They don't steal votes to steal elections. They steal votes to steal the money. If you can steal an election, you've stolen the keys to the treasury — our treasury. In this conversation, award-winning investigative reporters and authors Greg Palast (The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and How Trump Stole 2020) and David Cay Johnston (The Making of Donald Trump and It's Even Worse Than You Think) follow the (stolen) money, and expose the billionaires and ballot bandits who are systematically stripping the United States of its assets, just as a vulture fund would with a corporate entity caught in its talons. Watch this conversation, then read Palast's new book — How Trump Stole 2020: The Hunt For America’s Vanished Voters — to find out how we can stop those who seek to undermine our democracy to feed their insatiable greed.
Greg Palast: This is Greg Palast, the author of the new book, How Trump Stole 2020 (out on July 14). What you just saw was a clip from The Best Democracy Money Can Buy about the billionaires that put Donald Trump into office. That was John Paulson, the guy who crashed the mortgage market in 2008 and made $5 billion personally — more than even the pharaohs have ever made. No other human beings made that much money. But that wasn't enough. So he became the number one economic advisor to Donald Trump. And his partner, Steve Mnuchin is — well, he's not in jail — he’s Secretary of the Treasury, deciding what to do with our trillions in easy squeezy that have just been put out.
I can't be more honored that we have with us now live, David Cay Johnston, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of the amazing bestselling book, It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America. He's the founder and editor of DCReport.org, what an honor, David Cay Johnston is going to tell us about the billionaires who are making more billions from Donald Trump's misadministration. David Cay Johnston, glad you're with us now.
David Cay Johnston: Well, thank you for having me back again.
Greg Palast: I know that Stephen Schwarzman just had a private meeting with Trump… Well, I guess I should call him Dr Schwarzman, cause he's telling Trump went to lift the restrictions on movement and social distancing. I didn't know he had a medical degree, but I guess if you have several billion, that's enough… So tell us, what’s so bad about having billionaires decide who lives, who dies, and when?
David Cay Johnston: I think there's a reason we have medical professionals and public health experts whose business this is, not people who value themselves based on whether they have two or three commas after their net worth statement. I've observed among the many very wealthy people I've known, that those who earned their money in the marketplace and made it in prosaic businesses, where they hired ordinary Americans, are generally pretty good folks.
Greg Palast: You mean the people who make stuff as opposed to manipulate markets?
David Cay Johnston: Right. But those who made it in the marketplace who work in finance, but who got it from government subsidies, which I've written bestsellers about, they're not that way at all.
I always try to keep in mind the profile of Sherry Lansing, who was the first woman to head a major Hollywood studio, done by my colleague Geraldine Fabrikant. It was at the New York Times about 25 years ago. It was about how Ms Lansing, who at the time had to be worth at least a hundred million dollars, absolute minimum… It said that she had nightmares about becoming a bag lady, pushing a grocery cart down the street.
That is a sick relationship with money and the billionaires in this country who made their money off the taxpayers, off of hidden subsidies, off of not paying their taxes, off of finance, and especially financial manipulations of the rules, those people have a pathological relationship to money, and it's not unlike the relationship that the coronavirus has to human beings. It does bad things and not a single good thing.
Greg Palast: But what do we care? So some billionaire has a sick relationship, they just want another billion or they can't sleep. So what do we care? Why does it affect us? What does it matter? Donald Trump's president and his buddies are, as he says, not losers. He says, what do you want me to put my cabinet? Losers? No, you need billionaires or the billionaires buck buddies in office. So what's the problem? We have this government, we have a billionaire president, we should be grateful. Like he says, he's successful. Do you want a loser?
David Cay Johnston: Well, the problem with that is we end up with policies that further enrich the already rich, which is a terrible measure. The measure of people's lives should be character and wisdom, and integrity, not wealth.
In the case of Donald Trump, who's no billionaire, I was the one to first expose in 1990 that he was a fraud and didn't have any money like that at all. In fact, he had a negative net worth of about $300 million back then… But because they have access to the president, because they get their buddies appointed to government positions, we ended up with a government that works against ordinary people.
Right now, the National Labor Relations Board cannot act because it doesn't have a majority, a quorum because Trump won't appoint people. There's no quorum, so you have workers all across America, who’ve tried to organize unions who've been fired. It's illegal to fire them, but they can't have their cases heard because the board isn't there.
The Federal Elections Commission is supposed to deal with improper campaign financing, illegal money going to be campaigns — Russia money for example. And guess what? They don't have a quorum. And in other cases, the rules are being rewritten so that who is winning? Companies that pollute, companies that don't clean up their toxic messes, companies that are creating unsafe conditions.
That's the problem with it. You need to have a balance in your government and we don't have a balance at all. What we have is a government right now of, by, and for the worst segments in our society, billionaires who've made their money through manipulation of the financial markets and subsidies. And racists. We have a Minister of Hate in this administration, in this White House.
Greg Palast: Who would that be?
David Cay Johnston: Stephen Miller. We cage children, we are not pursuing all sorts of criminal activity, and, of course, as we see the death count rising, we have a president who told us when we only had 15 coronavirus cases that soon they would all go away.
Greg Palast: All you have to do is show up to work and it just magically disappears. Magically. So he's a magician too. But, you know, let me ask you a question. You talked about the billionaires in the cabinet and the demi-billionaires like Steve Mnuchin, the partner of John Paulson who crashed the mortgage market in 2008. They were involved in the takeover of OneWest Bank. Tell us about this guy who has come up with, after all… he’s been quite generous. Steve and Mr. Trump. Well, I’m nonpartisan, so I shouldn't use his name. Let’s call him Agent Orange. So tell us about Steve Mnuchin, I know you've done quite a bit of investigating, and about our Secretary of Treasury, the guy who's handing out the $2 trillion to we viral Americans.
David Cay Johnston: Steve Mnuchin is part of a story that keeps happening since Reagan and since we stopped regulating banks and financial institutions. Remember, from the end of the depression in the thirties, up until about 1985, we didn't have big bank failures of any consequence. What Mnuchin did was, for a song, he got a hold of a failing Pasadena, California savings & loan, or it may have actually been a bank. It had a portfolio of loans, and by manipulating the closing of these loans on people, many of whom qualified for quality 30 year conventional mortgages, but were put into crummy mortgages, with terrible features in them, he got rich.
Greg Palast: Subprimes, huge, huge boosts in interest rates, et cetera.
David Cay Johnston: Right. About a fifth of these loans in the whole country were issued by one bank, Countrywide in Thousand Oaks, which was about an hour outside Los Angeles, where they literally had what they called “arts and crafts rooms” where they just made up financial statements to show people qualified.
One in three real estate appraisers in America, about 11,000 real estate appraisers, signed a petition to the federal government early in this century saying, we are not getting business because we won't inflate the values of properties. Mnuchin took advantage of the situation. It used to be, when I first got a loan as a young man on a home, I put 20% down and the only security the bank had was my house. That meant the bank had a tremendous interest in making sure the house was worth what they were loaning me against.
Greg Palast: Right.
David Cay Johnston: Well, the Bush Administration essentially stopped these rules, what are called underwriting. So if you wrote a note and gave someone a million dollars for a house that was worth $200,000, the surface result would be, well, a banker wouldn't do that because they wouldn't get their money back. Now, we set up a system where you then sold the note, the note was put into a package with hundreds of thousands of other notes, they were divvied up between pension funds and hedge funds and other investors, and significantly, if you got in trouble with your mortgage… You lost your job, for example, or you had an automobile accident and had big medical bills, under the old system, you could go to your banker and say, I need a forbearance and I need some help. I’ve got to do something to fix this mortgage. Under the new system, they would say, I'm sorry, you get a bill from us every month, but we don't own that mortgage. We’ve sold it, and we're not allowed to reach in and get your mortgage and pull it out so that we can give you a forbearance to give you some relief, we would have to undo the whole package. You're stuck. You know we still have that system?
Greg Palast: And how many people lost their homes because of it?
David Cay Johnston: Not only did enormous numbers of people lose their homes, and some of them over highly technical matters. In one case, over 27 cents and the payment they sent in being short.
If you're someone listening to this who has paid off their mortgage, or someone around you has paid off their mortgage, do what I just did yesterday. I went to look up the notice at the courthouse online that I paid off the mortgage on my home. Being an old guy, I paid off my mortgage. Wells Fargo Bank never filed the paperwork. Even though I paid my mortgage years ago, it shows that I still owe a mortgage. Go check folks. I mean, this is going to blow up on people.
Mnuchin was the guy who remember, not only did he go in and profit off this, this is the guy whose his wife played Marie “let them eat cake” Antoinette in the only big movie role she had. And he just said, and I'm slightly condensing his words: “Hey, you're getting $1,200. Americans should be able to live for 10 weeks on $1,200.” This is a guy who can't live on $1,200 for lunch.
Greg Palast: Mnuchin himself actually cashed in big time. Every time someone was foreclosed on, Mnuchin actually picked up a fee from the government for foreclosing on homes. In addition, his partner John Paulson, made $5 billion in the crash of the market and helped push it over a cliff. By the way, Mnuchin made a couple of hundred million, and now he's our Secretary of Treasury, and like you say, he says, 1200 bucks is enough.
Greg Palast: I'm speaking right now with David Cay Johnston, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of the bestselling book, It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America. He is the founder and Editor in Chief of DCReport.org. Great site. You get insights that you just don't get anywhere in the lamestream media. It's the real thing. Please go to DCReport.org. This is Greg Palast, you may know me as the author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and the film which you just saw clip of, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. My new book’s out, How Trump's Stole 2020. I figured I would write it in advance. It's kind of like your last warning…
I’ve been writing books about theft of the election in 2000 and Best Democracy Money Can Buy about after basically George Bush stole the election by removing black people from the voter rolls of Florida in 2004. I wrote a book, Armed Madhouse about the theft of the ’08 election in Ohio and elsewhere, again, through racial vote thieving techniques we call vote suppression.
But you know, David, when someone steals your car, you don't say your car's been suppressed, you say it's been stolen. So I'm thrilled to speak with you, because I want to emphasize to people, they don't steal votes to steal elections. They steal votes to steal the money. And no one knows more about this than David Cay Johnston, because first of all, he busted Donald Trump on his number one claim to fame, that he's a billionaire. He was a negative millionaire when he came into office, he was already deep in the hole. But he seems to be filling that hole while he's in office. Can you talk to me about that?
David Cay Johnston: I have no doubt that Donald has profited mightily from this. As taxpayers, we spend a fortune when he goes to play golf and the secret service rents a golf cart just for his security. I don't have any problem with the issue of security. Whatever security we need to provide the president, we should provide that. But not to the president’s own companies where he charges the highest retail price he can.
Donald's a grifter, he's a con artist. He's the third generation head of a white collar crime family that's now four generations, and so we shouldn't be surprised by that. When any policy is put in place, whether it's the mortgage policies we talked about earlier, whether it's various other things Trump's doing now with voting, there are always about 14 different ways to rip off the public.
Let me give you what I think is one of the best examples. We just had a piece, I didn't write it, I edited it at DCReport. Imagine you went out and bought some corporate bonds last year for your retirement accounts, Ford Motor Company bonds. Ford’s never filed bankruptcy, it’s a solid company, makes a profit, and then the coronavirus comes along. Now your Ford bonds are worth a lot less. So we bought a $1,000 bond and maybe now it's worth $700. Well, the Federal Reserve will buy your bond back at a $1,000. Oh, I'm sorry, they won't buy your bond back, Greg, because you're just an ordinary bloke. But if you were the Palast Hedge Fund, if you were the Palast Bank, the Palast Insurance Company, why, the Fed will be happy to give you nice new greenbacks at a hundred cents on the dollar for your dirty old bond that isn’t worth it.
A huge amount of money is being transferred this way. We call it, not money laundering, but money washing. And who knows about this? Hardly anybody. When we ran our piece, some people on Twitter said, well, you know, it’s too hard to understand. I said, you didn’t read the piece. We wrote it so that anybody who went to high school could understand its meaning.
They are doing everything they can in this administration to pick your pocket, to put rules that take away your right to protect yourself if you're wronged, to get redress in the courts. They're appointing judges who are unqualified, rated by the American Bar Association as unqualified. They've tried to put people in positions of being judges on appeals courts who've never tried a case and don't even understand the procedure of courtroom law. Most lawyers, remember, don't practice in a courtroom. They practice in an office with an ink pen and that's the characteristic people need to understand. And you're quite right, voter suppression is probably the wrong term. It's stealing the election by preventing you from voting.
We should take some heart, however, in Wisconsin, where they only had five instead of 180 voting places in Milwaukee. People turned out to vote. These two awful right-wing judges, who were removed, could only be removed because people who were not in Milwaukee, which is a mostly minority city, but in the white dairy country and manufacturing country around that state also voted to remove these guys.
My children are all grown now. You can't have any children, and not be an optimist. Hopefully, your book title will turn out to be wrong, but they're going to do everything they can to steal this election, to make sure you can't vote, and if you do vote that your vote won’t be counted.
Greg Palast: That's the point… If you're listening, this is Greg Palast, the author of The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, the bestseller and other bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Armed Madhouse. My next, hopefully bestseller, is How Trump Stole 2020. I’m writing it in advance, it’s not a prediction, I don't have a crystal ball. Some people may say I have crystal balls, ‘cause they may break on this one. The idea is that this is your last warning. It’s not about whether Trump should be elected or unelected. I'm not partisan on this. If he gets the votes, fine. We're talking about shoplifting this election through this trickery.
We saw it in Milwaukee, where they insisted on going ahead and literally… I’ve talked to experts who say people are going to die, who lined up to vote, and especially the poll workers. They went from 180 polling stations in Milwaukee to five. Milwaukee is an African American majority city in Milwaukee, but like you say, they can't steal all the votes all the time.
People in Wisconsin, all over the state, Democrats and Republicans said, we've had enough of this type of trickery. They voted in progressives as judges in the state of Wisconsin, as they’ve thrown out Scott Walker and replaced him with Tony Evers, and Mandela Barnes is Lieutenant Governor.
David Cay Johnston: We got a very good indication this week of how far Trump was going to go in the election in the fall. Trump made this assertion, repeatedly, that the constitution is full of provisions… that only he can decide when the economy can be opened up and the governors have to do what he says, and he has all power. And you may recall he's previously said, I have an Article Two that lets me do anything as president. Because of course, Donald has never read the Constitution. He has no idea what's in it. Not one of the mainstream reporters in 2016 election asked him about this. I called my former colleagues at the New York Times and the LA Times, and friends at the Washington Post and elsewhere, and said, just ask him what's in Article Two and don't let him get away with, oh, its awesome power. Make him specify. Cause he can't do it.
He’s a madman. He wants to be Emperor Donald I. He wants Ivanka to be Emperor Ivanka I after he's gone, and to think otherwise is to just defy reality. A man who says that he's in total control and the governors are subordinate to him, is somebody who didn't pay attention in junior high school civics when we learned about the federal system and how the states are co-equal to the federal government. People should be really, really worried. In the event — and I think this is unlikely — that he tries somehow to suspend an election, just remember this: We held an election in 1864 during the Civil War.
But we should open up voting. People should be able to vote on multiple days, they should be able to vote by mail-in ballot if they choose, and they shouldn't have to put postage on the letter. Congress should approve money for the postal costs. The Democrats should really hold up any further corporate bailout or any money for corporations on that one issue.
Greg Palast: You're talking about democracy and connecting it to the money, as they do. Because they understand that the trick is if you can steal an election, you've stolen the keys to the treasury, to our treasury.
David Cay Johnston: To the treasury. That's right. And it's easier to make a fortune by stealing it from the treasury or rewriting the government rule book, than where you should make a fortune, in the competitive marketplace.
Greg Palast: Making stuff. Speaking of making stuff… David Cay Johnston, who is the Pulitzer Prize winning founder of DCReport.org, a great place for real information that you can understand, but it's real investigative reporting. This is the good stuff. And of course, at GregPalast.com, you can pick up my reports for Salon, Rolling Stone, and other outlets. But more important, I want you to get David Cay Johnston's wonderful bestselling book, that's really quite important. It's just a great read, which is, It's Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America. And of course, I hope that you'll also pick up How Trump Stole 2020 (which will be out on July 14). You can preorder it now on Amazon.
Greg Palast: You were also concerned about the integrity of the vote coming up in November. You're talking about, one, Trump possibly pulling a fast one and canceling it. You know that there are issues, for example, cause we do have an electoral college. We saw in Florida, back in 2000, people don't remember something that was quite dangerous. The Florida state Legislature, Republican controlled, ordered their electors to vote for George Bush no matter what the vote count. Now, we’ve kind of forgotten about that, and Al Gore grabbed his ankles and it was over with. But, that type of business, where a partisan legislature can order their electors… They’ll say, oh, we have problems with the vote count. We had a virus. We couldn't count the votes. This is a dangerous new business.
Democracy is a very precious thing and it's not just a matter of who is in charge of the votes and who wins the count, but they win the money. Right now, it's life and death. It’s not about whether I'm for against Donald Trump getting reelected, or Joe Biden or Bernie… It's a question of your right to vote, and if you read David Cay Johnston's book, you will know what's at stake. Homes were lost to the gangsters and the banksters that David Cay Johnston exposed. Donald Trump was not a billionaire when he became president of the United States. He just plays one on TV. But he is right now, with his buddies, stuffing their pockets. It would be very extraordinary, if it weren't shifting into his pocket in some way, but even more, it’s shifting out of your pocket.
I'd like you to talk about… we just had this massive $2 trillion bailout bill. Like you say, you got 1200 bucks. Don't spend it in one place and be grateful. But apparently, they're now talking about having the Federal Reserve also bailout private equity firms. Could you explain what that means and what's going to happen?
David Cay Johnston: Private equity firms are largely unregulated pools of money that are typically in a real estate game. They take over a company by borrowing a lot of money, putting up little or none of their own money. Then they go in and they fire workers. They find various ways to strip down the company. They take out a loan based on projections of future profits that pays them back all the money they put into it, which was very tiny to begin with, and a lot more. There are deals out there where for every dollar they put in for a few months, they got $6 back within a year. Eventually the company can't pay back the debt in most cases. They have to keep it going for a year and a day under a federal rule. But once the year and a day passes, if the company goes bankrupt, the insiders get to keep their ill gotten gains. It's really a sophisticated form of theft, and the theft is on many forms.
The people who loan money to the outfit are stolen from, the workers are stolen from. Not in the short run, their jobs, but their benefits, and then ultimately their entire jobs. And it is part of this culture that we have created since the beginning of Reagan that says it's okay to do these things, that we don't have to think about running businesses and enterprises for the welfare of the whole community because of this cockamamie claim by Milton Friedman that the sole purpose of a company is to make sure money for its shareholders. Which is, by the way, totally not the law. It's not what the law says at all. If anybody wants to understand that, there's a very slim little readable book called The Myth of Shareholder Value by Lynn Stout, who was a pro-markets Republican professor of Law & Business at UCLA and then Cornell.
But it is part of this whole apparatus that we've set up that mines the economy instead of building it. If you could just take a penny a day from everybody in America for a year, at the end of the year, you'd have almost $1.2 billion. Now, I've shown industries where they're stealing from every American two or three pennies a day. The pipeline industry forces you to pay rates that include taxes that they don't pay with the government. They keep them. And so here's my question. How many of you are going to sign up tomorrow? We're going to hold demonstrations: Stop the three penny a day rip off. Well, first, I'm not going to do that. And that's the system; you steal a little here and a little there, you push people out of their house whose hands aren't totally clean, but they're also not filthy dirty, and you'll make a lot of money. You're not building, you're not making something useful and productive for society. Your just manipulating the financial side of this because we have such weak laws protecting people.
Greg Palast: This is your explanation of the private equity firms that are getting a special bailout under the cover that it's saving us from the economic damage of the virus. What we're doing is we’re sending billions of dollars to these gamblers. And it's not just that they're gambling, and we're covering their gambling losses, but their gambling losses result in the closure of industries, lost businesses like Delphi, for example. I've investigated Paul Singer, known as “The Vulture”. You don't get the name “The Vulture” by being a nice businessman. He literally took 35 plants and moved them to China. He was a Never Trumper… but now he's become a Forever Trumper. He's got a $42 billion private equity hedge fund, a vulture fund, and this is the guy who is now backing Trump to the hilt again.
So when you're voting for Trump, whether you're for or against his policies, I'm not saying who you should vote for, but understand that on his shoulder is this vulture where $42 billion is not enough. You'd mentioned about billionaires who are sleepless because they can't get their next billion…
David Cay Johnston: On of the things to think about here is that these guys are supposed to be sophisticated risk takers. They made bad bets. They were imprudent and we're bailing them out. Ordinary Americans, who didn't take risks, we're not really bailing out in the same way. So what's going on here? It's corporate socialism. It's raw, unfettered capitalism in its meanest form for ordinary Americans. And the protective nature of protecting people from economic shocks for the very richest among us, who should be able to cope with it.
Let's take Mr. Paulson… If the value of his fortune falls by half, he's still a multibillionaire. Why would we spend one penny bailing him out? He should be defending his own businesses. On the other hand, look at the lines that are showing up on TV of middle class people going to food banks because they don't have any money. We've created this society where most people don't have savings. For the bottom 90% of Americans, their incomes are hardly higher than they were 50 years ago. At the same time, people at the very top have exploded. We live in a society now where, for example, Sheldon Adelson, the gambling mogul and his wife each have a his and her jet, a Boeing 747.
Greg Palast: Wait a minute, you wouldn't want to be stuck in the same jet with your own wife would you?
David Cay Johnston: One of the things that Trump and the radical Republicans did in the 2017 tax law is they increased subsidies to corporate privately owned jets. I mean, really? This is the administration that we have. The people at the very top are just sucking the lifeblood, the economic vitality out of people down below. It doesn’t matter what your politics are… I'm a registered Republican. I'm a big champion of competitive markets. These aren’t market economics. This isn’t capitalism. This is just an oligarchy feeding off the rest of the society, and it’s as bloodless and uncaring and dangerous as the coronavirus if it gets into your lungs. It’s killing our country.
Greg Palast: We're going to talk about getting into your lungs and, and economics. I have a chapter in the book, How Trump Stole 2020.about how, as soon as Trump got in, he authorized the Keystone XL pipeline extension. Now understand, why do we need, tar sands, the filthiest oil in the world from Canada, which goes down a pipeline, all across our aquifers, down to Texas? I understand we have some oil already in Texas, but apparently the Texas oil can't be used by the refineries on the Gulf Coast owned by Koch Industries, the Brothers Koch. Well, there's only one brother, one of David and Charles, there’s only Charles is left, so it’s all his.
Bringing down that cheap oil from Canada, which by the way, is now less than $10 a barrel, so they get to suck up this cheap oil and, literally, that's worth $2 billion a year just from that one operation for the Koch family. In addition, there is Billy Koch, who you will meet in my book. He used to rat on his brothers. I have him on tape because he was in a fight with his brothers. He used to rat on them and tell me how they were committing a series of felonies too, giving me all the details when I was working at The Guardian. But when that Keystone pipeline goes from the tar sands filth of Canada, that stuff is so gunky, so filthy that it actually can't make it through the pipeline. It's like tar balls, so they have to pull out some of the tar and that's done by Billy Koch’s company, Oxbow Carbon. So they take out this massive amount of filth.
David Cay Johnston: I did an exposé on Bill Koch last year that nobody picked up on. We showed there was a criminal investigation for not paying taxes on his income of over a hundred million dollars a year. He claimed that all the profits from what's called the Petroleum Koch Business were earned by his Bahamas company, which consists of a little storefront in a Nassau, Bahamas shopping center. We had an email proving there was a criminal investigation of him. He lives one door away from Mar-a-Lago, by the way. And lo and behold, as soon as Trump took office, the IRS stopped investigating him. Now, I don’t think Trump called up and said, stop investigating him. I think what happened is the IRS was smart enough to say, we're not going after Donald Trump's neighbor.
Greg Palast: I should mention, as long as you're bringing up Billy Koch, there's four Kochs, four brothers. Three of them are still alive. Billy Coke is the somewhat unknown billionaire brother. While David and Charles were Never Trumpers to begin with, Billy Koch was actually the very first billionaire to put his money behind his next door neighbor, Donald Trump. Then Trump gets elected.
Look at DCReport.org and also in my book, you'll get the story of Billy Koch and his filth pipe. And you gotta put these two things together… When they bring that filthy oil down from Canada to Texas of all places, and they remove the petcoke, the petroleum coke, which is basically burnable gunk, and they pull that out of the pipeline.
David Cay Johnston: It's liquid coal.
Greg Palast: It's so filthy, for the most part, you are not allowed to burn it in the United States. So they send it to China, but it still goes in the atmosphere. But when it gets burned, you have to understand that that destroys your lungs. So when the virus hits, you are now compromised. And I can tell you a person who's compromised by coal dust in their lungs. That's me.
I grew up next to a coal plant in Los Angeles. Coal in Los Angeles, believe it or not. When I was a kid, I couldn't breathe at four o’clock. I am missing one lung because of that. I've never smoked in my life, by the way. So I am high-risk from the coronavirus because of the filth that's going into the atmosphere that I had to breathe as a kid, and people are breathing now because Billy Koch is not satisfied with the $7 billion he picked up from his family. That's not enough. He needs another billion. And if it means melting your lungs and making you more vulnerable to the coronavirus, to COVID19, they don't care. So what's at stake here in this election is your lungs, your family, your money, and as long as they get a billion dollars more, they don't care. What every billionaire wants is another billion.
David Cay Johnston: There's some epidemiological research from the 1917-1920 flu. It shows that both cities in America that had the heaviest reliance on coal fired power plants for electricity had significantly higher deaths. We've known this for a long time, and it is astonishing… It was an easy enough project to do. There were cities that had coal fired power plants, and then there were those that didn't. They got their electricity from hydro or the power plants were up downwind from the city and it made a huge difference. Just these minor little differences.
Greg Palast: Thank you, David Cay Johnston, who is the Pulitzer Prize winning extraordinary investigative reporter, author of the New York times bestseller, It’s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America. And this is Greg Palast, the author of How Trump Stole 2020. No, I don't have a crystal ball, but you want to take a look at that book and you can order it now from Amazon, where you can pick up David Cay Johnston's book as well.
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