President-elect Donald Trump has named hedge fund manager and Hollywood producer Steven Mnuchin as his Treasury secretary.
Mnuchin, 53, who served as Trump’s campaign finance chairman, confirmed his appointment Wednesday during a CNBC joint interview with Trump’s pick for commerce secretary, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross Jr.
“We’re thrilled to work for the president-elect and honored to have these positions,” Mnuchin said.
Trump praised Mnuchin in a statement saying: “Steve Mnuchin is a world-class financier, banker and businessman, and has played a key role in developing our plan to build a dynamic, booming economy that will create millions of jobs.”
But Mnuchin is not without his critics, both personal and professional.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee called Mnuchin a “Wall Street tool” and “yet another out-of-touch billionaire who is more concerned with self-dealing for Wall Street than protecting Americans from the too big to fail banks.”
And many critics are now saying Mnuchin doesn’t have the necessary qualifications to serve as Treasury secretary.
Mnuchin addressed concerns about his lack of government experience while talking to a press pool at Trump Tower Wednesday morning.
“Let me first say what I’ve really been focused on is being a regional banker for the last eight years and I know what it takes to make sure that we can make loans to small and mid-market companies,” Mnuchin said. “And that’s going to be our big focus, making sure we scale back regulation so that we make sure the banks are lending.”
Here are five key things to know about Mnuchin and his experience in Hollywood and on Wall Street:
1. He’s a former Goldman Sachs executive who now works for a hedge fund
Mnuchin spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs, where he was a partner and chief information officer, before leaving in 2002. He is now chief executive of a privately owned hedge fund called Dune Capital Management, which he co-founded in 2004.
2. He’s backed some big-budget Hollywood films, including American Sniper
Mnuchin’s hedge fund invested $500 million in several high-grossing box office films from Twentieth Century Fox, including The Devil Wears Prada, the X-Men franchise and Avatar, The Washington Post reports.
Mnuchin has an executive producer credit on 31 films, including The Lego Movie, American Sniper, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Intern, How to Be Single, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Keanu, The Legend of Tarzan, Sully and Suicide Squad.
3. He’s a Trump loyalist who served as his campaign finance chairman
Trump asked Mnuchin, whom he had previously worked with on building deals, to be his campaign finance chairman in April, Bloomberg reports. Mnuchin accepted — a decision that baffled his friends and coworkers.
Director Brett Ratner, Mnuchin’s partner in Hollywood, told Bloomberg he wasn’t aware Mnuchin even knew Trump. “I swear,” he said. “I’ve never had a conversation about it.”
Mnuchin has also played a key role in developing the president-elect’s tax proposals, according to NPR.
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4. He previously contributed to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
Mnuchin has made donations to both Republican and Democratic candidates over the years, including Clinton and Obama. But he told Bloomberg he supports Republican economic ideas and that the thousands of dollars he’s donated to Democrats were mostly favors to fundraiser friends.
5. Protesters marched outside his Bel-Air mansion after a company he headed was responsible for a number of home foreclosures
NPR reports that Mnuchin’s involvement in OneWest, a bank he co-founded following the 2008 housing market crash, could come back to haunt him following his confirmation. The bank, of which Mnuchin was chairman and CEO, reportedly closed on more than 36,000 households during the recession, prompting a protest outside Mnuchin’s Bel Air mansion in 2011. The protesters reportedly carried a sign that read “Stop Taking Our Homes.”