With confirmation hearings for Senator Jeff Sessions to be Attorney General set to begin, we offer five questions to ask during the hearings to discover just how carefully Senator Sessions intends to police the Wall Street beat:
1. The financial crash in 2008 was the worst since the Great Crash of 1929 and caused the worst economy since the Great Depression, but the Department of Justice did not prosecute, civilly or criminally, any institution or individual from a too-big-to-fail Wall Street for any conduct related to that crash. Do you believe that there were no crimes committed by anyone on Wall Street in connection with the largest financial crash since 1929?
2. The biggest banks on Wall Street have used their shareholders’ money to pay huge fines to settle their liability, but not one of their executives were ever charged by the Justice Department. They essentially used shareholders’ money to buy “get-out-of-jail” cards free for their executives. Do you believe that people, including executives, should be prosecuted if they break the law, even if they work at Wall Street’s too-big-to-fail banks?
3. Former Attorney General Holder testified before the Judiciary Committee that some banks are so big and important that they cannot be prosecuted like every other company in the world. Do you agree with him?
4. In the past, you have said that your approach to prosecutions is, “If they violated the law, you charge them.” Will you continue to apply this philosophy where Wall Street banks and bankers are concerned?
5. You have previously and correctly observed in relation to the S&L cases you brought as US Attorney in Alabama that “harsh sentencing does deter” crime. This philosophy seems to have been forgotten when it comes to Wall Street crime. Can the American people expect Attorney General Sessions to apply this approach to Wall Street banks and its executives?
These questions are drawn, in part, from an op-ed appearing in The Hill, “Will Senator Sessions be President Trump’s Cop on the Wall Street Beat?” by Better Markets president and CEO, Dennis Kelleher.