WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plans to hire Monica Crowley, a longtime Fox News commentator, as his top communications official, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Ms. Crowley would succeed Tony Sayegh, who has been planning for several months to leave the Treasury in May. Her hiring would be another sign of the symbiosis between the Trump administration and Fox News, a launching pad for current White House officials and a place to land for those who leave. Mr. Sayegh is a former Fox News contributor.
While the Treasury position is primarily a platform for promoting President Trump’s handling of the economy, including his tax and trade policies, Ms. Crowley’s appointment is almost certain to raise questions.
She was considered for a high-ranking National Security Council job in 2017 and was also mentioned as a candidate to become the White House press secretary. But she dropped out of contention after allegations that she had plagiarized key passages in her 2012 book “What the (Bleep) Just Happened?” from Wikipedia and newspaper articles.
After CNN found evidence of plagiarism, HarperCollins withdrew the digital edition of the book. Separately, Politico found more than a dozen examples of passages in Ms. Crowley’s Ph.D. dissertation that had been taken from scholarly works.
At the time, Mr. Trump’s transition team portrayed the allegations as a political attack on Ms. Crowley.
Ms. Crowley could not immediately be reached for comment. Fox News declined to comment, beyond saying she had not been formally affiliated with the network since 2016.
The Treasury appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, is ultimately Mr. Trump’s to make. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Credible allegations of plagiarism would normally be problematic for securing a senior role in an administration, especially a job that entails providing potentially market-moving information to the public. But Mr. Trump has not been deterred from picking others with tarnished résumés for high-profile positions, recently standing behind Stephen Moore and Herman Cain as his choices to be governors of the Federal Reserve despite questions about their qualifications and personal lives.
The Trump administration’s communications team has been in transition since Bill Shine, a former Fox News co-president, resigned last month as deputy chief of staff for communications.
Mr. Mnuchin’s team has also been in flux. Eli Miller, his chief of staff, departed this month to join the Blackstone Group, the giant investment firm. David Malpass, the under secretary for international affairs, left to become president of the World Bank.
Ms. Crowley will have a formidable task in succeeding Mr. Sayegh. He emerged as one of Mr. Mnuchin’s closest confidants and was a liaison to the White House and Congress during the drafting and passage of the Republican tax-cut plan in 2017. He advised Mr. Mnuchin on his television presentation and encouraged the secretary to be more available to reporters.
Mr. Sayegh, the assistant secretary for public affairs, has been leading the search for his successor. His future plans are unknown.
A Treasury Department spokesman declined to comment on Ms. Crowley’s hiring, which was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.