‘If this is the way you will treat me, I will rethink’ returning…
(Saleha Mohsin, Bloomberg News) Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin clashed with Maxine Waters, the chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, bickering with her about ending a hearing on Tuesday after more than three hours of testimony and about whether he would return to the panel.
The public back-and-forth exposed the rancor between Mnuchin and Waters, a California Democrat who has promised aggressive oversight of President Donald Trump’s administration and has long advocated for his impeachment.
The two leaders began arguing after Mnuchin asked for the hearing to end so that he could attend a meeting with Bahrain’s finance minister at 5:30 p.m. in Washington.
Mnuchin said he’d notified committee staff on Monday that he’d need to leave at 5 p.m.
Waters asked for Mnuchin to remain for another 10 minutes.
He said he could stay for 5 minutes, and offered to return to testify to the committee in May.
She refused to formally dismiss him.
“If this is the way you will treat me, I will rethink” returning, Mnuchin said at one point.
Waters complained that no Treasury secretary had previously attempted to set a time limit on his testimony before the committee.
Mnuchin, who’d testified earlier in the day before another House panel, retorted that no other secretary had been treated like him.
“You are instructing me to stay here and I am canceling my meeting” with the Bahraini official, Mnuchin said. “You are ordering me to stay here.”
He suggested Waters bang the gavel to adjourn the hearing. She told him not to instruct her what to do.
Treasury’s general counsel, seated next to Mnuchin, whispered in his ear. Mnuchin said that he had been advised that he wasn’t obligated to stay at the hearing. Then he withdrew his offer to return to testify in May.
At about 5:30 p.m., Waters ended the hearing.
“I expect the secretary to honor our invitation to return so that the rest of these members have an opportunity to pursue their questions,” she said.
Mnuchin rushed out.