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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says he ‘didn’t realize’ money picture would be public

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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, and his wife Louise Linton react as Mnuchin holds up a sheet of new $1 bills, the first currency notes bearing his and U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza's signatures, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington.

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed Sunday that he didn’t realize a photo of him and his wife holding a sheet of newly printed dollar bills would go public, much less as viral as it did, even though it was taken during a media photo op.

Associated Press photographer Jacquelyn Martin snapped the picture Wednesday at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and it quickly captured the online zeitgeist, partly because of past headlines Mnuchin and wife Louise Linton have garnered because of their high-flying tastes.

“I didn’t realize that the pictures were public and going on the Internet and viral,” Mnuchin said on Fox News’ Sunday. “But people have the right to do that. People can express what they want.”

The image of the couple admiring the first bills bearing Mnuchin’s signature drew sharp critiques with at least one commentator saying the couple looked like villains from a James Bond movie.

“I guess I should take that as a compliment that I look like a villain in a great, successful James Bond movie,” Mnuchin said Sunday. “But, let me just say, I was very excited of having my signature on the money. It’s obviously a great privilege and a great honor and something I’m very proud of being the secretary and look forward to helping the American people.”

Linton, who is wearing full-length leather gloves in the picture, previously suffered withering criticism after she posted boasts on Instagram about her high-end fashion. When someone criticized her, she called the commenter “adorably out of touch.”

Mnuchin has been criticized for requesting military aircraft for trips, including a one he ultimately withdrew for a flight for his European honeymoon with Linton in August.

The photographer who took the money shot last week said on CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday that she can’t fathom why Mnuchin would think the photographs would not be made public.

“I think it was pretty obvious it was a media photo op,” Martin said.

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