During an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin downplayed the importance of replacing Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, saying the Trump administration has yet to make a decision on the matter.
"People have been on the bills for a long period of time. This is something we'll consider. Right now, we have a lot more important issues to focus on," said Mnuchin. "It’s not something that I’m focused on at the moment. The issue of why we change it will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes."
This set off alarm bells for critics of Trump, who view the backtrack as another example of the Trump administration's inability to acknowledge people of color. They made their voices heard after Mnuchin shared his thoughts, shaming Trump for not moving forward with the Tubman switch.
A Harriet Tubman $20 is not a priority for Trump's team..— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) August 31, 2017
BUT DAMMIT WE GOTTA KEEP THOSE CONFEDERATE PARTICIPATION TROPHIES FOR ALL TO SEE!
The Trump administration is so threatened by the existence of women & people of color, they can't even acknowledge Harriet Tubman on the $20 https://t.co/JEQHhKSTFo— NARAL (@NARAL) August 31, 2017
Andrew Jackson was a murderous populist.— Beau Willimon (@BeauWillimon) August 31, 2017
Harriet Tubman risked death to free thousands.
Clearly Trump's Admin sympathizes with the former. https://t.co/FooHts8tUY
Wow. Even Harriet Tubman is getting shafted by the Trump administration. No woman is safe - even those not living. https://t.co/nswcW5HMM0— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) August 31, 2017
Though the inaction on the potential switch is controversial, it is not necessarily a new development for the Trump team. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump called putting Tubman on the $20 bill "pure political correctness," and played up his affection for Andrew Jackson.
"Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it's very rough when you take somebody off the bill,” Trump said last year. “I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, but I would love to leave Andrew Jackson or see if we can maybe come up with another denomination.”
Even if the Trump administration decides to move forward with Tubman on the currency, a delay is expected between the final decision and her potential appearance on U.S. currency. When the decision to give Tubman a spot on the $20 bill was made in early 2016, former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew posted an open letter on the matter, explaining new $20, $10, and $5 bills would not be unveiled until 2020.