S1: The following recording may or may not include instances of words being said that the FCC would find me for their long arm could ever reach.
S2: It’s Wednesday, February 12th, 2020 from Slate’s The Gist. I’m Mike PESCA. Few days ago, Lieutenant Colonel Vandeman was fired. You heard that right.
S3: What does the White House saying about the fact that Venkman Alexander Venkman, Lieutenant Colonel Venton, was fired? Also, his twin brother, a JAG officer, a U.S. Army officer, a lawyer working at the National Security Council, was also removed. That’s right. Both of these brothers were abruptly fired today.
S4: Only it’s not right. They were reassigned. I mean, that is the more accurate way to say it. Firing usually involves a loss of money. Of course, she could be fired for your unpaid internship. But usually that’s a portion or at least an aspect of firing. These two gentlemen keep their roles and their titles and they move to the Pentagon. In fact, CNN, Wolf, in Jim’s own network reported that very day that Venkman was due to be rotated to the Pentagon, a Pentagon post this summer. And Trump just pushed him out early because he has a small and petty man. I posted these sentiments on Twitter and was charged with pedantry, missing the point, betraying the resistance, being a bad person. But I think it’s important to be accurate. And the cost of inaccuracy and perhaps in this case even a defensible inaccuracy, is that it does play right into Trump’s hands. He wanted people to think that he fired Venkman. He wants his followers to believe that he has these powers to strip his enemies of their honor and their livelihood.
S1: It is a bad and dastardly thing that Trump did, but it is small and petty and embarrassing to him. It is not embarrassing. It’s not even that consequential for Venkman. He hasn’t been denied anything tangible that he earned. And in fact, he looks like a martyr and. Keeps contributing to his pension. I bring this up now because we have Trump essentially directing the Justice Department to go easy on old Raj when four of the U.S. attorneys attached to the Roger Stone case resigned in protest. One actually resigned from the Justice Department overall. That is notable. It is very important. But I think because we lost our minds over Venkman, it may be unclear just how improper the Trump administration’s actions are. Maybe the two are, in fact, connected. Maybe you could lose your mind, lose your mind, lose your mind. And then when something really important happens, really lose your mind. Maybe we have the capacity to process all these examples of Norm breaking correctly, the little norms, the big norms. Or maybe it’s true that the part of the electorate that will decide the election has nowhere near the capacity to do this. And nothing that we we in the media, we who listen to a podcast like this, we who care about such things. Nothing we do will have any effect on that portion of the populace at all. That’s probably true. But I default to accuracy. I default to context and precision. I tend to default away from catastrophizing petty sonnets because that serves to distract from when you want to properly emphasize and catastrophize the catastrophic or at least the unconscionable. I think that all has an effect and it’s one of the reasons why you try to get it right. Another reason is that getting it right is better than being wrong on the show today. Michael Bloomberg’s defense of stop and frisk. It is a defense which has gone on for years and which has been articulated in much more audio friendly surroundings than you may have heard. But first, Donald Trump, not just the lying accused rapist and racist. Also quite corrupt. And he has been for many years. Andrea Bernstine has been digging through the documents for a long time now. She has a podcast about it, Trump Inc. And now a new book, American Oligarch’s The Kushner’s, The Trumps and the Marriage of Money and Power. Andrea Bernstine Upnext.
S4: Andrea Bernstine is one of our most valuable journalists on the Trump beat. And the Trump beat is more than the Trump beat. It’s the Kushner beat. It’s the associated family’s beat. And the this thing ripples all the way to the United Arab Emirates and beyond. She is the co-host of Trump Inc. She’s won a Peabody. She’s out with a new book, American Oligarch’s The Kushner’s, The Trumps and the Marriage of Money and Power. Hello, Andrea. Hey, Mike. It is really great. It’s good, right? I like it. We’ve worked together for a long time and a long time. When I knew you at WNYC, you were always into city politics and you worked you worked in mayoral administrations and you wrote for The New York Observer. What did Trump mean to you? Was he. That interconnected with politics?
S5: So it’s interesting back then because he was sort of a, you know, a star that would transit the night sky. So he would because I was covering New York in government and politics and policy and all of that, Trump would sort of come in because there would be some golf course that he wanted to build in Westchester and he would be seeking a permit and somebody would tell me about the lobbyist he’d hired or he would show up at a fundraiser or he would give huge contributions. So he kept showing up as assertive personage in New York’s political life as an influential figure who could bend politicians ears. I never really covered him as a real estate developer, but he kept showing up in this world of New York politics. And one of the things, the sort of realizations I had after the election. So during the 2016 election, I was covering the Hillary Clinton campaign, basically. And after Trump won, I thought to myself, wow, I really, really understand the world that he is in. And I should be doing something about that. And that’s when I went to sort of look over the past and see how he had been a more influential and central figure in your political life than than even I had realized. Yeah.
S6: I mean, we have on ramps from the what they called the Joe DiMaggio drive, the West Side Highway, that really what’s called for really names some of it. Yeah. Big because of him. And we have golf courses with his names. And, you know, there are huge swaths of blocks of New York that would be fundament. I’m not saying he’s the power broker. Right. I’m not saying he’s that important. But there are huge swaths of New York real estate that would be different were it not for Donald Trump. And the other thing to note is that New York real estate is really, really powerful in New York politics. The real estate donors are usually the biggest donors and they just have to be to exist as a developer in New York. You have to be at least ancillary Lee involved in politics.
S5: Yeah, I mean, without a doubt. And the reason is, is because real estate. It is like oil in Texas is this incredibly prized asset that is regulated and controlled by the government. So if you want to be successful, if you want to be able to build taller buildings or you want to be able to get tax abatements or you want to be able to get a subway station built next to your new development, you need to have access to government officials for that reason. I have spent many years I mean, I used to look at New York Board of Elections filings when they were on paper. Now it goes through and I would see all these different shell companies and they would sort of all trace back to the same developer. But because of a loophole in New York law, any single person can essentially give unlimited quantities of money through different LLC is I mean, some states don’t allow that. New York does. And sort of every time there’s a run at New York campaign finance laws. Yeah, there is an attempt to fix that. What I didn’t realize and I didn’t even realize this until working on this book is the extent to which the Trump family was an outlier in this system. So if you know, you think like, OK, we’re looking at an audio meter, like the needle was in the red for the Trump family, both in terms of the quantity of donations, I mean, to government bodies investigated the quantity of Trump family donations and their potential malignant influence on your politics. And but it was also because of Donald Trump’s expectation. So, I mean, I’ve caught a lot of developers in my time reporting on New York.
S7: And I will say, why did you give this money to ex-politician? And the answer is usually the same. Well, if the governor calls, you know, I mean, I’m going to give some money. How am I going to say no with Trump? I would call people and I would speak to mostly former state officials at this point. And I would say, do you know why you got this contribution? And they would say, oh, yes, because Donald Trump called me and said, where is my permit? Where is my bond package?
S5: Where is etc., etc., etc. And and it was this transactional nature that I came to learn actually sort of broke the system from the inside. It was this increased expectation that a specific donation was going to produce a specific thing.
S6: And since it did, doesn’t that show he was better at it in a totally amoral way? But just in terms of what he wanted and what he got, he was better at it than even the Durst’s in the Helmsley’s or these other titans of New York.
S5: Really? It was really, really good at it. Yeah, really good at it. And he would just always push the envelope. I mean, Trump Tower, for example, he got a tax break worth at least $25 million that was supposed to go to affordable housing. His argument was that the site was underutilized. And at the lower court level, the judges said you could see any site in Manhattan is under utilized because you could always build taller and then it would have greater use. So he argued that he argued it to the state court of appeals, which is the highest court in New York. Roy Cohn was his lawyer. Roy Cohn argued the case per Trump with no notes, and the court decided the law was inartfully written so that in fact Trump was eligible, even though the intent of the legislature had been to stimulate housing in some of the neighborhoods in New York that really desperately needed affordable housing like the South Bronx.
S1: Yeah, as a thesis, if I were to say, if you want to pin the blame for everything that Donald Trump became, it’s overdetermined. So many reasons, but you wouldn’t be wrong to say a New York economic political system that allowed him to operate in this way, that not only never put its foot down, but pretty much allowed him encouraged him to come to the conclusion that laws don’t apply to people who actively fight them and donate to the right people. That, to me, seems a rational conclusion to draw. If you had Donald Trump’s experience in New York and therefore New York City state, some local largely to blame.
S5: One hundred percent, maybe a thousand percent. I mean, one of the things that I came to realize is Donald Trump didn’t need to learn and oligarchic model from the former Soviet Union because he practiced it in New York. He believed as a wealthy person, he should be able to influence government, get government to do what he wanted, much of which was paying less taxes. And then he had more money to give to government officials to get even more of what he wanted. And I mean, what happens in that system ultimately is that you have an oligarchy.
S6: There are many insults you could lob at Donald Trump. And it’s tempting to think that all are true, but some actually cancel out. So I want to ask you a couple based on his businesses. It has been asserted that if Donald Trump just put his money in, say, an index fund instead of dabbled in real estate, he’d make more money. I wonder about that. I wonder about the tax implications. But, you know, he was a big wheeler dealer during boom and bust times and. I also don’t know how much money he made. So from what you can see, has he actually been successful in the New York real estate business?
S8: It is a really, really complicated question and complicated to untangle. Of course, he actually hasn’t been in the New York real estate business for a long time. And also, we don’t have his tax returns, so we don’t know. But from the anecdotal evidence we have, he has been successful. He’s been particularly successful, as we are talking about, about getting government money for his projects, not as successful as he portrays himself. But it does seem like he I mean, he kept getting to do what he wanted to do, which was to be to appear to be a success. Right. And that for him was always the measure. Right.
S6: And we also know that the money that he made from The Apprentice, which was not insignificant, was very important to him. And one of the reasons I mean, there was no reasons that he chased that, but one of the reasons you chase that was apparently he needed the money. Although, you know, when I talked to Adam Davidson, he says he would point out during the campaign if Trump really had money, he’d give himself money in the campaign and then pay him self back later. It was really odd how he was doing campaign financing if he had as much money as he said. And Adam also makes a point that if you really had enough money, why are you putting your name on Trump steaks? Trump vodka’s these very penny ante businesses that, if anything, diminish the brand. And I say, yeah, I normally agree with you, but we’re talking about Donald Trump.
S5: We are talking about Donald Trump. I mean, one of the things we found in our Trump Ink Project is that he takes care to put in his licensing deals, that he will get a cut of terrycloth robe sales from his hotels, from the minibars. He really does care about these figures. And he put his name on so many projects with really questionable business partners. I often ask myself, why bother? Because frequently he would make a million. He would make four million. But for Trump, every million dollar counts. I mean, just look at the recent lawsuit that the attorney general of the District of Columbia brought against the Trump Organization for and and against the Trump Inaugural Committee for basically paying the Trump hotels an inflated price for the inaugural festivities, even though people inside the presidential inaugural committee warned Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump in person, as we just learned from the lawsuit, not to do it. They said, at best, this looks bad. It’s not worth it. They made a million dollars from that. So here’s a situation where they made an extra million. And Rick Gates, Paul Manafort s deputy campaign manager, also going to prison, warned against it. He said this looks bad, it’s unethical, don’t do it. And they did it anyway. So obviously, the value of that million dollars was something that was deeply ingrained in the family, that every million counts. We’re going to get what we can get.
S1: Are we sure that the Trump organization has been enriched by the Trump presidency?
S8: Is net net really, really, really unclear? I don’t think we know. And I think one of the reasons why is a really hard question to answer. OK. So we don’t have his tax returns, so we don’t know. I mean, Trump has not done super well in blue states. You know, he had to get rid of the Trump Soho to get rid of the Trump Toronto. But obviously Toronto is not in a blue state. But in sort of areas that are politically less sympathetic to drop, he’s not done well in his properties. The thing that we don’t really have a good window into now is how much government money has gone to his property. So we know because of campaign finance records that a lot of political party money goes into his events. But we don’t understand the extent of every time he goes to Bedminster or every time he goes to Mar a Lago, how much money from Secret Service and other government employees has been paid in. We know they are paying top dollar. Right. But we don’t have a good aggregate window into that.
S6: So so revenues at existing properties might in some way be going up. What about building golf courses? What about building an indoor new right?
S8: Well, there’s not space. I mean, it’s interesting because they actually are not doing a super lot of new foreign deals. And one of the projects they’re doing, like the one in Uruguay, is plagued with the same kinds of problems that have plagued other Trump licensing deals, which is they have a shady business partner, the without a lot of experience in putting up buildings. So, I mean, there are moving forward with trying to build some housing projects around their golf courses in Scotland. But it is just a really unclear, murky picture because we have such limited visibility into the companies. So Trump could be making a lot of money. Then there’s also a question of sort of what happens now, what happens post acquittal when really he can do anything he wants. And does he feel emboldened to put more? Government money into his property or give himself more money. I mean, one of the things that we know about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is it particularly favored his form of real estate business.
S5: So he already made money from the presidency in this big way by giving himself, in particular, an extra special tax break. And this is something of The New York Times identified when they were sort of looking at the winners and losers of that Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. So in that large sense, he’s benefited and then he’s also benefited in some of the political power sense. I mean, it’s interesting in Ukraine because there were a lot of business deals swirling around all of this scandal. There was Lev Parnas and Eger Friedman’s business deal that were Rudy Giuliani’s business deal. It doesn’t look like there was a Trump business deal in Ukraine. But because Trump sees enhancing his power as good for his brand by seeking this political favor, he’s seeking to enhance his power, which is something that he personally puts a monetary value on it. We’ve seen it on his profit and loss statements.
S8: So because money and power are so intertwined, it’s a difficult question to ask. Is the Trump organization making money? Because how exactly do you value it?
S6: Andrea Bernstine is the host of Trump Inc. From WNYC and the author of American Oligarchs The Kushner’s The Trumps the Marriage of Money and Power. Thanks for coming by. Thank you so much.
S9: And now the schpiel earlier this week, Michael Bloomberg is a racist with a hashtag trending on Twitter. Thanks to in large part, the amplification of Donald Trump, who is subject area expertise. For comparison, Donald Trump called for the execution of the Central Park Five who did not rape a jogger, and he has never backtracked off his call of death to these five black and Latino citizens who were teenagers and not even old teenagers at the time. Michael Bloomberg, on the other hand, has been called racist for his handling of the Central Park Five because he refused to settle their lawsuit against the city. The five exonerated men had been suing the city for a collective $250 million, which Bloomberg cited as excessively high. They wound up settling for 41 million as soon as Bill de Blasio came into office. But it wasn’t the Central Park Five that drew Trump’s charge of racism, which Trump then deleted from his Twitter account like a stealthy Macedonian content former retreating into the night. Now, it was Bloomberg’s defense of his stop and frisk policy whereby New York City police officers would do just that. They’d stop and frisk Hispanic and black young men in very few sections of New York, actually, where crime was high, which is to say black and Hispanic neighborhoods. The ACLU has documented that at its height, stop and frisk harassed upwards of 600000 black and Hispanic men a year. 2011 statistics were six hundred eighty five thousand seven hundred twenty four suspects. Of which sixty one thousand eight hundred five were white, much less than 10 percent is important. Of the six hundred eighty five thousand six hundred five thousand three hundred twenty eight were innocent. All right. Think about what that means. So this practice that Bloomberg defended is effective. Policing rested on the police being wrong almost 90 percent of the time. Eighty eight percent. But most years it was around that level. As Bloomberg admitted at an Aspen Ideas Festival, which is, I guess, the Toyota scion of intellectual exchange, the police were into wrong.
S1: The tactic wasn’t meant to take guns off the street by identifying criminals carrying guns as much as it was meant to send a threatening message. Meaning if you have a gun, you will be caught. We’ll play the tape, but I’ll do a little translating because it’s terrible tape.
S10: Heard her or one.
S9: Ninety five percent of your murderers, murderers and murder victims fit one M.O.. You can just take the description, Xerox it and pass it out to all the cops. They are male minorities, 16 25. All right. Here are the actual facts. If you add the number of murder victims and murder suspects who are black and Latino up, it’s not 95. It doesn’t reach 95. It usually in the high 80s. In 2011, for instance, it was in the low 90s. So close to 95, but not correct. Far as 95 percent of murders being male. That’s even closer to being correct. In 2012, for instance, it was 93 percent. It’s usually above 90. And as far as the 16, 25 year old age bracket, Bloomberg was far off on this. It is young, but the average age of murder suspects was 30. The median age was 26. Of course, a Xeroxing and passing it out to all cops is unnecessary. Cops know where the crime is. Ask black and Latino men if cops suspect them of being criminals or even murderers. In fact, many in New York would say yes. But it’s also besides being unnecessary to xerox it and pass it around. It is reductive. It is potentially misleading. And that, by the way, wasn’t the part of his statement that drew the most ire. This was, again, I’ll say for you what Bloomberg can be heard saying in this mushy audio.
S4: And the way and the way you get the guns out of the kid’s hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them. And then they start, they say, oh, I don’t want to get caught. So they don’t bring the gun. They still have the gun, but they leave it at home. This is, in Bloomberg’s view, good policing in activists view collective punishment, in criminologists view not actually precisely how it works. And in the view of civil libertarians, illegal. But I speak from a different point of view. The point of view of someone who has covered Michael Bloomberg for years, it is very much not new. If you strip away the quashed audio and the frisson of excitement that you get for hearing something you’re not supposed to hear. There is a lot of very easy to hear audio of Bloomberg defending his record in this exact same way.
S1: So first on the idea of stop and frisk was applied to minority neighborhoods overwhelmingly. He never denied it. In fact, he said this is the strategy. This is the very point of the strategy. Once on his weekly radio spot on WMUR, he even said this committee. In that case, incidentally, I think we disproportionately stop whites too much.
S11: And minorities too little.
S1: Well, it’s exactly the reverse of what they say they are, right. I don’t know where they went to school, but they certainly didn’t take a math course, just math. He didn’t walk it back because he believed it. He probably still believes it. It is useless to stop and frisk white people. It is definitely bad electorally, but also in terms of the end result, which is combating gun violence. Bloomberg very much believes it’s useless. The problem is that stop and frisking hundreds of thousands of innocent blacks and Latinos. Isn’t that usefully there? In fact, it might be very close to useless and it absolutely has costs, costs that Bloomberg never reckoned with. The best research shows that more police in neighborhoods, depressed crimes. The presence of more police. But having the police who are there pat down and harass individuals for no reason other than furtive movements, which is what they always use to justify their stopping and their frisking, the harassment and the pat downs do not have any extra value in terms of crime. Stopping police there bring down crime. Once the police start pulling over young black and Latino kids, putting their hands on them, frisking them, harassing them, doesn’t do anything for crime. Studies show this, by the way, me saying that that more police help bring down crime. That is a break from the most progressive, if you will, orthodoxy. I don’t care about orthodoxy. More cops in neighborhoods, combat crime that is empirically been shown. University of Pennsylvania studies, many others. Stop and frisk does not bring down crime. But Bloomberg insisted for his entire tenure that it did in the exact same terms that you heard on that muddled audiotape. Let’s go to 2013. The Bloomberg administration lost a landmark stop and frisk case after which he held a press conference. It was, let us say, impassioned. He vowed to appeal the decision that was dropped when de Blasio took office during a press conference. Bloomberg defended the policy as he always had. At one point, he was asked how losing the lawsuit would affect his legacy.
S12: I don’t know this almost 12 years now where people have walked the streets of New York City without having to look over the shoulder. I suspect that’s probably a pretty good legacy.
S1: The focus, again, not on the costs of stop and frisk or the judicial rebuke, but on what he asserted were the benefits of stop and frisk. And that characterized his attitude all the way up to his presidential run. But during the press conference, the exact issue of encouraging would be gun users to keep their guns at home. That exact thing came up in a question posed by NBC’s Melissa Russo.
S13: Mr. Mayor, one of the things the judge mentions is the number of people who are stopped who end up being innocent, apparently. And perhaps this is a basic question, but I feel like I’ve heard you over the years justify stop and frisk by saying that the people who are stopped basically fit the description of a yes. But that doesn’t mean they’re the criminal. But it seems that today and in recent months, you’ve said you’ve expanded that definition to include people who you want to deter them from crime. They’ll be afraid to carry a gun or people who might be planning to.
S12: That is a result of doing that. That is a result. I think that kids say, oh, I might be stopped, but that’s not when we start out, by the way.
S1: Bloomberg defended the tactic as only targeting areas where crime was reported or where a police officer noticed something suspicious. That second part is euge, because when ever a police officer wanted to say he noticed something suspicious, he could always cite furtive movements and stop and frisk a young black or Hispanic person. Later in the press conference, Russo got a follow up.
S13: I was trying to ask you, basically, isn’t this part of the issue if you’re now admitting that you are targeting people who you think may not have committed a crime and that you couldn’t be more wrong?
S12: You did not read what I said. I didn’t say anything like that.
S1: You’re trying to create a story that does not exist, that without the put him up against the wall imagery is exactly what Michael Bloomberg said in Aspen. What he said consistently during his morality and what he believes he might also be right. Stop and frisk may be did deter people from taking their guns from their homes. So they would use shared stash spots which were called community guns or they would use guns less. But the facts, the empirical facts, which Michael Bloomberg and Michael Pascoe, both big fans of, do not support the facts that his aggressive stop and frisk policy was the cause of the drop in crime. Bloomberg. Ever the empiricist, a man who likes studies and will pull the plug on tactics if they aren’t working. He conducted an experiment. It had input. Stop and frisk tactics. It had output murder down. Murder was way down. But he did not consider or chose not to consider alternative explanations. Complicating factors, extraneous variables. It wasn’t empiricism overriding oversensitivity. What it turns out to have been is insensitivity. Using faux empiricism. As a justification for a very damaging policy as far as the hashtag Bloomberg is racist, I don’t think he is not as the median Democrat would define racist. I do think so far in this campaign, deviating from the most exacting racial and social justice policies has been used by critics and commentators as a cudgel. But it doesn’t seem to do the damage that it’s been predicted to have done. People to judge fired a black police chief. Joe Biden was anti-busing in the 70s, authored the crime bill. Bernie Sanders was dismissive of Black Lives Matters activists. Klobuchar cop Carmilla Cop. None of these proved dispositive or really fatal blows. There remains to be seen how Bhuta judges lack of support in the black community will play out. It’s been known for years that Bloomberg was the author and a forceful advocate for the stop and frisk policy. The day before this tape, a tape that we’ve demonstrated was extremely similar to things he said in the past. A day before this tape got widespread notice, a poll was released Quinnipiac. It showed Bloomberg was polling at 22 percent among black voters, better than every candidate other than a quickly fading Joe Biden on stop and frisk. Bloomberg was wrong and in glaring ways. He continues to appall progressive African-American pundits. He’s not the perfect candidate on race, but so far, the results have shown that black voters do not want a perfect candidate. They want one who hears them and who they think will improve their lives.
S14: And that’s it for today’s show, Priscilla Lobby is an associate producer of the Just Effect, the associate producer of The Gist. She was not fired from Rye Playland, but was asked not to operate the Tilt-A-Whirl without proper authorization. Daniel Schrader is the justs producer, also not fired from the International House of Pancakes. It was just made very clear to him that threatening to slap customers were dismissive of the rudie tooty fresh and fruity menu off brand. The gist? Not fired as a substitute host of first aid kit. Just strongly encouraged never again to voice his opinion that Bruce Box Leitner buns are being overlooked when poor, desperate Joop grew. And thanks for listening.