Lew did not appear to have any role during the negotiations over Citigroup’s bailout. When asked whether they crossed his path at any point in 2008, Henry M. Paulson Jr., former Treasury secretary; Sheila C. Bair, former FDIC chairman; and Robert K. Steel, former undersecretary for domestic finance at the Treasury, all said they had not.
By early 2009, Lew’s brief experience with Wall Street was over. He left Citigroup to become a deputy secretary of state and joined the Obama administration, where he has worked ever since.
“It’s striking the way in which the Obama administration has been staffed by Citigroup expatriates,” said Simon Johnson, a professor at MIT and frequent critic of big banks.
Lew’s supporters say he showed his mettle during the crisis.
“Jack’s time at Citi was during a very tumultuous period with frequent leadership changes at different levels,” said Schlein, Lew’s former Citigroup colleague. “But through all the changes, my recollection is that at both wealth management and alternative investments, Lew was a very smart, talented manager.”