WASHINGTON • The US Treasury Department's watchdog has begun reviewing the circumstances of Secretary Steven Mnuchin's trip to Kentucky with his wife last month, where he discussed tax plans at a public event and toured Fort Knox.
The review "to determine whether all applicable travel, ethics and appropriate laws and policies were observed" during the Aug 21 trip is in response to public inquiries, Mr Rich Delmar, the Treasury's counsel to the Inspector-General, said in an e-mail on Friday.
The Washington Post first reported the news about the probe.
During the trip, Mr Mnuchin discussed the administration's tax reform plans at an event hosted by a local chamber of commerce in Louisville, alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and also had meetings with business leaders.
Mr Mnuchin is helping drive White House efforts to get a Bill to cut taxes for middle-income earners and corporations through Congress by year end.
Mr Mnuchin reimbursed the government for the cost of travel for his wife Louise Linton, in line with the policy on private citizens using military aircraft, a Treasury spokesman said in an e-mail response to questions on Friday.
The department has received permission from the White House when "at times" Mr Mnuchin used government aircraft to "facilitate his travel schedule" and to ensure he has access to secure communications, the spokesman said.
Ms Linton, 36, sparked controversy when she posted a photo on social media of herself stepping off a government plane on the day of the Kentucky trip, with hashtags of the designer labels she was wearing. When a woman criticised her "little getaway", Ms Linton responded by calling her "adorably out of touch" and said her own sacrifices are "a lot more" than someone else would be willing to make given the choice.
In a separate case, President Donald Trump's long-time personal aide Keith Schiller plans to leave the White House at the end of this month for a better-paying job, said a person familiar with his decision. Mr Schiller, a former Trump bodyguard, is now director of Oval Office operations.