November 29, 2016


Trump's Potential Treasury Secretary Headed A 'Foreclosure Machine' (John Ydstie, 11/29/16, NPR)

During the depths of the financial crisis, Mnuchin was looking to make profits from the ruins of the housing bust. In 2009, he put together a group of billionaire investors and bought a failed California-based bank, IndyMac. It had been taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. after its sketchy mortgage loans went bad.

Mnuchin and his partners bought IndyMac on the condition that the FDIC agree to pay future losses above a certain threshold. They renamed the bank OneWest Bank and, after running it for 6 years, they sold it last year for a profit, estimated at close to $1.5 billion.

Kevin Stein of the California Reinvestment Coalition, a housing advocacy group, says that profit was made on the backs of suffering California homeowners. "In essence what they did is they bought a foreclosure machine," he says.

According to the coalition, OneWest foreclosed on more than 36,000 homeowners under Mnuchin. During that time, the FDIC made payments to OneWest totaling more $1 billion. Those payments went to the "billionaire investors of OneWest Bank," says Stein, "to cover the cost of foreclosing on working-class, everyday, American folks," many of whom lived in California.

Donald Trump will not be draining any swamps as president (Daniel W. Drezner, November 29, 2016, Washington Post)

Even during the campaign, Trump thought "drain the swamp" was a corny slogan. But since he won the election, we've been able to observe the following:

Trump chose, for his national security adviser, someone who sat in on classified intelligence briefings while serving foreign clients. That same national security adviser-designate told a Japanese official not to pay attention to Trump's campaign rhetoric on Japan.

Trump has continued to have business meetings with foreign partners.

He has had family members who will be running his business sit in on meetings and phone calls with foreign heads of state.

Trump's nonprofit foundation has admitted that it has violated the legal ban on "self-dealing."

Trump himself has acknowledged the massive conflicts of interest involving his overseas real estate holdings and American foreign policy, but also said "the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can't have a conflict of interest."

Charges of hypocrisy in Washington are akin to charges of gambling in Casablanca. There's a fair amount of eye-rolling going on. And as I said, there were other reasons people voted for Trump. The notion that he was going to drain the swamp, however, seemed like a pretty potent theme during the campaign. And we can already be pretty sure that there will be no swamp-draining. Trump has merely added his own family and his retinue to the existing swamp.

Posted by at November 29, 2016 6:03 PM