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Axl Rose called Steven Mnuchin an expletive on Twitter, sparking 2020’s weirdest feud

Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose insulted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Twitter on Wednesday.
(Kevin P. Casey / For The Times)

Axl Rose was all guns and no roses Wednesday night on Twitter while sparring with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin over the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The Guns N’ Roses frontman, a vocal critic of President Trump, threw the first punch Wednesday, tweeting his disgust for the current administration by calling Mnuchin an expletive that won’t be repeated here.

Fewer than two hours later came Mnuchin’s unexpected reply: “What have you done for the country lately?” he clapped back with what he presumably thought was an American-flag emoji.

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Except it wasn’t the American flag, but the Liberian flag, which bears a resemblance to the United States’ red-white-and-blue, stars-and-stripes design.

Mnuchin deleted the tweet and composed a new one with the correct emoji, but it was too late. His mistake had already been immortalized by screen-grabbing bystanders.

“My bad I didn’t get we’re hoping 2 emulate Liberia’s economic model,” Rose taunted, “but on the real unlike this admin I’m not responsible for 70k+ deaths n’ unlike u I don’t hold a fed gov position of responsibility 2 the American people n’ go on TV tellin them 2 travel the US during a pandemic.”

The rocker’s mike drop was likely a reference to Mnuchin’s recent interview with the Fox Business Network, during which he said, “This is a great time for people to explore America,” when asked if international travel would resume this year.

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“Our priority is opening up the domestic economy,” he told Fox Monday. “Obviously, for business people that do need to travel, there will be travel on a limited basis, but ... a lot of people haven’t seen many parts of America. I wish I could get back on the road soon.”

It’s the second time this week that Rose has been linked to the Trump administration. On Tuesday, a video went viral showing the president visiting a mask factory — wearing no mask — as Guns N’ Roses’ cover of “Live and Let Die” (cowritten by Paul McCartney) played in the background.

“I can think of no better metaphor for this presidency than Donald Trump not wearing a face mask to a face mask factory while the song ‘Live and Let Die’ blares in the background,” late-night host Jimmy Kimmel quipped.

President Trump toured an N95 mask manufacturing plant Tuesday, with Guns N’ Roses’ “Live and Let Die” playing loudly in the background.

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Rose had the last word in his and Mnuchin’s social media brawl, which attracted a lot of attention — mostly in support of the “Sweet Child O’ Mine” hitmaker, though the Treasury secretary did have some fans in his corner.

“Axl is an artist w/ millions of fans, hit records, & contributed to charity,” one person tweeted. “Steve is a former investment banker and wannabe producer, who stumbled his way into becoming Secretary of the Treasury & is part of the bungled federal response 2 COVID19 & PPP loan program. Axl > Steve.”

“Proud to say I’ve never seen G n’ R in concert, and I never will,” wrote another. “Love u, Steve.”

The Trump administration has been widely criticized for its approach to the pandemic in the U.S., which leads the world in reported numbers of people infected and killed by the virus, with more than a million cases and more than 70,000 dead.

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