Like the post-credits bonus scene in a Marvel superhero movie, Donald Trump’s final pre-election ad added three surprising villains to his usual rogues’ gallery (Hillary and Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, assorted foreigners): Lloyd Blankfein, George Soros and Janet Yellen.
All three deal with money: Blankfein as CEO of the Goldman Sachs investment bank, Soros as a leading hedge funder and Yellen as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve. All three are Jewish.
And now, Blankfein and Soros also have this in common: They both once employed Steven Mnuchin, the man who would be President Trump’s Treasury secretary – and who also is Jewish.
Mnuchin, who confirmed Wednesday he was Trump’s Treasury pick, reported to Blankfein in the 1990s when Blankfein helmed Goldman Sachs’ fixed income division. (Blankfein told The Washington Post that Mnuchin was a “very smart guy” when he knew him, but they haven’t stayed in touch over the years.)
After leaving Goldman Sachs in 2002, Mnuchin spent a brief period working for Soros, who then helped him set up Duke Capital Management.
In the closing ad, photos of Soros and Yellen accompanied Trump’s denunciation of “those who control the levers of power in Washington” and “the global special interests.” Blankfein’s face was used to illustrate the “global power structure that is responsible for the economic decisions that have robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.”
Mnuchin was one of the early establishment Republican donors who backed Trump, and was the finance chairman for the campaign.
When Mnuchin was chosen by Trump as his national finance director in May, he told The Associated Press that the two men had been friends for 15 years. Through his work as finance chairman, Mnuchin is close to Trump’s children and son-in-law, Jared Kushner — a top adviser to Trump — and worked with them on fundraising events.
The campaign raised at least $169 million, in addition to the $66 million that Trump spent out of his own pocket. Though that was far short of what Hillary Clinton raised, it represented an impressive haul given that Trump didn’t begin fundraising in earnest until the end of May.
If approved by the Senate, Mnuchin would follow in the tradition of two previous Treasury secretaries — Robert Rubin in the Clinton administration and Henry Paulson in George W. Bush’s. All had vast Wall Street experience gained from years spent working at powerhouse Goldman Sachs.
As Treasury secretary, Mnuchin would be the administration’s chief economic spokesman, serving as a liaison not only to Wall Street but also to global investors, a critical role given the trillions of dollars in Treasury bonds owned by foreigners. In addition, it would be his job to sell the new administration’s economic program to Congress.
Mnuchin will also oversee a sprawling bureaucracy that includes the Internal Revenue Service and the agency that issues millions of Social Security and other benefit checks each month. Treasury also runs the agency that wages the financial war on terrorism.
Even before his nomination was announced, he was being attacked for his ties to Wall Street.
“It’s difficult to think of a nominee who better embodies the culture of Wall Street greed than the former Goldman Sachs partner,” the Communications Workers of America, a labor union, said in a statement. “Naming Mnuchin as Treasury secretary would be a slap in the face of millions of working families who will be victimized by this Wall Street-rigged economy.”
During the campaign, Trump complained about the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010 in response to the 2008 financial crisis and intended to prevent another crisis by tightening financial regulations. He called the increased regulations on banks a “disaster.”
Mnuchin told CNBC Wednesday that he believed Dodd-Frank was “way too complicated and it cuts back lending, so we want to strip back parts of Dodd-Frank that prevent banks from lending.” He called making changes to Dodd-Frank “the Number One priority on the regulatory side.”