This circa 1860-75 photo made available by the Library of Congress shows Harriet Tubman.
Photo by Library of Congress/AP

Did the delay of the Harriet Tubman $20 bill relate to Trump?

Updated

The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/31/17, 9:56 PM ET

Tubman twenty not a priority of Jackson-loving Trump White House

Joy-Ann Reid notes Donald Trump’s affinity for Andrew Jackson and reports on Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s wishy-washy answer about replacing Jackson with Harriet Tubman’s face on the twenty dollar bill.
Joy-Ann Reid notes Donald Trump’s affinity for Andrew Jackson and reports on Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s wishy-washy answer about replacing Jackson with Harriet Tubman’s face on the twenty dollar bill.
The launch of the Harriet Tubman $20 bill was slated for next year, which would carry some historical weight: next year is the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States. Yesterday, however, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the rollout of the new currency has been delayed until 2028.

In response to questions from Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Mnuchin testified yesterday, “The primary reason we have looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues. Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand.”

As it turns out, that may not have been the only reason.

The New York Times published an article overnight with a provocative headline: “Harriet Tubman $20 Bill Is Delayed Until Trump Leaves Office, Mnuchin Says.” What does the delay have to do with Donald Trump? According to the Times’ reporting, the timing of the delay and the Republican president’s tenure are not coincidental.

Mr. Mnuchin, concerned that the president might create an uproar by canceling the new bill altogether, was eager to delay its redesign until Mr. Trump was out of office, some senior Treasury Department officials have said. As a presidential candidate in 2016, Mr. Trump criticized the Obama administration’s plans for the bill.

It’s worth emphasizing that I haven’t seen similar reporting elsewhere, and this hasn’t been independently verified by MSNBC or NBC News.

That said, it’s also not too hard to believe.

As a presidential candidate, Trump complained about putting the iconic hero on the $20 bill, saying the decision was driven by “pure political correctness.” The Republican suggested that Tubman – slated to be the only woman and person of color on American currency – should instead grace the front of the rarely seen $2 bill.

What’s more, Trump has developed a fondness for Andrew Jackson, who’s currently on the $20 bill, though he knows far less about the nation’s seventh president than he thinks he does.

To be sure, the New York Times’ report doesn’t say Trump directed the delay, only that Mnuchin feared the president’s intervention, and took steps to preempt an undue cancellation.

If that is what happened, given everything we know about Trump, the Treasury secretary probably had reason to be concerned.