It has not been lost on us that in recent confirmation hearings, Sen. Bob Corker was asking a lot of questions of Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, the guy who got the job Corker wanted. It’s called “vetting” in Washington-ese.
But this week, the Senate Finance Committee will publicly examine the finances and any potential conflicts of interest of the Trump nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin – yet another job in which Corker was reputed to be interested.
But since this confirmation hearing is on a subject about things in which Corker has a personal financial interest, we thought it would be interesting if Mnuchin was asking the questions of Corker instead of the other way around. It’s too bad that Corker is on the Banking instead of the Finance Committee, so he will not have the opportunity to pontificate from the dais as he is prone to do. Because having Corker question someone else about potential financial conflicts would be about as useful as having Teddy Kennedy demonstrate safe-driving skills. But it should be helpful in understanding why a senator who is a walking, talking conflict-of-interest is qualified to unilaterally question someone– anyone — else about potential conflicts.
And we at RTP are nothing, if not helpful.
[Editor’s note: Our source for these question came straight from the Russians and we also checked them with CNN and Buzzfeed, so you just know they are accurate.]
And if Corker did have the opportunity to participate, we think it would go something like this:
Mnuchin: Mr. Corker, I want to thank you for allowing me to appear today. Just as you have been doing your due diligence and looking into my financial background, I have been looking into yours. And I have to say, Senator, I am fascinated by your ability to accumulate about $100 million in personal wealth while holding down a full-time job as a U.S. senator. As the incoming secretary of the Treasury, your expertise is worth a few questions, if I may.
Corker: Why thank you, Mr. Mnuchin. What would you like to know?
Mnuchin: Well first off, just how did you amass $100 million while serving fulltime as senator?
Corker: Day trading and shorting the housing market. Made a killing.
Mnuchin: Indeed you did. My research shows you personally accounted for nearly 90% of all the day trades made by other sitting senators combined. And you did so primarily trading in something called CBL. Is that correct?
Corker: Yep. I used to work for CBL, back in the day. Those guys are all friends of mine. And I might add that Wells Fargo bailed them out in the financial crisis.
Mnuchin: Very impressive, Senator. Maybe someday we can get together for lunch and you can tell me how you managed to reap major profits for you, your wife and two of your children while avoiding the rather obvious conflicts of interest and suspected insider trading.
Corker: Well I didn’t avoid it entirely, Mr. Mnuchin. You of course have seen the Wall Street Journal and other articles exposing those conflicts. And for all I know, the FBI and maybe even the SEC might be investigating my rather curious investment practices. Say….maybe you can help me with that from your new position.
But yeah, I’ll put you in touch with some of my friends at CBL and maybe even the folks down at the shopping center in Mobile. It’s being built by an old CBL executive buddy of mine. Most of the easy profits were all scooped up when Wells Fargo came in with financing just days after I invested millions. But hey, people drop out every day, so maybe I could have my blind trust call your blind trust – know what I mean (wink, wink)?
Mnuchin: Sounds good. If I were to be confirmed for this position I would probably need to divest myself of many of my assets. Can you hook a brother up with anyone you know who might help me get rid of some millions of dollars in nagging contingent liabilities and who would be willing to buy my assets for more than their worth? You know, a little non-recourse financing would be just the ticket.
Corker: You mean like my friend Henry Luken? Wells Fargo bailed his butt out as well. Hey, I got him right here on speed dial. Let me introduce the two of you:
[makes phone call]: Hello, Luken? Mnuchin. Mnuchin, Luken.
Mnuchin: Perhaps another time, Senator. But while you’re at it, could you drop a line to one of your hedge fund contributors to see if there are any opportunities similar to the deal you got when you shorted the housing market?
Corker: No problemo. Anything else I can do for you before they take the vote on your confirmation?
Mnuchin: One last thing. Once I get the Obama hacks out of the department, I am going to need to staff up. Any resumes or recommendations?
Corker: I got just the guy. How about my old chief of staff Armand deKeyser?
Mnuchin: Is he qualified?
Corker: Well I got him straight from the lobbying firm where Wells Fargo was one of their biggest clients.
Mnuchin: Let me get back to you on that. Wells Fargo is sort of personae non gratae at Treasury these days. But I know if they were good enough for Wells, they were good enough for you. Anyone else?
Corker: Yeah, Michael Bright. He was my senior financial policy advisor on Banking when I was shorting the crap out of the housing market during the financial collapse. Previously he worked for two of the biggest disasters in the housing crisis, Countrywide and Wachovia.
Mnuchin: Oh, wow, a twofer. Send me his resume. This has been very helpful, Senator. Thank you.
One last question, Senator.
Mnuchin: Aren’t you awfully hot wearing that bag over your head?