WASHINGTON (CN) – The Senate approved former Goldman Sachs executive Steve Mnuchin as Treasury Secretary on Monday, despite united opposition from Democrats against President Donald Trump’s nominee.
Mnuchin left Goldman Sachs in 2002, but his next venture – purchasing a failed bank, renaming it OneWest and then foreclosing on some 35,000 homes during the financial crisis – has drawn even more criticism from Democrats opposed to his nomination.
Democrats have used the bank’s story to make the argument that Trump has abandoned the populist message that won him the White House during last year’s presidential campaign.
“I simply cannot forgive somebody who took a look at that banking crisis, who took a look at the pain that Wall Street had sent in a wave across all of America and thought, ‘Ah! Here’s a great new way to make money foreclosing on people,'” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, R-RI, said on the Senate floor Monday afternoon. “Done, I’m out. Sorry. Can’t vote for somebody like that.”
Mnuchin also came under fire from Democrats after he failed to disclose more than $100 million in assets and other financial interests ahead of his nomination hearing. Democrats boycotted the vote in the Senate Finance Committee that sent Mnuchin to the full Senate, forcing Republicans to change committee rules to push his nomination forward.
In keeping with other votes on Trump’s nominees, Mnuchin’s confirmation fell almost cleanly along party lines, with a 53-47 final tally. Sen. Joe Manchin, W. Va., was the lone Democrat to join all Republicans in supporting Mnuchin.
Mnuchin is just one of the Goldman Sachs alums with a prominent position in Trump’s administration. Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, once worked at the bank, and Jay Clayton and Gary Cohen, who Trump chose to lead the SEC and the National Economic Council respectively, also spent time with the bank.
Trump railed against the firm during the campaign, claiming that rivals like Sen. Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton were under “total control” of the bank, while he was independent because he self-funded his run.