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February 21, 2019
NYT’s Whitewash of Revolving Door Figure, Robert Khuzami
In this widely read article on President Trump and the Justice Department, the New York Times characterized the Deputy US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), Robert Khuzami, in an entirely inaccurate manner. Not only was the characterization factually wrong, meriting a correction on its own, but it also gives readers unwarranted confidence in Khuzami’s independence. Indeed, Khuzami’s actual professional history merits serious scrutiny from the Times. The February 19, 2019 article stated that, “The inquiry is run by Robert Khuzami, a career prosecutor who took over after Mr. Berman, whom Mr. Trump appointed, recused himself because of a routine conflict of interest.” (emphasis added)The phrase “career prosecutor” conveys to a reader that Khuzami was a nonpolitical appointment who had spent the vast majority of his career in nonpolitical public service jobs prosecuting alleged criminals. Neither meaning is close to accurate, and the distance from truth actually elides the reason why Khuzami’s central role ought to stoke fear rather than generate calm.
February 14, 2019
Letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency and Treasury Inspectors General
Dear Inspector General Wertheimer and Inspector General Thorson:
We write to request an investigation into whether officials at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) or Office of the Comptroller of the Currency leaked information about the agency’s plans regarding reform to the Government Sponsored Entities (GSEs) with intent to manipulate markets for the benefit of investors in preferred and common shares. Sharing this confidential, market-moving information with the intent of benefiting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s shareholders would represent a breach of securities law.
February 09, 2019 | The Daily Beast
‘Middle Class Joe’ Biden Courts Wall Street Oligarch, BlackRock’s Larry Fink
Ever since Donald Trump secured the presidency in 2016, there have been those who have argued that Joe Biden is the Democrats’ only chance at victory in 2020. Why? He plays well with working- and middle-class voters who might otherwise vote for Trump. While many question the merits of this assessment, it appears that at least one important figure has embraced this interpretation: “Middle Class Joe” Biden (his nickname, he assures us).
January 29, 2019
How the Trump Team Might Make Some Hedge Funds Solvent Again
Eleanor Eagan and Jeff Hauser
Immediately following President Trump’s election, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s future generated renewed and robust interest. The Government Sponsored Entities’ (GSE) shares rallied on expectations that the Trump administration would take both entities out of conservatorship in a manner that rewarded all shareholders, including hedge-fund speculators. In the intervening two years, however, those expectations faded and shares in the GSEs underwent a slow decline.
January 28, 2019
Richard Neal Doth Protest Too Much
Jeff Hauser and Eleanor Eagan
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) has been criticized by many, including us, for his failure to pursue Trump’s tax returns in a timely manner. In an article in the Berkshire Eagle with the friendly title, “Neal lays groundwork on push for Trump tax returns,” Neal gave his constituents his side of the story.
Below, we annotate Neal’s claims.
January 25, 2019 | The Hill
Feckless Chairman Neal Allows Trump Team to Avoid Testifying
The executive branch has been overrun by individuals who have consistently consequences. It is, therefore, unsurprising that last week, two Treasury Department officials declined to make themselves available to speak with the House Committee on Ways and Means.
January 16, 2019
One Trump Appointee, Two Jobs, Too Many Causes for Concern
Eleanor Eagan, Jeff Hauser, and Adewale Maye
You have likely not heard of Joseph Otting, as he has generated comparatively little attention amidst the circus that is President Trump’s executive branch. However, he is a deeply problematic official who has quietly amassed power in critical agencies that receive far too little attention given their impact on the economy and housing. Amazingly, Otting seems to be using these agencies to act upon resentments he developed as a “controversial,” at best, banking executive, making him a perfect representative of why we are concerned by the revolving door problem in our federal government.
January 15, 2019 | The American Prospect
The Democrats’ Richie Neal Problem
There was supposed to be one genuinely easy victory for the new Democratic majority in the House. Medicare for All? No. Green New Deal? No. Critical? Yes—but easy? No. But Trump’s tax returns? Yes, the new majority was supposed to be able to inspect that holy grail of opposition research.
That’s why one of the most discordant notes of the first week of the new Congress was a decision by Representative Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the newly elevated chair of the powerful House Committee on Ways and Means, to retreat on his promises to move quickly to obtain Trump’s tax returns.
January 12, 2019 | The Huffington Post
Prosecute Donald Trump To The Full Extent Of The Law
Want Americans to feel like the country is fair? Think the rule of law is important? Prosecute powerful people when they commit crimes. Even people who worked for a president. Even a former president.
The story of 21st-century America is complex, but the narrative of powerful people behaving terribly and getting away with it is arguably the common thread.
January 10, 2019 | Rewire
It’s Time for Congress’ New Members to Use Their Long-Forgotten Oversight Powers
The dozens of newly elected Congressional Democrats sworn in last week are getting a lot of much-deserved attention. They are a diverse group who represent a wide variety of districts, but they are united by a common dilemma—how can junior members of a party that lacks control of the U.S. Senate or presidency make their mark with legislation?
Barring miracles, the sad fact is that over the next two years, they cannot.
November 17, 2018 | The Hill
Dems Must Wield Power Against the Powerful to Win Back Rural America
Much of the commentary surrounding the midterm elections focuses on the divide between increasingly Democratic metropolitan areas and increasingly intensely Republican rural and small-town America.
Some pundits and former elected officials claim an emphasis on “the opioid crisis” and rural economic development policy proposals can address Democrats’ weaknesses in areas with disproportionate power in the Senate.
November 13, 2018
How Goldman Sachs Still Holds Sway at SEC
With the departures of Gary Cohn, Steve Bannon, and Dina Powell from the White House, has Goldman Sachs’ initial influence on the Trump Administration dwindled?
CNN asked that question this spring, noting that “one by one, almost all the high-profile Goldman Sachs alums have left the White House.” But as CNN, to its credit, also noted that while who is up and who is down in the Trump White House changes, leadership at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been more stable — and Goldman Sachs’ former lawyer, Chairman Jay Clayton, runs that key agency.
November 02, 2018
Want Transparent Government? Answer These Questions
At first glance, the contentious Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process and the Trump Administration’s response to the apparent brutal assassination of Jamal Khashoggi have very little in common. But there is one disturbing commonality — a shocking lack of transparency into the motivations of key players.
October 17, 2018 | Rewire.News
To Win, Democrats Must Focus on Accountability
Many election analyses in the Trump era pose false choices for Democrats seeking to gain control of the U.S. Congress. That’s especially true in the abundant category of commentary and analysis asking: “What should Democrats do?”
Consider some of the classics of the “advice” genre: “Democrats should focus on health care, not Russia” or, “Trump’s appeal was based on economics, not racism.”
July 30, 2018 | The Daily Beast
Wanna Beat Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee? Focus on Marijuana
What if I were to tell you that there is a political issue that galvanizes young voters? An issue that unites libertarians, independents, and African-Americans? An issue with bipartisan power, that works not only in cities, but has demonstrated strength in red states like Kentucky and West Virginia?
It’s an issue likely to generate cases to be heard by the Supreme Court in the next decade and one on which the Trump administration’s leading law enforcement official—Attorney General Jeff Sessions—is already on the losing side politically.