April 18th, 2010
05:29 PM ET
5 years ago

McConnell explains Wall Street meeting with Cornyn


Washington (CNN) – A day after President Obama sought to use a closed-door meeting between Wall Street leaders and two top Senate Republicans as political ammunition in the battle over financial regulatory reform, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to explain the meeting.

In a rare move, Obama used his weekly internet and radio address to single out McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn, who leads the GOP's effort to elect Republicans to the Senate in November.

Related: Obama touts financial reform

The changes sought by Democrats "have not exactly been welcomed by the people who profit from the status quo – as well their allies in Washington," Obama said in his address. "This is probably why the special interests have spent a lot of time and money lobbying to kill or weaken the bill. Just the other day, in fact, the leader of the Senate Republicans and the chair of the Republican Senate campaign committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to talk about how to block progress on this issue.

"Lo and behold, when he returned to Washington, the Senate Republican Leader came out against the common-sense reforms we've proposed."

Asked about the meeting on CNN's State of the Union Sunday , McConnell rejected any suggestion that the meeting was used to craft ways to block financial regularly reform. Ultimately, McConnell said Cornyn was there because he will be voting on the reform legislation.

"Did the meeting take place?," CNN Chief Political Correspondent and State of the Union anchor Candy Crowley asked McConnell. "What was the conversation?"

"Well, we certainly didn't talk about blocking the bill," the Kentucky Republican replied. "I don't know anybody who's in favor of blocking this bill."

McConnell added, "I thought [the president] wanted us to have a bipartisan bill. That's what I would like to have. We are in the process of gathering information from people all across the country, from Wall Street to Main Street to try to get advice about doing this right."

McConnell also said that he met recently with bankers in his home state who oppose the current version of the financial reform bill.

Pressed by Crowley about how Cornyn's involvement, at least created the appearance that Republicans were playing politics with the issue of reform, McConnell denied Obama's accusation.

"Well, look, we were talking about financial regulation, as everybody in the country is talking about it," the top Senate Republican said. "Most of the people in New York supported the president, the vast majority of them are on his side. They supported him during the election, they still support him. Is he saying we shouldn't sit down with his supporters and talk about a bill that he thinks we ought to pass and that I think we ought to pass? This is absurd, he..."

"Why was Sen. Cornyn there?," Crowley queried.

"Candy, [Obama] is the one who is trying to politicize this issue. We are the ones who are trying to get it right," he replied.

Crowley pressed McConnell again about Cornyn's attendance at the meeting. "But what did the Wall Street people tell you?"

"Well, they have concerns about the bill," the Senate minority leader explained, adding that he thought the Senate ought to "go back to the drawing board" and fix the legislation.

"Let me try one more time," Crowley volleyed. "Why was Sen. Cornyn in that meeting of all of the other senators you could have taken with you?"

"Sen. Cornyn is a United States senator from Texas," McConnell explained. "He is going to be voting on this issue like all the rest of us are. Simply because we are all involved in politics, as is the president, it doesn't mean that we can't discuss issues with people that we meet around the country who are deeply involved and concerned about what we are doing."

Later on State of the Union, Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, called on McConnell and Senate Republicans to propose alternatives to the component of the bill they have been voicing objections to in the past week. All 41 Senate Republicans have said they oppose the legislation as it currently stands but the White House signaled late last week that it is open to changes to the bill.

Related: Congress divided over financial reform bill


Filed under: Extra • John Cornyn • Mitch McConnell • Popular Posts • Wall Street
soundoff (202 Responses)
  1. Jeff E.

    This guy can't even lie with a straight face. He's just subscribing to the same old neocon strategy: If you say the lie loud enough and often enough, the American people will be fooled into thinking it's the truth. I certainly hope we've learned from the debacle that was the Bush Administration and a decade of republican rule that we need to be smarter than that.

    The republicans are out to protect the bankers who fill their campaign coffers, not the American people.

    April 18, 2010 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  2. from the middle

    Why aren't the tea party protesting the true source of what should be their anger? THE GOP! Or would it not be as fun to use their brains? How any sane person could vote for the GOP is hopelessly misguided!!

    April 18, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  3. A Southern Lady in North Carolina

    Since when did any top Republicans support anything that would benefit the average American? No matter what the attempt to make things better for our citizens, no matter how worthy, how logical and sensible the suggestions may be, the Republicans will block, slow down and try to kill anything that gives a victory to President Obama. As a senior citizen and a once lifetime Republican, the behavior of the Republican party can only be described as shameful. It will be a cold day you-know-where before any Republican ever again gets my vote or financial support.

    April 18, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  4. RJ

    Mitch is lying. He was paid to block this bill. That is what he will not tell the American people.

    April 18, 2010 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  5. george

    why does Se. McConnell always look like his underwear is binding?
    Could it be because he us always lying?

    April 18, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  6. Beauty

    This is just unbelievable! I don't understand why American people should allow these obstructionists to continue to receive their salaries after November. Taking a position not to advance this country but hold things down should no longer be rewarded.
    I don't care who the president is, this country must move forward, and for any legislator to stand in the way is un-American. They are hired to legislate!
    We voted a President into office to govern the country for 4 or more years and he needs legislators who will not hold the progress of the country up but work with him to get the job done. If this is what the Republican tries to do for the duration, they are not fit to remain in office. This country must advance.
    If Obama offers to keep the status quo, even though that is what the Republicans want, they will throw a temper tantrum and not co-operate. It is sad.

    April 18, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  7. Perusing-through

    FINALLY!

    It is about time President Obama, V.P. Joe Biden, and all Americans call out the Republican Obstructionist Party for blocking true pragmatic financial reforms, especially reforms that fix the “too-big-to-fail banks”.

    If the big bank status quo remains the same, than Americans should not complain when the 2008 financial crash hit the U.S. again in 2011. And may GOD help the Tea Party fools if their Republican cohorts set the nation up again for another crash like 2011.

    April 18, 2010 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  8. Jay

    Sounds to me like Obama is the one who is twisting and politicizing. If we are going to make reforms on Wall Street, somebody ought to be talking to the people on Wall Street who know best how the system works. If Obama's not going to do it, I'm glad at least a couple of Republican senators are willing to continue gathering information from the experts rather than assuming they know everything already.

    April 18, 2010 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  9. seattle adam

    McConnell certainly seems to have a difficult time explaining himself. Sen. Conryn was the only other Republican senator at the meeting. It's not unreasonable for a journalist to wonder...

    "Why pick the head of the re-election committee, essentially in charge of election-year politics and talking points, as the only other Sen. there?" McConnell just stalls and equivicqates here!

    April 18, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. Perusing-through

    FINALLY!

    It is about time President Obama, V.P. Joe Biden, and all Americans call out the Republican Obstructionist Party for blocking true pragmatic financial reforms, especially reforms that fix the "too-big-to-fail-banks".

    If the big bank status quo remains the same, than Americans should not complain when the 2008 financial crash hit the U.S. again in 2011. And may GOD help the Tea Party fools if their Republican cohorts set the nation up again for another crash like 2011.

    April 18, 2010 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  11. No Way

    He sound like a broken record that's stuck on stupid.

    April 18, 2010 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  12. seriously

    any fool can spot a liar like this...

    April 18, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  13. Perusing-through

    REPUBLICAN-GOP HYPOCRITE!

    Mitch "the rat-snake" McConnell was caught with his hands in the Wall Street cookie jar.

    April 18, 2010 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  14. gisher

    The saddest thing about this is despite the fact that it is obvious what stunt McConnell is pulling, his devoted followers just keep lapping up the manure from his boots. The problem isn't McConnell. it's the people that put him in office.

    April 18, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  15. Steve

    Every time McConnell gets airtime, he comes across as a sleazeball...

    April 18, 2010 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  16. mike

    its the old stall and wait deal to get voters upset because nothing
    is getting done and with beck palin and rush they will start throw
    there crap up against the wall and sooner or later something is
    going to stick in the voters head and the tables will turn just like
    Healthcare just like the tea party its not about the issues but about
    the noise and as long as that happens the uneducated will listen

    April 18, 2010 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  17. Jetsy

    Why is CNN Protecting Mr lier McConnell? they don't post my comment, I can see clearly that he is a lier and cnn is censoring me for that, they just want to post the opinion that goes in favor of Mitch the Lier McConnell.

    April 18, 2010 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  18. Brian L

    "Let's go back to the drawing board"

    "Let's start all over"

    Republicans are never in favor of doing anything they just want to stall, stall, stall and then campaign on that nothing ever gets done, so elect them.

    April 18, 2010 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  19. ib

    Any bill that means more gov. takeover should be opposed period. The people of this country are losing freedoms right and left and the left is to blind to see what is happening. Wake up people while we still have freedoms to wake up to.

    April 18, 2010 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  20. Susan

    When one can't give a straight answer, I assume they are guilty of something! McConnell's actions speak louder than words. Good job Candy!

    April 18, 2010 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  21. Donnatella

    I'm just glad that all of this is out in the open, the republicans may have deceived their followers before, but if they go along with this, knowing that wall street caused the last recession , it will be justified that the republican party, and the tea party really are racist and just out to oppose anything this president tries to do.

    April 18, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  22. GeorgeL

    We need financial reform after everything that's gone wrong the past few years. We need it now. We don't need more Republican obstructionism.

    April 18, 2010 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  23. D Mac

    Massachusetts what were you thinking ??
    Please correct this folly in 2012.
    thank you

    April 18, 2010 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  24. GI Joe

    Turtle-face lies, then lies about lying. And on and on and on

    Remembe that Waterloo the republcans are hell-bent on sending PRESIDENT OBAMA to? The republicans will work their butts off to keep from woking FOR the people of this country.

    I'm voting Democrat in MAY and in NOVEMBER 2010 AND 2012.

    April 18, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  25. Mark in DC

    McConnell was the biggest foe in the Senate of McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform. He hasn't changed, and he was probably talking the Wall Street people about how much a filibuster of a banking/financial reform bill would be worth.

    April 18, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9