What Really Happened Between Barack and the Bankers

Politico has a dramatic inside account of the White House meetings between the president of the United States and the heads of our biggest banks:

The bankers struggled to make themselves clear to the president of the United States.

Arrayed around a long mahogany table in the White House state dining room last week, the CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world offered several explanations for paying high salaries to their employees – and, by extension, to themselves.

“These are complicated companies,” one CEO said. Offered another: “We’re competing for talent on an international market.”

But President Barack Obama wasn’t in a mood to hear them out. He stopped the conversation, and offered a blunt reminder of the public’s reaction to such explanations. “Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that.”

“My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

The fresh details of the meeting – some never before revealed – come from an account provided to POLITICO by one of the participants. A second source inside the meeting confirmed the details, and two other sources familiar with the meeting offered additional information.


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