Bowen and his attorney tell Cohan that the sudden shift happened because of intense pressure on the FCIC from Citigroup and its outside law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Bowen diluted his testimony as requested in part because he thought he would be able to speak about it when called before the live hearing:

But that morning, he had breakfast with Mr. Kardell, who told him that Mr. Bondi had said that he was not to respond to the commissioners’ questions about his departure from Citigroup. If the commissioners asked him, for instance, what happened after he e-mailed Mr. Rubin, he was to be silent, and claim “employment issues” as justification. When one commissioner, Peter J. Wallison, asked what had happened, Mr. Angelides cut him off…

Mr. Angelides told me that he had no knowledge of Mr. Bowen’s being censored, but that he was aware that the commission’s staff would generally work with witnesses to focus their testimony “on the most salient facts.” The final report, he said, gave prominence to Mr. Bowen’s most substantial charges, including the e-mail to Mr. Rubin. But, he conceded, the Wall Street banks “and their phalanx of attorneys were putting enormous pressure” on the commission “every day of every week with every witness” in an effort “to discredit people who were testifying against their interests.

If this is true—and I have no reason to doubt Bowen—it’s a scandal. Who else got pressured to water down their testimony? What else did the FCIC short-arm or look away from?

What does it say about us that we need a Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Commission?


 

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.