Well, at least nobody told her to sit down this time.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who was a driving force in creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau before being elected to the Senate, was expected to be among the most informed and vocal of Wilbur Ross’s critics in confirmation debates and she did not disappoint earlier today.
“Mr. Ross is a Wall Street billionaire with a long history of profiting from the suffering of others,” said Warren, opening her remarks on the Senate floor. “He also has shady ties to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. That’s just his record. And because of that record, I do not have confidence that he will protect the interests of the American people as Secretary of Commerce.”
Warren then read chapter and verse on everything we know about the Trump Administration’s seemingly endless ties to Putin and listed Ross as one of the primary players in those cozy relationships.
“In this context, Mr. Ross’s connections to Russia raise dangerous issues. We know that Ross installed a former KGB official and close associate of Vladimir Putin as the vice-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus, a bank that Mr. Ross controlled and a bank that was flooded with Russian money.
“How closely connected was this former KGB official to Vladimir Putin? Here’s one hint: He was so closely connected to Putin that he was given $100 million dollar payout by a Russian-controlled mining company as a golden parachute. And he wasn’t even the only Putin pal on Mr. Ross’ board. That’s right. Mr. Ross wanted the bank he controlled to have multiple board members from Putin’s inner circle.”
The Massachusetts Senator then reviewed how normal this has all become with Trump’s cabinet nominees.
“We’ve never seen a cabinet like this in history. Like many of President Trump’s other nominees and like President Trump himself, this nominee seems to see his time in public service as a chance to increase his own wealth. In other words, on any given deal, he might be working for the American people or he might just be working for himself. We will have no way to know.
“There is significant reason to believe that the President of the United States has substantial financial ties with Russia, but nobody actually knows any of the details because he has failed to reveal his tax returns. And now President Trump expects the Senate to rubber stamp his nomination of a top banker to Vladimir Putin’s buddies to run the Commerce Department of the United States.”
Warren saved the best for last by revealing that Ross has long been the leader of a Wall Street “Secret Society” — his official title within this little fraternity is the “Grand Swipe” — that gathers to both commiserate on their shabby public image and to poke fun at the very people they routinely victimize.
“Ross ran a secret club of top Wall Street tycoons called Kappa Beta Phi. I am not making this up. It is actually true,” said Warren. “So he runs this secret club which apparently gathers every year to get drunk and entertain themselves by putting on off-color skits that make fun of the millions of Americans they’ve swindled over the years.”
I can’t believe that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t jump up and protect his buddies after that one. But even if he had, Warren would undoubtedly have persisted. Here’s the full video of her floor speech.