Steve Mnuchin and Louise Linton’s Infamous Flight Was Taken So They Could Stand on Gold While Watching the Eclipse


While most of America shuffled out of their offices and into the streets to view Monday’s solar eclipse, Steve Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, had a much more exclusive view on the roof of Fort Knox in Kentucky, home of $180 billion in gold owned by the federal government. To get there—to view the eclipse while literally standing on top of gold—they took the private flight that eventually got Linton in trouble for boasting about her wealth and calling an Instagram commenter “adorably out of touch.” Washington watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (C.R.E.W.) is filing a F.O.I.A. to review the purpose of the couple’s trip.

According to the Treasury, Mnuchin’s purpose in Kentucky was to join Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the Greater Louisville Inc. luncheon for the local chamber of commerce, an event that was scheduled to take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m, according to The Washington Post. Later, the pair, along with Linton, traveled to Fort Knox to view the eclipse near the path of totality sometime between 12:59 p.m. and 3:51 p.m., when the eclipse occurred. McConnell posted a photo to his official Facebook page of him and Mnuchin standing in front of the fort’s main entrance.

According to C.R.E.W.’s Web site, its request of government documents “would shed light on the justification for Secretary Mnuchin’s use of a government plane, rather than a commercial flight, for a trip that seems to have been planned around the solar eclipse and to enable the Secretary to secure a viewpoint in the path of the eclipse’s totality.”

According to the Post, the Defense Department encourages government employees to make all attempts at minimizing travel costs. This would include avoiding trips via private plane, which federal documents show has a reimbursable rate of up to $10,000 an hour. After Linton apologized for her Instagram snafu, the Treasury Department said the couple would reimburse the government for Linton’s travel expenses. An aide for McConnell told the Post that he was not on the plane with Mnuchin and Linton.

It’s one thing to get in trouble for bragging about your designer clothes; it’s quite another to get in trouble for using taxpayer dollars to view an eclipse while standing on a Scrooge McDuck-worthy vault of gold. Flying commercial for the rest of their lives might not be enough to help Mnuchin and Linton overcome that kind of bad press.

Full ScreenPhotos:30 Presidents Who Did Better in the Popular Vote than Donald Trump

Andrew Jackson, 1828 and 1832

In an ironic twist, Jackson—who was arguably the most Trumpian of presidents past—secured the most popular votes in the 1824 election, only to lose the presidency to John Quincy Adams after the vote was pushed to the House of Representatives. But in the 1828 and 1832 elections, he handedly won the popular vote with 56 percent and 55 percent, respectively.

Photo: Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Martin Van Buren, 1836

Martin Van Buren, 1836

Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States, garnered a roughly 14-percentage-point margin over his opponent William Henry Harrison in the 1836 popular vote. (Sadly, Harrison would edge him out in four years’ time.)

Photo: Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

William Henry Harrison, 1840

William Henry Harrison, 1840

After losing to Van Buren in the 1836 election, Harrison won the popular vote in the 1840 presidential race by six percentage points.

Photo: Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

James K. Polk, 1844

James K. Polk, 1844

Like Donald Trump, Polk was viewed as a “dark horse” candidate. But unlike Trump, Polk actually won the popular vote. (Sure, by a less than a 2-percentage-point margin—but he still won it.)

Photo: Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Bill Clinton, 1992 and 1996

Bill Clinton, 1992 and 1996

Both of the Clintons won the popular vote. In 1992, Bill edged out George H.W. Bush by more than 5 percentage points, and in 1996 he beat Bob Dole by more than 8 percentage points.

Photo: From AFP/.

Barack Obama, 2008 and 2012

Barack Obama, 2008 and 2012

After winning nearly 53 percent and more than 51 percent of the popular vote in 2008 and 2012, respectively, Obama truly knows what it feels like when more than half of the country actually wants you in the White House.

Photo: Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Donald Trump, 2016

Donald Trump, 2016

Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 2.9 million votes.

Photo: By Kip Carroll/Rex/Shutterstock.

Andrew Jackson, 1828 and 1832

Andrew Jackson, 1828 and 1832

In an ironic twist, Jackson—who was arguably the most Trumpian of presidents past—secured the most popular votes in the 1824 election, only to lose the presidency to John Quincy Adams after the vote was pushed to the House of Representatives. But in the 1828 and 1832 elections, he handedly won the popular vote with 56 percent and 55 percent, respectively.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Martin Van Buren, 1836

Martin Van Buren, 1836

Van Buren, the eighth president of the United States, garnered a roughly 14-percentage-point margin over his opponent William Henry Harrison in the 1836 popular vote. (Sadly, Harrison would edge him out in four years’ time.)

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

William Henry Harrison, 1840

William Henry Harrison, 1840

After losing to Van Buren in the 1836 election, Harrison won the popular vote in the 1840 presidential race by six percentage points.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

James K. Polk, 1844

James K. Polk, 1844

Like Donald Trump, Polk was viewed as a “dark horse” candidate. But unlike Trump, Polk actually won the popular vote. (Sure, by a less than a 2-percentage-point margin—but he still won it.)

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Zachary Taylor, 1848

Zachary Taylor, 1848

The 12th president of the United States, Taylor won just shy of 5 percentage points more of the popular vote than his opponent Lewis Cass.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Franklin Pierce, 1852

Franklin Pierce, 1852

Pierce, a president whose name most Americans probably don’t even recognize, managed to do one thing Donald Trump could not—secure more than 50 percent of the popular vote.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

James Buchanan, 1856

James Buchanan, 1856

While Buchanan failed to nab more than 50 percent of the popular vote, his more than 12-percentage-point margin over his closest opponent shows he still managed to trounce the rest of the field.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Abraham Lincoln, 1860 and 1864

Abraham Lincoln, 1860 and 1864

Remember this guy? Honest Abe secured more than 10-percentage-point margins over Stephen Douglas and George McClellan in 1860 and 1864 presidential elections, respectively.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Ulysses S. Grant, 1868 and 1872

Ulysses S. Grant, 1868 and 1872

Against a guy named Horatio Seymour, Grant won nearly 53 percent of the popular vote in the 1868 election. Then, in 1872, he beat out Horace Greeley, securing more than 55 percent of the popular vote.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

James A. Garfield, 1880

James A. Garfield, 1880

Four years after Rutherford B. Hayes embarrassed himself when he lost the popular vote but won the presidency, Garfield narrowly edged out Winfield Hancock in the popular vote by less than 1 percentage point. But hey—what do you call a president who won the popular vote by less than 1 percentage point? A president who won the popular vote.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Grover Cleveland, 1884 and 1892

Grover Cleveland, 1884 and 1892

Like his predecessor James A. Garfield, Cleveland won the presidency in 1884 with a less than 1-percentage-point edge over James Blaine. Cleveland ran again in the 1888 election, wherein he won the popular vote but lost the presidency to Benjamin Harrison. Then in 1892, he garnered just over 46 percent of the popular vote and won the electoral college.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

William McKinley, 1896 and 1900

William McKinley, 1896 and 1900

McKinley won the popular vote in the 1896 and 1900 elections, with margins of more than 4 percentage points and 6 percentage points, respectively.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Theodore Roosevelt, 1904

Theodore Roosevelt, 1904

Teddy a.k.a Haroun-al-Roosevelt, a.k.a. the Dynamo of Power, a.k.a. the Trust Buster dominated his opponents in the 1904 presidential race, securing more than 56 percent of the popular vote.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

William Howard Taft, 1908

William Howard Taft, 1908

In the 1908 presidential election, Taft nabbed more than 51 percent of the popular vote.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Woodrow Wilson, 1912 and 1916

Woodrow Wilson, 1912 and 1916

While Wilson didn’t win the majority of the popular vote in either presidential election he ran in, he did secure respectable margins of more than 14 percentage points in the 1912 race and of more than 3 percentage points in 1916.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Warren G. Harding, 1920

Warren G. Harding, 1920

In the 1920 presidential election, Harding won more than 60 percent of the popular vote.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Calvin Coolidge, 1924

Calvin Coolidge, 1924

Coolidge nabbed just over 54 percent of the popular vote in 1924—nearly double that of his closest rival, John Davis.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Herbert Hoover, 1928

Herbert Hoover, 1928

Despite going down in history as one of the least popular presidents in U.S. history, Hoover landed a respectable 58 percent of the popular vote in the 1928 election.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944

F.D.R. did what Donald Trump couldn’t—four times.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Harry S. Truman, 1948

Harry S. Truman, 1948

Truman won the popular vote in the 1948 presidential election by a margin of more than four percentage points.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952 and 1956

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952 and 1956

“Ike,” the 34th president of the United States, won the presidential elections handedly in 1952 and 1956, with 55 percent and 57 percent of the popular vote, respectively.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

John F. Kennedy, 1960

John F. Kennedy, 1960

At the young age of 43, J.F.K. narrowly edged out Richard Nixon by less than 1 percentage point in the popular vote.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964

When Johnson ran for re-election after taking over the presidency in the wake of J.F.K.’s death, he won more than 61 percent of the popular vote, easily defeating Barry Goldwater.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Richard Nixon, 1968 and 1972

Richard Nixon, 1968 and 1972

In the 1968 presidential election, Nixon won the popular vote by a margin of less than 1 percent. And four years later, in his landslide victory over George McGovern, he won the popular vote by a margin of over 23 percentage points.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Jimmy Carter, 1976

Jimmy Carter, 1976

With an edge of just over 2 percentage points, this peanut farmer won what a New York billionaire could not—the popular vote.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Ronald Reagan, 1980 and 1984

Ronald Reagan, 1980 and 1984

Despite his continued attempts to associate himself with Reagan’s legacy, Trump has already failed to match the 40th president in one area: winning the popular vote. In 1980, Reagan won the popular vote by nearly 10 percentage points, and over 18 percentage points in 1984.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

George H.W. Bush, 1988

George H.W. Bush, 1988

The elder Bush won the popular vote by nearly 8 percentage points in 1988.

From .

George W. Bush, 2004

George W. Bush, 2004

Like Donald Trump, the younger Bush knows what it feels like to win the presidency but lose the popular vote—as he did in 2000. Four years later, however, Bush escaped the shame and was able to bask in the presidential glory one feels when one wins the popular vote after he edged out John Kerry.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Bill Clinton, 1992 and 1996

Bill Clinton, 1992 and 1996

Both of the Clintons won the popular vote. In 1992, Bill edged out George H.W. Bush by more than 5 percentage points, and in 1996 he beat Bob Dole by more than 8 percentage points.

From AFP/.

Barack Obama, 2008 and 2012

Barack Obama, 2008 and 2012

After winning nearly 53 percent and more than 51 percent of the popular vote in 2008 and 2012, respectively, Obama truly knows what it feels like when more than half of the country actually wants you in the White House.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Donald Trump, 2016

Donald Trump, 2016

Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 2.9 million votes.

By Kip Carroll/Rex/Shutterstock.



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