Mnuchin declines to say why Trump pulled Treasury nominee who oversaw Roger Stone case

Mnuchin declines to say why Trump pulled Treasury nominee who oversaw Roger Stone case
© Greg Nash

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinPhase-four virus relief hits a wall On The Money: Senate aims to quickly approve more small-business aid | Dems seek conditions on new funds for small-business loans | Pelosi says next round of relief will top T House GOP leaders back effort to boost small-business loans MORE declined to explain Wednesday why President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE pulled the Treasury nomination of a former U.S. attorney who had supervised the prosecution of several of the president’s campaign advisers.

In an appearance before the Senate Finance Committee, Mnuchin refused to say why Trump withdrew the nomination of Jessie Liu to serve as Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes Tuesday night. 

The decision came just two days before Liu’s confirmation hearing and shortly after Trump dismissed two government officials who testified during his impeachment before the House.

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“I think you know nominations are at the president's direction and we don’t comment … as a matter of policy when nominations are withdrawn, which happens for a variety of different reasons at different times,” Mnuchin said under questioning from Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic Sen. Brown endorses Biden for president Senate Democrats propose ,000 hazard-pay plan for essential workers MORE (D-Ohio)

The secretary added that he learned about Trump’s decision to pull Liu’s nomination two days ago.

Liu, the former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, oversaw the federal government’s cases against several top Trump campaign aides, including Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneJuan Williams: Mueller, one year on House Judiciary Committee postpones hearing with Barr amid coronavirus outbreak Trump 'strongly considering' full pardon for Flynn MORE. Four career Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors resigned from Stone’s case Tuesday after the department overrode their suggested sentencing recommendation of seven to nine years in prison, telling the judge in the case that Stone should get "far less."

Trump’s critics accused the president of canceling Liu’s nomination to prevent her from taking questions about the DOJ’s handling of the Stone case under oath during her Thursday confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.

“I would hope you would give an explanation that’s counter to the one everyone assumes, which is that she’s part of the president’s personal retribution tour,” said Brown, the top Democrat on the Banking panel.

Brown also condemned Trump’s withdrawal of Liu’s nomination and alleged retaliation against impeachment witnesses during a Banking Committee hearing Wednesday morning.

“If we say nothing, it will get worse. His behavior will get worse. The retribution tour will continue. We all know that,” Brown said.