Sep 13, 2017, 6:31 PM ET

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin requested government jet for European honeymoon

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Secretary Steven Mnuchin requested use of a government jet to take him and his wife on their honeymoon in Scotland, France and Italy earlier this summer, sparking an inquiry by the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General, sources tell ABC News.

Officials familiar with the matter said 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 was deemed unnecessary after further consideration by Treasury Department officials.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said in an interview with ABC News that Mnuchin's request for a government jet on his honeymoon defies common sense.

"You don't need a giant rulebook of government requirements to just say yourself, 'This is common sense. It's wrong,'" Wyden said. "That's just slap-your-forehead stuff."

Mnuchin, an independently wealthy former Goldman Sachs banker, has already triggered a review of his travel for using a government jet to travel to Louisville and Fort Knox, Kentucky last month. The inspector general is reviewing whether he improperly used that trip to catch a prime view of the solar eclipse with his wife, Louise Linton, a Scottish actress and model.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky met with Mnuchin during that trip and tweeted a photo of them watching the eclipse together, complete with proper eyewear.

The secretary's office denied he took that trip to watch the eclipse and said he was there to attend meetings on a tax code overhaul, and the Treasury Department said the Mnuchins would reimburse the government for Linton's travel costs.

An official in the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General said that in addition to reviewing the Kentucky trip, it has started an official inquiry into Mnuchin's honeymoon travel request.

A spokesman for the Treasury Department told ABC News that Mnuchin requested government travel for his honeymoon out of a concern for maintaining a secure method of communication.

"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."

The spokesman added that the secretary's office decided the use of military aircraft was "unnecessary" after it became apparent that other methods for secure communication were available.

PHOTO: Louise Linton and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are pictured during their honeymoon in Edinburgh, Scotland, Aug. 5, 2017. <p itemprop= " />Alan Simpson Photography/Splash News
Louise Linton and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are pictured during their honeymoon in Edinburgh, Scotland, Aug. 5, 2017.

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 used only in "extreme" circumstances — for example, if the secretary has 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 Jack Lew, said it would have been "exceedingly rare" for Lew to use military aircraft for official business. The only exception was for foreign business travel. As for private travel, "there's not a chance in hell that Secretary Lew would have considered using military air," the former official said.

Adam Stump, a spokesman with the Department of Defense, which oversees and operates all government air travel for the executive branch, declined to comment on the specific request made by Mnuchin's office but cited existing departmental policies regarding the use of government aircraft.

"Generally, when other federal executive agencies request use of military airlift, it is provided on a reimbursable basis pursuant to Title 31 U.S.C., section 1535 and 1536, otherwise known as the Economy Act," Stump said.

Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a D.C.-based ethics watchdog, was critical of Mnuchin's request.

"People can do whatever they want on their own time, on their vacations and in the houses that they live in, but they can't be expecting taxpayers to foot the bill for a Hollywood lifestyle," Bookbinder said.

Meanwhile, Linton managed to stir her own controversy surrounding the August trip to Kentucky when she lashed out at a stranger on Instagram — for which she later issued a public apology. She posted a photo of herself and Mnuchin stepping off a government jet and wrote, "Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside."

She went on to include hashtags of various luxury designers she was wearing: "#rolandmouret pants #tomford sunnies, #hermesscarf #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa," prompting one user to reply, "Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable."

Linton responded by belittling the woman in a series of comments and even mentioned her honeymoon.

"Aw!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Did you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol."

Two people familiar with the matter say Linton was not aware that her husband had requested government travel for their honeymoon before making that comment.

PHOTO: Steve Mnuchins wife Louise Linton received widespread criticism for this post on Instagram and her subsequent comments. She later deleted it and apologized. Instagram
Steve Mnuchin's wife Louise Linton received widespread criticism for this post on Instagram and her subsequent comments. She later deleted it and apologized.

ABC News' Ben Siegel, Matthew Mosk, Luis Martinez and Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.

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  • jboh

    Why is anyone surprised? Robber barons have a malignant sense of elitist entitlement. Trump does the same thing when his entourage pays $1100/night/person for every trip to Mar-a-Lago. I doubt his other proprties charge them less.

  • GregChick

    swamp drained and re filled. Oh, but this is just fake news... left wing media etc....

  • SpankyHamm

    Mnuchin: Excuse me Mr. Secret Service guy, but would you mind leaving our bedroom. I mean, this IS our honeymoon.

    Secret Service Guy: Sorry sir, but you did claim that you needed that jet for National Security, so I can't leave your side.

    Mrs. Mnuchin: It's OK honey, I mean, it's my honeymoon too and he is kinda cute.

  • Stanley

    This remind me of when Pelosi had to have a bigger aircraft furnished by the government to fly her back and forth to California.

  • Stanley

    This guy and his swamp rat girl need to be gone. We are supposed to be draining the swamp, not populating it.

  • highway_99

    She didn't know her husband had requested government transportation? Cute.

  • Acadian Flag

    Some people love money so much, they are willing to do anyone to get it. Gross.

  • fazal

    If the guy's soooo wealthy why doesn't he get his own aircraft instead of begging for freebies?

  • colloguy

    These are the people who need to use the same transportation as others.
    Then the issues with TSA might improve.
    Then regulations on compensation for scheduled flight loss will improve.
    Then issues with traffic management flow might improve.
    Right now these people who make these decisions are not affected in the least by many of the decisions, laws and policies that are in place.

  • Prysylla

    We do not need him to make us safe and he has turned out to be a lemon at his new Secretary post. Plus his new wife is the lousiest actress ever! #Lames

  • Rick

    a testimony that even the nerdy guys can get the girl too.... but you must have money.... Im sure she would not have stayed if he just had an average job.

  • Dr. Gurnicus Blanstonius

    Draining the swamp. Wow... just wow.

    If you couple this winner with the "idiot" Attorney General Trump picked (Trump's words) and the other slew of stellar decisions (Flynn - going to jail, Manafort (probably going to jail), Comey (insert multiple Trump insults), Bannon (mephistopholes), Priebus (hapless stooge), Spicer (king of the hapless stooges) and the Mooch (well thought out staff pick by Trump)...one has to conclude that Trump must hire someone to find his own underwear in the drawer every morning.

    Just wow. These are the very first decisions of our new president. Well done, America.

  • P bis

    Why lie about it in the first place?

  • jnpa

    Last year he was a co-producer of a movie called "Rules Don't Apply." A rule he obviously lives by.

  • Glenn Hurst

    Trophy wives are like sunshine on my shoulder

  • ski3938

    "Mnuchin was born into a level of privilege that makes Trump’s deluxe childhood look ordinary. His grandfather, an attorney, co-founded a yacht club in the Hamptons, and his father, Robert, was a top Goldman Sachs trader who later became an art dealer. Mnuchin followed his father to Yale, where he lived in the old Taft Hotel with Eddie Lampert, now a billionaire investor, and Sam Chalabi, whose uncle, Ahmad, later ran the Iraqi National Congress. Mnuchin drove a Porsche in college, two friends say."
    He always went first class with his own and family money but now he found the better way he could go first class with mine and your money. He now has a government job and works for all the citizens a big part of that job is setting an example and representing Americans .Playing a ego maniac showing off does not help. Quit the job go back to private life and do what ever you want !!!

  • ldstep

    All I want to know is who will SNL pick to play this slimy couple???
    Please, SNL, come back soon with the new season....can't wait!

  • XaurreauX

    I'm sick of living under the kind of shabby government that Trump supporters deserve.

  • kate

    You aren't at Goldman Sachs anymore, Steve. You can't just borrow the company jet whenever you want.

  • chuckie

    Seems to me this couple is "The Swamp" Trump was talking about draining.

  • GarfieldRocks

    Good news Steve, we can get you a Fairchild Hiller plane. Just a couple of drawbacks though. 1)Sometimes the treetops brush the belly of the plane and 2) you need to stop about every 100 miles to get it a new set of rubber bands. Otherwise, Steve, you're all set.

  • Lee Thompson

    Grifters . . . every single one of them. And their spouses included.

  • Maffique

    I have only two questions:
    1. Why is that person still at White House?
    2. For how long we're going to put up with this?

  • Brian Lee

    Hypocritical Republican morons will see nothing wrong with this and instead complain about Obama playing golf or something.

  • BurmeseDude

    How does he handle the rest of his public responsibilities with little to no common-sense?

  • Seabreeze Oceana

    Maybe instead of hitting the 97% of us to get your rich cesspool billionaires even uglier richer try this American Middleclass Agenda, dummie Donnie and your leg grabber Mnuchin:

    Maybe instead of hitting social programs, these idiots should look at cutting the following "wealth" programs; Tax Breaks for CEO bonuses ($7 billion/year) (Bonuses are written off and not taxes as regular income) That $7 billion could single handedly fund the annual budget for the National Science Foundation. Tax cuts for luxury corporate jets ($300 million/year) (as "security costs") This is approximately 50 percent of the annual budget for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Big oil subsidies ($37.5 billion/year) the Department of Housing and Urban Development allocated a total of $34.3 billion toward tenant-based rental assistance ($19 billion), project-based rental assistance ($8.7 billion), and general public housing programs ($6.6 billion) Pharmaceutical subsidies ($270 billion/year). The money saved could pay for the annual $270 billion in insurance costs from Obamacare that would help more Americans get access to healthcare. Capital gains tax breaks ($51 Billion/year) (If taxed as ordinary income) $51 billion per year in savings could fund two-thirds of the annual budget for food stamps. Handouts to Big Ag ($18 billion/year) via "Crop Insurance". This $18 billion in corporate welfare is more than NASA’s annual budget, which has hovered around the $17 billion mark since 2009. Welfare for Wall Street ($83 billion/year). If we were to force the big banks to borrow at the same interest rates as every other bank at a rate of $83 billion per year, that would be enough to double the current federal budgets for highway spending ($48.6 billion), Head Start ($10.1billion), the Environmental Protection Agency ($7.89 billion), nutrition assistance for women, infants, and children ($6.2 billion), the National Parks Service ($3 billion), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ($2.39 billion), with $5 billion left over. Export-Import bank subsidies ($112 billion). But what's worse is the fact that the GOP is going to defend Trump for as long as they feel they feasibly can, simply because his sheer stupidity and asinine tweets make a convenient smokescreen to keep the media distracted while the Republicans continue to loot and plunder the citizens of this country and rape its lands, all to profit themselves and their donors. Remove this Traitor and Treasonous Trump Crime Family Ring.

  • pksk531

    I have known some very wealthy people in my life and they seem to come in two group: the first are the ones who have made it and try to help others. They do not put on airs. Do not lord it over others. A family friend lived in a nice house, clothes never quite fit - and was worth well into the 8 figures. The second group seem to think they do not stink and are better than all others. They also seem to just want more. They do not want to spend their money - just everyone else's. I know a few people like this -cheap with their money, but will spend like crazy on someone else's dime. Now, where will the Mnuchins fit in? ;)

  • lookingahead

    Well jeppers! When your net worth is only $400 million, you have to cut corners where you can - like getting lowly taxpayers to foot the bill to fly you to your European honeymoon.

  • jnpa

    They seem to think they are special...they are not!

  • nj

    This couple seems 'so above it all' from anything I've read. Let them eat fuel jet oil that stains their Walmart clothes... appears to be their personal mantra.

  • Jon May

    This says all you need to know about this guy: a typical self-entitled sleazeball taking a page right out of the Liar-and-Cheeto-in-Chief's Guide to Self-Service.

  • L. Cross

    Yet another caviar eating goose.

  • 4nick8er

    The sense of entitlement that prompted this display of avarice is the problem. The government is yet another piggy-bank for the Treasury Secretary to withdraw from.

  • retired too

    You do have to wonder about some folks. Sheez

  • Don

    Drain the swamp!! Get rid of Trump and his cronies!!

  • Don

    Is anyone tired of all this winning yet?

  • Buffarms

    The man is so rich he usually flies on private luxury liners. The military jet is a downgrade for him. Which makes him wanting it for secure communications far more likely then him wanting it to not fly commercial.

  • Ron Fuller

    And they call Democrats Elite? This is a prime example of elitism and it belongs to Trump!

  • THEFred

    He's the epitome of corruption, and his wife's such a clueless nasty arrogant entitled shallow gold-digging airhead!

    Just another example of the kind of political scum that Trump has filled his swamp with.

  • TB

    Snagged...honestly...this administration is full of people wanting to take advantage anyway they can by having the tax payers in this country pay for these peoples travel expenses. SAD!

  • Juvenal451

    "Actress"?? Adorable!! And that's "Munchkin"....lol lol...

  • ✯☭ The Wickerman ☭✯

    Trump and his people, such heroes of the working class. MAGA!
    Here you go, Trump supporters, your Almighty Taxpayer Dollars going to the super-rich, because, why not? These lazy, useless wealthy traitors will tell you that it's the poor, the "illegals" and the "welfare queens" that are taking your hard-earned pay, while they have their hand in the cookie jar, taking whatever they can while they're in office.
    You've been heckin' bamboozled, and yet you continue to believe and support this realm of criminals, frauds, freeloaders and traitors.

  • Ron Southart

    If I recall, Michelle Obama and daughters took a few personal trips to Hawaii and other South Sea resorts on the taxpayers dime. So I suppose the difference is on what side of the aisle the reporters sit on.