Warren Wants FBI Transparency About Financial Crisis

Fires off letters to FBI director and Justice Department inspector general

FBI Director James Comey is facing questions about the bureau's response to the financial crisis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
FBI Director James Comey is facing questions about the bureau's response to the financial crisis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted September 15, 2016 at 12:01am

Sen. Elizabeth Warren wants the FBI to explain why people involved in causing the 2008 financial crisis didn’t face criminal prosecution.

In a new letter to FBI Director James B. Comey, the Massachusetts Democrat is calling for the kind of transparency the bureau showed after its decision to not recommend criminal charges against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in connection with her use of a private email system while serving as secretary of State.

“Your recent actions with regard to the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provide a clear precedent for releasing additional information about the investigation of the parties responsible for the financial crisis,” Warren wrote in a letter expected to be sent Thursday and obtained by Roll Call.

Warren’s letter to Comey came with a separate request to Michael E. Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general. In that letter, Warren said she wanted a review of what the DOJ actually did with referrals from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.

Warren explained that her staff reviewed FCIC documents that became available earlier this year, and among the more interesting findings, the senator said, was the potential that fraud had been committed by the leaders of a variety of financial institutions.

While being clear to stress that referrals alone may not mean there was actual criminal wrongdoing, the letter to the inspector general does name nine prominent executives from Wall Street at the time of the crisis, including individuals with the American International Group, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch, as well as the government-backed lending giant Fannie Mae.

[Chaffetz Has More Questions for FBI on Clinton Emails]

In effect, Warren is seeking additional transparency on both ends, both through an IG investigation and through a direct appeal to Comey, who held a news conference and released a slew of additional materials related to the Clinton case. 

“If Clinton’s email server was of sufficient ‘interest’ to establish a new FBI standard of transparency, then surely the criminal prosecution of those responsible for the 2008 financial crisis should be subject to the same level of transparency,” Warren wrote to Comey. “The FCIC followed the law and sent such referrals to the DOJ, yet not a single senior Wall Street executive has ever been criminally prosecuted.”

Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski.