On Monday’s Breitbart News Daily, Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer discussed President Trump’s appointment of former Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus to the board of directors for the Export-Import Bank.
SiriusXM host Alex Marlow noted that Bachus, a Republican, holds the unenviable distinction of being the only politician Andrew Breitbart called upon to resign during his lifetime:
Schweizer recalled that Bachus was chairman of the House Financial Services Committee during the 2008 financial crisis, when he “did a massive amount of option stock trading.”
“The trading was done with inside information that he was getting on briefings,” said Schweizer. “He ended up doing very, very well. Most option stock traders, who are betting that the market’s either going to go up or going to go down, 75 to 80 percent of them don’t make money or they lose money. It’s a very risky investment strategy.”
“Spencer Bachus did extremely well, and here’s why. I’ll just give you one example,” he continued. “September 18, 2008, is sort of a monumental moment in the 2008 financial crisis. That’s when Hank Paulson, the Treasury secretary, and the head of the Fed, Ben Bernanke, went to Capitol Hill to meet with a handful of senior congressmen, including Spencer Bachus. It was a secretive meeting, and what they did was, they made all of the congressmen put their phones away in the corner because they didn’t want anybody recording the conversation or texting anybody about it. According to Paulson in his memoirs, he painted an apocalyptic vision of what was coming down the pike. He said, ‘Look, the stock market could lose half of its valuation. We could have a massive failure of banks, et cetera.’”
“That was on the evening of September 18. The morning of September 19, what did Spencer Bachus do, knowing that this apocalypse might be coming down the corner? He shorted the market. He bought $50,000 worth of shares in something called ProShares UltraShort QQQ, which is a leveraged buy, betting that the market would go down. Now, this isn’t much of a bet because he’s been told by the Treasury secretary the night before that this is probably going to happen. And of course, Spencer ended up making a lot of money as a result of this,” said Schweizer.
“When this came out in my book Throw Them All Out, and 60 Minutes did a segment on it, Andrew knew about it before because we had talked and I’d shared the information with him. Andrew was so outraged. He saw this as basically economic treason, that here you have a guy who’s been put in a position of responsibility and leadership to help the country in a crisis like this, and what does the guy do? He takes that inside information, goes out, and tries to make money off of the collapse of the American economy,” Schweizer charged.
He found it “troubling” that President Trump would bring Bachus into the Export-Import Bank, which has been “criticized as an institution for being full of cronyism.”
“Here’s the problem: when you’re a new administration coming in, you’ve got literally thousands of slots that you need to fill, so you’re not going to have the president and his closest aides be able to vet everyone,” Schweizer explained. “You’re going to rely on other people to say, ‘We’ve got to fill this slot at the trade representative’s office, or we’ve got to fill slots at the Export-Import Bank. Who do you recommend?’ They’re going to go to other people, and those other people, unfortunately, are going to pick friends, colleagues, fellow cronies, people who could do them favors to put them in positions of responsibility.”
“I don’t know if President Trump has even met Spencer Bachus. I don’t know if there’s any relationship there, but somebody recommended this guy, and he was basically allowed to take this appointment. I think it’s extremely troubling because it goes to the heart of the very problem that we have in Washington, DC,” he said.
“As you said at the beginning, this is an ecosystem that is rife with corruption and cronyism,” Schweizer told Marlow. “It needs to be beaten back at every instance. A guy like Spencer Bachus – who has not paid a price, so to speak, for his activities, he didn’t seek re-election from Congress after the scandal came out, but he’s never been subject to legal scrutiny – he now has the benefits of this new position. He hasn’t paid a price for what he did.”
Marlow turned to a recent New York magazine article called “The Case for Kleptocracy,” which he described as “a very dark column” that posits “the alternatives for President Trump at this point in time appear to be Bannonism – or populism meets nationalism meets conservatism – or it’s going to be some sort of family-style corporatism where he’s favoring his own business interests and using the bully pulpit to do so.”
“We’re going to have to wait and see,” Schweizer responded. “As I’ve said from the beginning, Alex, this administration has huge potential to deal with cronyism and corruption. You have a man who ran for president on that platform. You have a man in the White House now who is not beholden to the financial interests the way that other candidates are. He didn’t go out and raise a ton of money from Wall Street or from trial lawyers. They went to his opponents. So he’s in a unique position.”
“The question is: ‘What is he going to do with that authority?’” he asked. “I think there are troubling signs that you’re seeing business as usual with some of these appointees, and there exists a very real potential that the Trump family members – meaning the sons or Jared Kushner, the son-in-law, or Ivanka – are going to be offered sweetheart deals. This goes on with every administration. The question is, are they going to have the fortitude not to take them?”
“Those are the two things we need to be looking for: are there actions being taken to drain the swamp? It’s still early in the administration, but we’ve got to watch closely. And second of all, are there sweetheart deals that are being offered to family members to curry favor and to procure corrupt deals? We’ve got to make sure that those things don’t happen. This is really, I think, the reason that Trump was elected, more than any other,” he said.
Marlow cited a Washington Post article that argued that the Trump children are “interested in any changes that might help resuscitate the presidency and preserve the family’s name at a time when they are trying to expand the Trump Organization’s portfolio of hotels.” The Post further argued that the family is concerned with the both the commercial and political value of the Trump brand, knowing that President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign will be very different from his 2016 campaign.
“There’s a fundamental question and option that the Trump family is looking at right now,” Schweizer observed. “Number one, do they want to do what the American people elected President Trump to do, which is to bring fundamental change in Washington? Or number two, do they want to build another brand, like Jay-Z and Beyonce? Those are really the options.”
“You’re not going to be able to do both. You’re not going to be able to straddle both,” he argued. “I’m somebody who loves American history, who loves the country, and if you presented me with that option – who cares if you build some new brand that brings some changes to the fashion industry, when you have a unique opportunity to bring fundamental change to the country that so many people are looking for? It’s a binary choice. They’re not going to be able to do both.”
“Really, I think the question rests with the president, ultimately. His kids may have a different vision, but he is the one that’s elected. Let’s hope that he makes choices that are designed to root out cronyism and corruption, not choices that are designed to build the family brand,” he said.
Marlow concluded by asking Schweizer for his thoughts on the Trump White House sealing its visitor logs.
“I think it’s been exaggerated in the past how important the White House visitor logs are,” Schweizer replied. “There are numerous stories in the Obama administration; if they wanted to meet with somebody that was sensitive they’d just go to the coffee shop across the street, meaning that they wouldn’t have to disclose who they were meeting with.”
“But I will say as a researcher who works in this area, I have found those logs to be enormously helpful,” he added. “It begs the question: ‘Why are you closing down these logs?’ It raises the question: ‘Are you trying to hide something?’”
“The argument that this is being done for security reasons just does not wash with me,” said Schweizer. “If you’re fearing [a] terrorist attack, them being able to have a list – they’re not going to have names in advance of who you’re meeting with. It’s a log of previous meetings. So the notion that somehow this creates a security problem, I’m just not buying. I think it raises that question of: ‘Why are they doing this?’ The fear is that they’re trying to hide these kinds of activities we’ve been talking about.”
Peter Schweizer is a Breitbart News senior editor-at-large, head of the Government Accountability Institute, and author of the best-selling book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
Listen to the full audio of the interview above.