Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s actress wife apologized Tuesday for tearing into an Instagram user who criticized her online for tagging designer brands in an image of the couple disembarking from a government plane.
"I apologize for my post on social media yesterday as well as my response," Louise Linton said in a statement released by her publicist. "It was inappropriate and highly insensitive."
Linton's mea culpa came after she was battered by criticism for her highly personal rebuttal Monday night to a snarky broadside from an Oregon woman who had posted, "Glad we could pay for your little getaway."
The 36-year-old Linton, who married Mnuchin earlier this year, drew fire after she posted the image of them landing in Kentucky with five hashtags related to her clothing.
“Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside #rolandmouret pants #tomford sunnies, #hermesscarf #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa,” her original post read.
She later revised it to remove the designer tags. While some users posted innocuous comments on the image, one commenter appeared to strike a nerve.
Linton launched into a seemingly facetious tirade, asking if the user had “given more to the economy” than her and Mnuchin.
“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. 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. You’re adorably out of touch. Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better. Maybe a nice message, one filled with wisdom and hunanity [sic] would get more traction. Have a pleasant evening. Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!” Linton wrote.
The White House referred questions about Linton to the Treasury Department, which said Mnuchin and Linton are reimbursing the government for Linton's travel and that Linton received no compensation from the fashion labels mentioned in her post.
Walter Shaub Jr., the former director of the of the Office of Government Ethics, called Linton, Mnuchin and even the president out for their behavior.
"Bad ethics tone from POTUS leads entitled appointee/freeloading spouse to ask not what they can do for country but what YOU can do for them," Shaub wrote.
Shaub later sent another tweet saying, "Hey @stevenmnuchin1 the government's not your playground. The little people your wife mocks are paying the bills with blood, sweat & tears."
Shaub continued tweeting about Linton and Mnuchin throughout Monday afternoon.
"@USTreasury will you be releasing your GC’s [general counsel] written justification for allowing @stevenmnuchin1 to bring his spouse on a govt aircraft?" Shaub wrote. "U say she paid, but did u tell folks regs require her to pay same coach fare woman she mocked would pay for a crowded commercial flight?"
Norm Eisen, President Barack Obama's chief ethics attorney, called Linton a "Marie Antoinette for our age." In an email, he added that in the Bush or Obama administrations, a spouse of an official who replied that way and the official "would have been counseled."
Linton, a Scottish actress, was previously widely criticized for a memoir she wrote, titled, "In Congo's Shadow," about a short period she spent in Zambia in 1999 as an 18-year-old student.
Many readers, including Zambians who were in the country during the time described, have disputed her book, which was published in 2016, saying it is riddled with inaccuracies and leans closer to fiction than fact. The backlash birthed the hashtag, "#LintonLies."
"The ridiculousness and exaggeration of this tale from 'long angel haired' Brit in #Africa is as unimaginative as anything I've read lately," BBC Africa's Victoria Uwonkunda wrote in a series of threaded tweets about the book.
Linton responded to the criticisms in her own series of tweets, writing, "I am genuinely dismayed and very sorry to see that I have offended people as this was the very opposite of my intent. I wrote with the hope of conveying my deep humility, respect and appreciation for the people of Zambia as an 18yr old in 1999. I wrote about the country’s incredible beauty and my immense gratitude for the experiences I had there."
Linton has since made her Twitter private.
The actress has also left some in Washington D.C. scratching their head for attending congressional hearings with Mnuchin and other events that spouses typically don’t attend, the Washington Post reported.
Mnuchin had flown to Louisville in an attempt to push Congress to overhaul the tax code, stressing that changes could help the middle class, according to the Post.
The Post explained that Treasury secretaries typically only fly on government planes for international trips and fly on domestic carriers when the travel within the United States.
Kalhan Rosenblatt is a reporter for NBC News, based in New York.