U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin requested the use of government jet to fly him and his wife throughout Europe for their honeymoon.
A Treasury Department spokesman confirmed the request to ABC News, saying that Mnuchin asked for government assistance in order to maintain a secure method of communication throughout his travels.
“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 the 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 said that Mnuchin’s office ultimately decided against using a government plane because it was “unnecessary” as other methods of communication were found, according to ABC.
Last month, watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) requested government records regarding the finances and purpose of Mnuchin’s trip to Lexington, Ky. during the total solar eclipse.
Mnuchin’s trip raised suspicion and his wife, Louise Linton, lashed out at a commenter on her Instagram post that showcased the couple deboarding a government plane in Lexington. The commenter had said: “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable.” Linton’s, who responded by calling the commenter “adorably out of touch,” generated controversy on social media. The commenter, Oregon resident Jennifer Miller, wrote an op-ed for CNN saying Linton was the one who is out of touch.
Kentucky experienced the longest duration of totality during the eclipse at 2 minutes and 41 seconds, according to multiple projections.
“The requested records would shed light on the justification for Secretary Mnuchin’s use of a government plane, rather than a commercial flight, for a trip that seems to have been planned around the solar eclipse and to enable the Secretary to secure a viewpoint in the path of the eclipse’s totality,” CREW wrote on its website. “At a time of expected deep cuts to the federal budget, the taxpayers have a significant interest in learning the extent to which Secretary Mnuchin has used government planes for travel in lieu of commercial planes, and the justification for that use.”