New job, same as the old job.
July 7, 2015 7:27 AM   Subscribe

 
A part of me thinks this is the natural consequence of believing in a meritocracy. The cream of the crop rises to the top, where they join the idiot progeny of past winners and are awarded the right to rob from the rest of us with impunity. Because they are the smartest, meanest assholes around, and they say they deserve it, and besides, it would be a mistake and maybe even dangerous to argue. And who are you to argue? Nobody, that's who. You are where you are because you don't have what it takes. Fuck you.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 7:42 AM on July 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


and yet:
The “possibility exists” that Edward Snowden could make a deal with the US Justice Department and return to his home country, former US attorney general Eric Holder says.

Asked by Yahoo News in a Monday interview if the Justice Department might be open to a plea bargain that let the NSA whistleblower come back from Moscow, Holder said: “I certainly think there could be a basis for a resolution that everybody could ultimately be satisfied with. I think the possibility exists.”
posted by Little Dawn at 7:54 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


the nation’s first black attorney general, rejoins the firm as a white-collar partner.

Cute, but I believe the term is "equity" partner. He'll likely be representing Wall Street clients since nothing he did as attorney general could have possibly created any conflict of interest with them.
posted by three blind mice at 7:58 AM on July 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Covington’s real meal ticket is white-collar defense. They literally promote their aptitude in getting bank clients off the hook in marketing materials. I wrote in Salon last March about the firm’s boasting, in a cover story in the trade publication American Lawyer, about avoiding jail sentences and reducing cash penalties for executives at companies like IndyMac and Charles Schwab. Included in the praiseworthy article is Lanny Breuer, who ran the Justice Department’s criminal division under Holder. Breuer, a vice chairman at Covington, vowed not to represent companies under Justice Department investigation, but his presence in a marketing document specifically wooing bank clients is clear: Sign up with Covington, and you get access to insiders at the highest level.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:00 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I think you guys should really make a deal with Snowden, though fuck if I was going to touch that kryptonite during the two years of my tenure where I could have done something about it." Weak sauce.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:06 AM on July 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


Cute, but I believe the term is "equity" partner.

The terms don't refer to the same thing. "Equity partner" describes a method of compensation (a percentage of the profits of the firm). "White-collar partner" refers to a field of practice (white-collar criminal defense).
posted by The Bellman at 8:10 AM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is this that Hope and Change I've been hearing so much about?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:16 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The worst part is that compared to John "the Patriot Act is great!" Ashcroft and Alberto "torture is A-OK as enhanced interrogation!" Gonzales this man is a fucking saint. It reminds me of this exchange in one of the worst Simpsons episodes ever made.
Homer: At least we know there'll never be a President worse than Bill Clinton. Imagine, lying in a deposition in a civil lawsuit. That's the worst sin a President can commit!
Marge: There will never be a worse President. Never.
Homer: Never.
God forbid we get President Bush, Walker or Rubio and their bound to be bulldog of an Attorney General. We'll be crying out for the "good old days" when Holder was in the office.

And that's truly sad.
posted by Talez at 8:18 AM on July 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


The “possibility exists” that Edward Snowden could make a deal with the US Justice Department and return to his home country, former US attorney general Eric Holder says.

This is a unquestionably a trap, and I can't see Snowden falling for it.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:24 AM on July 7, 2015


Well, that's the old purity test double standard, isn't it? Dayen wouldn't be happy unless Holder opened a storefront law practice in Hell's Kitchen with his wisecracking law school buddy and their brilliant but troubled paralegal, and in his spare time fought the colorfully-garbed henchmen of those bankers that he rants about. And maybe not even then.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:25 AM on July 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Halloween Jack:
The problem here has a name, and it is 'Regulatory Capture.' The implication here is that the entire justice department was pretty well captured by corporate interests at the height of one of capitalism's biggest the biggest fuck-ups.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:29 AM on July 7, 2015 [21 favorites]


Is this that Hope and Change I've been hearing so much about?

It seems a bit unreasonable to blame Obama for the private career choices of someone else.

Which isn't to say that regulatory capture isn't a massive, glaring problem.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:32 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is bullshit.
Hilariously, Holder seems to think he took an “appropriately aggressive” stance against Wall Street while at DoJ, one that might risk his relationship with future clients. I’m not sure that even needs to be rebutted. Holder’s conduct in prosecuting financial fraud was so embarrassing that by the end I would have preferred he just stopped trying.
Dude, you're writing for Salon, which is as general interest as it gets; if you're not even going to go to the trouble of spelling out your arguments for the casual reader, your opinion doesn't deserve remuneration.
posted by psoas at 8:37 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, that's the old purity test double standard, isn't it?

I don't think it's too much to ask that an Attorney General not be so nakedly venal.

I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that top DoJ appointments not be resume-padding for the weasel-mouthed toadies of history's greatest thieves.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:39 AM on July 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


That Dayen article is a weird mix of accurate, interesting stuff about law firms (connecting Holder and Civiletti, correctly identifying Covington's white collar practice as one of their major strengths, the breaking of the $1,000/hour barrier) and utter breathlessness at absolutely, absolutely standard law firm/corporate stuff. Yes, marketing materials for the white collar group emphasize recent white collar victories! Yes, if you bring in someone as an equity partner, it's because you expect him to bring in business, not because you expect him to somehow bill enough to justify that salary!

I mean, none of it makes the revolving door less real, or lessens the degree to which a line can and should be drawn between Holder's failure to prosecute high-level bankers and his background in Big Law, but it does such a weird job of trying to contextualize the hire.

(I do love the detail that nobody at Covington voted against readmitting him as a partner.)
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:40 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


>"... a massive, glaring problem."

Indeed some of us, as we read our newspapers or listen to the babble on the cables, tend to mentally substitute the phrase for other hackneyed nonsense. Thus "leader of the free world" becomes "champion of regulatory capture" and "advancing the cause of democracy" becomes "shilling for regulatory capture."
posted by fredludd at 8:43 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really wonder how the conversations go? Are they very careful to be on different greens on different courses on different days to discuss first an approach to circumventing onerous regulations (that happen to be toxic to a few low level employees) and the multi-million donation to a Clinton Foundation.
posted by sammyo at 8:45 AM on July 7, 2015


This is a unquestionably a trap, and I can't see Snowden falling for it.
ryanshepard

Why is it a trap? Whatever you think of Snowden, there is no question that he broke US law. If he wants to come back, there are two options:

1. A Presidential pardon, which seems extremely unlikely from either Obama or any of the people likely to succeed him.

2. A plea bargain for some lesser charge with a minor sentence.

I'm not sure what trap you're imagining here.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:03 AM on July 7, 2015


The problem here has a name, and it is 'Regulatory Capture.' The implication here is that the entire justice department was pretty well captured by corporate interests at the height of one of capitalism's biggest the biggest fuck-ups.

Regulatory capture is when parties use regulations to further their own interests by hampering or eliminating competitors. The revolving door is a different thing - more of an all purpose corruption technique for enabling all of the different possible forms of badness, regulatory capture being one.
posted by srboisvert at 9:22 AM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


The revolving door is a different thing

Well, yes and no. That is, the "revolving door" goes--as it's name suggests--both ways. One of the methods big business uses to effect regulatory capture is the "revolving door"--people with extensive ties and connections to the corporate world "revolve in" to government jobs with a new administration, enforce or enact regulations in ways that are biased towards big-business interests and then "revolve out" back to the corporate world. It's true that Holder getting this job is not, itself, an example of "regulatory capture" but the process by which he moves from a big white-collar law firm and back to the same law firm with a stint in government in between is certainly an example of how the revolving door exerts a distorting pressure on government regulation of industry and corporations.
posted by yoink at 9:32 AM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I note that many former Obama people end with jobs at universities and some former GOP or Bush people end at think tanks and most retired military people become consultants for CNN and former FBI and Homeland Security people open consulting firms and get money on the side from CNN ...that Holder has gone to this firm is not surprising. Why are liberals so often surprised at what is clearly the way the system has worked for many years?
posted by Postroad at 9:34 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why are liberals so often surprised

I don't think anyone's "surprised" at this. "Concerned," "disgusted," "upset" etc. would be fairer descriptors.
posted by yoink at 10:21 AM on July 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Postroad -- many citations needed, specifically for "most retired military people become consultants for CNN." You'll need to give me some documentation for that, or my eyebrows may never come down.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:25 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


most retired military people become consultants for CNN

Remember the CNN 'military analysts' scandal?

It's like that, but for laws.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:49 AM on July 7, 2015


I note that many former Obama people end with jobs at universities

San Francisco and its tech firms are a prime destination for aides leaving the Obama administration. [Politico]
posted by Little Dawn at 1:16 PM on July 7, 2015


Just so we're not all arguing the same side to each other: there is the thought that it isn't always a bad thing if people who have the ability to earn a pile of money in private life are permitted to step off that treadmill for a while, work for the government/perform government service, and then later return to the high-earning types of jobs they left behind. In some cases I would much rather have someone who fits that description (like, say, Steven Ratner or Jeff Zients) in place than someone without corporate/private experience.

Of course, the devil is in the details of things like appropriate waiting periods between gigs and conflicts policies that keep someone from working on the same issues/controversies on both sides of the fence.
posted by Mid at 4:27 PM on July 7, 2015


Of course, the devil is in the details of things like appropriate waiting periods between gigs and conflicts policies that keep someone from working on the same issues/controversies on both sides of the fence.

I realize that this is to a certain extent both reliant on self-policing and more limited than people might like, but in the case of Holder, there are established ethical rules that would prevent him (or any other lawyer leaving government service to go to a private practice) from actually working on the same things for Covington that he did while Attorney General. If he was caught at it, he could easily be disbarred and lose the goodwill of most if not all of his clients.

Now, that only applies if he's pretty dumb about what he works on, since these things tend to be read very specifically so that working on the other side of a general issue might not be a problem as long as he wasn't dealing with the exact same cases that he personally worked on while Attorney General, but there are rules here that, if broken, do have consequences. There's almost certainly been a whole team of people at Covington who have been working full-time for weeks just making sure that any of Holder's conflicts of interest are identified and addressed.
posted by Copronymus at 8:24 AM on July 8, 2015


Interesting: O'Malley is trying to call attention to the revolving-door issue. (Problem: he's not always checking his sources.)
posted by psoas at 12:48 PM on July 9, 2015




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