A member of the audience was removed by police for disrupting a speech by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the University of California, Los Angeles on Monday.
Mnuchin visited UCLA’s Burkle Center for International Relations Monday and had initially agreed to allow the university to post video and a podcast of his lecture, but changed his mind following the speech.
The conversation was moderated by journalist Kari Ryssdal and the topics covered included sanctions, the Trump tax plan and the current economic outlook. The lecture was attended by roughly 200 people, many of whom did not agree with the secretary’s positions, hissing and at points, interrupting his remarks.
Mnuchin decided to engage some of the protesters, asking why they were hissing, and he paused when interrupted. ABC7 was in the room when two protesters were escorted out by armed police officers.
Mnuchin said during the speech that he felt “an obligation to try to do things that would help people and help the economy and particularly the middle class.” He also discussed the Trump tax cuts passed late last year, when a woman in the crowd shouted that the Trump administration is punishing “black and brown people in the inner cities.”
As she was forcibly removed by police, another attendee shouted “This tax bill is going after people who are vulnerable. This is politics of cruelty. This is politics of fascism.”
UCLA complied with Mnuchin’s request and refused to release the clip: on Tuesday, Peggy McInerny, director of communications for the Burkle Center, released a statement to the media explaining why the public would not be receiving video of the lecture.
“I am sorry to write that we just received word that Secretary Mnuchin has retracted his permission for the Burkle Center to post its video and podcast of yesterday’s event on its website, so we are unable to share either recording with you. This was an unexpected development and I apologize,” said McInerny.
A treasury spokeswoman pushed back when asked by the New York Times whether Mnuchin was being transparent about deciding not to allow the university to release the video. The spokeswoman told the paper, “The event was open to the media and a transcript was published. He believes healthy debate is critical to ensuring the right policies that do the most good are advanced.”
Of course, it didn’t take long for the video to leak, and a copy of the incident was uploaded Thursday:
Please don’t spread this video of a student being dragged away by cops as she accuses Steven Mnuchin of engaging in “the politics of fascism.” Mnuchin asked UCLA not to post it. Thank you. pic.twitter.com/AynOpaoyKm
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) March 1, 2018
“Secretary Mnuchin has participated as a guest in previous events held by the UCLA Burkle Center and welcomed the chance to speak and discuss important economic issues,” a Treasury spokeswoman said in a Friday statement to The Hill. “The event was open to the media and a transcript was published. He believes healthy debate is critical to ensuring the right policies that do the most good are advanced.”