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Bill Moyers and Matt Taibbi: Everyone Pays If the Banksters Don't Go to Jail

"The rule of law isn’t really the rule of law if it doesn’t apply equally to everybody," Taibbi tells Moyers.

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But in Washington, you know, people kind of shake their heads at it because it's so common you know, that these people, they move from government back to, you know, these high priced legal defense firms that represent the banks. And then they go back to government again. And it's this sort of, this coterie of, you know, 100, 200 lawyers who really run this entire thing. And it's all the same people on both sides.

BILL MOYERS: Lanny Breuer was one of them. He was in a very prestigious Washington law firm. Jack Lew, the new incoming secretary of the Treasury if he gets approved, served three years at Citigroup. His record there, according to “The Wall Street Journal” was not very lustrous for a man who's about to take over the Treasury Department. But “The Wall Street Journal” suggests that he got his job, not because he had the experience, but because he was a crony of Robert Rubin.

MATT TAIBBI: Jack Lew served in the Clinton administration. I think he worked in the OMB in the, you know, Office of Management of the Budget. And he was one of the key players in helping pass the repeal of Glass-Steagall. And, you know, this is kind of the way it works. It's not a one to one, you know, obvious connection. But, you know, Glass-Steagall was repealed specifically to legalize the merger of Citi Group. And, you know, coincidentally Bob Rubin, who was the Treasury secretary and Jack Lew end up working at Citi Group five, ten years later. And they make enormous amounts of money. And then they go back to government. And again, this is just sort of this merry-go-round that everybody in Washington knows about. And that's the way it works.

BILL MOYERS: How do you explain President Obama's attitude in this? When he was running for president, he promised the close the revolving door. And he seemed genuinely shocked at the collapse of the financial system and the banks' role in it. But he also was raking in massive campaign contributions from these very people. Did those investments, did those contributions turn out to be good investments, or do you think he's just overwhelmed by the system that's controlled by these guys?

MATT TAIBBI: I think that they genuinely accept the explanation that they're probably hearing from all these people who run these Wall Street companies. You know, people like Bob Rubin and Larry Summers who are close confidants of the Obama administration are probably telling them, "Look, if we start prosecuting all kinds of people for you know, X, Y and Z, there's going to be major instability in the markets. People are going to flee America. They're going to withdraw capital from the American financial system. It'll be a disaster. Jobs will be lost." But it's just not an acceptable it's explanation. I think they're--

BILL MOYERS: Why?

MATT TAIBBI: Well, just because the rule of law isn't really the rule of law if it doesn't apply equally to everybody. I mean, if you're going to put somebody in jail for having a joint in his pocket, you can't let higher ranking HSBC officials off for laundering $800 million for the worst drug dealers in the entire world. People who are suspected, not only of dealing drugs, but of thousands of murders. I mean, this is an incredible dichotomy. And eventually, you know, it eats away at the very fabric of society when some people go to jail and some people don't go to jail.

 
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