Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin asked to use a government plane to travel overseas during his honeymoon but then withdrew the request, a department spokesman told NBC News.
Reports of the withdrawal came after ABC News said Mnuchin had requested the government jet for his European honeymoon earlier this summer — touching off an "inquiry" by the Treasury Department's Office of Inspector General. Officials told ABC News that Mnuchin's request was unusual and could have cost about $25,000 an hour.
On Wednesday night, a spokesman for Treasury said Mnuchin had made the request earlier this year so he could have "secure communications" during his flight, but was able to obtain them without a government jet and withdrew the request.gi
"We have multiple issues around the world where the Secretary is directly involved in national security, notably North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela, among others," the spokesperson told NBC News.
"It is imperative that he have access to secure communications, and it is our practice to consider a wide range of options to ensure he has these capabilities during his travel, including the possible use of military aircraft. Treasury withdrew its request after a secure communications option was identified during the Secretary's extended travel."
In an interview with MSNBC Thursday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney called Mnuchin's request "legitimate," explaining that the Secretary had been "concerned" about his "ability to communicate securely with Washington, D.C., with the White House, while he was traveling."
Mnuchin and his wife, actress Louise Linton, have found themselves under a barrage of criticism in recent weeks.
Last month, the couple traveled to Kentucky on a government plane on the day of the solar eclipse. Mnuchin participated in an event at Fort Knox, but he also spent part of the day watching the eclipse.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government watchdog group, has sued the Treasury Department for the release of documents related to the trip.
Linton herself prompted another controversy when she tore into an Instagram user who had criticized her online for tagging designer brands in an image of the couple disembarking from the government plane during their trip to Kentucky. Linton later apologized and the couple is reimbursing the government for the cost of the flight.
Adam Edelman reported from New York and Hallie Jackson from Washington, D.C.