Did I say AIG? I meant AIU Holdings, of course.

All it took to get the money back was a national witch hunt replete with aborted plans to descend on AIG executives’ homes. Good work, Congress.

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo of New York announced late Monday afternoon that 9 of the top 10 bonus recipients at the American International Group had given back their bonuses.

He also said 15 of the top 20 bonus recipients in A.I.G.’s financial products division had given the money back, for a total that he estimated at about $30 million. “Those bonuses will be returned in full,” Mr. Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters…

Mr. Cuomo reiterated Monday that his office was sensitive to the security and privacy concerns of A.I.G. employees and that it would conduct a risk assessment before releasing name. More than 400 people received bonuses in A.I.G.’s financial products division.

Exit question one: The White House, to its credit, has been noncommittal when pressed on whether Obama will sign a bill taxing the bonuses. Does this give The One the political cover he needs to say no? Bear in mind that public support for recouping them is at 77 percent. Exit question two: Has the political damage already been done? Opposition to further Wall Street bailouts is dangerously close to majority levels…

Update: The One gets legal cover too from con-law expert Laurence Tribe:

Tribe says the main problem is that it’s hard to make the case that the law isn’t “punitive.”

“Its punitive intent is increasingly transparent,” Tribe says. “when you have Chuck Grassley calling on [executives] to commit suicide, and people responding to pitch fork sentiment, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t an attempt to punish an identifiable set of individuals who are the subject of understandable outrage.”