Cramer on Geithner's Tax Troubles: 'If it was Cramer, I Would Be Prosecuted'
Like him or not, this time he has a valid point.
CNBC rabble-rouser and ‚ÄúMad Money‚ÄĚ host Jim Cramer questioned the merits of Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama‚Äôs Treasury Secretary-designate, and told viewers on CNBC‚Äôs Jan. 22 ‚ÄúStreet Signs‚ÄĚ that, had he been in Geithner‚Äôs shoes, he‚Äôd face criminal prosecution.
‚ÄúI happen to have a meeting with my lawyers just to discuss this ‚Äď with my battalion of lawyers, the $2,000-a-hour gang ‚Äď and you know, they would say if it was Cramer, I would be prosecuted, maybe criminally prosecuted,‚ÄĚ Cramer said. ‚ÄúAnd my lawyers were somewhat shocked that on Chris Matthews I said it was OK, given the fact they said Geithner better get himself the best lawyer in town.‚ÄĚ
Cramer had been vocal about with his criticism of Geithner before Obama tapped him to lead the Treasury in November. He wrote on TheStreet.com in a Nov. 7 blog post that if Geithner were confirmed, ‚ÄúWe are done, finished, kaput. It is that simple.‚ÄĚ But later in the month he backed of his harsh rhetoric on NBC‚Äôs Nov. 24 ‚ÄúToday.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs a smooth hand,‚ÄĚ Cramer said. ‚ÄúI wish he weren‚Äôt involved with what‚Äôs gone wrong but the transition is bold, smart, fast, good.‚ÄĚ
Cramer told ‚ÄúStreet Signs‚ÄĚ host Erin Burnett he had given up on fighting the Geithner confirmation and suggested it was best to go ahead and confirm. He also said he had been asked to back off criticizing Geithner at the behest of some on Wall Street.
‚ÄúI say it doesn‚Äôt matter,‚ÄĚ Cramer said. ‚ÄúI say we got to confirm him. It‚Äôs too late in the game. The guy got a free pass. There‚Äôs no one ‚Äď look I‚Äôve been told by Wall Street, ‚ÄėStop it already with Geithner.‚Äô It‚Äôs been going on for months that I‚Äôve said Geithner‚Äôs the wrong guy.
Cramer had associated Geithner with some of the woes that caused the market setbacks last fall.
‚ÄúSo, you know what? I lost, I lost on this one. I told the American people on my little show that this one would be a disaster. But you know what ‚Äď everybody on Wall Street ‚Äď all my buddies that lost billions for you, for the American people, told me, ‚ÄėJim, he‚Äôs the greatest.‚Äô Well, now everybody‚Äôs discovering the truth,‚ÄĚ Cramer said. ‚ÄúHe‚Äôs all yours partner.‚ÄĚ
The media have downplayed the Geithner tax evasion issue. ABC ‚ÄúThis Week‚ÄĚ host George Stephanopoulos called the whole issue a ‚Äúspeed bump.‚ÄĚ However, Cramer said if it were him ‚Äď it‚Äôd be jail time.
‚ÄúHey forgive me for saying this, but my lawyers are saying, ‚ÄėJim, if it were you, be prepared to go down.‚Äô And I‚Äôm not talking about losing no nomination. I‚Äôm talking about the Shawshank Non-Redemption.‚ÄĚ