When we last left the negotiations between Chrysler’s senior bondholders and Barack Obama’s auto task force, Thomas Lauria and his clients alleged that the government used intimidation tactics and threatened to sic the White House press corps on individuals if they didn’t give up their rights to allow the unions to win in the bankruptcy. Congress took an interest in this”madman” theory of the Presidency and got access to some e-mails floating between the task force and an analyst. Rep, Steven LaTourette (R-OH) reads from the e-mails, in which the auto task force calls Lauria — their attorney — a “terrorist” and refuses to negotiate after a Chrylser expert consulted him:
Ms Underestimated writes:
The important part comes at the end: an email exchange between Matthew Feldman, attorney on the President’s Auto Task Force, and Robert Manzo, Chrysler restructuring expert. Manzo is basically pleading to further negotiate to prevent bankruptcy, but Feldman is having none of it. Here is the exchange:
Robert Manzo, Chrysler restructuring expert: “I hope you think it’s worth giving this one more shot.”
Matthew Feldman, attorney on the President’s Auto Task Force: “I’m now not talking to you. You went where you shouldn’t.”
Manzo: “Sorry. I didnt’ mean to say the wrong thing and I obviously did. I was trying oto make sure that if we had to contribute to the solution you knew we had some room. Sorry I did not realize the mistake!!”
Feldman: “It’s over. The President doesn’t negotiate second rounds. We’ve given and lent billions of dollars so your team could manage this properly….And now you’re telling me to bend over to a terrorist like Lauria? That’s B.S.”
A terrorist like Lauria? Lauria represented a teacher’s pension fund in Indiana (among other bondholders), and had the temerity to insist that the government follow contract law. I may be no fan of lawyers, but I don’t call them terrorists. Apparently the White House has another view of lawyers, especially when they insist that the government follow the law.
In this process, we see which side tried to terrorize the other, and it wasn’t Lauria’s.