Wall Street's first post–housing crash criminal charges will have nothing to do with shady mortgages
Federal prosecutors are preparing to file criminal charges against at least two of the world's largest banks, The New York Times reports, tackling the "public outcry over the perception that Wall Street giants are 'too big to jail.'" That perception is due largely to the fact that five years after the global economy collapsed under the weight of shady mortgage and lending practices at the world's biggest banks, no top bank or banker has been charged with a crime.
So who are the feds going after? Switzerland's Credit Suisse and France's BNP Paribas, according to The Times' sources. Now, both banks operate in the U.S., and neither's hands are clean in the housing bust, but that's not what the Justice Department and bank regulators are going after them for. The case against Credit Suisse reportedly hinges on its selling tax shelters to Americans, and BNP is accused of conducting business with U.S.-blacklisted countries like Sudan and Iran. Criminal investigations are underway for U.S. banks, but at a less-advanced stage, The Times reports.
If you were inclined toward cynicism, you might suggest that unlike foreign banks, Wall Street giants tend to donate liberally to U.S. politicians in both parties — and they're potential (high-paying) future employers for government bank regulators. But it's probably more likely in this case that prosecutors will have an easier time making the case that Credit Suisse and BNP Paribas actually broke the law.
What Wall Street banks did to the economy and hundred of thousands of unlucky homebuyers may be "criminal" in the figurative sense — as in, "casting Keanu Reeves in that role is criminal" — but proving that bankers committed actual legal crimes is tricky. There's the law, and this other problem: If banks are convicted of a crime, bank regulators may have to pull their charters, which "amounts to a death sentence for a bank," former U.S. prosecutor Daniel Levy tells The Times. A guilty plea by BNP would be the biggest from a bank since junk-bond pioneer Drexel Burnham Lambert in 1989. Peter Weber
Kristen Wiig is a legitimate movie star, so she could go on The Tonight Show as herself, but she appears to prefer to show up in character. On Thursday, she was Peyton Manning, and she apparently didn't read the Denver Broncos quarterback's Wikipedia page before donning his uniform. That made for much better TV, as it turns out, with Wiig improvising her way around Jimmy Fallon's questions. Such as: "Favorite pregame meal?" "French fries and toast." Who's to say she's wrong on that one? Watch Wiig impersonate Manning, and even throw a football, below. Peter Weber
The focus of Bernie Sanders' newest ad isn't on the presidential candidate, but on one of his supporters: Erica Garner.
Her father, Eric Garner, died in Staten Island in July 2014 after some NYPD officers arresting him put him in a chokehold. The takedown was caught on camera, propelling the story to the world stage, and in the ad, Erica Garner talks about her new life as an activist. "No one gets to see their parent's last moments, and I was able to see my dad die on national TV," she said. "They don't know what they took from us. He wasn't just somebody that no one cared for, no one loved him. He was loved dearly."
Garner said she is supporting Sanders because "there's no other person speaking about this. People are dying. This is real, this is not TV. We need a president that's going to talk about it." In her view, Sanders is a "protester" just like she is, and "not scared to go up against the criminal justice system." Watch the ad below. Catherine Garcia
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called it a "low blow" after Hillary Clinton suggested that his criticism of President Obama sounded like something she would "expect from Republicans, not from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama."
Clinton was referring to Sanders calling Obama "weak" and "a disappointment," and his writing a book's foreword that "basically argued that voters should have buyer's remorse when it comes to President Obama's leadership and legacy." Clinton said she "couldn't disagree more with those kind of comments," and she doesn't think Obama gets "the credit he deserves."
Sanders said that while he is friends with Obama and often agrees with him, it's "unfair" to say he doesn't support him. "Last I heard we lived in a democratic society," he snapped. "Last I heard a United States senator had the right to disagree with a president, including a president who has done such an extraordinary job." Clinton replied that she's not "concerned with disagreement on issues," but thinks calling the president weak and a disappointment "goes further than saying we have our disagreements," adding that she finds his assessments "particularly troubling." Catherine Garcia
Hillary Clinton tackles Iraq War vote again, saying 'vote in 2002' isn't 'plan to defeat ISIS in 2016'
When Thursday night's Democratic debate in Milwaukee turned to foreign policy, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) did not waste much time bringing up Hillary Clinton's 2002 vote to authorize the use of military force in Iraq. As he had brought this up before, Clinton was ready. "I do not believe a vote in 2002 is a plan to defeat ISIS in 2016," she said. "It's very important we focus on the threats we face today, and that we understand the dangerous and complicated world we're in."
Then she repeated her Obama-trusted-me line: "As we all remember, Sen. Obama, when he ran against me, was against the war in Iraq. And yet, when he won, he turned to me, trusting my judgment, my experience, to become secretary of state."
Sanders said that Clinton clearly has a wealth of experience in foreign policy, but repeated his line that experience isn't the only thing that matters and voters should look at judgment, too, and his judgment on the Iraq War vote was better than Clinton's. Peter Weber
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pounced on Hillary Clinton and her ties to Henry Kissinger during Thursday's Democratic debate, but Clinton was prepared with a jab at her 2016 competitor's foreign policy ideas.
Sanders said that Clinton mentioned during the last debate and in her book that she received "the approval or support of Henry Kissinger. I find it rather amazing. I happen to believe that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country. I am proud to say Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger."
At that point, Clinton responded by asking Sanders who he actually does take advice from. "Journalists have asked who you do listen to on foreign policy, and we have yet to know who it is," she said. Sanders jumped in: "Well it ain't Henry Kissinger, that's for sure."
Clinton explained that she listens to "a wide variety of voices" that "have experience in various areas." There are people she may disagree with on "a number of things," but if they have insight that can "best support the United States," then it's important to pay attention. "We have to be fair and look at the entire world," she said. "It's a big, complicated world out there." Catherine Garcia
Judy Woodruff asked Hillary Clinton at Thursday's Democratic debate whether, given that two big financier donors have contributed millions to her super PAC, she can really complain about the Koch brothers and other mega-donors to the Republican candidates? Clinton said you'd have to ask the Republicans about their donations but that the super PAC aiding her is "not my PAC," saying that it was set up to support President Obama then decided to back her presidential campaign. Then she challenged Bernie Sanders' premise that a candidate can't buck Wall Street if his or her super PAC takes Wall Street donations.
In 2008, Obama "was the recipient of the largest number of Wall Street donations of anybody running on the Democratic side ever," Clinton said, but "when it mattered, he stood up and took on Wall Street," pushing through the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. "So let's not imply in any way here that President Obama or myself would in any way not take on any vested interest," including Wall Street, drug companies, "or frankly, the gun lobby."
Sanders scoffed that Wall Street doesn't give huge sums to candidates out of civic duty. "Let's not insult the intelligence of the American people," he said. "They're not dumb." Big Business gives money to politicians because they want things in return. He again touted his million-plus donors who have given him 3.5 million donations averaging $27, versus Clinton's million-dollar super PAC contributions.
Clinton said that she has 750,000 individual donors, most of whom have given small donations, though she didn't give a number. Peter Weber
Bernie Sanders just reminded America that his election would be a big 'historical accomplishment as well'
At Thursday night's Democratic debate, PBS moderator Gwen Ifill asked Hillary Clinton about her frequent reminders that she would be the first female president. Clinton said her gender wasn't her electoral argument, and that she wants to help all Americans. When it was his turn to speak, Sanders had a reminder for PBS and for Clinton. He would be the oldest president ever sworn in and the first Jewish president, but he only alluded to that indirectly. For "a person of my background" and political views, he said, "a Sanders victory would be of some historical accomplishment as well." Peter Weber
Sanders: I think a Sanders victory would be of some historical accomplishment pic.twitter.com/043vex7i0T
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