Culture

Trump’s Treasury Secretary Backs Away From His ‘Lego Batman’ Plug After An Ethics Furor Erupts

Hollywood executive-turned-Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin may be sorry that he said you should take your kids to go see the Lego Batman movie. In a letter Mnuchin wrote to the Office of Government Ethics (“OGE”), Mnuchin expressed his regret for comments he made in an interview with Axios. At the tail end of the interview (which you can see in the above clip), Mnuchin was asked if he has any movie recommendations. He then gave a brief answer that began with a disclaimer that ended up not doing him any good in the end:

“I’m not allowed to promote anything that I’m involved in. So I just want to have the legal disclosure, you’ve asked me the question, and I am not promoting any product,” Mnuchin said. “But you should send all your kids to Lego Batman.”

Mnunchin’s plug prompted some Democrats to call for an ethics probe, largely because Mnuchin co-founded RatPac-Dune Entertainment Holdings, which produced Lego Batman. And even though Mnunchin pledged to divest his RatPac-Dune holdings within 120 days of confirmation, this still doesn’t look good. In the letter to the OGE, Mnuchin makes it clear he knows he was in the wrong:

“Although I included a disclaimer indicating that it was not my intention to promote any product, I ended my response to that light-hearted question with words that could reasonably have been interpreted to encourage the questioner to which I was associated. I should not have made that statement. I want to assure you I was aware of the rule of using public office to promote a particular product, as I specifically acknowledged in the interview, and in responding to the question posed by the interviewer, it was not my intention to make a product endorsement. “

The Office of Government Ethics has yet to respond to the letter. This is the second member of Trump’s team to come under fire for promoting a product. Kellyanne Conway was reprimanded by House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz early last month for comments she made on television following Nordstrom’s removal of Ivanka Trump products. Conway ended up getting little more than a talking to by the White House but has since been seen only sparingly.

(Via NBC News)

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