Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s wife Louise Linton apologized Tuesday after sustained backlash for a now-deleted Instagram post touting her wealth and her subsequent reply belittling a commenter.
“I apologize for my post on social media yesterday as well as my response. It was inappropriate and highly insensitive,” Linton said in a statement from her publicist.
Monday’s post began with a glamorous photo of Linton stepping off an official government plane on a trip to Kentucky with her husband, who was there to discuss tax reform with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and visit Fort Knox.
Dressed in all white and carrying a handbag and silk scarf, the Scottish-born actress and producer tagged a series of luxury designers, including Hermes, Roland Mouret, Tom Ford and Valentino.
“Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside #usa,” she wrote.
Instagram user Jenni Miller, a mother of three from Oregon, took issue with the post, commenting, “Glad we could pay for your little getaway. #deplorable”
Linton fired back in a sarcastic tone.
“@jennimiller29 cute! Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol,” she wrote in a response peppered with kiss emojis.
Her reply escalated further as she touted her family’s wealth and personal “sacrifice.”
“Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day ‘trip’ than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours,” she wrote, calling Miller “adorably out of touch.”
Linton said Miller’s “life looks cute” and told her to “have a pleasant evening” and “chill out.”
The post was deleted late Monday evening and Linton’s account was set to private, but not before multiple screengrabs were taken.
Miller told CNN she found Linton’s original post “incredibly offensive.”
“She went to a state where one in five people lives in poverty and many children don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Instead of helping in some way, she chose to brag about her outlandishly expensive clothes. It’s more than tone-deaf, it’s deplorable,” Miller said.
In an interview on CNN “Newsroom,” Miller said, “If I had any respect for her, it probably would have been hurtful.”
Reached for comment, a Treasury spokesperson said: “The Mnuchins are reimbursing the government for her travel, and she does not receive compensation for products she mentions.”
Miller called this step a “good outcome” and said she was trying to redirect the new followers she had received on Instagram from the now-viral exchange toward a fundraiser for a friend who suffered a stroke.
“A lot of people are donating to that,” Miller said. “And so I’m trying to make some good out of this situation.”
It’s not the first time Linton has come under fire on social media. After self-publishing a book in 2016 on a year abroad in Zambia, Linton was sharply criticized for the book’s inaccuracies and misleading description of the political climate, with the Washington Post slamming its “white savior” narrative. She described herself as a “skinny white muzungu with long angel hair.”
A description of the book on Amazon calls it an “inspiring memoir of an intrepid teenager who abandoned her privileged life in Scotland to travel to Zambia as a gap year student where she found herself inadvertently caught up in the fringe of the Congolese War.”
Linton pulled the book from Amazon a few months later and issued an apology on a now-private Twitter account.
The Telegraph, which published an article excerpt of the book, said in a statement that Linton’s work “mistakenly implied that the conflicts in Congo and Rwanda had spilled over into Zambia, that Zambia was a war-torn country in 1999 and that armed rebels had crossed Lake Tanganyika to Zambia that year. Other claims of inaccuracy were also made.”
Linton is no stranger to the luxurious lifestyle. She grew up spending weekends at her family’s castle, which she used as the backdrop in a 2015 horror film.
“I spent the weekends at Melville Castle. It was an idyllic childhood spent mostly outdoors with all the animals. My siblings and I zoomed around on little motorbikes, kayaked, and fished,” she told Daily Record at the time.
In June, Linton did an interview with Town & Country magazine for an online story about the diamonds she would wear to her lavish June wedding to Mnuchin.
She discussed a pair of her earrings, saying, “These date back to the 1920s. They’re starburst and reminiscent of Old Hollywood glamour. I love to think about who wore them over the generations… I can imagine them on Eva Marie Saint, or Ava Gardner, or Lauren Bacall. Where did they go from there? What did they signify to the women who wore them before me? Who will own them in the future? You never really own a diamond. You just get to keep it for a while before it begins a new journey with someone else.”
Linton married Mnuchin in a Washington, D.C., ceremony that was attended by the President and First Lady Melania Trump and officiated by Vice President Mike Pence. During the reception, guests were treated to a private ballet performance and bagpipers. The couple lives in a multimillion-dollar mansion in the Massachusetts Avenue neighborhood of Washington.
Her film credits include parts in “Lions for Lambs,” “Intruder” and “Rules Don’t Apply.” A graduate of Pepperdine University, Linton also has a law degree from University of West Los Angeles.