Last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary—and prolific movie financier—Steven Mnuchin came in for some criticism after telling a room full of reporters to “send your kids to go see” Lego Batman, a movie he profits from and helped produce. Mnuchin prefaced his statement—which came after a reporter asked him which movies were good at the moment—with a bunch of disclaimers about how he’s not allowed to promote his own movies in an official capacity as a cabinet member, before proceeding to do pretty much exactly that.
At the time of the incident, the Treasury Department issued a statement defending Mnuchin, saying that he was simply answering a question, and that telling reporters to drag their kids to his movies didn’t technically count as promotion. Now, though, Mnuchin has walked back on that attitude, issuing an apology that was roughly two-thirds justification, one-third actual contrition for the event.
“Although I included a disclaimer indicating that it was not my intention to promote any product, I ended my response to that light-hearted question with words that could reasonably have been interpreted to encourage the questioner to see a film with which I was associated,” Mnuchin wrote. “I should not have made that statement.”
Watchdogs have kept a careful eye on the Trump White House, on the lookout for any evidence of administration members using their positions for personal profit. Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway came under fire a few weeks ago, for instance, when she encouraged Americans to buy items from recently hired presidential adviser (and Trump’s daughter) Ivanka Trump’s fashion line.