Business & Tech

Trump’s pick for Treasury second-in-command withdraws from consideration

The United States Treasury headquarters building in Washington D.C.
J. David Ake/Associated Press/File
The United States Treasury headquarters building in Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s efforts to fill out the top ranks of the department were dealt a setback Friday as a Goldman Sachs banker withdrew from consideration to serve as his deputy.

James Donovan cited personal reasons for declining President Trump’s nomination to be the next deputy Treasury secretary.

“At this time I want to focus on my family, and I can no longer accept it,” Donovan said in statement on Friday. “I hope to be able to serve this administration in the future and fully support President Trump and Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s ongoing work to reform the tax system and grow the US economy.”


The decision could impede Mnuchin’s effort to deliver an ambitious economic agenda including an historic tax overhaul this year, deregulation of the financial industry, and reform of the housing finance system.

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Mnuchin has been in office since February with most key senior-level Treasury positions unfilled, including undersecretaries for domestic finance and international affairs. While in public forums Mnuchin often heaps praise on career Treasury staffers, he’s had to rely on counselors who don’t require Senate confirmation to step into senior positions. Counselors have more limits on their policy making powers than officials approved by Congress.

Nominees for Senate-confirmed government positions must disclose their finances and sign an ethics agreement before going through a vetting process by lawmakers.

There have been a number of people who have withdrawn from consideration for top jobs following their selection by Trump. Many departments — including Treasury — are missing top political appointees four months into the administration. The White House has named several other top nominees for senior Treasury jobs, but they have not yet had hearings in the Senate.

For more than a decade, Donovan has been embroiled in family issues involving his father.


The 50-year-old North Shore native, along with his siblings, has been in a long-running dispute with their father, John Donovan Sr., that involved allegations of attempted murder, a frame-up, and a battle over millions of dollars and acres of waterfront property.

Donovan, who now lives in Virginia, is a reluctant participant in a family drama that has unfolded in courtrooms across Massachusetts and newspaper headlines nationwide.

In 2005, James Donovan was accused by his father, a charismatic entrepreneur and former MIT professor who amassed a sizable fortune as a technology consultant, of hiring Russian hitmen to shoot him. But police investigators found that the senior Donovan had orchestrated the whole incident, shooting himself in the stomach.

James Donovan helped build Goldman’s private wealth management unit, which manages billions of dollars for clients.

Material from the Globe archives is included in this report.