Louise Linton, the angular wife of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin best known for sinisterly clutching a fistful of dollar bills and a reliance on government-funded private air travel, was once on an apology tour, during which she gave several contrite interviews to outlets like Elle and Washington Life. That apology tour is over, according to a profile published Monday in the Washingtonian, and she doesn’t know why people got so worked up to begin with.
In the profile, she says she knows she was a “bozo” for the Instagram—you know, the #rolandmouret #hermesscarf Instagram—but she doesn’t know why people freaked out over that leather-gloves-I-control-the-means-of-production picture.
“I don’t really know what I did wrong,” she says. From the Washingtonian:
She watched as multiple photographers snapped pictures of Mnuchin holding a sheet of $1 bills, then heard him say, “Honey, come in the picture.” So it was spontaneous, she says. She placed one gloved hand over the money, and the camera shutters took off.
“Then, naturally, they”—that is, the media, with their penchant for “controversy” and “meanness” and “vitriol”—“didn’t use any photo once my face was natural and settled. They deliberately selected a photo where I was still stepping into the picture, and it made me look like, ‘Mwahaha,’ like the cat that got the cream.” Indeed, Linton’s lips were pursed, eyes narrowed, affect self-satisfied, as though never in her life had the woman who grew up in a Scottish castle and married a man worth $350 million clutched something so precious.
Other than that, nothing we learn is particularly unexpected, like how Linton sits “sidebar” at SoulCycle—meaning in the front row, a space reserved for the best and most devoted SoulCyclers.
We hear about her hardscrabble first few months in Washington, during which she was living in a hotel while decorating their new $12.6 million home—by herself, thank you! “I didn’t hire a decorator,” she said. “I did it myself. I spent the days mostly in this exact outfit—this coat, these Ugg boots, leggings, no makeup, my hair tied up in a bun, Ubering back and forth between the hotel and the house, measuring.”
In the early days of Mnuchin’s role at Treasury, she reportedly used to make “frequent” appearances, heralded by “incredibly high heels” clacking down the hall, and announcing her appearance with a “Where’s my hubsies?” This, coupled with her reported comfort bringing family to the Treasury and attending numerous events, have had her labeled by some staffers, unkindly, “first lady of the Treasury.”
So yes, as we basically knew, Linton’s very presence in the typically protocol-reliant Washington scene is offensive to many, but the profile takes that suspicion one step further, interviewing fellow socialites who are also absolutely gobsmacked at Linton’s disrespect for the way things are:
Rather, I was surprised by how many seemed annoyed—offended, even—that she had never seemed desperate to get to know them. “She’s not interested in us. She couldn’t care less about us,” says the well-regarded philanthropist from l’affaire place card. “She wants to be in the magazines and that kind of thing.”
One source dripped with disdain when discussing Linton’s conduct at Cafe Milano’s 25th-anniversary party in November—the problem, as best I could tell, being that she “sequestered herself in the corner” with her husband rather than getting up and working the room. “She would never be invited to Katharine Graham’s parties,” the source said.
We also learn of her alleged improper party etiquette—a surprise given that party etiquette would likely be the most important asset for a socialite to have. According to one unnamed philanthropist, Linton changed her place card at an event last summer—an unforgivable act of entitlement—and didn’t even know what to do with the seat she gave herself. “She did not know how to deal with the dignitary she found herself beside,” the philanthropist said cryptically. “She just has to learn Washington protocol.”
Linton denies this entire affair, saying, “I’m not some ditzy moron who has no idea how to deal with a diplomat as if they’re some exotic animal.”
Read the full profile here.