Conservatives inside and outside Treasury say the new secretary, former Goldman Sachs banker, movie producer and Democratic donor Steven Mnuchin, is assembling a team that is too liberal and too detached from the core of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” platform of ripping up trade deals, gutting the Dodd-Frank banking rules and generally rejecting “globalism” in all its forms.
The ideological divide has been brewing for weeks inside the White House as a result of appointing a raft of top advisers with radically different worldviews. The battle at Treasury is simply an extension of that brutal fight, according to interviews with over a dozen administration officials, donors, lobbyists and conservative policy experts.
On one side is a less ideological faction, mostly aligned with Mnuchin, that includes National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell — three former Goldman executives — alongside first daughter Ivanka Trump and to some degree her husband, Jared Kushner. All are seen as having a more favorable view of international trade deals and existing relationships with foreign counterparts and a more measured approach to revamping financial regulations. On the other side are more populist and nationalist forces, led by senior adviser Steve Bannon and top policy adviser Stephen Miller…
Right-leaning policy experts, Republican donors and some who worked on the presidential transition fear that Mnuchin has neither the policy chops nor the conservative credentials to lead Treasury, especially given pressure the agency will face after the health care battle to overhaul the tax code, eliminate Dodd-Frank or re-do housing finance rules. Republicans see major opportunities for policy shifts thanks to the business executive-turned-president, and they want Cabinet secretaries to take full advantage.