Washington Prowler

Transition Costs

What about Geithner and AIG? Plus: Hillary's consiglere.

By 11.24.08

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SUSPICIONS
Even before the Obama/Biden transition team had a chance to review them, Republican staffers on the Senate Finance Committee were seeking any and all documents related to the run-up of the bailout of AIG, one of the world's largest insurance companies, and a bellwether of the Wall Street collapse in October. The documents, according committee staff, will be important to the confirmation hearing for Timothy Geithner should he be nominated as Obama's Treasury Secretary.

"We think he [Geithner] was more deeply involved and had greater knowledge about AIG's situation earlier in the process than has been publicly disclosed," says a Senate Banking Committee staffer, who says some Democrats on that committee would like to see Geithner appear before their committee before a Senate confirmation vote to explain his recent activities at the New York Fed.

Over the weekend, both the FBI and the Obama transition team were doing background checks and research on Geithner. While the FBI had no issues, according to an Obama transition team member, the transition team had a number of questions for Geithner related to his role as president of the New York Federal Reserve.

"We need to know what he knew and when he knew it, regarding AIG in particular," says the transition source. "He's been involved in a lot of these rescue plans throughout his career, but this one is the hot potato for confirmation."

The fact that Geithner has dealt with so many rescue plans in his career, says a senior aide to a Republican Senator who will be involved in the confirmation process, highlights another concern some Republicans and even some Democrats have voiced:

"[Geithner] is a bright man. He's testified up here several times, but it has been underwhelming to say the least. The fact is, he's never held a real job in his career. He's been an academic and a government bureaucrat. He's walking into a completely different job and a different role, and some of our bosses have their doubts about him."

Geithner is a protégé of Clinton-era Treasury leaders Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, who is believed to have accepted the chairmanship of the National Economic Council. "Larry is going to make this a smooth transition," says the transition aide. "Any rough spots that Tim may have, Larry is going to smooth out."


NOT HIM AGAIN!
Late last week, as stories swirled around Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's possible jump to the job of Secretary of State, another longtime Clinton aide's name began to crop up: former journalist and Clinton back-room consigliere, Sidney Blumenthal.

Should Clinton accept the Secretary of State job, Blumenthal, it is believed, will move to Foggy Bottom as a counsel to the secretary, a post that will not require Senate confirmation, but will require an extensive security and background check.

According to Obama transition team sources, Clinton aides presented them with a list of potential senior staff for the Secretary of State office, and Blumenthal's name -- without a title or role described -- was on it.

Also on the list were the names of most of Clinton's senior Senate aides, including several who had left her office in the past two years for the private sector. All have been contacted about possibly returning to public service should Clinton accept the cabinet position.

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