MONEY, POWER AND CORRUPTION

February 13, 2020 at 5:30 am

American Oligarchs” investigates the rise of the Trump and Kushner families to the pinnacle of wealth and power.

Aired on February 12, 2020. 

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>>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
THE TRUMPS, THE KUSHNERS, AND
THE RISE OF TWO POWER HUNGRY
AMERICAN DYNASTIES.
THAT'S THE SUBJECT OF A
FASCINATING NEW BOOK, AMERICAN
OLIGARCHS.
THE KUSHNERS, THE TRUMPS AND THE
MARRIAGE OF MONEY AND POWER.
UNCOVERS HOW BOTH FAMILIES ROSE
FROM HUMBLE IMMIGRANT ROOTS TO
THE PINNACLE OF POWER AND
IMMIGRANTS.
HOW THEY HARNESSED NEW YORK
POLITICS AND BUILT THEIR WEALTH
ON FEDERAL PROGRAMS DESIGNED TO
HELP THE MIDDLE CLASS, OFTEN TO
THE EXCLUSION OF BLACKS AND
OTHER MINORITIES.
AND IT BRINGS THE STORY TO THE
MODERN AGE WHEN THE TWO FAMILIES
NOW JOINED BY MARRIAGE WOULD
BRING THOSE SAME PRACTICES TO
CONSOLIDATE THEIR POWER ON A
GLOBAL SCALE.
JOINING US NOW IS AWARD WINNING
INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, ANDREA
BERNSTEIN WHO FOR DECADES HAS
BEEN COVERING THE CONFLUENCE OF
MONEY, POWER AND CORRUPTION IN
THE WORLD OF BUSINESS OF
POLITICS.
ANDREA, WELCOME TO "METROFOCUS."
>> IT IS REALLY GREAT TO BE HERE
WITH YOU.
>> SO GREAT.
THIS BOOK IS INTENSE, TO PUT IT
MILDLY.
SO FIRST I WANT TO START.
THIS SEEMS TO BE THE
ADMINISTRATION THAT HAS SPAWN AD
MILLION BOOKS.
SO WHAT WAS IT ABOUT THIS
PARTICULAR NARRATIVE THAT YOU
FOUND TO BE THE MOST UNIQUE?
>> WHAT I WANTED TO DO WAS TO
TELL NOT THE JUST THE STORY OF
WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW AND WHAT
IS HAPPENING IN THE WHITE HOUSE.
BUT TO TELL THE WHOLE
MULTIGENERATIONAL SAGA OF THESE
TWO FAPS AND HOW THEY CAPE
TOGETHER.
IT IS ALSO A STORY ABOUT OUR
DEMOCRACY AND THE CHOICES WE
HAVE MADE AS A NATION OR NOT
MADE THAT HAVE LED TO AN
INCREASED INFLUENCE OF WEALTH IN
OUR MODERN POLITICS.
MUCH MORE, EVERY DAY, WE SEE
MORE INFLUENCE THAN WE DID THE
DAY BEFORE.
AND EVEN FOR ME, I MEAN, I'VE
COVERED CORRUPTION, PARTICULARLY
IN NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY FOR A
QUARTER CENTURY.
AND I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING
LIKE WHAT IS GOING ON NOW.
SO WHAT I WANTED TO TELL WAS
THESE THREE STRANDS BRAIDED
TOGETHER.
THE TWO FAMILIES, PLUS US, AND
OUR DEMOCRACY AND THE CHOICES
WE'VE MADE AND PERHAPS DIFFERENT
CHOICES THAT WE CAN MAKE IN THE
FUTURE TO CORRECT FOR SOME OF
THESE TRENDS.
>> WELL, I WANT TO ASK ABOUT THE
USE OF THE WORD OLIGARCHS.
THAT TENDS TO MAKE MOST PEOPLE
THINK OF RUSSIA AND SOME OF THE
POLITICAL CORRUPTION THAT WE SEE
THERE.
WHY CHOOSE THAT WORD IN THE
TITLE FOR YOUR BOOK?
>> SO IT IS REALLY INTERESTING.
WHEN I CAME ONE THE TITLE, I
WASN'T, I DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT ALL
THE RUSSIAN AND UKRAINIAN
OLIGARCHS THAT WE WOULD LEARN
ABOUT SUBSEQUENTLY THROUGH THE
MUELLER REPORT, THROUGH UKRAINE
INVESTIGATION.
WHAT I DID UNDERSTAND
FUNDAMENTALLY IS THAT IN OUR OWN
SOCIETY, THERE IS SUCH A GREATER
INFLUENCE BY WE THINKY PEOPLE ON
GOVERNMENT.
SO LET ME BACKTRACK A LITTLE
BIT.
I THINK ONE OF THE AHA MOMENTS
FOR ME, DURING PAUL MANAFORT'S
TRIAL, AND THERE WAS A WITNESS
THAT WAS PUT ON THE STAND WHO
WAS A CONSULTANT THAT WORKED
WITH PAUL MANAFORT IN SUPPORT OF
THE CORRUPT UKRAINIAN STRONG MAN
PRESIDENT.
AND THEY KEPT HIM IN POWER FOR
TEN YEARS.
AND THIS WITNESS WAS ASKED, DO
YOU KNOW WHO PAID YOU?
AND HE SAID OH, YES, VERY RICH
PEOPLE.
THEY CALL THEM OLIGARCHS.
TO ME, THIS WAS SUCH AN AHA
MOMENT.
I THOUGHT TO MYSELF, THERE IS NO
SUPER PAC, THERE IS NO CAMPAIGN
FINANCE COMMITTEE, THE OLIGARCHS
JUST PAY FOR THE CONSULTANTS TO
GET THE CANDIDATES THEY WANT
WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT
THOSE THE CANDIDATES WILL THEN
ENABLE THEM TO KEEP GETTING
RICHER AND RICHER AND IT BECOMES
A SPIRAL.
SO THEY GET RICHER, THEY CAN
SUPPORT THE CANDIDATE THEY LIKE
MORE, AND THAT'S WHAT IS
HAPPENING IN UKRAINE.
WE'RE NOT THERE YET.
WE STILL HAVE A SYSTEM OF
DISCLOSURES, WE STILL HAVE
DEMOCRACY.
BUT WE ARE MOVING TOWARD THAT.
AND ONE OF THE BIG REASONS WE'RE
MOVING TOWARD THAT IS DONALD
TRUMP.
BOTH BECAUSE OF THE WAYS HE
BEHAVED AS A BUSINESSMAN AND THE
WAY HE BEHAVED AS HAS BEEN
BEHAVING AS PRESIDENT.
SO AS A BUSINESSMAN IN NEW YORK,
AND I DIDN'T EVEN REALIZE THIS
WHEN I STARTED WRITING.
HE REALLY ACTED IN AN OVER
GARKIC WAY.
HE GAVE SO MUCH MONEY TO LOCAL
ELECTED OFFICIALS AND EXPECTED
SOMETHING IN RETURN.
SO I CALLED MANY, MANY PUBLIC
OFFICIALS OVER THE YEARS.
AND I SAID DO YOU KNOW WHY SO
AND SO GAVE YOU A DON'T
DESTINATION WELL, THEY SUPPORT
MY POLITICS.
WITH DONALD TRUMP, WHEN I WOULD
CALL PEOPLE, WHEN THEY WERE
BEING HONEST, I WOULD SAY DO YOU
KNOW WHY DONALD TRUMP GAVE THIS
TO YOU?
OH, YES, I KNOW, BECAUSE HE TOLD
ME.
HE CALLED ME UP SCREAMING AT ME.
I GAVE YOU A $20,000
CONTRIBUTION.
WHERE'S MY PERMIT?
WHERE'S MY VARIANCE?
WHERE'S MY TAX BREAK, ET CETERA.
SO HE HAD AN EXTREMELY
TRANSACTIONAL VIEW OF POLITICS
EVEN IN A WORLD WHERE EVERYBODY
IN THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY
UNDERSTANDS YOU NEED TO
CONTRIBUTE TO PEOPLE BECAUSE
THEY CONTROL YOUR BUSINESS.
DONALD TRUMP AND HIS FATHER
BEFORE HIM WERE OUTLIERS.
SO THEY HAD THIS SAME PRACTICE
OF BEING WEALTHY PEOPLE HAD A
WOULD CONTRIBUTE TO GOVERNMENT
THAT'S THE, WOULD GET BENEFITS
IN RETURN.
ONE OF THE TAX BREAKS HE GOT FOR
HIS EARLIEST BUSINESS DEALS, I
JUST WENT AND CHECKED WITH THE
NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE.
IT WAS WORTH $400 MILLION IN
TOTAL ON.
IT WAS $400 MILLION.
HE SOLD THE PROPERTY.
THIS WAS WHAT IS NOW THE GRAND
HYATT HOTEL.
HE NO LONGER OWNS IT.
BUT HE NEGOTIATED A DEAL FOR A
40-YEAR TAX BREAK THAT THE CITY
IS STILL PAYING.
SO HE PRACTICED THIS SESSION OF
GIVING A LOT OF MONEY TO THE
POLITICIANS, EXPECTING TO GET
SOMETHING BACK AND THEN GIVING
THEM MORE.
AND THAT IS THE OLIGARCHIC MODEL
THAT HE HAS BROUGHT WITH HIM TO
THE WHITE HOUSE.
SO IN THE WHITE HOUSE, HE HAS
TELEGRAPHED TO VERY WEALTHY
PEOPLE.
I AM GOING TO TREAT YOU THE WAY
I EXPECTED TO BE TREATED AS A
BUSINESSMAN.
HE DOES IT EVERY DAY.
HE DOES IT OPENLY.
PEOPLE WHO PATRONIZE HIS HOTELS,
HIS GOLF COURSES, NOT TO MENTION
DOING THE OLD-FASHIONED, JUST
GIVING TO HIS CAMPAIGN.
GET PREFERENCE TREATMENT.
WE SEE IT, WE HEAR IT, THERE ARE
TAPES, HE TWEETS IT OUT.
IF HE DOESN'T LIKE YOU, HE WILL
SAY THAT YOU SHOULD BE
INVESTIGATED BY THE JUSTICE
DEPARTMENT.
AND THAT, TOO, IS OLIGARCHIC
BEHAVIOR.
SO THE TITLE EVEN MORE THAN I
KNEW WHEN I CHOSE IT, WHEN I
STARTED THIS BOOK PROJECT TWO
YEARS AGO, HAS UNFORTUNATELY
MORE NOW.
>> ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I
THOUGHT WAS INTERESTING WAS THAT
YOUR BOOK, NOT ONLY DOES IT NOT
PULL ANY PUNCHES.
IT DOESN'T RAE LET ANYONE OFF
THE HOOK OF WHAT PEOPLE MIGHT
ASSOCIATE WITH THE PRESIDENT, HE
IS PART OF THE PROBLEM WITH THE
GOP, ET CETERA.
ACTUALLY, NO.
THE WHOLE TIME HE WAS DONATING
AND EXPECTING THESE FAVORS FROM
BOTH PARTIES.
>> RIGHT, AND AS A MATTER OF
FACT, HE STARTED HIS CAREER BY
ESSENTIALLY CONTROLLING THE
BROOKLYN DEMOCRATIC BOSSES.
AND THAT'S ONE OF THE MAJOR WAYS
THE TRUMP FAMILY REAL ESTATE
BUSINESS WAS BUILT.
WAS BY GETTING THE ABATEMENTS,
THE FAVORS, THE FEDERAL LOAN
PACKAGES WHICH WERE OFTEN
CONTROLLED BY PEOPLE CONTROLLED
BY THE PARTY.
SO FOR HIM, IT WAS NOT ONLY, IT
WAS NOT ONLY NOT REPUBLICAN BUT
ACTUALLY DEMOCRAT.
FOR MANY, MANY YEARS.
AND IT IS CERTAINLY THIS SORT OF
OVERALL PATTERN OF
CONTRIBUTIONS, AS SOMETHING THAT
THIS COUNTRY IS DEALING WITH THE
TROUBLING CONSEQUENCES OF.
WE JUST PASSED THE TENTH
ANNIVERSARY OF THE CITIZENS
UNITED COURT DECISION.
THAT WAS THE DECISION THAT
ALLOWED UNLIMITED BASICALLY
CORPORATE CONTRIBUTIONS INTO
CAMPAIGNS.
AND WE'RE LOOKING WITH THE
EFFECTS OF THAT.
AND DONALD TRUMP BENEFITTED FROM
THAT WHICH IS SOMETHING THAT,
THAT COURT DECISION WAS VERY
CONSCIOUSLY FUNDED BY THE COURT
CASE.
BY VERY WEALTHY FAMILIES IN
AMERICA.
THE DeVOS FAMILY, THE PRINCE
FAMILY, RELATED TO BETSY DeVOS
OF THE THEY WANTED TO GET RID OF
CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION AND THEY
SUPPORTED THE LAWSUIT AND THEY
WON OF THEY BROKE THE SYSTEM
ALONG THE WAY.
ONE OF THE SCENES IN THE BOOK, I
TALK ABOUT BEING IN OHIO IN
2010.
RIGHT AFTER THE COURT DECISION.
AND THERE ARE SO MANY ADS, AND
THE ADS SAY THINGS LIKE, THEY
HAVE PICTURES OF PRISON BARS,
PICTURES OF BAGS OF CASH, THEY
SAY WASHINGTON IS TERRIBLE, YOUR
GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ARE CROOKS.
AND IT WAS 24/7.
A NOTICEABLY BIG BOOST IN
TELEVISION AIR TIME FROM
PREVIOUS CAMPAIGNS I HAD
COVERED.
IF YOU'RE A RATIONAL PERSON AND
YOU LIVE IN A SWING STATE AND
ALL YOU HEAR ALL THE TIME IS THE
GOVERNMENT IS STEALING FROM YOU,
AND THEN DONALD TRUMP COMES IN
AND SAYS, THE GOVERNMENT IS
STEALING FROM YOU, I'M GOING TO
FIX IT.
THAT WAS AN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT
HE MADE VERY GOOD USE OF.
NOW, OF COURSE, HE DIDN'T FIX
IT.
HE BROKE IT BEYOND RECOGNITION.
BUT HE WAS ABLE TO PLAY UPON THE
SYSTEM THAT HAD BEEN BROKEN BY A
LOT OF PEOPLE THAT CAME BEFORE
HIM.
>> OF COURSE.
AND WITHOUT GETTING TOO MUCH
FURTHER INTO, THAT I DO WANT TO
TALK ABOUT THE STORIES OF BOTH
THESE MEN.
THESE ARE TWO IMMIGRANT FAMILIES
WHICH JUXTAPOSED TO SOME OF THE
POLICIES FROM THE ADMINISTRATION
MAKES IT INCREDIBLY IRONIC.
BUT LET'S START WITH THE TRUMPS
AND THEN OF COURSE, THE
KUSHNERS, AN INCREDIBLY
HARROWING STORY.
>> DONALD TRUMP'S GRANDFATHER,
FREDERICK TRUMP, IMMIGRATED IN
1885.
A TIME LIKE OUR OWN.
THE GUILDED AGE.
BIG DISPARITIES IN WEALTH.
IT WASN'T JUST THAT PEOPLE WERE
WEALTHY.
THEY WANTED EVERYONE TO KNOW IT.
THERE WAS A RESTAURANT IN
MANHATTAN, DELMONICO'S WHERE
THERE WAS AN ARTIFICIAL LAKE AND
SWANS SWIMMING AROUND AND PEOPLE
HAD ACTUAL GOLD TOILETS IN THEIR
HOMES.
THE BIG MANSIONS BUILT UP AND
DOWN THE HUDSON VALLEY.
PEOPLE WERE WEALTHY.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THAT TIME
AND OUR OWN TIME WAS THAT YOU
COULD STILL CHANGE YOUR SOCIAL
CLASS.
THAT'S WHAT FRIEDERICH TRUMP
DID.
HE ARRIVED IN NEW YORK.
HE WORKED AS A BARBER AND THEN
HE GOES WEST.
HE ZBEETS THE LOSS THAT I
RETALIATED BUSINESS.
FIRST IN SEATTLE, THEN IN THE
UCONN.
AND DURING THE LAST NORTH
AMERICAN GOAD RUSHERING BUILD AS
SERIES OF RESTAURANTS IN THE
YUKON CATERING TO THE APPETITES
OF THE PROSPECTORS FOR FOOD AND
LIQUOR AND ACCESS TO SEX.
AND HE SITUATES HIS RESTAURANTS
WHERE THERE WILL BE A LOT OF
FOOT TRAFFIC, PEOPLE WILL BE
COMING THROUGH.
HE MAKES MONEY.
HE COMES BACK TO NEW YORK AND HE
INVESTS IN RESTAURANTS IN QUEENS
RIGHT AT THE TIME GOVERNMENT IS
GETTING READY TO BUILD A BRIDGE
TO QUEENS.
QUEENS, WHICH HAD BEEN CUT OFF
FROM MANHATTAN.
IT HAS BECOME MUCH MORE
ACCESSIBLE WHICH MEANS LAND WILL
BECOME MUCH MORE VALUABLE.
THAT REALLY BECOMES THE TEMPLATE
FOR THE TRUMP FAMILY BUSINESS.
THEY UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS NOT
JUST THE LAND.
IT IS THE WAY THE GOVERNMENT
WILL DO THINGS TO ENHANCE THE
VALUE OF THE LAND THAT IS
IMPORTANT.
AND THEN THEY BEGIN THE CYCLE,
FIRST MOSTLY WITH DONALD TRUMP'S
FATHER FRED TRUMP AND THEN
DONALD TRUMP.
DONATIONS AND TAX BENEFITS.
AND ONE OF THE STORIES I TELL IN
THE BOOK IS ABOUT HOW TRUMP
TOWER ON, WHICH WAS, SO THERE IS
A TERM MANY REAL ESTATE CALLED
TIFFANY LOCATION.
WHICH MEANS THE BEST LOCATION IN
THE CITY.
SO TRUMP TOWER WAS BUILT AT THE
ACTUAL LOCATION OF TIFFANY'S.
AND YET, DONALD TRUMP WAS ABLE
TO ARGUE A COURT CASE THAT HE
WAS ENTITLED TO TENS OF MILLIONS
OF DOLLARS IN TAX BREAKS THAT
WERE DESIGNED FOR AFFORDABLE
HOUSING.
SO THAT WAS THE TRUMP FAMILY
BUSINESS MODEL.
THAT'S HOW THEIR BUSINESS
DEVELOPED.
NOW, WHEN TRUMP PASSED THE JOBS
ACT, THE TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT
OF 2017, IT, BECAUSE IT ALLOWED
SO MUCH MORE ACCUMULATION OF
WEALTH BY THE VERY WEALTHY AND
IN PARTICULAR, BY CORPORATIONS,
WHAT IT MEANT WAS THAT THE
SOCIAL ELASTICITY THAT HIS
GRANDFATHER HAD BENEFITED FROM,
FRIEDERICH TRUMP HAD BENEFITED
FROM, WAS AVAILABLE TO FEWER AND
FEWER PEOPLE.
SO IT IS HARDER TO CHALLENGE
YOUR CLASS NOW THAN IT WAS --
>> DURING THE GILDED AGE.
>> RIGHT.
>> TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT THE
KUSHNERS.
>> SO THE KUSHNER FAMILY
EMIGRATED TO NEW YORK AT A
DIFFERENT ANAHEIM OUR HISTORY.
THEY, JARED KUSHNER'S
GRANDPARENTS WERE FROM
NORTHEASTERN POLAND.
AN AREA INVADED FIRST BY THE
SOVIET UNION.
THEN BY THE NAZIS.
AND THERE WAS A, ONE OF THE
THINGS THAT'S MOST TRAGIC IN THE
BOOK.
ONE OF THE THINGS I KNOW IS THAT
THERE WERE A SERIES OF
TESTIMONIES LEFT BY THE
SURVIVORS, INCLUDING BY JARED
KUSHNER'S GRANDMOTHER.
AND SHE TELLS THE STORY OF
LIVING IN POLAND AS A TEENAGER
AND THEY HEARD STORIES ABOUT THE
NAZIS COMING IN AND KILLING
PEOPLE IN SOUTHERN POLAND.
THEY JUST DIDN'T BELIEVE IT.
AND THEN THE NAZIS MARCHED INTO
THEIR TOWN AND AT FIRST, IT
SEEMED OKAY.
THERE WERE SOME PEOPLE WERE
MURDERED BUT THEY TOLD
THEMSELVES, WELL, MAYBE IT WAS
BECAUSE THEY WERE INSURGENTS OR
THEY WERE DOING SOMETHING WRONG.
THOUSANDS AND THEN TENS OF
THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WERE
MURDERED.
AND THERE WERE ONLY A FEW
HUNDRED OF THEM LEFT.
WHAT THEY DECIDE TO DO IS THEY
TAKE BITS OF WOOD, SPOONS,
ANYTHING THEY CAN SMUGGLE PAST
THE NAZI GUARD AND THEY DIG A
TUNNEL PAST THE BARBED WIRE.
IT TAKES THREE MONTHS.
THEY PUT THE BAGS OF DIRT IN THE
BECAUSE SO THE NAZIS WILL NOT
KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING.
AND THEN ON A RAINY SEPTEMBER
NIGHT, THEY CRAWL OUT THROUGH A
TWO-FOOT WIDE TUNNEL.
SOME 300 FEET.
MANY OF THEM HE IS CAME TO THE
FOREST WHERE THERE IS A BAND OF
JEWISH PARTISANS AND THEY STAY
THERE THROUGH WAR.
THEY LIVE IN THESE
SEMIUNDERGROUND STRUCTURE TLAUS
BRUTAL POLISH WINTER.
JARED KUSHNER'S GRANDMOTHER,
RAE KUSHNER, HER MOTHER WAS
KILLED, HER SISTER WAS KILLED,
HER BROTHER WAS KILLED.
THEY GO BACK TO THE TOWN AND
IT'S A WASTELAND.
THEY WANT TO GET OUT.
THEY'RE NOW OCCUPIED BY THE
SOVIET UNION.
THE SOVIET UNION DOESN'T WANT
THEM TO LEAVE.
THEY POSE AS GREEKS AND THEY
BOARD A TRAIN.
THEY GET AS FAR AS BUDAPEST.
THAT'S WHERE JARED KUSHNER'S
GRANDMOTHER, RAE KUSHNER, MEETS
UP WITH A YOUNG MAN SHE HAD
KNOWN BEFORE THE WAR AND THEY
MARRY AND THEY CONTINUE THEIR
JOURNEY SOUTH.
THEY SNEAK AROUND BORDER GUARDS.
THEY WALK ACROSS BORDERS
ILLEGALLY.
THEY GET TO A REFUGEE CAMP IN
ITALY.
THEY'RE STATELESS.
THEY HAVE NO DOCUMENTS.
NO ONE WANTS TO TAKE THEM IN.
NOT SOUTH AFRICA, NOT THE U.K.,
NOT THE U.S.
AND WE'VE JUST PASSED THE 75th
ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIBERATION OF
AUSCHWITZ.
BY THIS TIME, AMERICANS KNEW THE
EXPERIENCE THAT THE JEWS HAD HAD
IN EUROPE.
THERE WERE STILL IMMIGRATION
QUOTAS.
SO THEY HIT ON AN IDEA THAT
JARED KUSHNER'S GRANDFATHER WILL
POSE AS RAE KUSHNER'S FATHER'S
SON.
HE CHANGES HIS NAME TO JOE
KUSHNER AND THEY GET PAYMENTS OF
THEY'RE ABLE TO IMMIGRATE AND
THEY TAKE A TWO-WEEK BOAT RIDE
AND ARRIVE IN NEW YORK WITH $2
IN THEIR POCKETS.
HE WORKS AS A CARPENTER, HE GETS
JOBS, HE BECOMES A BUILDER.
HE BUYS A PLOT OF LAND AND IT IS
A GREAT TIME TO BE A BUILDER IN
NEW JERSEY.
AFTER THE WAR, ALL THIS FEDERAL
MONEY IS GOING INTO LOAN
PROGRAMS, ARE TO ROADS SO YOU
CAN GET TO SUBURBAN HOUSING.
AND FROM $2 IN HIS POCKET, HE
BECOMES A MILLIONAIRE MANY TIMES
OVER BY THE TIME HE DIES IN THE
1980s.
>> AND I THINK THAT'S INCREDIBLY
IMPORTANT TO POINT OUT.
A LOT OF THESE FEDERAL PROGRAMS,
AS I SORT OF ALLUDED TO IN THE
INTRO, WERE INTENTIONALLY
EXCLUDING DEFINITELY
AFRICAN-AMERICANS AND OTHERS AS
WELL.
SO THAT WAS SOMETHING, WHETHER
INTENTIONALLY OR NOT, TO HELP
BUILD ON.
BUT ONE OF THE THINGS I FIND SO
INTERESTING IS THAT AT LEAF NOW
WHEN WE HEAR IMMIGRANT
NARRATIVES, WE OPENED THE HEAR
STORIES OF EITHER COMMUNITIES OR
FAMILIES WANTING TO BRING OTHERS
ALONG AND TO HELP.
AND I'M WONDERING, WHAT FROM
YOUR RESEARCH IN THE BOOK DID
YOU GET TO SEE ABOUT WHAT WERE
THE VALUES THAT WERE PASSED
DOWN?
BASICALLY, HOW DID WE GET TO THE
CHARACTERS WE KNOW TODAY?
>> WELL, IT IS REALLY
COMPLICATED WITH THE HOLOCAUST
STORY.
THERE ARE A LOT OF LESSONS TO BE
LEARNED.
I THINK A LESSON PEOPLE WOULD
ASSUME WOULD BE LEARNED, YOU
WOULD BE WARMING AND WELCOMING
TO REFUGEES SUCH AS YOURSELF,
WE'RE IN AN ADMINISTRATION WHERE
NOT ONLY ARE IMMIGRANTS BEING
KEPT OUT BUT EVEN REFUGEE
RESETTLEMENT IS AT MODERN
HISTORIC LOWS.
BUT THERE IS ANOTHER STRAIN THAT
COMES FROM PEOPLE WHO SURVIVE
THE HOLOCAUST.
A SENSE THAT I MUST PROTECT
MYSELF AND MY FAMILY AT ALL
COSTS.
?
ALSO SOMETHING WE SEE A LOT IN
BOTH JARED KUSHNER AND HIS
FATHER CHARLIE KUSHNER, IS THE
SENSE THAT RULES ARE FOR OTHER
PEOPLE.
IF YOU WERE LIVING UNDER THE
NAZIS, YOU WERE CONSTANTLY
HAVING TO DEFY THE AUTHORITIES
JUST TO LIVE.
BUT THAT IS ANOTHER LESSON THAT
HAS CAN TRACKED THROUGH THE
GENERATIONS.
NOW, I WANT TO SAY THAT THESE
ARE, I MEAN, JOE AND RAE KUSHNER
HAD FOUR CHILDREN.
THERE WAS A SPLIT IN THE FAMILY
AND SOME OF JARED KUSHNER'S
COUSINS HAVE MADE DIFFERENT
CHOICES IN THEIR LIVES.
SO ONE OF THE THINGS I WANTED TO
POINT OUT IN THE BOOK, WHILE
THESE FAMILIES EMBLEMATIC,
THEY'RE NOT TYPICAL.
AND THEY MADE CHOICES.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS I WANTED
TO DO IN AMERICAN OLIGARCHS WAS
TO THE TRACE CHOICES THESE
SPECIFIC FAMILIES MADE.
BECAUSE IF ONE THINKS THOSE ARE
NOT THE CORRECT CHOICES, AND I
SHOW WHERE THE CHOICES WERE
MADE, THERE IS A SENSE OF, OKAY,
WELL, THERE IS POWER IN
UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAPPENED
HERE.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR A GREAT
BOOK, FOR A FABULOUS PODCAST,
AND YEAH.
I REALLY CANNOT HE SAID IF A
SIZE ENOUGH HOW MANY OF A
FASCINATING READ AND A BETTER
UNDERSTANDING YOU GAVE ME OF
THESE TWO FAMILIES.
>> THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Funders

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