Steven Mnuchin, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the secretary of the Treasury, was grilled by Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill over Trump’s debts to foreign countries.
During Mnuchin’s confirmation hearing in the Senate Finance Committee, McCaskill said that the Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) – which investigates foreign investments into US businesses for possible national security conflicts – should evaluate the debt from Trump’s businesses held by foreign entities.
According to reports, various parts of Trump’s business empire have taken loans from a variety of foreign entities such as the government-owned Bank of China.
McCaskill raised the possibility that foreign entities holding Trump’s debt could attempt to influence policy through his business ties.
“The American people want to know how much debt is owed by the Trump businesses to foreign entities because that could have a direct impact on our national security,” said McCaskill.
The Senator also asked Mnuchin to report to the Senate Finance Committee on the percentage of Trump’s debt that is held by foreign entities.
“Isn’t is true that a lot of his debt is held by foreign interests?” asked McCaskill.
“I don’t know, I’ve just read it in the papers,” replied Mnuchin.
“Don’t you think you should know that as someone who runs the Committee on Foreign Investments if we’re talking about the commander-in-chief?” asked McCaskill. “Should you as the Secretary of the Treasury know what percentage of his debt – I am told by people who are familiar with this business that it is a huge percentage of his debt – that is held by foreign interests?”
“If I am confirmed I will assure you that the requirements of the Constitution are upheld and I think you have a valid point about foreign debt and understanding foreign things,” said Mnuchin “If I’m confirmed I will research that and get back to you.”
Trump said in a press conference last Wednesday that he will not be divesting from his business holdings and simply be turning them over to his sons. This has raised questions from ethics experts on the possibility of influence over the president.