Sherrod Brown and Chuck Grassley Watch Frontline, Too

Citing this line from Lanny Breuer in last week’s Frontline program,

I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution, and as a result of bringing that case, there’s some huge economic effect — if it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly, counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly — it’s a factor we need to know and understand.

Sherrod Brown and Chuck Grassley have sent a list of questions they want Eric Holder to answer by February 8.

The questions are:

  1. Has the Justice Department designated certain institutions whose failure could jeopardize the stability of the financial markets and are thus, “too big to jail”?  If so, please name them.
  2. Has the Justice Department ever failed to bring a prosecution against an institution due to concern that their failure could jeopardize financial markets?
  3. Are there any entities the Justice Department has entered into settlements with, in which the amount of the settlement reflected a concern that markets could be impacted by such a settlement?  If so, for which entities?
  4. Please provide the names of all outside experts consulted by the Justice Department in making prosecutorial decisions regarding financial institutions with over $1 billion in assets.
  5. Please provide any compensation contracts for these individuals.
  6. How did DOJ ensure that these experts provided unconflicted and unbiased advice to DOJ?

I’m interested in their focus on contractors. Has someone like Promontory Financial Group been making these decisions too?

In any case I await Holder’s non-responsive answer with bated breath.

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.

13 replies
  1. Arbusto says:

    Why no question on the criteria used in determining whether to investigate or prosecute companies, either by DoJ or contractors, or is wild hairy ass guess a norm at Obama LLC Justice?

  2. eh says:

    I’m guessing that prison sentences for other crimes don’t take into account their destabilizing effects on families and the person.

  3. masaccio says:

    @John Casper: The criminal plea for the bank as a whole is useful because it enables civil cases to proceed quickly to damages. We need to check to see if the language of the deal stops that.

    The DOJ may feel good about this, but until individuals start going to jail, nothing will change.

  4. greengiant says:

    With the Obama administration sheltering banks from civil and criminal prosecution with the likes of Promontory and its Clinton era OCC regulators, what are these wild card Senators going to do? Be part of the smoke in the smoke and mirrors? If not smoke, I suspect they will find well funded opposition in their next primary election.

    I about fell out of my chair when I googled promontory financial OCC…

    More on Promontory and BofA whitewash…
    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/01/bank-of-america-foreclosure-reviews-new-part-iii.html

  5. greengiant says:

    @masaccio: As long as the see no crimes, and dig deep holes so that no crimes are ever seen, regulators at OCC keep leaving to work at the likes of Promontory, things will change … for the worse…

  6. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    @greengiant: The deeper problem, IMVHO, is that government is now de-legitimized. By its own inactions.

    Good to know that political genius Lanny Breuer was more worried about BoA and JPM than he was about US government. Talk about your Inside Job…

  7. joanneleon says:

    Why does this not give me any comfort or confidence that our senators have to learn things like this from PBS? What is the point of oversight committees?

  8. Joanne Lukacher says:

    If they are going back to the Frontline episode, the other relevant question they posed is how prosecuting individuals in upper management jeopardizes the institution. Are the institutions so fragile that any exposure of accounts brings down the whole house of cards?

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As you imply, those sorts of questions don’t emanate from Congress unless a congresscritter already thinks s/he has an answer to some of them.

  10. Curious Jane says:

    To ask the question is to answer it, no?

    And it’s THE key question. See, e.g., Barclays — it’s still very much in business after Mr. Diamond (its CEO *and* CFO) was forced out.

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