Mnuchin says he's staying at Treasury, defends Trump after classmates' call to resign

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is speaking out -- and defending President Trump -- after Munchin's former Yale classmates called for him to resign from his Cabinet position. 

"I am proud to serve my country as the 77th Treasury Secretary at this critical time in our history, and I do so with a goal of taking actions to improve the economy for the benefit of all our citizens," Mnuchin said in a statement released on his personal Twitter account late Saturday.

"I was honored to travel to all parts of the country with the president during his campaign, be chosen by the president to be Treasury Secretary and will continue to pursue his agenda," he added.

Mnuchin went on to condemn last weekend's acts of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying that actions by those "filled with hate" have "no defense from me, nor do they have any defense from the president or this administration."

"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-Nazis and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways," Mnuchin wrote, referring to Mr. Trump's controversial comments on Tuesday at Trump Tower, where he said "both sides" were to blame for the violent clashes. 

Mnuchin's public defense follows an open letter from 293 members of the Yale class of 1985 that has since gained over 350 signatures of support. The letter, dated August 18, called for Mnuchin to immediately step down from his job in light of the president's statements.

"We call upon you, as our friend, our classmate, and as a fellow American, to resign in protest of President Trump's support of Nazism and white supremacy. We know you are better than this, and we are counting on you to do the right thing," the letter read.

The secretary directly called his classmates allegations against Mr. Trump innacurate, saying some of the issues plaguing the country are "far more complicated than we are led to believe by the mass media." 

"I believe that having highly talented men and women in our country surrounding the president in his administration should be reassuring to you and all the American people," he added.

"As long as I am treasury secretary, I will do the best job I can for the American people and provide the best advice I can to the president."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital