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Obama To Bankers: Beware The Pitchforks

Eamon Javers did some more reporting about that meeting at the White House last week between Obama and top bank CEOs and turned up this exchange:

[T]he CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world offered several explanations for paying high salaries to their employees — and, by extension, to themselves.

“These are complicated companies,” one CEO said. Offered another: “We’re competing for talent on an international market.”

But President Barack Obama wasn’t in a mood to hear them out. He stopped the conversation and offered a blunt reminder of the public’s reaction to such explanations. “Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that.”

“My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

No word on whether Obama fired up the little-used trap door Cheney had installed in the Roosevelt Room.

--Noam Scheiber