Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Financial Serves Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters shared a testy exchange during a committee hearing on Tuesday night.
As Fox News reports, Mnuchin went into the hearing with the understanding that he would have to leave—perhaps abruptly—at 5:15 pm for a meeting with a foreign official.
This meeting was previously scheduled and he said he did not feel like he was under obligation to reschedule it because he was appearing before the committee voluntarily.
Mnuchin, as a reminder, brought up to the committee that the time was nearing 5:00 and that he would have to get prepared to leave.
“It will be embarrassing if I keep this person waiting for a long period of time,” Mnuchin said via Fox News.
That answer did not sit well with Chairwoman Waters.
“Unfortunately, we are all pressed for time,” she muttered as she and her Democratic colleagues continued to grill the treasury secretary on requests for President Trump’s tax returns.
Mnuchin’s request to have the chair formally close the session, per procedure, was denied by Waters who said, “This is a new way and it’s a new day. And it’s a new chair. And I have the gavel.”
“If you’d wish to keep me here so that I don’t have my important meeting and continue to grill me, then we can do that,” Mnuchin responded, growing visibly frustrated. “I will cancel my meeting and I will not be back here. I will be very clear if that’s the way you’d like to have this relationship.”
Waters took Mnuchin’s words at face value and said she accepted his “offer” to cancel his meeting.
“You made me an offer that I accepted,” Waters said per Fox News. “No, I’m not ordering you. I said you may leave anytime you want and you said OK.”
Mnuchin said it was not an offer and that he was simply pointing out the absurdity of waters’ demands.
The treasury secretary had enough and was ready to leave so he petitioned once more for Waters to end the hearing, this time suggesting she “take the gavel and bang it.”
“Please do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this committee,” Waters interjected.
A member of Mnuchin’s team behind him then pulled the secretary aside and instructed him that he was there voluntarily and was under no legal obligation to stay, at which point Mnuchin shared those comments and withdrew an offer to return to the committee.