Lloyd Blankfein and Judy Samuelson on Enterprise and Politics

Blankfein: I try to be honest about these things. I didn’t support Trump – I shot him – so personally I don’t feel that way, but I think this is what happened as a group: For Wall Street it was lower taxes, less regulation. He delivered what “we” wanted. We put a clothespin on our nose. We weren’t aware of the types of risks we were taking. We suppressed them.

So you think the risks are well understood?

There was no one who ever came to the presidency who was more transparent and understandable than he was. In the minutes before his election, these NBC tapes came out. Didn’t people believe the 20 women who came forward? Do people think he paid his taxes all along? And certainly for the second choice – what else was there to know about him?

So people knew what they were doing. You did it out of self-interest. Think about another historical example: How about the plutocrats in Germany in the early 1930s, who liked the fact that Hitler was re-arming himself and industrializing, spending money and getting them out of the recession and the economy through his stimulus spending on war materials drive forward? I don’t want to go too far with this, just show you how I feel about it.

So, yes, they supported him. And I think the support is not undone by a confession from a minute to midnight on deathbed: “Oh my god, that was too much for me.”

How do you feel about people who have worked in the Trump administration? Some of them were Goldman alumni, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, who was a top economic advisor.

I didn’t vote for it, but at the beginning of the administration I had hopes and expectations that it would go on the high side like most people do when they come into this office and sit behind this desk. So I’m not blaming anyone for going in early, like my Goldman friends.

And once I’m in I don’t really blame people for staying because once in I would rather have them there than not there. I don’t think we would have been better off if Mnuchin had resigned.

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