Psaki Declines to Say Whether Yellen Will Recuse from Opining on Robinhood Over Speaking Fees


White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined Thursday to say whether Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen would recuse herself from advising the president on issues involving the Robinhood trading platform due to an alleged conflict of interest.

Yellen, who received Senate confirmation to her position on Monday, received a little more than $800,000 from Citadel between 2019-20, according to financial disclosure forms. Citadel funds trading on Robinhood, the fee-free trading platform that blocked users on Thursday from investing in several stocks, including GameStop, which have seen prices surge this week.

“There have been some concerns about [Yellen’s] previous engagements with Citadel and speaking fees that she has received from Citadel,” a reporter noted in a question to Psaki at Thursday’s White House press conference. “Are there any plans to have her recuse herself from advising the president on GameStop and the whole Robinhood situation?”

Psaki referred the reporter to a statement from the Securities and Exchange Commission that said it was “monitoring” the situation, and added that Yellen was a “world-renowned expert.”

“We have the Treasury secretary — is now confirmed. Obviously, we have a broad economic team. The SEC put out a statement yesterday that I referred to, but I don’t think I have anything more for you on it — other than to say, separate from the GameStop issue, the secretary of treasury is one of the world-renowned experts on markets, on the economy. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone she was paid to give her perspective and advice before she came into office.”

In addition to its financial relationship with Robinhood, Citadel and its partners invested $2 billion in another hedge fund, Melvin Capital Management, after it was decimated by the margin calls resulted from GameStop’s surging price. The firm, which began the year with $12.5 billion in assets, had reportedly lost 30 percent of its holdings as of Friday.

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