Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the chair of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, has been accused of being soft on FTX CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, a generous donor to the DNC. Waters notably posed for photos with Bankman-Fried in November and on Dec. 2 thanked him for his “candid … discussions about what happened at FTX.”
On Dec. 7, CNBC accused Waters of shielding Bankman-Fried by not forcing him to testify before a congressional committee.
Waters denied the accusation in a strongly worded tweet:
Bankman-Fried was at the helm when FTX reportedly lost billions in a few weeks and was scheduled to appear before a bipartisan committee on Tuesday. However, an unexpected move by the Department of Justice — the indictment and arrest of Bankman-Fried — made that impossible.
The hearing to discuss the collapse of FTX went forward as scheduled. However, Water’s objectivity was again brought into question when she apparently attempted to close the hearing early by summarizing closing comments and not allowing a Republican lawmaker to comment.
Waters contends she was trying to guard the day’s heavy meeting schedule and that not calling on Rep. Lance Goodwin (R-TX) was inadvertent.
Video of the exchange shows Waters trying to wrap up the meeting, saying: “I would like to enter into the record the closing statements from Ranking Member [Patrick] McHenry [R-NC] and myself.”
But Waters had not yet called on Goodwin to speak. He politely interrupted Waters to ensure he would receive an opportunity to comment:
“Chairwoman Waters, Chairwoman Waters,” Goodwin said. “I’ve not had an opportunity to testify –- to question the witness.”
At that point, an aide whispered something into Water’s ear. The chairwoman then attempted to finish her closing comment without acknowledging Goodwin.
Goodwin interjected again, this time more forcefully: “Chairwoman Waters,” he said. “Parliamentary inquiry?”
Looking perturbed, Waters responded, “Yes?”
Goodwin asked: “Are all members entitled to question witnesses?”
“You are!” Waters replied curtly. Implying that continuing discussion on the matter would negatively impact other scheduled meetings, Waters said: “If you would like to miss the votes on the floor for–-“
Goodwin interrupted Waters: “Hey, it’s the chairwoman’s prerogative to call a recess.”
“Just one moment, please!” Waters said.
“That’s your decision, not mine,” Goodwin poked.
Seeing there was no procedural way to move forward as planned, Waters conceded: “You may go right ahead and have five minutes.”
Goodwin offers a “Thank you.”
Water’s reply had an edge: “You’re certainly welcome, sir.”
The DOJ has charged Bankman-Fried with eight counts, including conspiracy, wire fraud and allegedly misappropriating billions in customer funds, leading to the collapse of the $30 billion crypto empire.
According to ZeroHedge, the government’s indictment notes Bankman-Fried conspired “to defraud customers of FTX.com by misappropriating those customers’ deposits and using those deposits to pay expenses and debts of Alameda Research.”
An excerpt from the indictment reads:
[SBF] willfully and knowingly did combine, conspire, confederate, and agree together and with each other to commit offenses against the United States by engaging in violations of federal law involving the making, receiving, and reporting of a contribution, donation, or expenditure, in violation of Title 52, United States Code, Sections 30109(d) (1) (A) & (0).
[SBF] did defraud the United States, and an agency thereof, by impairing, obstructing, and defeating the lawful functions of a department and agency of the United States through deceitful and dishonest means, to wit, the Federal Election Commission’s function to administer federal law concerning source and amount restrictions in federal elections…
Famed Georgetown University law professor Jonathan Turley noted the suspicious nature of the indictment’s timing, given that Bankman-Fried was scheduled to testify before Waters’ committee. Turley posted on his website:
“The arrest of Sam Bankman-Fried yesterday was sudden and unexpected in light of Bankman-Fried’s plan to testify before Congress. As a criminal defense attorney, my reaction to the arrest last night remains unchanged: this is the first time that I can recall where prosecutors moved aggressively to stop a defendant from making self-incriminating statements. His testimony would have been entirely admissible and likely devastating at trial…
Turley added: “I previously wrote how Bankman-Fried was doing harm to his case by speaking in the media and to Congress. So why would the Justice Department move to stop the self-inflicted damage? You have a major target who was about to voluntarily testify for hours..
That is ordinarily a dream for prosecutors, but the Justice Department moved quickly to prevent that from happening. At that stage, Bankman-Fried was not charged or in custody. He was not protected by Miranda or other constitutional rules from self-incriminating statements…
“Indeed, some of us had already warned that he was causing himself considerable damage in making such statements. This was a defendant with a large legal team facing possible criminal charges who seemed eager to speak about his actions and motivations. Most prosecutors would sit back, make popcorn, and watch this unfold.”
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