File this under “Who could have predicted?” President Obama’s White House Chief of Staff, William Daley, told the nation he didn’t think it was appropriate for a President to recommend criminal prosecutions for the banksters whose reckless behavior and massive fraud brought down the entire financial system, looted their own companies, defrauded thousands of investors and who are still engaging in fraudulent manipulation of the mortgage/foreclosure system.
Huffington Post’s Sam Stein (with video) has the Meet the Press atrocity watch today:
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Daley, who worked as an executive at JP Morgan prior to joining the White House, said it wasn’t the role of a politician, let alone a president, to weigh in on judicial matters. Besides that, he added, the reforms that Obama instituted years after the crash occurred were indicative of his dissatisfaction with the financial sector.
“I think the president, no one has been more out front on the need for financial reform,” said Daley. “Obviously the justice system will take its place and the politicians should not engage in trying to say who should be prosecuted or who should not. That is not a responsible thing to do. You have a number of attorney generals moving forward on cases that are legitimate. But the president felt very strongly — that’s why he fought so hard for national regulatory reform — that the system has got to change.
“Most of the laws that the financial sector worked under were enacted closer to the Civil War than to this century. He fought, it was tough, to be honest with you, I was in an industry that… fought many of it, not all of it, probably 85 percent of it the industry wanted. They wanted to stop too-big-to-fail and a number of other of things. But it was controversial, difficult, but he hung in there and got what he wanted.”
Pressed a bit further, Daley refused once again to say whether “it is illegitimate or not” for the people to demand jail time for the culprits of the crash. “Politicians should not get involved. Producers, directors can do that. But politicians should not get involved.”
Well, gosh. I guess Mr. Daley also thinks it was probably a mistake for Obama to direct his Attorney General not to defend the constitutionality of the Orwellian Defense of Marriage Act? But what about criminal matters? Like the decision whether to charge Gitmo detainees in civil vs military courts?
I agree there’s a problem if decisions in individual criminal cases are made based on political direction from elected officials. But that issue doesn’t let Mr. Obama or his former JP Morgan executive Chief of Staff off the hook.
The President works through his chosen Attorney General to set the policies and priorities of the Justice Department. He decides what to submit for its budgets, where to focus its staffing. So it’s well within the President’s responsibilities to decide whether it makes more sense to go after financial crimes or undocumented immigrants, whether to pursue massive mortgage and securitization fraud or instead piddle around with a few insider trading scams. Were these choices not implicitly endorsed by the White House?
Obama’s Administration is heavily involved in directing, or co-opting the efforts by federal regulators and state Attorneys General investigating the complete legal breakdown in the national mortgage system. His Administration is clearly influencing whether their efforts are designed to refer those who committed fraud on a massive scale to the criminal justice system or merely to seek some “settlement” that ignores the fraud and merely asks for a few billions to use as a mortgage relief slush fund.
So the President’s amnesty policy for banksters has nothing to do with the inappropriateness of Presidential interference in particular prosecution decisions. This is about Mr. Obama’s consistent refusal to hold any former government leaders accountable for their crimes or business executives accountable for the most outrageous and economically damaging looting the country has ever seen.
Barack Obama apparently does not believe in the most basic elements of the rule of law and does not believe it’s his job to see to it that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed, so he’s preventing that from occurring. In another time, another era, such conduct would be called an impeachable offense . . . because it is.