What happened on July 20 with the 56-44 vote in the Senate to confirm Kenneth Polite (pronounced Po-leet) to head the most powerful criminal law enforcement office in the United States, the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, is a cautionary tale that should concern every American. Despite Polite owing more than $1.5 million in debts according to his financial disclosure form and public mortgage records; paying over 18 percent interest on an outstanding balance on a credit card; 19.99 percent interest on a personal loan; and now accepting a job where his income will be slashed by about 77 percent – not one Senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee asked a single question about this man’s bizarre financial picture during his confirmation hearing on May 26 or in written questions that followed.
Senator Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois, Chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. Durbin took to the Senate floor on July 20, the day of the full Senate vote on Polite, to give a glowing endorsement of Polite.
Polite hails from the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bochius, which has plenty of red flags itself. Polite was a partner there earning approximately $877,500 in 2020. His job at the Justice Department will pay less than $200,000 annually. Morgan, Lewis has, for decades, provided legal representation to the Wall Street mega banks. Polite’s financial disclosure form reveals that JPMorgan Chase was one of his clients over the past year.
JPMorgan Chase has racked up five felony counts brought by the Justice Department in the past seven years, including two felony counts brought just last fall. The bank admitted to all five counts. In September of 2019, the Justice Department charged that traders at the bank were running a racketeering enterprise out of its precious metals trading desk. That case, brought under the RICO statute, which is typically reserved for organized crime, is still ongoing at the Justice Department.
Polite also revealed on his financial disclosure form that Morgan Stanley was his client over the past year. Morgan Stanley, along with other Wall Street banks represented by Morgan Lewis, are under a new Justice Department investigation for loaning out their balance sheets to hedge funds to conduct trading in highly-leveraged and highly-concentrated stock positions, which led to the collapse of the Archegos family office hedge fund in March of this year; a 50 percent plunge in the price of some of the stocks involved in the scheme; and more than $10 billion in losses for the banks involved in providing the margin loans, which were dressed up as derivative trades.
Under Polite’s Ethics Agreement, “he will be required to recuse from particular matters involving specific parties involving his former employer or former clients for a period of two years after he is appointed….” Why should the American people accept a Biden nominee that can’t hit the ground running against one of the most criminally-inclined industries in America. Why should the U.S. Senate confirm such a man?