President Obama announced a new task force today to investigate the disappearance of the mortgage fraud task force he appointed earlier this year as well as another one he appointed in 2009.
“When duly appointed task forces vanish into thin air without a trace, this administration will not accept it,” the president said. “We expect this new task force, which will be called the Task Force Task Force, to move forcefully to accomplish its task.”
The Task Force Task Force’s mission will be made easier, the president said, because he appointed as one of it’s co-chairs the New York state attorney general, Eric Schneiderman. The New York state attorney general was also appointed co-chair of the mortgage fraud task force, which has not been seen or heard from since the president announced it during his State of the Union speech January 24.
Schneiderman said he would move “quickly” to interview himself as soon as he had a chance to familiarize himself with the circumstances of the disappearance of the mortgage fraud task force.
“We will get to the bottom of this,” Schneiderman pledged.
To show his seriousness, the president said he was reconvening the band of Navy SEALS who worked on the mission to find and kill Ban Laden in Pakistan, and putting them at the service of the Task Force Task Force. “When a group of American citizens go missing in the service of their country, we take it very seriously,” the president said. “One task force vanishing is bad enough, but two?”
Schneiderman refused to be pinned down to a timetable for the investigation. He also refused to comment on his previous insistence that he would “take action” if the mortgage fraud task force was stymied.
Schneiderman also refused to answer specific questions swirling around the mortgage fraud task force, such as why the entire mortgage fraud task force had a mere 50 lawyers when the Enron task force, convened to investigate a previous financial scandal involving a single company, had more than 100 lawyers working on it and why the mortgage fraud task force apparently still doesn’t have office space.
Schneiderman acknowledged that there are some mysteries that may be too deep for the new task force to unravel.
Was the mortgage fraud task force, aka the Residential Mortgage-Back Securities Working Group, actually a part of the earlier Financial Fraud Task Force, established November 17, 2009? Was the mortgage fraud task force actually something new, or just a PR offensive that amounted to nothing more than a repackaging of already existing efforts?
Though U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has touted the administration’s efforts in going after financial fraud as nothing less than “historic,” the administration has yet to bring a criminal prosecution against a single major executive of a too big to fail institution. Some have questioned whether the president, who received more money from Wall Street than his Republican opponent, John McCain, really has any desire to hold Wall Street executives accountable for their actions.
Schneiderman’s investigation into the vanishing task forces may lead him right into the Oval Office to the man who appointed them.
A month before President Obama announced his new mortgage fraud task force in the State of the Union speech, the president told 60 Minutes, “Some of the most damaging behavior on Wall Street — in some cases some of the least ethical behavior on Wall Street — wasn’t illegal. That’s exactly why we had to change the laws.”