POLITICS
02/10/2017 04:08 pm ET Updated Feb 10, 2017

Elizabeth Warren Tells Senators A Liar Shouldn't Be Treasury Secretary

She and Sen. Sherrod Brown said they're pretty sure Republicans will back treasury nominee Steve Mnuchin anyway because they fear Trump.

WASHINGTON — Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) offered Republicans the simplest of reasons to vote against Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin on Friday — he lied.

The senators were referring to written testimony Mnuchin offered about his days leading OneWest, a bank he created that used such aggressive tactics against homeowners it was dubbed a “foreclosure machine.”

The question from Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) was simple: “Did OneWest ‘robo-sign’ documents relating to foreclosures and evictions?” 

The written response from Mnuchin was just as straightforward: “OneWest Bank did not ‘robo-sign’ documents.” 

However, OneWest was the target of numerous investigations and media accounts that found the bank made profuse use of robo-signing, in which affidavits and eviction documents are signed by people who didn’t actually review them. One OneWest worker admitted in court to robo-signing 750 documents a week.

Warren and Brown each took to the Senate floor to remind their colleagues, and the public, of that fact.

“During Mr. Mnuchin’s nomination process, he flat-out lied to the Senate,” said Warren, recounting Mnuchin’s answer to Casey. “Mr. Mnuchin claimed they didn’t happen. That’s not even a good lie.”

“You know, in this town nobody wants to use the word I’m going to use,” said Brown. “They want to say it was a half-truth or it was not quite right or fabricated. No. What Mr. Mnuchin did is he lied.”

So far, Republicans have not been concerned when the statements of President Donald Trump’s nominees do not agree with reality. The Senate confirmed Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services early Friday after it was revealed that he misled Congress about a sweetheart stock deal. He said he paid the same price as anyone else for shares in the firm Innate Immunotherapeutics — which stood to benefit from legislation Price was involved in. But only about 16 people in the entire country got the offer. Others had to pay more.

The White House stood by Price’s version, and he was confirmed on a purely party-line vote.

After Mnuchin’s false statement was revealed, Democrats sought an explanation from him. When none was forthcoming, they boycotted the committee vote to advance him. Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) responded by suspending committee rules to advance Mnuchin without any Democrats in attendance. He called them “idiots.” He also belittled their concerns as “bush-league crap.

Brown and Warren didn’t seem to think that anyone in the GOP would object to Mnuchin when he gets his full Senate vote on Monday. But they decided to make their argument clearly — that Congress should not confirm liars.

“You know, something like that, this shouldn’t be a partisan issue. A person who lies to Congress shouldn’t be the country’s top economic official, period. Done,” Warren said.

“Do Senate Republicans care about Mr. Mnuchin’s lies? The American people should,” Warren said. “If Mr. Mnuchin is willing to lie about something that is so easily disproven by public court documents, what else is he willing to lie about? How can Congress or the American people believe him ever again?”

Brown said Mnuchin not only lied, he did it about something that hurt working-class people.

“He lied about something that resulted in people getting evicted, foreclosed on, thrown out of their homes — people with families, people serving in the armed forces,” Brown said, pointing to dozens of instances where members of the military were targeted by OneWest. “That’s not enough reason for any Republican, not one Republican, to vote against him? Not one Republican?”

Brown suggested the problem the GOP senators have is that they are afraid of Trump.

“Is it because of fear Donald Trump might call ‘em out and call ‘em a name and try to destroy their career?” Brown said. “Apparently. I can’t think of any other reason.”

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