UPDATE: March 13 ― The University of California, Los Angeles published full video of a public event featuring Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Friday after the Treasury Department gave the university permission to do so.
UCLA uploaded the video online in response to a public records request from BuzzFeed reporter Steve Reilly.
Mnuchin addressed hissing from the audience during his opening remarks, reminding them, “You guys get to hiss at me, I don’t get to hiss at you.” He continued to field more hissing from protesters and answer questions that were critical of the Trump administration’s economic policies from the audience for the remainder of the event.
The Treasury Department initially declined to provide its consent for the video’s release. On Friday, the department reversed its original consent withdrawal, according to BuzzFeed.
“Our prior objection was providing a platform for the non-student protestors, who sought to disrupt the event, at the expense of the otherwise thoughtful discussion,” a department spokesperson said in a statement to BuzzFeed.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin doesn’t want you to see what happened when he spoke at the University of California, Los Angeles on Monday.
The Burkle Center for International Relations invited Mnuchin to speak with “Marketplace” public radio host Kai Ryssdal for an open discussion on the Trump administration, its policies and the U.S. economy at the university. The public event went so poorly, however, that Mnuchin asked UCLA not to publish any video of it, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
But with so many people in attendance ― at least 400, according to the Los Angeles Times ― video of the treasury secretary dueling with the crowd inevitably leaked.
At one point, Mnuchin deflects the hecklers by dismissing them as students.
“Well, I think they’re going to get more tired than I am,” he said in response to hissing from the crowd, according to “Marketplace’s” transcript. “So, you know, that’s kind of — oh, yeah, I’m dealing with students, I forgot. There’s a lot of students.”
As seen in the footage shared with The Washington Post and on social media, young people in the audience ― including at least one boy who said he was in the sixth grade ― openly criticized the Trump administration’s tax cuts, which many said benefit only the very wealthy.
Many people can be heard hissing at the treasury secretary during the event, while others yell loudly at him. Campus police officers arrested three people, two students and a former student, who loudly denounced Mnuchin during the event.
ABC 7 reporter Josh Haskell filmed video that shows the officers physically picking up these protesters from their seats and carrying them away. The Daily Bruin campus newspaper identified the three as members of The Revolution Club of UCLA. In the videos, a voice can be heard telling one of the protesters that she would be removed if she did not stop speaking.
One video from the event shows a young boy confronting Mnuchin over President Donald Trump’s tax overhaul, which he says “cut taxes for the wealthy, which makes them even richer.”
The boy, who said he was in sixth grade, received encouragement and applause from the audience.
“The middle-class tax cuts are small and lasts for just eight years, but the corporate tax cuts were permanent,” the boy said. “How is that just?”
Mnuchin also took issue with Ryssdal’s questions during the discussion.
When asked by Ryssdal about how the administration’s tax plan is going to improve economic growth to 3 percent in the U.S., Mnuchin said the host seemed “to have a bias” because of his choice of words.
Here’s the exchange, according to the transcript:
Ryssdal: Help me understand then with some specificity how you’re going to do that. Because the numbers that were engineered by the White House and the Council of Economic Advisers that went into the tax plan were, “We’re going to get 3 percent. Here’s how,” as opposed to, “These are our policies, which is going to get us to 3 percent.”
Mnuchin: Well, you must seem to have a bias because you’re using the words “engineered,” so you obviously think that it was the policy the policies were created. Again, what I would say is we fundamentally believe that we will have economic growth ... . And we’re already seeing this. By the way, we’re seeing companies give millions and millions of workers bonuses all as a result of this. And for people who are getting these thousand-dollar bonuses, these are not crumbs.
Mnuchin, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, faced bad press last year after an investigation revealed that he and his wife, actress Louise Linton, used taxpayer money to charter private planes for seven official trips. In one instance, Mnuchin had requested to use an Air Force jet to fly him and his wife to France, Italy and Scotland for their honeymoon.
The Burkle Center said it originally had an agreement with the Treasury Department that gave the university permission to publish video of the event on the center’s website, according to the L.A. Times.
After the event, the Treasury Department withdrew its consent.
A spokeswoman for Mnuchin told The Wall Street Journal that the treasury secretary “welcomed the chance to speak and discuss important economic issues.”
She added: “He believes healthy debate is critical to ensuring the right policies that do the most good are advanced.”