After using Goldman Sachs as a punching bag for his campaign, sharply criticizing his political opponents for ties to the investment bank, Donald Trump has taken unprecedented steps to appoint former Goldman Sachs attorneys and executives to the upper echelons of government.
It goes far beyond what’s been reported. Not only is Jay Clayton Trump’s chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, after serving as the attorney who advised the bank during the bailouts of 2008, but new disclosures show that the team Clayton brought with him to oversee the financial market regulator are also former Goldman Sachs attorneys.
The Intercept obtained the ethics disclosure form for Sean Memon, Clayton’s deputy chief of staff, which shows that Memon previously worked for Goldman Sachs, as well as a range of other Wall Street clients, including Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, AIG, MetLife, Ally Financial, and Deutsche Bank.
Last month, Clayton also brought in Steven Peikin as one of two directors of the enforcement division of the SEC, one of the most prominent positions at the agency. Peikin, like Memon, previously served as an attorney to Goldman Sachs and other banks. All three men are former lawyers with Sullivan & Cromwell, arguably the most influential law firm of the 20th Century.
While previous administrations have retained staff with ties to major banks, Trump has turned his administration into somewhat of a Goldman Sachs alumni organization.
Trump’s inner circle consists almost entirely of former Goldman Sachs executives, including his chief political adviser Steve Bannon, his national security adviser Dina Powell, and his top economic advisor Gary Cohn. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin worked at Goldman Sachs for 17 years. Last month, Trump nominated Eric Ueland, a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist, to serve as as the Under Secretary of State, one of the most senior posts in the State Department.
The appointments coincide with Trump advancing a regulatory and tax agenda that is largely identical to the policy demands of the financial services industry.
In June, the Treasury Department released a report outlining a new wave of prospective deregulation, including loosening capital requirement standards imposed after the 2008 financial crisis and gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ability to police financial institutions. The tax reform priorities of the administration, which include lowering the corporate income tax rate and creating a tax holiday for overseas corporate earnings, are strongly shared by the leading figures on Wall Street, including Goldman Sachs’s Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein.