(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Sunday pushed back on former President Donald Trump over his call to protest his potential arrest related to paying the adult film star Stormy Daniels.
“Violence is never the right answer, and I always worry about it. But this is another case of Donald Trump just trying to advance the interests of Donald Trump, not of the rest of the nation,” Warren, D-Mass., told ABC “This Week” co-anchor Jonathan Karl.
“Let’s be clear about what’s going on here: No one is above the law, not even the former president of the United States, and if there has been an investigation, and that investigation should be allowed to go forward appropriately, if it’s time to bring indictments, then they’ll bring indictments,” Warren said. “That’s how our legal system works.”
In a statement on social media on Saturday, Trump claimed he would be arrested on Tuesday and that his supporters should protest to “take our nation back.” A spokesperson later walked some of that back, saying the former president was merely “highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system” and that there was no notification of an imminent arrest.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has been investigating whether Trump’s payment to Stormy Daniels — to allegedly cover up what Daniels claimed was an affair with Trump — constituted a violation of campaign finance law amid the 2016 election.
While Bragg’s office had no comment on Trump’s social media post, Bragg wrote in an email to staff obtained by ABC News that “we do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York.”
Trump has denied wrongdoing, including having an affair with Daniels, but has admitted he paid her, once defending it as “very common among celebrities and people of wealth.”
On “This Week” on Sunday, Warren said Trump was wrong to claim political persecution, a view echoed by his former vice president, Mike Pence, in a separate “This Week” sit-down.
“There’s no reason to protest this. This is the law operating as it should, without fear or favor for anyone,” Warren said.
Much of her interview was focused on the financial industry in the wake of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, which led to the federal government stepping in to ensure all depositors at SVB received their money.
Karl pressed Warren, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, on any consequences she believes should be meted out, including criminal charges, and whether she had learned from regulators if any other institutions were at risk.
She declined to speak about “private conversations” but said, “Let me be clear about what I’m calling for right now: I’m calling for an independent investigation of the [Federal Reserve] and the whole regulatory system here. The Fed doesn’t just get to do it.”
“Do you think we could see criminal charges?” Karl asked.
“It depends. … The Department of Justice has opened an investigation. I think that’s appropriate for them to do. We’ll see where the facts take them. But we’ve got to take a close look at this,” she said.
Warren reiterated her anger with what she described as the cycles of banking busts and bailouts and said it was time for the government to impose regulations on banks that are not among the biggest in the country but still hold billions of dollars in assets.
“I’m also calling on Congress … to roll back the ability of the Fed to weaken regulations and calling for these CEOs to be held accountable so that we have laws in place to get claw-backs of their bonuses, of their giant salaries. And, when you explode a bank, you ought to be banned from banking forever,” she said.
In particular, she singled out the recent history of lessening regulations on banks like SVB, urged on by executives like former President and CEO of SVB Greg Becker, who had played down the danger to the broader economy, she said.
Just days before his bank’s collapse, Becker sold more than $3.5 million of his company stock holdings while publicly appearing confident to investors, ABC News previously reported. (Becker has not responded to multiple requests for comment from ABC.)
“These big multibillion-dollar banks loaded up on risk, they boosted their short-term profits, they gave themselves huge bonuses and big salaries and they exploded their banks. And so, where we stand now is now the federal government’s got to step back in and back up these multibillion-dollar banks,” Warren said on “This Week.”
“And I think there’s two halves to this: One half is the government is clearly doing that. But there are a lot of people saying, ‘Gee, if they’ve been so lightly regulated for such a long period, it’s important to look under the hood and see what’s happening with the other banks.'”
Warren, however, declined to go after some of her fellow Democrats for supporting a deregulatory bill in 2018, saying she had no problem with removing stress tests for community banks but that regulations should be reimposed on larger institutions.
“You got more than $50 billion? Then by golly, you ought to be subjected to stress tests and decent capital requirements and so on,” she said.
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