Dem defends decision not to charge Trump Treasury pick over foreclosures

Dem defends decision not to charge Trump Treasury pick over foreclosures

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is defending a decision she made as California’s attorney general not to charge President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpArizona GOP Senate candidate defends bus tour with far-right activist Alyssa Milano protests Kavanaugh in 'Handmaid's Tale' costume Bomb in deadly Yemen school bus attack was manufactured by US firm: report MORE’s Treasury secretary nominee with violating state foreclosure laws.

Steven Mnuchin, from 2009 to 2015, ran OneWest, a California-based bank, where he oversaw more than 36,000 foreclosures. Harris was California’s attorney general from 2011 to 2017, when she joined the Senate.

A 2013 internal memo from the California attorney general’s office, first published by The Intercept, alleged Mnuchin violated state foreclosure laws and recommended filing charges against him. The memo, the result of a yearlong investigation, claims Mnuchin violated notice and waiting period laws, manipulated legal documents and rigged foreclosure auctions, but Harris declined to charge him.

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Harris hit back at critics of her decision on Wednesday.

“We went and we followed the facts and the evidence, and it’s a decision my office made,” Harris told The Hill. “We pursued it just like any other case. We go and we take a case wherever the facts lead us.”

But Harris said the investigation by California attorney general's office is “a very separate point” from how senators should approach Mnuchin at his confirmation hearing.

She wouldn’t say if his record overseeing those foreclosures should keep him from being approved.

“The hearings will reveal if it's disqualifying or not, but certainly he has a history that should be critically examined, as do all of the nominees,” said Harris. “My role now in the Senate is to be very aggressive in reviewing the background and history of each of the nominees, and voting according to what the hearings and other due diligence will unveil about who they are and their suitability to hold these positions.”

Senate Democrats have ramped up pressure on Mnuchin regarding his career at OneWest. They’ve labeled him the “foreclosure king,” and asked Americans whose homes were foreclosed on by OneWest to share their stories.

Mnuchin spokesperson Tara Bradshaw has defended Mnuchin’s OneWest tenure, saying "Mnuchin got over 100,000 homeowners loan modifications and reduced thousands of loan balances."

“OneWest is an American success story, and Steven looks forward to telling it at his hearing before the Senate Finance Committee,” said Bradshaw.

This article was updated on Jan. 5, 2017 at 11:54 a.m.