RUDE: Former Clinton Treasury Sec Called For Personal Attacks On Mnuchin

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Alex Pfeiffer White House Correspondent
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Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers is being criticized for personally attacking Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Summers is unlike other former Treasury Secretaries by going after Mnuchin. Summers served as head of the Treasury under Bill Clinton and later was the top economic adviser to former President Barack Obama and served as president of Harvard University.

“For me we have a tradition for people who have been in the position not to criticize current secretaries,” Paul O’Neill, a former Treasury Secretary under President George W. Bush told the Times.  “That doesn’t mean we don’t have an opinion, but we don’t tell people what we think.”

He has attacked Mnuchin “in podcasts, blog posts, op-eds and on Twitter” for “damaging the credibility of Treasury by making ‘irresponsible’ economic assessments of the administration’s tax plan and acting as a ‘sycophant’ to President Trump,” according to the Times report.

“There is a range of estimates that a reasonable and thoughtful person could have and then there are estimates that if you have them you can really only have them if you were ignorant to the subject or if you were being motivated by politics,” Summers said in a Politico podcast released Wednesday. “And I’m afraid the claims of Secretary Mnuchin that this would generate so much economic growth that it would pay for itself falls into that category.”

Economist Larry Kudlow, who advised Trump’s campaign and says he is a friend of Mnuchin’s, called Summers’ remarks “unseemly.”

“He’s like name calling, he’s making it personal, it’s very vitriolic,” Kudlow said.

And Franklin Noll, the president of the Treasury Historical Association, told NYT, “From what I can remember, no one really talked badly about others.”