What can you say about former Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Lanny Breuer that has not been said about any mob lawyer?
Breuer is without a doubt a ruthless self-dealer who would do anything for money. But unlike Bruce Cutler, Breuer prostituted himself at the expense of the public interest. Mob lawyers may be sleazy but there is nothing nefarious about their institutional role – even gangsters are entitled to a defense. Breuer on the other hand worked within the system to undermine its ability to meet its most basic stated commitments – equal justice under the law. Under Breuer and Attorney General Eric Holder that fundamental commitment substantively became justice for some.
Lanny Breuer had a long history with Wall Street before he took the job at the justice department. He was even directly involved with the housing crisis.
While Holder and Breuer were partners at Covington, the firm’s clients included the four largest U.S. banks – Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo & Co – as well as at least one other bank that is among the 10 largest mortgage servicers.
Not only did Breuer work for all the major culprits of the meltdown, his law firm was intimately involved with the resulting “fraudclosure” wave where bankers often illegally foreclosed on homeowners to clear their books.
A particular concern by those pressing for an investigation is Covington’s involvement with Virginia-based MERS Corp, which runs a vast computerized registry of mortgages. Little known before the mortgage crisis hit, MERS, which stands for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, has been at the center of complaints about false or erroneous mortgage documents.
You can probably guess what happened when a walking conflict of interest took over at the criminal division. Nothing.
And now, after doing nothing, Lanny Breuer is going home. Back to the very firm he left that defends the Too Big To Fail/Jail banks.
Covington & Burling, a prominent law firm, plans to announce on Thursday that Mr. Breuer will be its vice chairman. The firm created the role especially for Mr. Breuer, a Washington insider who most recently led the Justice Department’s investigation into the financial crisis.
For Mr. Breuer, who will now shift to defending large corporations, Covington is familiar turf. He previously spent nearly two decades there….
Mr. Breuer is expected to earn about $4 million in his first year at Covington…
Like Mr. Breuer, Covington operates at the nexus of Washington and Wall Street. It has represented several financial clients facing federal scrutiny, including the New York Stock Exchange, JPMorgan Chase and the former chief executive of IndyMac.
Well done Lanny. You got a nice pay day for selling your office and integrity. That’s almost too much money to leave on the nightstand.