It might have been Valentine’s Day but newly elected Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren showed she still has no love for Wall Street fraudsters, coming out fighting for the little guy after a relatively quiet first month in office.
Warren kicked off her first appearance in a banking committee hearing by grilling regulators during a hearing on “Wall Street Reform: Oversight of Financial Stability and Consumer and Investor Protections.” Witnesses included representatives from the Treasury Department, SEC, and Warren’s own creation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
But Warren did not hold back.
Warren drew applause from the audience when she asked the witnesses to name the last time they’re brought a major financial institution to trial.
None of the regulators present were able to answer that question, with Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry arguing that his agency can often achieve its goals without attending trial.
Warren argued that failing to take banks to trial gives regulators less “leverage” in negotiating future settlements. She also pointed out that U.S. attorneys working on issues outside the financial industry often bring cases to trial on much weaker grounds.
“I want to note that there are district attorneys and U.S. attorneys who are out there everyday squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds and taking them to trial to ‘make an example,’ as they put it,” she told regulators. “I am really concerned that too-big-to-fail has become too-big-for-trial. That just seems wrong to me.”
Watch Warren’s remarks during the hearing below.