A man carries an umbrella in the rain as he passes the New York Stock Exchange on Oct. 16, 2014.
Brendan McDermid/Reuters

Ignoring promises, Trump taps Wall Street lawyer to oversee Wall Street

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump led his followers to believe he had no use for Wall Street and its corrupt ways. In fact, the Republican went out of his way to tell voters that it was Hillary Clinton who was far too cozy with the financial industry.

Clinton, Trump said, is “nothing more than a Wall Street puppet.” Her campaign is “paid for by her bosses on Wall Street,” he added. The public was told that Clinton is “owned by Wall Street,” “is in [the] pocket of Wall Street,” and is “bought and paid for by Wall Street.”

If voters actually believed the rhetoric and supported Trump in order to limit Wall Street’s influence, they made an unwise decision.
President-elect Donald Trump decided on Wednesday to select Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. […]

Clayton, who has worked on high-profile initial public offerings, including that of Alibaba Group, met with Trump last month. He is a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, who specializes in public and private mergers and offerings. Clayton has also advised several high-net-worth families regarding their investments.
It’s probably worth emphasizing that the Securities and Exchange Commission has a variety of responsibilities, but one of its principal functions is regulating and overseeing Wall Street.

In other words, Donald Trump, who spent months railing against the influence of the financial industry in Washington, has tapped a Wall Street insider to oversee Wall Street.

If you bought into the whole “drain the swamp” nonsense, I have some very bad news for you.

The Washington Post added that Clayton, who has no background in public service, “has represented some of the biggest names on Wall Street, including Goldman Sachs and Barclays, and helped them weather regulatory scrutiny.”

It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. As we discussed a month ago, during the Republican presidential primaries, for example, one of Trump’s most common attacks against Sen. Ted Cruz was blasting the Republican senator’s ties to – you guessed it – Goldman Sachs. “Is Cruz honest?” Trump asked in January. “He is in bed w/ Wall St. & is funded by Goldman Sachs.” Trump added, “Goldman Sachs owns [Cruz], he will do anything they demand. Not much of a reformer!”

In the general election, the fact that Hillary Clinton once gave a speech to Goldman Sachs was, somewhat inexplicably, also a popular line of attack – with Trump claiming the investment giant has “total control” over her.

Now, however, we see a very different side of Trump. Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s choice for Treasury Secretary, is a Goldman Sachs veteran. Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief White House strategist,is a Goldman Sachs veteran. Gary Cohn, who’s been offered the directorship of Trump’s National Economic Council, is the president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs.

And now the Republican president-elect, whom some in the media still characterize as a “populist,” wants a Goldman Sachs attorney to oversee the financial industry.

The nature of Trump’s election-year con is complex, but it’s hard not to wonder what his die-hard, working-class followers would have said before the election if they knew what he’d do after winning.