“The King can do no wrong.”
—William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England
“When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.”
—Ex-President Richard Nixon, interview with David Frost
The question at bar is why the U.S. Department of Justice has failed to
prosecute any too-big-to-fail banks or—more importantly—their bankers,
even for admitted crimes.
It’s a crucial question, because after eight straight years of
unremitting prosecutorial failure, it looks very much as if a select
group of top banks can, in fact, do no wrong. If that’s the case, then
our constitutional republic isn’t merely in trouble. It's dead.
A person or group of people who satisfy Blackstone’s criterion for
ultimate sovereign power—the power to commit crimes with impunity—can’t
exist in a nation where the law reigns supreme. And yet here we are a
decade after the financial crisis began in earnest, and not one TBTF
bank executive has gone to jail.
Legally, the TBTF banks are indistinguishable from the King, since the
power to commit crimes with impunity swallows all other sovereign
powers; such a power isn’t even supposed to exist in the U.S., and yet
Moreover, since there can’t be two kings in a kingdom, the entire U.S.
government, from the president on down, is just one of the King’s men
under this formulation of power. The real job of the U.S. government,
then, isn’t to represent the will of the people at all, it’s to do the
King’s bidding. A nation that isn’t governed by law is governed by
instead by a king—it’s one or the other—and the president’s inferiority
to such an above-the-law sovereign was confirmed over 40 years ago with
Nixon’s ouster. The president, unlike the King, answers to the law
(despite Nixon's opinion).
Now, you may say that while the TBTF banks might arguably have the de
facto power of the King, that’s a far cry from wielding such power
formally (i.e., having de jure criminal immunity).
The reply to that objection is set forth in this film, “All the
Plenary’s Men,” which is a sequel to “The Veneer of Justice in a Kingdom
of Crime.”Another objection, raised by the DOJ itself, is that it HAS prosecuted
TBTF bankers, citing cases like that of Raj Rajaratnam. These cases,
however, in fact reveal the DOJ acting on behalf of the criminal global
On that score, the DOJ’s abysmal track record is by now so extensive and
so thorough that it’s possible to spot legal patterns in the DOJ’s
protracted miscarriage of justice, and, as you’re about to see, those
patterns are very deeply disturbing indeed. What’s been going on cuts
right past a garden variety constitutional crisis like Watergate
straight to a crisis of sovereignty.
The backdrop for all of this is HSBC’s exoneration in December of 2012
for laundering money for drug dealers and terrorists, about which the
House Financial Services Committee issued a report in July of 2016.
Whether it was due to the political circus in town at the time, or to
the Republican authorship of that report (albeit without dissent), it
didn’t get nearly the scrutiny it deserved.
You see, prosecutors working on the HSBC case were actually going to
indict the bank, but they got overruled, and HSBC and its team of
criminals skated. The story of how exactly that reversal came about
reveals, if not the King himself, then certainly many of the King’s top
Make the coffee extra strong before viewing. Lots of ground gets
And don’t mothball those pitchforks and torches just yet.