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Warren questions bank lobbyist’s ‘inappropriate’ involvement in Trump order

“The President may have signed a presidential memorandum that was heavily influenced by industry lobbyists.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). CREDIT: Ron Sachs /CNP/MediaPunch/IPX
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). CREDIT: Ron Sachs /CNP/MediaPunch/IPX

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is raising questions about whether a financial industry lobbyist was “inappropriately” involved in helping to craft a recent industry-friendly executive order issued by President Trump.

Earlier this month, Trump signed an order aimed at rolling back a new rule propagated by the Obama administration that would require financial advisers to put their clients’ interests ahead of their own. Trump instructed the Department of Labor, which issued the rule, to consider rescinding or revising it within 90 days.

According to a report by NPR station WSHU, Francis Creighton, a lobbyist with the pro-Wall Street group Financial Services Roundtable (FSR) that has adamantly opposed the rule, reviewed drafts of Trump’s order and made recommendations on it. Neither FSR nor the White House could be reached by ThinkProgress for further explanation or comment.

On Tuesday, Warren sent out letters to the White House, Department of Labor, and FSR about the report, saying it “raises questions about the influence of Wall Street on the Trump Administration, and about whether Administration officials may have inappropriately consulted with industry lobbyists during the process of developing President Trump’s most recent executive orders and memorandums.”

“As a presidential candidate, President Trump promised to oppose policies that ‘have been so good for Wall Street investors… but unfair to American workers,’” she writes. She argues that this rule reneges on that promise by potentially allowing brokers to steer their clients into more costly or less effective investments and thereby enrich themselves. This practice has been estimated to cost Americans $17 billion a year.

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“It is troubling that the President would halt a common-sense rule designed to protect middle-class investors,” Warren’s letter continues. “But I am even more concerned that the President may have signed a presidential memorandum that was heavily influenced by industry lobbyists.” She noted that Creighton’s role is not entirely clear, and it is not known whether any other lobbyists may have been involved in drafting this or other orders.

Warren has recently sent a flurry of correspondence over who has been involved in crafting Trump’s Wall Street-related policies.

Warren and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a letter last week to Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein asking him to disclose whether any of his employees were involved in drafting the fiduciary duty order, along with another order that puts in motion plans to undo the Dodd-Frank post-crisis financial reforms, saying both “will directly benefit the company.”

Another letter sent from Warren to National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn questioned his involvement in these orders because of his previous 25-year career at Goldman Sachs and the $285 million payout he got from his former employer.

Ethics experts have raised concerns about this payment and the bank’s willingness to let Cohn cash out stock now that would normally be locked up for a period of time. “The Goldman Sachs cash and stock payments present a serious ethics issue,” Lawrence Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, told CNNMoney at the time. “This type of payment clearly calls into question whose interests Mr. Cohn will be representing as director of the National Economic Council.” He said the payment appears to be enough that Cohn should recuse himself from any matter to which Goldman Sachs is a party.