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Congressional report accuses Trump officials of awarding $700 million pandemic loan over objections

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Steven Mnuchin. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A Congressional report released Wednesday suggests two top Trump administration officials — former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and former Defense Secretary Mark Esper — intervened to ensure Yellow Corporation, a troubled trucking company, received $700 million in pandemic relief money, overriding career officials at the Defense Department who raised concerns over the company’s eligibility.

The report was written by Democratic staff on the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

In 2020, a $17 billion fund was approved by Congress to help companies critical to national security. The Treasury Department controlled the money, and that July, announced a $700 million loan for YRC Worldwide, the trucking company now known as Yellow. The report states that former President Donald Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, was a “key actor” in coordinating with lobbyists for Yellow, who were in constant contact with White House officials during the funding process.

The loan was questioned immediately by watchdog groups, who knew Yellow was being sued by the Justice Department over claims it defrauded the federal government for years. The Defense Department needed to certify Yellow for it to qualify for a national security loan, and the report states that officials recommended against certification because of the accusations that Yellow overcharged the government. The report says a call was set up between Mnuchin and Esper, and after that, Esper certified Yellow; a week later, the loan was announced.

Yellow also had ties to the Trump administration, with its CEO, Darren Hawkins, tapped for a seat on a coronavirus economic task force, and its former CEO, William Zollars, nominated by Trump to the U.S. Postal Service’s board of governors. Read more at The New York Times.

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