IG Confirms Trump Administration Did Not Delay $20 Harriet Tubman Bill, Debunking False NYT Report

FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, file photo, a woman holds a sign supporting Harriet
AP Photo/Carolyn Thompson

The Office of Inspector General has confirmed that the Trump administration did not delay the release of the Harriet Tubman $20 bill, as was falsely speculated by the New York Times in June 2019.

The New York Times attempted to set off a political firestorm last summer in a speculatory piece, essentially accusing the Trump administration of deliberately delaying the release of the Harriet Tubman $20 bill. The Treasury Inspector General, however, found the claim to be untrue, affirming that the timeline for the $20 bill’s redesign “has remained the same since 2016.”

The report reads in part:

Additionally, based on Congressional interest, we reviewed the circumstances surrounding Treasury’s timeline for unveiling of a new design concept for the $20 note. We found that the former Secretary of the Treasury made an announcement in April 2016 proposing release of new $5, $10 and $20 note design concepts during 2020. This announcement was made outside the formal note development governance structure, and without the recommendation of the ACD.


In response to Congressional concerns relating to the timeline for unveiling the design concept of the $20 note in 2020, we found the sequence of the redesign of the $20 has remained the same since 2016 and the announcement of a 2020 release was not endorsed by the ACD. The $20 note has not yet entered the BDP where following the current note development process its design concept will be finalized.

The Times, in its June 2019 piece, claimed to speak to an anonymous employee of the bureau, who claimed to have viewed the redesigned bill and “said that the design appeared to be far along in the process”:

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.

“But the Treasury Department, which oversees the engraving bureau, decided that a new $20 bill would not be made public next year,” the Times reported, claiming that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “chose the delay to avoid the possibility that Mr. Trump would cancel the plan outright and create even more controversy.”

The U.S. Treasury Department sharply denied the Times’ report, contending that the timetable was “consistent with the previous administration.”

“The Secretary at this point is focused on security features and anti-counterfeiting measures related to the currency,” Senior Adviser for Public Affairs to the Secretary of the Treasury Monica Crowley said at the time. “The suggestion that the process is being delayed is completely erroneous.”

As Breitbart News reported:

Former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew set the process in motion in 2016. Proponents of the bill change hoped that it would be completed by 2020, in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. However, during an appearance before the House Financial Services Committee in May, Mnuchin noted that a 2020 rollout was improbable– if not impossible– due to daunting technical issues. Mnuchin indicated that the redesigned bill would make an emergence in 2028 with designs coming out two years prior.


Bureau of Engraving and Printing Director Len Olijar also released a strong statement denying the existence of a potential 2020 release. That was never going to happen, he claimed, while adding that the focus lies squarely with implementing advanced security features. Because those take years to finalize, it would be impossible to make legitimate mock-ups of the bill public.

The Times‘ “sneak peak,” Olijar added, was merely a “copy of an old Series note with the signatures of former officials, with a different image super-imposed on it.”

“It is not a new $20 note, as incorrectly stated by the New York Times, in any way, shape or form,” Olijar stated bluntly. “The facsimile contained no security features or offset printing included on currency notes.”

Notably, Harriet Tubman is among those who will appear in the National Garden of American Heroes, the forthcoming monument dedicated to our “most beloved icons.” Trump announced plans for the “vast outdoor park” during Friday’s speech at Mount Rushmore.

“We will honor extraordinary citizens from every community, from every place, and from every part of our nation. Great men and great women. People that we can look up to forever,” Trump said. “Families will be able to walk among the statues of titans.”


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