tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg July 13, 2017 6:00pm-7:00pm EDT
♪ >> from our studios in new york rose."his is "charlie william: good evening. charlie is away. we begin tonight with charles a best-selling author, and op-ed columnist from the new york times. his columns have grown increasingly critical of the trump administration. many see him as one of the leaders of what can loosely be called the resistance. welcome, charles. here.to have you
my temptation would be to start with current events. i really enjoyed your july 3 column, the hijacked american presidency. i'm going to read a little bit from it. i thought it was so powerful. every now and then we are going to have to do this, step back from the onslaughts of insanity presidency,trump's registering its magnitude in its full, devastating truth. ourselves routing than rising to the honor of the office, trump has lowered the office with his whiny, fragile, vindictive pettiness. the presidency has been hijacked. there are no words to express it. there is no new and novel way to catalog it. it is the most extraordinary and
profound electoral mistake america has made in our lifetimes, and possibly ever. powerful stuff. why? charles: why not? there are a lot of different people who play different roles in society. , part of the job is to bear witness. , what else should i be writing? how else should i be considering what is happening? reporters, who their job is to follow the day to day, every incremental change. my job i consider a different way. it is to step back a little bit, and offer some perspective, and when i do that, it is shocking what we are witnessing. william: was there a catalyst
for you with the trump presidency, or the very act that or evenlected, nominated? how far back did it go? is a you being a new yorker, recognizing what donald trump is about? charles: all of that is true. you cannot have lived in this city and not registered he was a part of the city, a social presence in the city, and he was, there was a vileness to it. -- itas a d class say was an aspirational thing if you lived in new york city to be like trump or to be like him. it wasn't a joke. -- it was a joke. he treated his own presence in new york city as a joke very appearing on comedy shows. william: howard stern, the tabloids. charles: absolutely. even on more mainstream shows,
it was a comedy act. he shows up in world frustrating -- world wrestling federation. he played with it, and we looked at it in a certain light, but never took it seriously. catapult from that position to him as a politician, a serious contender for the nomination of the republican party, and then to actually become president, and all of the comments and things he said have a different weight. they were incredibly distasteful. -- you know, the flirtation with women. he pushes past that to providing about assaulting women. -- to bragging about assaulting women. he took out a full-page ad,
including the new york times, after the central park jogger episodes, calling for these kids to be executed. there was a lot of heat around it at the time. hen after they were cleared, would still not take it back. there is something problematic about the character of this person. character, andat see it in real time, he is committing even more offenses, more sins against society. pulling the to keep lens back and saying this is not normal, and this is not right, and whatever europe is in -- whatever your reason/ you can make the argument you didn't like hillary clinton, and
ideological argument you were opposed to obama's policies. choices,ad 14 other and you chose him. i can't separate you from him. william: wesley point you decided you had to take up the pen? charles: part of the writing from me is an exhaling of what i believe. i am trying to be as true to that as i am humanly possible, towards winning [indiscernible] but to express the truth of what i believed. if people can use that to help to fuel their fire, great. that is not the objective for me. the objective for me, this is the truth of what i feel of the
situation in the moment. sometimes people are shocked when i say i am not trying to change anybody's mind. i am not. if it does, great. but, i am trying to document what is happening, and what i feel about what is happening, and i hope that is helpful, that cannot be the motivating factor for writing. william: would you ever see yourself actually marching on washington, or being more of an activist than just in your column? it has happened that columnists have become activists. charles: i can't see it. differenti do believe people in society play different roles. the artist, whether you see columnist a high level of writing or not, -- writers in general have a role. necessarily what
people consider frontline. i believe that it is frontline. history has shown us the capturing and distillation of thought is an incredible framing mechanism for activism. that is a special role unto itself. writing is an action. that action is sufficient. it does not require an additive active. make it shows, whenistory people attack society, very often they attack the arts first, because they understand the power of it. they attacked the poets. so, you do have skin in the game. it is just in a different way. .illiam: you have been attacked
have you been accused, have you felt the barb's question what do you feel threatened? do you feel the pen is mightier than the sword? charles: you get some people who will cross lines, and occasionally you have to alert, there is a whole mechanism, you have to alert security, and they talk to the police. that happens. but it is really important, i believe, that you never be afraid. i believe that art is the absence of fear. the infamous civil rights icon said what is the point of being scared? right? say,uote, she went on to all they can do is kill me, and it feels they have been trying to do that a little bit at a
time ever since i was born. i do have that posture of what is the point of the fear? -- what do i achieve by putting afraid? william: you have been a fighter your whole life, since you grew up in louisiana. less than 1000 people population. you have come a long way from there. how do you do it? charles: there is a very rich history in the south, in my particular neighborhood, and i never felt compromised or limited. i never heard anybody tell me know, you can't do something. if you can dream it, that sounds like a great idea, how do you get it done? they would help me figure it out , how to get it done, and i would get it done. i went to a school started as the first college in northwest
louisiana to educate the sons and daughters of former slaves. that school is my high school. it still has the same name. it used to be coleman. now it is gibson coleman. north, of people in the movies where black people are struggling to get representation, young people lee to see -- the spike movie where they complain there are no black people on the walls, all i could think my whole life, all i ever saw on the walls black people. it was the administrators of that original college. they taught latin. and, growing up in that, you don't -- you emerge without the social racial scars. . just never had that baggage i never had a sense that i could not be the smartest person in ie room, because every room
went into, a black person was the smartest person in that room. the idea that it could not be me never occurred to me. toni morrison said, i always thought -- i always believed i had the moral high ground. anybody who would even deign to us soon -- to assume they could be racist to me, and i was lesser than them, was so outrageous to me. and in the moment that it happens, i immediately assume that you are more probably -- morally compromised. william: this is an unusual experience. charles: it is the only experience i have. i do -- william: you are an educated man. charles: i temper myself when i because there was segregation involved in it. black people wanted to be separated but white people
didn't want their children to go to school with us. it wasn't a negative. we had history on our side. it was the oldest school in that area. we came into spaces carrying that, understanding that whatever kind of history you have, or your school, whatever, what you think it is, i have 100 years of amazing black people doing amazing things against all of the odds, and they are on my back, and i am on their shoulders. that idea, i carry all the time. if they could do that in the what isf nowhere, then impossible? i could not get over the idea that something could be impossible to me. it did not make sense to me. william: that was reinforced by went,to grambling, you you said the entered -- in 4 --
you said that reinforce this idea. charles: i wanted to run away. william: what did you go to -- want to go to? charles: i wanted to go to william & mary. i don't know why i had that in my mind. i got a brochure. i never applied. it was somehow -- i looked through this -- william: the polar opposite of grambling. charles: [indiscernible] it felt north to us, louisiana. i read the description, back and, you get a big book they have these colleges, they had descriptions. i said, this sounds like me. up staying close, in part because the recruiter gave important speech that made a big impression on me. i decided i would go to lsu.
i got a full scholarship. he says, lsu doesn't need you. grambling needs you. really made an impression on me. what he was saying to me was that you are not just coming here to get something from us. here see you come can give something to your fellow students. that is the way that i kind of navigated college. that i was giving as much as i was getting. william: you were a standout in high school, intellectually. editor of your high school newspaper. a standout at grambling. magna cum laude graduate. did you always know you wanted to be in journalism? you did an high school, and i guess in college? did you want to change the world? charles: i had no desire to be a journalist.
i thought i was going to become a lawyer. i liked writing. when people ask me, how someone goes from being on the visual side, to writing, the fluke is how i went from being someone majoring in english to being on the visual side. the writing was like coming home. that was something i have always done. journalism just wasn't a profession in my world. i am from a tiny town. the closest newspaper was eight hours away. the idea of a journalist, as a way to make a living, that just didn't exist. i did and a role model saying this is what i wanted to do. the idea of expressing was something important to me. i thought eventually i would become a politician. william: you wanted to be
governor of louisiana. charles: i wanted to be governor of louisiana. that was a thing. not anymore. william: inspired by edwards? charles: in the worst possible i always sense that tell kids, this is not aspirational. do not do what i did. a bunch of tour, kids from louisiana, some program, we went to the governor's mansion. first we took a tour of the capitol building. they pointed out the craziness that happened. this one got shot here, his wife locked him up in an insane asylum. william: famously so. charles: famously. we go to the governor's mansion. governor edwards strolls in. magnetic,-- the most
flamboyant character. -- he is just the most magnetic, flamboyant character. a folk hero, in a way. one of his elections, the most popular bumper sticker in the itte was put for the crook, is important. he was running against david duke. everyone knew the edwards was a crook. but they kind of liked it. it was fascinating. william: same thing with you long. qheuy long. charles: yes. it wasn't an honorable decision to make. but there was a part of me that really did believe in public service. and, all of my heroes as a kid were people who kind of changed the world. i had posters of martin luther king, i had a t-shirt of martin
luther king. i liked him in the way other people liked rock stars, and athletes. to me he of the demise something i aspire to. -- to me he epitomized something i aspire to. it is something that gets glossed over a lot, how incredibly educated he was. not just in the inflection of the voice, but the incredible references he is making. creek references. -- greek references. half of the people in these audiences don't understand what they are hearing, but he is grounding them in southern gospel. this idea that you could bridge these two worlds, the highly intellectual, and the common southern language. william: you certainly felt his passion. charles: you can feel his passion, but intellectually,
academically, those speeches are stand apart from just the passion. they are incredibly well-crafted. he was riding them. this is him -- he was writing them. this was him. the idea he could spend all of literary history, on the ground history, and we've that into a narrative that made sense for people, many of whom may not have finished high school, may not go to college, and speak to all those different audiences, was an incredible powerful thing -- incredibly powerful thing for me. in a way when i am writing now, i think of them as sermons. william: what i read at the beginning of the show sounded like a sermon. that kind of power. charles: there is the kind of practical nature of speechin
g. you are talking about the same subject every week. you just have to find a new way into it. muchng a column is very like that. william: did you have a journalistic hero? charles: i did not. i never thought that i was going to be a professional writer. i never desire to be a professional writer. -- i never desired to be a professional writer. in nature. visual it morphed into more of a writing called him, writing job --writing column, writing job. i just couldn't make myself right, say writer. writers are other people, and not me. william: you went to national geographic, to continue to work
on you visual side. charles: i was the art director of national geographic. william: what a beautiful magazine, and what a great opportunity. you came back, and a you are writing this column, which is obviously an incredible accomplishment. are you is data-driven now in the writing of the column as you were doing the visual column? with your trump columns, the resistance columns, these feel very passionate, as opposed to data-driven. charles: they are not as data-driven, obviously. william: explain what that means. what were you doing with data? charles: when i started, i wanted to use data as a way to make a point. it is about perspective. i wanted to make a point using data. what that meant was i was following the data. william: you wouldn't write
something until -- charles: i would follow the data. i would write about the data i found. william: like the dating column. charles: that meant you were necessarily following your tosion, and what appealed you intellectually that week, you are following data. you are being led by the nose by that. now i write what i believe is important to write, and then i support that with whatever data exists. it is a different way of turning it around. than theis one easier other? charles: this clearly. writing from the gut -- you have no control over data. who is collecting it, when they publish it.
trump. new yorkers have known donald trump it seems like forever. we knew without trying to that helize to much, was not the greatest developer, and was a bit of a showman. we knew better, i think, in new york. you can see that in the way people voted in this city and state. that he was not perhaps the best choice. -- what a pleasant the media capital of the country unable to articulate that? or where we just not trusted? charles: there was media malpractice involved. there were people who did not taken very seriously, it is fair to say, you can understand that to some degree. seriously,taking him
he was also not being held to the same standards. he could say anything, he could lie, his past could be made public, but because people didn't consider him a real candidate, they were applying the same standards you would apply to a traditional politician. people saw an opportunity to make money. william: off of donald trump? charles: because he was -- william: in the media. charles: yes. he was flagrant entertainment. in those days he would always grab the interview. now he won't grant any interviews. in the beginning of the campaign he would grant the interviews, he would call in to shows. traditional politicians wouldn't do this, they would be afraid
they would make a mistake. people, it was like rubbernecking a car wreck. , bute found it distasteful were tuning in, and people registered, media executives registered that meant money. that is how the media was complicit in helping to shore up his candidacy in the beginning. there is a different media environment now, but he is already the president. you can't unwind that. we can break all sorts of amazing stories, people are journalism,g someone will win a pulitzer and an enemy out of it, but he is the president. emmy out of it, but he is the president.
we have never successfully impeach the president. the founders made it difficult. the senate refused to follow through. nixonresigned -- resigned. the caution. no matter what journalism does now, i'm not sure it pays for the sin he committed in the beginning. william: turning to more current events, like the stories your newspaper has broken in the last 3-4 days, about the infamous has thisump jr. email, brought us closer to potential impeachment that may never happen, which seems to be what people are rooting for? is this just an interesting story that is going to be like one of those things where donald
trump says he could shoot people and people would still vote for him? what is your perspective on recent events? charles: the magnitude of inappropriateness is off the charts. william: with this email? charles: this email is just one of a multitude of sins. completely inappropriate. not fitting the office of the president, not fitting -- it is just, you could not design a worse set of characters, then trump and his cronies. but that is a separate point of discussion, from whether or not it is criminal, and whether it rises to the point where the someone, thewell, articlesl have to drop
. -- draw up articles. you could have a prosecution, but we have never been in this spot. the legal community seems to be divided, linning for the idea you could -- leaning towards the idea you could not prosecute a sitting president. impeachment is all you have left. william: he could not be indicted. charles: exactly. all you have left is the house, and the senate. they are in republican control. whether or not they would be moved to do that, we have seen no signs of it. know whereard to this ends up. you can have a situation where democrats take the house. you get articles of impeachment. william: that is 2018. charles: at least. then you have the under leagues -- underlings, the jared
kushners of the world, man afford, carter page -- manafort, carter page, those people could be indicted and convicted. trump ass you have president, he also has the power to pardon. it is very tricky. william: sounds like there is going to be a lot of people who are not going to be satisfied that all of the recent events and this bad behavior will lead to his being removed from office, or resigning from office. charles: right. that is the hard truth. , your try to tell people persistence must be rooted in principle, and not expedient removal. you have no control over whether or not he is removed, and that process, if it ever gets underway could take a long time.
there are a lot of twists and turns in that. there are unsettled legal conundrums involved in that. whether or not you can indict him and try him. we are not even there yet. what you can't control is the principles -- what you can control is the principles on which you stand. if you route your resistance in that, it has a longer life. a political and societal transformation. something happened in society that allowed this to happen. there is russian interference. ,here is also, you know dampened enthusiasm on one side. maybe a little bit more enthusiasm on the other. people change behaviors also in
that last election. william: there was a lot of frustration and anger. charles: it was very complicated. ,he frustration and anger, also people have looked at this, they realized the racial anxiety played a much larger role than the economic anxiety. william: charles blow, thank you for being here. we will be right back. ♪
william: we continue now with jesse eisenger, a senior reporter at pro-publica. he was awarded the pulitzer prize for a series of stories on the financial crisis. .e has written a new book i am pleased to welcome jesse .isinger -- jesse eisenger i have to just say i read this this because i blurbed book. i want to make sure people know that. jesse: thank you for having me, and thank you for having read it. william: we are going to talk about this, it is an interesting title. why did you choose this title? jesse: it comes from a speech
that jim comey gave. william: the famous jim comey. ,esse: the now famous jim comey from such roles as being fired as the fbi director i donald trump. he was in a different role. he had just become the u.s. attorney for the southern district of new york. that is the premier job for a law enforcement officer of corporations and wall street. the southern district is the prestigious office, the department of justice. it was true. he was replacing a legend in the office, mary jo white jesse:. who became the security and exchange -- mary jo white. a lot of characters in my book have cameos and then reemerged in the trump years. he says i'm going to give you a
speech, but before i do, how many of you guys have never lost a case? a bunch of hands shoot up. these are the best of the best of the best. they have gone to the best law schools, think of themselves as the best trial lawyers in the country. they are very proud of their records. he says me and my buddies have -- have a name for you guys. you are the chicken bleep club. william: what did he mean by that? jesse: you can't be just about winning. your ambition is to do justice. you have to take on the most powerful people you can, and that is how you do justice in america. william: and so, did these
people take this message to heart? did they change their behavior as a result? this is a book about fail you to prosecute. -- failure to secure. they don't unfortunately the department of justice writ club.comes the chicken-s now i argue that the department of justice has lost the ability to prosecute corporate executives in america. this is the flipside of inequality. we have two justice systems. mass incarceration and, where we disproportionally punish the poor, and people of color, and we have the other side. i'm concentrating on that. we give impunity to wealthy, powerful people who sit as ceos in german of them -- and chairman of the major
corporations. this affects retail and attack, and pharmaceuticals across the spectrum. william: how did that happen? both of us cover the financial services industry, finance in general. we have many other financial crises in our history as a country. after all of the other ones, people who did wrong, the wrongdoers got prosecutor -- prosecuted, and got paraded out in front of the cameras to show others that you can't get away with this in america. that did not happen this time. could you trace for us how this evolved, how this happened? jesse: after the savings and loan crisis, the first bush years, lots of talk executives -- top executives go to prison. almost all the top powerful
people, goldman sachs partners, no can himself, the most on wall street at the time. they go after lawyers. , wer the enron scandals were membered these names, they prosecuted most every single one of those big companies, and prosecuted individuals, the top people. what happens? they lose this ability. what i argue is that it begins in a backlash against the aggressive prosecutions of the enron era, where, -- where corporations start to lobby and push prosecutors back on the congress, lobbying and lobbing the white house to routinging back secure power.i
they lose this ability to prosecute individuals and end up settling with corporations writing checks. william: why? why? was it the arthur andersen, which ended up in the liquidation of the firm? was of the famous holder memo that you write about, that i have written about, the whole doctrine? eric holder is the attorney general, and he is the one not prosecuting these cases. how does it happen? how do we go from people being paraded out, michael milken, his to pay being taken off -- his to oupee taken off? jesse: the thing that i did not find, i don't think exists, the
memo or call from timothy geithner to eric holder saying don't prosecute bankers. i don't believe that happened. i think it is a much more systemic problem, institutional problem at the department of justice. there is a lot of unexamined assumptions. everyone understands what they should or shouldn't do. the reason is, they think they want to perform corporate coulter. they think they can reform corporate culture by settling with companies. these things where they write checks and make a bunch of promises to perform -- to perform and behave better. corporate executives are ords ofally, in the w one sec guy, these are good people who have made one bad
mistake. that permeates the government. there is a class affinity. they see corporate executives as ,ell educated, articulate contributing members of society, dam they must be good people who made bad mistake. they don't prosecute them like they would a drug dealer or a mobster. do you buy that? jesse: no. i think corporate executives deserve punishment, we need a more corporate executives in do you buy that? prison, a lot more ceos in prison. i don't think they have made one bad mistake. you can see that in the settlement. they settle with companies and banks all the time. pfizer, they settle over and over for violations. jpmorgan, over it, and over.
these companies are recidivist. the thing that would work as prosecuting individuals, and depriving them of their liberty. majorityse, the vast of ceos as decent law-abiding people, that i see there is corruption that is not punished, that people are not held accountable, and those we need to go after, and department of justice doesn't do it anymore. william: is it because eric holder wrote that memo when he saying ifey general, we prosecute corporations, or people in corporations, we are going to these people out of jobs, these corporations are going to go out of business, as what happened with arthur andersen, and we will be sorry? i'm trying to understand? jesse: it evolved over time.
holder, who doesn't actually write that memo, that is -- he attaches his name to it, that is a spitfire prosecutor in the southern district, who contributes mostly small mary jo white right-hand woman, and goes down to washington to make sure they don't screw up. nobody really thinks much about it. they do put in this notion, essentially changing american law in this country. that we should take into account that you can put people out of work when you prosecute a company. you should take into account the collateral consequences, putting people out of work or disrupting the capital markets. then arthur andersen happens. that is a product of the enron task force. the enron prosecutions. the enron prosecutions as
the right way to go about these cases. they prosecuted individuals, they work their way out to the top. but all of those, the way they did that was they focused on those cases, they flipped lower-level individuals, so you flip, thatdiers to is the way you make cases against jeff skilling or ken lay , who were not being stupid stuff in email. you didn't have direct evidence against them. now they are over dependent on direct evidence. they shy away from anything where they can't make cases against the executives. they learned this terrible wrong lesson, which is we can never prosecute a company again. jesse: because they feel responsible for accounts losing their jobs? who got jobs elsewhere.
in thei try to do till book exactly what happened. i want to seek to rehabilitate it, because arthur anderson was a recidivist company, a corrupt institution, the handmade not just to enron's accounting fraud , but sunbeam, many others. william: if facility to a lot of criminal behavior. jesse: it did indeed. with enron, they were breathtaking, destroying documents and obstructing justice. i think corporate bookkeeping got cleaned up a little bit for a few years after that because there was a deterrent effect. that is not the lesson mary jo white learns, that eric holder learns. william: eric holder's right-hand man. jesse: the head of the criminal the justice
department under obama and a partner of eric holder, both leave from big law firms to go to obama, then they returned to covington and burling. famously called on tape in the documentary where he is espousing the holder doctrine. jesse: exactly. they internalize a different message. that this is a terrible thing, we can't put people out of work. it is too disruptive. when the financial crisis happens they are trepidations about prosecuting a bank because of the worries the capital markets are so fragile. if you are is worried about the systemic consequences of prosecuting companies, focus on the individual. instead, they don't. they don't know -- they don't with the resources in.
they don't put the time in. they say they have every incentive to do it, but they don't have every incentive to do it. that has to do with the revolving door. eric holder think and lenny brewer were thinking of going back to covington, making a lot of money now, eric holder just famously has been hired by uber to examine the culture there and release his 13 pages of findings. thisust you think revolving door, which is a big issue, we sought with the head of the fcc, he did not prosecute any individuals as far as i can tell, now he has gone back to a high-paying law firm. is this the culprit? >> they all do. william: do you think they are thinking if we prosecute we are
not going to get those jobs? jesse: yes. simply put, yes. they are thinking about future job opportunities. it is corrupt. it is unjust. it is broken. we have the dirty secret of american corporate law enforcement, we have outsourced and privatized it to corporations themselves, who higher law firms made up of former prosecutors who conduct internal investigations, and deliver those to the department of justice, who are so they effectively do in many cases. those internal investigations aboutudiously incurious investigating thread that will take them to the c-suite. they ignore those. most of the time. some of them are good.
the young prosecutors to negotiate these settlements, they were told by eric holder they have every incentive to make a big marquee case by going after a ceo. that is not the incentive they have in practice. in practice, if you are in individual computer running the risk of investigating for years and years, maybe not finding anything. if you do find something you have to go to trial, and you are going to go up against the best trial lawyers in the country, and you might lose. william: the best prosecutors in the country. jesse: but they don't have trial experience anymore. they don't do trials. doesverage u.s. attorney .29 trials a year now, compared to eight trials a year. they do one trial every three years now, they used to do a trials a year. william: james comey was right. jesse: absolutely right.
you see it with the great hero now of the left, he was fired by donald trump. he did his great credit prosecute some of the post powerful politicians in new york state. what he didn't do is prosecute wall street. he did this jedi mind trick on the press, he got told, he got labeled the sheriff of wall street, when he was actually doing something, you know i am talking about, insider-trading cases at hedge funds. that is not wall street. william: low hanging fruit. juries like it, and they ran up and 80-0 record. chicken-s-ness of wanting to guard the undefeated record. that led them to i think cowardly decisions like not stevie cohen
himself. they prosecuted eight individuals successfully at that firm. that firm was the embodiment of that person. it wasn't like he was jamie , that existed before jamie and will exist after him. to the initials. yet they don't prosecute him. they don't -- they are afraid of their trial expertise. even in these cases that they feel like they know, insider-trading. that leads you to these other large companies, which they are just not going to do. , thank: jesse eisenger you for being here. a pleasure. good luck with your first book. hope there are many more. jesse: me, too. thank you. ♪
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