Is the 2020 election already stolen? Can we steal it back? (Yes and hell yes!) Why were 17 million Americans purged from the voter rolls between 2014 and 2016? And why aren't our elected officials screaming to high heaven about all these vanished voters? What's a provisional ballot? What’s a residual vote? Do we have a functioning democracy? And should we be more worried about Russians or Republicans stealing our vote? Investigative journalist Greg Palast and comedian Lee Camp answer all these questions and more in this conversation, first broadcast on Facebook LIVE to launch Palast's new book, How Trump Stole 2020, which serves as a warning and a roadmap for how we can steal our democracy back!
Greg Palast: I'm here with the extraordinary Lee Camp, professor of medicine. Oh, excuse me, the political satirist of the century, who is the host and star of Redacted Tonight. And we're talking about a fabulous new book, which he got a sneak preview of, called How Trump Stole 2020. And we're gonna talk about stealing it back. Lee camp, so what's up
Lee Camp: I love the book. I've gotten a chance to go through some of it already. It is excellent and horrifying.
Palast: Tell me the parts that are excellent and then tell me the parts that are horrifying — and we'll cut those out later.
Camp: Well, some of it you've been doing great reporting on for a long time now, on Interstate Crosscheck as obviously one of the biggest [sources of voter suppression]. I've been trying to bullhorn your research out to my fans for years now it seems, and it's just incredible. One of the things that really shocked me was where you say that from 2014 to 2016 nearly 17 million Americans have been purged from the rolls — one out of every 12 — and it's horrifying.
Palast: Let's explain to people, purging people doesn't mean that you make them sit on a toilet for several hours. It does mean that you've been removed from the voter rolls. How come I'm doing the jokes, Lee?
Camp: I did have to purge after reading your book.
Palast: So it’s not about bulimia, it's about removing you from the voter rolls. If you think that you're on the voter rolls, you may not be. Don't worry if you're a white suburban homeowner, it's basically people who have committed the crime of voting while Black, voting while Asian American, young people.
We have the story of the Purgin’ Generals, including, for example, Kris Kobach of Kansas… Mr KKK created a system called Interstate Crosscheck. What it does is, as explained in the book, it removes people who were terrible, nasty people, 7.2 million of them that he's identified who are voting in two states. Jose Garcia was voting in Atlanta and there was also a Jose Garcia registered to vote in Detroit. Obviously it's the same voter, so both Jose Garcias have lost their vote. You and I laugh about it, but it's really true.
Camp: For the uninitiated… these are not horrible people. I know you were kidding when you said that. These are average people, and you could have 10 or 20 Jose Garcias right
Palast: Well, actually in the book… cause I was able to get his secret hit list, his secret purge list. It's the blackout list. 538 guys named James Brown were removed from the voter rolls of Georgia. This helped the Republicans win the state. 538 guys named James Brown cause they found another James Brown in Detroit. And by the way, James Thomas Brown is supposed to be the same voter as James Edward Brown, James Brown Sr. is supposed to be the same as James Brown Jr. — they’re all guilty of, of voting while black. This is literally how the system runs…
Now you have to understand, what do you care about this guy Mr. KKK? Mr. Kobach, he is Trump's Vote Thief-in-Chief. Trump put him in charge of the so-called Voter Fraud Commission. Now, here's the thing, people joke about this thing, think it's all bullshit. Well, guess what? 1.1 million voters were removed named Rodriguez and Garcia and David Kim. They're going after the Asian American voters now too. So this is the story of the book. There’s a lot of humor and there's a comic book in the middle of the book by Ted Rall, 48 pages of comics.
I was very lucky cause Ted Rall was fired by the Los Angeles Times for doing satirical cartoons about police beatings of Hispanic kids. The police didn't like that so they got him fired. So we win, it’s in the book, How Trump Stole 2020, the 48 page comic book by Ted Rall. I'm trying to keep him employed. It’s out July 14, but you can preorder the book to help us get on the New York Times bestseller list so the mainstream media can’t ignore it.
Palast: Now you have a new book out too, which is just fabulous. Tell us about that.
Camp: Yeah. I do, Bullet Points and Punch Lines. You found out that the only way you can get into the pages of the New York Times nowadays is to get on their bestseller list. I did it by being attacked by them, but apparently that's the only way you can achieve it, at least for me.
Palast: Right. They said that you were a Russian agent because they said a Russian was standing outside waiting to debrief you… Who was that Russian agent?
Camp: Well, they didn't want to reveal to their readers that immediately following my performance, unrelated to my performance, was a Russian rapper named Noize, who was performing at the Cutting Room in New York City. So the Russians that they saw outside the venue were Russian Americans waiting to see a Russian rapper. That had nothing to do with me.
Palast: In fact I do have a chapter in the book called “Russian to Judgment”. Here's the thing, believe it or not, Trump didn't need any help from some pimply kid in his bedroom playing with computers in Moscow to steal the election. This was a home grown steel in 2016 and it will be homegrown in 2020. This is what I'm very, very concerned about, and this is what we bust open in the book, How Trump Stole 2020. Please get Lee's book too. It's fabulous, it’s funny, it’s brilliant, it’s informative, it's terrifying — all those things at once.
Camp: One of the sections I really liked from your new book is about why the Democrats’ hair isn't on fire about this. It seems you and Stacey Abrams are the only ones that are talking about this… They’ve seen it for decades now, elections being stolen from them, and it's getting worse and worse in the general election. Why aren't the main Democratic establishment touting all of your reporting, yelling from the hills? And I think one of the big things is perhaps because of the manipulation we've seen in the primaries. I mean, we know about the polling places closed in Texas, largely in Hispanic areas. We know about the provisional ballots pushed on people in California. Last time in 2016 there were 200,000 people purged in Brooklyn alone during the Democratic primaries. So I think all I can come up with is they don't really want to analyze our voting system because they don't want to talk about what goes on in the primaries. But in the general, you're showing that all of these Democratic voters are not getting a chance to vote.
Palast: Right. There's a chapter called “The Silence of the Democratic Lambs” and you have to ask the question… For example, why didn't Hillary Clinton scream about the 75,355 voters in in Detroit, African Americans and students basically, whose votes were not counted? Jill Stein of the Green Party paid for a so-called recount, but basically it was counting those votes that never got counted cause of broken machines. But Donald Trump went to court and said Jill Stein can't have these ballots read, which would have given the state of Michigan to Hillary Clinton. He said ‘cause she wasn't the one who was shafted, it was Hillary Clinton [who had standing]. Hillary Clinton's lawyers were in the courtroom, so the judge said, well, what does Secretary Clinton say? Do you want these ballots counted? And their lawyers said, we are just here to observe, which is of course was Hillary Clinton's campaign theme.
Why did Al Gore not defend the black voters of Florida in 2000 who were shafted by being called felons? Their only crime was voting while black. There were no illegal felon voters in Florida. Al Gore did not stand up for those voters. Instead, he grew a beard, divorced his odious wife, became a billionaire, won the Nobel Peace Prize. So he's happy, but he said nothing about the black voters of Florida and the voters that were shafted.
Why do Democrats do this? That's why the chapter’s called “Silence of the Democratic Lambs. I have to tell you, I'm not quite sure why… As you mentioned, Stacey Abrams, she actually hired my team to go through how she got shafted. She said, I won, but I won't be inaugurated because of these Jim Crow tactics… So she's a whole different thing. But I don't know if you know this, she’s not white.
So, yeah, I do get a lot of support from Democrats. I can't say it's all Democrats. But no positive words from the White Congressional Caucus, and this has been the problem. I don't know all the answers of why they are so silent in the face of being bitch slapped by the Republican vote thieves.
Camp: Also, and you mentioned this in the book, they have to keep up this illusion that American voting is this holier-than-thou wonderful thing that just runs perfectly every time. And it's simply not true. It's a myth. It does not run perfectly. There's endless suppression. They want people to keep believing it even though a large Harvard study showed that we had the worst election system in the Western world — and you're pointing out many of those reasons. So it's simply a myth that we have this best democracy in the world.
Palast: Well, as you'll see in the book, we had not only 17 million people purged who can't vote, but you have millions of ballots just thrown in the garbage can. You mentioned provisional ballots, I don't think people will know what that is. If you're white, you may not be aware of this, people get these back-of-the0bus ballots. As mentioned in How Trump Stole 2020, back in 2000 when I found out that thousands of black men were accused of being felons who couldn't vote. Bush, the pre-Trump Trump, won Florida and therefore the presidency by just 537 votes, excluding tens of thousands of black voters. And so the Black Congressional Caucus got the right in law, the Help America Vote Act. Bush agreed to the Help America Vote Act, but look out, Lee, when Bush tells you he's going to help you vote. They got the right to give people get these provisional ballots. If your name is missing from the voter rolls, you’ve got to get one. But they didn't get the right to have them counted. 3 million people, almost exclusively young people, black voters and Hispanic voters, were shunted in 2016 to provisional ballots. 3 million of these back-of-the-bus ballots. 1 million we're thrown in the garbage can. That elected — selected — Donald Trump in Ohio and in other swing states. A million votes in the garbage!
We also have this thing called residual voters. What's a residual vote? Is it like something hanging off the back of the ballot? The answer is: it's ballots we don't count that are thrown in the garbage. It's rejected ballots because you made some type of minor mistake. And this is huge in mail-in ballots, because remember, mail-in ballots are no longer secret ballots. It has got your damn name on it. In fact, if you don't sign it in one place, if not two, ‘cause a lot of states require a witness, require you to sign it twice. Right? And in some places the require a notary. By the way, if you have to notarize your ballot or you have to have a witness, have someone you really don't like do it, because if someone's going to die notarizing or witnessing your ballot during the epidemic at least take out somebody you don't like. But that's the only way to get your mail-in ballot counted in places like Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Camp: You make a great point. A lot of people in this coronavirus pandemic right now are saying, well, let's just switch to all mail-in ballots. And while that would deal with the shenanigans that go on with the computer voting, you point out in your book also that 22% of mail-in ballots are thrown out cause it's so easy to throw them out. You just look at any mark on the page and say, Oh no, that's no good.
Palast: In fact, I talk about two voters who lost their vote because they didn't fill in the little bubble next to the name properly. If you put an X or use a red pen and you don't fill in the bubble and you put an X you lose your vote. That was my mother and my sister. My mom was a school teacher and my sister's a lawyer, and they still screwed it up. But mostly they're targeting voters of color. Let's put this way, there's something called an under-vote and an over-vote, these are fancy terms for saying they're going to shaft you out of your ballot. If there’s an extra mark on your ballot it’s an over-vote. Do you know that if you are African American, the chance that your ballot will be disqualified because of an over-vote is five times as much as a white voter. Because they know who you are, so they look for that extra mark and they'll say, throw this one out. It’s postal Jim Crow, or Jim Corona Virus, whatever you want to call it. So how can we see your show?
Camp: Redacted Tonight, where I talk about a lot of the issues that you bring up and I steal your research. I'd say at least a lot of the time I give you credit for it. Redacted Tonight’s on YouTube, it’s also at LeeCamp.com and that's also where the new book is and the comedy special, which people can watch for free now — that’s at: LeeCampAmerican.com. But I recommend everybody check out your book, Greg, because this is important stuff and we need to talk about, and we need to drastically overhaul our voting system because if we don't have some form of democracy than what the hell do we have?