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Goldman Sachs at Center of Politics, Money and Public Furor Once Again

Heading into the 2016 presidential election, most executives on Wall Street would have said one thing was certain no matter who won: The next Treasury secretary wouldn’t come from Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

That reflected the view that Goldman was so tainted in the public mind by the financial crisis that none of its alumni could be floated, much less confirmed, to top government positions.

Like so much other conventional wisdom, that has now proved to be wrong. President-elect Donald Trump is set to name Steven Mnuchin , a Goldman alum, as Treasury secretary.

Mr. Mnuchin worked at the company for 17 years. Most of his time was spent in Goldman’s mortgage-trading business in the early 1990s, though he also oversaw its internet strategy, which resulted in a flopped online wealth-brokerage effort in the early 2000s.

Mr. Mnuchin made partner in 1994, the same class that produced Goldman’s current No. 2, Gary Cohn. Mr. Cohn met with Mr. Trump Tuesday.

If Mr. Mnuchin is confirmed as Treasury secretary, he will be the third former Goldman banker to hold the position in less than 25 years. Robert Rubin served in this role in President Bill Clinton’s second term and Henry Paulson Jr. occupied the spot in President George W. Bush’s second term and brought Goldman banker Robert Steel along as his deputy.

While the firm’s critics have pointed to its...