Mnuchin rebuffs calls from former Yale classmates to resign, defends Trump

FILE - In this Jan. 19, 2017 file photo, Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Republicans on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, muscled through President Donald Trump’s nominees for Treasury and Health after the majority GOP suspended committee rules, a power grab in the latest escalation of partisan tensions in Congress. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(ABC News) — Facing calls from members of his Yale graduating class to resign, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on Saturday night defended President Trump’s response to the Charlottesville violence and reaffirmed his commitment to remain in the Trump cabinet.

The letter, penned Friday and signed as of Saturday by more than 350 members of Yale’s 1985 graduating class, called on Mnuchin to resign from his post, calling it a “moral obligation.”

Mnuchin’s classmates say they felt compelled to write and publish the letter “because President Trump has declared himself a sympathizer with groups whose values are antithetical to those values we consider fundamental to our sacred honor as Americans, as men and women of Yale, and as decent human beings.”

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“We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing,” the letter read.

Mnuchin was among a group of aides and cabinet members who stood beside the president at a press conference on Tuesday, during which Trump called participants in a white nationalist rally “very fine people.”

In his response to the letter from his former classmates, Mnuchin defended Trump and took the opportunity to reiterate his stance on the events that unfolded in Charlottesville last weekend.

“While I find it hard to believe I should have to defend myself on this, or the president, I feel compelled to let you know that the president in no way, shape or form, believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways,” he wrote.

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“Our President deserves the opportunity to propose his agenda and to do so without the attempts by those who opposed him in the primaries, in the general election and beyond to distract the administration and the American people from these most important policy issues -– jobs, economic growth, and national security,” Mnuchin wrote.