Steven Mnuchin Met With Many CEOs While Developing Tax Plan

Steven Mnuchin spent the first months of his tenure as Treasury secretary meeting with a wide array of business executives, from Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon to controversial casino mogul Steve Wynn, as Mr. Mnuchin began pushing the Trump administration’s plans for a tax-code overhaul.

Mr. Mnuchin’s calendars for the first six months of 2017, which the Treasury Department released late Wednesday, also detail his close working relationship with President Donald Trump, with whom he met often for one-on-one meetings, lunches and dinners and trips out of Washington.

During his first months on the job, Mr. Mnuchin, who had spent almost no time in Washington before joining the Trump administration, also turned to a source with on-the-job experience: former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

The pair spoke five times over the phone for about 15 minutes each between Feb. 14, 2017, when Mr. Mnuchin took over, and the end of June 2017, the period for which the calendars are available. He also spoke briefly with former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in March, and attended a May 24 dinner with several former Treasury secretaries.

Related

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin talks with WSJ Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker about his recent controversial comments about the benefits of a weak dollar, trade policies and tax cuts. They met at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Mr. Mnuchin met or spoke a handful of times with Mr. Cook and Mr. Dimon, as well as with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein and real-estate investor Thomas Barrack Jr. , a longtime friend of Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Mnuchin’s.

But his schedule was filled early last year with one-time sit-downs with business leaders across industries as he worked on the administration’s tax proposal.

Among the people he met with were Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. CEO and major Republican donor; businessman Phil Ruffin, another Las Vegas casino mogul and close Trump associate; FedEx Corp. CEO Fred Smith ; Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky ; General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra ; and Boeing Co. CEO Dennis Muilenburg. On a single day in April, weeks before the administration released its tax-plan blueprint, he met with the CEOs of Pfizer Inc., MasterCard Inc. and Ford Motor Co.

Mr. Mnuchin also had a June 20 meeting with Mike Sommers, head of the private-equity industry’s lobbying arm, the American Investment Council. The final tax law preserved most of the industry’s tax benefits from what is known as carried interest.

At the same time, Mr. Mnuchin began regular meetings with tax writers in Congress. He met or spoke every few weeks—10 times total—with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R., Texas), in addition to meetings with congressional leadership and a handful of calls with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R., Utah).

Apart from routine meetings with his closest advisers—and standing meetings with National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen —Mr. Mnuchin met or spoke most regularly with Mr. Trump.

He attended more than two dozen meetings or public events with the president, and had lunch or dinner with Mr. Trump at least eight times during his first five-and-a-half months on the job. He sat in on the president’s meeting with small-bank CEOs in March, attended his roundtable with technology leaders in June, accompanied him to the congressional picnic and even attended Mr. Trump’s presentation of the Commander-in-Chief trophy to the Air Force Academy football team in May.

By contrast, Mr. Lew met nine times with President Barack Obama, including once for dinner, during his first six months on the job, according to Mr. Lew’s calendars. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, on the other hand, provided near-daily briefings to the president during his first months on the job in 2009, at the height of the financial crisis.

One item not on Mr. Mnuchin’s official calendar: his Saturday, June 24, wedding to Louise Linton. It does show, however, that he was back at the office the following Monday for phone calls with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also dined that evening with Mr. Trump.

Write to Kate Davidson at kate.davidson@wsj.com

Source Article