The Obama presidency was marked by a public image of taking on Wall Street and K Street, but in reality, the administration was deeply intertwined with Big Business, big banks, and lobbyists. The facade of a scandal-free administration has also been debunked with the revelation of Kathy Ruemmler’s connection to Jeffrey Epstein.
Ruemmler is a revolving-door lawyer who moved from private practice to the Clinton administration to the Obama administration and eventually to Goldman Sachs. She had multiple meetings with Epstein, who died in jail before facing trial in 2019, according to Epstein’s recently disclosed schedules. The Wall Street Journal reported that Ruemmler “had dozens of meetings with Epstein in the years after her White House service and before she became a top lawyer at Goldman Sachs.” Beyond their meetings, Epstein reportedly “planned for her to join a 2015 trip to Paris and a 2017 visit to Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.”
Ruemmler’s current employer, law giant Latham & Watkins, said that Epstein was offering to direct new clients to Ruemmler. Ruemmler now says, “I regret ever knowing Jeffrey Epstein.” However, her regret is not all that impressive given Epstein’s conviction, notoriety, and association with elite perfidy.
Ruemmler’s career path has been marked by scandal, abuse, and the steady erosion of norms that characterized the 2010s. She went from the Clinton White House to being a federal prosecutor and then served the private sector before entering the Obama Justice Department. She became White House counsel in 2011 and reportedly advised Obama in 2011 that he had the authority to start a war with Syria even without congressional authority, despite the clear letter of the law that the president needs congressional authorization to launch an offensive war.
Ruemmler’s appearance at Epstein’s 2019 arraignment also begs an explanation. She wasn’t representing Epstein or any party in the federal case against him. Instead, she “was at Epstein’s court appearance that day in his support,” the Daily Beast reported in 2020.
Ruemmler was also a champion of opacity over transparency and reportedly led the charge on the Obama administration’s campaign to dismantle the Freedom of Information Act and maximize presidential secrecy. In 2013, when Harry Reid abolished the filibuster for federal judicial nominees (and in the process effectively abolished all Senate rules), it was Ruemmler who masterminded the campaign from the White House.
In 2020, Ruemmler joined Goldman Sachs as global head of regulatory affairs. She monetized the connections to government and the insider knowledge she had gained in public service. Her career trajectory illustrates the revolving door between the government and the private sector and raises questions about the influence of money and power in politics.
Overall, the revelation of Ruemmler’s connection to Epstein highlights the hypocrisy and corruption that can exist within the political and financial elite. It also exposes the falsehoods of both Obama’s self-image and media image as running a scandal-free administration and being tough on Wall Street and K Street.
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