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To read more about Episode 292, visit the main episode page.
President Richard Nixon [00:00:03] I just say that we’ve got to keep our eye on the main ball. The main ball is Ellsberg. We got to get this son of a b***h. And, you know, I was talking to somebody over here yesterday. I mean, one of our PR-types and they’re saying, “Well, maybe we ought to drop the case so the Supreme Court doesn’t sustain and so forth.” And I said, “Hell no. I mean, you can’t do that. You can’t be in a position of having,” as I said this morning, “we can’t be in a position of ever allowing — and just because some guy’s going to be a martyr — of allowing the fellow to get away with this kind of wholesale thievery or otherwise it’s going to happen all over the government.”
Michael Moore [00:00:45] Welcome, everyone. This is Michael Moore.
[00:00:50] On Friday, a good friend of mine passed away. He was actually a friend of all of you, too, even though most of you did not know him personally. Through his actions in the second half of the 20th century, he saved us, this country, perhaps the world, not once, but twice. His name was Daniel Ellsberg. He was 92 when he passed on Friday. He single handedly did something to help bring the Vietnam War to an end. And this action of his caused Nixon to break the law because Nixon wanted to stop him. He wanted to jail him. He had employees of his reelection campaign of the White House break in to Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office to steal files so they could get dirt on him. They wanted to put him away for life. I wouldn’t be surprised if they talked about killing him, frankly, because that’s the time we were living in. He took a huge risk. And we’ve had others now, with the Iraq war, with the other things that have been going on since 9/11. People that thought we should know the truth — Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, WikiLeaks. Still going after them. Reality Winner. I mean, the list goes on. And anybody who dares to take anything from the government, from the files and tell us/show us the truth of how we are manipulated and lied to and how heinous acts of mass violence, mass killing that is done in our name. Daniel Ellsberg couldn’t take it anymore during the Vietnam War. And so he did what he did. And the American public, once they know the truth, the majority, not all, but the majority will rise up, will make their voices heard, will stop it. And Nixon, even though Ellsberg was in putting out the bait for him, Nixon took the bait. And Nixon had to leave office, had to resign. The first president ever to resign because he wanted to break the law to harm Daniel Ellsberg. Wow.
[00:03:52] And I’ve been… I’ve been pretty sad the last couple of days. He let everyone know back in March that he’d been diagnosed with a terminal cancer and had only, as he said, 3 to 6 months to live. And… I don’t know. A lot of people have died in the last few years. And they all — those I knew or were close to — hit me pretty hard. This one… This one felt different. It hit hard, yes, but… But also filled with a tremendous joy to have known him, to have worked with him, to have lived in his time and he and ours.
[00:05:04] You know, he was the first guest that I ever had on this podcast on the very first day when I began Rumble with Michael Moore back on December 17th, 2019. I wanted to begin with him. I didn’t know if he could do it. At that point he was approaching, I think, close to 90 years old. But I called him up at his home in California, and he was not only more than happy to do it, he had a lot to say. I also wanted to bring him to the awareness of younger generations who did not live during the time of the Vietnam War, and of Richard Nixon. So I said, “I really want them to hear your voice. I want you never to be forgotten. I want all of us to aspire to do what you did.”.
[00:06:00] In the great documentary Hearts and Minds, which came out in, I think 1975-76, won the Academy Award that year for best documentary. The Truth, the best film about Vietnam, but actually one of the best, if not the best documentary I’ve ever seen. I encourage you if you haven’t had a chance to see it — Hearts and Minds by the great documentary filmmaker Peter Davis. It’s currently on HBO Max. You can get it, I think, on Prime. You can rent it on Apple iTunes. You know, it’s around — it’s in the Criterion Collection. You can even watch a bootleg, I think, of it on YouTube. I first saw it in 1976 at “The Flint” — The Flint Cinema, on Dort Highway in Flint, Michigan. But it had 800-1,000 seats. But on this particular night, when I saw the film Hearts and Minds, there were six of us in the theater.
[00:07:11] And Daniel Ellsberg, his role in this film, where he, in part, helps to guide the viewer through all the lies we were told that got us into the Vietnam War. Lies told by multiple presidents, multiple administrations, starting at the end of World War II. And there’s this moment in the movie where Daniel Ellsberg is being interviewed and he’s asked about whether or not was the problem that we were on the wrong side in Vietnam, that maybe we should not have been opposing the will of the people which had wanted to rise up for years and did. First against the French who, quote, “owned” Vietnam and then they were defeated by the Vietnamese people in Ho Chi Minh. And then we decided to jump in and invade ourselves and invade Vietnam. And did we make a mistake in doing that? Shouldn’t we have been supporting the people trying to liberate their country, seeking freedom? Where we on the wrong side? And Ellsberg answers, “it’s not that we were on the wrong side. We were the wrong side.” It’s a very powerful moment and you’ll hear it here shortly, because what I’m going to do today in his honor is to play the very first episode of Rumble with Michael Moore. I should say, this is from December 17th, 2019, and I did two episodes on the first day. The first one was just kind of an introductory episode. That one’s actually called “Episode 1” where I just say hi to everybody and tell you what I’m going to do with this podcast. And then later that night, I got Daniel Ellsberg on the phone to be my first guest in the first, you know, real episode of Rumble. And we spoke for nearly an hour. And when we were done, Basel — Basel Hamdan was our first executive producer, now the emeritus co-founder of this podcast. Basel and I and my sister, Veronica, she was here, the very next day was the scheduled the House vote in Washington, D.C. as to whether or not to impeach Donald J. Trump. The first impeachment. And we were so inspired after talking to Dan Ellsberg, we just decided we had to get up in the morning, get on the train and go down to D.C. That’s what we did with really no planning. We called up our congressman from Flint, Dan Kildee, to see if we could get tickets to the balcony there, the Gallery. It’s called the Gallery. And we were able to get in. We brought our podcast equipment hoping we could tape it, but they wouldn’t let us take that in. But later that night, we recorded on the Amtrak back to New York my second podcast, which then ran the next day on December 19th.
[00:10:30] So anyways, I’m going to play that. I’m going to play Episode 2, the first first interview with anybody I ever did on this podcast, Daniel Ellsberg. I’d love for you to listen to it. There’s a 5-10 minute introduction leading into me finally shutting up and talking to him. But I wanted to lay out the history of the Pentagon Papers of Daniel Ellsberg. Of how he was able to lift these documents from the Pentagon and share them with the world. June 13th, 1971, is when The New York Times published excerpts of the 4,000 pages that he’d given the Times — clearly breaking the law, but doing so because he thought that we, the people, had a right to know how we had been lied to literally for decades about Vietnam in order to prepare us to get behind the war effort. I know it sounds familiar because stuff like this just doesn’t seem to end, does it? And right until his dying days here, Daniel Ellsberg wrote about it, talked about it, stood up, fought, did everything he could ever since those days back in the late sixties and early seventies, when he took a very courageous stand, risked his life for us, the people. And I really can’t think of any better way to honor him than to replay this episode. Please give it a listen. Please forgive the fact that it’s the first time we interviewed anybody on the air. We were still trying to figure out how to do podcasts and the equipment and everything, but I want to share it with you. And if you have the time, I’d love for you to hear this conversation with myself and Daniel Ellsberg. I already feel just a little bit better just being able to tell you that this is what we’re going to do today and that you’re going to join with me and I’m going to sit here and listen to it. Daniel Ellsberg was a great inspiration to me, a great mentor.
[00:12:48] Oh, geez. I first met him in person when I asked him if he’d come to Flint, to my little art house, movie theater I’d set up there. On weekends we’d show documentaries and foreign films and indies. This is back in the 1970s, early ’80s. And somewhere in the I think I would say mid-late ’70s, we showed Hearts and Minds. And he came to Flint and spoke at my theater. And what was I then? 22, 23 years old. It was so great to have him there. And to meet him. To stay in touch with him. All those years afterwards. And to be there with him when we stood with others, some of you, many of you fighting the good fight, still trying to make things better, still believing that we can do it. Not giving up. So that’s what we’re going to do today. Daniel Ellsberg and yours truly on the very first interview on Rumble with Michael Moore.
[00:14:09] Just before we start the tape here, I’ll thank our underwriters for today’s episode. Two underwriters who are there to support me and to support my voice and to support these things that we talk about here on Rumble. So let me just begin by thanking the underwriters for today’s episode.
[00:14:34] So first up is Moink. That’s ‘moo’ plus ‘oink’ — Moink. For all of you omnivore Rumble listeners out there, if you’re like me, you like to know exactly where your meat comes from. And with Moink, you can rest assured that place is not a factory farm and that you are not supporting Big Agriculture, but you are actually supporting a small family farm in the United States. Moink delivers grass fed and grass finished beef and lamb, pastured pork and chicken and sustainable wild caught Alaskan salmon straight to your door. All of it sourced from small family farms across America. Moink farmers farm like they did back in the old days. And I’m telling you, you can taste the difference. The meat tastes like it should, and it feels good knowing you’re helping family farms stay financially independent. So keep American farming going by signing up at MoinkBox.com/rumble right now and listeners of this show get free Bacon in your first box. It’s the best bacon you’ll ever taste, but it’s only for a limited time. So it’s spelled Moink — M-O-I-N-K — Moink. MoinkBox.com/rumble. Thank you for supporting this podcast and for supporting my voice.
[00:15:55] Also, I would like to send a huge thank you to another longtime Rumble supporter, and that is Shopify. If any of you Rumble listeners out there are thinking about starting up your own shop — maybe you’re in a band and want to sell t shirts and hoodies to your fans, or maybe you want to raise money for your school or nonprofit, or you’ve decided to finally quit your day job and open a bookshop — whatever your idea is, Shopify can help. Shopify is the commerce platform that has revolutionized millions of businesses around the globe, making industry leading tools for both brick and mortar stores and online shops accessible to everyone. And they’ve made it as simple as possible to learn. You can customize your online store to your style without having to learn any new skills in design or coding. It even lets you sell across social media marketplaces like TikTok, Facebook and Instagram. So sign up for a $1 per month trial period at Shopify.com/rumble. Make sure ‘rumble’ is all in lower case. Go to Shopify.com/rumble to take your business to the next level today. Shopify.com/rumble.
[00:17:12] Okay, we’re back here. And now from December 17th, 2019, the first interview on episode two of Rumble with Michael Moore.
President Richard Nixon [00:17:26] I want to say this to the television audience. I made my mistakes. But in all of my years of public life, I have never profited, never profited from public service. I earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life, I have never obstructed justice. And I think, too, that I can say that in my years of public life that I welcome this kind of examination because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I have earned everything I got.
Michael Moore [00:18:34] So as we sit here on the day the night before the impeachment vote of Donald J. Trump, on this historic night, I thought of inviting someone on the podcast who was very much a part of the abuse of office on the part of President Richard Nixon, who was under investigation and going through impeachment hearings back in 1974. And the House voted on their articles of impeachment that included illegal and abusive actions against my guest here today on the podcast. And as a result of the House committee voting in favor of these articles, within a number of days, Richard Nixon decided he did not want to wait for the vote that was surely going to take place on the House floor and remove him, be the first president to be removed from office because the Democrats had the Senate and he was going to get convicted. So he resigned.
[00:19:47] But my guest here today on the podcast, he was somebody who was a patriotic American. He was a former Marine. Before that, he was born in Chicago, grew up partly in Detroit, went to the Cranbrook School there. All my fellow Michiganders, we all know Cranbrook. His parents had wanted him to be a concert pianist. And instead, tragically, his mother and his sister died. And at that point, his life changed in a profound way. So in 1954 he found himself, after having gone to, I think, Harvard and Oxford, joining the Marine Corps to, you know, do his bit to support the defense of the country. Upon getting out of the Marine Corps, he eventually worked for the RAND Corporation, which was hired often by the Pentagon and others in the government to do analysis and other research activities. And he was hired to do these research activities and eventually worked in the office of the Secretary of Defense under Lyndon Johnson. That man’s name was Robert McNamara. And the RAND Corporation had also undertaken a study, a research project, to figure out just what happened. How did we get into Vietnam? It was already a huge morass by this point, by the time — now we’re talking about 1967, ’68. It was clear to everyone that this was an awful, awful mistake and immoral action on the part of this country. And there was a rising, rising tide of opposition to the war in the United States and, of course, obviously around the world.
[00:21:38] And my guest decided that he could no longer have the American people, his fellow Americans, in the dark about the lies that they were being told, lies from their very president, not just the secretary of defense, not just the Pentagon, whatever, but from the president of United States lying to the American people. There was a time when that just the very thought that a president would try to get away with these big lies would be so abhorrent to people like my guest that there was a greater calling, a greater duty to tell the truth to the American people, to tell the truth in this case about why we were really in Vietnam and how it was an unwinnable war and there were lives being lost at such an awful…
[00:22:25] I remember one week, I think Life magazine printed the photos of the 500+ that had died that week — 500+ Americans who had died that week. Thousands upon thousands of Vietnamese — South Vietnamese, North Vietnamese — eventually, obviously Cambodians, Laotians. The statistics go anywhere from 2 million Southeast Asians to 4 million Southeast Asians who were killed in this war. This war of our doing. And my guest couldn’t participate in it any longer. And as an act of conscience gave these documents to The New York Times. And they were called the Pentagon Papers. If you’re old enough to remember this, you remember it well. If you’re young, you should look this up. It was a powerful moment in American history, and nobody knew which way things were going to go.
[00:23:20] And as a result of my guest doing this, Richard Nixon had formed a unit, if you can believe this, within the White House, to do a number of illegal activities against his opponents, his what he called, his enemies. They were often antiwar people, but they were a wide variety of people that just opposed Richard Nixon and his policies. And so this unit, called the Plumbers Unit, consisted of G. Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt and a number of others. And they were ordered to break in to the psychiatrist’s office of my guest here today over Labor Day in 1971, to steal records so that they could discredit this individual who had released the Pentagon Papers. And as a result of that action, an action planned in the White House — imagine that. Imagine breaking into a private citizen’s shrink’s office to dig up dirt on them so as to discredit them and to — remember there’s an election coming up the next year in 1972 — so basically to prime the pump for the election, discredit an opponent. Where have we heard this before? You don’t have to go back any further than this past July.
[00:24:44] But this happened. This happened back in 1971. And as a result, when the impeachment vote came up, the plumbers unit, these illegal activities, including against my guest here today, were part of the impeachment of Richard Nixon, and passed the House Judiciary Committee at that time. And I thought, “Really, who better to have on?” And thank God he is still with us. He is still active. He is still fighting the fight for all of us. He is, you know, in the pantheon of great Americans that have affected our history in the last hundred years — you know, you can name the names from Rosa Parks to so many others that because of a simple action they took as a citizen, as a civilian, we actually got to be a little bit better of a country. But it doesn’t happen without the struggle. It doesn’t happen without people like my guest here today. Mr. Daniel Ellsberg. Daniel, welcome to my podcast.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:25:52] Wonderful to be here Michael. I’m honored to be mentioned in the same sentence with Rosa Parks.
Michael Moore [00:26:00] When this happened to you, I was in 12th grade in high school, so I have a very clear memory of the whole thing. But I want to point out that this particular thing… Well, first of all, you exposed the truth by sharing these papers. And of course, The New York Times was ordered by the judge to cease publishing the truth about Vietnam in these papers. And I think that they were shut down, at least this part of them publishing the story was shut down for a number, maybe two weeks? Something like that. And in that time — and they made a movie about this, I think a year or so ago called The Post — that Katharine Graham and The Washington Post decided to just start publishing it. While The Times was under the order of the court not to publish, they started publishing and then they were shut down. And then, if I remember the story correctly, you and your wife went into hiding because you knew at that point the federal government was looking for you. And during those weeks, you gave it to another 15 newspapers across the country so that everybody would have this. And they all started publishing it. Do I have that correct?
Daniel Ellsberg [00:27:24] The president was saying the Attorney General was saying that the publication of these papers was of immediate hurt to the national security of the United States during wartime, and that the people, anybody publishing this, was directly hurting the national security. And yet 17 newspapers who looked at those documents that I gave them and with the help of other people, by the way, looked at and said, “We don’t agree with that, we think the public needs to know this and we don’t see that this top secret history is going to hurt the United States at all. And on the countrary, it will help it by letting us understand what’s going on.” And they defied the president and the attorney general. There were four injunctions — The Boston Globe after The Washington Post and The New York Times, the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch. And eventually they gave up because with eventually 17 papers involved, one of the prosecutors said, “Well, it’s like herding bees. We can’t stop this.” And then it went to the Supreme Court. But this was, in effect, a wave of civil disobedience across the country by newspapers one after another, which, as you know, Michael, are not public interest, pro-bono organizations. They’re not nonprofit NGOs exactly. They were all facing risks of prosecution and risks to their financial interests. And I don’t think there’s been anything like that in any country that I’ve ever heard of where so many important institutions simply defied the executive branch and risked the prosecution, and risked injunctions to put out the truth. So it was a very admirable period, which, to my surprise, they don’t particularly celebrate when the anniversaries come along. The Post and the Times tend to congratulate themselves reasonably for what they did. But the other 15 newspapers don’t seem to recognize the anniversaries, and they really should, because we need to remember that period. We need it right now when they and all their colleagues are being called enemies of the people and they rise to that challenge and protect our democracy, as they did then, or let themselves become channels for government handouts, as in so many other countries.
Michael Moore [00:30:04] Okay, so obviously the Nixon administration, they’re furious that this has happened. Most of the, as I remember, the Pentagon Papers were showing all the mistakes and all the lies that happened from the early years, from actually from Truman through Eisenhower, Kennedy, especially Johnson. But Nixon had only been in office, you know, a couple of years, and yet took it upon himself to make sure he brought you down. And they had — am I correct that there was even an order to assault you?
Daniel Ellsberg [00:30:47] Their interest was not in going into my psychiatrist office to get psychoanalysts, to get information to discredit me. I’m already facing 12 felony counts for what I had actually done, you know, copy these papers. There was no question of fact involved here. I acknowledged that from the beginning. So discrediting me was not going to affect the outcome of the trial and the outcome of the trial, in fact, wasn’t what Nixon was concerned about very much anyway. What they wanted was information to blackmail me with, to threaten me with revealing so that I would stop saying what I knew to be Nixon’s current strategy. Now, the Pentagon Papers ended in ’68 before Nixon came in. So they didn’t incriminate Nixon except for his participation under Eisenhower. They didn’t say much about Nixon at the time, so he could easily say, “Well, this was the Democrats who did this. Not my policy.” I was saying on the basis of inside knowledge, that he was continuing essentially the same lies and the same threats of escalation, except he was increasing them. He hoped essentially to win in Vietnam by threatening more than the Democrats had ever threatened, namely nuclear weapons against North Vietnam, which are directly threats directly conveyed, and for which plans for nuclear attacks existed, known to me by people who had actually seen them. Also, threats of invading Laos and Cambodia, which he eventually did do, invading North Vietnam, mining Haiphong which involved confronting Soviet shipping, among other things, and basically escalating the war very much in order to get the North Vietnamese to make concessions that would amount to our winning the war, namely to allow us to take our troops out, but to continue air power support to General Thieu, the alleged president or “puppet” president, of South Vietnam.
Michael Moore [00:33:06] Our puppet, right.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:33:07] Who had put Nixon into office basically by doing what Trump is accused of doing, or I should say, what the Russians are accused of doing, colluding with a presidential candidate, in this case Nixon, to get him elected. And they did that by refusing Johnson’s invitation, which they had earlier accepted, to go to Paris and start negotiations that might end the war. And Nixon persuaded Thieu not to go. This was just before the election, and that, Thieu’s refusal to go, did stop the increase in the polls that Hubert Humphrey had been experiencing right then — he was even with Nixon at that point — and led to Nixon’s winning by a very close margin after which Nixon was indebted, and in fact, really controlled by Thieu in a way, because Thieu could have revealed at any point the impeachable acts of Nixon, which Lyndon Johnson described as treason. And I question whether it was treason, it certainly was an impeachable act at that point. So for that, the war continued in the Nixon administration and then following in the Ford administration till 1975, six years later. And before ’73, another 20,000 Americans had their names on the Vietnam Memorial and half a million or more Vietnamese had died in order to prevent Nixon from being impeached, basically by revelation by Thieu that he had colluded to win an election with a foreign power earlier.
Michael Moore [00:34:56] So essentially what you’re saying is that they wanted those psychiatric files on you to use as…
Daniel Ellsberg [00:35:07] They hoped they would find things that I wouldn’t want out and they could keep me from repeating or saying that Nixon was making nuclear threats, that he intended to continue the war, that the war was likely to get larger. Above all, they feared that I had documents.
Michael Moore [00:35:24] Right.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:35:25] And I didn’t — well, I had documents, but not what they feared. And I could have had because there were people who left the administration when some of that escalation did occur, very creditably resigned from the National Security Council over the invasion of Cambodia, but they didn’t take documents with them or give them to me or anybody else. As one of those people, Roger Morris, a deputy to Kissinger, said later it was the greatest shame of his life that they had not revealed documents at that time. He said, “We should have thrown open the safes and screamed bloody murder because that’s exactly what it was.” Afraid that they had given me documents like that, they had to keep me quiet. And that’s why they later brought people up when they hadn’t found material in Dr. Fielding’s office with which to blackmail me, they then brought a dozen Cuban Americans, veterans of the Bay of Pigs, on May 3rd, 1972, to the steps of the Capitol with orders to incapacitate me totally. And this was in a week when on the tapes, Kissinger and Nixon are discussing possible use of nuclear weapons. Nixon is favoring that. And they were afraid that I would have documents at that point that would forecast that and they had to shut me up entirely.
Michael Moore [00:36:48] Wow. So in addition to them knowing that you knew — you had information about what Nixon was really up to — and fearing that you had even more information or documents which you didn’t have, but they feared that you might, by breaking into the psychiatrist’s office, Dr. Fielding, they would somehow be able to hold some sway over you and control you with whatever information they were going to find in his office. And as a result of this break in and when it became knowledge, public knowledge, I think through John Dean.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:37:26] John Dean had been told by the effective head of the Plumbers, Egil Krogh — by the way, they were recalled “Plumbers,” because they thought of themselves as stopping leaks. And essentially, that was leaked by me. That’s what they were afraid of.
Michael Moore [00:37:41] The break-in of your psychiatrist’s office, Dr. Fielding, though, occurred almost really not quite a full year, but about nine months before the break-in at Watergate.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:37:51] That’s right. They later… Actually the effort to incapacitate me totally, which wasn’t carried out because they became, it’s a longer story, but they became worried at the time that they were being set up, quote, “as patsies to be caught.” And they decided to throw that one. But that very night they were taken around to reconnoiter their next target, which was the Watergate Hotel, where the Watergate office is, where the Democratic National Committee was. And weeks after that, a couple of weeks after the attempt to incapacitate me wasn’t carried through, they did go into the Watergate offices, and then they weren’t caught that night. And then to repair taps, bugs that hadn’t functioned. That first night, they went in again a second time, and this time they were caught and they were being run essentially by Hunt and Liddy, the very people who had engineered the burglary of my psychiatrist office earlier. So in other words, when they were caught, they now had blackmail on Nixon because they knew of these earlier crimes. Actually, it’s never been proved, although it has been alleged, that Nixon knew of the actual break in — beforehand — to the Watergate. But these people knew about his earlier crimes directly against me, which were ordered out of the Oval Office. So they had to keep them quiet. And by giving more than $100,000 in essentially bribery money to get them to perjure themselves in front of the grand jury and say that they did not know of any previous crimes, this was further obstruction of justice. Dean told the president it was a cancer on the presidency, was getting further and further. They had to lie to conceal other lies. And eventually, because Dean brought that out, it did eventually get to my court because the trial was still going on and they were obliged to inform the court. And that came out. And then Hunt and others reversed their perjury and revealed things about the wiretapping of me, the psychological profile that the CIA had done against me, which was against their charter to do on an American citizen, and other other crimes came up.
Michael Moore [00:40:21] This is all being coordinated out of the White House. Hunt and Liddy, they’re in, I think, the offices there, wherever they were, meeting in the old executive Office building, all part of the White House complex there. And this would eventually all come together with all the other things they were doing, the so-called “Plumbers Unit,” as part of one of the articles of impeachment, the abuse of power, Nixon’s abuse of power. How are you feeling tonight? I mean, here we are, we’re on the eve of this impeachment vote. You are a historic figure that the actions that you had bravely taken to tell the truth about Vietnam and it resulting in this abuse of you, first of all, the break in at your psychiatrist’s office, but also the the plan to incapacitate you and then the cover up, the obstruction of justice.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:41:13] Just as, by the way, one of the counts of impeachment here against President Trump, which will almost certainly go through tomorrow in the House, is essentially cover up obstruction of justice, which he went through, which Trump organized in response to a truth teller, to a whistleblower.
Michael Moore [00:41:35] Right. To a whistle blower — like you.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:41:37] And then to keep that from being investigated, Trump made absolutely unprecedented orders of cover up that no government official could respond to subpoenas by the Congress. You know, a clear defiance of the Constitution, the separation of powers, the powers of Congress here to investigate and impeach. He’s in effect, you know, it’s like rolling up the 82nd Airborne around the White House and saying, “Come and get me!”
Michael Moore [00:42:07] Right.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:42:09] Like an old mobster film or something — threatening people with great consequences if they told the truth as ordered by Congress.
Michael Moore [00:42:17] So what’s that like for you today? Tonight? Here we are, and it’s not exactly deja vu, but it’s kind of. It miust have… What is going through you right now?
Daniel Ellsberg [00:42:30] Well, there is a difference in this situation, which is that the Senate is certain, you know, the Republicans in the Senate, to defy the law, defy the Constitution, to defy the evidence of their own senses as to what’s happened here and vote to acquit. So he will almost certainly be acquitted of this indictment, which is what the impeachment amounts to, an indictment. And he will go into the election claiming that he’s been totally exonerated, indicating, by the way, a very dangerous precedent. It pretty much comes close to saying that a president whose party controls the Senate, which determines conviction, is above the law —
Michael Moore [00:43:23] Right.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:43:24] …can do anything he wants, foreign affairs and domestic affairs. If the president can get away with this, he can definitely get away with anything if his own party controls the Senate. And that means that we don’t have a government of law. He is, in effect, a king.
Michael Moore [00:43:40] So, yeah, so the big difference, obviously between tonight and tomorrow and back in 1974 is…
Daniel Ellsberg [00:43:50] Remember what a real difference in both parties from then is this: that going to another impeachment, a number of Clinton, I think 17 Democrats voted for the inquiry, impeachment inquiry into Clinton. And a number would have voted for impeachment at that point. What Nixon faced and led to his resignation was that Republicans in the Senate came to him and said we’re going to vote against you because the evidence is so clear. Now, that obviously simply can’t happen now for the simple reason that the Republicans are proving absolutely impervious to evidence and to their obligations to uphold the Constitution.
Michael Moore [00:44:36] How did this happen? How did we go from a time when there were Republicans who told Nixon to stand down, we’re going to vote to convict you if you don’t resign, to a time when after this vote tomorrow and it goes to the Senate after the holidays, that the Senate has already made clear that it may be a near unanimous vote amongst the Republicans in the Senate to ignore the evidence, to ignore the Constitution, and just line up like lemmings behind Donald Trump.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:45:13] It’s not enough to move Trump out of office, which we won’t do by impeachment and conviction, but it’s not enough to move him out of office by election, which is absolutely essential for reasons I hope we go into. But that’s not enough. The Senate has to be changed. The House has to be changed. And really all these are necessary conditions for survival in terms of our climate, climate change, in terms of our democracy, I would say it’s essential. It’s not enough because the Democrats have not done nearly enough in the past and they won’t do enough on these issues in the future. But at least they won’t be leading in exactly the wrong direction as the Republicans are right now.
Michael Moore [00:46:00] So, okay, so let’s jump ahead a month or so. The Senate has not convicted Trump. He claims a great victory. They try to slam the Democrats for trying to, you know, overthrow the king. What do we do then? Where are we at then?
Daniel Ellsberg [00:46:18] We do have an election, obviously.
Michael Moore [00:46:21] There is still an election scheduled. This is correct.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:46:24] Okay, I’ll give you… Here’s a thought that will not be received well, I suspect, by many in your audience, but I’m going to tell you the truth of what I think here, what I worry about. There is more than a chance that Trump will get reelected. I see Biden as a ticket to Trump.
Michael Moore [00:46:48] Yes. And not just by those who will vote third party. I think a centrist, somebody like Biden, people will stay home.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:47:01] Yes.
Michael Moore [00:47:02] Young people will stay home. They will not vote.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:47:06] Or they will vote for a third party. I should have put it that way, Michael.
Michael Moore [00:47:09] Yes, one of the two.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:47:11] The effect probably will be just to stay home. But that will be enough.
Michael Moore [00:47:14] I asked you, what are we going to do when the Senate doesn’t convict Trump? And you said, “Well, there’s an election coming up.” And that is very true. We can vote in the primaries and you should vote for the person who most aligns with you. Don’t be playing some kind of weird game of chess. Just vote for who you like the best. And then let that person hopefully win. If not, get behind whoever the person is that wins the nomination.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:47:43] Yes, Bernie Sanders was criticized by many people for doing that in 2016, and that just revealed to me that people among some leftists can be as much in denial as people on the right or anybody else, because to say he was wrong to support Hillary at that point is to fail to see, to refuse to see, that Trump was even worse on balance than Hillary.
Michael Moore [00:48:14] No, Bernie did the right thing.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:48:16] I’m aware of all I accept all of the left criticisms of the Democratic Party and of Hillary specifically and of Obama and most of these candidates right now — certainly Biden. Tremendous shortcomings and far from adequate from what we need at all. And nobody’s proven, from any particular point of view, even Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren haven’t taken on the military industrial complex, although Bernie has talked about it more than almost anybody else. Or nuclear weapons, various things. But, you know, they really are a new voice. I will be… Certainly I would say I will be backing Bernie Sanders. And remember, and Michael as you know, it’s not just who you vote for, who one votes for in the voting booth. That really doesn’t matter that much when you come down to it — one vote does not determine elections. It’s how you use your activity, your influence, your audience if you have one, your voice, and especially in the swing states under our current system. Remember, I really and I think you’ll agree, I would like very much to change the current system. So that the electoral college system does not rule and everybody’s vote will count in the different states and you won’t have swing states that exist. That will not be a phenomenon at that point. But it is very much now. So there will be 4 to 10 states that will be critical here and it will be essential to elect not Trump, whoever it is, even Biden, if we could do it. Because as short as he is in terms of what we need, it’s not Trump. He will not be trying to destroy civilization in terms of climate, which Trump is trying to do in effect.
Michael Moore [00:50:15] Right. It’s amazing to me that you maintain this level of optimism.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:50:22] [ laughs ] What optimism? Where did you hear optimism?
Michael Moore [00:50:25] I hear you saying that we still have elections.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:50:30] Yeah.
Michael Moore [00:50:31] We still have a chance. We have at least a chance by next November to stop the madness. The current madness —
Daniel Ellsberg [00:50:38] Yes.
Michael Moore [00:50:38] — of Donald J. Trump.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:50:39] Yes.
Michael Moore [00:50:40] That is a possibility, not necessarily a reality. I agree with you. I think if the election were held today, whoever the Democrat would be would win the popular vote by more votes than Hillary won it in ’16, but could still lose the Electoral College to Trump.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:50:58] Yeah.
Michael Moore [00:50:59] Because his loyal supporters have not deserted him. They will be out in force for him.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:51:06] Yeah, I do have to say that’s not to their credit, really. I have to say yes, a lot of those people are abused. They have been oppressed. They have been ignored by the Democrats as much as by anybody. They’ve been lied to, they’ve been left in the lurch, etc., etc.. That’s all true. They are a victim and they feel that way with basis. To respond to that by electing Donald Trump is not to their credit. I don’t see anything around that.
Michael Moore [00:51:37] No. And we are talking about white people. I am the Trump demographic. I am an angry white guy over the age of 50 with a high school education. So I know these guys because I grew up with them. I still know them back home here. And I understand why they’re upset. I understand why even though some of them don’t agree with Trump, saw him as the human Molotov cocktail that they could throw into the system to just blow things up because their lives have been so miserable for the last 10, 20 years. I get it. I get that. But what I say to them is this, “Do you know who else has it miserable? Black people. African-Americans.” So as much as Black America has been punked on, as much as they’ve had to go through — or Native Americans. Who has it worse than them? And yet what do they do when they come out to vote? They vote for the Democrat. They vote for the Democrat every time. They don’t say, “Oh, you know, nobody’s done anything for me, so I’m either going to stay home or I’m going to vote… yeah, I don’t care if Trump gets in there.” 98% of Black women voted against Trump. And most obviously for Hillary. They voted for Hillary. And yet are they not as abused as Lunch bucket Joe from Macomb County in Michigan? I would say yes. I would say they’ve had to go through the struggle that poor white people have to go through. But why don’t black people just say, ‘To hell with this,” you know? “I’m going to vote for Trump?”
Daniel Ellsberg [00:53:22] How does that argument go over?
Michael Moore [00:53:27] Yeah, not very well. But I don’t care because I’m going to tell them to quit whining, and do the right thing. And I agree with them. And I say this. Look, I realize the Democrats, if you’re living in Detroit, if you’re living in Flint, you know, where are the Democrats? Why are we in year five or whatever it is, of the Flint poisoning? We have a Democratic governor now in Lansing, Michigan, you know? So I get it. I totally get it. I’m every bit as pissed off. But we have to think clearly here and not just be run by our legitimate emotional state because we have to remove… Somebody said this to me here the other day: it’s like the body politic of America right now is a very, very sick, very ill patient. And Trump is a boil on that diseased body. But that’s what he is. He’s just a boil. Yes. Lance, the boil. Get rid of the boil. But you still got the diseased body you’ve got to take care of. And the reason why Bernie is number one in all the polls with Latino voters, number two, with African-Americans after Biden right now. And that’s changing more and more. You know, Bernie has really risen with African-American voters in recent polls, and that’s because they know he’s the real deal. He will not turn on them. He will not be bought off. And they know that. And that’s why they will be excited about voting for him. I feel very strongly about this.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:55:08] Okay, I’m with you. You mentioned to Michiganders and said that I went to Cranbrook, which is of course, a very rich boys school, where the sons of the Rogers’ — the sons of the auto manufacturers and Roger Smith. And I was a scholarship student, full scholarship student. And in fact, when I graduated, I spent the summer working at the Dodge Plant number three in Hamtramck because I was expecting a life as a labor organizer or labor economist, which is what I studied in college. And I was very familiar with the trauma of the Memorial Day massacre of the public steel in Chicago and the battle of the overpass with Walter Ruether and so forth. And that’s where I was headed. I joined the UAW when I was 17 and had to get my father’s permission.
Michael Moore [00:56:07] So just for people listening to know, the Dodge Factory in Hamtramck, Michigan, is a city within the city limits of Detroit. So it’s a hardcore town that exists within the city limits of Detroit.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:56:24] What I’m experiencing right now is very bad hearing problems — it really got worse — it started in the press shop in Hamtramck, which if you’ve been in a press room, you know, where they punch out the big things, the tops and then —
Michael Moore [00:56:39] Yeah, brutal.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:56:40] — the size and sort of the scream of those machines I’ve never really recovered from. In fact I was very interested to see that the first place that the UAW bargained on conditions, not just salary or retirement or whatever, but conditions was Dodge plant number three, where they never used to wear hearing, you know, phones over your ears and mufflers over years at all, now, they do. So my hearing is very damaged now.
Michael Moore [00:57:09] I’m sorry about that. And I’m sorry that Detroit and Hamtramck is responsible for this.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:57:17] Then I became a cold warrior, as did a lot of the unions, in fact, at that time. And we went in a different direction. But certainly I didn’t imagine in favor — the best thing I can say for the Democratic Party now is that it has Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, AOC, in it. It has Bernie Sanders. It has Elizabeth Warren. And I must say, I didn’t dream in 2016 at the beginning of the campaign that an old Jewish socialist could come close to getting that nomination, or had a real crack at getting it. I don’t think Bernie himself imagined that at the beginning.
Michael Moore [00:58:01] No, he didn’t.
Daniel Ellsberg [00:58:02] The possibility of taking over the Democratic Party, which is not an overnight thing, it takes long organizing and long work, in emulation of what the right wing did, the right wing youth in particular, I think, young Americans for Freedom and stuff, they took over the Republican Party after the defeat of their candidate, Goldwater, in 1964. He was totally destroyed, lost everything but a few states in the South. 16 years later, they had taken over the Republican Party to the point where they got Ronald Reagan in 1980. Well, we don’t have, in a way, 16 years to do something about climate. But the idea of working politically to change the possibilities in this country is the challenge to us. We can’t go on as of now. And getting either Sanders or Warren in, which will be very hard, odds against it I would say, we need that. And we’re going to try do our best, even if it’s a longshot to do that, because as Noam Chomsky puts it, Republican Party today is the most dangerous political organization in human history. It sounds almost necessarily crazy or hyperbolic. How can one say anything like that? And what he’s referring to is the fact that as he says they are doing their absolute best monolithically to favor the short run interests of Exxon Mobil and others and put fossil CO2 in the atmosphere as much as they can. There’s never been anything like it. We’ve never faced a conscious challenge like that ever.
Michael Moore [00:59:56] That’s so true. I want to ask you, just before we close here, something about… There’s a documentary. It’s actually my favorite documentary of all time. It’s called Hearts and Minds by the director, Peter Davis. You appear prominently in this documentary. This was made back in 1975, ’76. And he interviews you…
Daniel Ellsberg [01:00:21] It was just before the end of the war.
Michael Moore [01:00:24] Okay. So. Yeah, I think he probably started this back in ’72, ’73, the project itself.
Daniel Ellsberg [01:00:30] Oh yeah, no, it was done in ’72, ’73, right.
Michael Moore [01:00:33] Yeah. And then it came out in ’75, I believe, and won the Oscar for “Best Documentary.”
Excerpt of Daniel Ellsberg’s interview in “Hearts & Minds” [01:00:39] It’s no surprise that in a very poor country, you can find people who will wear foreign uniforms. What is always surprised us, what we’ve never been willing to predict or understand is that the Vietnamese Communist leadership can find enough people to live in the tunnels, fight for nothing, wearing ragged shorts year after year under the American bombs. A war in which one side is entirely financed and equipped and supported by foreigners is not a civil war. The only foreigners in that country were the foreigners we financed in the first part of the war and the foreigners, we were in the second half of the war. Basically, we didn’t want to acknowledge the scale of our involvement there. We didn’t want to realize that it was our war, because that would have been to say that every casualty on both sides was a casualty caused by our policy. The question used to be might it be possible that we were on the wrong side in the Vietnamese war? But we weren’t on the wrong side, we are the wrong side.
Michael Moore [01:01:48] Wow. So that is maybe one of the most profound statements I’ve ever seen in a documentary — that we are the wrong side. It’s so hard for us as Americans to wrap our heads around the idea: How could we possibly be the wrong side? Why we’re for Truth and justice and the American way! And we deliver democracy to your doorstep. But the truth was something very different, a truth that you exposed with the Pentagon Papers. And it’s such a moment in this film. When I saw it in a theater with an audience back in the mid seventies, it was like a mallet coming out of the screen and whacking me and everybody else in the audience. It was so powerful. And what have we learned now, all these years later, all these almost 50 years later?
Daniel Ellsberg [01:02:44] Look, we’re talking right now, just a week or two after the revelation of the so-called “Afghanistan papers,” in which it turns out that the highest officials in the government, military and civilian, were asked, well, the secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld, was saying, “I can’t see who the good guys are here.” Or Lute, the general in charge of the area, basically saying, you know, “we didn’t have the foggiest idea what we were doing.” And again, who are the good guys and who were the bad guys? But they weren’t facing up ever — they were recognizing that we were in an endless stalemate, that we were making no progress, that the statements about progress, that all these same people were making to the American public, and the president was making, were false. That wasn’t happening. And again, not one of them, I think, revealed that at the time. But what they haven’t faced up to is our role there, which is foreign invaders, foreign occupiers. And none of these sides on the thing were terribly nobel, you know, or admirable in all respects — who is in effect? But there were some people there who really had no right to be there killing people. And that was us. What they hadn’t faced up to was an imperial rule here, an empire, where we thought we had the right to remake other nations and to decide regime change. And regime change is the virtual definition of “empire.” Now, the notion that we have a right to go on killing Afghans for whatever reason, protecting women there who need protecting, but whatever that we have a right to be killing Afghans right now and losing some Americans, but at a ten or more to one rate. Killing Afghans is something American people haven’t faced up to. And that’s true elsewhere. And in Yemen right now, we’re supporting the Saudis, giving them weapons, selling them weapons, servicing their planes, refueling their planes, giving them target information, which they largely use to kill civilians in Yemen and to blockade them and produce famines there. There is a case where both houses of Congress actually voted to cut off the aid. By the way, an effort that happened to be led by Senator Bernie Sanders, but he got actual votes. That had never happened since. Former Republican carried in since 1973 when Congress cut off the votes for Vietnam. That was the first time in history where I think any legislature had cut off funding for ongoing war on that term. And it’s the second time, except that Trump vetoed it. So an enormous crime against the peace is going on right now, a crime against humanity in Yemen, right. US. And that doesn’t define us as the good guys.
Michael Moore [01:05:50] No.
Daniel Ellsberg [01:05:52] The idea that we support democracy in the third World, the former colonial world, the underdeveloped world, is false. It’s a myth that I believed in for much of my life and finally came to see — it certainty wasn’t true in Vietnam — but was really later that I came to see that that was not an aberration, that basically we, more often than not, support dictatorships, coups, authoritarian regimes because they suit our corporate interests, our economic interests better than a democracy, better than a country with unions and peasant organizations do, and with welfare states of any kind. So that it’s simply false that we are the good guys when it comes to that part of the world, that half of the world. And that’s still true is what we’re seeing now. The Afghan papers show that these people, I think, never did come to understand that even though they knew we weren’t winning, but, you know, the American people had been willing to tolerate killing foreigners from the air without too many American casualties, indefinitely. And that’s what we’ve just seen — 18 years in Afghanistan. Without changing both parties, it can go on for another 18 years.
Michael Moore [01:07:21] Wow. Let’s hope not. I think I just also just wanted — I don’t know if I’ve ever done this in person or have told you this over the phone or whatever, I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this to you… thank you. Just outright thank you. Personally, thank you for what you’ve done, for what you did. When you look at what’s happened now to Chelsea Manning, to Ed Snowden. I mean, what they did was really no different than what you did. And you are considered an American hero. And I don’t understand why these two individuals don’t get the same… But, boy, I’ll tell you, you know, they want to lock them up and throw the key away. And the message to other possible whistleblowers is, don’t you even think about taking documents that will tell the American people the truth.
Daniel Ellsberg [01:08:24] Well, those two people are heroes of mine. And at the same time, I identify with them. What does that mean? Well they represent, what they did, represents what I’ve done best, the best part of my life, which is not the whole of my life by any means. But I may know and like Ed Snowden very much. I don’t know Chelsea to speak of, but I know them as people whose example I would like to see others follow. And my newest hero, as much as them actually, is 16 years old. Greta Thunberg, whom Michael, I think at this point will interest you. It doesn’t get made very often. She’s known for leading inspiring demonstrations all over the world. 1.2 million, I think it was, in beginning of the year. And in October, 4 to 6 million people, young people demonstrated against the apathy, the inactivity on climate change. They demonstrated on a weekday on Friday. They took off from school and called the situation — as she did when she was doing it alone — as a strike. That’s what it is. I don’t think we’re going to change the world here and change our policies without being willing to use the civil disobedience, but very specifically strikes. A general strike. And that’s what she is leading right now. And as I say, my own interest in the in the labor movement, that’s how, as you know, the labor car industry was initially organized by sit down strikes occupying buildings which were held by the Supreme Court to be illegal eventually. But by that time nonviolent inside they just occupied the place and they had organized pretty much the auto industry at that point. And we’re going to have to show that kind of willingness to pay personal costs and to take a risk and to change our lives directly. You asked whether I was an optimist. Here’s the kind of optimist I am: Greta Thunberg said to a parliament recently — I saw the quote in the transcript — she said, “These parliamentarians,” I’ve forgotten which one it was, she listed all the things that had to be done to avert catastrophic climate change. And she said, I don’t believe for a second that you’re going to do any of these things, but I hope I’m wrong. And I realized when I read that that’s my hope. I don’t see a likely way out of the situation we’ve created here, given the strength of the institutions we’re facing, the military industrial complex, the fossil fuel industry, Exxon, places like that, the banks. I don’t see how we get beyond them. But I hope I’m wrong. And that’s not an idle hope, because I’ve often been wrong in the past. I’ve been wrong. So that’s my hope. We’ve got a chance. It’s not impossible. Just the other day at Cop25, the climate conference, when she gave a terrific speech and followed by I don’t think she was involved directly in inspiring this, but a lot of people rushed the stage, young people, and occupied it for a while. And they were chanting, “We are unstoppable” and “change is possible.” “Another world,” that’s what they said, “Another world is possible.” That’s true. It’s possible. It’s not impossible. That’s what we’ve got to work with. And it’s worth it because the stakes are everything. The stakes in the climate area and nuclear are everything. So it is worth our utmost efforts — without violence, I would say. Truthfully, but with self risk and self-sacrifice it’s if we have a chance of enlarging that possibility and keeping it all going.
Michael Moore [01:12:53] I’m with you. And I’m with you all the way with that. I feel every bit of the despair in the first part of what you said, that that we are probably doomed at this point. But but the one hope is that if people get active now. Strike now. Fight now. We have that chance. Why would we not take that chance? Who would sit idly by at this point? You’ve been that inspiration, Greta is now that inspiration, and we need to take that and run with it. Absolutely. Absolutely. Daniel Ellsberg, I can’t thank you enough here on the eve of this impeachment vote to have you with us. You who were part of the reason that Nixon was in the process of being impeached 45 years ago this year. You’re still with us. You’re still fighting strong. We love you. Thank you for being on my second podcast. It’s a real pleasure.
Daniel Ellsberg [01:14:01] Thank you for your films, Michael, because you are using your life, you exemplify right livelihood very much. Those films are powerful and have the real chance of bringing about change. No guarantee, but no better chance. And thank you for those.
Michael Moore [01:14:19] Well, thank you. And to everyone listening, we thank you. And we invite you to be part of this, if you’re not already. Always remember, as I say to everybody, there’s more of us than there are of them. Don’t ever forget that. We have power. We have it in our hands. And a lot of us, I think, just don’t know it. But it’s there and it needs to be used and used now A.S.A.P. So thank you. Daniel Ellsberg. And that’s our second podcast here with Rumble with Michael Moore.
President Richard Nixon [01:14:54] In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. I would have preferred to carry through to the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved, and my family unanimously urged me to do so. But the interests of the nation must always come before any personal considerations. From the discussions I have had with congressional and other leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter, I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the nation will require. I have never been a quitter.