IG Declines to Probe Treasury Secretary’s Possible Conflicts of Interest Relating to Russia Investigation

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at a news conference in August. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin speaks at a news conference in August. AP file photo

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who served as the finance chairman of President Trump’s presidential campaign, has been criticized by left-liberal groups who thought he should recuse himself from policy issues affecting Russia, given the ongoing investigations of that country’s interference in the 2016 election.

On Wednesday—the same day Treasury imposed sanctions on Russia for human rights violations—Treasury’s inspector general confirmed that it would not be undertaking such a probe, which was requested in a Monday letter by groups such as the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Public Citizen.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal—and confirmed by Government Executive, Rich Delmar, counsel in the Treasury watchdog’s office, said the concerns raised by the groups “as stated, at this time” are “not within our jurisdiction to inquire.” Only “actionable” information that shows violation of a law or rule would warrant an investigation, Delmar told Government Executive.

Mnuchin’s critics also include Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., ranking member of the Financial Services Committee, and nonprofit advocates such as the Revolving Door Project, American Family Voices, CREDO, Demand Progress, March for Truth, People for the American Way.

They sought Mnuchin’s recusal on appointments and issues affected by the probe into possible Trump campaign ties to Russia. They object to Mnuchin tapping a Treasury political appointee, David Kautter, to serve as acting head of the Internal Revenue Service, and longtime Justice Department official Kenneth Blanco, last month, to run Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. They noted this fall’s indictment of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort for money laundering, and fear “politicization.”

Though the appointees may be qualified, “it’s a perception issue,” the letter said.

Mnuchin has told Congress no recusals are necessary.

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