Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s trip to the Middle East days before President Biden took office cost taxpayers more than $310,000, according to records obtained by CREW and previously unreported federal spending data.
The Treasury Department spent a total of $287,918 on Mnuchin’s travel to Egypt, Sudan, Israel, Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia in January. The costs included $245,359 for air travel and $21,589 for “communications,” with the remainder appearing to be travel expenses incurred by Treasury personnel.
Federal spending data shows an additional $22,577 to house Mnuchin’s Secret Service protective detail at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. It’s unclear whether the Secret Service incurred further costs at other stops on the multi-country trip.
The timing of Mnuchin’s Middle East tour in the final days of the Trump administration raises significant questions. Since the Biden transition was well underway in January 2021, the trip served no discernible purpose other than strengthening Mnuchin’s personal ties to the region — raising concerns that it was motivated by Mnuchin’s post-administration plans to do business with sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East.
CREW obtained the Treasury Department records in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, which seeks a full accounting of Mnuchin’s contacts with sovereign wealth funds during his tenure as Treasury Secretary. At the very least, we now know Mnuchin’s escapade cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.