Pam Martens and Russ Martens, 28 May 2021
CEOs from the six largest banks on Wall Street testified under oath yesterday before the House Financial Services Committee. But only one CEO, Jamie Dimon, had an ear-piercing electronic sound emanate from his microphone, which blocked out the sound of his voice, when he was asked key questions by two separate members of Congress.
The situation was so bizarre that Congressman Juan Vargas, a Democrat from California, said this about the episodes: “It reminded me of the movie ‘Young Frankenstein.’ Every time they said ‘Luther’ the horses would get scared. Every time they said ‘Jamie Dimon,’ the computers would get scared.”
The first episode occurred after Congressman Al Green, a Democrat from Texas, told Dimon that two of the banks previously purchased by JPMorgan Chase had used slaves as loan collateral and at one point, after calling in a loan, the bank actually owned 1,250 slaves. Green asked Dimon: “Will you atone in the form of recompense,” and “what will you do for your banks owning human beings…?”
The shrieking electronic noise started at that point and the Chair of the Committee, Maxine Waters, had to ask her staff to get it under control.
Once the shrill electronic noise stopped, Dimon said he would meet with Green to discuss the matter.
Later in the hearing, Congressman Ed Perlmutter, a Democrat from California, said he had received complaints about JPMorgan Chase raising their credit card interest rates during the pandemic, despite record profits. When Perlmutter asked Dimon if, in fact, the bank had done this, the shrieking electronic noise started up again, making it impossible to hear any answer from Dimon. Perlmutter was never able to get an answer to the question from Dimon. But as soon as Perlmutter moved on to other matters, what appeared to be electronic scrambling of Dimon’s microphone stopped. You can watch the full video of the hearing here.
Jamie Dimon was sworn in and put under oath at yesterday’s House hearing, along with all other CEOs. The scrambling of just his microphone gave the appearance of a backup plan for difficult questions. Dimon previously got into trouble in 2012 for telling the public that his bank’s London Whale derivative trades were a “tempest in a teapot,” when the bank had, in reality, gambled in derivatives with deposits from its federally-insured bank, losing at least $6.2 billion.