Watchdog Finds Mnuchin's Gov't Plane Use Legal But Not Rigorously Justified

Watchdog Finds Mnuchin's Gov't Plane Use Legal But Not Rigorously Justified

Watchdog Finds Mnuchin's Gov't Plane Use Legal But Not Rigorously Justified

The Treasury report said Mnuchin's staff had made nine requests for the use of government aircraft since Mnuchin became Treasury secretary this year, including a request for a government plane this summer for Mnuchin's honeymoon travels to Britain, France and Italy.

However, he said he was concerned about the "disconnect" between the standard of proof required for designating a flight as a "White House support mission", and the proof that was actually given to back up Mnuchin's travels.

The report was released less than a week after former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price resigned in the wake of reports he'd cost taxpayers $1 million got his private air travel, including a five-figure trip from Washington to Philly, which can be reached easily by train - or a auto. To be designated as a White House support mission, officials must also show that commercial options were not available, that a government plane would be more cost-effective, that a government plane is necessary for national security concerns, or that other "compelling operational considerations" make a government plane necessary.

"Even when the criteria [of federal regulations] allow for the use of Government-owned, rented, leased, or chartered aircraft", Delmar wrote in a 21-page report issued late Thursday, "departments and agencies should still consider whether commercial air travel is a more appropriate use of taxpayer resources". Secretary Mnuchin is reimbursing the government for Mrs. Linton's travel, as is longstanding policy regarding civilians on military aircraft.

Prompted by the rash of bad press-which began with Steve Mnuchin's wife bragging online about the perks of being rich and having taxpayers pick up the tab-the Trump administration has begun looking into officials' luxury-travel habits. Mnuchin flew on a military flight to meet with President Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, a round trip that cost $15,000, The New York Times reported.

A Treasury spokesman said in an emailed statement that the review "confirmed that each of the Secretary's uses of government aircraft was approved by the White House".

Although the report notes that it was often not "explicit" whether president Trump really had directed Mnuchin's trips, it concluded that no laws had been broken. That request, which Treasury officials said was made to guarantee access to secure communications during the trip, was withdrawn before any flight.

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