Senator Warren bashes Paul Manafort, Goldman Sachs, and Gary Cohn

Julia La Roche

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) ripped into the revolving door of lobbyists and Wall Streeters in Washington D.C., calling out President Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort, former Goldman Sachs president, and former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn.

Warren joined Yahoo Finance’s Jen Rogers on “The Final Round” on Tuesday to tout a new piece of legislation called the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act that would “eliminate both the appearance and the potential for financial conflicts of interest.”

She pointed to the Paul Manafort trial as a “perfect example” of what this legislation would aim to stop. On Tuesday, former Trump campaign manager Manafort was found guilty charges of tax evasion and bank fraud. He was found guilty on 8 out of 18 charges against him. 

“One of the things that is in this anti-corruption bill is that foreign governments should not be able to hire American lobbyists to lobby Washington on their behalf, you know, they’re just like some really poisonous things. We can say, ‘we’re just not going to do that,'” Warren said. “If foreign governments want to influence Washington, let them use their diplomatic corps. That’s what it’s there for. But it’s one more example of how money rules Washington, money shouts in Washington, money screeches in Washington, money commands in Washington.” 

Warren, who’d like to see the Citizens United decision overturned, said she’d like to make some strong changes at it relates to campaign finance contributions. 

“The influence of money in this town is huge, so that we now have a government that works really well for the wealthy and the well-connected, but it’s not working for the people. So that’s what all of these reforms that I’ve put together are all about,” Warren added. 

Turning to Wall Street, she said that there’s a “problem” of people doing a stint in government.

“No one can know whether they’re really working on behalf of the public interest or they’re working on behalf of themselves,” Warren said.

She pointed to Cohn as an example, slamming him for supporting tax reform. 

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) delivers a major policy speech on “Ending corruption in Washington” at the National Press Club, Washington, U.S., August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

“So there’s Gary Cohn. He’s on his way out the door to go become Donald Trump’s top economic advisor, to push through a tax bill. That’s his principal job. I mean, he said so.  So what does he get on the way out the door from Goldman Sachs? A quarter of a billion dollar gift. Think about that. And then he goes and pushes through a tax bill that helps who? Well, Goldman Sachs has more than a quarter of a billion dollars in savings on their taxes in the first quarter. You know, that’s a great return on investment for Goldman Sachs. But for the American people, who are actually paying Gary Cohn’s salary, it is not such a great return on investment.” 

She accused the bank of doing a “pre-bribe” because of Cohn’s 872,712 shares of Goldman Sachs (GS). Cohn had been at the firm for more than 25 years, rising up the ranks to the c-suite. 

“So for example, if Goldman Sachs had said to Gary Cohn — and everybody similarly situated — ‘look, you want to go and teach in a rural school, we’ll make this quarter of a billion dollars available to you. You want to go and join the Peace Corps and help people around the world, we’ll make this quarter of a billion dollars available to you.’ But that’s not what they said. They said, ‘you go to this one job where you will be in a position to write tax laws that will profoundly affect us. Oh, and by the way, everybody else in the country — and for that, here’s a quarter of a billion dollars. I hope we’re all still friends.’ No. That’s just not right.”

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.