Obama-era Officials Admit NYT’s Harriet Tubman $20 Hit Piece Was Fake News

In this photo provided by the Library of Congress, Harriet Tubman in seen in a photograph dating from 1860-75. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. are sponsoring legislation to bring a statue of Harriet Tubman to the U.S. Capitol Building. (Harvey B. Lindsley/Library of Congress via …
Harvey B. Lindsley/Library of Congress via AP

Obama-era officials confirmed the New York Times‘ hit piece, which claimed the Trump administration deliberately delayed the Harriet Tubman $20 for nefarious reasons, is indeed fake news, according to a recent report from the Washington Post.

Three officials who served in the Obama administration confirmed to the Washington Post that the Trump administration did not delay the release of the Tubman $20, despite the drama-infested saga perpetuated by New York Times last month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, they say, is following the same timeline put forth by the Obama administration.

According to the report:

In 2016, President’s Obama Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said a “final concept design” of the Tubman $20 would be released in 2020. He asked the government to accelerate the process of the redesign, saying the new look would be released by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.

But inside the agency, some government officials doubted that deadline could be met. A confidential 2013 report by the Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence committee, an interagency group that oversees the redesign of U.S. currency, said the $20 would not enter circulation until 2030, similar to the timeline announced by the Trump administration, according to Larry R. Felix, director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing from 2006 to 2015.

Officials at the time doubted a “final concept design” could be released by 2020, given how long the development of a new bill takes, particularly from an anti-counterfeiting standpoint. Additionally, concept bills are never released an entire decade out from their official release.

The report continues:

“Those announcements were not grounded in reality. The U.S. had not at the time acquired the security features to redesign and protect the notes,” Felix said of Lew’s announcement that a design of the $20 would be released in 2020.

Another former government official appointed by Obama, speaking on the condition of anonymity to speak about internal government deliberations, also said the new $20 had always been scheduled for release toward the end of next decade. A current high-ranking government official appointed by Obama confirmed this account.

The latest development reaffirms Breitbart News’ previous reporting.

Last month, Breitbart News debunked the New York Times’ attempted hit piece, which framed Mnuchin as deliberately delaying the release of the Tubman $20 in order to avoid an embarrassing conflict with President Trump. The Times based its report on a conversation with an anonymous employee of the bureau, who claimed to have seen a digital image of the redesigned bill.

The Times reported:

The development of the note did not stop there. A current employee of the bureau, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, personally viewed a metal engraving plate and a digital image of a Tubman $20 bill while it was being reviewed by engravers and Secret Service officials as recently as May 2018. This person said that the design appeared to be far along in the process.

The anonymous bureau employee fueled the newspaper‘s speculation that the Trump administration was deliberately delaying the release for suspect reasons.

“Current and former department officials say Mr. Mnuchin chose the delay to avoid the possibility that Mr. Trump would cancel the plan outright and create even more controversy,” the Times claimed.

Even the title of the Times’ piece – “See a Design of the Harriet Tubman $20 Bill That Mnuchin Delayed” – was filled with falsehoods, as the preliminary design leaked to the paper happened to be a “copy of an old Series note with the signatures of former officials, with a different image super-imposed on it,” according to Bureau of Engraving and Printing Director Len Olijar.

The U.S. Treasury Department denied the Times’ report from the very beginning. Senior Adviser for Public Affairs to the Secretary of the Treasury Monica Crowley released a statement, confirming that the existing timeline was “consistent” with the timeline set by the Obama administration.

“The scheduled release (printing) of the $20 bill is on a timetable consistent with the previous administration,” Crowley said in a statement.

“The Secretary at this point is focused on security features and anti-counterfeiting measures related to the currency,” she continued. “The suggestion that the process is being delayed is completely erroneous.”

Olijar also released a statement, reminding the general public of the lengthy process that goes into designing a new bill, including the development of the advanced security features it requires. He mentioned the “overwhelming success” of the $100 bill, particularly in “thwarting counterfeiting” thanks to the blue security thread. That feature, Olijar said, took ten years to finalize.

Olijar’s statement read in part:

“As technology has evolved, banknote production has vastly changed over the last three decades. The next family of notes require new, overt and covert security features for the public, the banknote equipment manufacturers, and the central bank, to keep our currency safe and secure. Security features also need to work in mass production. A design can change during testing. The overwhelming success of the redesigned $100 in thwarting counterfeiting, is greatly due to the effectiveness of the blue security thread which is a public feature (and which a design was integrated around afterwards). That development alone of that security feature took approximately 10 years to finalize.

“Moreover, BEP was never going to unveil a note design in 2020. To keep our currency safe and secure, it is unwise to give counterfeiters a look at a potential future note far in advance of a note going into circulation. Additionally, if the concept of a note that was made public by the government were to change during that lengthy amount of time, it would create confusion in the global marketplace, further aiding counterfeiters.”

“No Bureau or Department official has ‘scrapped’ anything; it is too early to develop an integrated concept or design until security features are finalized. The aesthetics or look of the note has always come after and been driven by the security features. Everything remains on the table.

He also debunked the Times’ “sneak peek” of the note, adding: “It is not a new $20 note, as incorrectly stated by the New York Times, in any way, shape or form. The facsimile contained no security features or offset printing included on currency notes.”

“There is nothing about that illustration that even begins to meet technical requirements for the next family of notes,” he added.

Donald Trump Jr. responded to the Times’ fake news hit piece by retweeting the Breitbart News report and adding, “If the @nytimes is still the so called “paper of record,” it’s only because they continue to set RECORDS for the amount of Fake News they print.”

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