In an open letter circulated on Friday, members of the Yale College class of 1985 called upon their classmate, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin ’85, to resign immediately in protest of President Donald Trump’s comments on a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend in which far-right hate groups clashed with counter-protesters, resulting in the deaths of two state troopers and one young woman.
The letter, which has more than 290 signatures, addresses Trump’s remarks at a press briefing on Tuesday in which he said there was “blame on both sides” after a white nationalist drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person. The letter asserted that Mnuchin has a moral obligation to stand up to Trump, whom the letter calls a “sympathizer” of white supremacists and neo-nazis.
“We call upon you, as our friend, our classmate, and as a fellow American, to resign in protest of President Trump’s support of Nazism and white supremacy. We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing,” the letter said.
According to The New York Times, Mnuchin, who is Jewish, appeared uncomfortable as he stood next to Trump during a news conference concerning infrastructure at Trump Tower, in which Trump declared that there were “fine people” on both sides of the Charlottesville protests. Much of the language used by the white nationalist protesters directly referenced Jews, in addition to African-Americans. Mnuchin has yet to comment publicly on the president’s remarks.
Mnuchin was confirmed as secretary of the treasury in February after serving as national finance chairman for the Trump campaign. He is charged with implementing the administration’s imminent plans to reform the nation’s tax code, as well as revising financial regulations and renegotiating trade deals. During his time at Yale, he was the publisher of the News.
In the letter, Mnuchin’s Yale classmates emphasized that their request for his resignation was nonpartisan.
“This is not a matter of the debt ceiling, or of the infrastructure project, or anything else,” said Matthew Countryman ’85, who signed the letter, to CNN in an interview Friday. “This is a question of what kind of democracy, what kind of nation will we be, and whose side is [Mnuchin] on?”
Prior to becoming treasury secretary, Mnuchin was a Goldman Sachs executive and Hollywood financier.