It’s a question that arose early on election night last week, as a nationwide Democratic surge propelled the party back into power in the House of Representatives: What will Rep. Maxine Waters do now?
The question was relevant for many reasons. Waters stands as one of the country’s most well-known Democrats and fiercest critics of Donald Trump (the president himself has fed the fire, deriding the California congresswoman as being “low IQ”). But with the shift in power, Waters, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, is expected to head the influential panel in 2019—meaning she’s now empowered to come for Trump’s coins.
If you’re rubbing your hands like Birdman at the prospect, trust, you’re not the only one. But as the congresswoman laid out in a letter she recently penned to her Democratic colleagues on the committee, it’s too soon to send those “Impeachment Party” invites just yet.
In the letter, which was recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times, Waters outlines her priorities for the committee, which include “protecting consumers from abusive financial practices, expanding affordable housing opportunities, combating homelessness and strengthening the housing finance system,” the Times writes.
But Waters wrote, “I am committed to strong oversight and following the Trump money trail, starting with Deutsche Bank.”
Why start with Deutsche Bank? The Times explains:
Deutsche Bank was one of the few banks that lent money to Trump after bankruptcies by some of his companies. In 2017, the bank paid about $630 million in fines to U.S. and British regulators for failing to prevent trades that allowed the transfer of about $10 billion out of Russia in violation of anti-money laundering laws.
In her letter, Waters says she wants to continue pressing the bank and the Treasury Department for confidential records regarding suspicious activity (that is, potential money laundering), but she dodged a question from the Times about whether she planned on issuing subpoenas.
“I think it’s premature to talk about what we anticipate doing,” she said. (In other words, “Damn, will you let me clock in first?”)
Deutsche Bank wasn’t the only financial institution Waters name-checked. Waters also has eyes set on Wells Fargo for their long, egregious record of consumer abuses.
“With Trump in the White House, I know that our fight for America’s consumers and investors will continue to be challenging. But I am more than up to that fight,” she wrote.
Speaking with the Times, Waters said Wells Fargo was a priority given its high-profile scandals—including pushing costly and risky mortgages onto black and Latinx homebuyers. The bank’s record of abuses prompted federal regulators to impose a $1 billion fine on the company earlier this year, the Times notes. The Federal Reserve also ordered Wells Fargo to stop growing “until it could prove to regulators that it has systems in place to prevent consumer abuses,” writes the paper.
This has placed the bank on top of Waters’ financial shit-list. She cited Wells Fargo as an example of “recidivist financial institutions” to be punished under a bill she introduced earlier this year that would allow regulators to break up big banks.
Both banks said they would cooperate with Rep. Waters and the committee.
If you were the kind of fool who believed Waters came here to play, this letter should shatter the entirety of that illusion. I wish I were privy to Waters’ 2019 planner, because I imagine on the very first page is a simple message, written in Sharpie in impeccable cursive: “Anyone can get it.”