April 18th, 2010
05:29 PM ET
12 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. Tony in Maine

    McConnell's nose was growing the whole time.

    Nothing has changed, Obama proposes – McConnell disposes.

    April 18, 2010 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. Carl Coleman

    Nothing has changed. I'm still waiting for any one with an open mind to show why they would vote Republican. After 8 years of creating this financial mess, and 1.5 years of trying to block every admn. effort, tell me one positive contribution Republicans have made. There are none.

    April 18, 2010 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  3. Kevin Cantu

    So let me get this straight...Obama complains about the Republicans going to Wall Street but yet has his backers there and on the other side the Republicans complain about wall street but yet have meetings with them as well??? I wondering what Wall Street has to say about all of this? Maybe they have already and we're about to get screwed yet again by both parties on Wall Streets behalf...Way to go Democrats and Republicans=) You guys are awesome!

    April 18, 2010 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  4. Alan Greenspan

    The Republican tactic of lying about – well, everything – distracts the focus of discussion from the real issues. If anyone were to really discuss the real issues, the Republican position would be revealed and soundly rejected.

    April 18, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. Liberal4Obama

    mcCONnell and COrNyn went with they hands out asking bankers for campaign money in order to defeat REAL financial reform and replace it with a watered down bill that would change nothing.

    Have republicans no shame?

    April 18, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. Kyle

    Hypothetical conversation:

    McConnell: All 41 republicans are opposed to this bill as written

    Any Journalist: Obama is open to changes what do you propose?

    McConnell: well we have to scrap the bill and start over

    Any Journalist: Start over? this bill has been in comittee for months, why start over now?

    McConnell: Well I'm trying to delay passage, that's what my Wall street cronies told me to do when Cornyn and I met with them, besides Obama can't have a victory.

    Any Journalist: So do you want reform or not?

    McConnell: Yes I want reform but it's going to have to wait untill Republicans are in power we can't allow anything good to happen while Obama is president!

    April 18, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  7. jdmintexas

    Senator Cornyn is the ultimate Republican Machine guy. As a Texan, I would like to apologize to the rest of the nation for sending him to Washington. Our bad.

    April 18, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  8. Henry

    McConnell is not very truthful in his evaluation of the bill. He has twisted the facts.

    April 18, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  9. Checkmate

    Mitch McConnell has to be the most useless minority leader our government has ever had.

    This guy just keeps lying and lying and Fox News covers him up and propagates the lies on behalf of Republicans.

    April 18, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  10. mike

    He is lying through his teeth and Candy tripped him up..he still didnt answer her question why the senator from Texas was there..what a fool dont you think we see through his tactics

    April 18, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. Ron

    The statement orginated during the Reagan presidency "just say no" still is about all the republicans have to offer. Not once during the interview did McConnell suggest alternatives for the legislation. All he could say was "let's go back to the drawing board and start over." He and his partners in the Senate have nothing to offer.

    April 18, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. TheTruthForOnce, NOT BS

    I guess all the politicians should just go home and sit on their keisters because as long as the republicans are around, nothing is going to happen. I don't care if the democrats brought Jesus in to assure them that this was the best thing since he was born. The republicans would still blackball, lowball and say noball to anything the democrats try to do. If the democrats were going to give the republicans a glass of water and the republicans were dying of thirst, the republicans would say NO and start a grass roots tea party to say NO.

    April 18, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. Paul

    McConnell said he's no one is interested in blocking the legislation, and yet McConnell assured his party that he would lead the GOP to opposing Obama's every move before Obama even took office. Now we have EVERY Republican voting against a bill that regulates our financial system, McConnell refusing to explain why he and Cornyn met with Wall Street moguls, and Obama offering to make adjustments to the bill to compromise with the GOP.

    It's obvious who is playing politics here and who is doing the job he was elected to do.

    I agree with one statement the Tea Partiers have said: "VOTE EM ALL OUT!" All the GOP in congress, that is. That entire party is crooked.

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

    McConnell and Cornyn don't care about their constituents – Hard Working Middle Class Americans. All they care about – as is the case with all Republicans is the large corporations and the Rich that line their pockets. They don't care about "Main Street" people!

    They proved this with the Health Care Reform when they sided with the Health Care Industry instead of the people who need the reform. By the way – the CEO of United Health Care just exercised $112M in stock options last year while his company denies people health care to save their lives EVERY HOUR! Isn't he part of the "Death Panels" that the MORON Sarah Palin tells people that don't know any better about????

    Remember: Republicans = Incompetence!

    April 18, 2010 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  15. JWN

    McConnell stutters and lies. End of story.

    April 18, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  16. sensible Cape Coral FL

    All 41 Republican Senators signed a letter indicating that they intend to vote NO on the financial reform bill. Don't any of them have an independent bone in their bodies? Are they afraid of being sent to bed withoput supper? What childishness!

    April 18, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  17. Gary

    It's amazing how people can still take sides in this country. Wall Street banks employ politicians and their relatives as lobbyists and they contribute millions of dollars to their campaigns. Neither party is willing to bite the hand that feeds them so the legislation created will either have no teeth or will have gaping loopholes!

    April 18, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  18. carolyn Molyneaux

    Crowley is one of the few journalists who tries to get an answer to her question when the interviewee avoids doing so one or two times. If pressed, the weakness of the Republicans' position because painfully obvious almost every time.

    April 18, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  19. jbakaregit

    Give me a break, McConnell's counterpart John Boehner in the House did the same thing a month ago, telling Wall Street to "ignore the punk staffers" of the Democrats who thumb their noses at Wall Street.

    What I'm glad about is Obama is calling these folks out early and framing the issue before the GOP & their network media cabal can get their lies and talking points straight. Wall Street nearly tanked the world economy, and we can't afford for this reform to founder.

    Even McConnell's hometown newspaper called his lies and put them put them on the wall for all to read about.

    April 18, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  20. Doug - Dallas

    It's so obvious that McConnell is lying anyone can see it including the Republicans. Wall Street doesn't want any restrictions on their business and the Republicans will do their best to make sure that does not happen. Yeah, they really have the American public's best interests in mind. By the way, they have some swamp land that's for sale and they're gonna push it in November.

    April 18, 2010 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  21. Harry in Texas

    Would anyone be surprised or astonished that a politician never answered the question. Of course Senator Cronyone was there to ensure that if the Repugnicans opposed the legislation, they would have enough account information to funnel their bribes to the Repugnican party.

    April 18, 2010 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  22. James in Wisconsin

    Based on these comments, it appears that all of you believe the problems can all be traced back to the repulicans. WAKE UP AMERICA!!!! OPEN YOUR EYES before you speak. Any Senator or Congressmen that has been in office for more than 8 years is the problem. And the problems started with you, me and everyone else who voted. Most people are not intelligent enough to vote on the issues but would rather on the slogans, familar names or simply based on which canidate is supported by their favorite actor. Then there is even the less intelligent ones who vote strictly down party lines. The problem didn't start with the republicans and diffenently won't be solved by the democrats. Both parties stink from the core and the only way out of the mess we are in is by cleaning house.

    April 18, 2010 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  23. Barbara Independent in NY

    A closed door meeting between Wall Street leaders and top Republicans...hmmm. Could it be that they were discussing ways to regulate Wall Street and help the American middle class? Probably not. It seems that the usual suspects are still up to no good. Why anyone would vote for the current crop of Republicans is something I just can't figure out.

    April 18, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  24. toughlove

    This president strikes me as very manipulative and unpresidential. I could be wrong but in my lifetime I do not remember a president doing things like calling out Fox news or being condescending like he was w McCain at the healthcare summit. Even if u agree w his policies, doesn't it strike anyone else as unbecoming?

    April 18, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  25. edede

    STOP LYING MCCONNELL! It's a simple question. Why were you at the meeting?

    April 18, 2010 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
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