One year after the surprising outcome of the 2016 presidential election, Kai Chang and Sherman Forrest reminisce about the harrowing evening, discuss the recent Democratic victories in Virginia and elsewhere, and look to the future as Robert Mueller continues his investigation into alleged Russian collusion.
Kai Chang: Welcome back to the one-year anniversary of election night, a fateful day that. . . and a special anniversary episode of Shock Therapy. I’m Kai Chang.
Sherman Forrest: . . .. and I am Sherman Forrest.
Chang: This has been a hell of a year. I mean, I feel like news has accelerated at a level that is really, really remarkable, both in terms of reactions to the Left.
Forrest: It has been. It’s been a rollercoaster of year, going all the way back to election night, last night. Boy, wasn’t that something?
Chang: Absolutely. I’ve been watching some of these Young Turks’ reaction videos. They’re smug, overweening confidence early in the evening and, each bit of news, just watching the complete freak out on live TV. They can’t turn away from the camera. You’d know they prefer to turn off the cameras and run to the corner and hide and cry, but they can’t. The camera is on.
Forrest: It was total shock on their part. They’re all through the media and all the blue bubbles all around the US. I mean, they just . . .. It caught them completely blindsided. The media had been gas-lighting them so hard for so long. . .
Forrest: That they just weren’t even expecting it.
Forrest: Now, you and I were expecting it, right?
Chang: We did.
Forrest: How long did you know? Tell me how long were you confident?
Chang: I got into the Trump train a little bit later than I probably should have, and I did back up my assertions with a predicted bet, which ultimately paid for a lovely trip out to D.C. That was really nice actually. When I got in, the payout was about 4 to 1, so that paid for a nice flight out there, huge house partying, meeting with a bunch of fascinating characters that I’m still in touch with to this day. Really missed you, man. I wish you could have gone with, but I know circumstances are what they are. It was a hell of an event.
Forrest: Yeah. I remember watching that and hearing you talk about what was going on over there. That was quite a party.
Chang: It was a remarkable week of just intense conversations and partying, and it was the first time I was able to wear a red hat in public, and it was fascinating. Total strangers coming up to me, giving me high fives, it was. . . and then at the after-inauguration, I don’t know if we talked about this, when we were at the sports bar there was a live feed, because usually sports bars have all these cameras and all these TVs are tuned to stations news coverage, it’s the Obama couple as they’re walking away from the Oval Office for the last time, the entire bar erupted with na, na, na, na, na, na, na, hey, hey, hey goodbye. It was hilarious, glorious scene. Quite, quite entertaining.
It’s one of the top memories of my life I think, and it was a hell of a thing. So, yeah, and fascinating to watch just how much. . . And you’d figure that usually when a political organization is defeated as badly as the Democrats were, there would a moment of sober self-reflection, you’d kind of think through what did we do wrong, how can we win back. . .
Forrest: Oh, no. None of that for them. . .
Chang: No, reflection at all. Which is great!
Forrest: No soul searching for the Democrats.
Chang: It’s great for us but it’s fascinating that there’s absolutely. . . the small amount of voices that do in fact, go in that direction are aggressively shut down, you guys. They’re treated as lepers and pariahs. No, we must be more extreme, we must double down on identity politics and shitting on whites and all the other grand standing that got them where they were.
Forrest: Crazy stuff. I mean it’s really revealed them as being some kind of weird secular cult.
Chang: Oh, yes.
Forrest: It’s bizarre, and their cognitive dissonance going all the way back to election night, a year ago, has just been astonishing. It doesn’t seem to be even over with yet.
Chang: Nope, it’s not.
Forrest: You know what’s funny, is a year ago, on election night, it was almost. . . I hate to say this. . . It was almost anticlimactic for me.
Forrest: I didn’t even watch the election on TV. I was under a huge deadline at work. . . I stayed working at the office until 10 o’clock that night. . .
Chang: That’s confidence, man. . .
Forrest: Yeah, and I knew Trump was gonna win. I had known it for months and months and months. You know, like you said, you placed the bet on PredictIt, right?
Forrest: Well, so did Im about a year before the election at 20 to 1.
Chang: Wow. . .
Forrest: And I tell you what, the election made my bank account great again.
Chang: Where did you get in at with the Trump bet, what was the payout ratio?
Forrest: It was about 20-to-1.
Chang: 20-to-1, oh my God. Wow.
Forrest: Yeah, I bought in at 5 cents and it paid out at a dollar.
Chang: Wow, 5 to 1. Yeah, no, I got to admit also on election night, I was watching and I had a side bet for Pennsylvania, and that was gonna payout 5 to 1, but halfway through I was chickening out, because early return showed Pennsylvania going blue, and I was sitting here on my phone actually trying to log into Predicted, seeing if I get out of my position before the end. And thank God I was in a area with really crappy wifi, so actually I couldn’t log on and the crappy internet saved me from undoing a bet that would have paid off. How pissed off would I have been if I sat there and got out of a position at a loss that actually [inaudible 00:05:52]. Oh God I gotta get out of this thing! Oh my God, oh my God, Oh my God. My faith did waver, I gotta be honest, my faith did waver with Pennsylvania, and the crappy internet where I was saved me from myself and, thus, it was a fool’s route all across the board. Every single thing was a win from the overall victory.
Forrest: Let’s drink to crappy internet.
Chang: Bad internet is a good thing. And then the caterwauling has not stopped, it’s a fascinating. . . I’ve never seen a political animal that has been so consistently misread by so many people, that’s what’s really fascinating to me, that he’s able to basically. . . it’s almost like the vampire stories of old that can cast the glamour on their enemies and make you not see things that are right in front of you. Right? I mean I don’t know how else to explain it.
Chang: It would be one thing to acknowledge him as a formidable opponent and then treat him as such. No, there is still very serious people that see him as, Oh, he just kind of lucked his way into all these different things that go his way.
Forrest: Right. Right up to the very last minute on election night last year. You know, people were still completely, absolutely, 100 percent convinced that Hillary was gonna win.
Forrest: You know the media had been telling, it been posting these polls as 99% chance that Hilary is gonna win; Trump has at best a 2 percent chance.
Forrest: I actually saw on election night some acquaintances of mine. . . They were talking about the election and one of them actually. . . So, Pennsylvania had already been called, Florida had already been called. The polls on the East Coast were closed, you know. They were calling the election on the East Coast. It was a done deal. And this one fella, he was still so convinced that Hilary was gonna win that he made a bet at 4 to 1, at 10PM, on election night.
Chang: Oh, my God.
Forrest: I mean that’s the kinda thing that was going on. And then when the election was called, and Trump was the victor, they literally could not believe it. They couldn’t bring themselves to believe that it was true, and it generated this massive temper tantrum, You remember that?
Chang: Oh, yes.
Forrest: The protests and they just went crazy. And it really was a classic example of mass cognitive dissonance. . . And it’s still going on!
Chang: Right. And thank God because I feel like the forces irate against Trump are still significant and if his enemies actually had a serious strategic plan to defeat him, with the amount of resources still available with the deep state, with bankers, with the DNC, if they treated him as a serious enemy. . . could actually be in very bad shape. So, thank God for stupid enemies.
Forrest: That was something that Steve Bannon said very early on, “If you think these folks are gonna go without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.”
Forrest: They are fighting, they’re fighting back very hard, as should be expected.
Chang: Thank God they’re fighting back stupidly, but they are fighting back.
Forrest: Well yeah. We’re blessed by the poor quality of our enemies, I guess.
Chang: We should be grateful, cause if they were smarter, this would be a row. I’ve had occasions where I’ve had my doubts as well. I wavered between being excited and then saying, oh my God he’s getting in over his head, he’s getting routed, he’s getting in-run. So, I think my faith in him has wavered, but each time I feel like it’s been vindicated with new developments that, Oh, OK, this is part of a larger gambit. I’m still not that reflexive, like a boomer, “yay, everything is awesome.” But nonetheless, it’s like alright, this guy is clearly a strategist that’s managed to get what he wants 99 out of 100 times that he goes for something, so. . . even if I don’t understand it, I’m assuming there’s gonna be a strategic plan.
Forrest: I’ve said in earlier conversations we’ve had. . . you know, I’ve been following Donald Trump’s career for 30 years, I’ve been watching this guy. And betting against Donald Trump is a fool’s bet. You don’t do it because he hates losing and he fights like hell and he usually wins. Betting against him is always a bad thing to do. Betting with him, almost always a good thing to do. You know it doesn’t always turn out well but, for the most part, he’s a winner and he wins a lot.
Chang: Very high EV.
Forrest: Yeah, I was confident making that bet on him a year before the election. It paid off handsomely. I knew he was gonna win the presidency from the moment he came down the escalator in 2015 and announced he was running for president.
Chang: Really. . .
Forrest: I knew immediately that he was gonna be the 45th president of the United States. Now, am I a Pollyanna of some sort. . . I like to think I’m not. You know me, right? We’ve known each other for years. I’m fairly cynical, hard-headed person.
Forrest: But, Trump is the real deal. He is a very capable man and he has shown over and over again that he can get it done. And he is a winner, but he is still fighting; I think that’s one thing. I was saying this to everyone who would listen over on the right, back when the election happened. it was a really great win and it was a wonderful feeling to come out of that, a two year period of basically everybody, top to bottom, gas-lighting us, trying to convince us that Trump didn’t have a prayer of winning the presidency. When, in fact, it was almost a foregone conclusion in reality. Well, the thing is, the election last year was not the war, it was just battle, and in many ways it was the big, opening battle.
Chang: Right, the precursor of a much bigger fight for. . .
Forrest: Right, yeah.
Chang: The soul of the country in essence. I mean we see. . .
Chang: . . .Corruption, so many levels of corruption that have to be unpacked. The swamp analogy. . . it’s not just a election campaign, it’s a serious sickness within the very capitol. I mean, someone made the observation that in times of trouble, apocalyptic movies have a huge theme: Hunger Games, you know this idea of a corrupt capitol sucking all the resources out of the. . .
Chang: . . .tributary states and it’s not all that different then what we see right now. I mean, minus the goofy hair. . . and even that’s not all that weird nowadays if you look at the purple hair folks.
Forrest: After last night’s election, we’re gonna be seeing more goofy hair in the coming days I think.
Chang: Oh boy oh boy oh boy. Yeah, so last night’s election, I put a small amount of funds on Gillespie, and that, it stung losing that chunk of change.
Forrest: Yeah, well, speaking of sucker’s bets, right?
Sherman Forrest: I’m not gonna rub salt in that wound. . .
Chang: So mean. No, I thought because I got in on it that day of, because also that news was that it was raining in Virginia that day, which tends to favor high-agency voters and the, sort of, low-agency, “oh, the weathers not good, I’m gonna stay home and play video games.” That’s the Democrat Voter Base. So between all those factors, it was a reasonable. . .
Forrest: There’s no question that the Democratic Base, well a certain portion of the Democratic Base in Virginia in particular, was extremely energized and motivated last night, there’s no question about that.
Forrest: Their turnout numbers were absolutely solid. The Republican turnout numbers were poor. . . Not historically poor, I mean not outrageously poor, but they were not anywhere near what they were, even just going back last year. The Trump Coalition did not turnout for Gillespie. And I’m not surprised because Gillespie is not a Trump Republican, he’s not a Trumpist.
Chang: He jumped on it late, and jumped on it cynically, because, I think that the perception was that he was basically campaigning to lose and lose honorably, and then kind of got some traction and, so, decided to, kind of, steal some talking points.
Forrest: Gillespie is the old Republican Party, the dying, dead Republican Party. He’s a Haley Barbour Republican, a Bush ally Republican. He’s a big ally of Jeb Bush. A loser all the way around. The big battle in the Virginia governor’s election was not the general. It was the primary. In the primary, it was extremely close, and that’s where the Republicans lost. The governorship was in the primary. Because there was a pro-Trump candidate in the primary, he came within one point of winning and going onto the general. But he did not win because the Trump Base were unable to turnout in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the establishment machine in Virginia, where the establishment machine is extremely strong. But, I mean the good news is that it was extremely close.
Forrest: It was within a point or so.
Chang: And the establishment is getting punished which means there power continues to wane. All good trends.
Forrest: Right, you know, but on the other hand, that doesn’t necessarily effect the GOP establishment because their whole reason to exist is to lose.
Chang: They’re the Washington Wizards versus the Globetrotters.
Forrest: You know, losing comes naturally to them. Losing is something that they do. So this loss I don’t think is really going to teach them any kind of significant lesson. They’re just going to continue trying to come out and continue losing.
Forrest: I think the important thing there is that the Trump core of the Party, which really is the essence of the Republican Party now. The Republican Party is Trump’s Party.
Forrest: It is the establishment, the old Republican Base, the old. . .
Chang: National Review.
Forrest: Yes, the National Review core. . . they’re marginalized. Half of ’em are now Democrats anyway. They’ve all just left the party and they’re going back to their true colors.
Forrest: And are voting Democrat and, fine, you know, whatever.
Chang: No great loss.
Forrest: Yeah, exactly. They were never an asset to begin with and good riddance, frankly. But, in order to, you know, capitalize on the gains of last year and all of Trump’s victories in the ensuing period, which are many, many, many victories and on going.
Forrest: To take that to the polls. . . and really, the critical juncture, is gonna be next year, so a year from today, the 2018 midterms, that’s when we’re gonna see. That’s when it really needs to happen.
Chang: And what I like is that Trump has emboldened a new kind of politician, I’ve never seen this kind of campaigning before. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Shiva Ayyadurai, he’s the Indian dude that’s going up against Elizabeth Warren up in Massachusetts.
Forrest: Yeah. Yeah, we’ve talked about him before. Surreal. . .
Chang: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, the real Indian versus a fake Indian. Brilliant. I can’t remember if we mentioned this in conversation before, there was a. . . one of my favorite little shit-lord-y moments of him was, he bought a 23andme kit, that he sent to Liz Warren’s office, a 23andme DNA testing kit. It was sent there, and then she returned it, and he posted a screenshot on his twitter page, show “Hey! I even paid for the extra 3 dollars for gift wrapping and you refused it! You know why wouldn’t you. . .”
It literally cost him nothing, tons of retweets. I mean I’ve never seen this kind of campaigning before, the sort of playful, jokey, kind of. . . Its been said that conservatives are the counter culture, it’s the party of pranksters and merrymakers, and it’s the schoolmarm kind of scold-y tone has now been taken up on the Left. They are the, “You can’t say that, you’re the privileged person, how dare you, blah, blah, blah,” harrumphing at everyone.
Forrest: You know one of the things that Donald Trump has shown us is how to win by being smart and funny. . .
Forrest: . . .and right.
Forrest: And we’re seeing a new generation of leadership rise up within the Republican Party, in Trump’s Republican party.
Forrest: I have hope, you know I don’t know anything about this particular candidate or race other than this stunt that he pulled and, honestly, it is a stunt.
Chang: It is a stunt, of course it is.
Forrest: It’s a funny stunt. As a stunt, it’s kind of proof, maybe, that Republicans can be taught, we can learn.
Forrest: There’s some hope for the future there. Now I don’t know if he’s gonna go anywhere with this challenge to Warren but it’s quite entertaining.
Chang: It is.
Forrest: And being entertaining is a big part of this, right?
Forrest: In the modern era politics is part entertainment. President Trump fundamentally understands that and that’s part of why he’s successful.
Chang: Right. Well yeah, so now, I mean the other thing I think just the accelerated pace of news that has been pouring out. We’re trying to figure out what to focus on as a news item to go over, but good luck, the volume. . .
Forrest: Let’s just recap a couple of things.
Forrest: What’s been happening in the last week. . . Well, President Trump is off taking a tour of Asia. He went to Japan where he and his wife, Melania, are incredibly popular. They were received with giant crowds everywhere. Japan just went wild for President Trump. President Trump signaled some interesting things to Japan while he was there. He posted a tweet where he talked about the samurai warrior spirit of Japan. Which is a first in post-world war II era, an American president honoring and giving license to Japan’s militaristic heritage, which is quite strong and quite ancient, and emboldening that a little bit; bringing Japan up to it’s proper place as a strategic partner in defense in the Pacific and Asian Region.
Now president Trump has moved on to China, where he and President Xi Jinping have been meeting and, apparently, getting along famously. An unprecedented honor paid to Trump, just last night he was invited to a special honorary dinner at the forbidden. . .
Forrest: Palace. Yeah, forbidden city in Beijing. What a tremendous honor.
Chang: It is.
Forrest: That is.
Chang: Which I was a little surprised that, cause remember, November 7, he declared the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of Communism.
Chang: It was a very troll-y, I was like, Oh, right before he was going to China, Communist China, he had the whole. . .
Forrest: Before he goes on his tour, yeah, he’s playing hardball with the Chinese. You know what, you are Chinese.
Chang: I am.
Forrest: I’ve worked in China. There is a substantial amount of respect, cultural respect, for standing your ground.
Forrest: Trump is earning that respect.
Forrest: That’s a great thing. He is in the process of absolutely revolutionizing our relationships with all of our asian partners and other great nation in the regions and that’s a really great thing. It’s tremendous forward progress. And it’s not just Japan, and it’s not just China, it’s happening all throughout the region. President Trump is going to be making an unscheduled stop in the Philippines to meet with President Duterte, in the Philippines.
Chang: I would love to be a fly on the wall for that meeting, good Lord.
Forrest: Yeah. At any rate, President Trump is about in the middle of this Asian junket. He’s off cruising around various locations on the other side of the Pacific. While he’s been gone, some very interesting things have been happening back here at home. Of course we had the off season election last night which resulted in a number of gains for the Republican Party. Mostly in blue states, in places, even like in Montana, although the Liberian national won mayorship of Helena, Montana. That’s good for the Democrats, right? Well, it is a university town where the university outnumbers the locals about 2-to-1. But, yeah, OK, we’ll give em their victory, there you go. There are a whole bunch of Democrats won in Virginia, of course that’s what all the news has been about. The governors race, Gillespie versus Northam, was the big race everyone was following there. Democratic Socialist against an establishment Republican who had just barely beat a Trump Republican in the primary. The Democratic Socialist won by an impressive margin and I think that’s something that does port end the realignment that’s happening in the United States right now, the political realignment. The Left is moving much further left.
Chang: Yeah, far so.
Forrest: Yes, Absolutely, and are splitting as a result of that. Just as much the same thing is happening to the right in the Republican party. However, to lesser extent. The progress toward the Left in the Democratic Party is taking an interesting twist. They really are doubling down on identity politics.
Forrest: And that was absolutely manifest all across the board in all of these minor race victories that the Democrats had last night. And today on NPR, you know, I could hear them crowing about all the various firsts, “oh, we had this small town in such-a-such a state elected their first black female mayor and we got the first. . .”
Forrest: What was it. . . “The first transsexual alderman in Virginia,” and all this stuff. . . Incidentally there were, I think, three transsexuals who had electoral victories last night. There was one in Santa Barbara, there was one somewhere I believe in Pennsylvania school board election, or something, and then, of course, Danica what’s-his-face in Virginia. The lesson, of course, being that unless you are a Democratic Socialist on the far, hard Left, the only way a white man can win in the Democratic Party now is to put on a dress.
Chang: Yep. Which means basically the GOP, if they’re not stupid, should be able to steal all the white males from the Democrats; except for the super self-abasing, self-hating 10 percent.
Forrest: Well, we’ll see.
Chang: We shall see. That’s the opportunity.
Forrest: Now many, many months ago, Steve Bannon said famously that as long as the Left was playing identity politics, we were gonna win, and he was gonna try to get them to double down on it as much as possible. . .
Forrest: . . .So that we could keep on winning. Well last night proved that they are not just doubling down on it, they’re tripling, quadrupling down on it. It was all about the identity politics last night.
Chang: Yes, to the point where even. . . Whoever came up with the, “it’s okay to be white,” hashtag, it’s absolutely genius. It’s so innocuous, right?
Forrest: I’ve seen some news stories about this. You’re talking about those signs. . .
Forrest: . . .That are showing up all over the place.
Forrest: “It’s okay to be white.”
Chang: The most innocuous, most milquetoast, it’s. . . and yet, they can’t help themselves. They have to counter signal, scream, stomp their feet. It’s hilarious.
Forrest: I’ve read a couple of news stories about that and, frankly, from the reaction that I was seeing in the media and from the various establishment, government, university administration officials who were talking about it, the obvious message they wanna convey to us is that it’s not okay to be white.
Chang: Of course. You can bait them into basically admitting that their reflexive hatred extends to anyone who’s white. . . yes, if you’re white and you’re not actively destroying yourself, counter signaling yourself, emptying your wallets, you’re obviously an enemy.
Forrest: Yeah. Whoever came up with that it’s a rather ingenious, low-rent PR campaign. So, kudos to you. . .
Forrest: . . .Anonymous troll, whoever you are.
Forrest: Nicely done.
Chang: Very, very well done.
Forrest: So, another thing that’s going on. . . I think has been tremendously underplayed in the media, this is just phenomenally important. . . is crazy, crazy things happening in Saudi Arabia.
Chang: That’s right. The arrests. . .
Forrest: Right. So last week, we have. . .
Forrest: . . . three billionaire senior Saudi princes arrested along with, I believe, another eight or 11. . .
Chang: Princes. . .
Forrest: Princes of the blood of the house of Saud. . .
Forrest: . . . are arrested on various charges.
Chang: Corruption, self. . . yeah.
Forrest: It’s all very, kind of, confusing and muddy. A whole bunch of government ministers and officials were also arrested, a few dozen of them.
Chang: That’s right.
Forrest: Most significant among of all of these, of course, is Alwaleed Bin Talal.
Chang: Bin Talal, right.
Forrest: The multi-billionaire who’s often compared favorably to some of the major U.S. billionaire investors. He’s a major shareholder in Citibank. In fact, as a major shareholder in Citibank, he was a huge beneficiary of the bailout, TARP.
Chang: That’s right.
Forrest: Back in 2007 (sic). . .
Forrest: Right, so the U.S. government has bailed him out for the tune of billions of dollars.
Forrest: Yeah, he’s got his hands in all kinds of things. He owns a stake in News Corp, Fox News. He owns. . .
Chang: Twitter. . .
Forrest: Yeah, he’s a dangerous shareholder in Twitter and a whole bunch of other things. He also has very, very, very cozy relationship with the Clintons. He is on of the major donors to the Clinton Foundation.
Chang: That’s right.
Forrest: He, interestingly. . . the number one charge on which he was arrested was money laundering. And, of course, as we all know, the Clinton Foundation is heavily involved in that sort of thing as well on a political side in the United States. As it’s been coming out a lot in the news the last couple of weeks, lot’s of things about Uranium One and the deal that went down a few years back where 20 percent of the U.S. Uranium supply was sold off to the Russians with the collusion and consent of the Obama administration, including President Obama himself and Secretary of State Clinton. The Clinton Foundation, then, in return, received a $145 million donation through a Canadian cut-out organization in order to wash it, money laundering. The whole thing. . .
Chang: Dirty as hell. . . Super, super dirty.
Forrest: It is, without question, the biggest, worst scandal in American political history, period.
Chang: And yet they start smearing Russia the whole time.
Forrest: It has national security implications that go far beyond any kind of petty bribery scheme. As a result of this, the Russians have been exporting American Uranium.
Chang: Oh, my God. . .
Forrest: And then who knows where it’s winding up, right? We know that the Russians have uranium deals with Iran, among others. You know, this is the Clintons and Obama and all of their cohorts, including many people who are sill in the permanent government today. . .
Chang: That’s right.
Forrest: . . .were involved in this, and it’s horrible. There is a lot more talk abut that now; there’s a push to appoint a special council to look into it. That is starting to gain a lot of momentum, hopefully it gains a lot more momentum. Interestingly, speaking of special councils, Robert Mueller’s investigation has been proceeding. He’s made two arrests, Paul Manafort and George Papadopoulos. Did I get that right?
Forrest: I think I got that.
Chang: Sounds about right. Those are difficult. . . you white people names, man, I tell you. It’s hard to get them all straight.
Forrest: More interestingly, there are sealed indictments that are being filed, grand jury indictments, being filed by Mueller and his team. Apparently, we are now up to 34 sealed indictments.
Chang:So we’re talking big, big case.
Forrest: Seventeen of which were filed today on the anniversary of the election last year. Now, there’s a lot of speculation about what that means, and I don’t know. . . I’m not part of. . .
Chang: The inner circle, right?
Forrest: . . .Robert Mueller’s team. I have no idea what they’re doing.
Forrest: But, at the same time, it’s interesting that the first people that Mueller has indicted, although they were connected to the Trump campaign, they were indicted on charges that had nothing to do, whatsoever, with the Trump campaign or any of this alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. You and I have talked about this. . .
Forrest: . . . Russian thing in the past. There’s no substance to it at all and, in fact, the collusion charge itself is ridiculous, there’s no legal grounds to it. Even if they were to manage to prove that there was some collusion, it’s not actually illegal.
Forrest: But, of course, now we have special prosecutor who’s looking into all this stuff with essentials an unlimited, poorly defined mandate. Well, what’s he been doing with it? It’s interesting in that he went after Manafort who was briefly connected with the Trump campaign, has lots of ties to Russia. . .
Forrest: Also has many, many more ties to the Clintons and the Podestas.
Chang: Yeah, the Podestas. I think the 3D chess explanation that I’ve heard, that I believe to be 50 percent, is that he needed to make a large showing of a Trump affiliated indictment in order to confirm that it’s not a political witch hunt. He needed to take down somebody that’s semi associated with Trump in order to sell it to the masses that it’s not just a. . . cause my guess is, if we were to pick a prediction, is that the next dozen indictments that are going to be publicly unsealed, are going to be obviously Clinton, Obama cronies. But if it’s just entirely Clinton, Obama cronies, it comes across looking like a political witch hunt, which makes it harder to sell to the public. Here, it’s like hey listen, the first guy he went after was one of my guys. And he can sell that. . .
Forrest: Yeah. There are a number of interesting things about this, you know. You know in standard American political practice, appointing a special prosecutor is usually standard operating procedure for the political elites covering up their wrong doings by investigating themselves and using the special prosecutor to bury all the evidence. They also use it as a tool for attacking their political opposition and tying them up in endless lawsuits and naughts and causing them to waste all kinds of energy dealing with a special prosecutor.
Forrest: That’s how special prosecution and how the special council has been used. . .
Forrest: . . .Typically and, in fact, the whole position of special council is of, kind of, dubious, constitutional legality to begin with. It doesn’t really fall anywhere within the appointed powers of the various branches of government. It’s kind of this weird made up thing.
Chang: Right. We’re so used to it these days; undeclared wars, executive orders. The idea of doing anything through proper channels. . .
Chang: We passed that along time ago I fear.
Forrest: Oh yeah, we’re way, way passed that point. . .
Chang: We’re in prison rules territory.
Forrest: . . .where the constitution was really governing any of this stuff. But, it’s interesting in this case because normally when you have a special council who’s appointed one of these, kind of, either a witch hunt or a coverup is really what they kind of end up being. The special council’s office, they pursue this in large part via leaks.
Forrest: It’s a big part of how they work.
Chang: Death by a thousand cuts.
Forrest: What’s been really interesting about how Mueller has been pursuing his investigation is, after some initial leaking, all the leaks went away. And, almost everybody is completely in the dark about what Mueller and his team have been up to. That is very interesting, and in some ways it’s almost unprecedented. You know, the last number of special council investigations, however many they’ve been, you know they leak like sewage and they do it on purpose. Now one of the primary things they do is they leak information back to congress so that congressmen can coverup all the things they’ve been doing wrong. . . And that’s just how it works, right?
Forrest: This is modern America. OK, well Mueller gets put in place as special council to investigate the Trump campaign, Russia collusion thing, at least nominally, right? We know a few things about Mueller, he’s former director of the FBI, in fact, he is the architect of the modern FBI, such as it is. I think that is kind of understated in a lot of the discussions of Mueller. He is central to the recreation of the FBI as this kind of independent, bureaucratic agency that it likes to talk about it’s self being now. So there’s a legacy protection issue there for him because the FBI is apparently kind of embroiled in this mess, so. . . Mueller then obviously has some incentive to protect his legacy by protecting the FBI.
Also, we know that Mueller was involved in the Uranium One thing. There is public record that he personally delivered samples of Uranium to Russia on behalf of the Obama Administration. . . OK? So we know he is somehow connected to Uranium-1. We don’t know how deep or just exactly to what extent his involvement in this mess went. Was he just an errand boy on this one occasion at the direction of the president? Or was he actually actively involved in this scam. . . We don’t know. So there is. . . He definitely has some knowledge of Uranium One, there’s no question about that. Is he guilty of serious wrongdoing in Uranium One? We don’t know. Now as a special council in either case he is either in an ideal position to use parallel construction based on what he knows about Uranium One to dig into it further, or he’s in an ideal position to go find all of the evidence, which he would know about. . .
Forrest: . . . and bury it.
Chang: For the benefit of the listeners who aren’t familiar, parallel construction is a method in which you know something but you’re not supposed to know it and you have to create an alternative explanation for how you knew it.
Sherman Forrest: Parallel construction is a common operating procedure in law enforcement investigation in the United States. It is peculiar to the United States and it is an artifact of all the various evidentiary juror’s prudence precedent going back many, many, many years in the United States, all the way back to the fourth amendment. And, in the United States, in order to bring evidence of wrongdoing at a trial, it has to be obtained using proper methods.
Forrest: I can’t break into somebody’s apartment without a warrant and rifle through their drawers and find evidence that they’ve been doing something, and then take that to court and charge them with a crime. The evidence would have been obtained illegally so I can’t use it; it would be ruled out in court, right? So, in cases where law enforcement has some evidence or they know something that they don’t actually have a legal means of knowing. . .
Forrest: . . . or legal evidence of it. . .
Forrest: . . . they use what we call parallel construction in an investigation. They pursue legal evidence that substantiates what they already know.
Chang: Right, but in a way that will hold up in court, that would not be thrown out because it was acquired improperly.
Forrest: Exactly. This is also extremely common within the last two, three decades as the intelligence apparatus has become, in the war on terror and everything, as the intelligence organizations have been dramatically expanding their surveillance in all of this. They have been getting a lot of information that they can’t use in court because, realistically, it was obtained illegally. The CIA and the NSA are not legally allowed to eavesdrop on American citizens in the United States, particularly without jumping through all kinds of hoops and getting all kinds of warrants and all of that. Well, guess what. . . They do it anyway.
Chang: That’s right.
Forrest: And, when they do do it, they find out things. And then if they find out something that would lead to a prosecution, thy have to go through this exercise of parallel construction. Okay, we know what these guys are doing, now we have to go back and create a case about it in a legal manner that we can take to court that will stand up against legal challenge.
Forrest: So that’s what parallel construction is all about. So, there’s some reasonable grounds to think that some portion of what Mueller was doing. . . and we know from his tenure at FBI that Mueller is a big fan of parallel construction. He does it a lot. It’s kind of how he likes to work.
Chang: That’s his thing.
Forrest: Yeah, and so there’s reasonable grounds to believe that he’s doing it as special council and the only question is what is he really investigating. . . And nobody really knows. There’s another interesting twist to this which is the day before Mueller’s name was put out as a nomination for special council, he went to the White House and he met with President Trump in The Oval Office for, I’ve heard, about an hour-and-a-half. That sounds like a pretty long conversation to have with the President of the United States. . .
Chang: Hell yeah.
Forrest: . . .who’s a very, very busy guy.
Chang: Yeah. To command an hour of his time. Even Donna Brazil didn’t get that down on the tarmac with Bill Clinton, right? No, that wasn’t Brazil. . .
Forrest: So, what did Robert Mueller and President Trump talk about? Isn’t that an interesting question, and nobody really knows except for Robert Mueller and President Trump. The very next day his name was put out for special council, he was nominated, he was appointed, and now he’s doing all this investigating. He brought a whole bunch of mid and low-level Clinton affiliated lawyers into the special council’s office right away. In the beginning there was a ton of leaking going on, and then it just suddenly stopped. Done. And then nothing at all until about a week ago we had a leak to the media saying that 17 sealed indictments had been filed; grand jury indictments in the District Court of District of Columbia. . . And that the first two warrants would be issued the following Monday. That’s the first leak in months out of Mueller’s office, and it seems like it came from Mueller himself. That’s interesting.
Forrest: The same thing happened today. Now, information is getting out there now that they’re at 34. . . I think 33. . . 34 I think. . . 34 sealed indictments now, still outstanding. And the thing about a sealed indictment, an indictment is handed down by a grand jury, so when a prosecutor is putting together his case, he is presenting his evidence to a special jury that is in-paneled to review the evidence and then to make a determination as to whether the evidence is strong enough to justify filing charges against and individual or a group of individuals. And the group who do that, is a grand jury, that’s what they’re called.
So, Mueller’s special council’s office has had a grand jury in-paneled and they’ve been reviewing all this evidence and they’ve been issuing indictments. The indictment is the grand jury saying we have found in this case that their is sufficient evidence to bring charges against this individual or individuals in this particular matter on the following charges, and then they hand down an indictment. That indictment can either be made openly or it can be made under seal to the court, in which case none of the information is public; we don’t know what the charges are, we don’t know against whom they’re being made. We don’t know anything about it. And that’s how Mueller has been pursuing this. They’re now 34 sealed indictments, each one of those indictments could cover more than one person, but at the very least, we’re talking about indictments against at least 34 different people.
OK, how many people were the Democrats thinking they were gonna bring under indictment under this collusion investigation against Trump and his campaign. It was certainly way fewer than 34.
Forrest: So what’s going on? What’s next. . . And we don’t know. That’s a huge question mark and I, very much, am looking forward to finding out what the answer to that is. At the moment, Mueller has kind of become Schrodinger’s prosector. He’s locked in the box and we don’t know if he’s investigating Trump or if he’s not investigating Trump. We don’t know if he’s investigating Clinton or not investigating Clinton. We don’t know anything.
Forrest: So there’s this kind of quantum uncertainty about all these sealed indictments and what Mueller’s actual prosecutorial agenda is. We don’t know.
Forrest: That is the most important question in American politics today.
Chang: And we’ll see what happens. What do you think the timeline is for when we’re gonna find out?
Forrest: I actually think we’re gonna find out relatively soon. Now that the indictments are filed, even hough they’re under seal, it’s just a matter of time, Probably not a lot of time, before arrests start being made and warrants start being issued. So that’s all gonna come to a head relatively soon. It’s interesting that that is happening while President Trump is out of town and, at the same time, all of this Saudi stuff is going on where all of these arrests have been made in Saudi and a lot of them being made, not just on grounds of corruption, but very specific charges like money laundering and stuff that is directly connected to political corruption and investigation in the United Sates. . . and we know that if a serious investigation starts in the Clintons and the Clinton Foundation, the Saudis will be involved in that. They can’t not be. They’re up to their earlobes in it.
Chang: Yeah. Well, that’s a hell of a lot to go for a 1 year inauguration of the historic election. It’s been a hell of a ride and I can only imagine. . . around this time next year is when and we’ll get the results of the midterm election. That’s when we’re gonna really see how far we’re gonna take this, right? I mean that’s the. . .
Forrest: Indeed, indeed, we live in interesting times, my friend.
Chang: We really do. Well that’s about it, I think. We’ll do another recording in. . . but this has been a hell of a week and a hell of a year, so. . .
Chang: Glad to have you along for the ride.
Forrest: Absolutely, Kai. Thanks.
Chang: For Shock Therapy, I am glad to be signing off and we’ll talk in a week’s time.
Forrest: Talk to you soon.
Chang: Talk to you soon, cheers.
I recently spent an hour-and-a-half standing outside a Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles office, waiting for the privilege of paying $72 to renew my driver’s license. I stood outside because there was no room to stand inside: the small offices were entirely occupied by the rest of the line and two—only two—employees. With relative efficiency, considering the woeful deficiency in numbers, these two extracted check after check from free citizens who were compelled to be there.
Every so often, one of the workers stepped outside to address the line. With the tone of a school teacher speaking to a room of three-year-olds, she listed the services not provided: No new registrations, no new licenses, no title transfers. With each announcement, one or two poor souls fell out and trudged woefully back to their cars, clutching battered pieces of paper.
The lady in front of me had come to cancel a registration and return her plates. She was informed that, because she had cancelled her insurance a month earlier without cancelling her registration, she was going to have to pay a fine of $200 for driving around without insurance. Never mind that of course she had sold the car before the insurance was cancelled and hadn’t even driven 10 uninsured feet: As long as a car is registered, insurance is mandatory even if the car no longer exists, and—you know—rules are rules.
On the drive back, the streets were aswarm with policemen in the latest, snazziest, black-windowed SUV police cruisers, trawling for their monthly quotas. Not even the police can pretend they are enhancing road safety or protecting the community with this fiendish monthly pickpocket. Whenever a car passes the lurking police mobile, brake lights flash in panic and the whole train of hitherto smooth-flowing traffic risks a pileup. To be warned of a speed trap by the blinking headlights of a motorist driving the other way touches the heart, and is one of the few acts of kindness not yet regulated by law. But don’t fool yourself that there aren’t people who wish it were regulated—the police in Britain have repeatedly fined drivers who flash kind-hearted warnings to oncoming traffic for “improper use of headlights.” Which is a £30 fine.
This is the tyranny of small things, of a thousand little abuses: Each infringement on our wallets, time or dignity is trivial by itself. But add them together, and freedom is squeezed into a tortured grotesque. The guilty lawmakers and bureaucrats are protected by the principle of collective responsibility. The people who legislate or impose the fines are hidden from us, like the police who wait behind their tinted windows to collect them.
If the laws are so obscure, so complicated, so onerous that thousands or even millions of well-intentioned, good citizens break at least a few every year, it might be common sense to repeal the whole gnarly jungle as unjust. But where would the government get its money? Suppose there were no $72 fee for renewing a driver’s license. And no $25 late fee? What would pay for the DMV workers and the licenses?
Our taxes. We already pay income taxes and sales taxes, and these are supposed to pay for government services. So why then do we have to pay extra just because we want—or are forced—to actually use one of those services? We’ve grown accustomed to assuming that, for our annual tax bill, the government will provide in return absolutely nothing.
Consider the operative principle behind a fine: the government says, “You’ve broken the law. Now you’re in trouble. But slip us a few bucks and we’ll pretend it never happened.” Fines are a tool of corruption. They should not exist in the legal lexicon of a free society. If the offense is serious, the malefactor belongs in jail. If the offense is not serious, it shouldn’t be an offense in the first place. Why, for example, does the government fine citizens for speeding? There is little evidence that lowering speed limits or increasing highway traffic enforcement reduces accidents—on the contrary, both speed cameras and police presence have been shown to increase the accident rate. Trust an adult to drive at a speed he can handle safely. Put up signs suggesting safe speeds and then leave it to the discretion of the driver. If he does damage, of course, he has to pay for it. But that should mean paying for the damage, not paying the government to overlook it.
If repealing bad laws and ridiculous fines one at a time seems impossibly arduous, just as legislators and bureaucrats intended, could we just repeal them all? Despite the superficial impracticality, there is also an obvious appeal to a flat-fee government. One tax bill, full-service included. Then it’s easy to see exactly what you’re getting for your money.