Louise Linton may be the most honest person in Washington. Ask her if she’s ready to leave town after a rocky start and she’ll say no – she’s just finished decorating her house.
The wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is actually just like the rest of us, if we’re to believe the secretary.
“She loves gadgets and has a bird feeder in the backyard,” says Mnuchin in ELLE magazine, which profiles Linton for its March issue.
Mnuchin also says Linton has “humility,” which is an essential point, since Linton first burst onto the public radar with an Instagram gaffe for the history books. Not only did she emerge from a government jet in designer clothes (whose labels she initially tagged in her photo) she got into a spat with a commenter who questioned whether such a display of wealth was appropriate. Linton was dragged through the social media mud. She’s since apologized, but she still regrets how she handled it.
“I was so stupid. I wish I could take it back,” Linton tells ELLE. “I wasn’t thinking about who I am. I wasn’t thinking, I am the wife of this person and thus I should act like the wife of this person.”
How exactly Linton has curbed her lifestyle to adjust to being the spouse of a Cabinet member is difficult to determine from this glossy feature, for which Linton, a Scottish native who lived for several years in Hollywood, poses in a white turtleneck sweater and little else, save a pair of $700 blue suede Christian Louboutin pumps.
She calls SoulCycle, the spinning studio which peddles cardio and feel-goodness, along with $100 leggings and $50 beanies (which Linton is wearing during her interview) her “temple,” and she likes to listen to jazz music in her $12.6 million D.C. mansion, when she’s not at the couple’s Upper East Side Manhattan apartment or the couple’s Los Angeles abode.
But that Linton’s life now falls under the particularly harsh microscope of Washington just because of who she married, perhaps shouldn’t disqualify her as being able to live the posh life she has become adapted to. That she fell in love with Mnuchin (“he’s ice, I’m fire,” she tells ELLE), brings her through a fourth dimension of sorts, a place of newness previously unfamiliar to Linton, an actress and film producer.
“When you get off the plane in Washington, nobody says, ‘Here’s a handbook of dos and don’ts now that you’re in this position. I wish they did,” she tells ELLE. “There’s a whole different set of rules.” Linton admits she’s not into politics, but her exposure to the Trump administration has been positive – she even gives a shout-out to Ivanka Trump’s shoe line: “They’re incredible.”
“I’m just a regular girl, and I’m not perfect, but I’m trying my best,” she says in the magazine. “Maybe I should wear that on a T-shirt and Instagram that. And then on the back it should say …’I’m so sorry.’”
But, should she be? Linton has become one of the most controversial women in Washington, a so-good-you-love-to-hate-her character created by the over-the-top brand of gauche she wears with an almost refreshing cluelessness. One thing you couldn’t fault Linton for is her unabashed honesty.
Asked if she would want to leave Washington, should the Trump administration become too troubled or volatile for her husband, Linton doesn’t respond with a statement of party conviction for a difficult job being done on behalf of the American people.
Rather, she wouldn’t want to go, because “I just finished decorating my house.”
She didn’t take off those opera-length $650 black gloves while posing holding a sheet of money at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in November not because they might seem a bit much for a day trip to a government building, but because “it was kind of cold in the bureau.” (That outfit, by the way, remains hanging in her closet, but Linton hopes eventually enough time will pass and she can wear it again, adding, “I really liked it.”)
Linton admits her bevy of faux pas, intentional or not, ultimately led her to consult a Washington protocol expert.
“It’s actually really a fascinating world. The world of political etiquette. For example, gift giving. You’re not allowed to give gifts, and people aren’t allowed to give us gifts. Undue influence. Obviously we both are ethical and good people and we don’t want to mess up,” she tells ELLE, ironically unaware that she in some ways already has. “I’m trying and I’m learning,” Linton adds.
Mnuchin, for one, tells ELLE that he loves his wife unconditionally, pricey shopping habits included. “I think social media has made her misunderstood and she is not at all the person that has been portrayed. She has a huge heart, is sensitive, deeply compassionate, and kind. … She’s an incredibly warm and loving person.”
So while the rest of the country might still be coming to terms with Linton’s unique display of excess, to Mnuchin she’s very much one half of a regular Cabinet couple in the era of Trump. “[Mnuchin will] say, ‘Okay, honey, maybe we don’t do this,‘“Linton says, “but he’s never harsh or critical, and he sees the humanity in me.”