Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin appeared before the House Financial Services Committee on Thursday, and learned a valuable lesson: don’t mess with Maxine Waters.
Waters asked Mnuchin a simple question: “Is there some reason why I [and my Democratic colleagues] didn’t get a response to the letter I sent to you on May 23rd?” Each committee member is only given a limited amount of time for questions. Mnuchin immediately starts to waste hers. He starts by trying one of the oldest stalling devices known to man—flattery.
“First of all, let me thank you for your service to California, being a resident of California I appreciate everything that you’ve done –“
Waters stops him and tells him that she doesn’t need the flattery, but an answer, saying “Thank you very much, I don’t want to take up my time on how great I am.” She also starts to repeat “reclaiming my time.”
Mnuchin tries to stall so often, making Waters have to repeat “reclaiming my time” enough that Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling intervened on Waters’ behalf saying, “the time belongs to the gentlelady from California.”
Instead of finally answering the question, Mnuchin instead complained about his treatment and again began to stall for time, launching into the how the Department of Treasury. When Hensarling again gives the time back to Waters, Mnuchin tries to stall again, this time complaining to Hensarling that he “didn’t understand the rules” because he thought he was “allowed to answer questions.” He might not understand what “answering questions means either. Nothing he said even began to answer the one Waters posed to him.