A video has finally been released of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin being heckled constantly during a lecture at UCLA.
The New York Daily News reports that the video was previously withheld, as the university previously stated that Mnuchin “retracted his permission” for it to be made available online for viewing.
At the start of the video, audience members can be heard hissing loudly at the White House official. Mnuchin comments on the hissing, joking, “Let me say, the only part of this I knew you wanted to hiss was my going to Yale… I completely get that.”
But the hissing didn’t stop and seven minutes into his lecture, three women interrupted him by shouting: “What you’re doing is bullying North Korea who is developing nuclear weapons for deterrent purposes. And this is what the U.S. does all over the world,” the first vocal protester started. “You’re talking about being a beacon for hope and freedom and democracy, that’s b—s—t,” she continued.
The three women were either carried or escorted out of the venue, loudly voicing their criticisms of Trump administration tactics from international affairs to national tax legislation.
The decision to withhold the video became a controversial talking point among the media and UCLA’s students, as well as free speech groups. The Associated Press, for instance, filed a public-records request demanding that the video be released.
UCLA released a statement that said they had received Mnuchin’s consent to release the video, which is how it became public. But activist groups were dissatisfied with that answer, calling it a “problematic decision”.
“This event took place at a public institution and the video was collected by a state body,” said David Snyder, Executive Director of the First American Coalition in a statement Monday. “It’s troubling that the university initially caved to the request of a third party to withhold public records, and even more troubling that when they did eventually release the footage, they claimed to do so because they ‘received consent’ from the Treasury Department.”
An issue of public record
According to a Youtube page run by Matthew Tinoco, who uploaded the video, it had been released “following a California Public Records Act request.”
At one point, Mnuchin reportedly asked for “a little feedback,” as to why the hecklers were hissing during his talk about economic development.
“I think you’re full of (expletive),” one man responded, to which Mnuchin asked anyone who has nothing to say, to leave.
The event came just two months after a box of horse manure was gift-wrapped and sent to the Treasury Secretary near his home. The lecture took place on Feb. 26 event in Los Angeles.