Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) urged the Department of Justice
("DOJ") Office of the Inspector General ("OIG")
to conduct an investigation of the DOJ's response to
"referrals made by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission
[("FCIC")] for potential securities laws violations
identified during the FCIC's investigation of the causes of the
2008 Financial Crisis." In a separate letter, Senator Warren
asked FBI Director James Comey to "promptly facilitate the
release of any and all materials related to the FBI's
investigations and prosecutorial decisions regarding these
Senator Warren stated that the FCIC produced a 633-page report
and sent 11 separate referrals to the DOJ, but the DOJ failed to
prosecute any of the named individuals criminally. The full
archives of the FCIC proceedings were released in March 2016.
Senator Warren asked that the FCIC investigation include:
"an analysis of the process by which FCIC referrals were
obtained and analyzed by the DOJ";
a determination of whether the DOJ and the responsible
individuals at the DOJ "took appropriate actions and devoted
appropriate resources to these referrals";
an analysis of whether the DOJ "obtained acceptable
outcomes with regard to these referrals"; and
"recommendations for both administrative and legislative
action" moving forward.
In a separate letter to Mr. Comey, Senator Warren argued that
the FBI's recent investigation of former Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton "provide[s] a clear precedent for releasing
additional information about the investigation of the parties
responsible for the financial crisis." Senator Warren
emphasized that the FBI usually refrains from releasing internal
documents from investigations in which it does not recommend
prosecution, but nevertheless made undisclosed materials
"available to the public in the interest of
transparency." Senator Warren opined that this unusual
disclosure in the name of "transparency" demanded
If Secretary Clinton's email
server was of sufficient "interest" to establish a new
FBI standard of transparency, then surely the criminal prosecution
of those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis should be
subject to the same level of transparency.
Senator Warren's letter is based on the political premise
that the financial crash was caused by the criminal conduct of a
few people at the big banks, and that if there had not been such
misconduct, the financial crisis would never have occurred. The
Senator might want to focus on less political but more practical
concerns that have real implications for the economy: (i) the high
level of federal and municipal debt, and the possibility of
additional governmental insolvency, (ii) the aging population,
(iii) pension plans' inability to make forecasted returns due
to low interest rates, and (iv) the low employment rate, to name a
few. Unfortunately, concentrating on issues like these won't
provide a villain for the political stage.
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