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. Harriett in Chapel Hill

    The Party of NO will continue to lie and obstruct. Nothing new here, move along. I DO thank Candy for finally acting like a journalist and not allowing MM to keep avoiding her question. More, please!

    April 18, 2010 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. Siara

    It comes as no surprise that the GOP is against this reform, given the on-going hissy fit that they have been throwing ever since Obama got elected. It would be nice to see some of them approving, some of them disapproving, and most at various points in the middle. But then we don't see a lot of independent thought coming out of the GOP lately, do we? The leaders call the shots and everyone obeys.

    April 18, 2010 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  3. Bob Pacific Grove, Ca

    Even Crowley put McConnell to shame........Talk about totally pathetic!!! The GOP is living in a fantasy land if they think they're going to take back Congress this November with NO plan to reign in and regulate the Wall Street bankers who got our economy into this financial catastrophe......

    April 18, 2010 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  4. Sue- in Penna.

    McConnell got 1.4 million from Wall St. He never going to vote for
    any thing that has to do Wall St until they stop pading his pocket . He is a thieve when it come to the American people.

    April 18, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  5. Erik

    McConnell is a typical example of republicans waging a war against ANY policy proposed by the current administration. Their goal is to not allow Obama to make any progress for the selfish stake in their political party. This is a tactic that both parties have used for years. The really sad thing is, they would sacrifice the future of our great country for the success of their insignificant party.

    Our two party system is no longer in America's best interest. I still define America as for the people, not corporations and interest groups.

    April 18, 2010 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  6. Rob Hermans Philly

    I am ashamed to say that I was a Republican for a long time ... the truth is – THE TRUTH IS that they had power for 8 years with GW and I don't recall a single piece of legislation except for the Halliburton war in IRAQ – oohh, and the loss of a large number of good folks kids in that war – that Cheyney et al could prosper – Go DEMS ... Thank goodness I quit the GOP – Now that they have the Palin woman – who's IQ and common sense just about match GW ... Please America – wake up and recognize the party of no.

    April 18, 2010 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  7. JR

    Looks like the GOP got their marching orders from Wall Street, great going McConnell, you've sold the country down the drain again.

    April 18, 2010 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  8. Typical!

    As far as Mitch McConnell's desperate attempt to explain his Wall Street meeting is concerned, I will simply quote another Republican, "YOU LIE!"

    April 18, 2010 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  9. Chris

    Start all over again – wasn't that the Republicans' answer for Health Care too? First, they say they're against the bailout provision in the financial reform bill. So the Democrats say they'll take that part out. Now the GOP comes back with take it back to the drawing board. What they really want to do is stop financial reform all together, because they're in Wall Street's back pocket. But they can't come out and say that, because they know the public wants reform after the meltdown. So Republicans do what they always do – obstruct,attack, delay, and mislead.

    April 18, 2010 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  10. Arnie

    Liar, Liar, your pants are on fire!

    April 18, 2010 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  11. melanie in north carolina

    Actually – what I like is seeing someone from CNN finally call out a republican. So many lies and manipulations have been permitted by the fourth branch, we need more standing up to them like this.

    April 18, 2010 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  12. Siara

    Isn't there an old saying..."when two people agree on everything one of them isn't thinking"? In the case of the GOP, 41 people agree on everything. Sad.

    April 18, 2010 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. BillG

    The financial reform bill will be Obama's waterloo. If the GOP fails to block , then it will be the energy bill. They still don't realize that they lost and are in the minority. The GOP idea of bipartisan ship is "do it our way or forget about it". Any fool that votes for a republican in the next election should have their brain examined for any functioning cells.

    April 18, 2010 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  14. The Halls

    How about them Hope, Change thing, now?

    April 18, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  15. Herk

    McConnell lying through his teeth. He says knows no one who wants to block this bill but then all the Republicans are voting NO.
    Thank you Candy. Keep at this bunch of NOgooders.

    April 18, 2010 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    The GOP is really saying is "give us one more chance in office despite 8 years of failure and we'll make sure Wall Street and big Banks continue to screw Americans and that's the alternative we have to offer". Keep calling them out Mr. President, American people need to know who and why these Republicans are meeting with Wall Street and banks, I smell a big rat.

    April 18, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  17. wwf

    Mr. Coleman,
    Could not have said it better myself.

    April 18, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  18. Jacksonville Bill

    This is the same kind of language that McConnell used in his attempt to block health care reform. It's dishonest, and the American public can see right through it.

    April 18, 2010 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  19. NJ Pilot

    Senator McConnell......methinks you doth protest too much! 😉

    April 18, 2010 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  20. Trapped in a red state (please help)

    Nice game of dodge ball, Mitch. I think the title of this article should be changed to "McConnell dodges every question asked about Wall Street meeting with Cornyn." There's not much "explaining" going on here.

    April 18, 2010 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  21. yellowcattail

    I am so tired of Republican obstructionism and reporters giving them a pass.

    April 18, 2010 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  22. Jim

    s opposition to curtailing the excesses of Wall Street is so transparent. But, I suppose he will delude the Tea Partiers once again

    April 18, 2010 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  23. nabster

    He couldn't even answer the question. The fact is that Republicans will never work with President Obama no matter what happens. History will view them as failures.

    April 18, 2010 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  24. Steve51

    Finally the media is asking the tough questions. Journalists are starting to have a conscience? I hope so.

    April 18, 2010 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  25. D. Bunker

    While there's more than a grain of truth to what Kevin said, I think McConnell need to meet with Cornyn to get coordinate their talking points/lies.

    April 18, 2010 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
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