But Steve Mnuchin, Trump's pick for the venerable post first held by Alexander Hamilton, appears to have been receptive to an administration post early on. Motivations are always hard to discern, and behind-the-scene discussions aren't known. But in a Bloomberg Businessweek profile of Mnuchin from August, Trump's campaign finance chairman was asked about them. Repeatedly, Mnuchin described his support for Trump as a "unique moment in time" or "a unique opportunity to help," before allowing that a top Washington job was appealing, Bloomberg reported. "Nobody's going to be like, 'Well, why did he do this?' if I end up in the administration," Mnuchin said.
Now that Mnuchin, long rumored as a front-runner for the job, has been nominated to do just that, the remark stands out for its ambitious tone. His self-confident answer to the bankers and film industry types who were surprised he'd align with Trump was not the more traditional "I'll serve if I'm called to" response.
And some believe it fits with an eclectic and high-flying career that has taken Mnuchin from Wall Street's power center to the world of Hollywood stars. Mnuchin, whose father was a longtime trader at Goldman Sachs, joined the firm himself after Yale, and spent 17 years there. He went on to work in hedge funds, including founding one of his own, which has invested in a number of Hollywood films, including the "X-Men" franchise and "Avatar," the highest-grossing box office film ever. His IMDB.com profile lists him as executive producer of more than 30 films.
In both the Bloomberg profile and in coverage since Mnuchin was named, the 53-year-old former banker's support for Trump has been described as the ultimate bet. "Goldman partners have wealth, and movie producers befriend stars, but the secretary of the Treasury gets his signature stamped on cash," goes one theory in New York and Beverly Hills, according to the Bloomberg profile. Writing in the New York Times after the nomination was announced, Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote that "anyone looking for hints about Mr. Mnuchin’s ideology may be disappointed: His friends say he is not ideological and that, if anything, his ideology is simply his ambition."
Yet asked on CNBC Tuesday by Sorkin whether he wanted to get into the administration early on, Mnuchin said it wasn't a bet. "This was never a gamble from my perspective," he said. "I've known the president-elect for over 15 years. I believed in his policies. And I thought he would win, but I did this because I believed in it." Still, Mnuchin added that he did so "despite the fact there were a lot of people in California and New York that wanted to stop being friends. They've all come back," he added, his expression growing into a grin.