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 "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer questioned the merits of Timothy Geithner, President Barack Obama's Treasury Secretary-designate, and told viewers on CNBC's Jan. 22 "Street Signs" that, had he been in Geithner's shoes, he'd face criminal prosecution.
"I happen to have a meeting with my lawyers just to discuss this - with my battalion of lawyers, the $2,000-a-hour gang - and you know, they would say if it was Cramer, I would be prosecuted, maybe criminally prosecuted," Cramer said. "And 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."
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, "We are done, finished, kaput. It is that simple." But later in the month he backed of his harsh rhetoric on NBC's Nov. 24 "Today."
"He's a smooth hand," Cramer said. "I wish he weren't involved with what's gone wrong but the transition is bold, smart, fast, good."
Cramer told "Street Signs" 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.
"I say it doesn't matter," Cramer said. "I say we got to confirm him. It's too late in the game. The guy got a free pass. There's no one - look I've been told by Wall Street, ‘Stop it already with Geithner.' It's been going on for months that I've said Geithner's the wrong guy.
Cramer had associated Geithner with some of the woes that caused the market setbacks last fall.
"So, 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 - everybody on Wall Street - all my buddies that lost billions for you, for the American people, told me, ‘Jim, he's the greatest.' Well, now everybody's discovering the truth," Cramer said. "He's all yours partner."
The media have downplayed the Geithner tax evasion issue. ABC "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos called the whole issue a "speed bump." However, Cramer said if it were him - it'd be jail time.
"Hey forgive me for saying this, but my lawyers are saying, ‘Jim, if it were you, be prepared to go down.' And I'm not talking about losing no nomination. I'm talking about the Shawshank Non-Redemption."