Editor's Note: This transcript was automatically transcribed, so mistakes are inevitable. You can contribute by proofreading the transcript or highlighting the mistakes. Sign up to be amongst the first contributors.
Hi, this is Hillary Clinton, host of the new podcast, You and Me both, there's a lot to be anxious and worried about right now, and it's made so much worse by the fact that we can't be together. So I find myself on the phone a lot, talking with friends, experts, really anyone who can help make some sense of these challenging times. These conversations have been a lifeline for me.
And now I hope they will be for you to please listen to you and me both on the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Hi, I'm people to judge and welcome to the deciding decade. One reason I wanted to launch this podcast is because I believe we're at the outset of the decade that's going to shape the rest of our lives in America. Now, that decade has begun with a challenging year, to put it mildly.
And yet I also feel from the position of 20/20 that the 20s could wind up being the threshold of a new and I hope much better, fairer and more decent period in American history. For that to happen, they're going to have to be a lot of decisions, not just policy decisions, but in our ordinary lives, across our culture about what kind of country we're going to be. And those decisions will happen in every field. One of the most important fields is the law.
Like so many Americans, I've been thinking a lot about justice and accountability and I'm thinking about what the future of justice can look like in this country in this moment and in the post Trump era, how do we make sure the Department of Justice and our whole judicial system actually help everyday people, not Wall Street and not, for example, a corrupt president? In my mind, Preet Bharara is the perfect person to help us face these questions because of the work he's done in the Southern District of New York.
He formed the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit and led the charge in several high profile convictions, including Osama bin Laden's son in law, international arms traffickers, heads of major financial organizations, members of hacking groups and more. You've likely seen his name in the news because of all of these incredible accomplishments or because of his highly acclaimed book, Doing Justice or his popular podcast, Stay Tuned with Prete. Or perhaps because he was fired by President Trump and not in an apprentice sort of way.
Three months into that presidency, another topic that I'm looking forward to delving into. A welcome prete. Thanks for making time and great to have you.
Thank you. May repeat, may I still call you mayor? Repeat. I'll still answer to it, OK. Oh, it's an honor to be here. Thanks. Thanks for having me.
So, so many things I'm eager to talk with you about. But first, I want to rewind into your story a little bit, because the immigrant experience, I think, is front and center in how we're thinking about what it means to be American and the relationship that people have to this country. You were born in India and two years later, I believe you and your parents immigrated to the US, settled in New Jersey. And I'm just curious what motivated them to come to the US?
What was their experience like and what was your experience like growing up here in the US?
That's an issue that obviously is an important one for policy reasons, political reasons, legal reasons. And I've dealt with those issues both as U.S. attorney and when I was working in the Senate for Chuck Schumer. But obviously is a very personal issue. And my dad left the place of his birth and took me from the place of my birth for the same reason that millions and millions of people have done so over generations. And that's because of the promise of a better life, a promise of opportunity which he thought he could get only in the United States.
And that is why it's so disconcerting and distressing to see certain policies being enacted, certain kinds of rhetoric being used where people like my mom and my dad, you know, wonder a little bit if the country is as open and welcoming as it was back in the early 1970s when they came to America. I wrote a piece a couple of weeks ago about this little voice that I imagine is in every immigrant's head that says after having done the very, very difficult thing, people do not appreciate it, you know, to sort of pack your bags and come to America and like, it's easy.
It's really hard. If my dad is one of 13, my mom was one of seven and the other parents were still alive. And to leave every friend and leaves every tradition and leave your food and your culture and your language behind, its go to a place that has a lot of promise. It's still not an easy thing to do. And I imagine this voice and every immigrant's head asks the question, was it the right thing to do? Was it a good decision?
And you hope and believed if you become successful in my parents children, my my brother and I both became successful here. And you think, yes, it was worth it. It was right. But there are moments when you see this rhetoric and you see certain things happening, you see the travel bans being enacted and you wonder, am I really being accepted in America fully or only superficially? And they might just grandfathered in or other people like me still permitted to come and experience opportunity and achieve great things in this country.
And you wonder about that sometimes. You know, I've had a blessed life by my father and mother. Both have they're both still with us and my brother, too. But it's an astonishing thing when not long ago, Kamala Harris was picked to be the VP. You know, she's black, also Indian. And it's that moment where I imagine my mom was the most excited person I talked to that day. She usually she's calling up and asking about my kids and about other things are going.
Also, you want to talk about was with Kamala Harris because she was so excited. And I thought to myself, it's a little bit of a clarion loud answer to the question, was it worth it? Well, yeah, if someone whose parents are like my mom and dad, if she could be the vice president States of America, well, then, yeah, this was the right thing to do. This is the right place to come. Yeah.
So that's a long winded way of saying, yeah, I think about it a lot there. Now a lot of Indian people in central Jersey at the time, there were no real Indian restaurants and we had a normal life other than, you know, people had a lot of questions when I was a child in elementary school and people would say, where are you from? And I would, you know, explain that I was born in India. I was Indian.
People would ask me if I lived in a teepee. I think I think that the kids, my children go to school now. Don't make that mistake. But we had a normal American upbringing. You know, I played Little League Baseball for one year. Then I was terrible. My brother played for a long time. And, you know, we grew up with my mom cooking Indian food at home and listen to Indian music at home. My mom's a great cook.
She learned how to make Italian food and American food with Indian inflections. Doing fusion before it was cool. Exactly. She would make burgers, but they would have a little bit of spice and it took a lot of, you know, some more years for the general American palate to become familiar with Indian food and how Indian food is everywhere. Look how far we've come.
I was going to say, I mean, one interesting thing I think to our lifetimes in America is then seeing the country grow more and more cosmopolitan. I know my family experiences a little bit different, but my father immigrated from this tiny island country of Malta whose whose culture is roughly like that of Italy or Sicily and a lot of ways and you know, something as simple as you'd make espresso after dinner. That was like a weird immigrant thing when I was a kid that made us kind of weird and different.
And by the time I'm finishing college, it's cool. So. So you had this upbringing then? It leads you to some of the most exclusive, prestigious and excellent educational experiences that an American can have. Harvard, Columbia. So I want to get to how your legal career begins, because if I understand it right, you start your career doing a lot of white collar defense work. And I'm fast forwarding to now. When you were known as the nation's most aggressive, outspoken prosecutor, one of them of public corruption in Wall Street crime.
So can you talk about that journey and what it's like having been on both sides of that and emerging as a prosecutor?
So I realized at some point that I want to be a lawyer. That's pretty early on. I like to say that I had the impulse very strongly, fairly early on when I read Inherit the Wind. It moved me in many ways and the way it described courtroom scenes, more specifically, I knew that I wanted to be a prosecutor and even more specifically than that, to be an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York was when I was in law school and I took a class on trial practice and I wasn't the most diligent attender of classes.
I was in law school, which I sometimes have to say. But the one class I prepared really hard week in and week out that I went to every class of was trial practice. And you do a sample in one week, could do an opening statement that we could do a cross-examination of that we could do a direct redirect, etc. And boy, that was heaven for me because the craft of it was really fascinating. And then as I learned more about what he was attorney's office was like, a prosecutor's office was like, it occurred to me that it was the ideal place for someone like me to work because you don't represent one individual's interest because it helps a particular person.
And that's noble. It could be great work and is very important and it could be protective of people's civil rights. But I like the idea of being in a place where you don't have to make arguments you don't believe in, but you only do that what you think is right. And if you don't think it's right and you don't bring the case, you know, when I was hiring prosecutors. You want to have people who have the experience of the other side and, you know, some people call it a revolving door.
I think that's not the right way of looking at it. You want to have people who have had the experience, if possible, of representing an individual, understanding how much power the government has and understanding that the things that you do as a prosecutor forget about indicting someone or having them arrested, but just opening an investigation or issuing a subpoena, how that is the equivalent of rolling a hand grenade across the threshold of a business or a home. You want people to understand how much power they have.
And so I thought that served me well, having been on the other side in certain kinds of cases before I came to the U.S. attorney's office.
So then you become one of the most prominent US attorneys just by virtue of the Southern District, in addition to the work that you did and the approach that you took. And one of the things that's been on my mind, looking at the Department of Justice and and I should say, I'm the rare presidential candidate who's not a lawyer, never went to law school. And so it's very much on the outside looking in when I'm trying to understand how we're going to live a long time, my friend.
I guess it's never it's never too late. But for the most part, as a mayor, most of my interactions with the U.S. attorney's office were when we were teaming up on violence prevention efforts and trying to develop strategies on that front. But the other way I came to know federal prosecutors actually was by chance through my military reserve unit. So I joined an intelligence unit in Chicago or outside of Chicago. And a lot of the officers there were either FBI agents or prosecutors.
And one of the things I remember from just socially and professionally getting to know people who worked in that office is that they were always, in my experience, almost ridiculously careful not to be political, even offline. And I'm thinking now to this moment we're in where we have everything from the politically motivated removal of US attorneys, even just the way during the Republican National Convention that we saw federal property and federal processes pardoning and immigration swearing and, you know, these things that are supposed to have absolutely nothing to do with politics being just mixed in, something that symbolized ultimately by the president's use of the White House as a site to campaign from.
What do you think it'll take for the non-political culture that's supposed to be so important to the Department of Justice to recover from this experience? And where do we go from here, going back to what your memory is?
That's what it's supposed to be like, that if you were in federal service, particularly the Justice Department, which is different from every other agency in the government, is supposed to be the least political agency in the government. You're not supposed to know what their political affiliation is or base any decision making in hiring on whether they're conservative or liberal, whether the Democrats. We're not. In fact, my time in the Senate, we did investigation of politicization of the Justice Department and the inspector general wrote a multi 100 page report talking about how that rule was violated for a period of time under George W.
Bush's Justice Department. You know, as the saying goes, justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. And what that means in part is it has to be seen to be done equally, whether you're old or young, whether you're white or black, whether you're Republican or Democrat, you know, those things don't matter. What matters are the facts of the law and everyone equally. I used to joke when I was in office.
You know, the way you should think about this is there are really three political parties, the Democrats, Republicans and federal prosecutors. There's no Democratic or Republican way of prosecuting a robbery case or a homicide case or a corruption case. Now, politics enters into the rhetoric in other places about that, because by definition, if you're charging public corruption against the elected official, that elected official will be from almost always one party or another. Our record in office was we prosecute a lot more Democrats than Republicans, but one of the reasons you have to be assiduously and studiously apolitical is so that when you do bring a case against an elected official or someone who's associated with an elected official, that the public has confidence that you did it for the right reasons.
All of that is being undermined and being questioned for a lot of different reasons. Among them, I think the most culpable person is the United States, who basically has said he wants people who are close to him to be spared. And on the other hand, the people are your adversary. He kind of wants them locked up. He wants people to go after him. But you've got the best laws, the best constitution in the world. But if the people suck, if the people are inept or the people are corrupt, you can turn the law to your purpose and exercise your discretion in a way that would cause huge miscarriages of justice.
We have to concentrate not just on what the laws aren't having better rules, but on making sure that you have good people who are exercising their discretion in a good and honest and fair minded way. That's how you get a lot of terrible things to happen, not just the laws. It's the people to. Hey, it's Bobby Bones, executive producer of Make It Up as we Go, the brand new podcast from Audio Up and I Heart Radio brought to you exclusively by Unilever's Noor and Magnum Brands.
The story follows a songwriter's journey as well as the songs themselves and how they make it to country radio from executive producer Miranda Lambert and creators Scarlett Burg and Jared Goosestep, a story inspired by the competitive world of Nashville writing rooms featuring original music by Scarlett Burke, director and executive producer, featuring some of the biggest names in country, including The Cool Guy and Everything Now Nowadays. Make it up as we go only on the podcast network in association with audio of media created by Scarlett Burke and Jared Goosestep.
I'm a big fan of Hilary Mantel, I don't know if you've read any of her fiction. She's she's written these novels about Thomas Cromwell, who is Henry the ace lawyer in the 15 40s. I don't know how being a lawyer in England in the 15 30s and 40s compares to today, but in the middle of this novel, there's this line she has that always sticks with me. She said, when you're writing laws, you're testing words to find their utmost power like spells.
They have to make things happen in the real world and like spells, they only work if people believe in them. So what I want to put to you is somebody who has lived in the law and also had a front row seat to so many of the corruptions of law and legal processes that are going on is what's your level of confidence that Americans will believe in the integrity of our system of law enough for it to work 10, 20 years from now?
And what will it take to make sure that the damage done in this moment doesn't stick with us for the rest of our lifetimes?
So that's a central question. And I think it takes culture, which comes from the top. And you're talking about overall trust and confidence in institutions that has been sort of dwindling over time. So now imagine you have a justice system and any justice system is going to have controversy, especially when people who are high up, who have political affiliations, engage in misconduct. That has to be investigated. In some ways, it's impossible for things not to get somewhat polarized.
People care a lot about their candidate for president. Usually, however, there's always a little bit of, you know, claiming of a witch hunt. And Bill Clinton in his time attacked the prosecutors. Richard Nixon was careful not to do that so much publicly because he understood there might be some backlash, but he did it some and he certainly did it behind closed doors. The difference now is Donald Trump and his allies have no line that they won't cross in attacking good people.
Part of the harm has been done because you have someone with the biggest bully pulpit in the world, compelling people to lose their trust and faith in law enforcement. Do people make mistakes? Yes. Did some people do things that they're not supposed to do? Yes. But the wholesale undermining of any decision by anyone in the Justice Department, I think you lay that at the feet mostly of the president, even though it's his Justice Department. The first thing that has to happen is when new leaders come in, they have to knock it off.
They have to stop doing that. They have to announce on politically sensitive things. I'm going to let the career people make the recommendation. It's also for the benefit of the leaders to so they don't look political and they don't look like they're not living up to their oath that they owe the public. So. So you need that. I think there are also some other. You know, rule kind of reforms that you can engage and you should have starker policies that are written out.
Again, that's not enough because people can defy those policies, as we see with the Hatch Act. There are rules against what the president did at his convention, the Republican convention. But if you're the president and you don't have a good enforcement mechanism, there's nothing anybody can do about it. So you need people to enforce these rules about separation of politics from the law enforcement. But I think mostly you need a period of time during which good people at the tops of these places are not doing that kind of nonsense you've seen Trump do.
So you mentioned presidential accountability and earlier you mentioned the example of Nixon, which which got me thinking about something I've noticed, which is, you know, after Nixon resigned from office, President Ford decided to pardon him. And while there was some anger at the time, and it may have cost President Ford his career and his chances of re-election, that in the judgment of history from a sort of medium term perspective, it was viewed as a fairly noble act.
He had maybe even knowingly hurt his own political standing by, doing something that he felt was important in pardoning Nixon. But I've noticed, especially as I speak to anyone who's any younger than me, a level of puzzlement about whether that was the right decision. So I guess, first of all, I'm just curious what you think of that that episode in US history. Did Ford do the right thing? Does the Trump presidency make create a different perspective on whether Ford did the right thing?
But then the obvious follow up three years from now, five years from now, given the number of guilty pleas and convictions associated with the people around President Trump, it's not wild to suppose that he himself may face criminal liability or responsibility in the future because you have expertise in public corruption. A president calls you in a few years and says, you know, a pardon case has hit my desk concerning former President Trump. What is the right thing to do?
How do you approach that? So I ask you to look look backwards historically and then look forward speculatively and to the same principles apply from one case to the other.
Yeah. I mean, I think they're different in some ways, but they also have some similarity with respect to Ford and Nixon. My sense is consistent with what I think historians think is that it was a good and selfless act on the part of Gerald Ford to move the country forward. I think that some other things weighed on his decision. Among those things are, one, Nixon resigned. He accepted in some way some responsibility and have some contrition, but he actually left office and a lot of the misdeeds that are attributable to Nixon were known there, probably a whole bunch of others.
But you kind of understood what the facts were. He kind of pled guilty in a professional sense, not in the courtroom. And he didn't suffer a prison sentence. But there was some closure because the man left office and got in the helicopter.
If you have a current situation where there is criminality on the part of the United States, let's say Donald Trump, and there's lots of other unknown stuff that he has done or has been doing that remains to be uncovered. And you have an investigation going on by the New York attorney general and the Manhattan district attorney. One could imagine that there are lots of other things going on with the organization and interference and obstruction kinds of issues. And some things with respect to what Bob Mueller was investigating have still maybe not come to light.
You both have an absence of full understanding of the conduct of the president, and he also hasn't left office. So if you were defeated at the polls and he would be able to be subject as a legal matter to prosecution, it's sort of different. What is similar is, boy, the next administration, if there's a new administration, has to think very carefully, both for moral reasons and also practical reasons about how to proceed morally. They might think someone has done bad things.
They should be accountable. No one's above the law. But they also have a country to govern and the country is more polarized than it's ever been. Even if Donald Trump goes away after he's defeated, he accepts the election results. There are tens of millions of people who will be supportive of him and will be absolutely antagonistic to anything that happens to him. Further investigations, prosecutions being held accountable. And they will because they have been conditioned in part by him.
They will view those things as political payback, even if that's not true, and even if the people that you are putting in charge of that kind of thing in your Justice Department or in the commission or whatever are fair minded. You think of the example of Robert Mueller. It's going to be hard to get the business of your administration done, so we hard to deal with things like income inequality and criminal justice reform. So I don't know. I'm not smart enough to know what the right balance is to strike.
What I do know is going to be very, very difficult to figure it out. But Barack Obama's Justice Department has to deal with a much smaller, less complicated version of this. And nobody's fully satisfied when Eric Holder, as the attorney general, had the department take a look at some of the practices of the of the CIA with using enhanced interrogation techniques and black sites and other things. And there are a lot of people who wanted folks to go to jail or other people who thought we should move on.
That's always going to be a difficult issue. So I think there's a parallel history, there's a parallel between the Nixon era and this time I think there are notable differences. I don't envy the people who are going to have to decide the best way to make sure that justice is done and accountability is had, but also not put the country in to and be able to do all the other important things that we need to do as a country.
It's in some ways frightening to think about that reality that you mentioned. A lot of his supporters being in the may just be different and it's in its nature than the reality that other Americans are in.
Yeah, look, I mean, you said something on the campaign trail that I respected very much, and you reminded me of it with your question. And that is I think you and the other candidates got to ask the question, you know, will you direct to the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute Donald Trump for X, Y or Z or for anything? And I was very pleased to hear your answer, which would have been my answer to some version of, look, people should be held accountable for what they've done and no one's above the law that includes the president.
But that is a decision for the Justice Department. That's a decision that should be made independently based on the facts in the law. And if you have an elected official, a politician like me or someone else is the president who is directing a prosecution or investigation of a political rival, that's what got us in this mess in the first place. So we should be careful of saying in the future that we're going to direct people to bring a prosecution, because that's what Trump does and it doesn't make it better or right if you're on the other side.
But the reason I responded that way, because I just feel like nothing good can come of a political official directing prosecutions of political figures. And what we're seeing right now is pretty horrific in terms of a president directing DOJ to be lenient for political reasons. You could argue there's something even more fearsome about the prospect of a president directing DOJ to be aggressive for political reasons. That's what Trump is doing. I mean, he's literally he's literally saying those things and we've got to get away from that.
We can't repeat in the other direction, you know, some of that kind of rhetoric and conduct on the part of this president.
So another thing, again, I'm not a lawyer, but I do talk to lawyers on TV and podcasts. And one of the central things I think that people study and weigh in the law is the nature of evidence. And there's a whole set of rules around what you can and can't use for evidence. But also a lot depends on just what we believe. This is partly on my mind, just because one of my colleagues at Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study was presenting at a seminar, introduced me to a website I've never heard of before called This Person Does Not Exist.
Dotcom, did you get a minute? This is one thing I'll leave you with for. Oh, my goodness, it sounds intriguing.
Every time you load it, a photo comes up of a person. Sometimes you think like the kind of looks like somebody I know none of these people exist. It's all generated by deep, thick algorithms depict. Exactly. So this is an expert. And that was the context that he was introducing us to some of the technology out there. And it is alarming. It feels like our grasp on what is real is maybe slipping away. And, of course, also being kind of energetically and actively undermined, whether it's by domestic actors for political reasons or by hostile foreign powers for strategic reasons.
So with all of that swirling around, what has to happen for the law and for the country to keep up and know that we have some level of faith in our ability to sort out what is fact from what is fiction.
So that's a great question. And it goes to a troubling issue that a lot of people say is the next disaster for a lot of reasons for institutions and for the law and for people's reputations. And that's this issue of deep faith and what you can believe in. I believe we don't have enough time to focus on it because in the interim, we have a pandemic and we have an election and we have the economy in a recession and so many other things going on.
But it is going to be one of the central things people focus on in the near future. And as a legal matter, it affects both the possibility of being able to implicate people in that conflict that they didn't commit because you could have doctored photograph. But there there is now technology that is soon going to be able to be gotten by people who don't have a lot of means. You don't have to be a big Hollywood studio to show you people to judge committing a crime.
But it's also going to be a problem in the other direction, which people don't think about as much, which is suppose you did rob the bank in an age in which there are deep fakes, where people believe that some of the stuff is made up. How are you going to get people to believe, even with authentication from experts, that it does actually depict a person shooting someone, robbing a bank? They'll say, look, that's a deep fake.
And so it's kind of it's kind of a metaphor for what's happening in the country generally. Now, the issue with Donald Trump, it's an attack on truth, in other words, not an attack on a particular fact that he doesn't want you to believe that fact. He wants you to believe a different fact. That's easy. And people can deal with that. And that's not as harmful to society. What's harmful is if someone like Trump or someone else gets you to doubt the nature of truth itself.
And the concept of this goes right to that. What is the nature of truth and courtrooms and criminal cases and civil cases, too, they all rely on a fundamental principle. That fundamental principle is that there is a truth and that the truth is knowable and provable. And if you can't prove a particular truth, then the case goes away and there is some hope that expertise will be developing. So the people, if they have the proper metadata, that you can stay one step ahead.
But, you know, if people are given to believe everything is made up and could just as easily be true is not true. I don't know how much expert you're going to matter.
You mentioned the loss of challenge to expertise, I think in many ways the loss of faith and expertise that has made life or death implications, especially with regard to responding to covid-19. Why do you think that happened? Did experts blow it in some way? Is the result of nefarious efforts to undermine the credibility of experts or are experts to blame or is there something else going on?
I think it's all those things that you mentioned. I think you have, you know, repeatedly day after day, somebody who has a particular point of view. I hate to keep going back to the president, but he's sort of an avatar of all these things in the last few months of the pandemic. You have lots and lots of doctors who are saying the science is unclear about something or is clear in a particular direction. But Donald Trump and others have their own view of it and they feel they can just substitute it.
And people want to believe things that they want to believe. Right. Whether it's I don't have to wear a mask is not effective if the science shows that it is. I think that's part of the problem. I think part of the problem is, you know, experts are fallible and it happens to be true in connection with the pandemic that now everyone is saying with great Adamson's, wear a mask, wear a mask, wear a mask, wear a mask.
But there was a time not that long ago when those same experts said, don't wear a mask to wear a mask. And people of ordinary common sense and I like to think I am, you kind of wonder. So some of it the experts hurt themselves and some of it is they're just fallible. Expertise doesn't mean perfection. But if you weaponize the sort of imperfection of experts, then you're going to get more and more distrust and lack of faith in that expertise.
And you have in Trump the leading proponent of weaponized. So an expert can be right. Nine, nine times out of one hundred. And that expert is wrong. One time out of the hundred, you've got a guy with the biggest megaphone in the world who's going to talk about that one error. Over and over and over and over again, and people listen, you know, repetition matters, and that expert you look at, Dr. Fauci, you don't see him as much as you as you did before.
Nobody can compete with that megaphone. And another point I'll make that I think is more interesting. I don't fully understand the argument, but I'm reading an upcoming book by Michael Sandel and having him on the podcast soon. And his book is called The Tyranny of Merit. And he makes it kind of a different argument. These people have to be careful that there is on the left a little bit among progressives elites. You want various names, you can call them, who have so fetishized expertise and so much made it the case that, well, everyone who's in office and everyone is making a decision about something has to be super steep.
It has to have a Nobel Prize under their belt. That is a little bit, you know, is off-putting to people who don't understand how nuclear physics works, who don't understand climate models. And I'm one of those people I don't understand those things. You're kind of saying to a lot of people in the country, you're not smart enough to engage in this debate, leave it to the experts. And that's a disenfranchisement of good faith, well-meaning people who care about their country.
And they're being told you're too dumb to understand these things, leave it to the experts. That's an unintended consequence of, I think, something that is meant to be done in good faith, which is allow science to go. But that's not how it's always received in the eardrums of people who are made to feel like their opinions don't matter. Do you find any truth in that? Absolutely.
I think that's especially been operative in my part of the country where there's a sense that sometimes this part of the country gets lectured to whether we're talking about industrial workers in more carbon intensive industries or people who are maybe a little skeptical about trade deals. And I remember feeling sometimes being on the other side of this, on learning just how deep the suspicion was on little parochial things when I was mayor, like we would reroute a road and people say this is never going to work.
And I'm like, what do you mean? We did all these traffic engineering studies. These people know what they're doing. They're traffic. And here's for God's sake. Yeah. Listen to them. And, you know, the truth was sometimes I was right. Sometimes we were wrong. Sometimes when we went back and took another look at it, you know, people who may not have been experts in traffic engineering, but they were experts in their own neighborhood, were able to point to something that was missed.
And if there's a sense of condescension toward people that can be incredibly dangerous and then you couple that with the fact that, you know, most doctors, scientists, when they do get something wrong, they talk about it because it's part of their process and politicians generally don't.
And then that's taken advantage, right? Exactly. It's used against them by bad faith. People are going the same way.
By the way, there's also something in the intelligence community, right, where intelligence, good intelligence assessments always say, you know, we assess with a high level of confidence this they never say this is absolutely certain. And we saw in the case of, for example, the Russia bounty's how that was twisted as a way to say look like they didn't even know for sure. Who cares what they say?
And if you have someone who's going to in a bad way take advantage of people who are acting in good faith, you have a problem and you could literally have an expert. Fifty five thousand times gets an observation. Correct. But it's an observation that people don't like on one side of an issue or in other words, climate change or anything else. And one time they make a mistake. All you can hear, hear about is that you're going the same way.
You know, there's a flip side to that, too, that the president engages it. He can do fifty five thousand things wrong with respect to the pandemic. And one thing he can say I did was right. And he did something with respect to closing off travel from China. Right. And he just repeats that over and over and over and over again, as if that's the same as the fifty five mistakes he made.
I think about it is, you know, there's like one hundred things he should have done. And he did this one thing and one out of one hundred generally an F, but then they talk about it as if that shows he was right on top of it all along.
It's part of part of the reason I mention the president so much is because he's to blame for a lot of this, but also he's disproportionate power. He has the largest microphone on earth and he uses it a lot and he is capable of repetition without seeming to grow tired of it. And the combination of shamelessness, the largest platform on earth, the repetition. You know, once someone like that goes, if the next person is not like that, I think a lot of this say not all of it, because you still have other leaders who can spout nonsense and propaganda.
But a lot of it fades because you don't have someone who's so present and dominant in everyone's life, whether you're Democrat or Republican or independent, telling you what to think and weaponize these discrepancies.
Yeah, well, a lot depends on that proving, right? Yes. I hope that's what will happen on this podcast. We were thinking a lot about the decade ahead and how that decade is going to shape really the rest of the era that we're living in. So I'm wondering if you're thinking about the perspective of somebody who's just graduating from law school right now and was motivated to study the law because they believe in the rule of law, but for the entirety of their law school career, they've seen this president and this administration doing these things.
What would you say to them? You mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, some immigrants might have. The back of their head, that question, did I make the right choice when I came to the United States? I'm sure there's a lot of budding lawyers who are asking themselves the question, did I make the right choice by pursuing the law? What would you say to them to give them hope about the path they've chosen and the future of the rule of law?
I would say welcome to the profession. I would say read my book.
But if you don't read the book, pay attention to the notion that I already alluded to earlier in our conversation. That is who the lawyers are on an issue matters. If all lawyers are equal and everyone's judgment is the same, then that it shouldn't matter if you decide to become a lawyer or someone else decides to become a lawyer. We have cases, some of which I talk about in the book, where the miscarriage of justice happens. Someone who should not have been prosecuted for a crime was prosecuted for a crime.
And then later it turns out that they could you know, there's proof that they were not guilty most of the time in those cases. And one example I give is 17 years, a number of people spent time in prison for a murder they had not committed. The laws hadn't changed. It's that the excellence and rigor of the people who are responsible for the case was different. So the first bit of hope I would give to these hypothetical students you're talking about is have confidence in yourself that if you were a person of integrity in good faith and honesty and good judgment, that you can make a difference even if you're not changing a single law.
You having a law degree is a powerful tool, the ability to be a member of a bar and to represent and help the underdogs and underprivileged folks or to right or wrong or to cure an injustice. You know, there are a lot of opportunities that lawyers have to do that that ordinary citizens don't. You know, the folks who were going through this process, you should be very honored that you have will have a power that many other people don't have.
And to think proudly of of the model that the law provides for how maybe in the rest of society we can learn to understand each other better, persuade people as opposed to bash them over the head.
That's a really powerful vindication of the idea of the law, but also the idea that it matters who's doing these things almost makes me wish I went to law school. It's never too late. That was a fascinating conversation. I'm already tempted to ask for a follow up because I feel like we have so many more things we could talk about. One thing I couldn't quite get off my mind as we were talking was how one consequence of this Trump presidency is people like Prete, who was heading up a crucial district within the Department of Justice with a clear commitment to tackling corruption.
The exact kind of public servant that a president depends on. People like him were pushed out of government often as a reaction or a response to their decision to do the job with integrity. On the other hand, that has not stopped him from being a very influential voice in the law and in America. And I expect we'll continue to see a lot of impact from him in the decade ahead. People like people are out there standing for justice, fighting for change, and that is good news for the era to come.
For more podcasts from I Heart Radio, visit the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows. Hey, guys, it is Bobby Bones I want to tell you about make it up as we go. One of the coolest podcast coming out this year brought to you exclusively by Unilever's Noor and Magnon Brands and featuring original music by Scarlett Burke, creator, director and executive producer and cocreator Jared Goosestep. This is an incredible inside look to the behind the scenes of Nashville writing rooms and features superb acting by Billy Bob Thornton, myself and Miranda Lambert.
There's a killer soundtrack that you can stream alongside original episodes which drop every week only on the podcast network in association with audio. What media? Hey, guys, it is Bobby Bones I want to tell you about make it up as we go. One of the coolest podcasts coming out this year brought to you exclusively by Unilever's Noor and Magnon Brands and featuring original music by Scarlett Burke, creator, director and executive producer and cocreator Jared Goosestep. This is an incredible inside look to the behind the scenes of Nashville writing rooms and features superb acting by Billy Bob Thornton, myself and Miranda Lambert.
There's a killer soundtrack that you can stream alongside original episodes which drop every week only on the podcast network in association with audio. What media?