Day after Frontline Exposure, Lanny Breuer Resignation Reported

Last night, Frontline had a very good show exposing how derelict DOJ has been in not prosecuting any of the banksters who ruined the economy. It could have been far, far worse, as it dealt solely with the securitization crimes that were ignored. Nevertheless, it showed Lanny Breuer to be an arrogant jerk who insisted DOJ couldn’t prosecute, in spite of the abundant evidence of crime presented in the show.

Nevertheless, DOJ spent part of the day threatening Frontline to never cooperate again.

And, presumably, part of the day planting this way-too complimentary piece in the WaPo announcing Breuer’s departure.

Golly, was it only last week I was calling for Breuer’s firing?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

35 replies
  1. Teddy says:

    The power of having a broadcast outlet vs a blog.

    Or, perhaps, the cumulative effect of Lanny just being Lanny.

  2. P J Evans says:

    It sounds like Frontline needs to do another expose on the DOJ and their ethics (or lack thereof). And their ignorance of the Bill of Rights.

  3. jo6pac says:

    So now he goes over to his High $$$$$$$ job on ws and doesn’t have to give $200.00 for the get out of jail card.

  4. joanneleon says:

    This is all your fault, Marcy.

    And Frontline’s fault. Holder and Obama had no idea about any of this until they saw the documentary and when they realized what was going on of course they had to fire him.

    Wow, I just watched that doc today. On the O Team, doing the deed is not a problem, you just can’t get caught or exposed by the media. So the real crime in their world is getting caught or making the big boss look bad, I guess.

  5. joanneleon says:

    Somebody should run a pool on what Lanny’s next job will be. He should get the major big bucks now for running out that clock for Wall Street.

  6. joanneleon says:

    Sorry to post yet another comment, but I am just amazed. This guy can let the Wall Street execs who nearly blew up the world economy skate, and still keep his job. But when some portion of it is exposed on Frontline, and as Marcy says this was only a slice of it, boom! He’s gone the next day.


  7. orionATL says:

    3 years 364 days too late, but better late than never.

    the failure to charge culpable bank execs was always obama’s achilles heel in 2012. it still is. will the prez now feel under pressure to claim a few heads.

    for some reason wilbur never took advantage of obama’s vulnerability. wonder why?

    could it be that there be some matters so sacred to republicans (and dems).that they will accept defeat rather than raise them in a campaign for the white house?

  8. Skilly says:

    But why is he gone? I suspect that agreeing to the interview was the mistake that cost him his job, not the failure to do his job.

  9. thatvisionthing says:

    Who’s in charge of the OCC, or in charge of who’s in charge of the OCC? Did you see Yves Smith’s first two articles yesterday? OCC foreclosure reviews, just stopped and settled away like the mortgage settlement before them, and all the DOJ sellouts, were sham and fraud in themselves. Serious stuff:

    Part 1
    Part 2

    Part 3 is supposed to be out Friday.

  10. joanneleon says:

    Hoo boy, the comments on that WaPo article are brutal so far.

    My only question for Frontline is, why did you wait until now to run this documentary? Was this another thing that had to wait until after the election? It’s not like it’s news. Maybe they could have done some real good if they ran it a year before the election and DOJ might have gone after at least one of the bankster criminals for the sake of the campaign.

  11. thatvisionthing says:

    From Ms G comment on Naked Capitalism a few days ago, referring to a February 2012 NYU Law Panel Breuer was on:

    Did you catch the priceless moment when Barofsky says that the next topic will be (something like) conflicts of interests and the revolving door, and the camera is on Breuer (of the Covington-DOJ club) … the scrunching and tensing of his face and upper body (the rest wasn’t visible) was so obvious and at odds with the talk-point nothing-to-see-here comment he delivered verbally on the subject.

    That comment is downthread in replies to

    NYU Forum “…Did Felons Get a Free Pass…?”
    Barofsky, Breuer, Spitzer, White 2/2012

    So, somewhere in that hour and 18 minute youtube is a priceless Breuer moment.

  12. prostratedragon says:

    Lanny, Lanny!

    Golly, was it only last week I was calling for Breuer’s firing?

    And on another, kindof complementary matter, yet. Too bad he couldn’t be fired twice. Now, didn’t I read something also maybe last week about Spitzer expecting more action from DOJ on the banks henceforth?

  13. orionATL says:

    just for the record,

    it is not even remotely credible to me that breuer acted – actually, refused to act – without the approval of the attorney-general, the white house chief-of-staff, and the president.

    just as it is not credible to me that u.s. attorney carmen diez acted on her own in brutally prosecuting aaron swartz.

  14. joanneleon says:

    @JohnT: Well that was a year ago while in campaign faux populist mode. This is after the election in forward apologist mode.

  15. scribe says:

    I liked the part of the show where they had one of the whistleblower guys on – craggy-faced older guy – and asked him whether, based on what he knew/reported, he thought there was “criminal intent” (Lanny’s big bugaboo that couldn’t be proven). Craggy-faced guy said that, if he were a juror and saw all this, he was sure he could find criminal intent.

    It was all he could do to keep from busting out laughing at the inanity of it all.

    Liked the title of the show, too: “The Untouchables”. Only this time, it was the crooks who were untouchable.

  16. emptywheel says:

    @lysias: Truth be told, I suspect he was leaving anyway, but DOJ got so much heat from Frontline, and making a big show of Lanny going would serve as a relief valve elsewhere, that they played it up today.

  17. orionATL says:


    that’s about right, especially the political “relief valve”.

    probably the ploy will work – with corporate media co-operation -,

    but there might develop an insistent demand for filing charges and for discovery, at least.

    from where, alas, would that demand come? certainly not from political leaders of either party.

  18. danny says:

    Though I think frontline is better than most other media, they did not pursuit this documentary sooner, like 2 years ago. They are funded by money too. Obama and associates are funded by big money too. Why they chose Breuer, why they did not fire him sooner? Why frontline never dare to ask the problems stemmed from the fact that federal reserve is owned by private banks, and they print trillions of money more than government and gave to the broken banks, sometimes 100+ billions overnight. Look at where the money is given and gained back a lot more, it is not harder than playing chess to figure out.
    Why no big voices/media asking the similar questions I asked?
    Sadly, I voted democrat and Obama, merely because they are the lesser of the evils. I were originally from China, it is so clear that all rich class rip off from people, US is the biggest, the smartest to do it legally and openly. Corrupted Chinese have to do it in the dark and illegally, and can get jail time if one is singled out politically.

  19. Katie Jensen (wavpeac) says:

    I just keep wondering if we will ever see any tiny bit of real justice and truth for the american people.

    I fear the answer is “no”, but in the back of my mind, I think, the truth, like water, always finds its way to lower ground. It might take a hundred years…and we may all be shackled slaves of labor by then, but someday it will be common knowledge. Thanks Marcy for all you do to reveal the truth. It’s so maddening….

  20. posaune says:

    What is sobering is the realization that is it far easier to rebuild an economy than civil liberties. An economy can be rebuilt in 2 generations; civil liberties? 5 generations?

  21. phred says:

    @emptywheel: Perhaps, but if there is one thing Obama will not tolerate it is anyone in the executive branch who embarrasses him (Crowley, Kiriakou, Sherrod). Caesar Obama dispatches such people in the blink of an eye.

    I doubt there will be any meaningful change as a result of Breuer’s ouster. After all, with Jack Lew set to become the new Treasury Secretary, one can’t have DOJ snooping around the mortgage crisis anywhere close to the executive level, now can one?

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Surely, the DoJ’s – and, hence, the entire Obama administration’s – threat never to cooperate with a media player because it didn’t like its coverage should be a headline issue for Frontline and the major media.

    It’s a classic non-denial denial of the facts in Frontline’s story. It distracts from Frontline’s disclosure of government inaction in the face of obvious, widespread financial corruption – and all the costs that entails for citizens and customers, and the related, further corruption of government.

    It’s a typical Obama administration “fuck you” to basic press coverage, and to the purpose of a free press, an attitude shared by virtually all governments, city, state and federal.

    It’s the administration saying that if it can’t control the message, the public has no right to know what it’s doing, and not doing, in the public interest (or anyone else’s interest, which may be adverse to the public’s). Each of which is also a story unto itself. Thanks, Marce, for covering this.

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