A preliminary design for a new $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman was leaked in a New York Times report Friday, less than a month after the Trump administration delayed plans to release it, citing technical reasons.
As it turns out, the mock-up was finished in 2016, according to the paper.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing created the note, which the Times obtained through a former Treasury Department official.
“Extensive work was well underway” on the bill when Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in May that it wouldn’t be distributed for nearly a decade, the Times reported.
The original deadline was 2020, which would have fallen on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment establishing women’s suffrage.
The redesigned currency shows a portrait of the famed abolitionist in a wide-collared coat over a white scarf:
During his announcement last month, Mnuchin pointed to currency security as the main concern for changing the bill, stating that other bills would be prioritized instead.
“The primary reason we’ve looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues,” he said. “Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand.”
Mnuchin doubled down on that argument when he spoke with the Times last week.
“Let me assure you, this speculation that we’ve slowed down the process is just not the case,” he said, again emphasizing security matters.
“There is a group of experts that’s interagency, including the Secret Service and others and B.E.P., that are all career officials that are focused on this. They’re working as fast as they can,” Mnuchin added.
However, the Times said a current BEP employee personally viewed the engraving plate for the Tubman bill along with a digital image of the note while Secret Service officials and engravers reviewed it as recently as May 2018.
“This person said that the design appeared to be far along in the process,” the Times reported.
The plan to remake the bill was devised under the Obama administration, and it would relocate former President Andrew Jackson, a slaveholder, to the back of the currency.
“I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, but I would love to leave Andrew Jackson or see if we can maybe come up with another denomination,” he said.
The president is also known to admire Jackson, commemorating his birthday in a 2017 speech when he praised him as “very great” and likened himself to the populist leader.
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