donald Trump on Thursday nominated White House Deputy Chief of Staff Kirstjen Nielsen as his Homeland Security secretary.

>> Read more trending news

“It’s hard to imagine a more qualified candidate for this critical position,” Trump said.

Trump threatens network's license after report he wanted to expand nuclear arsenal

Published: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 @ 2:20 PM

In this Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)
Evan Vucci/AP
In this Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)(Evan Vucci/AP)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that he might challenge the licenses of TV networks that are critical of him, pointing to reports that he has categorized as “fake news.”

>> Read more trending news

The suggestion was made on Twitter after NBC News reported early Wednesday that the president wanted to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal tenfold over the summer and suggested as much in a meeting with high-ranking national security officials.

The comment was made during a July 20 meeting that included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to NBC News.

During the meeting, the president was shown a slide that depicted the decrease in U.S. nuclear weapons that started in the late 1960s, the news station reported.

>> Related: Trump suggests his IQ is higher than Tillerson's after reported 'moron' jab

“Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve,” NBC News reported, adding that those present were surprised by the request. “Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the buildup.”

After the meeting, NBC News reported, Tillerson was heard calling the president a “moron,” a remark that the president has called “totally phony.” The State Department last week denied that Tillerson called Trump a moron, although the secretary declined to deny the report himself.

>> Related: Tillerson slams reports he considered resigning, called Trump a 'moron'

Trump denied on Wednesday afternoon that he ever suggested the United States increase its nuclear arsenal.

“I never said that,” he said during a news briefing with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “Right now we have so many nuclear weapons I want them in perfect condition, perfect state. ... It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write and someone should look into it.”

His comments Wednesday afternoon echoed ones he made earlier in the day on Twitter.

“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal,” Trump wrote. “Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!”

He followed with a second tweet calling NBC News “bad for (the) country.”

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?” Trump wrote. “Bad for country!”

The president’s suggestion is unlikely to do much to ease his frustrations. The Los Angeles Times reported that NBC and other networks don’t hold licenses that cover their entire networks. Instead, licenses are issued to local stations.

“Under deregulatory measures that Republicans successfully pushed over the past generation, challenging a license on the grounds that coverage is unfair or biased would be extremely difficult,” the newspaper reported.

It’s not the first time Trump has threatened news organizations that are critical of him.

During the race for the White House and again in March, Trump suggested that it might be worth loosening libel laws in order to make it easier for people to challenge inaccurate stories, Bloomberg News reported.

Last week, the president asked in a tweet why the Senate Intelligence Committee was not looking at American media companies.

Tillerson Denies Reports He Considered Resigning, Called Trump a ‘Moron’

Trump suggests his IQ is higher than Tillerson's after reported 'moron' jab

Published: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 @ 11:23 AM
Updated: Tuesday, October 10, 2017 @ 3:55 PM

Tillerson Denies Reports He Considered Resigning, Called Trump a ‘Moron’

Update, 3:55 p.m. ET, Oct. 10: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Donald Trump was joking when he implied during an interview with Forbes magazine last week that he was smarter than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“The president certainly never implied that the secretary of State was not intelligent,” Sanders said Tuesday during a news briefing. “He made a joke. Nothing more than that.”

The secretary of state and president met for lunch on Tuesday and "had a great visit," Sanders said.

Trump told reporters on Tuesday that he continued to have confidence in Tillerson.

Original report: President Donald Trump said last week that he would test higher than Secretary of State Rex Tillerson if the two were to take IQ tests after the top U.S. diplomat reportedly called his boss a “moron.”

>> Read more trending news

Trump made the claim Friday in an interview with Forbes magazine, days after NBC News first reported that Tillerson called the president a “moron” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon. The Forbes interview was published online Tuesday.

“I think it’s fake news, but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests,” Trump told Forbes magazine. “I can tell you who is going to win.”

The rising tension between Trump and Tillerson was highlighted last week after NBC News reported that Tillerson considered resigning over the summer after Trump delivered a politically charged speech to the Boy Scouts of America at their annual Jamboree. The head of the Boy Scouts later apologized for Trump's remarks.

Tillerson denied he ever considered resigning at a news conference last week, but did not deny calling the president a moron, instead categorizing the situation as petty.

>> Related: Tillerson slams reports he considered resigning, called Trump a 'moron'

“This is what I don’t understand about Washington,” Tillerson said on Wednesday. “I’m not from this place, but where I come from, we don’t deal with that petty nonsense.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert later denied the report, saying that Tillerson “does not use that language to speak about anyone.”

Several other news outlets subsequently confirmed the NBC News report, including The Washington Post and CNN.

Still, Trump claimed last week that the report was fabricated.

"It was fake news, it was a totally phony story," Trump said on Wednesday. "It was made up by NBC. They just made it up."

He added that he has "total confidence in Rex."

Tillerson, 65, has served as secretary of state since shortly after Trump took office in January. Before assuming office on Feb. 1, Tillerson worked as chairman and chief executive officer of oil and gas giant ExxonMobil.

Tillerson Denies Reports He Considered Resigning, Called Trump a ‘Moron’

What did Sen. Bob Corker say about President Trump?

Published: Monday, October 09, 2017 @ 11:46 AM

In this Aug. 16, 2017, file photo, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., speaks to the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce in Sevierville, Tenn. Always one to speak his mind, Corker's new free agent status should make President Donald Trump and the GOP very nervous. The two-term Tennessee Republican isn't seeking re-election. And that gives him even more elbow room to say what he wants and vote how he pleases over the next 15 months as Trump and the party's top leaders on Capitol Hill struggle to get their agenda on track. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, File)
Erik Schelzig/AP
In this Aug. 16, 2017, file photo, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., speaks to the Sevier County Chamber of Commerce in Sevierville, Tenn. Always one to speak his mind, Corker's new free agent status should make President Donald Trump and the GOP very nervous. The two-term Tennessee Republican isn't seeking re-election. And that gives him even more elbow room to say what he wants and vote how he pleases over the next 15 months as Trump and the party's top leaders on Capitol Hill struggle to get their agenda on track. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig, File)(Erik Schelzig/AP)

President Donald Trump and Sen. Bob Corker traded barbs on social media on Sunday.

The president claimed the Tennessee Republican, who announced last month that he would not seek re-election, begged for Trump’s endorsement before deciding not to run. Corker, for his part, implied that Trump is immature.

>> Read more trending news

What did the president say?

Trump said in a series of tweets on Sunday morning that he refused to give Corker an endorsement for what would have been his re-election campaign in 2018 and that Corker had hoped to be secretary of state.

“He could not win without my endorsement,” Trump wrote. “He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said ‘NO THANKS.’”

The president said his refusal to back Corker would explain his “negative voice.”

“(He) didn’t have the guts to run!” he wrote.