Assistant Attorney General Admits On TV That In The US Justice Does Not Apply To The Banks

Tyler Durden's picture

Those who watched Frontline's special on why nobody has been prosecuted on Wall Street titled appropriately "The Untouchables" didn't learn much new. The rehash of ideas presented is what has been well known for years - namely that when it comes to prosecuting Wall Street criminals nothing will ever happen, because as Bill Gross tweeted " Its not Republican in politics. Its not Dem in politics. Its money in politics" and all the money in politics comes from Wall Street, which happens to be the ultimate ruler of the United States of America, pushing levers here and pulling stringer there to give the impression the constitutional republic is still alive. It isn't - this country has become an unchecked despotism of those in charge of money creation and who control capital - just the thing Andrew Jackson warned against. One thing we did learn, was courtesy of Assistant Attorney General Lenny Breuer who made it very clear that when it comes to the concept of justice the banks are and always have been "more equal" than others. He does so in such shocking clarity and enthusiasm that it is a miracle that this person is still employed by the US Department of Justice.

To wit from the transcript:

MARTIN SMITH: You gave a speech before the New York Bar Association. And in that speech, you made a reference to losing sleep at night, worrying about what a lawsuit might result in at a large financial institution.




MARTIN SMITH: Is that really the job of a prosecutor, to worry about anything other than simply pursuing justice?


LANNY BREUER: Well, I think I am pursuing justice. And I think the entire responsibility of the department is to pursue justice. But in any given case, I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution A, and as a result of bringing that case, there’s some huge economic effect — if it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly, counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly — it’s a factor we need to know and understand.

In other words, no criminal charges can be levied against anyone who engaged in the crimes leading to the great financial crisis of 2008 because, get this, the implications of pursuing justice may have destabilizing implications!

In other words, the banker threat of Mutual Assured Destruction has metastasized from the legislative, where in 2008 Hank Paulson demanded a blank check from Congress to spend it on whatever he wishes, "or else...", and has fully taken over the Judicial, where there is Justice for all... and no "Justice" for those who are systemically important.

Ted Kaufman summarizes:

TED KAUFMAN: That was very disturbing to me, very disturbing. That was never raised at any time during any of our discussions. That is not the job of a prosecutor, to worry about the health of the banks, in my opinion. Job of the prosecutors is to prosecute criminal behavior. It’s not to lie awake at night and kind of decide the future of the banks.

Alas Ted, it appears it is.

Frontline's conclusion was perfectly expected: "to date, not one senior Wall Street executive has been held
criminally liable by the Department of Justice for activities related to
the financial crisis

We now know why: it is because of people like this:

Lanny A. Breuer was unanimously confirmed as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division on April 20, 2009.
As head of the Criminal Division, Mr. Breuer oversees nearly 600 attorneys who prosecute federal criminal cases across the country and help develop the criminal law. He also works closely with the nation’s 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices in connection with the investigation and prosecution of criminal matters in their districts. Mr. Breuer is a national leader on a range of federal law enforcement priorities, including financial fraud, health care fraud, public corruption, and violence along the Southwest Border. He has also been a leading voice on policy issues related to criminal law enforcement, including the scope of prosecutors’ discovery obligations in federal criminal cases and sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine offenses. Mr. Breuer regularly testifies before Congress on the Administration’s policy initiatives and advises the Attorney General and the White House on matters of criminal law.  Mr. Breuer also serves as the Department's representative on the Atrocities Prevention Board, which President Obama announced in April 2012.  For his work as Assistant Attorney General, the National Law Journal named Mr. Breuer a "Visionary" in the Washington, D.C. legal community, and he was recently ranked sixth on Ethisphere’s list of The 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics.


Mr. Breuer began his legal career in 1985 as an Assistant District Attorney in Manhattan, where he prosecuted violent crime, such as armed robbery and gang violence, white collar crime, and other offenses. In 1989, he joined the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP, where he worked until 1997, when he joined the White House Counsel’s Office as Special Counsel to President William Jefferson Clinton. As Special Counsel, Mr. Breuer assisted in defending President Clinton in the Senate impeachment trial.


Mr. Breuer returned to Covington in 1999 as co-chair of the White Collar Defense and Investigations practice group, where he specialized in white collar criminal defense and complex civil litigation and represented individuals and corporations in matters involving high-stakes legal risks. He also vice-chaired the firm’s Public Service Committee. At Covington, Mr. Breuer developed a reputation as one of the top defense lawyers in the country.

Full Frontline episode for those who missed it:

Watch The Untouchables on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
sudzee's picture

What we need is a Judicial Favour Fund, trading publically, so that everyone has an equal chance at the American Dream.

Carl Spackler's picture

In the past 4 years Mexican federal politics have become cleaner than US federl politics (and not because our Southern neighbors cleaned up their neighborhood).

I never thought that day would have come. 

The global race to the bottom continues.


Wilcat Dafoe's picture


So, why was Madoff the glaring exception to the rule that you don't go to jail if you steal really big?

Mr. Hudson's picture

He stole from his own people. That is a "no-no". He is a momser who is also a nebach and a goniff.

Bunga Bunga's picture

Madoff was too stupid, he did not understand the great idea of banking fascism which makes the rich even richer.

overmedicatedundersexed's picture

they have now the dept of homeland sec, tsa, along with all the other alphabet depts,, I know many working for them has not one clue as to how far up the corruption goes, and I  also know those same people do not want to know. the powerless they will pursue to death, the elite never.

kill citizens who step out of line enough times and we end up here..IF many of us here on ZH were in the FBI OR CIA OR NAS OR DIA OR DEPT OF JUSTICE [lol]..we would of long ago shot ourselves., or been shot by our own dept for going after the crime elite..they who work in these depts or are lawyers who work in all the gov agencies who at face are to support our laws ,,you all are guilty and should kill your selves you cowardly fucks

Toolshed's picture

Gee......I don't know. Maybe his voluntary CONFESSION had something to do with it.

Wilcat Dafoe's picture

What led to the confession, dickhead?

Wilcat Dafoe's picture

He confessed after they began prosecuting him, moron. 

He confessed quickly 'because of his family' who were subjected to a media frenzy and anti-semitic threats:


The question is why they prosecuted him at all.  Seems like because of an economic downturn, there was a 'run on the Ponzi.'

Interestingly, Madoff's wide blamed "the gentiles"...  which apart from being bizarre was probably 180 degrees from the truth - the prosecution was probably given extra teeth because many of the victims were rich NYC Jews.



Downtoolong's picture

Who are these men of lust greed and glory?
Rip off the mask and let’s see.
But that’s not right.
Oh no, what’s the story?
Well, there’s you and there’s me.

Crime Of The Century,  Supertramp

phalfa5's picture

@ downtoolong ...

a little early in the century ....   does that mean the next 87 years will be uneventful and we have seen the worst of it? 

silverisgold's picture

Lanny Breuer = Kleptocrat lying bankster shill weasle.

Toolshed's picture

You are being MUCH too kind.

falak pema's picture

Basically : the Banks can do what they like 'cos they hold us by the nuts! 

They have weapons of MD!

Max Keiser is right and these banksters are thus above the nation state law.

Congress bows to them and trembles when they catch cold! 

Rompoculos's picture

fIdiot complete. Does not understand, or more likely, is paid not to understand that by not prosecuting the crimes, he is doing certain, not theoretical, harm to the system as a whole. Systemic harm far beyond what the failure of any one institution could do, no matter how big or interconnected it is. Is it not the rationale behind and purpose of a properly functioning justice system to separate the "bad apples" from the rest?

Seer's picture

Can one do systemic harm to a system that is predestined to collapse?

This big ship never had controls, it's rudder was never connected to any control.  On the horizon, which the ship sailed, was nothing but icebergs.  Perpetual growth on a finite planet.  That we're now seeing the icebergs doesn't we ought not interpret it to mean that we're now off course.

sudzee's picture

No individual will ever go to jail for corporate fraud again. CORPORATIONS ARE PERSONS fixed that. The corporation is now held to justice but can only be fined since physically they can't be jailed.

Bunga Bunga's picture

Get over it, a little bit of fascism does nobody hurt on Wall St.

tradewithdave's picture

If you know about this and don't contact your congressman or your governor wouldn't you also be subjecting yourself to charges of misprision of treason.

Seer's picture

Ha ha!

Do people demand a really just system? Well, we'll arrange it so that they'll be satisfied with one that's a little less unjust ... They want a revolution, and we'll give them reforms -- lots of reforms; we'll drown them in reforms. Or rather, we'll drown them in promises of reforms, because we'll never give them real ones either!!

- DARIO FO, Accidental Death of an Anarchist

Our congressmen and governors are merely automated recordings.  The real things were outsourced to big business a LONG time ago.

gwar5's picture

Saw that last night by accident and was shocked. Shocked I tell you! Catherine Fitts calls it a Coup d'etat by the bankers disposessing lawful government, and she's right.

Imagine if oil companies took over the USA by threatening to cut off oil to cause chaos if demands were not met? Or WalMart, and a cartel of grocery stores, saying they were going to cut off food? There would be arrests, nationalizations, and they'd be broken up into little pieces.

Yet, here we are with bankers overtly taking over all policy, foreign and domestic, by threatening to collapse the banking system.

Have they not always been the shadow government? Who you gonna believe, Lanny Breuer or your lying conspiratorial eyes?



Seer's picture

Catherine Austin Fitts and Paul Craig Roberts, two people that would be great to have on the witness stand (assuming that there was really any shot in hell of seeking justice).

AR's picture

We thought it would be appropriate to make a comment here. One, which most have overlooked in this argument, and one which has and continues to provide an impediment to prosecution in these matters. Namely that...

Dating as far back as 2002, FED Regulators have ALL maintained physical offices within every major bank in this country with assets over 100 billion. And, these regulators have regularly seen, reviewed, requested revisions, approved or "rubber stamped" any one of these bank's 10Q, 10K, adjusted or interim bank financial statements, quarterly and fiscal year-end earnings report prior to them being released to the public. 

So, now the question remains. WHY is it that no bank, or any individuals within these banks, have been prosecuted or criminally indicted?   ANSWER: Because government is just as guilty, and a willing participant (directly or indirectly) in perpetrating these schemes -- through either admission, negligence, incompetence or direct complicity.

However, we think that after Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, and possibly the current Attorney General Eric Holder leave office or get closer to leaving office, it will be then and only then the public may see some actual criminal indictments (bar SOLs expiring). However, the adage of "not on my watch" will rule and prevail until then.

mt paul's picture

the banks

are the government

Seer's picture

Now you know why the phrase: "power corrupts."  NOTE: this goes back a tad eariler than 2002.

hannah's picture

so if i rob a bank and take hostages, they may get hurt so let me take the money and leave...? i just need t pick a bank with enough customers to make a big impact.

Joebloinvestor's picture

Now you know why very few politicians go to jail.

mvsjcl's picture

Hey, but he's right on top of that crack and powder cocaine thing. Can't be all bad, right?

Al Huxley's picture

I wonder how many of the modern banking cartel are familiar with King Henry I


"1125 A.D. In this year before Christmas King Henry sent from Normandy to England and gave instructions that all moneyers ... be deprived of their members ... Bishop Roger of Salisbury commanded them all to assemble at Winchester by Christmas. When they came hither they were then taken one by one, and each deprived of the right hand and the testicles below. All this was done in twelve days between Christmas and Epiphany, and was entirely justified because they had ruined the whole country by the magnitude of their fraud which they paid for in full."

toomanyfakeconservatives's picture

Seriously? That's one way to stop the spread of unbridled greed and corruption.

waterhorse's picture

Grisly.  So on the first day of Christmas the bankster said to me, a right hand in a pear tree.  On the second day of Christmas the bankster said to me, two former brass balls...

Shizzmoney's picture

Robin Hall, CT woman, jailed in FL after cruise for 22-year warrant (for stealing a pack of cigs when she was 18 at a Wal-Mart and failing to pay $85 fine)

The comments on the news story are littered with, "How in the fuck does Wall St get away with crimes?" posts.


Yes We Can. But Lets Not.'s picture

So Breuer the Assistant AG would decline to prosecute an institution on the premise that doing so might potentially harm counterparties and the economy...

So would Breuer decline to prosecute an individual when doing so would clearly harm related parties - wife, children, employees... ?  No, no I don't think he would back off.  He'd prosecute with vigor and gladly put the individual's ass in jail.


AgAu_man's picture

Sorry to sound so crass, but so is the situation:

It's "Who you know and whom you blo/blow."

moroots's picture

Counterparty risk.  Of course.  Nothing like the govt sending the message to the markets - hey don't bother doing any due diligence on your counterparties. 

(Except, of course, if you're an MF Global customer)

bob_stl's picture

Too big to prosecute...

Seer's picture

And in a way that's kind of it.  That is, one could make a good argument for this being the case (though whether it IS the case or not is nearly impossible to prove).

Imagine trying to prosecute Goldman Sachs, really prosecute them?  The govt is broke, GS is not.  GS will swamp the pathetic AG office.  The AG office would be so tied up by such a case that others (GS rats would jump on another ship) would be more free to criminally conduct business.

On one hand folks talk about eliminating regulations, and then on the other they expect regulations to be enforced.  I understand ALL the arguments.  BUT, this should all show just how difficult this is.  It's really a "damned if I do, damned if I don't" situation.

The system is going to collapse one way or another.  There isn't any "solution" that we can pull off the shelves, whether borne of the noblest intentions or not.

waterhorse's picture

If I could be assured that Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, Corzine and the other bankster turds would end up in pound-them-in-the-ass prison and suffer clawbacks of ill-gotten gains, I would be happy to pay an extra "assessment fee" until the end of trial.

yogibear's picture

Get used to it, Wall Street and the banks are above the law. Only the muppets go to jail.

waterhorse's picture

Turnabout is fair play.  It would be most excellent if some muppets ripped the faces off the banksters.

IamtheREALmario's picture

There is an easy way to fix the problem and still keep the banks in the same financial state they are now, Lanny "boy". Prosecute prominent individuals within the banks and not the banks. The individuals wear an orange jumpsuit and get buggared by "Willy the Tool" and everyone gets the message.

Problem solved.

Westcoastliberal's picture

Just what part of "that shit doesn't matter" does Lanny-boy not get? Alas, the "rule of law" is dead in the U.S. Stick a fork in it.....

Orange Pekoe's picture

Lies, lies, lies. They will say anything to get and keep the loot.

lasvegaspersona's picture

open admission things are so precarious (google def: 'fucked up') that we must allow illegal banking activity.....but othwerwise the ecomony shoots soon to be reintroduced.

philosophers bone's picture

They consult with "regulators" which includes "self-regulatory organizations" which are affiliated with the banks and securities dealers.  The model is so rife with conflicts of interest that we cannot even hope for it to work.  As long as this "system" continues to operate as it currently does (ie. market manipulation / insider trading with no enforcement against TBTF or the Fed), how about requiring the Federal Reserve and all Primary Dealers to sign, publish and file statutory declarations providing "full, true and plain" disclosure of their activities (and intentions) with respect to market manipulation / insider trading.  So if they plan on fucking with the markets and are immune from consequnce or punishment, disclose it to the market.  Or if this doesn't make sense for national interests, then simply have a statement that market manipulation / insider trading / false disclosure occurs regularly and may continue to occur until further notice.  Anything to:  (a) inform the sheeple; and (b) stop the stupid fucks as CNBC from reporting as if we have real (free) markets.  It's mildly entertaining, but a crime given some people actual think it's real reporting.

Herkimer Jerkimer's picture





This should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this site.


Or who's ever worked with people before.


Have you ever been in a click of people, who've been around for a long time, together?


High school, employment, social club?


It's the same.


You'll get the group that works for itself. Promoting itself. It will take you in, if it can use you, or not. And once you have no further use, it will expell you.


This is, has been and what is happening in our society, as we have not instilled our institutions with mechanism to continuously bring in new blood to ensure that these good-ol-boy relationships aren't allowed to appear, grow and endure.


The founders knew this. Term limits.


We will learn these lessons again, unfortunately.


Invest appropriately, not where the train is going, but where we know it will ultimately end up: In the gorge, where the bridge hasn't been built. Find where the gorge/bridge should have been built and invest properly. Our gorge is confidence, trust, tranparency.




backhandtopspinslicer's picture

well then it is time to arm the rebels