Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has no plans to fill the No. 2 slot in his department after two candidates for the job dropped out of the running.
The department made the surprising announcement after Brian Brooks withdrew from consideration for deputy Treasury secretary, according to several people familiar with his decision. In May, Goldman Sachs executive Jim Donovan dropped out due to family concerns.
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The deputy secretary plays a pivotal role in tax reform, housing policy and other top agenda issues.
“Treasury is one of the most well-staffed departments in the federal government with over 90% of our political appointees already in place or in the vetting process,” a Treasury spokesperson said in a statement. “They are supported by our expert career staff, and together we have a driven and dedicated team to advance key issues, including tax reform. Secretary Mnuchin does not currently intend to fill the Deputy Secretary position, and Under Secretary Mandelker is acting in this role.”
That refers to Sigal Mandelker, the agency’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, who was confirmed by the Senate in June on a 96-4 vote.
President Donald Trump hadn’t formally nominated Brooks to the deputy secretary post, but the job was widely reported to be his. Brooks, an executive vice president and general counsel at Fannie Mae, had worked with Mnuchin at OneWest, a California bank built from the ashes of the foreclosure collapse.
“If he was never formally nominated, we’re not going to comment on further rumors related to him,” White House spokeswoman Natalie Strom said in response to questions about Brooks.
Fannie Mae spokesman Pete Bakel declined to make Brooks available for an interview.
Since March, Treasury counselor Craig Phillips has occupied some deputy secretary turf, hosting stakeholder meetings and making public appearances on behalf of the agency. He works out of an office once occupied by Antonio Weiss, a top Treasury official under President Barack Obama.
Phillips is a one-time Hillary Clinton supporter and would be difficult if not impossible to confirm to the deputy secretary job.
Nancy Cook contributed to this report.