‘There’s lots of suspicion’: Will Mnuchin quit?

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We’ve already heard about how accusations of obstruction sank Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s tax reform bill.

That has prompted one ‘no’ vote to change “and maybe more” in a Senate Finance Committee hearing later.

Special correspondent Patrick Jenkins explains why.

Reporter: “Stephen, some say you’re just the brainiac Treasury Secretary, but I feel that’s an underestimation. You actually know a little bit more about how things actually work in Congress than your boss does. There’s talk about you possibly having it out with the president, who’s president and vice president at the same time, his deputy, giving voice to multiple grievances within the Trump administration.”

No, that is not officially going to happen, that’s not on the agenda. (Laughs)

But the rumours are there, although we’re always reminded that he runs an incredibly tight ship.

There’s a realisation that you don’t have the access to the President that you used to, and there’s also the view that everybody is lining up against you. But it’s still true. We’ve done quite a bit of interviews…

And it all started two years ago…

Photographer: The president didn’t want Steve Mnuchin in the room when he was making his key announcement.

I remember – exactly – where we were, where the interviews were and he said, “I don’t want Steve in the room with me”.

Reporter: And he made a speech afterwards and made his case for why. And Mnuchin said, “Mr President, I don’t understand it, what’s wrong with Steve?” And it sort of got back and forth.

And then we met at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington and Mnuchin gave us a very strong explanation of how it had gone wrong.

You cannot avoid it, it’s on the front page of almost every newspaper.

Because people, people – the White House, the Senators who voted against the bill – do not like the tax plan the President had it up to two days ago.

What do you think happened? I think, if you asked anybody back at the Mayflower Hotel, many of the people there who were voting against it, had heard the rumours and they had also heard that Mnuchin had something to do with it, and that Mnuchin would be fired if the tax bill failed.

But there was one Democrat who introduced us into the room and said, “Let’s cut through the sleaze and we’ll really focus on the substance”. And he told me what he said in this room. I read his comments to you on Thursday.

We now know he said, in that room that two years ago, that the tax reform was never in doubt, and it did not come in for any in-house criticism. And there’s a lot of suspicion there.

You’ve heard pretty much everybody say, “We were having a good time. We were working towards what we thought would be a good outcome.”

But then you hear about the hearings that happened on Wednesday [Jan. 10] and then these different individuals from the Treasury side saying this tax reform has nothing to do with the way the administration ran the economy in 2017. That has nothing to do with President Trump’s ‘America First’ economic strategy.

And then we’ve heard various Republicans who’ve said the idea that people are possibly going to pay more for a little bit of less – on the top end at least – is wrong.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Devin Nunes is the leader of the panel

And now, though, it looks like we might have some sort of decision. Maybe more.

I think it’s fair to say the conversation we’ve had here on Capitol Hill these last couple of days has involved some Democrats, and perhaps even some Republicans looking for someone in the Trump administration to try to prove they’re not the ones who run things.

Otherwise, they’ll get a few feathers ruffled.

What would you add? Send us your thoughts using Twitter @cnninvestigates.

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