April 28th, 2010
02:34 PM ET
12 years ago

Bill Clinton questions if Goldman Sachs broke law

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/28/art.bill0428.gi.jpg caption="Bill Clinton is giving embattled investment bank Goldman Sachs the benefit of the doubt. Sort of."]
Washington (CNN) - Bill Clinton is giving embattled investment bank Goldman Sachs the benefit of the doubt. Sort of.

The former president, who spoke Wednesday at a Peterson Foundation summit on the nation's fiscal plight, said he is "not at all sure that they did violate the law."

Goldman is facing fraud charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The government claims that Goldman failed to disclose key information when selling a complex mortgage security in 2007. The firm is accused of failing to disclose the participation of a hedge fund in creating an investment that was doomed to fail.

"These Goldman guys are mad because they think they were targeted," Clinton told CBS anchor Bob Schieffer, who served as the questioner during the Clinton session.
At the same time, Clinton questioned the broader social utility of the investment at issue in the Goldman case – known as a derivative.

"If you're a farmer in east Arkansas, you want to hedge against the prospect that you'll have a bad crop year," Clinton said. "That has legitimate economic purposes. What purpose was served by this?"

Executives of Goldman, which vigorously denies the SEC charges, were berated Tuesday by lawmakers in a day-long hearing on Capitol Hill. The Senate is locked in a partisan fight over legislation to overhaul the rules of Wall Street, and how to regulate derivatives is a key bone of contention. Democrats' effort to begin debate on the bill failed Wednesday for the third time in as many days.

Filed under: Bill Clinton
soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Whether they broke the law or not, it is completely valid and 100% useful to grill them on what happened, what they did, what they should and shouldn't have done, etc., so we can right laws that prevent it from happening in the future. The "with hunt" talking point is completely and utterly retarded and misses the entire point of the hearings. If no laws were broken...and we'll find out whether any really were...the law still needs to be written to impose very strict fidiuciary duties on these jokers to prevent them from acting on or, like they did here, even creating a conflict of interest between themselves and their clientelle. What they did is patently absurd and unethical.

    April 28, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  2. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    You go Bill throw them dirty dogs in jail .

    April 28, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. Angus McDugan

    Ohhhhh... The elaborate tango of Goldman Sachs and Obama continues.

    Step 1: Agree with Goldman Sachs to hang them out to dry in public to gain public support for the Wall Street take over by Obama.

    Step 2: Pass Wall Street takeover by Obama.

    Step 3: Realize that the people who benefit by the financial regulation are Goldman Sachs.

    Step 4: Obama and his Wall Street buddies have drinks and laugh at how smart they are and how easily they tricked the American people.

    April 28, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. phoenix86

    That depends on what the definition of "did" is....

    April 28, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Insanity!

    Does anyone really care what Bill Clinton thinks on this issue? I don't.
    His daughter was snugly set up in her first "job" after graduation as a
    Wall Street gamer. People on the "inside" are no longer capable of making decisions that are in the best interests of the country as a whole. They need to just load their saddlebags with as much loot as they can and ride off into the sunset.

    April 28, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. totolitoto

    Bill is right.

    GS CEO said today at the senate comitee "I did not have any relationship with this fabrice Toure ".

    April 28, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  7. rachel

    How does this question with goldman sachs broke the law?

    April 28, 2010 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |

    Hmmm.... I've got the SAME QUESTION about several of Bill Clinton's shading dealings and "rough treatment" of women!

    April 28, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "What purpose was served by this?"

    You know...like when you're putting all kinds of money down on something succeeding and doing well, you also want to simultaneously put tons of money on it doing poorly...wait, no, that sounds crazy....ummmm....let's try it this way: who DOESN'T want their investment managing firm to be betting against the securities they convinced you to bet on? It's just a no-brainer....we need for at least someone to be making money on it if someone else is losing money, right? Wait wait wait...that still doesn't make sense....

    Newsflash: This derivative crap is gambling trash. It serves NO societal purpose. It is merely a way for people who are already rich to make useless bets AGAINST the success of companies and valid securities in the market, thereby avoiding placing their money back in the economic flow. Derivatives, for all you trickle-down daydreamers out there who support GS and Wall Street and the "free market" deregulatory nightmare, are a means of preventing money from ever "trickling down." It helps the already wealthy consolidate their welath and turn it into more wealth WITHOUT REALLY PLACING THAT MONEY BACK IN THE ECONOMY. It's an insurance gamble. What amuses me most is that the ultra-conservatives who yell and scream about casino gambling being a sin, etc., think it's freekin dandy when Wall Street invents transactions to do the same thing and purposefully makes them so complicated that it's hard to discern that it's just plain old gambling at its core.

    April 28, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  10. MSjb

    That's great, Bill, your opinion means a lot, and as always, your down-home rhetoric warms the cockles of my heart...I seem to recall it was during your administration that the banks were de-regulated in the first place.

    April 28, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    If you're a farmer in east Arkansas, you want to hedge against the prospect that you'll have a bad crop year," Clinton said. "That has legitimate economic purposes. What purpose was served by this?"

    If people really knew what this statement meant, then they would understand why Wall Street needs reform. When a farmer can stay in business, then there is a long line of jobs that are saved. In addtion to manufacturing jobs being saved, there is that something call GDP to which the farmer is contributing. If that's not enough justification, then think about how the farmer helps keep our food cost lower than most of the world. And oh BTW, the farmer helps this country export goods, which in turn bring cash flow into our economy.

    And a derivative for Wall Street, just a gambling bet that the rich can place to try to get richer.

    There are good people on Wall Street who provide good services, but power and greed infiltrates every part of society. In this case, the people and other victims don't have the power to control the greedy and political influential.

    Pass Wall Street Reform

    April 28, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  12. Say Heil NO to NAZI RepubliKKKlans

    Bill Clinton will know sooo much about derivatives and hedge funds trading considering the FACT that his daughter Chelsea and his soon to be son-in-law are WALL STREETS investment bankers making minimum 100 grand per annum plus mouth-watering bonuses and incentives!

    Btw, most of Bill Clinton 8yr rein in office were supported by RepubliKKKlan controlled congress that were in the deep pockets of FAT CATS WALL STREET executives and they enacted laws to please their buddies on WALL STREET...instead of ordinary Americans on main street such as deregulation and NAFTA....the free trade business jargon that is causing most American jobs to be shipped overseas while investment bankers trade on mere speculation of economic conditions called derivatives at the expense of their investors and smilling to the bank with multi-million dollars paycheck at the detriment of the American economy, investors and tax payers!!!

    WALL STREET BILL CLINTON...follow the money. it's in the family of the CLINTON!s!!!!

    April 28, 2010 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. Ramses

    There are crooks in every walk of life. The wall street, Banks, big corporation, rich & poor & even the Governament slip thru the loop hole. But ordinary good & decent people follow the law, pay taxes. They are used, misused & abused. I do not believe GS broke the law. Where were the watch dogs? watching Porn movies?

    April 28, 2010 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  14. FL

    Bill has broken more laws than he should have been allowed. Who is he to question anyone else?

    April 28, 2010 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  15. Beer lover

    Maybe the warm beer tore him apart, why are hearing about this now ?

    April 28, 2010 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  16. Ron in California

    Is a derivative illelgal? Depends on what the definition if is.....is.

    April 28, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  17. D.

    Populism is not change we wanted! Enough with this popular nonsense (blame wall st. for our economy to get the unemployed vote, blame Republicans for anti-immigration to get the hispanic votes, and so on.. it will not work, all this nonsense has happened on your watch!!!!)

    the Democrats are the party of "show"!

    April 28, 2010 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. Phillippe

    Selling deals to others that your own company thinks and states are "sh-y" may be legal but is it ethical. Well as the movie Wall Street said, "Greed is good." These suits profit without ethics while the housing market crashed, people were evicted and jobless, and the economy tanks. Did they care? You bettcha "no," as the Republicans say.

    April 28, 2010 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  19. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Bill's right, Goldman Sachs didn't break the law because they have their own laws.

    April 28, 2010 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  20. Four and The Door

    I suppose these liberal posters here will suggest Bill Clinton is on Wall Street's payroll too? yeah, okay...it's all a conspiracy and that's why you too are not a millionaire.

    April 28, 2010 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Whether or not they actually violated the law, I will never again consider dealing with them. They are dishonorable, disloyal, unethical, and disgusting. They are perfect Republicans or Tea Party members.

    April 28, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  22. co citizen

    Who cares what he has to say. One day, I sincerely hope he wakes up and accepts the fact that his presidency ended on Jan. 20, 2001. I am sure President Obama and Secretary Clinton wish he would keep his thoughts to himself when it comes to actions taken by the Obama administration. It does not surprise me that he is giving Goldman a pass. After all it was during the Clinton administration, with its full backing, that deregulation of wall street began leading to the economic mess we are in today

    April 28, 2010 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  23. Obama the liar

    Poor sniffit, how do you thinf George Sosos got all his money?? The RICH liberal bet against Englands money and now 3..2..1.. Profited from it to fund his socialist agenda.

    April 28, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  24. CNN is the devil

    What purpose was served by this? The pockets of goldman execs became fatter, that's the purpose.

    April 28, 2010 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  25. Chipster

    Excuse me, Angus, but the bailout was on George W. Bush's watch, signed by him on October 2008. So you simply have no clue what you're talking about! The auto industry bailout was also signed by Bush in December 2008 so you people who keep claiming that this was Obama's bailout and Wall Street connection are wrong, wrong, wrong. Did you sleep through Bush Administration?

    That said, I've yet to hear any of you come up with a better idea – one that wouldn't end in a complete collapse of the U.S. Treasury and a 2nd Great Depression.

    April 28, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
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