In a week in which Donald Trump fired the person investigating his campaign’s ties to Russia, it will surely come as a shock to learn that the circumstances under which financial services lawyer Keith Noreika became the head of a powerful Wall Street regulator were not totally above board.The story begins here: Donald Trump has promised his friends in the banking industry that he will gut financial regulations. But one thing that’s prevented him from doing so, thus far, has been the head of the Office of the Comptroller, Thomas Curry, who was appointed by Barack Obama and was thus a killjoy who made it his job—because it kind of was his job—to impose tough rules and big fines for wrongdoing in the industry. It was clear, given Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchnin’s pledge to unshackle Wall Street from financial-crisis-era regulations, that Curry not only had to go, but be replaced by someone with a more friendly relationship with the banks, like Noreika.
Unfortunately, there was a problem with the longtime financial services attorney: Noreika, who reportedly worked closely with the same Wall Street companies that are overseen by the O.C.C., would have to be approved by the Senate—a process that would involve airing all of Noreika’s financial conflicts of interest. So the Trump administration devised a plan to avoid that particular obstacle.