Stay Tuned Transcript: Devil’s Bargains (with David Remnick)

Stay Tuned Transcript: Devil’s Bargains (with David Remnick)

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Preet Bharara:              From CAFE, welcome to Stay Tuned, I’m Preet Bharara.

David Remnick:            I even think a lot of the supporters, think and know that he’s a racist. What’s bewildering is excusing him. We see this all the time. You see them interviewed on television, you read it in the newspaper. I’ve talked to people. Basically, a lot of people are thinking, “Okay, I know that this guy is a bad guy.” His character is not of the highest, but they’re getting something from him. So people make devil’s bargains.

Preet Bharara:              That’s David Remnick, a journalist and author. He lived in Moscow for years covering the dissolution of the Soviet Union for the Washington Post. Remnick got his start at The New Yorker in 1992 and in just six years, he got promoted to the top job, editor of the magazine. As they gear up for the upcoming annual New Yorker Festival, I joined Remnick at his studio in the World Trade Center. We talked about his experiences interviewing Obama in the White House, the discovery of The New Yorker, why it’s pointless to block out the president’s communications, even his tweets, and which news outlet is a form of political popcorn. But first let’s get to your questions. That’s coming up, stay tuned.

Preet Bharara:              This fall, Stay Tuned is going back on the road, Denver, Atlanta, Minneapolis and Detroit. Tickets available right now at cafe.com/tour. On November 5th will be in Minneapolis in the great state of Minnesota. Joining me is former marathon or city councilman civil rights attorney, Mayor Jacob Frye. You’re not going to want to miss this rising star. In addition to Minneapolis, I’ll be in Atlanta with Sally Yates, in Denver with Shannon Watts, and in Detroit with Attorney General Dana Nestle. To get tickets and details of all these upcoming live shows, head to cafe.com/tour. That’s cafe.com/tour.

Chris:                            Hey, Preet. This is Chris from Denver and I will be joining you, my wife and I will be joining you in Denver when you interview Shannon Watts here in a few weeks. Anyway my question is looking at all the trouble that Trump is in here, I was wondering how do we as an American citizens get you to be the prosecuting attorney against President Trump in his impeachment trial. Thanks a lot, Preet. Love listening to you. Can’t wait to see you on October 24. Thanks, bye.

Preet Bharara:              Chris, from Denver. Glad you’re coming to the show. It’s only three weeks away. There’s still a few tickets left so people should… If you’re in the area or going to be in the area snap them up. And one more thing, we will soon be announcing an additional guest, a surprise guests at the October 24th show in Denver, so stay tuned for that. So I appreciate the vote of confidence. I am quite busy doing a lot of things and no one has called me. But I do take the point to the extent you were suggesting it that the House committees would be well served by bringing in one or more people from the outside. Some of which has already happened. We saw noted criminal defense attorney Barry Berke do a very good job of questioning Corey Lewandowski at the end of a long session before the house a few weeks ago.

Preet Bharara:              So there are lots of great people who are already on the committees. There are lots of great people that they can call upon, and I hope they will use the expertise of folks who have spent a lot of time in court and a lot of time examining difficult witnesses getting through the nonsense, cutting through the garbage because I think that would be illuminating and helpful for the impeachment inquiry and also for the American public.

Joe Halpern:                 This is Joe Halpern from New York City. Longtime listener, first-time caller. With the recent whistleblower event along with all the contempt that’s been happening for the house, how easy would it be to have those in contempt arrested or forcibly made to come before the house. I’m hearing lots of threats, but no action. I’m just curious if maybe that action just isn’t really possible.

Preet Bharara:              Joe, thanks for your question. As you know Anne Milgram and I discussed at great length the issues with the gathering momentum on impeachment. One thing we didn’t talk about as much as we might have was this issue that you raised in your question. If someone refuses to testify or becomes obstructionist, whether it’s Rudy Giuliani or someone else, what are the options for congress? And there is an option that I’ve heard members of Congress discuss on television, now in the newspapers called inherent contempt, which technically gives the Congress the right to hold an individual who’s being difficult and not responding to duly issued subpoenas and requests for information or their testimony allows them the right to hold them in inherent contempt and the same way that a judge when holding someone in contempt can enforce that contempt order by presumably causing the arrest of that person and detention until such time as they become compliant.

Preet Bharara:              Now, in the case of the House of Representatives presumably that could be done by the sergeant-at-arms who is responsible for various things including protection of the members of the house, and would be the law enforcement adjunct to the house in connection with enforcing its requests for information. So people been talking about it. It’s there historically. I don’t know off the top of my head remember the last time that was invoked and used in the serious way that’s been described. As a theoretical matter, I think it’s a worthwhile thing to be talking about and members of congress should consider implementing it.

Preet Bharara:              The problem is as I talk to folks that given the timetable on which they’re trying to proceed with impeachment there’s really no procedure set down for how you exactly enforce through inherent contempt. It’s easy to say well inherent contempt, you send the guy out with handcuffs and a gun, and bring someone to some jail which I don’t think exists, and has not been constructed, and what caused also all sorts of drama and headache, and divisiveness. So I don’t expect necessarily to see it. I think it’s a good thing for people to be talking about, and as we go forward with this investigation and potentially other investigations congress have been so supine flat on its back on a lot of things relating to oversight.

Preet Bharara:              And I think lots of people have thumbed their nose at requests from congress that I think it’s something they need to revive. But I don’t think based on what I’m hearing and thinking about the pragmatic realities of it, this might disappoint some people that they can’t overnight figure out a fair and just, and appropriate mechanism to all of a sudden after having this power be dormant for so long, all of a sudden exercise their inherent contempt of power. I think they got to come up with some rules, and some procedures and a facility, and then maybe we can see if that works.

Preet Bharara:              I know some people want and expect members of congress to put cuffs on folks if they’re not responsive. I think that’s not going to happen just yet. As I said Anne Milgram and I discuss all of these issues at much greater length, this past week and will in future weeks. For a free two week trial to the Cafe Insider podcast, go to cafe.comm/insider.

John:                            Hi, Preet. This is John from Tucson, Arizona. You and your show are an inspiration to me. My question is this. Why are so many people including those most notably in the media or pundit class afraid to use the word lie or liar, and instead they say untruth or falsehood especially when referring to our politicians. Thanks, Preet.

Preet Bharara:              Hey, John from Tucson. Thanks for your question and it’s something that’s been on people’s minds for a long time although I think that the standard operating procedure for various news outlets has changed as the president’s lying accumulates, and as it seems to accelerate. So I don’t think that’s a monolithic view. I think part of the reservations that some media outlets have is that it’s a pretty stark word, and it’s not a word that is generally used to describe things said by the sitting president of the United States.

Preet Bharara:              And people who have been operating under sort of old normal rules, and I believe it’s been essentially a norm on the part of the press to shy away from certain words and use less pejorative language like false statement or false claim or untruth, because that’s how it’s been. But now you have a president who himself violates norm after norm, after norm so I think the question is well put, and I think takes on some urgency at a time when there’s so much lying going on.

Preet Bharara:              It’s an interesting thing. In court, you have people who testify and they claim to tell the truth and sometimes they lie. Prosecutors and other folks who participate in the trial process have to be really careful about calling something a lie which can be justified, if you’re careful and calling someone a liar. So the distinction between false claim and lie is a blurry one, and I take your point on that, but there is a difference at least in a court of law when you’re trying not to overly inflame a jury and a judge will call you out on it. If you refer to a witness as a liar that sometimes will not fly.

Preet Bharara:              Further to what I said a second ago, as I was walking into the studio today on Wednesday, I saw on Twitter that the President had made some statements and there were reporters who were covering the statements and one, just as one example John King of CNN literally went on television right after Trump made his statements from The Oval Office and said, “The president constantly and repeatedly lies.” So some people are saying it, some people aren’t. The bottom line is we all know what it means when the president repeats over and over and over again a false statement. That shows intentionality, that shows he’s doing it with full knowledge and doesn’t correct himself. So some of the things he says are certainly lies, and I think you’re seeing more people call him out on it.

Preet Bharara:              My guest this week is David Remnick, a journalist, author, editor of The New Yorker. He’s got his own show, The New Yorker Radio Hour. And he interviews headline guests at the New Yorker festival, but we’ll get to that. With Remnick at the helm, The New Yorker became the first magazine to win a Pulitzer Prize and a Peabody Award. Early in his career he spent four eventful years in the late 1980s covering the fall of the Soviet Union as a Moscow correspondent. I got some interview tips from David, and we talked about what Americans can learn from Russia whether we live in a no attention span era, how he won’t hesitate to call Trump a racist, and why it’s essential to refuse despair. That’s coming up. Stay tuned.

Preet Bharara:              David Remnick, thanks so much for being on the show.

David Remnick:            It’s great to be here.

Preet Bharara:              So we’re just a couple of Jersey guys. Shooting a breeze on a Friday afternoon.

David Remnick:            The great pleasure in my life is I can look out my window and I can… If I squint I can see my hometown right across the river.

Preet Bharara:              And your hometown is?

David Remnick:            Hillsdale, New Jersey.

Preet Bharara:              Mine is Eatontown, New Jersey .

David Remnick:            There you go.

Preet Bharara:              And we both know a lot about Asbury Park because we’re going to get to Bruce.

David Remnick:            Yeah.

Preet Bharara:              How can two guys like us not talk about Bruce.

David Remnick:            Geezers from Jersey.

Preet Bharara:              Speak for yourself.

David Remnick:            I will.

Preet Bharara:              So let’s start off with something that I know is on your mind before we get to some of the things going on in America, in the world and trends towards peace or chaos as the case may be. You were the editor-in-chief of The New Yorker.

David Remnick:            For a while now.

Preet Bharara:              Great magazine. Which I should also say as a disclaimer although, I don’t know if you should call it a disclaimer, The New Yorker is a supporter of this podcast.

David Remnick:            Oh, thank god. No wonder I got on.

Preet Bharara:              I don’t know if you even knew that.

David Remnick:            No wonder I got on.

Preet Bharara:              This has nothing to do with that.

David Remnick:            It’s quid pro quo.

Preet Bharara:              But since I have you on, you have a festival coming up.

David Remnick:            We do, The New Yorker festival. It’s the 20th year of this. 20, I can’t believe it.

Preet Bharara:              Look, I was available.

David Remnick:            You’ve been on. You’ve been there.

Preet Bharara:              But not in a couple of years.

David Remnick:            All right. Life is long.

Preet Bharara:              That’s all right.

David Remnick:            Life is long.

Preet Bharara:              That’s okay. So The New Yorker festival is over at Columbus Day weekend, October 11th.

David Remnick:            11th, 12th, and 13th. I’ll tell you 20 years ago I just had started as editor of the magazine and a woman named, Rhonda Sherman who did all kinds of things for the magazine, did all kinds of events, came into my office. I think I was the editor for about three and a half seconds and said, “I have an idea. What’s your idea? The idea is that we have this thing called The New Yorker Festival, and it’d be three days, and it would reflect the magazine in all its dimensions, fiction, reporting, cartooning, everything, humor, current events, all the rest of it. And I was too inexperienced to say no, which is that early euphoric period of doing something new, you say yes very quickly to what seems like good ideas. Sometimes it turned out great, sometimes they turned out otherwise. This turned out to be fantastic. And I owe an enormous thanks to Rhonda Sherman who’s been running this thing for a long time.

Preet Bharara:              So people can come and see people talk.

David Remnick:            They can come and see people talk. This year for example Nancy Pelosi, the speaker the house will be in conversation with Jane Mayer.

Preet Bharara:              Who had been a guest on the show.

David Remnick:            No doubt. And at the same time you have literary people like Zadie Smith will come, rock and roll people. Like I’m going to be in conversation with Patti Smith which I’ve done before and the last time we spoke at the festival, I’m afraid to say I backed her up on guitar. She sang Because the Night which is a collaboration with Springsteen, and I brought along my little Fender Telecaster, and my amp and I’m afraid to tell you, I was her backup musician.

Preet Bharara:              How did that go?

David Remnick:            I would say that it went without incident. We did not rehearse.

Preet Bharara:              Without an incident.

David Remnick:            We didn’t rehearse.

Preet Bharara:              That’s the kind of review that any rock and roll guitarist is looking for.

David Remnick:            Preet, I was so terrified.

Preet Bharara:              It’s like your performance on stage and also an arrest.

David Remnick:            Oh my god.

Preet Bharara:              It occurred without an incident.

David Remnick:            I had lots of things happen, nasty lawyers calling you up and threatening you about stories and all kinds of things can happen. This was the moment of true terror. So we arranged by text that we would do this. I gave a few songs to do, the choices she chose actually are the most complicated one because it has a little bridge in it, which for me is complicated. And I said, “Can we were rehearse beforehand? I don’t have time.” I thought we’d be able to go in and futz around with it and see how fast to play it or how loud, or this, that, and the other thing. The only instruction she gave me was, “Play it really loud.” That was it, and she was fantastic. I’m sitting there with my stupid Brooks Brothers shirt behind her with my guitar, and she was Patti Smith, and she just knows how to put over a song even with a horrible backup musician like me.

Preet Bharara:              I’m still tickled by your description. You may not know this, but when I would track arrests, when I was a US Attorney, the email you wanted to get early in the morning 7:00 to 6:15, 6:20 in the morning particularly if there was going to be the arrest of someone who’s thought to be violent, a gang case or mob case, the email that everything was all clear always said something like the defendant so-and-so was taken into custody without incident. So it’s good that you have that parallel. So further to the festival you’re going to be in conversation with Patti Smith and also a couple other people, Terry Gross.

David Remnick:            Terry Gross, because Terry Gross is the interviewer’s interviewer.

Preet Bharara:              Yes.

David Remnick:            And so I thought-

Preet Bharara:              Are you the guest’s guest?

David Remnick:            It’s a little bit like taking out a violin lesson from Jascha Heifetz or something. I want to see how she does it and she’s been doing this for so long every day.

Preet Bharara:              Would she do it by telephone?

David Remnick:            What you’re referring to is that if you get interviewed by Terry Gross, you never meet her. She sits in Philadelphia and you go to a studio. In New York, you would go to 43rd Street where the New Yorkers old offices were, and if you hear this disembodied voice. And I think now having done this myself for a long time both on radio and with a pencil and paper, I think this is certain advantage in it.

Preet Bharara:              Yeah, I do both. We should let listeners know that you and I are together.

David Remnick:            We’re together.

Preet Bharara:              In the room together. But when the person is out of the room, you can be maybe less distracted by whether they seem comfortable or they seem happy, and just listening to the voice. And you’re having, I think Terry Gross says this, I appreciate it now that I’ve done this for a couple of years. You’re having as the interviewer the host, the same experience as the listener who also doesn’t see us, and is not in the room. So it’s just a pure audio experience.

David Remnick:            Well, the dynamics of a live conversation, I think journalistically are the best. I don’t think I’d want to do it… I find that the level of information that I get as a journalist is way better if I’m in a room and nobody else is around, and it’s quiet, and the other person has the confidence that whatever agreements you make with them will be kept. I find the business of lots of interviewing being done by email or text or the rest, and maybe this is my age, I don’t trust it as much because the other person first of all writing is different from speaking. And I just… The level of confidence is not the same. The propinquity is different.

Preet Bharara:              And I want to ask about interviewing techniques since I can use this as a tutorial for myself because I’m a little bit newer to this, at least in this context. The other advantage of live, those few minutes before you go on air when you’re in person, you get to meet someone, they get introduced to your team, you can have small talk, you can mention people you have in common, crack a joke, break the ice. All that sort of stuff. It’s much more difficult especially if you’re interviewing someone remotely who you’ve never met before, and depending on what their line of work is to get on the phone, everyone’s ready, the engineers are ready to go and you start the interview cold. That I don’t like very much.

David Remnick:            Well, I imagine that your previous career in interrogation would have…

Preet Bharara:              I try not to do that. I’ve adopted a softer approach.

David Remnick:            How often do have an interview that’s innately hostile?

Preet Bharara:              Not that often.

David Remnick:            Yeah. It’s different.

Preet Bharara:              Yeah. I disagree with folks, and I can disagree firmly, but this is not about combat, this is about…

David Remnick:            Finding people out.

Preet Bharara:              Yeah. And also educating the public about stuff.

David Remnick:            The best thing I ever learned about interviewing, and this had to do with print. I’m not sure it would work on radio or podcasting or the like. There’s a great, great New Yorker writer named AJ Liebling who was really a dominant figure in during the Second World War and the ’50s and so on. He died in the mid-’60s. And he did all kinds of work, city reporting, he was the greatest boxing writer who ever lived. He wrote about food, and a great man about town. A really outgoing person, but his interview technique was just to begin an interview, he’d sit down, and you would be the subject, and he would begin like this, pure silence. Almost the psychoanalytic technique of the analyst.Aand the other person if it worked out well would rush in and fill the void, as you sometimes have in a human encounter or a date, or something like that.

Preet Bharara:              Obviously, silence on the part of the interviewer is an incredibly important technique that everyone talks about. Journalists talking about it. Bob Woodward talked about it. The best investigators, FBI agents that I worked with also, you ask a question, the person answers. Maybe it’s not a full answer, you keep quiet. I’ve never heard of starting that way though. All right. So since I have you, you give me some pointers already. Maybe the next interview of a sitting senator or presidential candidate, I’ll begin by not saying anything.

David Remnick:            Good luck.

Preet Bharara:              It’d be very short. They’ll walk out the door. What advice do you have for people who are trying to get information from folks in a non-combative way?

David Remnick:            Well, you mentioned one. I think that anybody who’s had the experience of listening to themselves, interview somebody else, always comes away feeling the same thing if they’re new at it. I talk too much, I interrupted too much. I wasn’t listening carefully enough to follow up well enough, because I wanted to make the witty remark or score the point. We’ve all seen that take place on television or heard it in a podcast. And at the end of the day, there’s a certain kind of journalism you’re trying to elicit information or get to that person’s humanity, or what they’re about. That’s the goal. For me, in any event, it’s not a performance of how smart and witty, and sparkling I am.

Preet Bharara:              What about preparation? What’s the right amount of preparation and how much do you do?

David Remnick:            Well, if I’m going to go out on a story, I’d talk about my thing that I’ve been doing for a long time, not my short life in radio. The key is to read, and read, and read, and read, and read before you go anywhere, and to talk to as many secondary and tertiary people as possible. Not necessarily on the record, just for your own education and edification. And then you go out into the field, then you go out into the world, and at the point where you think you have the story, that’s the point at which you’re beginning.

David Remnick:            Now, this is with the great luxury of doing it at the New Yorkers where you have time to do it. I know when I lived in Moscow in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the first year I wasn’t any good at it. I was just getting up to speed in the midst of what turned out to be an epical revolution, but I was just getting up to speed on the city of Moscow, and how people talked, and what the gossip was and all the rest. So I am sure that if I went back and looked at my clips in 1988 they were infinitely inferior to what may have been in 1989, 1991. You’re just getting up to speed so you have to have the modesty of what you don’t know. And in life that is an infinite space.

Preet Bharara:              So one of the other people you’re interviewing at the festival is Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Again, Mayor Pete who’s also been a guest on the show. What are going to ask him about?

David Remnick:            Well, I think Buttigieg’s media strategy is the opposite of say Bernie’s, Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders is exactly the same. This is independent of their policies or ideologies. My impression is that Bernie Sanders who does actually relatively a modest amount of interviews compared to some is almost the same in an interview as he’s on the stomp. He does not Ratchet it down and become conversational.

Preet Bharara:              He’s orating. So [inaudible 00:24:05] is a little bit that way too.

David Remnick:            He is. I think to his detriment too. He doesn’t work for Bernie. Bernie Sanders, his great appeal I think to his supporters is the sincerity of his convictions which have been the same for decades. Buttigieg is determined to talk to anybody that will talk to him. He’s made this very plain that he is going to have a strategy and a public persona in which he is completely honest and expansive on anything you ask him in. I may be crazy but I think what he’s doing here, and reality will suggest it as we’ll see what happens like we could always be wrong and we’ve been wrong so many times is that he’s running for next time. Clearly he’s somebody that’s on the radar screen but it’s very hard to get elected president after being the mayor of a town and it’s a college town, it’s not a typical Midwestern…

Preet Bharara:              So it doesn’t make it a real town?

David Remnick:            Well, no but it’s… You’re right. The town itself is its demographics are quite different than a lot of other Midwestern towns. I just don’t think he’s winning. I think he’s preparing to… He’s setting a national reputation.

Preet Bharara:              But let me ask you this question, we’re taking it far in advance and this morning the mayor of the largest city in the country is out of the race, Bill de Blasio, but the people to judge is still in the race. How do you account for that?

David Remnick:            Well, I don’t think Bill de Blasio… It’s very interesting Bill de Blasio. I think he’s achieved a fair amount as mayor, but he just never clicked with his electorate in quite the way he wanted to. The amount of empathy toward him and not just in conservative quarters like the New York Post or things like that is remarkable. The reputation for not working very hard in the gym and all that stuff is really… I think it hurt him and there’s an aloofness, there’s a resentment, there’s as a gap between him and a lot of the electorate, just in New York City.

Preet Bharara:              Oh, yeah.

David Remnick:            With early education, crime rates are minuscule. Although I don’t think that’s all in Bill de Blasio. There’s a lot of reasons for that as you know better than I do. You would think his reputation would be a bit better. It isn’t, and he just… So to think that he’s going to go to Iowa and somehow connect coming into things late and rather abruptly, and with an ideology that’s already ground taken up by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, I don’t know what the hell he was hoping for.

Preet Bharara:              Well, is there a self-awareness problem and if so how important is self-awareness, and how self-aware was Barack Obama for example?

David Remnick:            Leading question, your honor, but I’ll answer it anyway.

Preet Bharara:              The rules of evidence do not apply-

David Remnick:            To this show.

Preet Bharara:              … in the podcast world.

David Remnick:            I think he does not quite radiate an awareness of his lack of connection there. I think that’s fair.

Preet Bharara:              I should mention-

David Remnick:            And he’s pissed about it. And I find him an interesting figure as a result because to me he’s not decidedly bad mayor, but he never completely embraced the whole thing of being mayor of New York. He wasn’t out and about. Look, he followed a guy that was adored by the east side. The wealthy people in this town in particular loved Mike Bloomberg, and he had Mike Bloomberg… For all of Mike Bloomberg’s successes he also was able to buy three elections. And this was rarely spoken of. So you would think that there would be a place for a more liberal Democrat to succeed where Bloomberg had not, in terms of constituencies, and it didn’t work out. I don’t see him getting a national stage, Bill de Blasio.

Preet Bharara:              What hasn’t gone well so far?

David Remnick:            No. He got nothing.

Preet Bharara:              So before I leave the topic of the festival, I feel that I should ask about controversy from last year.

David Remnick:            Sure.

Preet Bharara:              Because I think it’s actually an important issue and I wonder how you think about it. I’m not quite sure how I think about it and how listeners think about it.

David Remnick:            You’re asking about Steve Bannon?

Preet Bharara:              Correct. So Steve Bannon, everyone remembers him, the man who sometimes wears multiple shirts for reasons that I don’t understand. You invited him to be in conversation with, so not anyone else but the editor of The New Yorker, my presumption is that your attitude towards that as you have said before and since was you’re going to ask them a lot of tough questions, and people can make up their own minds about his views. People freaked out, I’m going to use that term, people got very upset.

David Remnick:            Look, I expected some people to freak out. What I don’t know what-

Preet Bharara:              Did it come as a surprise to people? So what happened?

David Remnick:            Let me say this. I would say this is not my finest hour. Neither in the, rather abrupt invitation and also the rescinding of it, you have fault me either on the first or the second. And I believe in journalism, the efficacy of journalism, the necessity of journalism. A festival is not journalism, it’s some other thing. What a bunch of people on the staff objected to was that this guy who was the very worst arguably of Donald Trump in terms of nativism, in terms of racism, in terms of cynicism that it was very hard for them to stomach, not us doing journalism with Steve Bannon because we’ve talked to him endlessly and written about him endlessly both before and since.

Preet Bharara:              And no objections to that.

David Remnick:            No, not at all. None at all. I think their objection was the idea of him being part of the festival and then having an after-party at which he’s invited and not paying him a completely modest fee as you know, I forget what it is, a couple hundred dollars, whatever it is. And it just caused such a storm that I decided to live to fight another day. Right or wrong that’s what I decided in the moment.

Preet Bharara:              Do you think there are people like him or others who in the different context from a festival by a prominent magazine, but I’m talking about cable television Fox, MSNBC, CNN that there are certain people that cable television hosts should not have on?

David Remnick:            Cable television is presumably journalism. It’s not always terrific journalism. It’s not an ideas festival. You’re not selling tickets. It’s different. It often comes up, forget about this instant. Would you interview name your fascist leader? Well, in a journalistic context, yes. The truth in journalism you should be in command of the context that you said. We certainly are in pieces that we published in The New Yorker. We can put them in context and all the rest. I think one of the things that people fear that somehow that the interviewee will run away with the contest and to disastrous results. Rightly or wrongly, I think that’s the anxiety.

Preet Bharara:              But I’m talking about a subset of people who are potentially problematic, not because they have bad or odious views according to some people.

David Remnick:            I mean if you ask me would I interview Viktor Orban in a journalistic setting, of course. Of course, who’s the autocrat in Hungary.

Preet Bharara:              Let’s talk about people who are not terrible people in that regard.

David Remnick:            Sure.

Preet Bharara:              But who are liars, and who have repeatedly been shown not to tell the truth. Some might say Kellyanne Conway is in that category person. Corey Lewandowski is in that category person, admit it basically.

David Remnick:            We’re talking about in journalistic context?

Preet Bharara:              Yes.

David Remnick:            In a journalistic context I think you do interview them, and then you make damn sure that you are making clear to the reader or listener what in fact is true and what is not true. Whether you like it or not, these people are occupying the offices they do, the times that we live in. You could say the same thing about the president of the United States what he’s supposed to do, black out the president of the United States?

Preet Bharara:              Some people maybe we should pay less attention to the crazy stuff he says.

David Remnick:            I’m afraid you can’t. Believe me, we have this conversation all the time. Should we rise to the bait every time he tweets? These tweets however untruthful, however pernicious, however whatever, they are presidential utterances of importance that they’re being listened to and interpreted, and have consequences in Riyadh, in Tehran, in Pyongyang and to ignore them, what good does that do? You just had to do good journalism about that interpretive and investigative and otherwise.

Preet Bharara:              Can we talk about the New Yorker itself?

David Remnick:            Go ahead.

Preet Bharara:              I’m going to ask you a question that I asked one of your very prominent writers who happens to be a friend and colleague of mine in various ways, Jeffrey Toobin.

David Remnick:            Sure.

Preet Bharara:              I asked him at a live pocket, has anyone actually ever finished reading a New Yorker article?

David Remnick:            If I had a glass of water in my hand I would hurl it at you. Yeah, they have. I know that because-

Preet Bharara:              I have a one serious question.

David Remnick:            Sure.

Preet Bharara:              And that is in this age where everything seems to be quick, quick, quick and fast editing, and nobody has an attention span, tweeting is the favored form of communication by a lot of people including the president of United States of America, and from what I understand, The New Yorkers is very, very successful at the moment. Successful, I think as it has ever been. What accounts for the success of that long form in this age of no-attention-span?

David Remnick:            Because I don’t believe that it’s an age of no-attention-span? Look, I live in the same world you do. We’re all in the subway and seeing everybody on their phones. We all have the experience of reading something and in the back of their minds, you’re wondering what’s on my phone. There’s no question that life is faster and more frenetic and distracted now than it was, and I think the phone and all that comes with it has not to be too dramatic about this has engendered a change in consciousness.

David Remnick:            The way human beings think from minute to minute is not uninfluenced by the presence of this little black square in front of me and the one that’s over there in front of you. There’s no question about that, but I also think that there is an absolute human hunger to know and know more deeply your world. Right now, as we sit here, taping this, to use the anachronistic word, outside on the street are thousands and thousands of people demonstrating the warming of our globe.

David Remnick:            Now, to understand that how that happened scientifically, ecologically, politically, what it means for us, what it means for our futures and our children’s, and grandchildren’s future, that is an enormous Lee complex topic. Now, if you were reading The New Yorker beginning in the late ’80s very soon after James Hansen made his famous senate testimony for really the first time talking about global warming as a problem, within a year The New Yorker had published a very, very long article, their first real deep article on global warming by Bill McKibben called the End of Nature. And some years after Elizabeth Kolbert wrote a three-part series called the climate of man, expanding upon and deepening our knowledge of this thing that we are facing as human beings on this common earth, and there have been many, many, many such articles since and we will continue to do that. You cannot learn about your world sufficiently whether it’s the world of foreign affairs or the cultural world in little snippets.

David Remnick:            And when I first started going to kind of meetings and conferences, and sessions about this new thing called the Internet, there were things that people said that turned out to be right about the future and things that turned out to be nonsense. And one of the nonsense things was no one will read anything long on the internet. The attention spans have changed and no one’s interested, and it’s got to be 500 words or less, and on, and on, and on. And that turned out to be nonsense.

Preet Bharara:              Maybe it’s a case of things can coexist. It seems that Axios has been very successful, and that’s basically-

David Remnick:            Of course. I look at Axios every morning. I read Mike Allen all that stuff.

Preet Bharara:              But sometimes you want more.

David Remnick:            Well, you don’t only want popcorn.

Preet Bharara:              Are you calling Axios popcorn?

David Remnick:            Political popcorn. But useful. Who doesn’t like popcorn? I don’t mean to be pissy about anything much less Axios.

Preet Bharara:              The word is snitty.

David Remnick:            Or snitty or pissy, whatever. Each thing has its own purpose, and The New Yorker obviously has a place for millions of people. And I don’t think it’s decoration. Believe me, to this day I get, “Well, they stack up,” da, da, da, da, da. I get it. Nobody reads the whole New York Times either every day. But we would be a lesser republic without both of them.

Preet Bharara:              Right. So who’s the audience?

David Remnick:            It’s there for whoever wants it. John Updike once had a lovely passage in which he was describing the answer to that very question about his novels, and he said the image that I most prized is not just my sophisticated readers who went to graduate school or undergraduate school, and now have some sophisticated occupation or blah, blah, blah, blah. But maybe a 15-year-old kid in a school library who reaches up and picks up my novel, and it suddenly is alive to it, the idea and it happens all the time because I see it, I hear from people that people stumble across work in The New Yorker and then they get… It changes them in some way that piece, that issue, that story. That to me is a miracle.

David Remnick:            I think, yes, if you looked at our demographics, it’s in a lot of cities, it’s probably very coastal with various urban centers in between, but that’s not all. Harold Ross who invented the magazine said New Yorker is not for the little old lady in Dubuque, and with all due respect to Harold Ross, I’m happy if the little old lady reads us, and the same goes for the little kid in Gary, Indiana.

Preet Bharara:              You used an interesting verb just now, you said invented. Was the magazine invented?

David Remnick:            Yeah, at a whole cloth. Harold Ross, he was a Western newspaper man who had edited Stars and Stripes and kind of bounced around, itinerant guy. And he comes to Manhattan. He’s yet another New Yorker who invents himself in New York and he has this idea, he saw the New York Times being in those days especially very boring and official, and had the flavor of chewed over oatmeal. Just not very enticing.

Preet Bharara:              That’s worse than anything Trump has said about the Times.

David Remnick:            Exactly. In the midst of the Jazz Age, written about by Fitzgerald and the rest, he wanted something that was fun and alive, and metropolitan, and New York. And he invents The New Yorker in 1925. And the bare bones of it are there. The humor, cartoons, used some profile pieces. The depth of the magazine didn’t really occur until I would say the Second World War. Then we all became deeper human beings as we [crosstalk 00:39:19].

Preet Bharara:              Oh, I see. You traced it back to then?

David Remnick:            I think so. I think the New Yorkers some of the length began in the Second World War, greater seriousness when it came to articles that were appropriate. I guess the peak of that would be John Hersey’s great article on Hiroshima which took up the whole magazine and that that signaled a giant step forward for what we now think of as New Yorker.

Preet Bharara:              You have a lot of expertise on Russia. You lived there as you said for a long time.

David Remnick:            I used to.

Preet Bharara:              Do you still speak some Russian?

David Remnick:            I do.

Preet Bharara:              Can you say, there was no collusion in Russia?

David Remnick:            [Russian 00:41:17]. I don’t know collusion. What would collusion be?

Preet Bharara:              It’s not a legal step anyway. It’s not the same for a couple years. What should Americans, ordinary Americans understand not about the Russian government but about the Russian people?

David Remnick:            Wow. I have to say when I lived in Moscow, 1988, ’89, ’90, ’91, this was the-

Preet Bharara:              Crazy time.

David Remnick:            … peak of optimism. I mean, I can’t express to you clearly enough how promising a time this was. This is a society in which a thousand years of autocracy followed by 70 years of communism was followed by this moment of real promise in which people suddenly were speaking freely, in which they were looking to the West as a political example, however disappointed, they were about to be in many ways. There was enormous optimism.

David Remnick:            Now, let’s say Trump loses, lips to God’s ears. If Trump loses in the coming election, Trumpism, his supporters will not disappear from the face of the earth. The effect he’s had on American society whether it’s in the judiciary, which will be enormous and long-lasting, whether just in the fabric of the way we speak with each other, or distrust each other his effect will be long-lasting, and that will have been four years.

David Remnick:            So autocracy and communism, it’s very important to understand how much history and historical experience can be ingrained in people. That doesn’t mean that those people aren’t capable of progress or change, or reform, but the tug of history, the drag of history, the contradictions which we are more sophisticated about when it comes to America whether it has to do with race or so many other issues, it’s profound in Russia, profound. And I think that’s an important thing to understand I loved living there. I really did. I was a privileged character, I was a Moscow correspondent which I’m in the capital. I’m not a peasant in a poor village in the middle of nowhere in Siberia or something, but I loved my time there. I had lots of friends and I miss it.

Preet Bharara:              When were you last there?

David Remnick:            About two and a half years ago.

Preet Bharara:              What do you think the Russian people think of the American people these days?

David Remnick:            Well, it’s very important to understand that 95% of all Russians get their news and their view of the outside world through television despite-

Preet Bharara:              From Fox News?

David Remnick:            Pretty much. They are equivalent. In other words all Russian television stations are Fox. Putin-esque Fox. There is no variance from that. There is some variance on the internet and there’s some variance in the printed page, but the predominant way of information and certainly the view of the United States and its politics comes through television. So the view of the United States is Putin’s view, and Putin’s view is that the United States try to take geopolitical and political advantage of Russia in its moment of defeat. They tried to exploit Russia. It’s up to no good, and it is trying to foment revolution in the way that you saw in Ukraine and Georgia, Tahrir Square, and all the rest. This is Putin’s greatest nightmare and it’s what he wants to prevent most of all.

Preet Bharara:              Trump is a guy who claims to be a billionaire, owns all these properties in New York, has loved to be feted by in the richest people around and that he is in the position politically of being able to accuse other people of being elitists. Should we retire the word from our dialogue?

David Remnick:            I appreciate that. I think that it’s a despoil word. Look, you’ve got a guy who is, and I don’t think I’m breaking any news here, who is a very, very wealthy guy, whose reputation in businesses is as a grifter. The grift continues in the White House. I don’t need to list all the faults. I think we stipulate over here.

Preet Bharara:              We’re long-form, we’re not that long-form.

David Remnick:            We don’t have time for it. I don’t think we should be taking language instruction from him, but he’s clearly using that as a cudgel. He’s a prime example of somebody who is trying to… This is out of the authoritarian handbook. You create enemies. You create others. I lived in Moscow for four years. I’m steeped in Russian history. This is one of my passions. Stalin used the phrase enemy of the people. This is not an invention of Donald Trump. This is just right out of the handbook. Whose enemy of the people? The press. Who are the others? Hispanics. People of color, African-Americans. And he plays this weird move with Jews. He’s a kind of Philo-Semitic, anti-Semite. This is the creation.

Preet Bharara:              He’s a racist, yes or no?

David Remnick:            Yes, yes, yes, yes.

Preet Bharara:              And you say that unhesitatingly. Some people-

David Remnick:            How much more evidence do we need?

Preet Bharara:              When was the first time you would have said it unhesitatingly before he was president?

David Remnick:            When he put his ad in the all the New York newspapers about the kids in Central Park. Look, I’m from here. Donald Trump did not appear on my radar screen or your radar screen five years ago, but back when, when he was a figure for Spy magazine and the page six, and he was a figure in what I would call the New York joke scape. He was this kind of PT Barnum figure that unless you happen to be one of his employees in a casino or on a construction site, he was kind of harmless. He was just yet another New York dopey, a guy that would appear on-

Preet Bharara:              Short-fingered vulgarian.

David Remnick:            Short-fingered vulgarian as Spy magazine put it. But it ain’t funny, and it hasn’t been funny for a very long time. It certainly isn’t funny if you’re an immigrant. It’s not funny if you’re an American citizen either.

Preet Bharara:              Explain something to me then. You’re a man who’s been around the block. You’re very thoughtful, not elitist, and when I ask you the question about Trump being a racist, you used the tone that was of course it’s obvious. But there are lots of people-

David Remnick:            Because some things are true.

Preet Bharara:              Fine.

David Remnick:            He doesn’t go out of the way to disprove this.

Preet Bharara:              I don’t think Barack Obama, if asked that question would say flatly. He might believe it but he wouldn’t say flatly Donald Trump is a racist. Lots of other people in public life wouldn’t say it.

David Remnick:            Of course he would. He’s just got a different job than I do.

Preet Bharara:              So that’s what I’m asking.

David Remnick:            Ask Michelle Obama.

Preet Bharara:              Is that good that there are restrictions on what some people can and should say.

David Remnick:            If different jobs.

Preet Bharara:              What’s Barack Obama’s job now?

David Remnick:            That’s a very, very good question. But Barack Obama’s self-awareness of the role he plays in American history and African-American history, and they are in so many ways one in the same, his self-awareness is so acute. So I was writing a book, doing the research for a book that became the bridge which is a biography of Obama. And in large measure it’s a book about race as much as it’s about Obama’s life before he becomes president. And I was interviewing him, this would have been 2008. He was just in the White House, and I asked him a question about… I forget it was a race related question. And a lot of things he had answered quite… Matter of fact, he talked about Malcolm X. I mean, you’re sitting in the White House talking about Malcolm X. It’s a weird experience in 2008. I don’t think he’d be talking about Malcolm X in the Bush White House. Either Bush White House or I think in Johnson, or whatever.

Preet Bharara:              Malcolm in the Middle, maybe.

David Remnick:            Malcolm in the Middle. We got to a certain question about race and he answered in a very kind of like what you’re suggesting, a little bit of a mealy-mouthed way, very hesitant, Obamaian distanced way. End of interview, he starts heading down out of the Oval Office, toward another appointment in the Roosevelt Room or God knows where, but down the hall… And I’m packing up my stuff, and the press secretary is trying to ease me out of the room to get me the hell out. Obama turns on his heel, and he comes all the way back, and he says to me, “Look, you got to understand.” Maybe in about the whole Skip Gates stuff when he was handcuffed outside his own house in Cambridge, he said, “Look you got to understand, when I talk about race it’s as volatile and as risky as if I were talking about the markets. One stray word from me about the markets can send the stock market going one way or another, the same has to do with race.

David Remnick:            I can’t possibly lecture Barack Obama whose achievement is becoming the first African-American president for not being quite as direct as you seem to want him to be, but he does come out and say, “Look, is it really so hard to denounce Nazis?” I think we know what he’s referring to. Of course, he thinks he’s a racist.

Preet Bharara:              Obama is probably a bad example for all the reasons you described, but it’s interesting to me because when I asked you the question you said he’s a racist because it’s the truth and people have different jobs. Isn’t it everyone’s job to speak the truth, putting aside the special conditions that apply to Barack Obama. Why is it that in your view so many people who do not have the dynamic that Barack Obama uniquely has in the world find it so difficult to say-

David Remnick:            I think waiting for Barack Obama to save us all is folly.

Preet Bharara:              I’m talking about other people. Why are there so many other people who do not have the unique dynamic that attaches to Obama so reluctant to say President Trump is a racist.

David Remnick:            I even think a lot of his supporters think and know that he’s a racist. What’s bewildering is excusing him. I think a lot of his supporters, and we see this all the time. You see them interviewed on television, you read it in newspaper, I’ve talked to people. Basically a lot of people are thinking okay, I know that this guy is a bad guy. His character is not of the highest. You see it with evangelicals, it’s not like they say, “Oh, well. He’s a great man of faith,” and so on and so forth, but they’re getting something from him that they feel they cannot get from filling whatever Democrat you want to fill in. So people make devil’s bargains.

Preet Bharara:              You have written recently that Donald Trump has done one service, and you’re smiling so I think you know what I’m about to read. You said, “Perhaps, it is a form of derangement to say it, but it’s entirely possible to Donald Trump who has been such a ruinous figure in the public scene has at least done the country an unintended service by clarifying some of our deepest flaws and looming dangers in his uniquely lurid light.” What are America’s deepest flaws?

David Remnick:            Well, we’ve been just talking about one of them. I guess in the light of history it’s not surprising, and we saw it during reconstruction and the reaction to reconstruction that the election of Barack Obama would produce a reaction. And part of that reaction and part of Trumpism is a fear of an exploitation of the fear of the other, which you can easily interpret his racism. So I think that’s one of them. And there are other currents in American life that have been there for many decades if not hundreds of years having to do with xenophobia, all kinds of questions that he brings to the floor. Ugliness, that’s an ugly word, but ugliness is that, that have been present for so long are embodied in him. And he has certain talents too. He has a real talent for turning arguments on their head, talking past his critics. He is not knocked flat. I think considering-

Preet Bharara:              Ever.

David Remnick:            No. He’s he sees like one of those punching bags that just keeps getting up, and up, and up. He plays by the Roy Cohn handbook of attack, attack, attack and never forgive, and never apologize.

Preet Bharara:              Then misstate everything.

David Remnick:            Yeah. Look, I think this is an incredibly tragic time that we’re living in. What we cannot afford as journalists, as citizens, whatever role you’re thinking about is to be defeatist. That’s inexcusable.

Preet Bharara:              Can we take a sharp turn?

David Remnick:            Sure.

Preet Bharara:              Talk about music.

David Remnick:            Yeah.

Preet Bharara:              I was at the town hall when you did one of your many great interviews, and this one was a Bruce Springsteen.

David Remnick:            That was fun. That was part of The New Yorker Festival.

Preet Bharara:              Yeah. The way that I once described it was why do you love Bruce Springsteen? And I happen to run into Jon Stewart, not to name-drop, but I ran into him and I told him that the best way that I’ve been able to describe my affection for Bruce Springsteen was to quote Jon Stewart, who once said in his show years ago, “Do you like joy?”

David Remnick:            Exactly.

Preet Bharara:              “If you like joy, go to a Bruce concert.” How do you explain the resonance of Bruce Springsteen?

David Remnick:            Part of it is geographic for me. So loving Phillip Roth or Bruce Springsteen came geographically as well as for other reasons. But music for me, some people mark their lives through their photo albums or other aspects of their lives. My deepest memories associative and emotional are via music. I don’t remember a lot of things, but I do remember seeing The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. That’s a very, very, very early memory. I remember buying my first record album was called Best of ’66, and it had all kinds of corny things like Paul Revere and the Raiders, and then it was this guy that I had never heard before named Bob Dylan. For me the be-all and end-all. Same with Aretha Franklin and recently I wrote a piece about Buddy Guy. I’ve been in bands.

David Remnick:            I listen to music all day and all night. I could fall asleep listening to it. But Springsteen I first saw in 1974 as a backup band opening act for Chicago at Madison Square Garden. I think I was freshman or something in high school and I thought who the hell is this? This is like a white guy who’s kind of like James Brown mixed with soul, mixed with rock and roll, and he hated the gig. He was kind of lost in this cavernous place. He’d famously hated those gigs. Nobody was listening to him, the lights were half on. It was a disaster, but I loved it, and then the following year I think Born to Run came out in 1975. So I did a long profile of him for The New Yorker I think when he turns 62 or three. I forget what it was. He’s already on and years.

David Remnick:            And joy is the thing. But not just joy, as he aged, his concerns aged. His battle with depression entered his songs, his sense of what it is to be an American entered his songs. He grew out of the Jersey Turnpike romance that is really for teenagers and people who are very young. Most of these acts don’t last very long, bands don’t last very long where they begin to repeat themselves and play the same songs that they played when they were very young like the Rolling Stones are their own jukebox at this point. They’re like a tribute band to the Rolling Stones.

Preet Bharara:              He keeps making new music.

David Remnick:            Yeah, and some of it you love, some of it is maybe you didn’t love, but he’s always trying to do something relatively new like Miles Davis or any great artist. It’s a rare thing.

Preet Bharara:              Is he the opposite of elitist?

David Remnick:            Well, on the one hand yes. On the other hand, he’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He lives you know a life of private planes, and horses, and all the rest. He’s very self-aware in this. In his Broadway show he said, “I wear my father’s clothes.” His father worked in factories and so on. “And I’ve never done an honest day’s work in my life.” So he’s relatively bullshit-free.

Preet Bharara:              He said, I think a line that he added because I saw the show three times, and someone told me that one night he said, “I’ve never worked five days a week in my life until now.”

David Remnick:            Until now, until this Broadway show.

Preet Bharara:              When I’m like 68 or 69.

David Remnick:            Which was I thought a very successful thing. And he’s gotten funnier. I admire him. To a certain degree, he’s the least cool rock-and-roll star because he’s so guileless. Iggy Pop, he is not. David Byrne, he is not.

Preet Bharara:              But he’s deliberate.

David Remnick:            He is who he is.

Preet Bharara:              Yeah.

David Remnick:            He is who he is and I thought that his book reflected that too. It was very naked.

Preet Bharara:              I have mentioned already that we’re in the same room together. We’re not in the studio we usually use because we made the trek down to the New York office.

David Remnick:            Which I appreciate.

Preet Bharara:              And we are where?

David Remnick:            We are at One World Trade Center.

Preet Bharara:              We are at One World Trade Center.

David Remnick:            And my office overlooks the footprints of the Trade Towers. When we got here, there’s no doubt the first few weeks, both people on the staff and people who would come visit. You’d see them looking out the window and it hit them. I don’t think about it anymore. It’s very interesting to see the waves of tourists that come down here to stand and either go to the 9/11 museum or to kind of look at those fountains, that kind of inverted fountains that are in the footprint of the two towers.

David Remnick:            It’s not like they seem to come down here in a spirit of mourning. Everybody’s well behaved, but it’s rather… It’s very hard to describe, but there is a moment where you’re looking out the window and you see a plane go over the Statue of Liberty or the harbor, and you get a shiver. I’m not immune to that for certain.

Preet Bharara:              What about on the recent anniversary?

David Remnick:            Then it’s more acute. Then it’s more acute. I mean, I thought that the magazine performed brilliantly during that period and people remember the cover of the 911 issue by Art Spiegelman which is this black image which is called The Shadow of the Towers, and you can see where the towers were darker black against black. Independent of anything we did, I just remember those days of coming down here and it changed everything. We’re talking before about 1989 to 1991 which was the zenith of American… And I think to some extent global optimism, and all that turned on its head in 2001. At least from an American perspective.

Preet Bharara:              So let me end that with a question, what’s your level of optimism about America’s future?

David Remnick:            Well, at the risk of being corny, it’s great. I think we’re living in an awful political moment and I think we are facing some crises above all the environmental crisis that I think we’re too late to stop all of it and we are being far too lax in forestalling more of it than we… We’ve been so belated in this way. I am not naive to our problems whether as to guns or all our foreign policy dilemmas or the radical income inequality that we face. But I have also noticed in the teeth of this Trump period that there are institutions, there are individuals, there are civil groups that have behaved with integrity that the system however flawed it may be, the constitution however flawed it may be has not crumbled in the face of a petty autocrat. But the stakes are very high and a continuation of this period would be I think objectively horrific.

David Remnick:            I say objectively because take climate change for one example. We have a president who does not choose to believe that it exists, who tells the American people that it is Chinese hoax, and all of the other things, and meanwhile not Rome burns, but we all do. But I refused, and I think we should all refuse despair because that is an unforgivable sin. That’s a biblical directive, but I think it’s also a civil one.

Preet Bharara:              David Remnick, thanks for your time. I really appreciate it.

David Remnick:            Thank you.

Preet Bharara:              The conversation continues for members of the Cafe Insider community. In this week’s Stay Tuned bonus, I talked more with David Remnick about that Steve Bannon thing, elitism and the one thing about which Remnick agrees with Trump. To listen to the Stay Tuned bonus and the exclusive weekly Cafe Insider podcast try out the Cafe Insider membership free for two weeks. Just head to cafe.com/insider. So today I want to end the show by talking about a man by the name of Sandeep Dhaliwal you may have seen in the news for a tragic reason. But about four years ago, Sandeep Dhaliwal was in the news for a really great reason. You see, he was a serving police officer in the Greater Houston area and there was one obstacle to his becoming as full a public servant as he wanted to be. You see, Sandeep was a Sikh in one of the newest religions in the world, and he practiced his religion faithfully and devoutly. And in that religion of which my father is a member, you’re required to wear and show certain articles of faith including a full beard and a turban.

Preet Bharara:              And for a devout Sikh, you cannot remove the turban, and you cannot shave your beard. But policy on the police force at the time prevented those articles of faith being shown while on patrol. So Sandeep fought to be able to practice his religion and also serve the public. So it took some time, but about four years ago in 2015, the Harris County Sheriff granted Sandeep Dhaliwal and any one of the Sikh religion an accommodation so he could do both things. And for that he was a trailblazer across the country.

Preet Bharara:              As a local civil rights leader said at the time quote, “With this policy, one of the largest sheriff’s offices in the country has affirmed that a person does not have to choose between their faith and a career of service.” And so Sandeep Dhaliwal continued to serve protecting the public while also caring for his family for several more years until last Friday September 27th at about 12:23 local time, Officer Dhaliwal was making what looked to be a routine traffic stop. The person he stopped didn’t get out of the car. As Officer Dhaliwal went back to his own vehicle, the driver of the car he stopped came out of his vehicle rushed from behind at Sandeep Dhaliwal, shot him in the head and killed him.

Preet Bharara:              Officer Dhaliwal was 42 years old, father of three children. All he really wanted to do was be able to serve the public and serve his own faith. It’s a heartbreaking and jarring reminder that peace officers around the country serve a great risk to themselves. Every day could be their last as was for Sandeep Dhaliwal. The outpouring not just in the Houston area but around the country was enormous. The NFL’s Houston Texans honored Officer Dhaliwal with a moment of silence before their game on Sunday. We owe him a debt of gratitude not just for his fight for religious freedom, Officer Dhaliwal was not just a peace officer, he cared about his community in so many other ways. Among other things he helped coordinate disaster relief after multiple hurricanes in the Houston area, and he also was dedicated to helping at-risk youth in Houston too. For his daily and selfless service, we owe him thanks also. May he rest in peace Sandeep Dhaliwal.

Preet Bharara:              Well, that’s it for this episode of stay tuned. Thanks again to my guest, David Remnick. If you like what we do, rate and review the show on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. Every positive review helps new listeners find the show. Send me your questions about news, politics, and justice. You can tweet them to me at Preet Bharara with a hashtag Ask Preet or you can call and leave me a message at 669-247-7338. That’s 669-24-PREET. Or you can send an email to [email protected] Stay Tuned is presented by CAFE. The executive producer is Tamara Sepper. The senior producer is Aaron Dalton, and the CAFE team is Carla Pierini, Julia Doyle, Calvin Lord, David Kurlander, and Geoff Isenman. Our music is by Andrew Dost. I’m Preet Bharara. Stay tuned.

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