POLITICS

Flashback: McCain's Presidential Ambitions Raised In Keating Hearing

11/06/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Prominently featured in the Obama campaign's new Keating Five documentary is a former chief federal regulator named William Black, who had a front-row view of John McCain's role in the Savings and Loan scandal.

"Charles Keating was and is a very nasty, fraudulent guy. His reputation was for 'buying and selling politicians,'" Black says in the new documentary. Moreover, Black notes, Keating and McCain "were confidants, they were mutual political supporters. Of course, the money flowed in one direction, from Keating to [McCain]."

But lest you think that Black is engaging in election year politics, here's video of him discussing the Keating scandal during a Senate Ethics Committee hearing in 1990. He was just as clear then about his feeling that the meetings in which McCain participated were designed to intimidate regulators against intervening in the Keating case:

Q: What made you feel that the meeting was intimidating?

A: Well, first, the meeting itself, and the players involved. We had the whip, and he was #2 on Senate Banking. We had #3 on Senate -- that's Senator Cranston. We had #3 on Senate Banking, Senator Riegle. We had 'recap' pending in front of them, and the Senate by then was our only chance for recapitalization that was anything other than disastrous. We had two bona fide national heroes, in Senator Glenn and Senator McCain... I think Senator Glenn was running for the presidential nomination at that time... We all knew Senator McCain's war record, and he was considered one of those super rising stars in the Republican who quite possibly would be a candidate for the presidency one day on the Republican standard bearer.

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