May 15, 2017

Trump names pro-bank Comptroller without Senate confirmation

Vanity Fair - Donald Trump has promised his friends in the banking industry that he will gut financial regulations. But one thing that’s prevented him from doing so, thus far, has been the head of the Office of the Comptroller, Thomas Curry, who was appointed by Barack Obama and was thus a killjoy who made it his job—because it kind of was his job—to impose tough rules and big fines for wrongdoing in the industry. It was clear, given Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchnin’s pledge to unshackle Wall Street from financial-crisis-era regulations, that Curry not only had to go, but be replaced by someone with a more friendly relationship with the banks, like [Keith] Noreika.

Unfortunately, there was a problem with the longtime financial services attorney: Noreika, who reportedly worked closely with the same Wall Street companies that are overseen by the O.C.C., would have to be approved by the Senate—a process that would involve airing all of Noreika’s financial conflicts of interest. So the Trump administration devised a plan to avoid that particular obstacle. Per Bloomberg:
Noreika’s transition from representing banks to overseeing them came courtesy of a quick two-step. He was made “first deputy” at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a designation that ensured he would ascend to the top job once it opened. Then the administration ousted Thomas Curry...Just like that, Noreika became acting comptroller. While the OCC says Noreika has mitigated potential conflicts, there’s been no public disclosure of an ethics agreement or his former clients.

Once Noreika assumed his post on midnight May 5, President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin gained a needed ally in their push to undo financial regulations, an effort that has started slowly because Obama holdovers still lead key agencies.

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