President Donald Trump lies. He lies about the size of his inaugural crowd, about millions of supposedly fraudulent votes, the number of jobs he “saved” at Carrier, terrorist incidents that supposedly go underreported, the crime rate, and other things too numerous to catalog here.
Compared to Donald Trump’s big lie, however, these are mere peccadilloes. As Stephen Mnuchin’s confirmation as Treasury secretary confirms, the big lie is Trump’s campaign promise to clean out the “corrupt political establishment” and “to put the American people back in charge.”
Consider Trump’s final ad of the 2016 campaign. As the camera cut from Washington, to bags of money, to Wall Street, to Hillary Clinton to Goldman Sachs president Lloyd Blankfein, Trump indicted the “global power structure” that “brought the destruction of our factories and our jobs,” that “robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth” and “put that money in the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” He pledged that he would replace the “failed and corrupt political establishment with a “ new government controlled by you the American people.”
That was then. Once elected, Trump has turned his economic policy over to Goldman Sachs alums and a few other Wall Street bankers who are exemplars of that very “global power structure.”
Steve Mnuchin, the new Treasury secretary, is a second-generation Goldman Sachs partner who left the firm to run OneWest, a foreclosure machine that operated fraudulently to strip people of their homes. During his confirmation process, Mnuchin lied about his bank’s use of illegal “robo-signing” to take people’s homes, and failed to report $100 million in assets and an involvement in a Cayman Island tax haven. It was “an oversight,” he claimed.
Goldman partner Jim Donovan is slated to be second in command at Treasury. Jay Clayton, a Wall Street lawyer representing Goldman Sachs, will head the SEC. Steve Bannon, Trump’s Rasputin, is also a Goldman alum. White House economic strategist Dina Powell comes straight from Goldman.
Perhaps the most influential of all these bankers-cum-Trumpkins will end up being Gary Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs and heir apparent to Lloyd Blankfein, who now heads the National Economic Council. With a personal fortune of more than $300 million, Cohn, like Blankfein, was lavishly rewarded during the mortgage crisis for helping to orchestrate Goldman’s “Big Short.” As exposed by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, then chaired by Senator Carl Levin, Goldman managed to escape the mortgage collapse by peddling its toxic mortgages to its clients while laying large bets against them. They packaged the junk as sterling silver while quietly betting on the defaults they knew would come.