Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did watch Monday's total solar eclipse from the top of Fort Knox, a near-optimal place to see the astronomical event, but his viewing was planned around "official government travel," according to a report late Thursday evening.
Mnuchin's trip has drawn a great deal of scrutiny this week, as a government watchdog group, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a Freedom of Information Act request attempting to determine if Mnuchin and his wife, Louise Linton, had used a government plane to travel to Lexington, Ky., for an better view of the eclipse. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., also wrote to the Treasury's general counsel asking for a "detailed explanation" on the circumstances surrounding Mnuchin's trip.
Earlier in the day on Monday, Mnuchin attended a luncheon at the Louisville Chamber of Commerce with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Later the two toured the gold bullion depository in Fort Knox, just south of Louisville, and McConnell posted a picture on Facebook saying he and Mnuchin watched the eclipse from the rooftop.
Treasury Department officials told the Washington Post that Mnuchin's viewing of the eclipse atop Fort Knox, which was very near the path of totality, was planned around "official government travel," and that he originally planned to attend the luncheon earlier in the August, but it was pushed back because McConnell delayed the start of the Senate recess. A spokeswoman for the Louisville chamber, Alison Brotzge-Elder, confirmed that the event had been delayed.
An unnamed Treasury representative told the Post that Mnuchin plans to reimburse the government for Linton's travel, "as is long-standing policy regarding civilians on military aircraft," but would not say who approved the flight.