By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: October 18, 2016
Last Friday Senator Elizabeth Warren released a 12-page letter calling for President Obama to remove Securities and Exchange Commission Chair, Mary Jo White. For a female Senator and former Harvard Law professor to publicly humiliate a female Federal agency head and fellow lawyer is an extraordinary event. There is a code in Washington that women in power support other women in power. Warren didn’t just violate the code, she shredded it.
Warren called Mary Jo White’s conduct as SEC Chair “brazen” and wrote that White was undermining the SEC’s central mission of investor protection. All of that is true as Wall Street On Parade repeatedly predicted it would be over three years ago. (See here and here.) Between White’s career at law firm Debevoise and Plimpton and her husband John W. White’s long term career at the international law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, the two had represented every major Wall Street bank. John White went right on representing them after his wife took her seat as SEC Chair.
Of course, after Warren released her letter, President Obama was quick to reassure Wall Street that no change was coming. White House spokesman Eric Schultz promptly stated that “The president continues to believe that Chair White is the right leader for the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
In her letter, Warren had attempted to spin White’s derelict actions as an affront to the President’s wholesome agenda, writing that White is “undermining your Administration’s priorities….”
As our readers well know, we have never believed that President Obama has ever genuinely wanted to level the playing field for the average American. He could not have had that agenda and appointed the people he did to his cabinet and regulatory agencies.
Obama’s choice for U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, came from the law firm Covington & Burling which had fronted for Big Tobacco for decades and directly engaged in misleading the public about the devastating health impacts from smoking, according to a Federal court decision. (See Was the U.S. Justice Department Sold to the Highest Bidder.) Then Obama remained silent as the Justice Department failed to indict any Wall Street bank executives for the crimes leading up to the financial crash in 2008. As the PBS program Frontline reported, there were no subpoenas, no wiretaps, no investigations involving Wall Street banks at the Justice Department.
Less than three weeks after Obama had been elected to his first term, and before actually taking office, he announced his pick of Tim Geithner for U.S. Treasury Secretary. Geithner had been the head of the New York Fed and, unknown to the public at that time, had secretly funneled trillions of dollars in below-market rate loans to Wall Street and global banks without any authorization from Congress.
An equally scandalous appointment was Jack Lew as U.S. Treasury Secretary in Obama’s second term. Lew had been Chief Operating Officer in the very division of Citigroup that had imploded the bank, leading to the greatest financial bailout in U.S. history. While the bank was insolvent, Lew had accepted a $940,000 bonus from the firm. Lew, as part of his Citigroup perks, had invested in a fund in the Cayman Islands at the very street address that the President had called a tax scam.
Robert Scheer, writing at The Nation Magazine said at the time:
“I suppose that he can’t be much worse than Timothy Geithner, but that should be scant cause for cheer over the news that the president has nominated Jack Lew as Treasury secretary. Both championed the financial deregulation craze of the Clinton administration, and both are acolytes of Robert Rubin, the former Clinton Treasury secretary who unfettered Wall Street greed and then took his own considerable cut of the action.
“Rubin went to work at Citigroup, the world’s largest financial conglomerate whose legality was enabled by legislation he advanced while in government. He made off with a salary of $15 million a year during his decade at that bank, which specialized in toxic mortgage derivatives and had to be bailed out by taxpayers to avoid bankruptcy.”
We have been reporting on these and many other unsavory appointments by Obama throughout his two terms. After we unraveled the role that Wall Street banks and their lobbyists were playing in his election of 2008, there was little question as to how his administration would function in terms of Wall Street. (See Obama’s Money Cartel.)
Now that debate is over. With the release of emails by WikiLeaks showing that a Citigroup executive actually played an outsized role in staffing Obama’s administration, the public must accept the tragic reality that the President of the United States is little more than a titular figure head while the money men on Wall Street make all of the key decisions.
Why would Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both of whom have endorsed Hillary Clinton for President despite her labyrinthine money ties to Wall Street, think anything would be different this time around?