Glenn Greenwald
Politics • Writing • Culture
Multiple US Banks Suddenly Collapse—Are “Bailouts” Needed to Avoid Catastrophe? Ft. Matt Stoller
Video Transcript: System Update #54
March 16, 2023
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The U.S. government took very aggressive action over the weekend to save the vast wealth of depositors at Silicon Valley Bank. That 40-year-old institution had become rather unstable of late as a result of rising interest rates that they failed to anticipate and invest in the kind of long-term, high-risk/high-reward vehicles responsible for the 2008 financial crisis, such as mortgage-backed securities.

Late last week, the bank's depositors, composed of bold, wealthy tech investors, as well as startup companies with substantial venture capital, began getting somewhat nervous about the bank’s ability to cover deposits above the $250,000 level, the amount which the FDIC insures for every account and that worry very quickly – in a matter of fewer than two days – turned into full-blown panic and then a bank run that prevented the bank from even coming close to finding the liquidity to cover the mountain of withdraws and transfer requests that poured in from very panicky depositors.

Over the weekend, at the urging of some of the most prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalists, the Biden Treasury Department announced that the U.S. government would ensure that all depositors would be made whole, no matter how much in excess of the $250,000 limit their balance was. 

That move, surprisingly, has provoked a very vitriolic debate between people like, on the one hand, our guest tonight, Matt Stoller, of the American Economics Liberties Project, who insist that this is quite similar, if not in scope, then in kind, to the 2008 Wall Street bailout under the Bush and Obama administrations in which the U.S. government first acted to save the country's richest people who caused the crisis while the middle class and working class were about to suffer. And then on the other side, we have tomorrow night's guest, venture capitalist David Sacks, the first CEO of PayPal and a prominent venture capitalist who has been insisting that the problems at Silicon Valley Bank are not unique to that institution, but instead reflective of a systemic problem, and that without U.S. government intervention, not only Silicon Valley Bank but countless other regional banks would have failed quickly due to contagion, panic and other similar bank runs. We'll examine that debate by speaking first to Matt Stoller tonight and then to David Sachs tomorrow. 

Plus, last night at the Oscars, Hollywood liberals did what Hollywood liberals and liberals generally love to do. They heaped praise on a film, “Navalny,” with the Academy Award for Best Documentary. 

Now, Navalny, as you probably know, is the dissident – an opponent of Vladimir Putin currently imprisoned in Russia for that dissidence – and, in the process, these Hollywood liberals bravely denounced the abuse of a dissident by a faraway government who was an official U.S. enemy, i.e., Russia. In the meantime, these same people, as usual, ignore, if not outright support, their own government's ongoing years-long imprisonment of our own dissident: the journalist Julian Assange. 

This is about far more than who wins some glitzy and increasingly pointless awards but it does say a great deal about how governments are able to get their own citizens – not just our government, but all governments – to constantly focus on the abuses of governments on the other side of the world, over which they exert no control. All of that means forgetting how their own government is doing the same, and often worse. 

As a reminder, System Update is now available in podcast form. We are available on Spotify, Apple and most other major podcasting platforms. The episodes are published in podcast form 12 hours after we first air here, live, on Rumble. If that's your interest, look for that and follow System Update on those platforms.

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update starting right now.



 So, in order to understand the debate that has been provoked by the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's announcement that the U.S. government would step in - as leading Silicon Valley venture capital has spent the last several days demanding that it do - and protect 100% - every penny - of all depositor’s funds in the now collapsing Silicon Valley Bank, as well as at least one other bank, that is also collapsing rapidly, – on which Barney Frank, ironically, the longtime Democratic congressman who, along with Senator Chris Dodd, authored the legislation after the 2008 financial crisis that was designed to prevent exactly this from happening again – as it turns out, Barney Frank happens to sit on the board of the bank that is the second bank to fail as part of this bank grab, meaning his legislation did not evidently fulfill its promise of preventing a systemic contamination and essentially threat of a financial collapse from happening again as it happened right under his own nose at his own bank. 

Now, in order to understand the debate and it's a complex debate and one that requires expertise – which I am the first to acknowledge I do not possess, which is why we're going to have a guest on tonight who does, who has one view and a guest tomorrow night who also does who has the other – it's very important to remember and understand the 2008 financial crisis and the context of that debate, and that I do feel very comfortable speaking up because I covered it extensively at the time as a journalist involved not only with complex financial instruments, but also the political dynamics that shape our country. 

That financial crisis was a long time in the making. It was something that people were able to predict and actually did predict. Increasingly, Wall Street was able to invest in very, very complex and opaque economic instruments that were highly risky and like all risky instruments, had a high amount of profit. They were able to invest in that because of the rollback, various financial protections that came in the wake of the Great Depression, in the early 1930s, that were designed to keep separate commercial banking activities – that are generally more conservative and risk-averse from investment activities that tend to be riskier. And the idea was to prevent a systemic collapse in the commercial banking sector that led to the Great Depression in the first place. And over the years, especially the Clinton administration and their genius economists like Larry Summers and Robert Rubin, right from Goldman Sachs, decided that these protections from the FDR era were obsolete and banks could be unchained in order to start to become much riskier. And they were heavily rewarded because the Wall Street sector and the banking sector began investing heavily in and funding heavily the Democratic Party as a result of its servitude to the banking industry. They had a lot of Republican support as well during the Clinton administration with all of these rollbacks, and that led to the ability of all kinds of banks with your money, depositor money, to be able to engage in much riskier types of investments. One of the investment schemes that they particularly liked was called mortgage-backed securities, which was when banks would offer loans to people to buy houses and would keep the houses as collateral. And the value, the very high value of the real estate market ensured that those mortgage-backed securities, which were all grouped together, had a great deal of value and could be traded as commodities. Unfortunately, when the real estate market and the real estate bubble collapsed, the value of those mortgage-backed securities collapsed with them. And that led to an unraveling, a very rapid unraveling, of almost all of Wall Street, starting in September and October of 2008. So, during the last several months of the Bush administration, when the Treasury secretary still was Hank Paulson, who before joining the Bush administration as Treasury secretary, had been the CEO of Goldman Sachs, very much of a Wall Street background and his argument was that we need to act immediately to save the financial markets with a gigantic infusion of credit and cash in order to protect the credit markets from collapsing. 

What a lot of people don't remember is that the very first proposal that was negotiated between the Bush White House, as the 2008 presidential action and John McCain, was approaching with congressional leaders, including John Boehner, the then House speaker, and Nancy Pelosi, the then House minority leader and the head of the Democratic Party. Both of them were on board. The establishment wings of both parties were on board with Hank Paulson's plan to give a gigantic infusion of $800 billion into the Wall Street sector to prevent it from collapsing. The warnings were just as grave, in fact, way graver than the ones we're hearing now, that if the government doesn't immediately act to save these Wall Street institutions, the entire system will collapse. There will be bank runs, nobody will trust these institutions any longer, everyone will try and take their money out of the system and not just the U.S. financial system, but the global financial system will collapse. 

That crisis was much greater in scale than the current one, at least so far, but the arguments are very similar. Obviously, there was a lot of resentment that the U.S. government was going to bail out the titans of capitalism after all. The whole idea of capitalism is the reason that you get rich is that you make bets, risky bets. And if you're right, you get rich. But that only works if you also then lose everything when you're wrong. And yet what happened here was they all made very risky bets. They got rich when they were right and then when they were wrong, instead of losing, which is the other side of capitalism, which has to be the other side of capitalism, instead, the U.S. government intervened, stepped in and said, “Oh, don't worry, we're going to back you up. We're going to give you a gigantic infusion of cash to prevent this system from collapsing”. 

Even though it generated a lot of anger – why should the richest people in the world, who caused the crisis in the first place with their recklessness, be protected with taxpayer-funded money? – it nonetheless happened because the argument prevailed that if we didn't protect the richest people on the planet who caused the financial collapse, all of us would suffer because the entire financial system would collapse. And there was an infusion of $700 billion or $800 billion that was nowhere near enough to calm the markets. And then once President Obama was in office, he selected Timothy Geithner as his treasury secretary, who was most known for being an incredibly loyal servant to Wall Street. They infused a lot more money into Wall Street, and Wall Street and its casino went on. Dodd-Frank was the promise of the American people to say, we're going to reform everything so this never happens again. The argument was, look, these institutions are too big to fail. We cannot allow them to fail. We're allowed to watch them succeed and get rich when they're right. But when they're wrong, we can't let them fail. And that created a lot of resentment, political resentment. That first bill sponsored by Hank Paulson, was negotiated with John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi, the first time it came up for a vote in the House it actually failed, despite warnings that its failure would cause the implosion of the global economic system. And it failed because a majority of Republicans on the right voted no, as did I believe, up to 90 Democrats, most of whom were from the left wing of the party. And on the day the U.S. government refused, through the vote in the House, to intervene in the markets, the U.S. stock market lost something like 8% of its value; other stock markets around the world lost 10% of its value and there was real panic, which is why they finally ended up coercing members of both political parties to change their vote to yes and to start infusing huge amounts of money into that system.

It did end up saving Wall Street. But the funds that were set aside to help homeowners and working-class people and middle-class people were basically ignored. Huge numbers of them were evicted from their homes and lost their homes in foreclosure and people to this very day are drowning in debt, generational debt, because of that financial crisis. That is absolutely the context for this debate. Namely, is this a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis? Not necessarily yet to the extent that it's of that magnitude, but that the political dynamic is the same, namely all of these libertarian “keep the government out of our lives” anti-socialist tech billionaires in Silicon Valley –  who hate socialism, who hate the idea that the government steps in and helps people who are poor – “Those poor people should be self-sufficient”; “They don't need government help.” The minute their bank and their money are at risk, they start pounding the table. All to be saved. And then, the government comes in and saves them. 

Let me just show you a couple of videos that set the stage for what this debate is and then we're going to go talk to Matt Stoller and see what he thinks and question him on his views. 

First, let me show you the Democratic Congressman, Ro Khanna, whose views on this question are significant for two reasons: one is he absolutely holds himself out as a progressive; he ran on the view that the main problem of the United States is that there's economic inequality – the government far too often acts in favor of the rich and ignores the middle class and the working class and the poor. But he also happens to be the congressman from Silicon Valley. He represents Silicon Valley. And as you can imagine, in order to win that seat, you need the financial support and political support of the very same Silicon Valley tycoons who spent the weekend demanding a bailout for their bank. So, he went on “Face the Nation” on Sunday when he was still in doubt about whether or not the government would act. They had just interviewed Janet Yellen, who gave very mixed signals about whether she intended to do so and this is what Ro Khanna said: 


(Video: March 12, 2023)


“Face the Nation”: I wonder what you make of the Treasury secretary's remarks. I know you've been in contact with the White House, with Treasury and with FDIC. 


Rep. Ro Khanna: I have great respect for Secretary Yellen, but I think we need to have more clarity and greater strength in what the Treasury is saying. First, the principle needs to be that all depositors will be protected and have full access to their accounts Monday morning. 


“Face the Nation”: Depositors, meaning those with accounts bigger than $250,000, which is the cutoff for insurance right. 


Rep. Ro Khanna: Yes, all of them. There's precedent for this. Chair Powell when he was at Treasury, in 1991, the Bank of New England collapsed. And Chair Powell said the Treasury, coordinated with FDIC and with the Fed, and they insured every depositor. And why did they do it? They didn't want a regional run on the banks. Here's what I'm hearing from people in my constituency. They are getting nodes to pull out of regional banks, and all of this will be consolidated in the top four banks. We don't want that as a nation, especially if you're a progressive. The other thing is the payroll companies that are involved. Some of them have 400,000 folks. They're not going to be able to meet payroll if they don't have access to direct deposit. 



That is the argument being made. I mean, it's amazing. I think, you know, one of the things I've noticed, as I get older, I'm not yet old, but I'm just saying as I'm getting older, is that I think one of the reasons why history repeats itself so often is because people who are young didn't live through the history and, therefore, don't know about it and other people forget it. 

It's amazing how identical that sounds to the arguments made to bail out Wall Street. It was like nobody wants to help the rich. That's not what this is about. The problem is if we let AIG go under if we let other Wall Street firms go under the way we are, Lehman Brothers go under, the middle class, are going to lose their 401k, they're going to lose their retirement accounts and everybody is going to suffer. 

So, yes, we're going to help the rich but work for progressives. Obama was very much in on that and he said we're not doing it to help the rich. That's just an unfortunate, incidental byproduct. The people who funded my campaigns are, of course, going to get what they want. But that's not why we're doing it. We're doing it to prevent further panic, and further runs on the bank, which would prevent people from having their retirement accounts protected or even having their jobs. Everybody would lose their jobs or there would be no money to pay them etc. 

So, just because it resonates with the arguments made in the 2008 financial crisis doesn't mean it's invalid. I'm just putting in place all bear to note for a minute that if you find that persuasive, that was very similar to the arguments made in the 2008 financial crisis. 


In 2018, there was a rollback of bank regulations that a lot of people, beginning where people like Senator Elizabeth Warren in today's New York Times and I'm sure Matt will be on board with their view as well. I saw AOC making this view. Lots of Democrats make this view that part of what Dodd-Frank was designed to do was to make sure that banks got a lot more regulatory scrutiny than they had previously received prior to the 2008 financial crisis. And it was a very complex regulatory scheme that was put into place. And what midsize banks like Silicon Valley Bank began to do was to make the argument through lobbyists, through paid lobbyists, that, look, these regulations are too onerous for us. They make sense for Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan and Bank of America, the kind of big four banking institutions. They can sustain this level of regulatory scrutiny. They need it, but we're not anywhere remotely in the same level of danger in terms of the risks that we're taking and especially the impact that would be caused if we do fail. And they wanted the size of the bank that is subject to this added regulatory scrutiny of Dodd-Frank to be increased from $50 billion, which is where Dodd-Frank put it to $250 billion. In other words, any institution with a total amount of deposits or assets under $250 billion would no longer be subject to this heightened scrutiny and that included Silicon Valley Bank, which was one of the banks whose CEO aggressively and actively lobbied. It wasn't like they were just a beneficiary, incidentally. They actually lobbied to change this regulation and to make it laxer, they were able to put together a majority in the first and then in the Trump administration, in 2018, most Republicans joined with a good chunk of Democrats to create a majority in favor of making those changes so that banks like Silicon Valley Bank got much less regulatory scrutiny. And here is President Trump upon signing that legislation explaining his argument for doing so. 

(Video. May 24, 2018)

Pres. D. Trump: The legislation I'm signing today rolls back the crippling Dodd-Frank regulations that are crushing community banks and credit unions nationwide. They were in such trouble. One size fits all. Those rules just don't work. And community banks and credit unions should be regulated the same way and you have to really look at this. They should be regulated the same way with a proviso for safety as in the past when they were vibrant and strong. But they shouldn't be regulated the same way as the large, complex financial institutions. And that's what happened. And they were being put out of business one by one and they weren't lending. Since its passage in 2010, Dodd-Frank has dealt a huge blow to community banking. As a candidate, I pledged that we would rescue these community banks from Dodd-Frank, the disaster of Dodd-Frank. And now we are keeping that commitment and all of the people with me are keeping it. That commitment. 



So, when I first begin hearing that this is all Trump's fault, that it was due to the 2018 changes to the banking regulation scheme, I was very skeptical because of the obsession, the addiction on the part of the media to blame everything on Trump. And one does have to note that President Biden is the current president. He has been the president for more than two years now, for the first two years of his presidency up until about two months ago his party, the Democratic Party, controlled both houses of Congress. There was never a time during President Trump's presidency when the Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats controlled the House during this time and yet somehow everything that happened under the Trump presidency gets blamed on Trump, whereas nothing that happened under the Biden administration gets blamed on President Biden. But with that caveat, it does seem clear, having looked at this a lot more, and beginning with that skepticism that you can draw at least something, if not a very clear and direct one between the rollback of this regulation that the Silicon Valley banks demanded, among other banks, and the fact that this bank was allowed to get very rickety, leading to a bank run, although there are still a lot of questions about. 

There you see the Senate roll call vote on the screen. It was 67 to 31. As most of you know, the Senate has been very evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans, very 50-50. So you only get a 67 to 31 vote if it's a very bipartisan bill. And that's exactly what happened here. So when you're trying to pick villains or whatever, that's certainly a critical question, as is the question of whether or not this added regulation would have really prevented this from happening. There are a lot of people who believe that what really happened was that the bank was nowhere near as fundamentally unstable as was suggested, that instead, because of an in-artfully worded press release and an attempt to sell off some of these assets to fix their balance sheet, a lot of people in Silicon Valley who follow these things very closely to talk to one another all the time talked themselves into a kind of panic that led to all of them trying to pull out their massive wealth from this bank that caused the bank run to happen, and that the failure of these other banks is not a reflection of systemic problems or even any sort of similar problems, that it was just contagion, that once you see one bank failing and you have your money in a regional bank, you start thinking, “Wow, I want to take my money out of my community bank, a regional bank, and put it in a much safer place like Bank of America or Wells Fargo”. And if that's the case, it's questionable whether or not added regulatory scrutiny would have solved the problem, because maybe there were really problems in this bank that should have caused it to collapse in the first place. I consider that to be one of the unanswered questions that we have to explore. But whatever else is true, the U.S. government has very quickly, very, very quickly responded to the calls of the richest people in our country, as they so often do. And the question is are they acting cautiously and wisely for the good of all of us, rather than acting corruptly to serve the needs of the people who fund both political parties? 

The interview: Matt Stoller


So, to help us answer that question for our interview segment tonight, I'm going to speak to one of the most knowledgeable scholars in the country on Big Tech, on Silicon Valley. We've had him on the show many times before. He spent a lot of years working on the political capture of Washington and Congress by big in interest. He's the author of “Goliath: The 100-Year War between Monopoly Power and Democracy”. He's also the director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project. He is Matt Stoller, and we're really delighted to speak to him. 


M. Stoller:  Hey, thanks for having me. 


G. Greenwald:  Okay, So first of all, that was not yet your time to say thanks for having me. I need to first welcome you to the show. Say hello, Matt. Good evening. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me. And now you can go ahead and say that. 


M. Stoller:  Hey, thanks for having me. Yeah. 


G. Greenwald:  I'm happy to have you. You know, you're a veteran in the show. I expect you to know the timing a little bit better. 

But let's get into the substance of the matter. I can scold you for that later. I want to start at the most basic level for people who do not follow these issues obsessively, who are trying to grapple with them and think about their kind of from the first principle, and that includes myself. So, let's just begin with the most basic way of thinking about this which is what is the best way to think about the relationship between a depositor of a bank and the bank itself. Is the person who's depositing money, nothing more than a creditor whose investment the government has decided partially to insure up to $250,000? Or is that kind of an archaic way of thinking about it and there's a different relationship now between bankers and depositors? 


M. Stoller:  No, technically that's exactly accurate. And, you know, it's not just that the government decided in the 1930s we had bank runs all the time that was similar to Silicon Valley Bank, except it was everywhere and people would lose everything. And so, the government and banks kind of cut a deal, right? And democratically. And what they said is we are going to make insurance so that if a bank goes under your deposits up to a certain level – the ordinary people don't have more than $250,000 in an account – you're going to be insured, so you're fine. You don't need to worry about your bank unless you are really rich or your business has a lot of cash. 

Then the banks get really cheap funding, so they get to borrow really low cost and then they lend at a higher cost and they essentially get free profit. But in return for essentially being able to use the government's full faith and credit – the government credit card – they have to accept supervision and regulation so that they're not gambling too much with the government's money. And that was kind of the deal and it prevented bank runs, which are horrible, pretty much until – I mean, you could go the seventies, eighties, nineties in various ways – but you know essentially they still prevent bank runs and your bank account up to $250,000 is still safe. 

There's also a variety of other institutions like the Federal Reserve and the Federal Home Loan Bank program which create what is known as the safety net for the banking system. So really, the banking system is a public system. I mean, people think about banks as private institutions and bankers as businesspeople, but really they kind of have a public obligation as well, because they draw so much support from the safety net. But there are good reasons to have a safety net here. 

Now, I have a lot of rage over the situation, but I'm just trying to give you an analysis of why we have FDIC insurance, why your money is probably safe in the bank account unless you have more than 250,000 and setting up for some context to discuss not just Silicon Valley Bank, but the Fed and FDIC also quietly resolved a different bank signature bank in New York, which is only $107 billion of assets and that's a crypto bank and they kind of snuck that one in as well. 


G. Greenwald:  That's Barney Frank's bank, right? the bank where he's a director…


M. Stoller:  That's right.


G. Greenwald: So, I'm going to absolutely, deliberately, provoke your rage as I love to do. It's actually not that hard. But before we get to that, I just want to spend a couple of more minutes on kind of the foundational understanding. So, we have the culture of the basics to work with. 

If this model is correct that you just described – or that I describe and you kind of accept it and then added to – which is, so, I'm someone who grows and I have a lot of money, I want to put my money in a bank and maybe I have a lot of money, not because I'm rich, but because I have a startup company that people just invested in. Someone gave me $50 million because I need startup cash for my company to develop a new technology – to pay the people who are going to develop it for me. I need a place to stick my money. I stick it in Silicon Valley Bank because it's a 40-year institution, it's well-regarded, and it's something that seems profitable. And then let's assume that the people who run the bank do all kinds of bad and reckless things. They lobby the government for less regulatory scrutiny. They make really terrible decisions. They make bad bets. I think everybody understands that those people who make bad bets and who are reckless should lose whatever gains they would have had. And should basically lose everything, especially if the government has to come in and save them. 

Why, though – the depositors who didn't do anything wrong or who didn't bet wrong, they're just putting their money in a bank that has a well-regarded reputation – why should they lose their money? About $250,000. Just because the executives of this bank acted irresponsibly? 


M. Stoller:  Well, there are two reasons. First of all, it's uninsured. It's not a secret that the FDIC limit is $250,000. It's plastered everywhere. So, if you're a treasurer of a corporation or a municipality, you know the score and you're choosing to ignore the rules. And that's just capitalism: sometimes you take a loss if you make a bad decision. And the other reason is, first of all, let's just be clear, uninsured depositors are not going to be wiped out. In fact, they'll probably get 80 to 100 cents on the dollar […] 


G. Greenwald: Because the government intervened. But had the government not intervened, they would have been wiped out. 


M. Stoller:  No, no, no. The government comes in and sells off the assets of the bank and then pays back the uninsured depositors with whatever they get for that. And Silicon Valley Bank, though, it lost money on bonds – those bonds are still high quality, they just dropped in value somewhat. So, what would have happened is the FDIC would have come in and taken those bonds, sold them off and then, today, people would have gotten between 30% and 60% of their uninsured deposits back. Then, over the next 2 to 6 months, they would have gotten whatever remained from the FDIC selling whatever they could for whatever they could get. And it's likely that people would have gotten 80 to 100 cents on the dollar of uninsured deposits back. 

So, there was no way that people were going to be wiped out by this. What might have been some problems getting access to all of their funding immediately? They would have gotten access to some of it immediately, but not all of it. So really, like the panic here and it was panic, it was, I think, kind of silly the idea that you need to backstop so people get 100% of their deposits immediately was just regulators panicking. And that's all this was. 


G. Greenwald:  But their argument was, look, even if down the line we get a good amount back, in the meantime, we can't pay our payroll, our businesses are going to go out of business. They're going to lose tons of start-up in them. And the technology they would develop that would drive the future gross domestic product to the United States. That was the argument. 


M. Stoller:  No, no, I know. And you've been feeding it to me all day to get me angrier and angrier. So, I appreciate that. 


G. Greenwald: (laughs). But what's the answer to that argument? 


M. Stoller: Well, these are not innocent people, right? These are rich people. These are powerful people. They know there's a $250,000 limit. So why have they been violating that when in a lot of cases you have treasuries that don't do that? There are services that you can get at banks called cash sweeps, which let you chop up your $10 million into 40 different $250,000 FDIC-insured accounts. Why didn't they use that? 

Well, the answer is because Silicon Valley Bank was not just an innocent bank. What they were doing is they were saying, if you leave the money from your firm or from – if you're a venture capitalist – the firms that you fund, if you leave them as uninsured deposits with us so that we can gamble with them, we will give you what's called “white collar banking services”, which is to say below cost personal lines of credit, below cost mortgages – essentially the kinds of things that politicians are criticized for because it's essentially bribery.  

The Silicon Valley Bank was essentially giving stakeholders in Silicon Valley bribes to keep their money as uninsured deposits so that they could gamble with it. And that's why these guys took a risk. They were also getting much higher interest rates on their uninsured deposits – they were getting more for taking more risks. So, they should bear the costs of that. And not just that but Silicon Valley Bank was also a co-investor in a lot of these firms. So, Silicon Valley Bank had stakes in over 3000 different tech companies and as a condition of those stakes, it was saying you have to have that firm deposit its cash with us in uninsured. So, there were a lot of elements here where there was self-dealing, there was a bad regulatory system, and then there was the Silicon Valley Bank bribing the people who were in charge of other people's money. So, this is a nasty situation. These people do deserve to have a minor haircut off of their deposits. And it would be – it is – completely crazy what the administration has done – and I blame Janet Yellen for this and I blame the Federal Reserve and I blame Joe Biden and I blame Donald Trump – It is absolutely outrageous that they have made these guys whole. All this was just panic and corruption and greed. And it was totally outrageous and disgusting and I am disgusted by it. 


G. Greenwald:  So, let me ask you, Matt, if you talk to the people in Silicon Valley who wanted this, this is their argument. Their argument is this: look, there is nothing special about Silicon Valley Bank. The reality is there are a ton of regional banks and community banks in the United States that are suffering in large part because the Fed raised interest rates. So, I don't really get that argument since the Fed always telegraphs, and especially in this case, telegraphed it very loudly they were going to do that. But their argument is we're not any different. And if you don't back this up and if you don't protect depositors, the thing that's going to happen in the next 48 hours, which seems kind of reasonable to me as a prediction, is everyone's going to get spooked towards their money – you heard Roe O'Connor. This is his argument – in a regional bank or in a community bank. And they're all going to say, you know what, I'm getting my money out of there as quickly as I possibly can. I'm going to put it in one of the big four and every regional bank in the United States is going to collapse. And the only thing that's going to prevent that is if Janet Yellen comes in and says, don't worry, we're here to ensure every penny of your deposits. 

Why isn't that a valid argument? 


M. Stoller: It's not a valid argument because we have a system that's set up to address that problem. One question that we have to ask is why didn't Silicon Valley Bank have the cash to give to depositors. Well, one reason is that they weren't keeping enough cash on hand because of the deregulatory choices and bad regulatory decisions by the San Francisco Federal Reserve. 

Another reason is that they just didn't have the assets they needed, right? The Federal Reserve is a bank of banks, and if you need a bunch of cash, you can just go to the Federal Reserve and say, I have a bunch of Treasury bonds or loans or mortgage-backed securities or whatever I need to borrow from you. I'll give you these as collateral. You give me the cash and I'll give it to my depositors, when things blow over, they'll come back and redeposited the money. And we have a system that's set up to deal with large demands for cash. 

The reason Silicon Valley Bank couldn't take advantage of that system is they didn't have the necessary collateral because they were insolvent. Most of these regional banks are not insolvent. And also, most of these regional banks are funded by insured deposits, so, people with less than $250,000 who have no reason to move their money. Silicon Valley Bank was funded 97% with uninsured deposits. Signature Bank, which is the other one – that was Barney Frank's bank and Ivanka Trump was on the board of that one before Barney Frank was – that was 90% uninsured deposits. The next most likely bank to fail,  called First Republic, which has about 67% uninsured deposits. And from there, it goes way down. So, we're really not dealing with a system that is – I mean, there's some trouble because the Fed keeps raising rates – but, as you put it, the Fed has telegraphed this. These guys just chose not to hedge because it would – actually their own employees were telling them, you got to hedge. This is really dangerous as interest rates rise. And the bankers were like, yeah, we don't want to, we won't make as much money. They were making these choices, they were remitting some of the extra profits to the uninsured depositors in the form of – what I've said before, these quasi-bribes. And they're pretty unusual bank. Most regional banks are not like this. So, you might have an initial panic. You might take down one or two or three other banks, but it'll blow over and then you will have re-imposed market discipline. Instead, what we did is we said everyone's going to be made whole; Silicon Valley bank depositors who took these massive risks, they're going to be made whole; all banks except for Silicon Valley Bank and Signature, their funding costs are going to go down and we're going to hand them all the full faith and credit of the United States that they can go off and gamble with. And there we go. Problem solved. Like that's what we did. Instead, this is just like a panic. And instead of dealing with banking panics the way that we should, which is to just use sort of like take out the bad banks that are insolvent, you let them go insolvent and everybody else –you lend them to tide over the panic. They freaked out and did a giant bank bailout and I think the reason this is different from 2008 is there are losses [...] 


G. Greenwald:  Oh, hold on. I'll probably get there before we get there. I just want to address my audience for one second because people are telling me in my ear that they’re treating you and cheering for you like you're some kind of Huey Long populist and wondering why I've suddenly transformed into Tim Geithner performing Propagandistic Services on behalf of Silicon Valley oligarchs. So, I just want to be very clear that the format of the show, on purpose, and I thought I said this at the beginning, was I was going to have Matt on – whom I know for certain, and somebody very vigorously opposed, in fact, angrily opposed to what the Treasury Department is doing – and I'm presenting him the arguments in favor of this bailout, not because I share those arguments or believe in those arguments, but because I think the best way to  have this show be the most informative, is to allow you to hear Matt responding to the arguments of the people defending this, which are not necessarily my arguments just because they're coming out of my mouth. 

So, let me ask you, Matt, now that I've taken off my Tim Geithner costume – although I'm going to put it back on, the proviso that I'm wearing it on purpose, what about 2008? Because that obviously is the thing that I think a lot of people are thinking about. I've seen lots of debates. Is this a 2008-style bailout? Is this something different? Obviously, the magnitude is a completely different universe but, in terms of the mentality, it seems like what this is, is the government stepping in and defending and protecting the assets of rich people as they did in 2008, because that's whom they serve, because that's who funds them. Is that one of the right ways to think about what's happening here? 


M. Stoller:  Yeah, there's a couple of differences between 2018 and then some similarities. I feel like this is like a high school essay. There are similarities and differences. So, the difference is that, in 2008, people were freaking out because the banks had invested in a bunch of crappy mortgages and nobody knew what anything was worth. So it wasn't that there were losses, it was that nobody knew how big the losses were or whether anybody was solvent. So, it was a panic, but it was a panic that was like – it was a very rational reason to panic because you didn't actually know what anything was worth and you didn't know if any institution was worth anything. And neither did any regulators. And it took a while to sort that out.  

In this situation, there are losses, but we know what those losses are. It's pretty open and it's not like we're going to be that surprised. The Fed has been telegraphing that it's raising rates. Everybody knew that Silicon Valley Bank had losses on the books. And then, there’s these other regional banks. We know what they've lost. So, this is not that big a deal. There is some panic in the markets, it's a serious situation but it's not a crisis situation. 

But in terms of the similarities, I think what you see is exactly the same attitude of 2008, in 2023. I mean, one of the differences is, in this case, the stockholders and the bondholders are not getting bailed out, but the uninsured depositors are. So, in that sense, it's, I guess, a little bit better than 2008, because, in 2008, they bailed out the stockholders and the bondholders and then the executives got bonuses. This time, at least they have to give the bonuses before the bailout. But yeah, the attitude is similar. And that is why I'm angry because we've seen this movie before. And in this case, they didn't need to do it. In 2008, I think that they needed to do something, there needed to be capital injections – the way they did it was problematic – but in this case, they didn't actually need to do it. And that was pretty obvious. 


G. Greenwald:  Okay, so that's one point. The next thing I want to ask you about, is, as I said, there does seem to be an addiction on the part of the political class to blame anything and everything that happens instantly on Donald Trump and only on him. It absolutely is true that there were rollbacks of Dodd-Frank, in 2018. We played the bill signing where Trump announced the rationale that led him to sign this. It definitely ended up excluding Silicon Valley Bank because, by raising the threshold to $250 billion, from $50 billion, they would have been subject to this scrutiny. And with this change, they ended up excluded. 

What I'm wondering is this: what it seemed to me like in real time – and I've read the accounts of some of these people who are extremely wealthy individuals who tried to take their money out of Silicon Valley Bank on Friday to find that they couldn't do so – but it seemed to me what happened was panic – as you said, in 2008, it was kind of rational, you looked at the markets and there is reason to think these institutions might be insolvent or at least have no idea whether or not they were – in the case of Silicon Valley Bank, they definitely had losses on their balance sheet, but it doesn't seem to me that they had the kind of losses that warranted a panic or a bank run. 

What instead happened is that you have this very incestuous group in Silicon Valley that started whispering to each other “you better take your money out”, “you better take your money out”. That spread very rapidly. It proliferated and everybody took their money out. Of course, Silicon Valley Bank didn't have the liquidity to cover that. If that's true, or some version of that is true, what I'm wondering is let's assume that there hadn't been this rollback of the Dodd-Frank regulations in 2018, that you had the regulators subjecting Silicon Valley Bank to the same stress test that it would have gotten before the rollback in 2018. Is it really that clear that the federal regulators would have blown the whistle on Silicon Valley Bank said its balance sheet is way too risky or way too far away from what is safe or would they have looked at it and said, you probably should do what they ended up doing, selling off some mortgage-backed securities, doing some stuff that you talked about with the Fed in order to bring in more liquidity, unload some longer-term assets – which is what they did, that, in turn, further fueled the fear. I'm just wondering, is it really that clear that if regulators had taken a look at it under the hood, they would have freaked out the way that these depositors did? 


M. Stoller: I don't know that it's clear. Yeah, sure, they engineered a bank run, but I don't put it on the depositors – they freaked out for a rational reason which is that the bank might be insolvent and probably what they did was smart. If you think that the bank is not going to have your money and your money's not insured, you should pull it out and get it out before everybody else. That's what causes a bank run. 

So, it was sitting there like it was kindling waiting to go up in flames. And, you know, it just so happened that it was a group of people, I don't know, slack or whatever, or signal, that lit the flames, but that was going to go. I don't know that you can definitively claim that bank or bank regulators would have forced Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank to have more liquidity on hand and to not have made so many egregious bets. I just don't think you could say that definitively. But I do think you can say that it's more likely they would have definitively. However, the other point here is I think there's a sort of 1, 2 problem here because – I worked on Dodd-Frank – and so, first of all, you're welcome. We fixed everything as everybody […] 


G. Greenwald:  Including Barney Frank’s bank. 


M. Stoller: The dirty secret of Barney Frank is he didn't actually know anything about banking, which was, like, kind of hilarious. But […] 


G. Greenwald:  But he had a lot of friends in banking. 


M. Stoller:  Right. Well, we could go into a whole thing on Barney Frank. 

But in 2009 and 2010, what we effectively did is we institutionalize too-big-to-fail banks. So, the four or five big banks that are too big to fail, we said we're going to make it too big to fail, and maybe we're going to regulate it a little bit more aggressively. And then there's them and then there's everybody else. 

Then, you move forward and the regional banks, who are very large but not as large as the big banks, they say, well, we want to be able to gamble a little bit more aggressively and then they convince the Republicans to go along. The Republicans never like bank regulators or banks – there was like a really interesting rethinking of significant parts of the Republican orthodoxy agenda like trade and antitrust. But one thing that the rethinking didn't get to, the realignment didn't get to, was banking rules, although I will note that on March 3, a bunch of Senate Republicans sent a letter to the Federal Reserve being like, you better not regulate more aggressively. We passed a bill in 2018 to make sure you don't. And J.D. Vance was not on that letter. There is some reason to think that some of the younger Republicans are changing their thinking. But it is certainly true that, in terms of bank regulation, this is still George W Bush's party, right? It didn't change. 

But I think that this was kind of like a twofer. Like we created the too-big-to-fail problem in the 1990s and 2000 and we institutionalized it with Dodd-Frank and then, we allowed these regional banks to go crazy, in 2018, and created this situation, in 2023, when these regional banks had gambled with other people's money and kind of had this collusive arrangement with these uninsured depositors. 

There was an argument, ‘oh, everybody's going to just go to move their money to JPMorgan because it's essentially a government bank’. It's a somewhat reasonable argument. I think it's overstated. I just don't think there was panic in most places in this country – this was a very online sort of echo chamber. But it's not an unreasonable argument. I think what we have to do now is look at the banking system and say, banks unless you're really small – In which case we can just kick you around because you have no political power – unless you're really small, you are effectively a government bank. And we need to just treat you like you are a government employee. You're a GS-15. You don't get to gamble with taxpayer money and pay yourself large amounts of money in bonuses or share buybacks or whatever. That's kind of where we are and if we want to move away from what is effectively a socialized system, which I think we should, then we should do that but right now, we are at a kind of socialized system, and it is the Democrats under Obama, it was the Republicans under Trump. And then, it's also the Democrats under Biden and Yellen. Although I'll say this, some of the things that Biden was trying to do, like he was trying to put this bank regular name, Saule Omarova, who opposed the 2018 bank deregulation, and she got blocked by essentially the same coalition of people who passed the 2018 bills, which is all the Republicans and then some Democrats. So, it's not totally clear here but what is 100% clear is that, broadly speaking, the political class, entirely in the Republican Party and then some of the Democrats and certainly at Treasury and the Federal Reserve are wholly in favor of bank bailouts for the wealthy and the powerful. You can argue about when they're necessary and when they're not. There were certainly some innocent people who were going to get hurt here but broadly speaking, what just happened was very bad and is an indictment of our regulators and our political class. 


G. Greenwald:  In terms of the last question, I mean, I think if you're listening to that and you're Republican, first of all, there's probably a lot of Republicans who want the party to move more in the direction of the J. D. Vance of the world and get away from the Mitch McConnell and the kind of where we're serving the lobbyist class, right? But, nonetheless, even going back to 2008 – with Hank Paulson and George Bush's bailout that both McCain and Obama and Canada had signed on to – the reason it failed at first was that a lot of Republicans voted no. Not a good number, Democrats and Republicans. And their attitude was exactly that, which is like, ‘No, we don't want the banking system nationalized’. We don't want it socialized; we don't want it federalized. But what we also don't want is, when it does fail, you look to the government and we come in and save you. Too bad, you're not getting our help. 

Is that a viable alternative to saying to the banks you're now under federal control? Or will it always be the case that at the end of the day the government's going to have to come in and save the banks because if they don't, the harm is going to be too widespread? 


M. Stoller:  Banking is always a public business, right? I mean, that's just that the bankers like to pretend that banking is private and bankers are running private businesses. But the reality is that when you get a bank charter, it's a government license and you get access to a whole social safety net. That is the thousand Federal Home Loan Banks, the FDIC, and all bankers take advantage of it. They want to take advantage of it. And they just bristle at the oversighted regulations because they can't gamble as much. So, it is a public system. But within that context, they have to do or they should do risk management.

 And the question is, how do they get penalized when they don't do adequate risk management? And the way we used to penalize them is their shareholders, their bondholders, uninsured depositors and bankers themselves got penalized. And today, it seems like where we've moved to is that if you're rich and powerful, you get profits, but no losses. Those are just fundamentally different systems, even though both of them are public systems. This last one, I think the one where we've socialized all the losses, I think, it's far more of a step towards kind of a nationalized system. It's just a very terrible nationalized system versus the kind of earlier, hybrid one where they did take losses sometimes. So, I think what we need to just acknowledge is that this is a public-private system and that we have to impose some form of market discipline, but also allow for stability. So, allow for insured deposits, but make sure that if, you're not insured, that you have to do risk management. And then, I would also say that a lot of business people just want a place to put their money that is safe. That's all they want. And why should we force them to be effective what is a government bank like J. P. Morgan or something like that? They should just be able to get an account at the Federal Reserve, right? If they're going to have a government bank, it's either going to have an implicit backstop or it's just going to be explicit. And why not just like it's a public service? So, let's just have it go through the government itself versus what we have now, which is, you know, we're having government banks. It's just we're paying the people, running them way too much and they get to gamble with our money. So, I don't know if I answered your questions, like there are inherently public characteristics of a banking system, but it doesn't have to be sort of a totally nationalizing of the downside, which is what we've been doing over the last 10 or 15 years or so. 


G. Greenwald:  But in this case, just to conclude, if you were the Treasury secretary or if you're the president, what would have happened is you would have let Silicon Valley Bank be on its own, have the FDIC come in and take it over, sell off its assets, give the depositors as much as possible over the amount of time and hope that you're right, that it would have only been a couple of banks that would have gone down in the resulting panic but in the system in large, the banking system is fundamentally sound. That's your view. 


M. Stoller:  Yeah. And look, if there had been like a broader crisis and, all of a sudden, there was this massive solvency problem – like then you come in and you go to Congress and you say there is going to be a serious banking crisis and we need capital injections and we're going to attach really serious strings to that – but you don't just start with the 16th largest bank in the country, that's just $200 billion of assets and a bunch of venture capitalists. And Larry Summers starts to say, “oh, you have to make my buddies whole”. You don't just respond to that. You have to have real evidence that there is a systemic crisis. Otherwise, it's illegal, right? I mean, the logic is clear. So, that's just where you have to have some ability to stand up to panic. And that's like what these guys don't have, they're just like, you would say boo and they they're like, Oh, where do I write the check? 


G. Greenwald:  So, I said in my introduction, that one of the things you study is the capture of government by finance. Is it your view and I know it's hard sometimes to kind of talk about people as a monolith and to know people's motives. But Janet Yellen's been around for a long time, as you can see. If you listen to her, watch her, she obviously is aware of both sides of this argument. 

Is it your view that she wasn't willing to let this panic spread out of fear that it was more systemic and she thought it would be better to capture it, just stop it when it first started? Or do you have the more cynical view that these rich people have tons of power inside the office of these decision-makers – which, of course, they do –  and that's why they ended up getting their way? 


M. Stoller:  Well, I don't think those two stories are mutually exclusive. I don't think that any of these actors were acting in bad faith. It would be easier if they were, right? If they were just scheming corruption and they were just like, “aha, I'm going to bail out my rich friends”. It's much worse than that. It's like they actually believe they're their rich friends when they say everything is going to collapse. That's what actually is going on here. They were like, “oh, my gosh, if Larry Summers says that everything's going to collapse, I better act”, right?  They believe, they get spooked easily, and the people that don't are the people that get blocked from being put into office. They bring up Saule Omarova. She would not have stood for this if the Senate had confirmed her at the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, she would have been like, no, this is bullshit. And so, I think that part of the problem here is that the people that you – Janet Yellen has been terrible for a really long time. And, you know, she got bipartisan confirmation and the rest of it ends like you can go back to the the Trump administration and you'd find the same thing. It's the people who are actually really courageous and willing to stand up to the financial power that have a tough time getting confirmed. And so that's kind of, you know, they intentionally select people who are weak, right?, for these positions. 


G. Greenwald:  Yeah. All right, Matt. Well, unless there's anything else you feel I need to get off your chest and, you know, you'll always have a welcome spot here to do it. It's like a massage therapy spot. I want to thank you so much for taking the time. It was super enlightening. Gave me a lot of arms to talk to David Sachs tomorrow when I do, about his side of the story. So, if you don't have anything else, let me say goodnight and thank you again for taking the time. 


M. Stoller:  All right. Thanks so much, Tim Geithner. 


G. Greenwald:  All right. (laughs).



So last night was the Academy Awards, if you're like most people these days, actually, in America, you did not watch it, even though it used to be one of the events that brought all of Americans together. Increasingly, the ratings are collapsing for all sorts of reasons that we can go into. At some other point, I bet the number of people who could actually name the film that won best film in the 2022 Oscar ceremony is under 4% or 5%. I actually read it this morning and I've already forgotten it. I was about to tell you I'm proud of myself for having done that research, and yet it's already out of my brain. I didn't see that film. I don't think I saw any of the nominees. That's increasingly true for a lot of people. 

So clearly the Oscars have lost a lot of cultural impacts and I nonetheless want to talk about it for a very specific reason. And I'm going to just spend a little bit of time on it because that's all I really deserve. And I'm much less interested in the issue of the Oscars itself than the broader issue that I think it highlights. So just to give you the setup and the issue that I want to talk about is the category of best documentary. And I do have a personal stake in this somewhat, which is that my friend Laura Poitras – who directed Citizenfour, which was the film, a documentary about the work that I did with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong that won the best Documentary Oscar in 2015, was nominated for a film about the opioid crisis that I actually expected was going to win. I haven't seen any of these films other than hers, including the film talk about, so I want to put that card on the table as well. That film that Laura did, which would have been her second Oscar win, ended up not winning. I honestly don't care. Laura has won every award there is in this world, basically, and she didn't need a second Oscar. 

Anyway, the film that did win is a film called Navalny, which is a documentary about the Russian dissident who is currently imprisoned because he is an opponent of the government of Vladimir Putin and you can imagine how popular he is, even though he has said things his whole life that should make him completely anathema to liberal America. He has said some of the most vicious and bigoted denunciations of the Muslims of the world. He was taken off the list of a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty because of some of his most recent statements that he refused to recant. But that doesn't matter. Just like liberals are eager to arm actual neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine. All that it takes these days to be a hero is to either be opposed to Donald Trump or be opposed to Vladimir Putin, and everything else is completely irrelevant. And that's the reason they gave this Oscar for this film about Navalny. And I just want to show you what happened in the two and a half minutes that resulted in them winning (Video). 


Presenter: And the Oscar goes to… Navalny. […]Diane Becker, Melanie Miller, Shane Boris…


OFF: Director Daniel Roher and his team filmed Alexei Navalny while he was in hiding from the Russian government at a remote location in Germany. 


Daniel Roher: Thank you to the Academy. We are humbled to be in the company of such an extraordinary crop of documentary filmmakers. These films redefine what it is to make a documentary. To everyone who helped make our film, you know who you are, your bravery and courage made this film possible. We owe so much to our Bulgarian nerd with his laptop, Christo Grozev. Christo, you risked everything to tell this story, and it's investigative journalists like you and Maria Pevichikh that empower our work. To the Navalny family. Yulia, Dasha and Zakhar, thank you for your courage. The world is with you. 

And there's one person who couldn't be with us here tonight. Alexei Navalny, the leader of the Russian opposition, remains in solitary confinement for what he calls – I want to make sure we get his words exactly right – Vladimir Putin's unjust war of aggression in Ukraine. I would like to dedicate this award to Navalny, to all political prisoners around the world. Alexei, the world has not forgotten your vital message to us all. We cannot, we must not be afraid to oppose dictators and authoritarianism wherever rears its head. I want to invite Yulia to say a few quick remarks. Yulia. 


Yulia Navalnaya: Thank you, Daniel. And thank you to everybody. The everybody here. My husband is in prison just for telling the truth. My husband is in prison just for defending democracy. Alexei, I am dreaming the day when you will be free and our country will be free. Stay strong, my love. Thank you. 



Okay. All incredibly moving, and emotional and obviously, I'm sure people in that room, the people who voted for this film, felt very good about themselves. They were taking a stand against Russia, against the Russian dictatorship. They all were cheering. The person who directed the film that won the Oscar said, “We need to stand up to dictatorship wherever it rears its head”. 

I think one of the things that makes us so notable is that during the Cold War, the idea of whataboutism was often denounced by the U.S. government, and the way they define that was that they would always claim that any time you criticized the Soviet Union and its abridgment of basic liberties and rights, the Soviet government would try and distract attention away from that critique by saying, “well, what about your problem over there in the United States with how you treat black people? Or what about the internment of Japanese Americans?” So, they would kind of distract their own citizens’ attention away from the critiques of their human rights abuses by pointing way over to the other side of the world, the United States. And they would always say, what about this? What about that? What about this? 

Now, the idea that some sort of Soviet practice that they invented is lunacy. Humans have been doing that from the time that they could speak. You say, well, you have this fault and they say, no, what about my neighbor? My neighbor has it far worse. There's a very human practice. The Soviets did not invent theirs, but that was always the framework. That was the idea was the governments do, in fact, use this tactic to distract attention away from their own abuses. 

It's not just the Soviet Union that does that or the Russian government that does that, it's also the United States that does that, we're experts at it. We love to say things like we will stand up for democracy, despotism and tyranny wherever we find it. We will stand up to Navalny, to this person over here in China who's imprisoned unjustly, or this person here in Iran. And, of course, the United States has always had and still does have its own dissidents in prison and one of the leading ones, for example, is Julian Assange. 

And so, it seems very strange to me, very strange, to have a room full of people cheering not just the film, but themselves, for very – it's a very empty and cowardly thing to do, to denounce the government on the other side of the world over which you have absolutely no influence. Denouncing Vladimir Putin or President Xi or the Iranian mullah is really doesn't do anything to change those governments. You have no influence there. It's not a brave thing to do. You're not in danger there. You don't live in those countries. It's always been the case that foreign countries that are enemies of one another criticize each other. That's all this is.

What makes a lot more bravery and that's a lot more consequential, is criticizing the human rights abuses of your own government. And if you don’t ever do that, if instead you're constantly focused on the human rights abuses of other governments, it actually empowers your own government to engage in the same human rights abuses because you're constantly reaffirming its narrative that it's only those bad countries over there that imprison political dissidents and political opponents. We absolutely do the same. Julian Assange is in prison, in part because he exposed the crimes of the United States government, but also because – and I think this is really the bigger part – is, in 2016, he published documents that helped Donald Trump win the election and Hillary Clinton lose the election. Because before that, many Democrats and people on the liberal left are very much in support of Julian Assange and now it's almost impossible to find anyone on the liberal left willing to stand up in defense of Julian Assange. And the only thing that changed was that he did journalism that helped defeat Hillary Clinton. That is the classic case of being a political prisoner. The Biden administration is doing everything possible to keep him in prison for as long as possible, despite never having been convicted of a crime. And it is unimaginable that these same Hollywood liberals would give an award to a dissident like Julian Assange. 

Now, when I said this earlier today, people pointed out that the same Hollywood liberals who vote did, in fact, give an award, the Oscar, to the best documentary that Laura Poitras produced about my work with Edward Snowden. I went up on the Oscars stage. We collected the Oscars, but they were for Laura and for the two producers of that film. But I think especially in the wake of Donald Trump, everything changed in terms of how American liberals think. They've become much more jingoistic and they never like to believe their own government engages in the kinds of abuses that the Russian government engages in. And not only is it just a vapid and cowardly thing to do – spend so much time focused on the bad acts of a government far away from you over which you have no control or you can't change it while ignoring the abuses of your own government – it actually makes it even more difficult to do anything about the abuses of those foreign governments, because if you try, other governments will look at you like you're crazy – like, who are you to lecture us on the rights of dissidents when you imprison your own dissidents yourself? Why would we possibly listen to your lectures? 

There was an incredibly powerful example of this when President Ilham Aliyev, of the above Azerbaijan, who for sure is a savage authoritarian, was confronted by a reporter from the BBC about Azerbaijan's imprisonment and other abuses towards dissidents. And you'll see how he used that argument. Listen to what he said: 


(Video. Nov. 9, 2020) 


President Ilham Aliyev: Why do you think the people question do not have free media and opposition? 


Orla Guerin, BBC:  Because this is what I'm told by independent sources in this country. 


President Ilham Aliyev: Which independence sources?  


Orla Guerin, BBC:  Many independent sources. 


President Ilham Aliyev: Tell me, which. 


Orla Guerin, BBC:  I certainly couldn't name sources. 


President Ilham Aliyev: If you could name that means you are just inventing this story. 


Orla Guerin, BBC:  So, you're saying the media is not under state control? 


President Ilham Aliyev: Not at all. 


Orla Guerin, BBC:  I mean NGOs are the subject of a crackdown. Journalists are the subject of a crackdown. 


President Ilham Aliyev: Not at all. 


Orla Guerin, BBC:  Critics are in jail. 


President Ilham Aliyev: No, no, 


Orla Guerin, BBC:  none of this is true?  


President Ilham Aliyev: Absolutely fake. Absolutely. We have free media. We have free Internet. And the number of Internet users in Azerbaijan is more than 80%. Can you imagine the restriction of media in a country where the Internet is free, there is no censorship and 80% of Internet users? This is, again, a biased approach. This is an attempt to create a perception in Western audiences about Azerbaijan. We have opposition, we have NGOs, we have free political activity, we are free media, and we have freedom of speech. But if you raise this question, can I ask you also, how do you assess what's happened to Mr. Assange? Is it a reflection of free media in your country? Let's talk about Assange, how many years he spent in the Ecuadorian embassy and for what? And where is he now? For journalistic activity you kept that person hostage, actually killing him, morally and physically. You did it, not us. And now he's in prison. So, you have no moral right to talk about free media when you do these things. 



No, no. It seems like a good argument to me. You do, in fact, lose your moral right to criticize the people for conduct in which you yourself engage. That seems basic. And if you are somebody who likes to spend a lot of time talking about the abuses of foreign governments while being indifferent to or even supportive of very similar abuses by your own – and it's absolutely a similar abuse to imprison Alexei Navalny and Julian Assange. I can make arguments just why they're different in favor of the Russian government but I won’t, let's assume that they're very similar. If you're somebody who does very little about that abuse or other abuses by the U.S. government, including cracking down on whistleblowers, putting January 6 defendants, including nonviolent ones in prison and in solitary confinement for months, even though most of them are not accused of using violence at all; keeping Edward Snowden in exile or refusing to let him come back to the country or step foot outside of Russia upon pain of imprisoning him for his courageous work and showing his fellow citizens how our own government was spying on us without warrants illegally and unconstitutionally, as federal courts in our country have ruled, then I think that argument is very valid that not only do you have no moral credibility, but your attempt to solve those problems elsewhere is severely diminished. 

So, as all of those Hollywood liberals clap for themselves, not for Navalny over the filmmakers, but for themselves, for having been so courageous in giving him that award, I think it's very worth thinking about why their focus is so intensely on the bad acts of another government all the way around the other side of the world that our own government tells us to hate, and so rarely on the abuses of our own government. 


So that concludes our show for this evening. Remember that we have System Update now available in podcast form on Spotify, Apple and other major platforms published 12 hours after we appear, live, here on Rumble. 

Remember as well that every Tuesday and Thursday we have our live aftershow on Locals where we take your questions, respond to your feedback, listen to your ideas and suggestions about who we should interview and what topics we should cover. To join our Locals community, where you also get free access to all of our journalism, just sign up the join button underneath the video on the Rumble page and that will take you to our Locals community, which we are in the process of building even further. 

As I said, tomorrow night we will have at 7 p.m. EST, our normal time, David Sachs, who's one of those venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, who was urging and who vehemently defends what the U.S. government did in protecting every penny of the depositors of Silicon Valley. So, you'll get to hear me ask the sort of anti-bailout questions to him to kind of complete the debate that we started tonight with Matt Stoller. 

Thank you, as always, for watching. We hope to see you back tomorrow night here and every night at 7 p.m. EST. 

Have a great evening, everybody. 

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Listen to this Article: Reflecting New U.S. Control of TikTok's Censorship, Our Report Criticizing Zelensky Was Deleted

For years, U.S. officials and their media allies accused Russia, China and Iran of tyranny for demanding censorship as a condition for Big Tech access. Now, the U.S. is doing the same to TikTok. Listen below.

Listen to this Article: Reflecting New U.S. Control of TikTok's Censorship, Our Report Criticizing Zelensky Was Deleted

Why the prosecution of Donald Trump is so dangerous to everyone

In the play about the life of Sir Thomas Moore, Moore is discussing whether a heretic should be given the benefit of law with his son-in-law William Roper:

“William Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!”

Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

William Roper: “Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!”

Sir Thomas More: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!” A Man for All Seasons 1966

Even those ...

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BREAKING: New York Grand Jury Indicts Donald Trump | SYSTEM UPDATE #63

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A Few Thoughts on Gratitude -- and Our Family's Ongoing Health Crisis

Despite the fact that my life has been dominated over the last eight months by my husband's ongoing health crisis, I have tried hard to avoid writing about it. In part it is because I'm well-aware that everyone's lives, at some point, will entail significant suffering and (except to us) there's nothing uniquely important or interesting about ours. In part it is because – especially ever since we began raising children – I have always tried to maintain at least some separation between the public and private parts of my life. In part it is because I strongly dislike the pervasive form of narcissistic "journalism" that entails little more than a desire to talk about oneself and one's feelings, dramas, and "traumas" dressed up as something more profound. And in part it is because I know that reporting and political commentary – and not personal reflections – is what my audience principally seeks, expects and desires.

Ever since David – on August 6, 2022: close to eight months ago – was very suddenly and unexpectedly hospitalized in ICU with a life-threatening illness, I have made exceptions on a couple of occasions by writing about all of this (the last article of any length that I wrote, back in November, contains details about his illness and trajectory and ours, for those interested). I had continued to post concise updates about his health online largely because I believe we owed updates to the Brazilian public about David, a then-Congressman seeking re-election, before we petitioned a court to withdraw his re-election campaign last October on health grounds. And even after we withdrew his candidacy, I have continued to post short updates because David, as an elected official, inspires a lot of love and support and people often ask about his recovery process.

But the primary reason I have also occasionally written or otherwise spoken about our family's situation (as I did with Megyn Kelly when she asked in January) is it is just impossible for me not to do so. None of us is a machine. I believe a major part of my ability to maintain a large and loyal audience for so many years is that they trust that -- even when they don't agree with particular views -- I'm speaking as honestly and authentically as I can. And there's just no way to maintain any form of authenticity if one is steadfastly concealing the singular event shaping every day and affecting essentially everything: from my sometimes-reduced work output to my energy levels to my emotional state.

But I have tried hard to avoid writing about our family's ongoing crisis unless I believe I have something worthwhile to say about it. That was what caused me to write about this the last time back in November, on the three-month anniversary of his hospitalization, when a Brazilian news outlet published a lengthy profile of how our family has navigated this deeply difficult process. I felt I had a couple of thoughts to share then that were worthwhile for others to hear. That was not because I believed these insights were unique epiphanies which I and I alone have had (they are not). It was because some core truths can really be understood – not rationally comprehended but viscerally ingested – only from an intense form of emotional suffering and pain of the kind my family and I have endured since August. 

While I have had my fair share of sad experiences of the kind most people encounter – the loss of my grandparents and parents being chief among them – the unexpected and repeated flirtation with death over the last eight months by my 37-year-old, previously healthy, and very physically fit and strong spouse is unlike anything I have ever imagined I would have to face. Nothing is close. This is a different universe of despair, fear and sadness than anything I have previously known. It continues to permeate every physical and emotional pore of my life.

And all of that is, in turn, made more difficult by the fact that I have the responsibility to do everything possible to support our children as they have had to endure the absence and contemplate the loss of a parent at time when kids of their age (now young teenagers) most need parents, all while I have to accept that there are major limits on my ability to protect them because I cannot fix the core cause of their suffering. I have not yet encountered a pain worse than having to watch your own children suffer without having the ability to stop it and I hope never to do so.

At the same time, the responsibility to do everything to support our kids through all of this has been the most potent source of motivation and energy for me. Mine and David's kids, and the responsibility to care for them, has been what has provided the most comfort and strength. The moments when I have been able to lessen their pain or when they provide to me moments of relief and levity, and when I could see our family strengthening and unifying through this and as a result of it, have been some of the most gratifying of my life.


I am choosing to write about this again now only because I have a couple of new thoughts from the events of the last several months that may be interesting or even helpful to others. To start with the bottom-line and relatively good progress report: each month that David has been hospitalized, his condition, on net, has improved as compared to the previous month. In other words, after arriving at the hospital on August 6 in an extremely grave condition from a suddenly inflamed and infected abdominal region that quickly spread via his blood to multiple organs, he has made some progress each month toward recovery.

But that progress is invariably slow, incremental, arduous and almost always spiked with setbacks and complications that are alarming, devastating, exhausting and at times potentially fatal. Even with all of these improvements, he is still in ICU – he has not left since his arrival almost eight months ago – and nobody can or will say that his survival is fully guaranteed. But nothing is guaranteed in life – that is most definitely one of the lessons this has forever drummed into my head – and his prognosis is now good, certainly far better than at any time since this began.

Starting in the first week, there have been three occasions when his doctors called me and told us to prepare for the worst, that his chances for survival over the next 48 to 72 hours were very low, close to impossible. That is independent of the multiple times when the news was grim but did not descend to that level. I won't even bother trying to explain what it's like to have to tell your children and your husband's family and best friends that it is time to go to the hospital for what is likely to be the last time, nor will I try to put into words what it is like to simultaneously have to endure it yourself while doing everything you can to help your kids get through moments like that. But somehow – for reasons even the best doctors in Rio de Janeiro admit they cannot explain – he navigated past each of those. And each time, he has somehow found a way to continue to improve.

The most important part of David's ongoing recovery is that he is now almost always fully awake, communicative, alert, aware, interactive and increasingly strong. Other than the first six weeks -- when he was basically in a medically induced coma – there have been some moments when he was mildly awake and communicative. But it is only in the last eight weeks when this is his normal state. Although his verbal communication is still impeded by his need to depend sometimes on a ventilator for breathing assistance, that is less and less the case. When he is off the ventilator, which is now most days, he is able to speak with the use of a device that captures enough air to allow him to be heard in his normal voice (even when he is off the ventilator, the machine remains connected to him through the tracheostomy in his windpipe, which is why he needs a device to speak). 

None of David's problems has ever been neurological or cognitive, and so I always believed he would have no impairments of that kind despite months of heavy sedation and disorientation. And that, very thankfully, has turned out to be the case. There is a mountain of studies on the long-term psychological trauma of prolonged ICU stays (which means a few weeks, not 8 months and counting), and the radical personality changes that often result. I have seen little to no evidence of that in David. His personality, his sense of humor, his recollection, even the way he playfully insults me the way only a spouse of 17 years can are all remarkably constant. While I have no doubt that all of us, but especially he, will have long-term work to do in treating the psychological impact from all of this, I don't feel, when I'm in his ICU room, that I'm speaking to an altered or partial version of David but rather to David himself, as I have always known him.


And that leads to the primary point I want to emphasize. Over the last four or five weeks, I have been able to spend both weekend days with David for up to twelve hours each day. I try to ensure the kids do not stay longer than an hour or two because I try to keep their lives as normalized as possible. I go there when he wakes up and is communicative and only leave to eat, exercise, and then when he falls asleep. 

There's obviously not much we can do in his ICU room. Sitting at his bedside and talking, or watching films and series together, are essentially the only two options. So that is what we do: sometimes together with our kids, usually just the two of us. And the amount of joy and happiness and gratification and fulfillment which that provides is absolutely impossible to express. It is unlike the joy anything else has ever provided me in my life. 

There were months when I was very doubtful about whether I would ever again have this simple pleasure: just sitting and talking to him. During those first particularly excruciating months, I found myself wanting nothing other than that: just the ability to sit next to him again and talk. And now I have that, at least for now.

I still do not know for sure how much longer I will have it: is it just yet another stage of the cruelty that this process has entailed of making me repeatedly believe he was getting better only to receive one gut punch after the next that made me believe the opposite was happening? Is there some new infection lurking around the corner or some virus returning that cannot be managed without a regime of toxic medication that imposes more burden than his liver and bone marrow can sustain? I do not know for how long what we have now will last.

But that was always true. We just never realized it before. Every day since 2005 that David and I woke up and went to sleep and shared and built our lives and careers together and then began raising our children together, we assumed – due to our age and health and hubris – that we would have that for decades to come, as if it were a guarantee, as if the universe had provided us with some enforceable contract that entitled us to assume this belonged to us and could not be taken away. And because we assumed it, we took it for granted. And because we took it for granted, we often ceased valuing it the way it deserved to be valued.

These days, especially on the weekends, I wake up excited and eager. That is not because I have anything exotic or glamorous or unique planned. It is because, at least for the moment, I get to do something that I – before last August – had been able to do every day for seventeen years but just treated as banal, ordinary, and thus unworthy of celebration: just sitting and talking to the person I was born to share my life with, my soul-mate, my best friend, the one love of my life. 

There is nothing anyone could offer me – no amount of money, no career opportunity, no trip, no gift, nothing – that would come close to the intensity and depth of the joy I get from just sitting for hours and talking to David about anything and everything, from recalling past memories, reminding ourselves of future plans (including adopting a girl in 2023 for our kids to have a younger sister), hearing his ample views on my Rumble program that he is only now able to see (mostly positive though with some pointed stylistic, fashion and substantive critiques), to discussing how best to handle our kids' various issues, to bickering over his grievance that I excessively praised certain films and shows I was eager for him to see and thus made him watch. There is nothing anyone could offer me that would even tempt me to consider as an alternative to spending the day with David in his ICU room - something I do not out of burden or obligation or with a sense of dread (as happened many times in the last seven months when things were so much worse and he was barely conscious and often unstable) but out of excitement and joy and connection.

It is extraordinary how often we spend so much of our lives chasing things we have been told to value and desire all while, right under our nose, the things that actually make us happiest and most fulfilled are just sitting there, often devalued because they seem too simple or too familiar or already acquired. It should not take the fear of losing something for us to take the time to realize how much we value it. 

One day, a year or so after we adopted our kids, I had spent about an hour just randomly sitting on the floor of the oldest one's room chatting and laughing aimlessly with both of them, interspersed with a few mildly serious discussions of the future. None of what was said was particularly memorable, though that is the point. As I was leaving the room to return to work, I felt a joy and fulfillment and deep purpose I had not really felt before – not despite the simplicity of what had just happened but because of it. Humans are social animals and those of us lucky enough to develop and enjoy deep and genuine human connections possess that which is most valuable in the world, even if we fail to realize the value of it.

One of the inherent, centrally defining and universal attributes of being human is that nothing in our lives is permanent. We know rationally that we will eventually lose everything – including the things and people we most love and value, culminating in our own lives on the planet –  but we never know how or when it will happen. Yet that knowledge somehow fails to prevent us from falsely assuming that the things we have that we most value – starting with life itself, our health, our family and friends – will be with us forever, and there is thus no reason to go out of our way on any given day to embrace them or honor them or feel gratitude for them or to be present to how beautiful they are.

There is an emerging body of neurological studies proving that the affirmative act of seeking gratitude – as opposed to just passively experiencing gratitude – produces positive and healthy chemical reactions in our brains. When good things happen to you – you get a new job you want or earn a raise; someone you like expresses reciprocity; you receive praise or recognition for what you have done – gratitude comes easily and passively. It is automatic: one does not need to search for it.

But even in the most difficult moments, we still have things which merit gratitude. And remembering that and then going on a hunt for them, though often hard, is immeasurably helpful.

For the first two months of David's illness, the worst part of each day was waking up. In those two to three second after awakening -- before my defenses were up, before I could even orient myself to the state of being awake -- the renewed agony washed over me as I realized what was happening. That was often immediately compounded by looking at the empty space in the bed which he had always occupied. There were many days back in August, September and October where I never recovered from the sadness and fear of the first several seconds of my day. It shaped everything that followed for the remainder of each day, including my physical and mental state.

That only changed when -- following some wise advice -- I deliberately began seeking gratitude as my first act after awakening. Instead of wallowing in despair and fixating on what was bad (David's absence and life-threatening illness), I chose instead to focus on what was good: David is alive; our kids are healthy, and they are amazing, well-adjusted, happy, loving kids; I have my health and the ability to do everything that could be done for David and our kids. When I say seeking gratitude was a choice, that's what I mean. It was something I pushed myself to do as soon as I felt that dread and misery returning. It was never easy. Defaulting to a focus on the bad parts of life is always effortless; it is where inertia and inaction will take you. Rejecting that requires force, determination and struggle. Though it is a bit cliché, it is nonetheless true that we cannot control many events in our lives but we can always choose how we interpret and view them.

When I started to do that, it changed everything. Wallowing in despair helps nobody. It weakens and depletes, prevents you from doing what you can to take all the actions possible to support those whom you most want to support. Seeking, finding and embracing gratitude for the things in my life that merit it even gave me more physical strength: I was able to work out more and more, to do more and more exercise, to pay far more attention to my diet. And all of those phsyical activities and the strength that it produced, in turn, strengthened my emotional state, for reasons now demonstrated by multiple neurological studies. None of that meant there were no more hard days. There were many, some close to unbearable. There still are. But there are no days any longer when I wonder whether I can or should be doing more for those I love most – especially David and our kids. You can't transmit positive energy and optimism and encouragement and faith and strength to someone unless you actually have and feel it yourself.

What remains most astounding to me is that – after all these years, these decades, of running and chasing and striving and reaching and grabbing and struggling and pursuing – everything that I actually need for core happiness, fulfillment and gratitude are things I already have and have had for a long time. That starts with my ability to just share moments of lucid, connected, genuine and loving conversations, whether simple or complex, with my life partner and now with our kids. 

And while I don't know how many days or weeks or months I will have this - I don't even know if I'll have it tomorrow when I wake up or whether the doctor's daily morning call will contain news of some unexpected negative development  – that's true of everything. That was true long before David was hospitalized. Nothing is guaranteed. The only difference is that while I am now painfully aware of this, I spent most of my life being unaware of it, of taking it for granted. 

And the lack of permanence of those things that provide us the greatest happiness does not make them less valuable. That is what makes them valuable. Their impermanence is the reason to grab them, hold them, appreciate them, and honor them every day that we have them and are thus able to do that.

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Who Radicalized the Nashville Shooter? Plus: New “Anti-TikTok” Law Could Censor ALL Social Media
Video Transcript: System Update #61


Note From Glenn Greenwald: The following is the full show transcript, for subscribers only, of a recent episode of our System Update program. Watch the full episode on Rumble or listen to the podcast on Spotify

Police have identified the suspect who carried out a gruesome mass shooting spree at a private Christian school in Nashville, Tennessee. The massacre resulted in the deaths of six people, including three young children. Police say the likely killer, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, attended the school as a biological female and now identifies as a transgender male. We have repeatedly condemned the now pervasive media practice of leaping to instant conclusions before the bodies are even cold about the motives of killings of this type in order to heap blame on their political opponents, always by claiming that right-wing ideology inspired the shooter to act. We will do the same tonight - condemn that. But in order to illustrate how rotted this tactic is and in the hope that one day it will cease being used, we will apply that framework to this massacre in order to ask the following questions: who and what radicalized this shooter in Nashville to carry out such an atrocity? What ideology was responsible for it? And which advocates of that ideology tonight have blood on their hands? 

Then we'll revisit the topic we reported on last week, the Biden administration's demand that it be vested with the power to ban the social media app TikTok. We won't repeat the various arguments for and against that ban, but we will instead urge you to really consider the implications of the actual law that they are trying to enact, one that extends far, far beyond TikTok, as well as to look at the possible First Amendment implications of banning an app which 150 million Americans are voluntarily choosing to use. 

We'll also examine MSNBC's bizarre exploitation of antisemitism last week as a means of barring discussion of George Soros’ very ample political donations, as well as look at a highly revealing new video from 2014 from Jen Psaki, when she was the State Department spokesperson, about the role of the U.S. in facilitating regime change in Ukraine. 

As a reminder, every episode of System Update is now available in podcast form on Spotify, Apple and every other major podcasting platform. In order to listen to it in that forum, which airs 12 hours after our show airs live here on Rumble, simply follow us on those podcast platforms.

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update starting right now. 


There was a truly horrific attack today carried out at a private school in Nashville, Tennessee. The facts are still emerging, but what is known is the following. There were six people, innocent people who were murdered by the mass shooter, three of them young children, two of them nine years old, the other eight years old, as well as three employees of the school including a custodian and a substitute teacher and apparently one of the heads of the school. According to the Nashville Police Department, they know who the killer is – who died as part of the police operation. 

From the local newspaper, The Tennessean, you have the headline, “Nashville School Shooting Updates: shooting suspect identified.” The article reads:


Metro Nashville police say a former student carrying two assault rifles and a handgun killed three students and three adults at the Covenant School in Nashville, Monday, March 23. The suspect, who police have identified as a 28-year-old transgender man, entered the school through a side entrance and began shooting. Shortly before 10:30 a.m., police responded to the school and were able to locate the suspect on the second floor of the school in a lobby where they fatally shot him (The Tennessean. March 27, 2023).


We have a video we want to show you from the chief of police of the Nashville Police Department talking about the episode, and whom they identify as the person responsible for this incredibly tragic massacre. 



Nashville PD: Yes, we have identified the suspect as a 28-year-old female white, actually a Nashvillian [or who] lives in the Nashville area. We have an ongoing investigation as it pertains to her. 


Reporter: [Have you] located her place, where she lived? Do you have officers there?


Nashville PD: We have. We have.


Reporter: Was she wearing body armor? 


Nashville PD: I can’t say that far into the investigation. I don't remember saying it, but I can't say for certain if she had body armor or not. 


Reporter: Does she have any connection to the church?  


Nashville PD: From my initial findings – is that at one point she was a student at that school but unsure what year, all of that. But that's what I've been told so far. 


Reporter: Did she have any social media or has her media been examined at this point? 


Nashville PD: The investigations are still ongoing at this point. Our federal partners, our state partners, we're all looking into that to see exactly. This is still fluid at the time, but we're looking at everything. 



You notice in that clip, the police chief repeatedly referred to the killer as she and her. That appears to be what is commonly known as misgendering, because later in the press conference, the police chief acknowledged that the shooter identifies as a male, identifies as a trans male, numerous social media postings and other profiles from the person who is the shooter also identifies himself as a trans man. 

One of the most despicable media practices, which we have very often, is that every single time there's a shooting of this type, the media instantly seeks to politicize it in accordance with their own agenda. And that means one of two things happens. If there is some way to suggest that the shooter is in any way an adhering to or a believer in conservative political ideology before anything is even known about the motive, the media narrative will instantly arise that it isn't just the killer, but also people who identify or who advocate that ideology who are the people to blame for the massacre. This has happened over and over and over again to the point that we have written about it many times before. 

Here is the article – back in May of last year, you probably remember – that a white shooter went to a neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, where he knew that there was a large population of black people and walked into a grocery store and shot up the grocery store and killed several innocent people and overnight, or even before the night was over, the media had decided that the person to blame was not only the shooter but also Tucker Carlson, the Fox host, as well as a variety of other conservatives who have expressed concerns about immigration in the United States and the levels of it. And the argument, the rationale that they used was the shooter had left the manifesto in which he invoked what he referred to as “the great replacement theory”, namely the concern in his view that the United States was being radically and purposely, fundamentally altered because there was an attempt to import into the United States nonwhite immigrants in order to replace the white population. And since he believes that there is no such thing as a legitimate nonwhite American citizen, he believes he was justified in murdering those that he regards as illegitimately in the United States, namely all nonwhite people. 

What was so despicable about the attempt to keep the blame on people like Tucker Carlson and those who have expressed concerns about immigration in the past, or even people who have noted the truthful observation that Democratic Party strategists have long celebrated the fact that immigration was demographically changing the United States in the favor of the Democratic Party, as they perceived it because nonwhite voters were more likely to vote for Democrats. That was the argument of Democratic strategists. They wrote books about it.  Immigrants were replacing the prior demographic makeup of the United States, and that would lead to a permanent Democratic majority. Anybody who noted that was what Democrats were saying they wanted to do was instantly blamed for that shooting in Buffalo, even though the killer in Buffalo left a manifesto identifying by name the people who he said had influenced him in his worldview that caused him to go and do that shooting. And it was a very long list. Not one person on Fox News or any conservative in mainstream American conservative politics was on the list. The only mention of Fox News in that manifesto was one that criticized and blamed Fox for being part of the establishment, the killer in Buffalo thought was responsible for all of those problems. But none of that mattered. There was at least a weeklong coverage of an attempt to say that Tucker Carlson and those who thought like him were the actual murderers because he and those like him had radicalized the Buffalo shooter. 

So, we wrote this article, “The Demented – and Selective – Game of Instantly Blaming Political Opponents for Mass Shootings”. And the subheadline there says, “All ideologies spawn psychopaths who kill innocents of its name. Yet only some are blamed for their violent adherents: by opportunists cravenly exploiting the corpses while they still lie on the ground”. Because that's exactly what happened in Buffalo and it's what happened in many other cases. 

The reason I said it was selective is that every political faction produces people who carry out violent acts. I reviewed the case of James Hodgkinson, who, in 2017, went and deliberately shot as many Republican members of this Congress as he could, almost murdering Steve Scalise. And it turned out he was an ardent fan of Rachel Maddow and of Bernie Sanders and carried out those attacks explicitly in the name of the arguments, which both regularly advanced, that the Republican Party is racist and fascist and a white supremacist party and is connected to Russia. He left all kinds of documents

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Mask-Off: US Reveals Real Intentions in Ukraine. Plus: Reporter Anya Parampil Confirms NSA Spied on Tucker

We finally have clarity and honesty about the real motives and goals of the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine. For more than a year, Biden officials and supporters of their war – in both parties – have insisted that the decision of when to end this war and under what terms lies solely with President Zelenskyy in Ukraine; the United States has no role to play at all in that decision. Even though the U.S. and its NATO allies are providing the bulk of the arms and money to fuel this war, Biden officials have been maintaining the pretense that they have no say when or how the war ends. They're simply there to help Ukraine. But now, with opposition growing in both the world and within the Republican Party and with China increasingly playing an effort to forge a peace deal, as they just did with Saudi Arabia and Iran, U.S. officials are panicking and becoming increasingly explicit and candid that they are indeed the one driving these decisions and that their goals - which have been telegraphed for years, we will show you - that they not only oppose any efforts to end this war diplomatically, but insist that it continue indefinitely, precisely because their real goal is and always has been not to protect and defend Ukraine, but to sacrifice it. 

Then, Fox News host Tucker Carlson created controversy and provoked widespread media mockery when he claimed in 2021 that he had proof his communications were being spied on by the NSA. That mockery happened because our wise and savvy media lead us to know that the NSA would never abuse its spying powers for political lines or to spy on journalists. But now a left-wing journalist promptly has come forth with confirmation of Carlson's claims. We'll talk to her about her role in this story, what she knows, what she's telling for the first time this week, and how and why she's appeared on his platform despite her longstanding foreign policy views often associated with the left. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update starting right now. 


The war in Iraq, or rather, Ukraine - is now more than a year old. The war in Iraq is on my mind because the 20th anniversary is coming up and many of the same arguments that were assembled to justify it are the same ones now assembled to justify the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine. 

In fact, I was looking at a video earlier today of George Bush and others saying that the reason we had to go fight in Iraq and invade Iraq is that we'd rather fight them over there than fight them over here. And I saw a video earlier today of California Democrat Adam Schiff saying exactly the same thing about the U.S. proxy war in Ukraine. Namely, the reason we must fight Russia over in Ukraine is that, if we don't, we'll have to fight them over here. Presumably, the Russian army is on the verge of attacking the American homeland right after it gets done trying to hold a town or two for more than three months in Ukraine, confident that it can conquer the American homeland, despite spending 1/15 in its military of what the United States spends. 

in any event, ever since that war began in Ukraine, more than a year ago, there have been two primary claims emanating from Washington, from defenders of this war policy who are the majority wings of both political parties. Yet again, we have complete bipartisan support with only some dissidence in the Republican Party and a few on the left, but not in the Democratic Party. Washington is united, as it usually is on such matters, and those two arguments have been the following. 1) the United States has no role whatsoever in the war in Ukraine in terms of deciding how this war will end and under what terms it will end. That decision is left solely to the Ukrainians and to President Zelenskyy because, after all, it's their country, not ours. And “we're just here to help” like we always do. We just want to help Ukraine and whatever Ukraine decides is best for them – having a diplomatic solution to the war, to end the war, continuing the war for as long as they want, that's totally their decision. We have no say at all in any of that because we're not interfering in that region. We're just helping. We're just helping. We're providing them with aid and assistance. We don't even have a position; we’re agnostic, whenever Zelenskyy wants, that's what we do. That's been the position.

Unfortunately, for people who have been claiming that, it's no longer tenable because China is now in that region trying to forge a peace agreement like it just did two weeks ago between Iran and Saudi Arabia, one of the most consequential peace agreements in that region in years in which the United States had absolutely no involvement because it was so focused on Ukraine, a country that Washington forever has said is not a vital interest to the allied states. But now our focus is so overwhelmingly on Ukraine and our money, and our weapons are going exclusively to that region that China waltzed into this much more important region and forged a peace deal. And now that they're trying to do so with President Xi in Moscow, U.S. officials are starting to panic and becoming much more candid about the reality that, of course, it's the United States that decides if and when a peace deal will be accepted and if and when this war will end. And as we're about to show you, what has been clear from the start is now made explicit, which is that the United States has no interest in having this war end because the goal is not it never was to protect Ukraine, but instead to destroy Ukraine, to offer it as a pawn, to sacrifice it at the altar of our real geostrategic goal of weakening Russia by entrapping Russia in Ukraine. And that only works if we entrap them in a war as long as possible. If that war ends too early, before Russia is destroyed, before we achieve regime change, we haven't really achieved our goal. So, we want to keep that war going and we're going to use our power over Zelenskyy, which we've had not since the war began, but way long ago, since 2014, in order to ensure that war continues. And we can show you the proof now that the U.S. officials are losing control of their message, finally revealing the truth inadvertently. 

The other claim that has been emanating from the bipartisan defenders of Biden's war policy in Ukraine is that 2) the United States has no role to play whatsoever in Ukraine. Never did. We had no role there. We're just minding our own business. Ukraine is this totally independent, thriving democracy, bravely fighting for its core civil liberties and independence from Russia and one day Vladimir Putin decided he was going to invade Ukraine for totally imperialistic and malicious ends, having nothing to do with the United States or NATO or the West. We only got involved because we needed to help this democracy because that's what we do. We defend democracy. We arm, fund and support people who believe in democracy and we vanquish tyranny. And we're very, very opposed to wars of aggression of the kind Vladimir Putin launched, even though the current president, Joe Biden, like pretty much everybody who wields power in Washington,

of the invasion of Iraq, of the bombing of seven Muslim countries over the last 15 years. We took our army, we packed it up, we sent it to the other side of the world, we invaded a country of 26 million people that wasn't remotely threatening our own and we stayed there and destroyed it for over a decade. And then we left. 

And now the very people who did that look in the camera and they say, we're in Ukraine because we believe in the rules based international order. The very same people who tell you that send arms and money to the world's worst despots, including Saudi Arabia, with whom President Biden exchanged an affectionate fist bump with the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. We send arms to General Sisi in Egypt, to the United Arab Emirates, to Jordan, to Qatar, and to despots all over the world. And yet they still tell you we have no role to play whatsoever in Ukraine. We're just there to help save democracy and vanquish authoritarianism and despotism because we like democracy and dislike despotism. 

And yet, some newly uncovered videos by several independent journalists, including Michael Tracey and others that are incredibly interesting, where Chris Murphy, the Democrat from the very blue state of Connecticut, who's regarded as a liberal, went in 2014 with the pro-war wing of the Republican Party, John McCain, in particular, not only to support the people overthrowing the democratically elected government of Ukraine because that government was too hostile to the West and too favorable to Moscow - not only did they go and do that - but the things Chris Murphy said at the time are incredibly revealing. This is because he didn't realize that one day the United States government was going to have to claim the exact opposite. So, we're about to show you those videos that are incredibly revealing, along with a few others that really put together the story in a very comprehensive and compelling way. 

The entire concept that the U.S. had no role to play in Ukraine, that it wasn't involved in the governance right on the other side of the border of Russia, in fact, the most vulnerable part of the Russian border – the part of the border that West Germany specifically twice invaded. Russia used that part of the border during the 20th century, killing tens of millions of Russians. They're pretty sensitive about that region. They're particularly sensitive when it comes to Western tanks and even German tanks rolling up to that part of the border, which is now happening as a result of Germany's decision to send German tanks to Ukraine to use against Russia, something that Germans swore would never happen again, that they would never send their military up to the Russian border. That was supposed to be the whole premise of the post-World War II order when it came to both Eastern and Western Europe and yet we have that again, along with German re-militarization and French re-militarization. Imagine what that looks like from Moscow's perspective. 

But the entire idea that we weren't involved in Ukraine intimately and directly and aggressively since the change of government in 2013 is long been so preposterous that it's amazing that anyone could say it with a straight face, in part because let's remember the scandal of Joe Biden and Hunter Biden and Burisma energy – not the part of the scandal that people like to talk about, the part of the scandal that even Biden administration supporters admit is genuine. Namely, you have this energy company, Burisma, that was facing serious legal problems with a prosecutor in Ukraine and another legal jeopardy as well and they did what American companies often do when they're facing legal jeopardy, which is they thought to themselves, let's try and get on our side, by paying them, someone with access to power so that we're protected. That's a common thing for a company to do. But no, the Burisma did not go looking for the son or a relative of a Ukrainian official, which is what you would do if Ukrainian officials were running Ukraine. They instead went and looked for the son of the United States Vice-President Joe Biden. Why would Burisma, an energy company facing legal problems in Ukraine, try and curry favor with Joe Biden to protect itself from prosecutorial pressure if Ukraine is a sovereign and democratic country in which the United States plays no role? Obviously, they did that because the real country running Ukraine for the last eight years, right on that side of the Soviet mob, the Russian border, has been the United States. And anyone who knows anything about that series of events knows that that's true. And that alone proves it, that Burisma's actions reflected their recognition of who the real power in Ukraine was. It wasn't Ukraine. It wasn't the elected leaders of Ukraine. It was the United States. 

In case anyone had any doubts about that, all we have to remember is that Victoria Nuland, who worked in the Clinton administration and then ended up as Dick Cheney's top adviser on the Iraq war – obviously, did a smashing job there – and then, despite being a neocon involved in what the Democrats claim was a criminal war, ended up waltzing right into the Obama administration at the highest levels of Hillary Clinton’s State Department, when President Obama replaced George Bush as president, in 2008, and ultimately ran European policy for John Kerry State Department and specifically Ukraine, and she got caught on tape – the top official in the State Department in charge of Ukraine, Victoria Nuland, who's still running Ukraine for the United States and the Biden administration – picking the Ukrainian leader. It had nothing to do with any democratic processes in Ukraine. The Ukrainians had already chosen their president. That was the president who won a five-year term in 2010 and was supposed to serve until 2015 but, instead, Americans like John McCain and Chris Murphy and almost every other official, as we're about to show you, traveled to Kyiv to work with those trying to overthrow the government of Ukraine and replace the democratically elected leader with one far more amenable to being a puppet to the two states and NATO. That's the history of Ukraine. 

And here is Victoria Nuland, just the relevant part of the clip in which she did it, it can never be heard enough times. This – remember when they tell you that Ukraine is a democracy we’re there to protect – is how the actual leaders of Ukraine are selected (Feb.4, 2014). 


This is the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt speaking on a phone call with Victoria Nuland in a conversation that leaked and that we all now get to listen to.


Geoffrey Pyatt:  Yeah. I mean, I guess. Well, in terms of him not going into the government, just let him sort of stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I'm just thinking in terms of, sort of the process moving ahead, we want to keep the moderate and democrats together. The problem is going to be [Oleh] Tyahnybok and his guys. And, you know, I'm sure that's part of what [President Viktor] Yanukovych is calculating on all of this.  


Victoria Nuland: I think Yats is the guy who's got the economic experience, the governing experience. He's the guy, you know. what he needs is Klitschko and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitschko going in, he's going to be at that level, working for Yatsenyuk. It's just not going to work.  


Geoffrey Pyatt:  Yeah, no, I think that's – I think that's right. Okay, good. Would you want us to try to set up a call with him as the next step? 


Victoria Nuland: My understanding from that call, but you tell me, was that the big three were going into their own meeting and that Yats was going to offer in that context, a three-way, you know, a three-plus-one conversation or three-plus-two with you. Is that not how you understood it? 


Geoffrey Pyatt:  No, I think I mean, that's what he proposed. But I think just knowing the dynamics, it's been with them where […] 


What a weird democracy, isn't it? – where Victoria Nuland and the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine picked the leader of the country. 

By the way, that plan they laid out, the one Victoria Nuland endorsed, ended up being exactly what happened. That's exactly how the Ukrainian leaders were chosen. These Ukrainian leaders were meeting with the United States intelligence agencies, to try and convince them that they should be the person who should lead of Ukraine. And that's exactly what happened. So, this entire narrative that Ukraine is a democracy, they're fighting for their sovereignty, they want to be free of foreign influence, the whole thing is a joke and a lie given that we get to listen to Victoria Nuland choose exactly how you claim was going to be run and Burisma obviously recognized that for the reasons I just described. 

Not only that, but the claim that, oh, it's just Ukraine that decides when this war ends, that the United States has no role to play, that we just listen to President Zelenskyy – if he wants to end the war, we honor that; if he doesn't want to end the war, we honor that – listen to what John Kirby, who used to be the Defense Department spokesperson until a few months ago, now works at the White House, and his senior national security role had to say on CNN about whether or not that's, in fact, true. When he was asked whether or not it would be acceptable for Ukraine and Russia to agree to a cease-fire, if that's something that the Chinese got each side to agree to, 


(Video. March 20, 2023)


John Kirby: We'll see. But as you know, we've been very, very public about any concerns about some sort of a cease-fire announcement right now. We all want to see peace. We all want to see this war end. It could end today if Mr. Putin did the right thing, but a cease-fire called right now would basically just ratify Russia's conquest and give Mr. Putin more time to reequip and retrain and restart operations at a time and a place of his choosing. 


So, note that when asked about a cease-fire, John Kirby was not even pretending to say, “That's for President Zelenskyy to decide; that's for the Ukrainians to decide.” He offered his argument about why he and the United States would be opposed to a cease-fire. It would give the Russians time to consolidate their gains. It would allow the Russians to rebuild. Maybe it would actually foster a diplomatic resolution. That's the idea of a cease-fire: it's much easier for parties to negotiate in good faith when they're not trying to destroy each other. That's why the first step of diplomacy is often a cease-fire. But John Kirby just explained very emphatically why he, a U.S. official, opposed to it. And his argument was not because Zelenskyy is, but he has his own reasons for being opposed to it. And then he makes it even more explicit. 


CNN:  If they call for a cease-fire, you believe Ukraine should and will reject that? 


John Kirby: Yes, we do. And we would reject it as well. We think that's […]


  Ok, that's the key phrase. So, she asked him, you think Ukraine would reject a cease-fire and say, yeah, but we would reject it, too? So, we have a separate position from Ukraine. That's what matters, that we would reject it. The United States, that's the ultimate decision maker. Of course, the United States is the ultimate decision-maker. It's been running in Ukraine since 2013. It picked its government in 2014. It has been providing all of its arms and all of its funding from the beginning of its new government that the United States helped install. And, obviously, since the war began. So finally, this pretense that Ukraine is a sovereign, independent country that makes its own decisions is all crumbling down because they're in panic mode, that China may be able to negotiate an end to this war. And they're making very clear we, the United States, are not going to allow this. We, the United States, are opposed to it. Who cares if Zelensky wants it? It's not acceptable to us. He said that in several interviews, most explicitly right here. 

Now, what's really interesting is that if you go back and look at history, which is incredibly easy to forget, especially – even when it’s very recent history – so often the real truth lies in just having a small amount of historical context. A small historical memory is invaluable in understanding the truth and being able to navigate and critically evaluate the propaganda that you're being asked to ingest. 

So, let's recall that 2013, at the end of 2013, when there was an uproar in Ukrainian civil society when the Ukrainian president – that was elected still had two years in his own term – that groups funded by the United States and supported by the State Department began organizing and demanding the ouster of their elected president. That happens all the time. Liberals marched against Trump, even though he won; here in Brazil, there were marches all the time against Bolsonaro. Just the fact that there are marches and protests against an elected government doesn't mean you get rid of the government. The people voted for that leader. There's a constitutional term, but the U.S. funded groups in Ukraine to agitate violently to remove that leader because the U.S. preferred a different leader, because that leader was more amenable to Moscow right across the border than to the United States all the way on the other side of the world.

In the history of the United States government, if you know anything about American history, is that when there's a government that’s more loyal or closer to countries we regard as our enemies and not as close to us, our solution is first to warn those countries and threaten them. And then, if they don't heed that warning, we overthrow them. That's what the United States does, what the CIA exists to do, and it's what happened here. 

So here, in late 2013, we always hear how Democrats and Republicans agree on nothing, how conservatives and liberals are so different. They're at each other's throats all the time. In this case, Senator John McCain, one of the most pro-war members of the Republican Party, and Chris Murphy, the young, newly elected liberal from the blue state of Connecticut, traveled jointly and they, in the open, gathered with the protesters, the anti-Ukrainian government protesters. That's what these U.S. officials did. Imagine if, say, Chinese officials came or Russian officials came and just openly marched with anti-Biden protesters or Occupy Wall Street – that's what they did. They just interfered openly in Ukrainian domestic politics by joining with these protesters. 

There you see The Washington Post headline: “In Ukraine, Senators McCain, Murphy Addressed Protesters and Promised Support”. 


KYIV, Ukraine – A showdown between Russia on one side and the United States and the European Union on the other drew closer here Sunday, as two American senators told a crowd of hundreds of thousands of protesters that Ukraine's future lies to the west, not the east (Washington Post. Dec 15, 2013). 


It sounds a lot like interference in another country's politics to me. 


“We are here”, said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), “to support your just cause: the sovereign right to determine [Ukraine's] own destiny freely and independently and the destiny you seek lies in Europe” (Washington Post. Dec 15, 2013).  


They had just chosen their own destiny in the election three years ago but because we didn't like it, we were there to tell them it was time to pick a new destiny, one that lies in Europe, not Moscow. 


Added Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn): “Ukraine's future stands with Europe and the U.S. stands with Ukraine.”


Murphy, McCain and European politicians who addressed the crowd in Kyiv on Sunday turned up the pressure on Yanukovych, promising that their governments will consider individual financial sanctions against responsible Ukrainian officials if there is any further outbreak of police violence against the protesters who come and go at the semi-permanent encampment on Kyiv’s Independence Square (Washington Post. Dec 15, 2013).


You can go back and look at Occupy Wall Street and the way that disappeared. It disappeared because the police came and crushed those movements. I spent a year going around the United States visiting various encampments in, I think, 15 different cities and it was a real movement against the Wall Street bailout. It was similar to the one on the right, the Tea Party, before it got co-opted by the Republican Party, that they had very common views which were in opposition to the dominance of Wall Street and the ability of Wall Street to get a bailout when they were gambling and getting rich with their wins and then socializing their losses. And the reason that movement disappeared is that the U.S. government and various local governments used the police force to crush it. And so here we are in Kyiv telling them if they do the same, we're going to support a change of government – which we then engineered – and pick their president. 

At the time, Chris Murphy –  who, again, is a young senator, he was 39 when he was elected just a year earlier –went on C-SPAN to talk about his role with John McCain in engineering all kinds of instability in Ukraine and trying to work with the Republicans and other Democrats in the administration to change the government of Ukraine. And he made some amazing admissions that are really worth watching in retrospect. Let's watch a couple of those. 


Sen. Chris Murphy: I will admit to you that I have not been involved, as involved, in what's happening in Venezuela over the last week, because I've been focused, as the chairman of the Europe Subcommittee, on Ukraine. But […] 


Time off from trying to change the government in Venezuela. He was a little bit absent from that, he said, because he was so focused instead on changing the government in Ukraine. 


Sen. Chris Murphy: With respect to Ukraine, we have not sat on the sidelines. We have been very much involved. Members of the Senate who have been there, members of the State Department who have been on the Square, the administration, the Obama administration passed sanctions. The Senate was prepared to pass its own set of sanctions. And as I said, I really think that the clear position of the United States has in part been what has helped lead to this change in regime. [...] 


I mean, did you hear what he said there? We have not been on the sidelines. We have been very active there. And our active role played a key role in the change of regime, meaning we helped topple the democratic government, the democratically elected government in Ukraine, and replaced it with one chosen by Victoria Nuland. It's just an explicit admission probably from the Senate are too inexperienced to understand how you couched these things in euphemisms. You don't go on CNN or I'm sorry, on C-SPAN and admit these things. 


Sen. Chris Murphy: I know that there is merit in the claim that the United States sort of has these principles, and then we selectively apply them. We get involved in certain places, and then we don't get involved in other places. But I think if ultimately this is a peaceful transition to a new government in Ukraine, it'll be the United States on the streets of Ukraine who will be seen as a great friend in helping make that transition happen. 


Oh, wow. So, apparently, it turns out that even back then we were willing to admit that the United States should get the credit for the change in government in Ukraine, which apparently is not a sovereign democracy, but one that we radically shaped for our own interest. And we're even boasting of it at the time. 

Now, let's look at this next clip. They're all amazing. Let's look at what he says next. 


Caller, on C-SPAN:  Thank you for taking my call. 


Sen. Chris Murphy: Sure. 


Caller, on C-SPAN:  All right. You know, my concern of being a child of the Cold War is always a threat from, you know, the East. And I was concerned with how this moving forward could lead to some type of global conflict. Whenever we seem to have these elections that are monitored, or the United States is involved or Europe's involved but seems to eventually end with some type of violence. I was concerned with that violence escalating on a global scale between Russia and the European Union, or with the United States’s involvement in a potential conflict between those two superpowers. 


Okay. So that person said: look, seems to me, knowing the Cold War that I lived through and then whenever we do this sort of thing, whenever we start changing other countries’ governments, start interfering in their political affairs, especially when it involves the attempt to rule countries in Russia's neighborhood, that is a danger to escalate and to turn into a real war between Moscow and the West or Moscow and Ukraine in which the West gets involved. 

That was that caller's concern that he posed to Senator Murphy, who's apparently an expert in Ukraine, given that he's now over there trying to pick their new government and change their politics for the better. He got elected by the people of Connecticut and immediately goes with John McCain to start fiddling with Kyiv. So, let's listen to what Chris Murphy told that caller about those concerns. 


Sen. Chris Murphy: There certainly is some concern about what Russia is going to do over the course of the next week or month. I think it's irresponsible to talk about the potential for Russia to move some kind of offensive force into Crimea, which is the coastal region of Ukraine that has a Russian military base and a lot of the important ports. That would be a fundamental, grave mistake on behalf of the Russians. And I think they know that that would essentially lead it to a descent to madness. So, I don't worry that this is going to result in any kind of military confrontation between the U.S. and Europe and Russia. 


Well, so just a few months after he assured everybody that, of course, Russia would never do something so stupid as to take Crimea, Crimea was part of Russia. And, of course, he's not concerned that this one day might lead to confrontation between Europe and the U.S. on the one hand and Russia on the other, because he's not the one whose house is going to be bombarded, who's going to fight in those wars. It's just going to be the Ukrainians getting bombed and the Russians dying. So, of course, he's not concerned. But here is this genius – who obviously can't even run the United States, the country where he's elected to be an elected official – who decided he was going to interfere in Ukraine instead, making all kinds of predictions about the future, all of which proved to be the exact opposite of what ended up happening. These are geniuses who are not only running our country but trying to run every other. 

Let's listen to this next one. I'll just pick a few key excerpts from it. But these really are amazing. 


C-SPAN: […]  McLean, Virginia, Independent Line for Senator Chris Murphy. 


McLean:  Hi. I just have a few points and thank you for allowing me to call C-SPAN, by the way. […] So I'll just have three quick points and then I'll take my answer off the air. The first one is, isn't it true that Yanukovych was elected for the first time in 2010 for one five-year term, that elections were scheduled for 2015? So, the second point is, why is it okay for foreign ministers from other countries to show up during protest movements – so, let's say in Ukraine – like the foreign ministers of Poland and Germany and support the protesters against the current government there? Wouldn't it be something similar to the foreign ministers of, let's say, Mexico and Canada showing up during the Occupy Wall Street movement and saying, yes, we agree that your government is corrupt? And the third point is, why isn't the West and America talking about the fact that a large or significant portion of the Ukrainian opposition right now is made up of far-right politicians, including the party supporter, which openly is fascist and xenophobic, and they said that they don't want to join the EU because they considered the EU to be a bunch of gays and Jews just as well as they say that they don't want to join the imperialist Moscow regime? 


Do you see how the random callers who just call C-SPAN and hope to get on because they have no credentials, are infinitely smarter than the people who are running all these policies? So, he said: you keep talking about democracy. Doesn’t the democratically elected president of Ukraine that you're trying to overthrow have a five-year term until 2015, and, also, like, by the way, isn't it kind of inappropriate for you, for foreign officials and foreign ministers, to go join protest movements in other countries to overthrow their governments? And, also, by the way, aren't we supporting the part of Ukrainian society that's filled with a bunch of neo-Nazis? Isn't that kind of like a concern? 

Let's listen to his answers. 


Sen. Chris Murphy: Let me take all those very quickly. One at a time. You're right. Yanukovych was elected and I mentioned this before. I understand the difficult position here, which is that Yanukovych was elected, and we are not in the business of encouraging rebellions and revolutions on the streets against elected leaders, because we ultimately think that elections, as you mentioned, are the place in which you should settle your differences […] 


Okay. So just hold that thought, because that's going to be important in just a minute. According to Chris Murphy, the United States is not in the business of interfering with democratically elected leaders and trying to change them or topple them. That is not what we do. What we believe in is democracy. And if a country chooses a government democratically that we dislike, we accept it. That's according to Chris Murphy. The posture of the United States historically. We don't interfere in trying to topple the democratically elected leaders of other countries. Except he is doing exactly that here, he just admitted the government that he was trying to overthrow was democratically elected. And so, he has to explain how to reconcile that. 


Sen. Chris Murphy: The issue here is that Yanukovych lost his legitimacy to govern when he used force to try to break up these protests and the United States didn't go on to that Square in any meaningful way until the president tried to break up the peaceful protests. That's why Senator McCain and I went and we certainly got a lot of grief from people asking why two U.S. senators are going to the Square to support a protest movement against an elected government. 


So, the way democracy works is that countries get to choose their leaders but then if those leaders use more force than Chris Murphy and John McCain, who have no Democratic electability or accountability in those countries, decide is a little excessive –  even though our government constantly uses violence to keep order against protesters here in the United States – as soon as John McCain, Chris Murphy, and others decide they've gone a little too far – somehow the Saudis haven't gone a little too far. We keep supporting them. The Egyptians haven't gone too far. Apparently, they're allowing dissent to a sufficient amount. But the Ukrainians, according to John McCain and Chris Murphy, went a little too far and now their democratic legitimacy is over. They lost their right to serve through the five-year term that the Ukrainian people chose them to serve. 


Sen. Chris Murphy: We did that because we think that there were human rights and civil rights that were violated there. And we've always stood up for that, for that concept. And again, I think that answers your second question as to why you had foreign ministers and foreign leaders who were on that Square. It was because we're standing up for the idea that people should be able to lodge protests against their government. 


Remember, this was 11 years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, set up torture regimes all around the world and continues to hold people in Guantanamo and in the middle of the Indian Ocean, with no charges of any kind. But somehow the United States senators have arrogated unto themselves in the name of human rights, the right to go around changing the governments of the world whenever they decide it's justified by some vague appeal to human rights. No UN decision is needed, and no international bodies. Once the United States decides that's the end of the democratic legitimacy of that country, and that's what happened in Ukraine, the country we're now told as a sovereign democratic leader got government, which is why we're over there. He then finally acknowledged, yeah, there's a lot of Nazis in the movement we supported. But don't worry, they're a minority. There were only a few thousand among the large numbers gathered there. 

Let's look at this last clip. It's just 49 seconds. 

These are all amazing because this is just explicitly acknowledging the truth, not realizing that since he's on C-SPAN in 2014, seven, eight years later, these are going to be incredibly incriminating statements because the entire position in the United States government is to make you forget that all of this happened. 


C-SPAN: So, what is the best way the U.S. can help in this situation? 


Sen. Chris Murphy: Well, I think the United States has a strong voice in support of the peaceful protest movement. This is a big part of the story as to why there is an opportunity now for the Ukrainian people to get what they want. Early on, the United States said that peace should be observed in that Square. We came down hard on Yanukovych when he violated that peace, when he sent his forces into the Square repeatedly to clear it, ultimately, over the course of the last week, resulting in dozens of people killed. And I think it was our role, including sanctions and threats of sanctions that forced in parting Yanukovych from office. […] 


I just need you to hear that again. Let's listen to that last part. 


Sen. Chris Murphy: […] over the course of the last week, resulting in dozens of people killed. And I think it was our role, including sanctions and threats of sanctions that forced in parting Yanukovych from office. 


“I think it was our role that forced him from office.” So, there's no debate that the reason Yanukovych, the elected leader of Ukraine, was removed from office is because of the United States’ role. By the way, the way you determine what the Ukrainian people want is not by inciting a bunch of people to go into street protest. That's not counting what the majority wants. Those are called elections. That's how you determine what the Ukrainian people want. And what the Ukrainian people said they wanted in 2010 was to be led by a leader that the United States played an active role in overthrowing. So, it's an incredible set of admissions here. 

Let me just show you a clip from Jen Psaki, in 2015. In one way, it's a banal clip. It's Jen Psaki at a State Department press hearing, a press briefing that she was giving every day the way she ended up doing when she became Biden's White House press secretary, but it reveals how casually and seamlessly and continuously these people just lie right to your face. There's no limit on what they're willing to say – none – to advance their career. If they're told to say something to justify U.S. actions, they will say it no matter how blatantly, insultingly, stupidly false it is. 

Listen to Jen Psaki do something so extreme that even the journalists covering the State Department couldn't believe she was willing to say it. 


Journalist: President Maduro last night went on the air and said that they had arrested multiple people who were allegedly behind a coup that was backed by the United States. What is your response? 


So that was Nicolas Maduro alleging that the United States was involved in an attempted coup in Venezuela. It's basically an open policy. Remember, the United States went around for years calling somebody, Juan Guaidó, who never got a single vote, the legitimate president of Venezuela. Of course, it's U.S. policy to overthrow the government of Venezuela. It's been U.S. policy for decades to do that, just like it was in Cuba. So, she said, look, Nicolas Maduro said that the United States played a pretty big role in the unsuccessful coup that just happened. Here’s Jen Psaki’s answer: 


Jen Psaki: These latest accusations, like all previous such accusations, are ludicrous. As a matter of longstanding policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful and legal. 



Okay, so she's reading from the press briefing there. She says it in a very moderate way, so, it's easy to lose the evil of it – the evil of how much these people will just lie so easily. I honestly, I honestly, I'm not saying this to be sanctimonious. We're all humans. We all have our flaws. I certainly do. But I can't, for the life of me, understand what leads people like her to be willing to say things like this that she just said with a completely straight face and an obviously conscious, free comportment. The United States, as a matter of policy, does not engage in transitions that are anti-constitutional, only democratic. Even though we just listened to Chris Murphy, six months earlier, admit that the United States openly and successfully caused a coup in Ukraine by ousting the democratically elected leader. And of course, there are dozens or hundreds of examples throughout the Cold War and well beyond in which the United States did exactly what she just got done saying the United States never does as a matter of policy. Just let's listen to that again and the way she says it. 


Jen Psaki: Their response to these latest accusations, like all previous such accusations are ludicrous. As a matter of longstanding policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means. Political transitions must be democratic, constitutional, peaceful and legal. We've seen many times that the Venezuelan government tries to distract from its own actions by blaming the United States or other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. These efforts reflect a lack of seriousness on the part of the Venezuelan government to deal with the grave situation it faces. 


Journalist: Whoa, whoa, whoa. The U.S. has a long-standing practice of not promoting – what did you say?  How long-standing is that? I would – in particular in South and Latin America, that is not a long-standing practice. 


Jen Psaki: Well, my point here, Matt […] 


Do you see that pause? I mean, even she. It's not that she’s conscious about it that bothered her. It does not bother her at all. She just didn't know what to say. I mean, it's like literally standing up and saying two plus two equals five and someone says, “Wait a minute, are you sure? How can that be? Everyone knows two plus two equals four.” So, she stood up and said, it's the United States's policy in longstanding practice not to engineer government changes in other countries that are in violation of the Constitution. We only do it democratically. And when he said, “Are you joking? Everyone knows that's wrong and dumb, especially in Latin America, where you can point to almost every country that has suffered exactly that. She barely knows what to say. You have this long kind of embarrassed pause, and then she says this: 


Jen Psaki: Well, my point here, Matt, without getting into history, is that we do not support, we have no involvement with, and these are ludicrous accusations. 


Journalist: In this specific case. But if you go back not that long ago, during your lifetime even […]


Jen Psaki:  The last 21 years? (All laugh)


Journalist: Well done. Touché. But I mean, I know that there's long-standing I mean, ten years in this case. I mean […] 


Jen Psaki:  My intention was to speak to specific reports. 


Journalist: But you said […] 



So, there you go. The only valid conclusion from watching this is that she is a sociopath. There's no other explanation. If you can stand up and lie that obviously with such an authoritative tone, with such a straight face, to hide the crimes of the American government, your soul is broken, and you have no moral code. You're a sociopath. That’s the only way to allow somebody – she's only doing this for the most trivial career advancement - there’s no passion behind that. She doesn't stop working for a cause. It's just her job. Her job is to read what she's told without thinking about whether it's a complete lie or not. And so, when I called her out the other day online, I saw a bunch of journalists bristling because, after all, Jen Psaki is nice. Or she's nice when she's an ordinary woman. She, like, lives in the suburbs. She does kickboxing classes, she drinks margaritas. She talks about her young kids. I'm sure she loves her kids, no doubt about that. She's a mom. She likes being a mom. She talks about that a lot. She's friendly with reporters. They're all, you know, she should be a good neighbor. She doesn't look like a sociopath. So, you say that it's like a cognitive disconnect. Sociopaths are like Putin and like evil-looking people from evil-looking countries like Saddam Hussein's. Not Jen Psaki. She's now an MSNBC colleague to all those people who work there. And that's exactly what Hannah Arendt, the German philosopher, called “the banality of evil” when she went to the Nuremberg trials and watched Nazi war criminals, one after the next go on the stand. And she was shocked at how kind of mediocre they were. They didn't have any sense that they had done anything wrong, and they really didn't believe it. They were just basically like I just did my job. And my job was to count the number of Jewish citizens being transported on these trains. And I filled out that report. I don’t have hate in my heart for anyone. I was just doing my job. Evil is banal, and this is the banality of evil right here. 

And the fact you can watch Chris Murphy openly boast of things that he will now tell you are insane conspiracy theories and will vehemently deny to your face because now he has to, that is the kind of sociopathy that dominates our government. Everything that we have been told for the last year and month about the United States’ role in Ukraine, that what Ukraine is and what our goal is, is a completely we have been governing and running Ukraine since at least 2013 when we ousted the government and installed the new one in 2014. We've been running the country right on the other side of the Russian border and we've been running it not for their benefit but for our own, which is the same reason we are fueling this proxy war, not to defend all the nice old ladies in Ukraine who are getting bombed and killed. It's very tragic. And the media will show you that in order to incite your hatred against Putin. We could stop that with the cease-fire, for example, and diplomatic efforts to end the war. But John Kirby told you he's against that. He wants this war to continue. Yeah, of course, if Putin humiliated himself and gave back everything, including Crimea, and told the Americans and NATO you have free reign over Ukraine and then turned himself into The Hague, of course, the war would end – if he was willing to do that. But short of that, they don't want the war to end. They want the war to continue. They're benefiting in every conceivable way from it. They don't care that Ukrainians are dying. That's part of the game for them. There are people in the United States benefiting the people who fund both political parties, the arms dealers, the intelligence agencies. There are all kinds of benefits to go around. And the fact that John Kirby is now finally admitting that it's the United States that continues to run Ukraine and we're running it to keep the war going, not to stop, it is something that you should at least have as your starting point when analyzing this war and all of the propaganda and lies that have been rained down upon us by the U.S. government and their media allies ever since Russia invaded. 



So, you may remember that back in 2021, Tucker Carlson went on the air with a rather extraordinary story, a rather extraordinary claim, which was that the NSA is designed not to spy on American citizens, but to spy on foreign adversaries was, in fact, spying on his communications (Fox News, June 29, 2021). 

This is why Tucker went on the air and said:


Tucker Carlson: But it's not just political protesters the government is spying on. Yesterday we heard from a whistleblower within the U.S. government who reached out to warn us that the NSA, the National Security Agency, is monitoring our electronic communications and is planning to leak them in an attempt to take this show off the air. 

Now, that's a shocking claim, and ordinarily, we'd be skeptical. But is it legal for the NSA to spy on American citizens? It's a crime. It's not a third-world country. Things like that should not happen in America. But unfortunately, they do happen. And in this case, they did happen. The whistleblower – who is in a position to know – repeated back to us information about a story that we are working on that could have only come directly from my texts and emails. There is no other possible source for that information, period. The NSA captured that information without our knowledge and did it for political reasons. The Biden administration is spying on us. We have confirmed that. 


All right. That's a pretty extraordinary claim. I don't think Tucker Carlson is a person prone to just inventing stories, he has been in the media for decades. No one ever has claimed that that's something he's done before. Obviously, he's criticized for all sorts of other things, but he's worked in every media outlet across the spectrum and has never been caught, never been accused of simply fabricating. What he claimed was that he proved that the NSA was spying on him. 

Obviously, the people in the media who have no audience but who specialize in essentially covering Fox News, decided that that was a joke. It was preposterous. The NSA would never do such a thing. And the people who served the U.S. Security State decided to mock it. Here you see the employee for CNN named Oliver Darcy – never broken a story in his life, but is obsessed with Fox News, had an article right immediately after, in June of 2021, entitled “Tucker Carlson claimed the NSA is spying on him. Even his own colleagues don't seem to believe it”. The obvious purpose of this was to mock him. 

Same with this Vox headline from July 1, “Tucker Carlson’s NSA spying claims are evidence-free. Republicans are running with them anyway.” That was by Aaron Rupert, who is the Vox Video guy, the person who does nothing but watch his Fox all day and post distorted clips to the Internet to serve the Democratic Party. He was at Vox then, which is where he earned the name Vox Video Dunn's. He knows nothing about anything, but he decided that this was a false story. The NSA would never do such a thing. Except, then, what happened is something very odd, which is Axios, a part of the corporate media, on July 7, published a story that seemed to confirm at least parts of it, namely, you see their “Scoop: Tucker Carlson sought Putin interview at the time of spying claim”. This is by Jonathan Swan, whom I regard as one of the better journalists in corporate media. Liberals love him because he conducted an adversarial, but I thought fair interview of Donald Trump and generally does a decent job reporting. He reported on July 7, 2021, that somehow people inside the government knew exactly what Tucker Carlson was doing at the time, that he claimed that he was being spied on, namely, he was trying to get an interview with Vladimir Putin, something that all journalists should have been doing, and that obviously gave some credence to the story, and we never really got anywhere else after that. What that article actually said was that there was a ”U.S.-based Kremlin intermediary” that Tucker was using to try and get that interview with Putin. Somehow the NSA had a lot of details, the U.S. government had a lot of details about those conversations, enough to leak Axios, what it was exactly that he was doing that seemed to lend credence to his claim that he had been spied upon by his own government. But it never went anywhere because the media just decided that they had no interest in it and they didn't care and they decided to mock it instead and Tucker basically stopped talking about it.

Yesterday, though, the left-wing journalist, Anya Parampil, who has done some of the best reporting on foreign policy in particular, typically associated with the left, who works at The Grayzone, published an article that was designed to say that she, in fact, has confirmed or can confirm or provide proof that Tucker Carlson, in fact, was spied upon by the NSA. In fact, she self-identified as “the U.S.-based Kremlin intermediary that tried to help Tucker Carlson book an interview with Putin. In other words, that the Axios’ story was true, that she, in fact, was talking to Tucker Carlson about the possibility of interviewing Vladimir Putin. And the fact that Axios knew that certainly strongly suggests that, indeed, what Tucker Carlson claimed is true.

I find it very notable, though, that she has come forward, given again, that she is typically associated with the left, to offer definitive proof of the story. We're about to talk to her about what exactly evidence she's in possession of and how she's able to offer it. And a few other questions as well. As I said, I find her one of the more interesting voices when it comes to foreign policy. She reports for the Grayzone, which is extremely independent, and we are delighted to have her for her debut appearance here on System Update. We're about to talk to her right now for our interview segment. 

The Interview: Anya Parampil



G. Greenwald: Anya, good evening. It's great to see you. How are you? 


Anya Parampil:  Hello. I'm great. How are you? 


G. Greenwald:  Good. I'm happy that you're here for your debut appearance, which I hope won't be your last. You have an extremely interesting story that I want to talk to you about, as well as a couple of other things. You published in Grayzone, an article in which you essentially said that you're able to prove or offer evidence that Tucker Carlson, in fact, was spied upon by the NSA during this period. What is that evidence that you have and how does it come to proof of the veracity of his claims? 


Anya Parampil:  Thanks again for having me, Glenn. Basically, what I explain in this story published at the Grayzone is a timeline that stretches between the end of April and early July 2021. People may recall, as you covered just now, that on, I think it was June 28, Tucker Carlson went public with this story claiming that the Biden administration was spying on him and had actually accessed his private messages, texts and emails in order to leak those messages to the press and that he found out about this because an NSA whistleblower had actually come forward and informed him of the plot. And the reason he believed this person was telling the truth is that they actually met with him in person and repeated back to him information that someone would only know if they had access to Tucker's private messages. And he said at the time that this was all regarding a story he was working on, but he didn't specify the details of the story. 

Now, just a few weeks ago or a few days ago, Tucker did finally talk about this publicly, give us some more information regarding what actually happened. He told the Full Send podcast that this all had to do with his plan to travel to Russia in the summer of 2021, which is really just months before the latest escalation in this war happened when Russia launched its military escalation in Ukraine in February of 2022. So, just a few months before then, this was after Biden had already taken office, Tucker was planning to go to Russia. He wanted to interview Russian President Vladimir Putin and – this is, according to Tucker, what he said in the Full Send podcast – what the NSA and the U.S. government were spying on. And these messages were what they wanted to leak to the press. 

Because this whistleblower came forward and actually warned Tucker he was able to get ahead of them, go public on his show and even though he didn't get any support in the media and virtually no journalist and asked questions about what Tucker was alleging and just took the word of the U.S. government, as you then pointed out, Axios reported a story in which they appeared to actually prove what Tucker was saying was true because they had quoted U.S. officials saying that Tucker was trying to book this interview with Putin around the same time that he made the allegations that the NSA was spying on his communications. 

So how do I fit into the picture? I was actually kind of getting a front-row seat. I was privy to all of what was going on at the time because Tucker had told me, at the end of April 2021, that he was trying to go interview Putin, but he was having difficulties booking the interview. And I – because I had a rapport with Tucker – I trusted him and I also happened to have a really good contact in the Russian government, I tried to help him by putting him in touch with that contact and just assuming that Tucker's team would take it from there and perhaps they'd be able to schedule this interview. 

This contact was the deputy foreign minister, his name is Sergei Ryabkov. He's the second most powerful diplomat in Russia. And I met him in the summer of 2019, when I was in Caracas, Venezuela, on behalf of the Grayszone, covering a meeting of the nonaligned movement. Basically, there were all of – the Iranian foreign minister was there, the Bolivian foreign minister was there – all of these high-level diplomats, including Ryabkov, were there. And I interviewed many of them, and one of the interviewed was him. And he's a very powerful, very important figure in the world. He has negotiated some of the main treaties established between the United States and Russia. 


G. Greenwald:  He's somebody any real journalist would want to talk to. 


Anya Parampil:  Exactly. He actually was spearheading the peace negotiations over Ukraine on behalf of the Russian government. So, he was someone – I interviewed him and I maintained contact with him. Sometimes, I would send him an article and say, what do you think about this? I heard that there was this story about Ukraine negotiations like – and I should just disclose the fact that my main interest here is that I actually would like the peace between Russia and the United States because I am from the United States, and I don't want there to be a nuclear war. And I think it would be in the United States’ interest to just have a reasonable relationship with Russia. 

Anyway, I put them in touch and apparently that was when the NSA began intercepting Tucker's messages, because I didn't think much of it at the time but, when I put them in touch on an email thread, they both replied, within hours, within 12 hours, both of them wrote back to me and to each other. But then a few days later, Ryabkov wrote me back and said that for some reason his email to Tucker would not send. And I thought it had to do with maybe spam or because, yeah, it was a Russian government email. There was something that bounced back. Tucker had a different email service than I did. And I forwarded the messages. I think sometimes I texted Tucker. I asked him, like, did you get this message? And turned out no. Tucker didn't get any of the emails. 

Ryabkov’s email address was sending him, even though I knew that they were both accurate in the thread because they had already both replied to the email. So, I didn't make a mistake in retrospect then. A few weeks later, when Tucker told me that this NSA source had come forward and told him that the U.S. government was spying on his communications, then it kind of clicked, Oh, there was some interference going on there. 

And at the time when this was all going on, this was when Tucker came forward, in June 2021. He didn't offer specifics of the story. I was kind of just so blown away by everything that there was no reason for me to assert myself in the situation and corroborate his story or vouch for him. And then, a few weeks later, in early July 2021, then Axios did this story where they confirmed what he said and claimed, based on the quotes from U.S. officials, that Tucker was dealing with U.S.-based Kremlin intermediaries in order to get an interview with Putin at the time he made these allegations. And so, when that story came out, Tucker and I were talking, and it was like very clear that means they were saying I was the Kremlin based – I mean, they said “Kremlin-based intermediaries”. They used the plural. I would love for the U.S. government to offer specifics as to whom they were talking about there and if there were multiple people. But I can pretty much state, for certain, based on my experience, that they were referring to at least me. And I don't know if they're referring to anyone else. 

And so, again, I didn't talk about the story then – Tucker didn't offer details – but then, when I saw him come out and say, yes, this was happening when I was trying to interview Putin, I was like, Oh, right now we might as well tell the full story and I can tell the full story. So, I just went ahead and put it all down. 


G. Greenwald:  You know, I remember at the time, obviously the NSA happens to be an interest of mine, that the agency put out a statement, knowing how stupid most journalists are, that pretended to deny the story, but actually denied nothing. They said this is preposterous. We can confirm that Mr. Carlson has never been a target of ours, and everyone knows who knows anything about the NSA, that when the NSA says they're not a target, you're not a target of theirs. It doesn't mean they're not eavesdropping on your conversations. All they have to do is proclaim the people with whom you are speaking to be their targets, and then they're free to listen in on your conversation, even though you're an American citizen without warrants because they're just claiming we're not targeting Tucker, we're not targeting this other American citizen. We're targeting these foreign nationals with whom they happened to be speaking. 

That was the whole point of the Bush-Cheney spying program that got revealed by The New York Times in 2005 that won a Pulitzer. The law that was passed in 2008 – that's now up for renewal – was designed to retroactively legalize that, to give the government the power to spy without warrants on the conversations of Americans by claiming they're just targeting foreign nationals. And, of course, the Biden administration is demanding it gets renewed again. And there's a lot of Republicans who want Biden to have that power – because the bipartisan consensus in Washington is that we should be able to spy on our citizens without warrants. 

But what struck me was how stupid journalists were to believe that this NSA denial actually was a denial, and that's what caused them to mock Tucker “Oh, the NSA denies it”. It's amazing that journalists take a denial anyway from the NSA and assume it's true without skepticism. But in this case, it wasn't a denial. And that's what was so obvious to me was, well, they're obviously spying on someone with whom Tucker is speaking. I assumed that meant they were spying on the Russian diplomats with whom he was speaking to set up an interview with Putin until the Axios story came out and made clear that, in fact, he was talking to a United States citizen whom they had proclaimed to be a Kremlin intermediary. 

Just for people who don't know the rules of the NSA, if the NSA wants to spy in a conversation between two American citizens and you are an American citizen, a native-born American citizen, talking to Tucker Carlson, another American-born citizen, they need a warrant in order to do that. That's two Americans talking. Now, you're not talking about a foreign national, which means they would have to go to the FISA court and allege that either you or Tucker is an agent of a foreign government, presumably the Russian government. And that means they have a warrant on you to spy on your communications, or on his, or it means they broke the law. I think we should try and find out. 

Do you have any indication at all that the NSA ever got a warrant to spy on their communications? And is there any ground for the belief that you are a representative of or an agent of the Kremlin? 


Anya Parampil:  No, I mean, that's a very good question. I've had zero indication that my communications have ever been spied on due to a FISA warrant. I mean, I'm a U.S. citizen. As I explain in the story, I did work for R.T. America, which is the Russian state-funded news outlet that was based in Washington, D.C. So, between the years 2015 and 2019, I worked – or 2014, up until December 2018, I worked for R.T. America, I think from 2014 to that point.

And all of my contact with Ryabkov, and all of my contact with Tucker took place long after I ceased working for R.T. America. But even then, it would be ridiculous to claim that an individual who worked for a state-funded media network was actually an intermediary or a representative of that government. Especially, I'm a U.S. citizen. I don't represent the interests of any foreign government. I worked for R.T. America so that I could provide a critical view of my own government that corporate networks would have never allowed me to do. And none of these emails were even sent from an R.T. America-affiliated email account. I can't think of any loophole, and I never – there's obviously any bank payments or statements or anything that they could bring in court to prove the allegation that I'm a Kremlin intermediary, other than the fact that I forwarded an email as or maybe sent a screenshot of an email to Tucker's text, something to ask him whether or not he got these messages. There is no proof that they could come forward with that. That I am a Kremlin intermediary. Absolutely not. 

I think there are there are three explanations here. They had a FISA warrant on me. I doubt that, because I don't think I'm very significant. They had a FISA warrant on Tucker, which is possible, I mean, he's a very powerful and influential figure. We know that the FISA courts offer a rubber stamp on anything, basically. And so just having communication with a government official maybe, and even in my case too, could justify it from their warped illegal perspective. But I don't think that's what happened either. I do think what happened is very similar to what happened to many of other Trump's allies that were all implicated in Robert Mueller's Russiagate investigation. If you recall there were like, I mean, they claim there were 30 people that were indicted as part of Mueller's investigation. Almost half of them were a bunch of Russian nationals that they accused of being like operating a troll farm or something[...] 


G. Greenwald:  They knew they would never get and never be able to prosecute. 


Anya Parampil:  Exactly. But they had 30 people. Yeah, 13 of them were – they would also never get a fair trial. So, the main targets of the Mueller investigation throughout the Trump presidency were Michael Flynn, Trump's national security advisor, who was removed within weeks of his inauguration because of this trend that I'm discussing now. So, there was Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, and George Papadopoulos. Now, Manafort and Papadopoulos were both part of the Trump campaign. Michael Flynn was a part of the actual administration but all three of those cases have something in common with my story or, in this case, I think is really Tucker's case, because he was someone that was close to Trump. He was someone that was seen as a threat because as I detail in my article, he was throughout Trump's time in office, Tucker would really challenge Trump to take seriously his America First agenda, criticizing his policy in Syria, criticizing his policies on Venezuela; personally, convincing him not to escalate with Iran. I think the deep state forces that were pushing Trump to do that, Bolton, Pompeo, otherwise really saw Tucker as a threat. 

And so throughout their effort to really create a case against Trump, they tapped Russian government officials. They were trying to, of course, prove that there was some sort of coordination between the Russian government and people around Trump. And they came up with all of these crazy accusations, whether it was Manafort cutting business deals with Ukraine. Back when like when you know everyone. So many U.S. operatives, including members of the Biden family, were cutting business deals in Ukraine. They said that he failed to register as a foreign agent, so they prosecuted him for that. Again, Papadopoulos and Flynn, it all had to do with the fact that they had inadvertently picked up their communications while spying on Russian or foreign officials. And the key here – and this is what you alluded to in your question – is that it is illegal for the U.S. government to spy on Americans directly. But we could assume that, yes, if I'm writing an email to the deputy foreign minister of Russia or if Tucker is writing emails to the deputy foreign minister of Russia, or if Paul Manafort is talking to foreign business officials, or in Michael Flynn's case, he was having a conversation with the Russian ambassador to the United States right before Trump was inaugurated, we can assume those types of communications because they're targeting the foreign officials, are monitored […] 


G. Greenwald:  But just to interject there, I mean, and that's the thing that used to be illegal until Bush and Cheney violated the law. It used to be that the NSA if they were targeting a foreign national, which of course, you expect them to do, that's completely legitimate for the NSA to target Russian officials, that's kind of their job if they discover in the course of that eavesdropping that they're talking to an American citizen, the NSA is now listening in on the telephone conversations of American citizens, reading their emails. They have to stop doing that because they need a warrant under the Constitution to listen in on reading your emails. And they instead invented this theory that was contrary to the law, that, as long as the target is the foreign national and not the American citizen, they're allowed to do it. They made up their own law. But then Congress created this law to say, yes, the NSA can now do that. And of course, the concern always is it's a runaround from the warrant requirement, because, as long as the NSA knows the foreign nationals with whom I'm speaking, they can just claim those are their target, and they can listen to all of my conversations, even though that's not allowed and that's the law that they want to be renewed. Let me just ask you one point. 


Anya Parampil:  And I also want to ask you a question, because you're the legal expert here, not me, but from what I'm –  the point that I was building up to is that, for me, the question is about the unmasking – the concept of unmasking, which is that, yes, if they are spying on a U.S. citizen, that identity of that U.S. citizen, if it's indirectly collected as part of their spying on foreign officials, is supposed to be protected. But for some reason, we know about Michael Flynn's conversation with the Russian ambassador. According to Tucker's NSA source, that's exactly what the U.S. government was trying to do with Tucker's conversation. They wanted to leak his texts. So, when that level of leak happens and when they're actually revealing the identity of a U.S. citizen who let's be honest, as I said in the article, it's not unheard of for journalists to be in contact with government officials, even if they're foreign. And Michael Flynn's case, it definitely is not strange that he, in his capacity as the incoming national security adviser, would have a conversation with foreign officials in order to prepare for his role in the incoming administration. And, in fact, I would venture to argue that Biden officials did the same thing before they officially were sworn in. But the reason that we heard Michael Flynn's conversation and the reason that we hear about Tucker, is contact with Russian officials, or mine is that it was part of a weaponization of the law against targets surrounding Trump. So, I'll ultimately go after Trump but also go after figures such as Tucker. And so, it comes down – What I'm trying to say to this nuance of unmasking and deciding that, oh, look, we're actually going to reveal that this person talked to a foreign government official or we're going to reveal the fact that Michael Flynn was talking. 


G. Greenwald:  Right. I mean. 


Anya Parampil:  Why don't we hear about what Anthony Blinken said? 


G. Greenwald:  I mean, the idea of unmasking is supposed to be that it's only done if it's necessary to understand the context of the conversation that this foreign official who's being targeted is having. So, if you only have the mask identity of the United States, if a person with whom they're speaking and you can't understand the full context, only then is masking necessary. The problem, of course, is if there's no oversight in the NSA. And the bigger problem here is the complete lack of curiosity on the part of the American press corps that the most watched television news personality in the history of cable news clearly ended up having his conversations monitored. Perhaps there's some legitimate explanation for it, although I doubt it and perhaps there isn't. But the reason we don't know any of the details is that there was never any pressure placed on the adversarial press corps on to the NSA to demand answers. And there was really very little effort on the part of the Republican Party that I think wanted to stay away from this story as well. And as a result, we're kind of now here in the dark because that's the media that we have as they hear that a major figure in the American media, whether you like him or not, he's very influential, he has a lot of people listening to him, got spied on by government, and there's zero concern about whether it was even legal or constitutional. And that's why I'm really glad that you wrote your article and I'm glad you were able to join us tonight. 


Anya Parampil:  Yeah. Thanks, Glenn. I totally agree. And the last thing that I'll add is just I brought up the Dominion lawsuit in my article because it represents the same tactic. You know, Tucker's texts were seized as part of that lawsuit. Now they're getting published in The Washington Post. And in order to say that there's some major disagreement between President Trump and Tucker. And it really just seems as though people surrounding President Trump were really targeted. There was a law fair campaign that elements within the Justice Department and the federal government waged in order to criminalize things that every journalist does, or every diplomat does. And it's very selective and it's very concerning for journalists, especially because if they can go after – if of a company can sue major news organizations such as Fox and gain access to the text messages of a private journalist and private citizen and try to bankrupt that company, then for people like me who work in alternative media, it's very dangerous because it's like we're screwed. There is no free press if journalists don't have any right to privacy and if they really want to accuse someone like me of being a Kremlin intermediary, they should have to provide evidence in court and they obviously don't have any. And so, and or […] 


G. Greenwald:  Or they did. And they went to the FISA court, which, as you say, is notorious for being rubber stamping. And I think you're absolutely right. This is all part of the same reason Trump is threatening the establishment, which is why Tucker is threatening the establishment, which is principally that they're among the few people with influence who challenge longstanding pillars of the bipartisan foreign policy consensus. It's the reason you and I both – surprisingly in some ways – often appear on Tucker Show precisely because he's providing some of the only space for dissent to a lot of these orthodoxies. The same reason why Trump was regarded with such antipathy by the establishment as well and was attacked in so many different ways by them. 

Thank you so much for taking the time. We're a little over time, but I thought it was really important to hear the details of this story. Well, absolutely. Continue to follow it and hope to have you back shortly. 


Anya Parampil:  Thanks, Glenn. 


G. Greenwald:  Have a great night. 


So that concludes our show for this evening. Have a great night, everybody. 

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