Greg Palast tells Paul Jay that in order to rig and steal elections today, Jim Crow has gone into cyberspace
PAUL JAY: And welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Baltimore. In his film, released just a few months before the 2016 election, Greg Palast predicted that Donald Trump would steal that election and go on to win. I think he may have been more surprised than anybody when his film turned out to be making a correct prediction, but here he is, and he’s going to join us to tell us why and how he thinks it was done. Thanks for joining us, Greg. GREG PALAST: Glad to be with you, Paul. PAUL JAY: All right. So just quickly: Greg is an investigative reporter. He works for The Rolling Stone, The Guardian newspaper. He’s also the author of the New York Times bestseller The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, and he’s got a new film out now based on that book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: Billionaires & Ballot Bandits. He’s also the author of the books Armed Madhouse and Vulture’s Picnic. So, how did Donald Trump steal this election? GREG PALAST: Yeah. Well, by the way, I never felt so bad about being so right, to be honest. You know, it’s, like, okay. But it’s not my fault just because I explained how he was going to do it. PAUL JAY: He didn’t watch an early version of your film and learn how to do it? GREG PALAST: Well, I always worry about that, that these guys, that these billionaires I hunt down for the BBC and The Rolling Stone and The Guardian, that they get the ideas of what to do next from me. So I hope I’m not training them. But I don’t think I can train Trump how to shoplift from the public. So, you know, what happened is two things. Okay, there were votes that were never counted — and we’ll show how that’s done in the film. And then he used another system called Interstate Crosscheck, and so, the film puts together how he stole it using the system called Interstate Crosscheck, making sure that votes don’t get counted — they’re very good at this. And, also, what I did in the film, which is very important, is who’s the money behind this? Remember, Donald Trump only plays a billionaire on television. He’s not a billionaire. I know his finances quite well, by the way, from my investigation — and he’s hocked up to his nutcrackers, okay? But he has real billionaires behind him. You get to meet the money behind this guy. PAUL JAY: Okay, here’s a trailer from the film. We’ll give you kind of an overview, and then we’ll dig into some of the clips from the film and talk more about how this heist was pulled off. START VIDEO CLIP GREG PALAST: My name’s Greg Palast. I’m an investigative reporter, and every four years I become a crime reporter. The crime: election theft. Why are these such secret lists? This is a list I’m not supposed to have — and you’re not supposed to see. It’s a list of 7,200,000 voters. If your name’s on this secret list, your ballot can get cancelled legally. Why? Because you’ve been accused of voting twice. DONALD TRUMP: This voting system is out of control. You have people, in my opinion, that are voting many, many times. GREG PALAST: Voting many times, Donald? You claim millions of Americans commit voter fraud? That’s how they plan to steal this election. The trick is called Crosscheck. And it’s ethnically cleansing the voter rolls of 29 states. Here’s our file on the wizard of Crosscheck: Kris Kobach. He’s the top election official in Kansas — Republican superstar. Mr. Kobach? Hi! You’re the guy behind the Crosscheck list. So how would Crosscheck steal an election? I’ll check out the names on the list. Hernandez, Wong and nearly a quarter million Jacksons: in other words, voters of color. MAN: This is voter suppression. Pure and simple. GREG PALAST: Want to know who’s behind this ugly business? A small circle of men — Paul Singer, the Vulture. The Vulture made his biggest killing ever by preying on Detroit and chewing on this: the corpse of the auto industry when it collapsed in 2009. John Paulson, known as J.P., the Foreclosure King. And the Brothers Koch. David and Charles Koch fund the Heritage Foundation, which promotes the mass purge of voter rolls. And the Heritage Foundation’s latest crusade? Kansas Interstate Crosscheck. MAN: We got, like, a two-week notice. They just said, well, we’re closing the doors. MAN: The pain runs so deep when you have to wake up every day wondering, is they gonna try to take my house away? I mean, what’s next? GREG PALAST: If they’re going to take away your job, and take away your home, they’d better take away your vote. END VIDEO CLIP PAUL JAY: Okay. So, explain more in detail how these votes are not counted, and also why does that benefit Trump more than Clinton? If votes aren’t counted, in theory, they’re also not counting Clinton votes. So what’s the difference? GREG PALAST: Oh, they’re not counting Clinton votes. The way I explained it, they’re– PAUL JAY: … not counting Trump votes? GREG PALAST: No, it’s really easy. It’s whose vote doesn’t get counted, as I explain in the film, for example… PAUL JAY: Yeah, go ahead. GREG PALAST: …and you’ll see, as I explain in the film, if you’re black, according to the US Civil Rights Commission, the chance your vote will get what we call spoiled, thrown in the dumpster, is 900% higher than if you’re white. How they do it? Well, now we know: I made the film before November, and now I know exactly, because I just came back from the snows of Detroit. In the city of Detroit and the city of Flint, that is with black populations that vote blue — Democratic — there were 75,335 votes not counted for President of the United States. And if you remember, Jill Stein was doing a so-called recount — that’s not what she was doing. They call it a recount, but in fact, she was trying to count those votes that were never counted. They were thrown in what we call the spoilage bin, and here’s how we explain it in the film. START VIDEO CLIP GREG PALAST: In fact, over 2 million ballots, not just absentees, are cast and not counted. That’s official. They call it spoilage. How do votes spoil? Not by leaving them out of the fridge. There are 10 ways to spoil your vote or wipe away your registration. Think you’re registered? This election, over 3 million of you will find your registration go poof. They toss out your mail-in ballot because you’ve used the wrong envelope for postage due, forgot to add your middle initial … or you didn’t fill in the bubble. We’ve been invited into the home of voters whose votes didn’t count. GREG’S MOM: Did not fill in the bubble. GREG PALAST: So why didn’t you fill in the bubble? GREG’S MOM: Look, I didn’t know when you pull… when you fill in the name, that you had to put a bubble in. GREG PALAST: Mom! It said you had to fill in the bubble. GREG’S MOM: I’m sorry. GREG’S DAD: indistinct GREG’S MOM: Your sister and I did not draw black circles– GREG’S DAD: She’s an ex-school teacher and she didn’t know how to fill in a bubble. GREG’S MOM: I’m an ex-school teacher and she’s a lawyer. We did not do it. MAN: screams GREG PALAST: There’s purging, caging, or you have the wrong ID. In Texas, hands up. Gun ID, okay. School ID, not okay. In some states, up to 45% of new registrations are simply tossed in the spoilage bin. “Don’t worry,” they’ll tell you. If your name’s missing from the voter roll, you get something called a provisional ballot. But because your name’s not on the rolls, they throw it out. But you get to pretend you voted. Then there’s good old ballot-stuffing. Whose votes get thrown in the spoilage dumpster? According to the US Civil Rights Commission, the chance of your vote spoiling is 900% higher if you’re black than if you’re white. For voters of color in the USA, voting has become some kind of crazy obstacle course. First, don’t get purged. Don’t get caged. Then drag yourself to the single black voting station and wait for five hours. Oops! Wrong guy ID — go back home. You’ll have absentee or provisional ballot. Don’t miss the bubble or it gets thrown in the garbage. WOMAN: Come on! MAN: Come on. We can do it! Come on. WOMAN: You got it. You got it! MAN: Together. END VIDEO CLIP PAUL JAY: So, tell me the mechanics of how that worked in Michigan. GREG PALAST: Real simple. You saw my parents — my own parents — who didn’t properly fill in a bubble and so that their votes, their absentee ballots didn’t count. Well, in Michigan, 75,000 people — almost all of them in the cities of Detroit and Flint, and therefore they’re Clinton voters, automatically, just about — they used pencils to mark their ballots. They used red pens. Some of the people didn’t fully fill in that little bubble, and if you don’t fill in the little bubble properly, the machines are crap and they can’t read them. PAUL JAY: But where do you get a red pen and a pencil? It’s got to be sitting there… GREG PALAST: Nah, nah, nah… not… first of all, two things. One, the absentee ballots are not telling people how you have to fill it out; and the second, they let you bring in anything into those crappy Detroit polling stations. And here’s the big thing — you take your paper ballot and you stick it in. The machine, if it can’t read those marks, throws it out. Now the ballot’s spoiled because it doesn’t know that you’re using a pencil. When you have a checkmark, you haven’t filled in that bubble. Now, there’s a great machine, fantastic machine, which never makes a mistake — almost never. It’s called the human eyeball. So, that’s what Jill Stein was trying to do, is say, “Wait, let’s take all those 75,000 votes, let’s look at them,” and you can see someone has a checkmark. We talked to the recount people, a systems analyst who is really pro at this said, “I was stunned. I mean, it just has Xs or a red pen, but you see who’s president.” PAUL JAY: Do we know that there is a pattern that this happened more in areas more likely to vote for Clinton than for Trump? GREG PALAST: 100%. Well, I say 100% — call it 90% — almost every vote that was officially what they call spoiled, as we just saw in the cartoon, almost all those who were in Detroit and Flint in Michigan. In Wisconsin, it was all Milwaukee. And, again, what they did in Milwaukee — a wonderful trick, but now you understand it, having seen the film — which is that they took the ballots and that they wanted to recount, instead of letting humans look at those ballots, they said, no, they’ll just run them back through the machine. And as you saw in the cartoon, we found both in Wisconsin and in Michigan, that there were thousands of people who voted, believe it or not, for two candidates for president. Now, no matter how bad the Detroit schools are, most people know that there’s one president and you get one vote for president. But what happens if there’s fly poop on the ballot — a stray mark, folded wrong if it was an absentee ballot, something goes wrong where the machine is a little bit cockeyed, what happens is they say, oh, you voted for a second candidate for president. Out your ballot goes. Again, the human eye can say, looks like fly poop to me, not a vote for a second candidate for president. PAUL JAY: And, again, this happened… GREG PALAST: This happened this election… PAUL JAY: …in higher numbers in these areas. GREG PALAST: Yeah. Well, almost all Milwaukee in Wisconsin and Madison, which is– PAUL JAY: Milwaukee being a highly black city. GREG PALAST: Yeah. And it’s a highly Democratic city. And Flint, Dearborn, and Detroit in Michigan. And so we see that. Now… and then, you also have the problem in Philadelphia, as you saw in the cartoons — you have those wonderful machines where, the push and pray machines, where who knows if the electronic ballots — and I’m not talking about hackers, and I’m not talking about Russians in the back of the machine changing the code. I’m talking about the machines — the easiest way to stop a vote count in the computer is just to unplug it, or zap, and your vote just disappears into the ether. “Oh, we’re so sorry. We just lost the votes on this memory card.” It’s that simple. PAUL JAY: Now, why do we think the Republicans are any better at this than Democrats are? Both parties have a long history of trying to rig and steal elections and all the rest. It’s pretty well acknowledged that Kennedy may have been elected because of some shenanigan in Chicago. GREG PALAST: Well, here’s the deal. In fact, you go back to that discussion — because I lived in Chicago in that period, decades ago — Democrats are very good at the retail steal, you know, stuffing ballots into a ballot box. That’s pretty much left to the ’50s. What we have now is much more sophisticated. Jim Crow has gone into cyberspace. So that, for example, we also have in Michigan, what you would see is, again, giving bad machines into poorer areas, just like they get bad schools and bad hospitals, they get poor machines which can’t read the vote properly, so you need the human eye, and then they stopped those recounts. So that’s what’s happening. Also but let’s face it — Democrats do it, too. We just saw in the cartoon something called a provisional ballot. Sometimes they call it a placebo ballot. It makes you think you voted, it makes you feel like you voted, but you haven’t and it’s been put in… these ballots, about a third of them — over a million in 2012 were thrown out. It’s probably double that. I was just told, for example, in the film we didn’t know… I’m not Karnack the Great, so I couldn’t tell you exactly which precincts were going be turned over by Trump shenanigans. But a system… but there were provisional ballots in one single polling station, which had 30 provisional ballots. These placebo ballots that get junked — 30 ballots in 2012 — had 800 provisional ballots, because people were missing from the voter rolls. Now how did that happen? Well, in the film, you’ll see my investigation for Rolling Stone to uncover what I knew would happen. I knew that there’d be precincts with suddenly an explosion of provisional ballots, when people walked in and saw their names missing from the voter roll. How do you disappear names from a voter roll? That’s my investigation of a system called Crosscheck. Let me tell you a little about Crosscheck because you’ll find it in the film. There’s a guy named Kris Kobach, of Kansas. He is very close to Donald Trump. He’s his main operative in the west, and he’s also Secretary of State of Kansas. Now, if you remember, this guy Donald Trump said, “The election’s rigged.” Now, in the film, I have that statement, but I also have the rest of the statement. Which is said many times over the past couple of years: it’s rigged because people are voting many, many times. And the guy who started his first campaign director was Dick Morris who’d started this campaign. People are voting many, many times. Voting twice. One person votes in two different states. Now, are there really a million people committing the federal crime of voting in two different states? Well, that’s why I went out to investigate for Rolling Stone, and that you’ll follow me in the film. And one of the things that happens, just so you know, the reason I’m the only reporter that got this, is that if reporters asked for the list of people voting twice, they were told, “We can’t tell you because it’s a criminal investigation so it’s a secret.” Well, as soon as– PAUL JAY: It’s a … criminal investigation. GREG PALAST: Right. So, if you see my hat, I’m an investigative reporter — and I’m an old investigator, an old gumshoe from well before I was a reporter. And so I have some methods, which are legal…ish — legal-ish – and I did get my hands on these confidential lists of the suspects. And by the way, there were 7.2 million suspects which Kobach, Trump’s guy, came up with because he took the voting rolls of 30 states — 29 states in the country — and took all their voter rolls and matched up the names to see who was voting in Georgia and who was voting in Virginia, who was voting in Michigan and who was voting in Ohio, and if the same name came up in both, having voted, you got yourself a criminal. But, interestingly, they didn’t arrest them. They wiped… they just took away their right to vote. Now, here’s the interesting thing. How did he get so many suspects? When I got and looked at the list, you’ll see that there are names which have a very funny connection. They had 288 guys named James Brown in Georgia, who apparently voted in another state. How’d they know that? Because they found — believe it or not — a James Brown in Motown, in Detroit. And then they found a James Brown in Virginia. And can you believe that? They found another James Brown in Ohio. PAUL JAY: And no check on birth dates or…? GREG PALAST: No. They said — see, this is the interesting thing, and in the film you’ll see it. They say they check on birth dates, they say they check even their last four digits of a social security number. But I go to meet Mr. Kobach at a… he wouldn’t meet with me, so I go to meet with him. It’s a habit of mine. There’s no such thing as saying no to an interview with Greg Palast. So, in the film, I find out that he’s doing an ice cream social in a public park, and I fly in, get a fake logo with the number 4 on it, so I look like I’m Channel 4 Eyewitness News. But, by the way, it wasn’t a complete fake, because Channel 4 of London, England, took the footage, and so I looked like the local newsman and then I jump him and show him the list that he thought were real secret. And, by the way, just to show you how… but now you’ll see a guy in the film. This is interesting. There’s a guy in the film who lives in a bus, so he could easily get away with voting in multiple states. So I actually find the guy, because I wanted to find these illegal voters, so I actually looked at the list — they had their addresses — and I went and found these illegal voters, many of them, and here’s the guy who lives in the bus. PAUL JAY: Okay. Here’s the clip. START VIDEO CLIP GREG PALAST: But now I know we’ve got one. Voted in 14 states. Once as a guy named Willie, then as a lady named Willie-Mae. He’s even got his own bus to vote in several states at once. That’s him. That’s him. WILLIE NELSON: You got… GREG PALAST: William Nelson? WILLIE NELSON: You got me. GREG PALAST: William Nelson? Willie Nelson? WILLIE NELSON: Yes, sir. GREG PALAST: It says here. Willie-Mae Nelson. WILLIE NELSON: Willie-Mae what? GREG PALAST: Willie-Mae Nelson voted in Georgia, and then you voted again as Willie J. Nelson… WILLIE NELSON: Yeah. GREG PALAST: Okay? In Mississippi. WILLIE NELSON: Yes. GREG PALAST: All right. So, the first time you voted as a woman. Is that why the pigtail thing? WILLIE NELSON: Yeah. GREG PALAST: Okay? WILLIE NELSON: Yeah. GREG PALAST: To get… how’d you get away with the beard? So you… so you have a bus. This is a good getaway vehicle. WILLIE NELSON: Yeah. Yeah. GREG PALAST: You think you’re getting away with it. You think it’s cute that you’re voting again and again and again. This is a felony crime. In fact… in fact, it looks like… were you arrested before? WILLIE NELSON: No, that was just a little play thing we did, you know? Just me and the– GREG PALAST: Wait, what are you grinning for? Are you high? Are you smoking something? WILLIE NELSON: Aren’t you? laughs GREG PALAST: laughs GREG PALAST: Maybe this old guy is telling the truth. WILLIE NELSON: It sounds like you got better shit than I got.