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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gives Rep. Maxine Waters instructions on how to use her gavel. The advice was not appreciated.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin gives Rep. Maxine Waters instructions on how to use her gavel. The advice was not appreciated. (Photo: screenshot, CSPAN)

Maxine Waters Holds the Gavel as Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Has Tantrum Over Length of Oversight Hearing

"Please do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this committee."

Eoin Higgins

In the latest contest between Democrats and the administration, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Rep. Maxine Waters that he wouldn't come back to Congress if forced to stay past 5:15pm. 

The comment came as part of a testy exchange between Mnuchin and the California Democrat during Mnuchin's testimony to the House Committee on Financial Services Tuesday.

The secretary told Waters that he was in a time crunch and needed to be in a meeting with a high ranking Bahraini official by 5:30pm—a change to the schedule that he only informed Waters, the chair of the committee, about the day before. 

The scheduling didn't sit well with Waters. 

"No other secretary has ever told us the day before that they were going to limit their time," Waters said. 

Waters asked Mnuchin for another 15 minutes, pointing out that the secretary was not the only one short on time. 

"We're late all the time, unfortunately," said Waters. "We are all pressed for time."

But Mnuchin, who pointed to the Bahraini official waiting in his office, refused the request, saying that further delay would be "very embarrassing" for the secretary.  Mnuchin then sarcastically offered to stay, an offer that Waters said she'd take him up on.

That sparked a back and forth between Waters and Mnuchin in which the secretary threatened not to return to the committee if forced to remain past the time he had given the committee the previous afternoon. 

"I will cancel my meeting and I will not be back here," said Mnuchin. "I will be very clear, if that's the way you'd like to have this relationship."

The pair continued to spar for another minute or so—an exchange punctuated with Mnuchin imitating Waters using her gavel.

"Please do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this committee," said Waters in response. 

In the end, Waters and Mnuchin came to an agreement and the secretary left for his meeting at 5:30. The two will face off again in May.

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper later Tuesday, Waters continued her criticisms of Mnuchin.

"I don't think there's anything or anybody more important than the Congress of the United States of America trying to find out exactly what the secretary is doing," Waters told Cooper.

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