It drew a bit of controversy last year when, following the passage of stimulus checks, the checks themselves were adorned with the signature of President Donald Trump. Some who weren’t fans of the president resented the implication that the president was sending out the checks from his personal funds-especially during a presidential election year. Of course, the same controversy would repeat itself this year, when Trump’s successor, Joe Biden, wrote a letter to stimulus checks recipients, after the passage of the American Rescue Plan, although Biden did not include his own name on the checks themselves.
Now, ABC News is reporting about how the Trump-signed checks came into being, citing internal emails. The report followed a Freedom of Information Act request and even a lawsuit against the Treasury Department to expedite the release of information.
ABC revealed that one early draft showed that then-Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin’s name appearing on the check alongside Trump’s. ABC also obtained and published images of those checks. The report also said that employees of Treasury “scrambled to generate mock-ups for what the checks would look like.”
Some of the emails obtained by ABC are heavily redacted and do not make it clear who originally proposed putting Trump’s name on the checks. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had said at the time that putting Trump’s name on the checks had been his idea.
“We did put the President’s name on the check. That was my idea. He is the President and I think it’s a terrific symbol to the American public,” the then-Treasury Secretary told CNN in an interview at the time.
The ABC report also shows that the push to put Trump’s name on the checks came just days before the checks were set to go out, and there were even concerns that the checks could be delayed as a result.
"I don't know too much about it, but I understand my name is there," Trump had said at a news conference in the spring of 2020. "I don't know where they're going, how they're going. I do understand it's not delaying anything. And I'm satisfied with that. I don't -- I don't imagine it's a big deal. I'm sure people will be very happy to get a big, fat, beautiful check and my name is on it."
Stimulus checks from the American Rescue Plan are continuing to be distributed, with the latest round of checks consisting of just over 1 million payments, with a total dollar amount of more than $2 billion. This brings the total to date to 164 million payments, with a total value of approximately $386 billion.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.