Treasury pick harshly criticized Trump during primary campaign as crony capitalist with four bankruptcies

Story highlights

  • "The guy declared bankruptcy four times. Is this the guy we're putting forward?," Sayegh asked.
  • When Trump became the Republican nominee, Sayegh was a vocal supporter of Trump.

(CNN)The man Donald Trump appointed this week to a prominent public affairs role at the Treasury Department harshly criticized him during the Republican presidential primary.

Republican consultant Tony Sayegh will serve as assistant secretary of public affairs at the Treasury Department under Steven Mnuchin. In his role as a Fox News contributor in 2015 an early 2016, Sayegh described Trump as "the poster child for crony capitalism" and pointed to Trump's multiple bankruptcies.
Past criticism of Trump has reportedly played a role in disqualifying some prospective members of his administration. Bloomberg reported this week that some of Mnuchin's picks in the Treasury Department are facing push back for their past comments about the President.
    When Trump became the Republican nominee, Sayegh was a vocal supporter of Trump, telling Fox Business in August 2016, "I believe we need to begin to evolve into a more populist party to reflect the will of the people, not just the will of the elites of our party. And that is exactly why Donald Trump will prevail."
    But in the months of the heated primary campaign, Sayegh questioned whether Trump was the candidate Republicans wanted to put forward.
    "Getting to understand Trump's appeal because of his irreverent confidence, combativeness, the kind of candor that...a lot of these other guys lack -- that's understandable," Sayegh said on the Greg Gutfeld Show in July of 2015.
    "But the question I ask is, is this the guy that we want to be the champion, the voice of modern conservatism? I mean, you talk about the fact that we have all these Republican primary voters who -- they like the fact that he's irreverent and he's loud -- but at the same time, they don't like big government. Donald Trump was the poster child for crony capitalism. Big government programs, taxpayer funded projects for his construction and developments -- which I love by the way -- here in New York. The guy declared bankruptcy four times. Is this the guy we're putting forward?," he asked.
    "All Donald Trump's campaign is boiled down to is personal insults," he added.
    Later the same month, Sayegh said Trump struck a chord with some voters, but went too far with some of his public comments.
    "Sometimes he goes a little too far, sometimes he goes a lot too far," he said on Fox Business. "The John McCain veterans point. The way he characterized Mexicans who come to this country illegally was another instance."
    In December 2015, shortly after Trump announced his Muslim ban, Sayegh called it "irrational and unconstitutional."
    He also questioned Trump's temperament and conservative credentials at times.
    "I have serious misgivings about his conservative bonafides, his temperament is certainly in play as an issue," he said on Fox Business in March 2016.
    The same month, Sayegh called Trump's behavior at a presidential debate where he repeatedly referred to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as "Lil Marco" as "downright crass and rude" on Fox News' Outnumbered.
    Sayegh told CNNs KFile in a statement: "President Trump overwhelmingly won the confidence of many Republicans during the course of the long primary process, myself included; and the support of the American people during the general election. I was proud to become a strong advocate for his candidacy and am honored to be part of his administration."