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. Lynne CA

    Here's an opinion from Main St.:

    Regulate and disclose the hell out of the financial industry especially private equity funds, hedge funds, derivitives, and short selling.

    April 18, 2010 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  2. SaintGenesius

    McConnell is lying. I have been in those meetings with members of congress and lobbyists during a previous life where I was a communications consultant.

    There is simply no reason for two senior congressional leaders to meet with ANYONE if it is not a strategy session or fundraising session, period.

    McConnell has been caught –he is an obstructionist as is Cornyn. That is the long and short of it.

    Let's remember, it was these bankers along with the politics of the GOP that brought about the financial disaster we've all been living with for nearly two years.

    It was GOP dogma that got us into this and it will be Democrats who will have to get us out.

    April 18, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  3. Scott

    The Republican Party has supported big money/ big business for the past 60 years! Why should they stop their routine now? They have always gone against the working average American citizen. The zebra can't change his strips and become a horse. I think we should "repeal and replace" the Republican Party this November.

    April 18, 2010 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  4. drew

    This is going to be a real test of GOP double-speak. How can McConnell and Cornyn delay this bill, as their Wall Street benefactors have required, and deny Obama a victory, as their party requires, without looking like bought-and-paid -for obstructionists? That whole "let's go back to the drawing board" ploy is starting to wear pretty thin, especially as the politics of this one just aren't on their side. Good luck, you goobers.

    April 18, 2010 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  5. mb-texas

    41 Senate Republicans of the same mind,they must be cloned.
    It is scary they only delay or oppose everything that the Democrats
    try to pass even when the bill has Republican ideals included.\Senator Croyn is another story.

    April 18, 2010 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  6. Perusing-through


    . . . for sticking up for the American taxpayer and not allowing weasel-hypocritical politicians off the hook with their back-door Wall Street deals that continue to pad the pockets of Billionaires (who effectively pay no taxes) at the expense of the middle-class taxpayers.

    Love you Candy. You are my new Sunday morning cable news hero.

    April 18, 2010 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    That Super-Senator from Mass. was trying to get a journalist to explain the bill to him. HA.

    He's ready to follow leading liar turtle-face to vote against the good of the people – ALL people – even Mass. Vote him out – he doesn't even know as much as I do about all their illegal shenanigans on wall street.

    April 18, 2010 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  8. Michael F

    Wow! What a deceptive healine. McConnell did anything BUT explain the meeting. He repeatedly refused to actually explain the meeting and Cornyn's reason being there. Yet another example of the "liberal bias" of the mainstream media.

    April 18, 2010 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  9. David from Wisconsin

    How about some transparency from the GOP on this? Why was the meeting closed?

    April 18, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  10. Perusing-through


    Has anyone seen Mitch McConnell nose lately? It is up to six feet long and still growing.

    April 18, 2010 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  11. Realist

    Cornyn was there to see what Wall Street would pay the Republicans to let them destroy the world economy again. The GOP just put the U.S. up for sale again. I'm guess it wasn't a very high price either. The GOP thinks America is stupid.

    April 18, 2010 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  12. Todd

    Sounds like the good old gop promised to filibuster in return for unlimited campaign cash. Plain and simple conservative business as usual.

    April 18, 2010 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  13. Carmelle

    Republicans (Sen Shelby, and Cocker) were at the drawing board and they STILL are against it! They pulled out at the last minute. That $50Bill pool was a bipartisan idea AT THE DRAWING BOARD...and now they are against it.

    Please, you are not insulting the President repubs...YOU ARE INSULTING US!

    April 18, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  14. Steve in Oregon

    I wish Candy Crowley would have asked Senator McConnell how much money he has received in the past year from the financial services lobby in Washington.

    April 18, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Pretty partisan postings! But it would be hard for the Republicans or conservatives to read the article, hear what transpired and spin it to make Obama the bad guy.
    Without making threats or backroom deals, it would be impossible to get every Republican to continually say they oppose every proposal by Democrats.
    Sheep- it's time to grow up then stand up to your party's bullies.

    April 18, 2010 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. Peter Tuths

    Man, McConnell is doing some serious question dodging here.

    Anyone think its laughably absurd for this guy to say the he thinks Democrats aren't being bipartisan enough in regards to this bill?

    A member of the current Republican leadership complains about someone else being partisan, and does so with a straight-face. My god.... do conservatives have no souls?

    On a side note, I really enjoyed how McConnell laughed non-stop through the interview, and that it seemed in no way obviously forced and meant as an attempt to be non-nonchalant about these accusations, and shrug-them off as preposterous. What a casual, everyday guy.

    -And then he hopped on his Jet plane literally made of one-hundred dollar bills, compliments of Wall Street Executives and Lobbyists, and hovered off to his Aquatic deep-sea mansion-

    April 18, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  17. Jim

    Why don't the Republicans prove they want reform by proposing amendments to the bill? Even during health care, they didn't propose a viable alternative, they were just trying to kill it. If the GOP really wants reform, they should suggest amendments instead of the same old "go back and start over" message they have been using since Obama was elected. I don't think they really want change.

    April 18, 2010 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  18. once upon a horse

    maybe if the media and Democrats would have called these Republicans out earlier on thier lies and misconceptions more people would see what is really going on here. Hats off to Candy and CNN for not givng GOPers "softball" interviews like they get on FoxNews. Maybe more will see what the GOP is doing, offering complaints and disagreements but no solutions to ANYTHING.

    April 18, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  19. Leo

    If Obama said the volcano in Iceland was causing the airline problems in Europe, the republicans would go out of their way to prove him wrong. Can't they just one time, only one time try to work with the President instead of always fighting against him? And they think they are going to retake the congress in the fall...fat chance of that with a party of NO!!!

    April 18, 2010 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  20. Scott

    Cornyn was there to talk aboutmid-term Senate election $$$$. If they were there to talk about the bill they would have brought Corker who is helping to kraft the bill or at least some other committee member.

    April 18, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  21. LRonHoover

    McConnell should spend a little more time rehearsing in front of the mirror before he puts on a show like that. He was about as believable as Reagan talking about the Iran Contra scandal or Clinton talking about his cigar collection.

    April 18, 2010 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  22. doight

    If you play poker you could see that McConnell was lying.

    April 18, 2010 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  23. If We Can Defeat Him On Healthcare, It Will Be His Waterloo

    Mitch and his republican cronies will do everything they can to prevent regulation of hedge funds. It was a quid pro quo meeting and Mitch got caught with his pants down.

    April 18, 2010 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  24. Recreator

    I repeat the mantra!

    Wait, what was the issue? Oh, I'm a Republican, the President is for this. Then the answer must be no.

    April 18, 2010 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  25. Sean the thinker

    Can anyone help me, I have been searching endlessly for this story on FOX news but I can't seem to find it. Can anyone please help me?

    April 18, 2010 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
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