Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Sunday strongly defended President Trump’s comments on the deadly violence in Virginia and his decision to keep his Cabinet post, amid the outcry over the president’s remarks and in response to calls from Mnuchin's Yale classmates to speak out on the issue.
“I strongly condemn the actions of those filled with hate and the intent to harm others,” Mnuchin said in a statement. “They have no defense from me, nor do they have any defense from the president or this administration.”
Mnuchin also argued that Trump, in the hours immediately after the Aug. 12 rally in Charlottesville, Va., which was organized by white supremacists, said there was “no place for such violence in America.”
A counter-protester was killed in the protests.
“I find it hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this or the president,” said Mnuchin, who argued his Jewish ancestry gives him a clear understanding of “such violence and hatred.”
However, Trump’s repeatedly arguing last week that “both sides” were responsible for the clashes, over the removal of a Civil War-era statue from public property, was criticized by Democrats and Republicans.
Yale classmate James Donelan told FoxNews he drafted and signed the letter but that it doesn’t represent the college nor their entire graduating class, just the roughly 320 who signed it.
Mnuchin’s response addressed those beyond the Yale community, also taking aim at Trump’s 2016 primary and general election opponents and beyond.
Among those who criticized Trump’s response were Republican primary opponents Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
“For the sake of our Nation -- as our president -- please fix this,” Graham said in a series of tweets that also suggested Trump’s responses were praised by white supremacists. “History is watching us all.”
Mnuchin also said that he was “proud to serve his country” and argued that other presidents and governors would have solved the country’s racial and cultural divides “if it were so simple.”