Sanders Rips Obama Over Paid Wall Street Speech: 'It Is Unfortunate That President Obama Is Doing This'

April 28, 2017

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) called former President Obama's decision to accept $400,000 for a Wall Street speech "unfortunate" during an interview Friday on "CBS This Morning."

"President Obama's a friend of mine," Sanders said. "I think he, as president, represented our country with integrity and intelligence, but I think at a time when people are so frustrated with the power of Wall Street and the big-money interests, I think it is unfortunate that President Obama is doing this."

Sanders told Bloomberg the same when asked about the matter on Thursday. Obama is taking the equivalent of one year's presidential salary to give a speech at Cantor Fitzgerald's health care conference in September.

Sanders cited President Trump's economic adviser, Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs president, as an example of Wall Street's "incredible power."

"I would have hoped that the president would not have given a speech like this," Sanders said.

CBS host Gayle King asked Sanders if he would turn down that much money for one speech.

"If Wall Street offered me that, yeah, I don't want Wall Street's money, but I must tell you, I really don't have to worry about that too much," Sanders said, drawing laughs. "I haven't gotten too many invitations from Wall Street."

On the 2016 campaign trail, Sanders often criticized eventual Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for her paid speeches to Wall Street banks. He frequently called on her to release the transcripts of her highly paid speeches.

Another progressive darling, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), said she felt "troubled" by Obama's decision.

The Washington Post noted Obama wrote in his 2006 book The Audacity of Hope that such arrangements could be a corrupting influence.