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Don't Worry, Trump's Hedge Fund Managing, Bailout Profiteering Treasury Pick Also Worked At Goldman

Steve Mnuchin gives a whole new meaning to "Government Sachs."

Donald Trump's candidacy has been the closest thing we might ever see to a Dadaist interpretation of the modern American political campaign.


Almost nothing Trump has done has fit the conventional narrative. Consistently, his decisions veer away from the political playbook and towards to his comfort zone of performance art-level self-celebration. The constant breaking from stale tradition would be refreshing if it weren't for the madcap egotism that governs it, and one would be hard-pressed to argue that, at its basest level, the Trump campaign is not wildly entertaining.

So it seemed at first blush like Trump was disappointing us all when it leaked out earlier today that - if elected - he would nominate yet another Goldman Sachs alum, his campaign finance chair Steven Mnuchin, as Treasury Secretary.

But don't be sad, ye appreciators of Trumpism. Mnuchin is not another "Government Sachs" dude hoping to pass through the mythical revolving door between 200 West Street and 1500 Pennsylvnaia Ave. Sure, Mnuchin would be the fifth Goldman alum to move into Alexander Hamilton's old gig, but get this: He would be the first to point to Goldman as the least controversial item on his resume.

That's right, Steven Mnuchin could very well become the first modern Treasury nominee to use Goldman Sachs as a relative positive on his job application.

Since leaving Goldman (where his dad, Bob, was a legendary rainmaker) Mnuchin bought what was left of IndyMac at a post-crisis FDIC auction and spun it into gold by reorganizing it and selling it off, started a now-defunct hedge fund and served as co-chairman of Relativity Media, which blew up in spectacular fashion relative moments after Mnuchin jumped ship in May of 2015.

While that checklist of activities shows Mnuchin to be at the very least a canny operator in the private sector, they combine to become a smoothie of optical poisons for a potential political appointee. Profiting from a bailout auction and managing to make money from Ryan Kavanaugh's house of fraud without paying any back puts Mnuchin immediately into the Corzine bracket of Goldman employees turned public servants. They might have been great business decisions but they look terrible in a committee hearing.

But comparisons to Corzine - who admittedly never ran Treasury - might be the high point of a Mnuchin bid to run Treasury. Henry Fowler never ran a hedge fund, Bob Rubin never profited (directly) from a bailout and Larry Summers (much to his likely chagrin) was never a showbiz executive. Even Hank Paulson has the political high ground to look at Mnuchin's resume and say "This guy?"

Now, none of this means that Steven Mnuchin isn't a man with the necessary skills to run the Treasury Department or that he ever did anything actually wrong. In fact, he seems like a fun pick if we're being honest, and might have the financial perspicacity that we've been sorely lacking in that role. What we're saying is that he is carrying around such a fritto misto of political red flags that he'd be forced to use his time at Goldman Sachs as a positive.

But this is 2016. And while we've learned that nothing is impossible anymore, that Trump would be quasi-promising a Steve Mnuchin Treasury confirmation circus in July is - to put it politely - f@cking stunning.



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