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Federal Reserve Candidate John Williams Once Laughed While Talking About Making Wells Fargo Follow the Rules (WATCH)


A highly-placed official with the Federal Reserve once appeared to mock the idea of holding Wells Fargo accountable and in line with the law and federal banking regulations.

John C. Williams is the current President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Over the weekend, multiple reports surfaced suggesting Williams is likely to be tapped to head the New York branch of the Federal Reserve.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is the largest, most active and most influential outpost among the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks spread across the country. And critics were quick to pounce on the news of Williams’ potential promotion.

Open Philanthropy highlighted a November 2016 video in which Williams explained his–and the Federal Reserve’s–duties vis-à-vis Wells Fargo. Beginning at the 2:49 mark, Williams said:

We supervise the banks in our district–that’s the nine western states that I represent–including one of the biggest in the world, Wells Fargo…making sure that they are safe and sound and following the rules.

At this point in the video,  laughter breaks out amongst the audience. Williams apparently finds the laughter somewhat contagious and joins in before amending his prior statement. He then says, “Doing our best to make sure they are safe and sound and following the rules.”

Williams’ front-runner status didn’t simply elicit suspicion within the ranks of advocates and policy mavens, however, upon hearing the news Senator Elizabeth Warren said Williams should be forced to defend his record in front of Congress before getting the job.

In response to an inquiry from Law&Crime, Jordan Haedtler provided the following statement on the potential of Williams heading the New York Federal Reserve:

Reporting about the fake account scandal initially surfaced back in 2013, yet it’s not clear at all that Williams took it seriously, as this video seems to confirm. Williams should clarify his approach to Wells Fargo and other major financial institutions, especially if he’s about to become one of the most powerful regulators in the financial system. We support Sen. Warren’s call for testimony by Williams in advance of any final appointment. The New York Fed President is a crucial public policymaker, and the process for their selection must be made transparent and publicly inclusive.

Haedtler is a campaign manager for Fed Up: The National Campaign for a Strong Economy, a campaign centered on realigning the priorities of the Federal Reserve.

Law&Crime reached out to Williams for comment but no response was forthcoming at the time of publication.

[image via screengrab/Talks at Google/YouTube]

Follow Colin Kalmbacher on Twitter: @colinkalmbacher

Editor’s note: this article has been amended to clarify a source.

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