The Chickenshit Club
by Jesse Eisinger
Simon & Schuster
Former FBI director James Comey is responsible for the book title: members of the Chickens*** Club, he told his staff in 2002, were lawyers who never lost a case in court because they took on only certain wins. His complaint, Jesse Eisinger argues, has been ignored by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), whose prosecutors have increasingly lost the will and ability to go after major corporate criminals. The author points his finger at the fact that no top bankers were jailed for wrongdoing leading to the 2008 financial crisis.
Continuing the shift away from targeting executives towards settling with corporations, often for huge amounts of money (at the expense of shareholders), the DOJ in 2016 brought the fewest white-collar cases against individuals in 20 years. There are many reasons for these “deferred prosecution agreements”, but they centre on the difficulty in investigating individuals. For one thing, top execs “insulate themselves from day-to-day decision making”.
Eisinger’s book, which had its genesis in the 2008 crash, seethes with the anger that also gave rise to the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. Without that implosion, he writes, “We surely would not have Donald Trump.”