Live-Blogging The Paulson Flogging

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9:53 Ahead of the hearing, set to get underway at 10, make sure you've familiarized yourselves with the former Treasury Secretary's prepared testimony. Summary: of course I threatened that hick. Why is this something that's being debated? In fairness, I threaten basically everyone. I threatened the driver who transported me to this pointless exercise. Fuck was trying to take a round about route as though I don't know the fastest way to get here.
10:00 Chairman Edolphus Towns reciting his opening statements as though he's performing in a grammar school production of Twelve Angry Men.
10:02 Oh, someone signed up for Charlie Gasparino's latest writing class at the Learning Annex: "Was this an old fashioned Brooklyn shake-down?"
10:05 Paulson actually looks a little nervous, which is troublesome, but it's obviously a mind game. Also, rosacea?
10:07 Representative Issa is attempting, badly, to make a football analogy ("We here in Washington are Monday Morning Quarterbacks...next Sunday...gridiron...guns in nightclubs"). Tackle is not impressed.
10:06 Edolphus Towns thought it was pretty good. "Nice analogy."
10:13 As Mark Haines notes, it'll be a few minutes before the elected officials "finish bloviating." While we wait, let's take a peek at who's thrown support at HP and his do it or die tactics. Charlie Gasparino is one. He doesn't understand what the big D is here. This is how it gets done in the jungle. He's just a little surprised and hurt that HP didn't call him personally to send Lewis a message. He suggests that next time Bald needs to seal a deal brass knuckles style, to remember Chaz. CG'll make sure it gets done quietly.
10:21 Bald's prepared remarks. Since we know he's going to say he did it, can we discuss this: what in god's name is up with HP's skin? Is that a third degree burn? WAS HE THE GUY ON THE RECEIVING END OF THE HOT COFFEE TOSS? On the one hand, I can't see anyone messing with his shit, on the other, it's well-known he has a tendency to cut people off in the parking lot on the regular, and probably had it coming.
10:33 This is Issa's idea of cruelty? Giving us a history lesson about conversations that occurred during the Gulf War? Okay.
10:34 Issa: I like Margaret Thatcher's way of doing it.
10:40 This is truly painful. As mentioned a hundred times before this could've been the greatest show on earth if Congress hadn't blown it and invited all three to testify at the same time, but we still thought Paulson would've put in the best effort, given that KL was told he wasn't allowed to drink beforehand. Instead, this is the most boring of the bunch. Think of all the other things HP could be doing with this time.
He could be fishing.

He could be laying tracks on his latest album.

He could be tapping ass.

10:52 Okay, this is promising. The hot young Representative from I'm not sure where seems to be eliciting some testiness from HP. Do it Hank. Unleash the Beast.
10:51 And nothing (though what's up with the slumping down in the chair after each answer?).
10:53 Serious question: did Kanjorski have his brows dyed? They're looking extra white.
10:54 Kanjorksi: Paulson, how bad was it going to be? Describe in detail. I need to know.
Paulson: I didn't really spend much time thinking about it. I was trying to cut out of work early that day.
Kanjorski: No, tell us, what would it have been like if BAC walked away from the deal? Come up with an answer.
Paulson: Well, I don't know, Ben told me about what it was like in the Great Depression and that seemed pretty not good.
Kanjorski: No, I need more details. What would the world have looked like the next day?
Paulson: Two hundred degrees in the sunlight, minus two hundred in the shade. Canyons of razor-sharp rock. Unpredictable gravitational conditions. Unexpected eruptions, things like that.
Kanjorksi: Okay, so the scariest environment imaginable. Thanks, that's all you gotta say. Scariest environment imaginable.
11:05 Okay, see, when things come up like the issue of whether or not Ken Lewis was told not to disclose the Merrill losses, IF LEWIS WERE AT THE TABLE, we could've gotten an answer. Or, if not an answer, a blank stare and a "Hey, look over there!" while a smashed KL attempts to run out of the room before being apprehended by security.
11:10 Oh christ, god love Ken Lewis. That conversation they had on December 21? When KL told Andrew Cuomo he'd called Paulson, who he reached on a bike ride, and HP told him to do exactly as he was told or get fired? Big P wasn't on no damn bike. He was skiing. This moment brought to you by Boone's Farm. (Let's also take a moment to appreciate the Representative who, still thinking HP had been on a bike but unaware that the convo took place over the phone and not in person, noted that Lewis "must've been pretty fast to catch up with you," and giving us the image of K to the L chasing after Paulson, getting a cramp, having to slow down, giving the "1 minute" signal, etc.)
11:13 Congress doesn't understand why no one can ever seem to recall the details of certain events while under oath. Paulson can't speak for others, but from his end, he's has so many conversations with Bernanke he truly cannot keep track. Tête-à-têtes in the elevator of the Fed. Drunk dials over the phone. Pillow talk on the floor of their little pied-à-terre.
11:25 Paulson categorically did not promise Lewis he could keep his job if he did exactly as he was told. HP only told Lewis he'd get fired if he made one wrong move, just one. Do you guys even know how intimidation works? Today's proceedings make me think not.


11:48 Paulson never used email when he was Treasury Secretary. He either used the phone, left notes on the hoods of people's cars, or showed up to their places of business, crow-bar in hand.
11:49 Where is this line of questioning going? "Did you know Mr. Lewis well? Did you know him socially?" Apparently it doesn't really have anything to do with anything, though the lady Representative would appreciate a statement from Paulson's people detailing whether or not KL and HP crossed paths at a certain key party in 1976.
11:55 Where does it end? Where do you draw the line? One day you're threatening to fire a drunk the next you're saying what ties people can and cannot wear. While we're on the matter, what do you think of the attire of choice my pal Mr. Lynch is sporting? Car salesman chic, amiright?
We're adjourned 'til 1:30 while the Congressmen vote. Paulson, still within range of the mic, tells an assistant he's "gotta be on a 4:45 flight," so let's wrap this shit up by 3PM, max, people. Then someone asks if HP would like to wait in the holding room or go to [restaurant I couldn't make out, guessing topless bar], to which the Hammer responds, "Oh yeah, yeah, lunch."
Part II here.

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