tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg June 18, 2017 7:00am-8:01am EDT
announcer: from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: it was not business as usual in washington this week. a mass shooter opened fire during batting practice at the republican congressional baseball team's practice. four were wounded, including the whip of the republican majority, steve scalise. "the washington post" reported that special counselor robert mueller is investigating president trump for possible obstruction of justice. and a spokesman for vice president pence confirmed he has hired an outside counsel to handle the various russian inquiries. dan balz joins me from washington. he is the chief correspondent for the washington post.
let me begin with a story about the vice president hiring outside counsel. a distinguished lawyer from richmond, virginia. what does this say? dan: i think it says what is likely to be a pattern inside the white house. that members of the senior staff who have been around president trump as he has discussed various aspects of the russian investigation and his feelings toward it could end up being interviewed by the special counsel, and they are going to need their own outside counsel. the president, as we know, has outside counsel at this point. the fact the vice president has decided he needs it i think will be taken as a signal to everybody inside the white house who might have some knowledge, culpability, whatever you want to call it, that they will need it as well. charlie: it should not be presumed they have anything to hide. it should be presumed in today's world you need someone who understands that world to guide you. dan: i think that is right. i think part of it is also a way
to compartmentalize it. they do have day jobs beyond what this investigation is doing. i think there is another aspect to this, which is that it is a reminder that once you go down the road of having a special counsel and the degree to which this seems to be an expanding investigation, it will slow down the machinery inside the white house. everybody there will have a dual responsibility. they obviously have a responsibility to the country and to the president to help in the governing process, but they will also feel an obligation to themselves to take whatever precautions they may need or simply to be as open as they feel they should be to cooperate in the investigation. as you say, it should not be a suggestion that they have something to hide, but it is wise to have your own counsel when you are in situations like this. charlie: we don't know what dan coats or mike rogers said. they said they would say most of
it in a closed hearing. they will not have that possibility unless they claim some kind of executive privilege when they talk to the investigators coming from the special counsel. the other aspect of that, i am told they cannot claim executive privilege if a matter of a crime is being considered. dan: it is my understanding, in a criminal investigation like that, it would be very difficult for them to invoke executive privilege. as we have seen so far, there has been no action to do so. both the testimony we saw a week ago with dan coats and admiral rogers, and then the testimony this week with the attorney general, jeff sessions, although they would not talk about the conversations with the president bearing on the specific questions of what he might have said about the russian
investigation or anything related to that, they were not invoking executive privilege. and so that seems to be the line they are trying to walk, but it is a more difficult line to walk if they are interviewed by bob mueller or members of his staff. charlie: or the f.b.i. dan: yes. charlie: you always have the question, what is obstruction of justice? it came about with consideration of mike flynn and "i hope you will do something about that." is that obstruction of justice or simply expressing an idea the president was trying to say, i don't think this will go anywhere and i hope you will let it go?
dan: director comey said two things about that. he took the president's words as a directive, although he did not act on them. he also deferred on the question of of structuring of justice, but said that is something the special counsel will have to answer. i think the fact mr. mueller has opened an investigation into that question is in some ways not surprising given the testimony from director comey
last week. on the other hand, it is significant certainly because it puts the president directly in the line as a target of the investigation. i should not use that in a legal term, but that he is now being investigated. at the same time, we should not leap to the conclusion that means there is a case for obstruction of justice. i think it is in a sense, mr. mueller would have been criticized if he had not begun to look at that question. but they are in the preliminary stage. we will see where, if anywhere, the evidence takes him on that. there is certainly enough for him to want to look at it and interview a lot of people about it. charlie: you have a special counsel who has subpoena power and the power of the f.b.i. as an investigative organ all working with him. dan: yes. you now have -- we have a full-fledged investigation that now includes the conduct of the president of the united states. in a sense, we need to step back and recognize the gravity of that situation. again, without determining what the conclusion is going to be, this puts the president in a terribly difficult position and all of those around him. these are serious lawyers who are working for bob mueller. they are going to do everything they can to run a very serious and thorough investigation. that is going to take time. it is going to make people uncomfortable. and it could well land some people with criminal indictments. we just don't know. there are a lot of threads to this. there's obviously the question of what russia did in the election, but there is also obviously the question of whether or not there was collusion or cooperation with trump associates, what other things were being done. there is now indication the investigation is not simply looking at the role of the president's conduct, but also the financial dealings of some of the people in the white house or who were part of the
campaign. any one of those is a significant investigation, and you have all of that operating at the same time. charlie: you may remember there was a thing called watergate and someone said, follow the money. dan: i do remember a little about that, and follow the money it is. there have long been questions about the role of money and russia's money with donald trump's organization and his financial empire. we don't know exactly what bob mueller's team may be beginning to look at, whether it is that or whether it is money involving some of the trump associates. once you start down that trail, you don't know where it is going to lead or end. the one thing we know from watergate and almost all of these investigations that begin with a specific subject, that they go in unexpected directions based on where the evidence leads and can end up in unexpected places. for the president and the trump white house, that has to be
worrying. i believe the president's reaction to it and some of the things he said in his tweets today make it clear he is very unhappy about it. charlie: you wonder, as you did about president clinton when he was facing impeachment hearings and other legal difficulties, you wonder how you can focus on being president when your own skin is at risk. dan: one thing we know about the president is he has a relatively short attention span. he has shown that through the course of the campaign and through the first months of his presidency. and second, when he is under attack, he fights back and he fights back very hard. he certainly seems to regard this as a personal attack. and the reactions he has had both privately and publicly
suggest that he is going to fight very hard. we saw that in the statement from his attorney last week based on director comey's testimony. we have seen it in the tweets this week from the president himself aimed at bob mueller and that investigation. so they seem to have decided on a strategy, that they are going to go hard at the special counsel and his team as part of a strategy to in one way or another discredit whatever the findings may turn out to be. charlie: do you expect when you talk to other reporters at "the washington post" who cover congress that we will see legislation between now and the next election? dan: i think people expect there will be some legislation. the senate is working very hard in private to try to get a health care bill ready to have a vote relatively soon, before perhaps the july 4 recess, certainly before the august recess. they want and need to do that, they feel.
they have struggled to do that. with all of the initiatives, they are struggling. they have passed some legislation. but it is not the big ticket or big priority items of either the republican majority or the president. the question is, what will they be able to get through? how are they going to get a health care bill through? the bill the senate is working on will be different from the house bill. but we don't know whether it will be as different from the house bill as was first thought. it seems to be going in a more moderate direction. whether it is moderate enough for the moderates and too moderate for the conservatives, we will not know until it comes out of the hermetically sealed chamber within which they are working on it. charlie: at the same time, it appears to me there's a fight for the soul of the democratic party, which does not get much attention because all of the attention is focused on the president and his troubles. dan: there is a fight in some ways.
i think if you look at -- let's take the most recent example or most recent laboratory case of this, which was the primary in virginia, the gubernatorial primary in which the lieutenant governor, ralph northam, had the support of the democratic establishment and tom perriello had the support of the bernie sanders/elizabeth warner wing of the party. a, that turned out to not be a close election when some polls suggested it would be. and b, they seem to have come together relatively quickly. we will have to see how that plays out. charlie: it is always good to have you on this program. i thank you so much. dan balz from "the washington post." we will be right back. stay with us. ♪
♪ charlie: jeffrey goldberg is here. he is the editor-in-chief of "the atlantic." last month, the magazine celebrated its 160th anniversary. there have been perhaps no more remarkable times in the recent history of american politics than we have now. president trump's young administration continues to struggle with controversy. yesterday, "the washington post" reported the probe has widened
to examine whether president trump attempted to obstruct justice. jeffrey goldberg joins me to talk about this and his magazine. i am pleased to have you back at this table. welcome. >> thank you, charlie. charlie: i want to turn to last month's cover about a remarkable story. tell me the story. jeffrey: a writer, a filipino american writer, lived with a shameful secret. when his family immigrated to america, they brought with them essentially their family slave. they inherited a slave. kind of a strange indentured servitude culture in their part of the philippines. they brought this woman with them. the woman lived with the family, the mother and alex, this pulitzer prize-winning writer. he inherited her. he freed her, but she could not be freed in a way. the story went viral. millions of people have read the story since it came out online and in print.
the story is him coming to grips with what his family did to this person, how he could not liberate her even though he tried, and his anxieties about it. here is the part that takes this to a strange and tragic level. alex, who had written for us before, a great writer, filed his story to us, went through one round of editing, and we learned just as we decided to make it the cover story for that issue, we learned he died. charlie: in his sleep at night. >> in his sleep at night. his editor was trying to tell him we chose the piece for the cover. she did not hear back from him. usually, that is the kind of good news writers like to hear. and then we found out a couple of days after that, that the police discovered him at home in bed dead. so we threw the remarkable ministrations of his family, his
wife and siblings, we managed to finish the process of getting the piece into print. so it was his last story. he had an expression, great writer this guy, and great profiler of marginal people, his wife told me this later, he believed every person has within them an epic story. the most average person in the world has an epic story. he essentially disgorged himself of his own epic story, wrote it out, and then died. it is the stuff of literature, the way this sort of unfolded. it is very sad. but i'm glad we were able to print his last story. charlie: that is why it belongs in the atlantic. that is the point. it is not always about politics. it is about who we are as human beings. jeffrey: this came out during a very intense trump month. it came out at a particularly tense moment and exploded when it came out. i think people are looking for
long, well-written stories about fascinating subjects that might have nothing to do with politics. maybe in particular because we are drowning in politics. i don't know the theory of this, but something happened with this article. it was heartening as the editor of a magazine that publishes long stories to see that millions of people were spending a long time reading a very long story about non-famous people, non-americans in a lot of cases, and about an issue of huge social importance. charlie: and what humans can do to other humans. >> and what humans can do to other humans. it was interesting journalistically to watch the reaction. charlie: my question is, what happened to her? jeffrey: she lived with him to the end. he tried to liberate her. but she was -- that was the life that she knew. he began to pay her. she lived with his family.
took care of them. he did not ask her to do anything, but that was the nature of the situation. she eventually died of old age. the story, which i recommend people read if they have not, it is the story of him taking her ashes back to the philippines to her village for final burial. it is quite beautiful and touching and sad. charlie: moving from that to what happened in washington this week -- jeffrey: also tragic and sad -- and odd. charlie: but more than that, people are asking this question that they ask often after 9/11, after newtown, after so many events of mass violence. will this one be the time we do something? jeffrey: no, no, no. no.
charlie: you have been there before. jeffrey: here is the thing. there was an assumption on the part of president obama after sandy hook, after the massacre, that this is the one. this is not chicago gang violence. this is tiny children, mostly white children, in a bucolic suburb. just an insane story. this is the thing that is going to tip. and then nothing tipped. charlie: i think he said it was the hardest day of his life. jeffrey: the issue i think that probably frustrated him the most as president where he could not use -- what he was all about was the application of logic and rationality to a set of problems. he assumed if the argument with sound enough and he was convincing enough that people would move in his direction. the education of barack obama was that it was not always the case. this is where he thought it would be it.
no, it does not change. remember also, and here is the odd permutation of this sad and tragic situation in virginia, the people targeted generally speaking are pretty fierce second amendment near absolutists. charlie: yes, go ahead. >> you know what i am saying. the targets in this case are not people who have previously been known to be apt to argue for greater gun control. charlie: one of them today in a passionate conversation said i wish i had a gun because i could have saved lives. jeffrey: that is a recognizable reaction. there is a feeling of helplessness when somebody is
shooting at you and you can't shoot back. we all know that if the capitol police were not there with guns, there would have been a massacre. i understand that reaction entirely. a lot of people, say the coastal elites, do not understand the feeling of i would rather have begun then not have a gun because the addition of a gun to a situation will make it worse, but there is the argument to be made the addition of a gun actually mitigated some of the damage. charlie: at risk to their lives. they went into harms way, were shot, and killed the assailant. jeffrey: amazing people. charlie: i once said -- we have the greatest economy, the greatest military power, the greatest technology, the greatest universities. this should be our century, the 21st. and he said, it should be. and i said, what could prevent it? he said, our politics. is our politics the same reason we cannot get at this issue of what happens when other human beings, for some reason, whether it is ideology or anger or
whether it is victimhood, to go out and -- jeffrey: every issue has become more polarizing. remember, 30 or 40 years ago, the n.r.a. was not where it is on this issue. therefore what we would call sensible gun control measures -- i don't know. i think it is deeper than this one issue. jim mattis, the secretary of defense, says frequently, i think he has been quoted as saying this, that one of the issues that concerns him the most, obviously there is north korea and isis and iran, etc., but one of the things that concerns him as an american is we have stopped liking each other. that one part of the country has come to loath another part of the country. i have heard other people describe it as we are drifting toward divorce.
there are people who no longer have friends or acquaintances on the other side. charlie: and people on both sides come especially with respect to those who supported president trump in the election victoriously believe that everything has failed them and that nobody is listening to them, and that they don't know what to do. jeffrey: i think this is one of the little secrets about the durability of much of donald trump's support. the secret is i think there are a lot of people who voted for him who look at this administration and do understand analytically that it is dysfunctional, that he is not delivering on the things he said he would deliver. but that feeling is outweighed by a feeling of loathing and repulsion for his critics. in other words, there are people who voted for donald trump who quite possibly saw donald trump as the flawed figure other people see him as. but they just see the other side as worse. that is not a healthy dynamic either. charlie: they see him as flawed, but they think he may be the
only change agent around, that what the country needs is disruption? jeffrey: as dangerous or unqualified as donald trump is or as erratic as he is, the other side, the coastal elites with their smugness and condescension about a range of issues, including the second amendment and religious faith and abortion and other issues important to that segment of society, they look at liberals and do not see opponents. they see people looking down upon them. charlie: that is a little bit what president obama got in trouble with campaigning in philadelphia. >> clinging to their guns and religion. that was a fairly rare misstep for him. it was his version of "deplorables." charlie: exactly what i was going to say. jeffrey: i think humiliation is deadly. if you make someone feel humiliated in politics, they
jeffrey: it is leaking at the edges. but i think no matter how disaffected they become, they still look at mainstream coastal democrats and think those people are worse. that is my guess. charlie: what is going to happen with the russian probe? you look at it and you now see "the washington post" reported yesterday bob mueller, special counsel, is moving in a direction, not making the case, but looking for information in pursuit of whether there is a case. jeffrey: right now, i am as interested as anyone in trying to understand this. right now, it seems to be a bit of a donut of a scandal. i'm not sure what is at the center of the scandal. i see more evidence of a scandal to cover up a scandal than actual scandal related to collusion itself. i have said this before and i do not want it to sound snarky, but there is not a great deal of evidence that trump people can collude with themselves. no, i mean this. they are having difficulty colluding with the republican-controlled senate and house, right? and so, i mean, to me, it is a little bit "get smart"-ish more than some sort of "dr. no" situation. maybe we will find evidence of levels of collusion. obviously we understand the russians were trying to do
certain things in the electoral process. but to me, it is an open question whether trump or trump-related people were having anything directly to do with that. but again, it is almost immaterial, and i hate to lean on a cliche, but that is where we are at. it is not the crime, it is the cover-up. the firing of comey was an overreaction that is begetting donald trump all kinds of problems. charlie: there would not have been a special counsel without the firing? jeffrey: you and i both know a lot of real estate people in new york, and they are used to being titans of the universe type of people. charlie: masters of the universe. jeffrey: you know what i was going for. masters of the universe. you look at -- donald trump looks at the org chart and says the fbi director works for him, but that fbi director is a pain in the neck. if he works for us, we can get rid of him.
this is what happens when you enter the presidency without sufficient knowledge of or respect for the norms governing presidential behavior. not the laws as much because legally -- charlie: the norms. what is the accepted behavior on the part of the president? jeffrey: paul ryan is right. he couched it in a benevolent way. lack of experience, learning on the job. but at a certain point, there have to be people around you who say, mr. president, in the post-watergate american reality, presidents do not get to fire the f.b.i. director because they do not like him. and you do not fire and f.b.i. director who is investigating you. charlie: and you do not go have meetings with the russian foreign minister. jeffrey: in the manner in which -- charlie: and suggest to him he is crazy. jeffrey: we are in new territory. i don't think it is a snarky observation to say we have never experienced a presidency in our
lives like this one. charlie: do you think he will survive four years? jeffrey: it is very hard to remove a president. i know i have a lot of friends on the left who think, how could this go on? the answer is, this is not italy. this goes on. we don't swap presidents every three months. this is not tire rotation. you have to convince him to resign or you have got to impeach him. charlie: or somebody has to. this is not tire rotation. you have to convince him to resign or you have got to impeach him. the idea right now, republican leaders of congress are driving up to the white house and saying -- having network -- it can be plausible on both parts of pennsylvania avenue. it is implausible that if they ever did get in the car and drive up, they would say, paul, you are right. did withlike they
nixon? >> it is implausible to think he every get in the car and drive up, they would say, paul, you are right. this is not working out, i am stepping aside some mike pence can be president. it does indicate a pattern that we have all studied. that would be quitting. removal is another thing. 2018, maybe after the election in 2018, we will see a different kind of congress. charlie: not quitting is part of the american creed, too. jeffrey: you don't quit the presidency. nixon, it was so far gone. you don't really quit. i assume unless someone can prove to me otherwise, he is president for four years. it is a pretty intense ride. charlie: here is your field. what is it doing to our
reputation abroad? how does that affect the possibilities of the future? jeffrey: it is interesting, i don't want to the contextualize him in a way that would be unfair to trump. the preceding presidents of the 9/11 era, each did things that damaged america's reputation abroad. george w. bush overreacted to a set of events and opened up a pandora's box in the middle east. one could argue barack obama under reacted. he was the president in opposition of the bush dial. declaring a redline and not enforcing it. that is not only true in syria. you could argue on the margins that he didn't do enough to box in china.
that didn't do enough to keep russia from doing what it did in ukraine. all of those things said, those two presidents operated within normal bandwidths and they had internal consistency and the records are -- particularly in barack obama's case, he did a lot to lift america's vast sectors of the world. he had a lot of problems as well. something obama said to me. his frustration with nato, they sometimes act as free riders. donald trump is on the continuum with that. the key difference is that barack obama understood in his bones that the relationship between the united states and the european allies were not a mercantile relationship or to put it more bluntly, not a mafia relationship. you pay us so we protect you. he understood that.
like a candy store in the corner of the never. he understood that there was no choice. for liberal democracy, for the common good, not only for the safety and security of these nations but or a set of ideas. there is no evidence yet that donald trump understands the way that barack obama understood -- the way that george w. bush understood, we stand for something, the president must stand for something more than getting a good deal. barack obama was never going to leave an alliance because germany wasn't paying enough. he was never going to threaten or intimate that. that is where we are. that is why our allies do not understand it anymore and live in fear of being attacked on the twitter feed of the president
for doing something that hurt or annoyed -- charlie: they were not convinced he would come to their aid. jeffrey: should they be? charlie: he was reluctant to defend and say recommitted article five. jeffrey: it is not only the ideology. it is the consistency. it is the understanding of history they are looking for. adversaries as well, we are better in the category of adversaries. they have no idea what he is going to do. we remember that one of the problems of barack obama was that he was in the mind of some of our allies, too predictable, to rational, too logical, he would frequently talk about what the united states would not do in a situation. now we have the opposite situation where no one, including people around the president himself know what he is going to do in any given situation. charlie: i asked dan the same
question. there is no sense of a search for the facts on the part of -- yes, by investigative committee, yes by special counsel. but you don't get the sense that the president has said that i don't care what you do, i want to know what happened with the russians and the election. jeffrey: jeff sessions -- it is beyond. it is almost implausible. how could it that the attorney general of the united states and the chief law enforcement officer, never asked as he said?
apparently we are under attack by russia. they are trying to undermine our democracy. what are we doing about this? jeff sessions is in charge of the fbi. the fbi has a lot of people who are experts in russian nefarious behavior. the lack of interest is profound. charlie: we have an element of distrust between the national security establishment and our president. it comes to this. can north korea be stopped? and who is going to tell who what the facts are and believe the facts, and are we going to wake up one morning notwithstanding all that has been done and said? and it's too late not to have a military confrontation? jeffrey: the problem is a military confrontation would be a nightmare. it would be a nightmare in the case of north korea. it is also a nightmare if they manage to figure out a way to deliver a nuclear weapon on the missile to the west coast of the united states or the east coast of the united states, certainly hawaii. obviously japan, south korea. something that you said prompted
this thought, it is about credibility. one of the things a president is needed to do in a crisis -- all of our crises to date have been self-inflicted. we have never had -- we haven't had a conflagration, we haven't had a hurricane sandy for katrina or san bernardino, one thing that a president has to do is to tap into a reservoir of trust with the american people. that when he goes on tv and says this is what is happening, this is why it is happening, this is how we are handling it, a substantial portion of the american public has to be able to say that it is true and that they have got this. saysie: if the president
it -- his encounter with the mayor of london, critiquing the mayor of london struck me as odd. why would a leader, a civic leader -- why would they want to encourage non-calm in a population? what i worry about is that the president is not asking the correct questions. the president is not entering and asking and mastering those questions. he is not willing to listen to different kinds of counsel. all of this has to be done in a contracted period of time. then the president won't be believed by large swaths of the american people. and the world, our allies. you have to have some level of credibility. it is very dangerous not to have that credibility. charlie: are you loving being editor?
jeffrey: i love being the editor of "the atlantic." i sound like i was answering the question as a pr person. charlie: you don't have as much time to write as much as you did? jeffrey: or at all. charlie: you don't have time to come. much as you did. jeffrey: my apologies. you know i love this table. it is a different thing. reporters in many ways are the children and editors are the adults. when you are a reporter, you follow your whim, you're responsible for yourself and your own work and that was fun. i did that for 30 years.
that was great fun. i love it, pound for pound, i have the best staff of journalists in america. amazing people. a magazine and eight digital operation, people taken very seriously, millions of people read this, it is great fun to try to figure out in this unstable. in journalism how to do this. charlie: thank you for coming, editor of "the atlantic" magazine. stay with us, back in a moment. ♪ qqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqqq
♪ charlie: in the 1870's, the orage were driven from their land. it was later discovered that these lands were sitting on some of the largest oil deposits in the united rates. this led to the osage being the richest people per capita in the world. it also led to a series of murders as non-natives thought to tap into the resources. reporter david grann spent five years researching the story for this book. it is called "killers of the flower moon." i am pleased to have him back at this table. welcome. how did you find this story? david: i heard about the story from a historian. i made a trip out to osage territory when i first heard about it. i went to the osage museum. on the wall was this large panoramic photograph which was taken in 1924. it showed members of the tribe but a portion of the photograph was missing.
i asked the museum director what happened to the missing portion of the photograph, and she said that it contained a picture so frightening that she removed it. she pointed to the missing panel and said the devil was standing right there. the book was trying to figure out who that figure was and the history he embodied. it led me to one of the most sinister crimes in america. charlie: which was? david: it was the systematic targeting of the osage, one by one for the oil money. charlie: to become the largest per capita individuals in the world. david: in 1870, an osage chief stepped up when they were being driven off of their land and he said we should move to what was indian territory. he said we should move there because the land is rocky. it is infertile and the white man considers it worthless. my people will finally be happy in this land. the osage migrated to this
territory, they purchased it, they migrated there. it was about the size of delaware. lo and behold, it was sitting on the some of the largest deposits of oil. by the early 20th century, the osage had become the most wealthy people per capita in the world. charlie: how many were there? david: there were 2000 or sue. in 1923, that you're alone, those 2000 or so would be worth $400 million. they live in mansions. they had servants, many of whom were white. all of this belied long-standing racial stereotypes. it was said at the time where as one american might own a car, each osage owned 11 of them. charlie: then what happened? david: then they began to be targeted. i write a lot the book about a remarkable osage woman named molly burkart.
in 1921, she had an older sister, anna. she disappeared. molly looked everywhere for her. a week later, anna was found in a ravine shot in the back of the head. it was the first hint that the family was being targeted. in just a few days, her mother became mysteriously sick. evidence later suggested she had been poisoned. molly had a younger sister. she was so frightened by these murders, she moved closer to molly. one night at 3:00 in the morning, she heard a loud explosion. molly goes to the window of her house and she looks out in the direction of where her sister lived. all she could see was this large orange ball rising into the sky. it looked like the sun had burst.
somebody planted in bomb under her sister's house. killing her sister, her sister's husband and a maid in the house. other families were systematically targeted. there were poisonings, shootings. one was given a poison. it causes the whole body to convulse with electricity and you slowly, and strangled while you are conscious. strichnine. those who try to catch the killers themselves were targeted. there was a lawyer or an attorney who was thrown off a train. he had told his wife that should anything happen to me, go to this hiding place where i hid the evidence. when the person got to that hiding spot, all of it had been cleared out. there was an oilman who was friendly with the osage. he traveled to the district of columbia to hopefully get federal authorities to investigate the crimes. he checked into a boarding house and received a telegram from an associate in oklahoma. the telegram said be careful. he stepped out of the boarding house that evening. he was abducted.
at some point, a burlap sack was wrapped around his head. he was found the next day beaten to death, stabbed more than 20 times. a washington post headline reported that the osage already knew. conspiracy to kill rich indians. charlie: who was behind it? david: what made his crimes so deeply sinister was that the only way to get the oil was to inherit it. it involved people marrying into families, white settlers, marrying into families, pretending to love these people, sometimes even having children with them who while systematically plotted to kill them. molly had to reconcile that the people targeting the family for the people she thought loved her, who should trusted. him him him it was one of the
things that made these crimes so deeply nefarious and sinister. by 1923, they were officially more than two dozen osage murders. the the unofficial death toll was much higher. the council pleaded for federal authorities to step in. the case was picked up by an obscure branch of the justice department. it was then known as the bureau of investigation. of course, we know it would be renamed the federal bureau of investigation. him him this case became one of the first major homicide investigations. charlie: what did they do? david: initially, they badly bungled the investigation. this was j edgar hoover, the new director. age 29. they had gotten an outlaw out of jail. instead, he slipped away, he robbed a bank and he killed a police officer.
j. edgar hoover is afraid of a scandal. our most autocratic bureaucrat the history. back then, he was insecure in his position as a new director. he summoned someone with more experience to help. he put together an undercover andhe put together an undercover team, most interestingly, one of the undercover operatives was an american indian. probably the only one in his bureau. they go in undercover. they posed as insurance salesman, a cattleman. according to records, they sold actual policies. they ultimately follow the money to try to determine who was profiting from these murders of the families. that money leads them directly back into the house. her own husband and the husband's uncle were behind the killings. david: her own husband. david: she realized that after she had had two children with this man. this man had married into the family with a very calculating plot to systematically murdered family members so that the
inheritance would go towards him and his uncle, who was the most dominant and powerful figure in this county. he was known as the king of the osage hills. charlie: where did you find all this information? david: it took a long time. many archives, a lot of time. i also tracked down the descendents of both the murderers and the victims who were able to provide me both oral histories and stories and trails of evidence. i tracked down molly burkart's granddaughter. she told me what it was like to grow up without aunts and uncles. charlie: her grandfather was a killer? david: yes. she showed me a photograph that had the grandfather ripped out. her own father as a little boy was standing there. the victims and perpetrators
lived in the same household. to this day, the descendents of the murderers and victims often still live in the same neighborhoods. their fates are intertwined. in many ways that is the story of america. charlie: what happens to the him him money? david: sadly, millions of dollars were swindled during his crimes, during this criminal conspiracy. a lot of the oil was gradually depleted. in some of the osage still him receive oil money today. it is not the millions they once did. they are a very vibrant nation. there are still 4000 osage that live in that area. there are 20,000 with voting him rights in democratic institutions. they have found other sources of income, including from casinos. one osage lawyer said we were victims of these crimes, but we don't live as victims. david: what is the flower killing them? david: every month, it is named after a moment. the month of may is known as the little flower killing moon. during that month, all of these
beautiful little flowers spread over their perry. they look almost like confetti. taller plants come, they still the water, they die. it is in the month of may where molly's sister first disappears and the first brutal murder takes place. charlie: what was the guardian system? david: what is unbelievable is the osage were the wealthiest people per capital in the world. they were scapegoated for their money. this was in the 1920's. somehow, members of the u.s. congress would say -- they would hold hearings about these native americans and all of their money. they went so far as to pass legislation requiring many osage to have white guardians to manage their wealth. this system was not abstractly racist, it was literally racist, it was based on the quantum of
osage blood. if you were full-blooded, you were considered incompetent and given a guardian to manage your wealth. you could be a great chief who lead a nation and had millions of dollars in that trust and you have a white guardian whether or not you could buy this car or that car for that toothpaste at the corner store. not only was it racist, it also created one of the largest criminal enterprises. many guardians swindled millions of dollars. charlie: he sold this book to the movies? david: yes i did. my hope is they will do it. this is a part of history that has been lost. we haven't fully reckoned with it. the nice thing would be if they made a movie is that would
become part of our history. you asked me at the beginning what prompted me to begin this project. when he learned about this, i was shocked that i had never read about this in school. it was not part of my history books. when i saw that photograph at the museum, a portion had been cut up because it contained one of the killers. the osage had removed the picture not to forget but because they can't forget. there were so few people, including myself, we had no knowledge of these crimes. i'm hoping a book or movie will make this part of our national narrative. charlie: the book is called "killers of the flower moon." thank you for joining us, see you next time. ♪ ♪
oliver: welcome to "bloomberg businessweek." in this week's issue, apple ceo tim cook talks about doing business with president trump while western union finds itself in the crosshairs of the white house. then, phil falcone is making new bet on vietnam. all that ahead on "bloomberg businessweek." ♪ oliver: we are here with editor-in-chief megan murphy.