With at least one crucial vote on the White House’s tax reform plan looming later this week, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller reportedly preparing to indict former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and possibly his son as well, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the administration’s approach to both issues during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, saying that, while nobody in the administration is denying that Russia tried to interfere in last year’s election, few believe Russian intelligence was successful in swaying the outcome of the vote.
“The president has said he believes in the intelligence and also believes that Putin believes what he said, but it’s really time to move on off this issue. The president was focused on very important issues like North Korea and Syria where we have to get along with and have common goals with - Russia."
“I’ve seen information I’m not going to comment on any of the confidential information I’ve seen....but let me be clear, nobody thinks this had any impact on the election. Whatever occurred, there was no impact, and I think the American public is ready to move on to more important issues...like tax reform and foreign policy and national security."
Mnuchin, who is in charge of implementing US sanctions against Russia that were passed over the summer despite the White House’s objection that they would hamper efforts to cooperate on combating terrorism, said the administration isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to enforcing them.
“First let me just say that we are absolutely carrying out the sanctions and that’s something we’re very focused on."
Moving on to the administration’s tax reform effort, Mnuchin said he’s not worried about the many discrepancies between the House and Senate versions of the bill...even as issues like the elimination of SALT deductions, the massive expansion of the deficit, and a possible delay in the onset for corporate tax cuts have stoked opposition within the Republican caucus.
Repeating a line he has used many times since the administration first unveiled its original one-page tax reform “outline” back in April, Mnuchin said he’s confident all the kinks will be worked out when the bill reaches the conference committee consisting of lawmakers from both the House and the Senate.
“Let me tell you the good news is both the House and Senate bill have the same objectives. Obviously we would prefer that...I’m confident this is one of those issues when we get to conference will be resolved between the House and the Senate."
When asked about the potential fallout should the administration fail to pass tax reform by its self-imposed year-end deadline, or if the bill includes certain provisions that are less favorable to US corporates, Mnuchin said the administration is “studying the impact. "
“I’m highly confident we’ll get it done and I think you see that in the market...as for the effect of delaying for one year...we’re studying that impact."
Speaker Paul Ryan has said the House plans to vote on its version of the tax bill on Thursday or Friday after the bill cleared the powerful Ways and Means committee last week.