Top Trump officials intervened to give $700m ‘national security’ loan to trucking company

The report questions whether Mr Mnuchin made false statements to a Congressional Oversight Commission regarding the loan’s approval

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Wednesday 27 April 2022 15:58
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<p>The US Treasury secretary says issues with Europe must be resolved first</p>

The US Treasury secretary says issues with Europe must be resolved first

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Senior Trump administration officials, including then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, intervened to push Treasury Department officials to approve an emergency coronavirus relief loan to a trucking company on national security grounds despite career officials’ objections, a new report from the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis has found.

According to the report, which was prepared by select committee staff, Trump administration political appointees “flagrantly disregarded” a Defense Department assessment that a trucking company called Yellow Trucking was not “critical to national security” and therefore ineligible for a loan under a program authorised for such companies under the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Despite the objections of career Pentagon officials, the administration authorised a $700m loan — an amount which used up 95 per cent of the funds appropriated for the program — and did so under generous terms which violated CARES Act requirements.

“Evidence obtained by the Select Subcommittee suggests that these decisions were driven by the White House and President Trump himself,” the report said.

Specifically, the committee found Mr Meadows intervened after multiple communications with lobbyists representing Yellow, along with other White House officials who “regularly communicated” with the company.

The committee also found that then-defense secretary Mark Esper received briefing materials which stressed that Mr Trump had received a call advocating for the loan.

After the Treasury Department approved the loan, Mr Mnuchin “immedately” emailed Mr Meadows the announcement and “highlighted praise for President Trump in news reports” about it.

The select committee also said it obtained documents which show Mr Mnuchin reached out to Mr Esper after Pentagon staff told the Treasury Department it would not be certifying Yellow as “critical to national security” by having his office arrange a phone call with Mr Esper and the two cabinet secretaries top lawyers.

The report found that Trump administration records showed that the two men had “previously discussed the ‘political aspect’ of Yellow’s certification process”.

Following that phone call, Mr Esper overruled career officials to certify Yellow as “critical,” the report said.

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