Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin sent a defiant message Saturday to his more than 300 former Yale classmates who urged him to resign over President Trump's comments on the violence in Charlottesville, Va., telling the group that he stands by the president and won't back down.
"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-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways," Mnuchin said in a statement.
Members of the Yale class of 1985 wrote an open letter on Friday calling on Mnuchin to resign from the Treasury "immediately."
"We do so today because President Trump has declared himself a sympathizer with groups whose values are antithetical to those values we consider fundamental to our sacred honor as Americans, as men and women of Yale, and as decent human beings," the letter read. "President Trump made those declarations loudly, clearly, and unequivocally, and he said them as you stood next to him."
Trump has faced bipartisan criticism for his remarks regarding the violence in Charlottesville, as he initially failed to rebuke white supremacist groups and neo-Nazis. On Monday he did condemn these groups by name, going further than his first statement Saturday, but on Tuesday he doubled back to say there is "blame on both sides."
Mnuchin said in his response to the letter from his former classmates that, "I don't believe the allegations against the president are accurate, and 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."
Speaking for himself, Mnuchin, who is Jewish, said, "I strongly condemn the actions of those filled with hate and with the intent to harm others."
"They have no defense from me nor do they have any defense from the president or this administration," he added.
As long as he remains treasury secretary, Mnuchin said he would "do the best job I can for the American people and provide the best advice I can to the President."