- Molly Riley/Reuters
Larry Summers used Twitter on Sunday to criticize Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“Why is the Secretary of the Treasury commenting on NFL players exercise of First Amendment rights?” Summers tweeted.
“Mnuchin says President can use whatever language he wants,” he continued. “I guess he thinks racist taunts are ok. Shame on him.”
“Steven Mnuchin may be the greatest sycophant in Cabinet history,” he added.
Summers’ tweets appear to refer to Mnuchin’s comments about President Donald Trump’s attacks over the weekend on NFL player protests.
At a rally on Friday night for Luther Strange, the Republican candidate in Alabama’s special election, the president suggested that any player who knelt during the national anthem to protest racial and social inequality should be fired.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a b—- off the field right now, out – he’s fired!'” Trump said.
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Martha Raddatz asked Mnuchin whether he thought that was the type of language a president should use, regardless of how he felt about the issue.
“I think the president can use whatever language he wants to use,” Mnuchin said. “The issue is the topic, OK? I agree with the president – why does the NFL have all these other rules that they enforce, that they fine players? This is about respect for the military, the first responders.”
“Is it not about the First Amendment?” Raddatz said. “Is it not about their First Amendment rights?”
“No, it’s not,” Mnuchin replied. “They have the right to have their First Amendment off the field.”
Following Trump’s comments – and his subsequent tweets on Saturday reiterating the point – players across the NFL joined in on the protests during the national anthem ahead of Sunday’s games.
- Reuters/Eric Thayer
Sunday was not the first time Summers had spoken out about Mnuchin’s comments. In May, he wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post criticizing Mnuchin’s telling bankers at Michael Milken’s annual conference for investment professionals that “you should all thank me for your bank stocks doing better.”
“I cannot conceive of any of the 11 other secretaries I have known making such a statement. Leave aside the question of whether whatever credit is to be claimed should be claimed on behalf of the president. Since when is the stock price of banks the objective or the standard of success for economic policy? And when, as will inevitably occur, bank stock prices decline, will the secretary accept the blame?”
Summers was the Treasury secretary during the Clinton administration and the director of the National Economic Council during the Obama administration.