Palast discusses the theft of the 2020 election, which is happening right now, right under our noses, with Sabrina Jacobs on KPFA's A Rude Awakening.
Sabrina Jacobs: Stacey Abrams has teamed up with veteran investigative reporter and voting rights advocate Greg Palast in order to help her ongoing lawsuit over voters who were purged from Georgia's voting roles in the months before the 2018 midterm elections. Palast, who attracted national attention several years ago as one of the first journalists to document the widespread purging of black voters from Florida's voter rolls during the controversial 2000 election, has announced that he will be teaming up with Stacey Abrams and her nonprofit Fair Fight. And for those of you who don't know who Greg Palast is, he's known for his investigative reports for BBC Television, Rolling Stone, and now for The Guardian. He’s written four New York Times bestsellers, including The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, which is also a feature documentary available on Amazon Prime…. It is an honor to have you on A Rude Awakening, truly appreciate you taking the time.
Greg Palast: Well, I'm always thrilled to be on KPFA…
Sabrina Jacobs: So you're going to be teaming up with Stacey Abrams, helping with the ongoing lawsuit. Give us some of your background just for people in the community who aren't completely aware of what you've done and what makes you the expert on this subject of voter fraud. Tell us about yourself a little more.
Greg Palast: For the past 20 years, I've been an investigative reporter… About half my beat has been on what is sometimes called vote suppression — I simply call it a racist vote theft — that goes on in America. We still have apartheid elections. You had mentioned that back in 2000 when Gore was running against Bush and Bush won the presidency of the United States by just 537 votes, that was in Florida. But what I found out while I was working then with The Guardian, I was in London and I got hold of two computer disks from inside [the office of] the Florida Secretary of State. Her name was Katherine Harris. She was also running the Bush reelection campaign and she had removed, before the election, tens of thousands of black folk from the voter rolls, saying that they were ex-cons, felons who in the state of Florida could not vote. So she removed tens of thousands of people, but not one American outlet said, well, are these really criminals? [Are they] in fact ex cons? I got the list and exactly none of them were. Zero. None. None at all. They were people like Willie Steen, a Gulf war veteran — unlike our draft-dodging president at the time. And the current draft dodging president, who couldn’t remember which foot was so bad he couldn’t go to Vietnam. It was the right or the left Donald. 50/50.
So we busted them. They removed all these black people. That's how a Bush became president. In 2004, we saw Kerry was denied the presidency by stealing it in Ohio. Obama overcame the steal. That's when I wrote an update to The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Then I did the film, which premiered as a benefit for KPFA, in which I said, in the version that we premiered in Berkeley, that Donald Trump was going to steal this election. But you didn't listen. No. You bought your party dresses for Hillary's inauguration. It was all locked up. Forget about it. It's done and dusted. And I said, but Agent Orange is going to steal this thing. [I told you] exactly how he was going to do it. Here's the system, called Crosscheck, which is created by a guy named Kris Kobach of Kansas. Just think KKK. Kris Kobach of Kansas came with a system of removing voters who were registered in two states, to prevent people voting in two states, which is a terrible crime. He didn't catch anyone doing it, but, hey, he has millions of suspects on the list with names like John Jackson, Jose Garcia, David Kim — you get the idea, right?
Sabrina Jacobs: Right. Totally. Now, this is a part of that committee that was put together after Trump was elected, right? Is that what you're talking about?
Greg Palast: Well, Kobach got him elected… When I was doing this investigation for Rolling Stone and Democracy Now we calculated about 1.1 million people were removed from the voter rolls for being doubly registered. People like, literally, 576 guys named James Brown in Georgia. James Edward Brown was supposed to have been the same guy as James Thomas Brown. James Brown, Jr. was supposed to be the same guy as James Brown, Sr. They all lost their vote. And see, here's the trick.
Sabrina Jacobs: Wow.
Greg Palast: The trick is that the history of slavery, the Spanish conquest, the history of immigration from China, Korea, and from the East, people come in with common last names. Children of slaves [were given names like] Jackson, Johnson, Black, and Jones. In addition, [they matched minority names like] Garcia, et cetera… 85 of the 100 most common last names in America are minority names, and they used that. Basically, if your first and last name matched someone in another state, you had a very good chance of losing your vote. That's how Trump won 2016…
In fact, the current version of the film, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, has the updates showing you not just how Trump was going to steal it, but then I go back and show you how he did steal it in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania. And now what I want to talk to you about, and what I'm working on now for The Guardian newspapers and a book I'm writing too — in fact the book’s going to be called, How Trump Stole 2020 — so I'm telling you in advance. Your final warning.
Sabrina Jacobs: Okay. We have been warned. So you really, really think that he's going to steal the 2020 election.
Greg Palast: I know that he's going to steal that.
Sabrina Jacobs: We’ve got Bloomberg… He's skipping the early voting states, Iowa and the other three, right. He's on the debate stage. He's got a billion dollar machine behind him. Right? He said that if he does not get the nomination, that he's willing to throw that billion dollar machine behind whoever the Democratic nominee is. Do you think that that speaks to something? The possibility of stopping Trump at all?
Greg Palast: No, I think not. Because Hillary Clinton outspent Trump by almost a billion dollars in 2016. After commercial number 200 it doesn't matter. What does matter is if you say, okay, I'm going to go vote and it says, Sabrina Jacobs, sorry, you've already voted in Wisconsin, you can't vote now. Then it doesn't matter how much money Bloomberg has put in convincing people and buying endless ads, which I think are pretty meaningless when you basically have an apartheid voting system that doesn't let Black, Brown, Hispanic and young people vote, takes away their vote…
You mentioned Stacey Abrams… I've been on the trail of the GOP vote thieves in Georgia for six years. I went there for Democracy Now and Al Jazeera back in 2013 and I've been there every year because this is ground zero of vote theft. Georgia, which you think of as a Republican state, that's nonsense. In fact I think it's going to be officially this year, the first Deep South white minority state, that is white people will be in the minority in Georgia. So the Democrats can't lose — unless they steal it from them.
Stacey Abrams lost by few thousand votes when she ran for governor in 2018. Now, let's remember, she's the first black woman to ever run for governor in any state in America in our entire history. She just lost by a couple thousand votes. However, she lost to a guy named Brian Kemp, and Kemp — while he's running for governor — he’s also in charge of the election as Secretary of State, determining who gets to vote, where, when, and how, and which votes get counted.
So, of course, I dig in and find out that Brian Kemp has removed over half a million voters in the year before the election. Overwhelmingly young and minority voters — and that means Democrats. The way he did this is he said, well, these people have left the state. They’ve moved to other states or out of their county. And I said, well, that's a lot of people. There'd be U-Hauls all over the road if half a million families suddenly picked up and got on the move. So I doubted it. I hired some really top guys, a guy named John Lenzer, a guy named Mark Sweedland from Silicon Valley. These are the guys that tell eBay, Amazon and American Express where you live at and what you're up to. You don't have any privacy. I can tell you right now what you did last Thursday. So by hiring the people that Amazon uses to find you… they never send the tighty whities to the wrong address, right? How do they always get it right? I brought in the experts and I said, have half a million people in Georgia moved?
They took the list of people that were purged. I had sued them. This is Greg Palast, this is what I do. I sued Brian Kemp, this scamp running for governor while he's running the election system, got the purge lists, gave it to the experts. And they said, you know what, here are 340,134 people [that have never moved from the address where they registered to vote], we have their names and addresses… It’s not a sample or something, this is every name that we went through. 340,134 Georgians — a third of a million — were wrongly removed for voting. They've never moved from their registration address. That doesn't count another a hundred thousand who just moved down the street.
Among those who are on the purge list and lost the right to vote was Christine Jordan… Christine Jordan showed up, she was 92 years old in May 2018, so she's almost 94 years old now, and she showed up to vote for the 50th year in a row, voting at the same voting stations, and they threw her out. If you go to GregPalast.com you will meet Christine Jordan, who is the cousin of Martin Luther King, Jr. She registered to vote in 1968, the year her cousin was murdered and the first presidential election following the passage of the Voting Rights Act for which he sacrificed his life. And now, 50 years later, Christine Jordan is thrown out of a Georgia voting station.
Sabrina Jacobs: My goodness.
Greg Palast: That's what defeated Stacey Abrams so now she is suing to change the laws in Georgia. If we can change the laws in Georgia it creates a precedent nationwide. But I'm going to be working nationwide for The Guardian. She's hired my expert team to go into the federal court to explain that Brian Kemp basically removed people so he could get himself elected governor. She's not trying to reverse the outcome of the election. She knows she's not going to be governor with this lawsuit, but she’s trying to end this racist, apartheid, voter purging system, which is going on throughout the country now, after the test drive in Georgia. The GOP has used it in Michigan, in Ohio, and in Wisconsin. They’re trying to use it in North Carolina. They're trying to impose it in Florida. In other words, this could absolutely reelect Trump no matter the will of the voters.
Sabrina Jacobs: You're starting in Georgia with Stacey Abrams. And let's make sure we get the name of her nonprofit out there… Stacey Abrams’ nonprofit voter advocacy organization is called Fair Fight… You can check it out at FairFight.com. I just want to make sure we get that out there. Now, you're starting in Georgia with Stacey Abrams’ organization. Is her organization going to be moving to those other States?
Greg Palast: Actually, I was just about to have a meeting this morning on just that question. I can tell you I am, because as a journalist it's important to me. The reason I'm not on Stacey Abrams’ payroll, just the rest of my team, is that I want the freedom to move around as a journalist.
Sabrina Jacobs: Right.
Greg Palast: I've done plenty of years of courtroom work… and I'm done with it. But, as an investigator, I just feel like I can move to Wisconsin, I can move to Ohio, Michigan, et cetera for The Guardian and KPFA. By the way, I'll be continuing to make reports with A Rude Awakening and, for those of you who listen in the afternoons, on Flashpoints you can hear The Election Crimes Bulletin about every other week. But, here's the thing, I think exposure is key. Cockroaches run to the walls when you turn on the lights… That racist purging system by Mr. KKK of Kansas, the exposure got the program reversed and removed and ended in Illinois and Massachusetts. And then it started spreading. Even now, even Georgia itself says we're not going to use Kris Kobach’s program. ‘Cause that's one of the places where it started. So we basically blew out the program. Kansas now has said it will no longer provide these kind of poisonous hit lists. So you can win, and we did it really with exposure…
Because you know what? Most Americans — Republican, Democrat, white, black, whatever — most Americans actually believe that everyone should be allowed to vote who’s a citizen and that every vote should be counted. And I think most Americans are actually quite horrified by these games. And certainly these guys don't admit it. It's not like George Wallace back in the ‘60s, segregation now and forever, standing in the school house door and blocking voting stations. They can't be upfront because most Americans actually think we ought to have a democracy here.
Sabrina Jacobs: What is the timeline that you're looking at as far as being able to come to a conclusion with this? Are you seeing that this won't have some semblance of being settled until 2024?
Greg Palast: Well, yeah.
Sabrina Jacobs: Because you've got federal lawsuits out, you’ve got one out in Georgia and you're going to be following up with Ohio, Michigan, Florida, et cetera, and that's going to take time. Our judicial system takes time. So do you have a sense of when you'll be able to have this settled and dealt with?
Greg Palast: Yeah. In the sense of, I think it's a political schedule.
Sabrina Jacobs: Right. That too.
Greg Palast: Of course, Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight is going to be pushing the federal courts to say, look, you got to have this straightened out before 2020. You removed a third of a million people wrongly. They have to be put back or the law has to change… We have that with Wisconsin right now. Actually, believe it or not, I'm doing something I never do; I'm actually defending the state of Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker got his butt thrown out by the votes. They stole a lot of votes, but they couldn't steal enough to keep Scott Scott Walker in. So Tony Evers is the new Democratic governor and he's got a terrific lieutenant governor, who has been following my work closely, Mandela Barnes. So the state said, you know what? We're not going to purge. We have a list of 120,000 people who are going to be purged from the voter rolls, and this list is bogus and we know it, so we're not going to do it.
Then a right-wing group backed by Koch money — not money as in cartel coke money, but K-O-C-H money, the dangerous one. So the Koch money behind this right-wing law firm, this so-called public interest group, they sued to get the courts to order Wisconsin to remove voters. So a state Republican judge said, yeah, you've got to remove these people, even though the state itself said, yeah, but the list is bogus. So what I'm going to do now is I'm going to Wisconsin and we're going to get our experts, the ones that have been hired by Stacey Abrams, we're going to get them onto Wisconsin, going name by name.
Again, it's not a sample. We go name by name to say you can't purge these people. The other thing we do is we get tremendous publicity when we put out a piece. In fact, if you know people in Georgia or Indiana or Arizona and a few other states, they can see if they are on those states’ purge lists… You can put in your name and see if you've been put on one of these ugly hit lists. We tell people to check their registration [and to reregister if they've been removed from the voter rolls].
Sabrina Jacobs: Go to GregPalast.com, he’s going to tell you what you need to know. You can also donate there and support the Stop the Purge 2020 actions and reports.
He's there for us folks. He is doing an incredible service by lifting the veil, taking the cloak off of everything that's happening as far as our votes are concerned. We're talking about your vote community. We're talking about your vote not counting in a lot of situations, especially if you're a person of color. And, Greg, you definitely need to keep us posted. And I need to keep you in the loop here on A Rude Awakening.
I want to know what's going on with Georgia. I want to know what's going on with all the other states, Michigan, Ohio, the country, the whole country. What you're doing is you're saving us and you're saving this democracy here in this country. So I definitely want to stay in touch with you. Mr. Greg Palast, investigative reporter for The Guardian, who was kind enough to take time out and talk to us here at A Rude Awakening and we love you for it. Thank you so much.