Geithner denies book's claim that he ignored president's orders

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Monday dismissed a new book about the Obama administration's handling of the economic crisis as an account full of "sad little stories."

Geithner said Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind's Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President, written about backfighting in the administration, bears "no resemblance to the reality" of the situation, and fired back at its assertion he ignored an order from President Obama.

The book claims Geithner ignored a March 2009 order that asked the Treasury Department to consider dissolving Citigroup, one of the nation's largest financial services companies. Citigroup was among the worst hit by the financial crisis in 2008, and needed billions in bailout money to stay afloat.

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But Geithner denied that assertion in his briefing with reporters Monday.



“Absolutely not,” Geithner said. “I would never contemplate doing that.”



In the book, Suskind reports that President Obama has acknowledged the incident but downplayed any frustration with Geithner, saying, "Agitated may be too strong a word." Instead, the president blamed the slow-moving machinations of the federal government, saying, "the speed with which the bureaucracy could exercise my decision was slower than I wanted."

Geithner is quoted in the book as saying that he doesn't "slow walk the president on anything."

On Monday, the Treasury secretary was more forceful in rebuking the account.

“I haven’t read this book, but — to borrow a phrase — I lived the reality,” Geithner said. “Reports about this book bear no resemblance to the reality we lived.”

The book comes at a difficult time for the president, who is struggling to portray himself as being in charge of a financial crisis that is quickly coming to dominate his presidency. The White House has been quick to deny the accuracy of the book, which included a number of damaging claims. For instance, Larry Summers, Obama's former economic adviser, is quoted as saying that the economic team under Obama was poorly coordinated, and that the new president made mistakes that would not have happened under former President Clinton.

White House spokesman Jay Carney argued that the book was full of "very simple things" like dates and job titles that were incorrect, and that he would "caution anyone" from believing Suskind's analysis. 


This posted was updated at 2:14 p.m.