LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder testified behind closed doors Wednesday about his role taking Detroit into bankruptcy, a rare interview with lawyers for creditors who pressed him about retiree pensions and asked if the city could have done more to avoid the historic filing.
Snyder waived executive privilege and gave a three-hour deposition at his office in Lansing. The testimony can be used as evidence in an upcoming trial that will determine whether Detroit is eligible to shed or restructure at least $18 billion in debt in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Snyder, a Republican, didn’t speak to reporters but issued a statement that repeated many of his previous justifications for the largest public bankruptcy in U.S. history.
The “Chapter 9 filing was a difficult but necessary decision, one that clearly was the last and only viable option to resolve the city’s fiscal crisis and restore the greatness of this proud city,” the governor said.
Three months after the filing, no assets have been divided and no major deals have been struck. A judge first must decide whether Detroit has cleared key hurdles that would qualify it for Chapter 9.
“It’s extraordinarily rare” for a governor anywhere to be interviewed under oath about executive decisions, said Devin Schindler, who teaches constitutional law at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
After the deposition, union attorney Sharon Levine complimented Snyder for stepping forward but told reporters that he wasn’t always forthcoming. She said he sometimes couldn’t recall things and at other times refused to answer questions that might reveal advice he got from his own lawyers.
Levine said there doesn’t seem to be a solution for Detroit retirees who could lose pension benefits.
“The fact that we still don’t really fully understand what comes next and if there’s a safety net that’s being thought about for the retirees is still of concern,” Levine said.
She said Snyder seemed satisfied that Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr held good-faith negotiations with creditors before recommending bankruptcy to the governor in July. Creditors aren’t so sure.
“We’re still very concerned that there were no proper negotiations going into this process and that if we had more time and better negotiations perhaps there could be have been a different result,” Levine said.
Last month, the attorney general’s office tried to keep Snyder on the sideline by invoking executive privilege, a common defense. But that didn’t seem to sit well with U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, so lawyers for the governor said he would agree to be interviewed.
Snyder has repeatedly said bankruptcy was a last resort for Detroit, which has lost 25 percent of its population since 2000 but continues to bear pension and health care obligations struck in better times. He benched local elected leaders in March when he appointed Orr, a bankruptcy specialist, as emergency manager with sweeping powers.
Schindler doubted that Snyder, a certified public accountant who rarely strays from a cautious style of speaking, would give any fuel to critics who want to derail the bankruptcy case.
“He’s a very talented, savvy fellow who understands how the legal system works,” Schindler said. “I’m sure he’ll be careful, precise and honest in what he says.”
Governors and other high-ranking officials generally are protected from testifying in a legal matter. But there are exceptions, especially when the topic is outside their public role. In 1998, President Bill Clinton was on the hot seat when he gave a deposition in a civil lawsuit filed by Paula Jones, who claimed he had sexually harassed her when he was Arkansas governor.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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