Goldman Sachs Trumps U.S. — Candidate Trump v. President Trump

Candidate Trump Attacked Political Influence of Goldman Sachs

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Throughout his campaign for president, Donald Trump attacked Goldman Sachs during both the primary and general elections, claiming the bank had gained “total, total control” over political rivals like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He “accused Goldman of colluding with [Clinton] to ruin the U.S. and enrich the elite.” [1]

Trump even ended his campaign with a television ad derided by many as anti-Semitic, which accused the CEO of Goldman Sachs of being part of the “global power structure” responsible for having “robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” [2]

President Trump Is Filling His Administration with Goldman Sachs Executives

Despite the attacks of Candidate Trump on Goldman Sachs, President Trump has seen fit to hire many current and former Goldman Sachs executives to positions that include three top administration posts, his nominee for chair of the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), and his nominee for Treasury Secretary.

Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is a second-generation Goldman Sachs partner, while Jay Clayton, his nominee for SEC chair, is a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, which has been Goldman Sachs’ “go-to law firm for more than a century.” Three of Trump’s highest-ranking advisors have prominent Goldman Sachs ties. Goldman partner Dina Powell is taking on a senior administration role in Trump’s White House; his chief strategist Steve Bannon “loved” working at the bank in the mid-1980s; and his newly named top economic advisor, Gary Cohn, is the current president and COO of the company.

Gary Cohn

Trump’s choice for chair of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, “joined Goldman Sachs in 1990 and became a Partner in 1994.” Cohn was named Goldman’s co-president in 2006, and in 2009 he became the sole president and COO.  Currently he “is President and Chief Operating Officer of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. He serves as a member of the Goldman Sachs Management Committee and Board of Directors. He is also the Chairman of the Firmwide Client and Business Standards Committee.” [3]

Steven Mnuchin

Trump’s selection for Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, whose father was a “top Goldman Sachs trader,” went to work for Goldman Sachs in 1985, immediately after he graduated from Yale. Mnuchin worked his way up to become a partner at Goldman Sachs and, after seventeen years, left in 2002 to work for two hedge funds. [4]

Steve Bannon

Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, joined Goldman Sachs’ New York office in the mid-1980s, and said for the first few years he “worked every day except Christmas and loved it,” explaining the camaraderie at Goldman “was amazing.” Bannon left Goldman Sachs in 1990 with “a couple of Goldman colleagues” to launch his own boutique investment bank. [5]

Jay Clayton

Trump’s nominee for SEC chair, Jay Clayton, is a partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, Goldman Sachs’ “go-to law firm for more than a century.” During the Great Recession, Clayton personally advised Goldman Sachs on “perhaps its most important deal, the $5 billion investment by Warren E. Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.” [6]

Dina Powell

Donald Trump, in January 2016, brought Goldman Sachs partner Dina Powell into his administration. Powell, who has “deep ties to both Republicans and Democrats in Washington” will have a “senior role that will focus on entrepreneurship, economic growth and the empowerment of women.” [7]

Even Though Goldman Sachs Helped Tank the Economy

Goldman Sachs is widely blamed for helping to cause the Great Recession by misleading investors into buying mortgage-backed securities that Goldman knew “were indeed riskier than what they had” revealed. In 2016, Goldman finally paid $5 billion in penalties for its role in the financial crisis, and engaging in what one Acting Associate Attorney General described as “serious misconduct.”

From 2005 to 2007, Goldman Sachs knowingly issued “many mortgages and securities” supported by “loans borrowed by consumers with shoddy credit ratings,” which caused “billions of dollars in losses” and caused the Great Recession after the housing bubble burst.

In April 2016, Goldman agreed to pay $5 billion dollars for its role in causing the Great Recession, and admitted that it had had “misled investors” by not telling potential investors they knew their mortgage-backed securities “were indeed riskier than what they had” revealed. As part of its settlement, Goldman acknowledged that because of “limited sampling” before the financial crisis, not every defective loan came to light. An Acting Associate Attorney General even said Goldman engaged in “‘serious misconduct’” by “‘falsely assuring investors that securities it sold were backed by sound mortgages, when it knew that they were full of mortgages that were likely to fail.’”

Goldman Sachs’ $5 billion fine for helping cause the financial crisis included $2.39 billion in civil penalties, $1.8 billion in “loan forgiveness and financing for affordable housing,” and $875 million in claims from “other federal and state entities.” [8]

Goldman Sachs paid a $550 million settlement to the SEC in 2010 for misleading “investors into buying financial instruments tied to subprime mortgage bonds,” which Time called a “worthless, well-packaged fake.”

In 2010, Goldman Sachs agreed to pay the SEC $550 million “to settle charges that it had misled investors into buying financial instruments tied to subprime mortgage bonds.” The SEC alleged that Goldman Sachs lied when they “told one group of investors they were buying” the highest-rated bonds, while in reality hedge fund magnate John Paulson was the one “really picking” the bonds. Time wrote that Goldman Sachs was like “any good snake-oil salesman” because they had sold a “worthless, well-packaged fake.” [9]

Goldman Sachs “agreed to pay $3 billion to the Federal Housing Finance Agency to settle claims” over their role in the financial crisis.

In 2014, Goldman Sachs “agreed to pay $3 billion to the Federal Housing Finance Agency to settle claims with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac” because of their role in the financial crisis. [10]


Despite candidate Trump’s anti-Goldman Sachs rhetoric, President Trump has proven to be more than willing to welcome Goldman Sachs executives into the highest levels of his administration. In doing so, he has betrayed working class Americans who took him at his word that he would “drain the swamp” and rid Washington of the influence of powerful special interests, Wall Street insiders, K Street lobbyists, and corrupt politicians.

End Notes

[1] Shane Goldmacher, “One Hundred Days of Donald Trump,” Politico, August 10, 2016,; and Lucinda Shen, “Goldman Sachs Can’t Stop Hating on Trump, Fortune Magazine, 11/16/16,

[2] Avi Asher-Schapiro, “Donald Trump Said Goldman Sachs Had ‘Total Control’ Over Hillary Clinton—Then Stacked His Team with Goldman Insiders,” International Business Times, November 16, 2016,; and Daniel Marans, “Donald Trump’s Closing Ad Has Anti-Semitic Overtones,” Huffington Post, November 5, 2016,

[3] “Gary D. Cohn,” Goldman Sachs Executive Officers profile, Goldman Sachs website, accessed January 5, 2017,; and Matt Egan and Phil Mattingly, “Goldman Sachs’ No. 2 Gary Cohn is Trump’s Top Economic Advisor, CNN, December 12, 2016,

[4] Max Abelson and Zachary Mider, “Trump’s Top Fundraiser Eyes the Deal of a Lifetime,” Bloomberg, August 31, 2016,; and Anthony Bennett, “List of Goldman Sachs Alumni in Donald Trump’s Administration, Heavy, January 5, 2017,

[5] Joshua Green, “This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America,” Bloomberg, October 8, 2015,

[6] Leslie Picker, “Donald Trump Nominates Wall Street Lawyer to Head S. E. C.” New York Times, January 4, 2017,

[7] Ben White and Annie Karni, “Goldman Sachs Partner to Join Trump Administration,” Politico, January 11, 2017,

[8] Lucinda Shen, “Goldman Sachs Finally Admits It Defrauded Investors During the Financial Crisis,” Fortune, April 11, 2016,

[9] Ibid; and Stephen Gandel, “The Case Against Goldman Sachs, Time online, April 22, 2010,,9171,1983886,00.html.

[10] Shen, “Goldman Sachs Finally Admits It Defrauded Investors.”



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