Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin testified in front of the House Financial Services Commmittee on Tuesday, and things got pretty intense toward the end. Mnuchin stated that he had an important meeting he needed to get to, and he got flustered as Chairwoman Maxine Waters responded in a way he did not anticipate.
As Vox details, the video clip of Mnuchin and Waters’ confrontation quickly went viral online. In the clip, Waters verbalized her surprise that Mnuchin would tell them the day prior to his testimony that he was going to limit the amount of time he would make himself available.
The California congresswoman told Mnuchin that if he wished to leave, he could. However, some would say that the former partner at Goldman Sachs perhaps missed some essential cues coming from Waters that could have spared him what came next.
ABC News shared the clip via their political Twitter page. In response to Waters’ statement that he could leave — after telling Mnuchin that he had acted differently than others they had brought before the committee — the treasure secretary testily replied that if she wished to keep him there to grill him, he would cancel his important meeting and stay for further testimony.
Mnuchin added that if that was the way she wanted to do this, he would stay, but he would not be back. Mnuchin apparently wanted to make it clear that this would be how they might move forward in this relationship. Surely much to the secretary’s surprise, Waters simply replied with a thank you, noting that the gentleman had agreed to stay.
In testy exchange, Rep. Maxine Waters tells Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, "no other secretary has ever told us the day before that they were going to limit their time."— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) April 9, 2019
"You're ordering me to stay here .... that's not what I want to do," Mnuchin says https://t.co/tFCpfQzXeL pic.twitter.com/H7je3oxk6G
Treasury Secretary Mnuchin was pretty clearly caught off-guard by this, and then he noted that Waters was instructing him to stay and cancel his important meeting. Rep. Waters jumped right back in, noting that he had just made her an offer that she had accepted. This seemingly flustered the Trump cabinet member.
The conversation continued heatedly, and eventually, Mnuchin said that he believed that Waters was supposed to dismiss everybody and bang the “gravel,” obviously meaning to use the word “gavel.” The congresswoman, with a fiery look in her eyes, sternly told Mnuchin to please not instruct her on how to run the committee.
Naturally, Twitter users had a few thoughts about this exchange. Many questioned whether Mnuchin would ever have reacted to a white man in the same manner, and others noted that the treasury secretary tried to “mansplain” to Waters as to how to run a congressional hearing. It looks like Twitter came down very much on “Auntie Maxine’s” side, and some said that the Trump administration secretary basically lost the battle before even opening his mouth.
Waters opened up to CNN journalist Anderson Cooper later about what went down. The clip, posted to Twitter, detailed why they were pushing for Mnuchin to stay — and why she reacted as strongly as she did.
“He wanted me to order him or to shut down the committee... to use the gavel to say the committee was adjourned for his purposes.”— Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) April 10, 2019
Financial Services Comm. Chair Rep. Maxine Waters explains her side of a verbal clash she had with Treasury Sec. Mnuchin over a scheduling issue. pic.twitter.com/R6OIVGgQNv
Despite the fireworks at that point during the hearing, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin did make it to his important meeting. He shared later, via Twitter, that it was with the interior minister of Bahrain — and that they were meeting to discuss illicit finance and terrorism.
Does that mean that Mnuchin and Rep. Maxine Waters will be facing off during another committee hearing down the road? Based on how things went down during Tuesday’s testimony, it doesn’t look as if he’ll necessarily be anxious to return to that seat anytime soon.