Mnuchin defends Trump after deal with Democrats: 'The president is absolutely a Republican'

Key Points
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defends his boss working with Democrats on a short-term plan to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling.
  • To the dismay of Republicans, Trump agreed with Democrats to extend the nation's borrowing limit for only three months in a Harvey relief bill.
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Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin: President Trump is 'absolutely a Republican'

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended his boss on Tuesday for working with Democrats on a short-term plan to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling.

To the dismay of Republicans, President Donald Trump agreed with Democrats to extend the nation's borrowing limit for only three months in a bill he signed to give $15 billion to Hurricane Harvey disaster relief.

"The president is absolutely a Republican," said Mnuchin, addressing critics on "Squawk Box," at the Delivering Alpha conference presented by CNBC and Institutional Investor magazine. Mnuchin said he's a Republican too, jokingly adding: "I know on this show and others that's been questioned."

"The president reached out to Democrats and showed that he could get things done on a bipartisan basis," Mnuchin said. "I think that's important."

Trump last Wednesday split with congressional GOP leaders to support a Democratic approach on Harvey relief, the debit ceiling, and government funding.

GOP congressional leaders and Mnuchin had wanted a longer time frame for increasing the debt limit.

But after Trump sided with the opposition, Republicans felt that Democrats could use the new December deadline as leverage in crafting tax reform.

In Tuesday's interview, Mnuchin recognized the importance of good working relationships on Capitol Hill, saying he met with House Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday.

Trump and Ryan had dinner earlier in the week, he added. "The relationships with the president are there."

— In addition to Mnuchin, Delivering Alpha participants include Omega Advisors Chairman Leon Cooperman, Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio, Blackstone chief Steve Schwarzman, DowDupont CEO Edward Breen, Kynikos Associates' Jim Chanos and JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon.