• Transcript
  • Show Notes

On this week’s episode of Stay Tuned, ”The Fight for the Senate,” Preet answers listener questions about the role of the Attorney General in the incoming Biden administration, provides his book recommendations, and weighs in on the state of the Trump campaign’s litigation efforts to overturn the election results. 

Then, Preet is joined by Jon Ossoff, the Democratic Senate candidate from Georgia who, along with fellow candidate Rev. Raphael Warnock, represents the Democratic Party’s chance to take back the Senate. Ossoff discusses his vision for the country, his opponent’s questionable stock trades, and his home state’s shifting political makeup. 

To listen, try the CAFE Insider membership free for two weeks and get access to the full archive of exclusive content, including the CAFE Insider podcast co-hosted by Preet and Anne Milgram. 

Sign up to receive the CAFE Brief, a weekly newsletter featuring analysis by Elie Honig, a weekly roundup of politically charged legal news, and historical lookbacks that help inform our current political challenges.

As always, tweet your questions to @PreetBharara with hashtag #askpreet, email us at [email protected], or call 669-247-7338 to leave a voicemail.

Stay Tuned with Preet is produced by CAFE Studios. 

Executive Producer: Tamara Sepper; Senior Editorial Producer: Adam Waller; Technical Director: David Tatasciore; Audio Producer: Matthew Billy; Editorial Producers: Sam Ozer-Staton, David Kurlander, Noa Azulai. 

REFERENCES & SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS

Q&A:

  • Kaitlan Collins,The White House liaison to the Justice Department was banned from the building,” CNN, 12/3/2020
  • Preet Bharara, Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law, Amazon
  • Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: Origins of Our Discontents, Amazon
  • Michael Sandel, The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good? Amazon
  • Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice, Amazon
  • Kelly v. Pennsylvania, Emergency Application for Writ of Injunction, 12/3/2020
  • Kelly v. Pennsylvania, Order in Pending Case, 12/8/2020

THE INTERVIEW: 

  • ElectJon.com 
  • @Ossoff, Twitter
  • Preet’s #Housework2020 Tweet about Ossoff, Twitter, 9/3/2020
  • Robin Givhan, “In the Georgia runoff, just showing up for the debate was apparently the hardest part,” Washington Post, 12/6/2020
  • Marina Pitofsky, “Ossoff debates empty podium as Perdue refuses to participate,” The Hill, 12/6/2020

JOHN LEWIS

  • “Jon Ossoff Statement as Congressman John Lewis is Laid to Rest,” ElectJon.com, 7/30/2020
  • John Lewis and Michael D’Orso, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement, Simon & Schuster, 1998. 
  • Sydney Trent, “John Lewis nearly died on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Now it may be renamed for him,” 

PERDUE’S CAMPAIGN

  • Felicia Sonmez, “Democrat Jon Ossoff denounces ‘anti-Semitic’ ad by Sen. David Perdue that made his nose look larger,” Washington Post, 7/28/2020
  • Anushay Hossain, “Let’s not pretend David Perdue wasn’t being racist about Kamala Harris,” CNN, 10/18/2020
  • David A. Graham, “David Perdue’s Prayer for President Obama,” The Atlantic, 6/10/2016 
  • Greg Bluestein, “Pandemic! China! Ossoff-Perdue Senate debate twists, turns and goes viral,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/28/2020

GEORGIA

  • Cameron McWhirter, “Georgia’s Battleground Status Signals Changing Electoral Map in the South,” Wall Street Journal, 11/6/2020
  • Rebecca Traister, “Stacey Abrams On Finishing the Job In Georgia ‘It can be undone just as quickly and as effectively as we did it,’” The Cut, 11/19/2020 
  • Voter registration Georgia 
  • “The Effects of Shelby County v. Holder,” The Brennan Center for Justice, 8/6/2018

TRUMP IN GEORGIA

  • Amy Gardner, Colby Itkowitz, and Josh Dawsey, “Trump calls Georgia governor to pressure him for help overturning Biden’s win in the state,” Washington Post, 12/5/2020
  • Caroline Kelly, Manu Raju and Sarah Fortinsky, “Georgia secretary of state says Lindsey Graham implied he should try to throw away ballots,” CNN, 11/17/2020

PERDUE’S STOCK TRADES

  • Jon Ossoff’s Tweet on putting his stocks in a blind trust, Twitter, 12/3/2020
  • Alexander Bolton, “Democrats bet Perdue’s stock trades can sway runoff,” The Hill, 12/6/2020
  • Tom Kertscher, “A ‘crook’? ‘Totally exonerated’? Misleading claims about Ga. Sen. David Perdue and his stock trades,” PolitiFact, 12/4/2020
  • Sam Brodey, “Perdue Says the SEC ‘Totally Exonerated’ Him, a Thing the SEC Cannot Legally Do,” Politico, 12/4/2020
  • Zoe Seiler, “U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff criticizes Sen. David Perdue over stock trades,” Decaturish.com, 11/30/2020
  • Stephanie Saul, Kate Kelly, and Michael LaForgia, “2,596 Trades in One Term: Inside Senator Perdue’s Stock Portfolio,” New York Times, 12/2/2020
  • Amber Phillips, “What we know about David Perdue’s stock trades,” Washington Post, 12/2/2020
  • Katie Benner, Adam Goldman, Nicholas Fandos and Kate Kelly, “Stock Trades by Senator Perdue Said to Have Prompted Justice Dept. Inquiry,” New York Times, 11/25/2020
  • Ryan Grim, “Goldman Sachs Log Exposes David Perdue’s Stock Trading Claim as a Lie,” The Intercept, 12/3/2020

OSSOFF’S POSITIONS

  • Ossoff’s Policies, ElectJon.com 
  • Ossoff Tweet on banning private prisons, Twitter, 12/1/2020
  • Ossoff on a New Civil Rights Act, Facebook, 9/18/2020
  • Greg Bluestein, “Andrew Young casts Ossoff as John Lewis protégé in Senate,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/2/2020
  • Astead Herndon, “A Q&A With Jon Ossoff, Who Wants to Turn Georgia Blue,” New York Times, 9/10/2020

BUTTON:

  • Michael Sisak, “Lawrence Byrne, NYPD’s policy-shaping legal czar, dies at 61,” Associated Press, 12/8/2020
  • Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, DOJ.com

Preet Bharara:

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

Jon Ossoff:

Well, first of all, I think that my youth is one of my greatest strengths as a candidate, and I think that when people look at the state of things in our nation’s capital and the sorry state of our politics, the catastrophic incompetence of our government, the last thing that they say is, gee, the problem is we got too many young people out there. I think we need more young people in office.

Preet Bharara:

That’s Jon Ossoff, he’s a Democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia, along with Reverend Raphael Warnock, Ossoff is one of two Democrats running in a pair of Georgia runoff elections in January. If both Democrats win, the Senate will be split 50-50 along party lines, giving Vice President Kamala Harris, the decisive vote in the Democrats favor.

Preet Bharara:

At 33 years old, Ossoff now finds himself in one of the most closely watched and expensive races in American political history. Ossoff joins me to discuss his agenda for the country, the questionable stock trades made by his opponent, Senator David Perdue, the shifting politics of his home state, and whether he considers himself to be a moderate. That’s coming up, Stay Tuned.

Preet Bharara:

It’s time for some listener questions. This question comes in an email from Samuel in San Francisco. He writes, “Hi, Preet and the CAFE team, in specific terms, what should be the top priority for the incoming AG? How involved do you think Biden will or should be in directing his AG to take up certain priorities? I’ve never quite understood the delicate dance of maintaining DOJ’s independence, while also pursuing a president’s policy priorities on criminal justice reform, et cetera. I would appreciate any of your thoughts on the subject.”

Preet Bharara:

Thanks for the question, Samuel, and it’s an important question and one that I think we’ll be getting some answers to in the coming weeks. I think the most important priority for the incoming AG is embedded in your question, and that is asserting the traditional independence of the Justice Department, separate from politics, separate from the wishes and whims of a particular president, the incoming AG needs to make clear that they support the Constitution, and they’re loyal to the constitution and to the public, not to any particular person, even the President of the United States.

Preet Bharara:

Now, you have an interesting query about the balance between independence and pursuing policy preferences of the president. The way I think about this, and this is an ongoing debate over the course of decades and decades, the way I think about it is, as a general matter, a new president comes in and decides well, there’s certain things we want to emphasize, and as a general policy matter, there is nothing wrong with encouraging and perhaps even directing your department of justice to pursue those policies.

Preet Bharara:

For example, if a president said, I want to see more civil rights work done, I want to see more pattern and practice investigations with respect to police departments, I want to see a bigger crackdown on white supremacists and hate crimes. I want to see the antitrust statutes enforced more rigorously. Generally speaking, that’s okay, so long as it’s at a degree of generality. Where I think the line gets crossed, and where I think Donald Trump has crossed the line repeatedly, is in ordering or directing particular prosecutions against particular people or a particular entity.

Preet Bharara:

For example, if Joe Biden came in and said, I think the antitrust laws are unenforced, we’re being kind of lax, I would like the department to take a look at and try to enforce more vigorously those laws, that’s fine. It is then left up to the independent judgment of people in the Justice Department, which if any investigations or prosecutions to pursue. If on the other hand, we end up learning that Donald Trump specifically directed his Justice Department to sue on an antitrust basis, Google or some other company, that’s bad, crosses the line, violates the norm, undermine’s people’s faith and confidence in the independence of law enforcement and the independence of the Justice Department.

Preet Bharara:

Again, general policy direction, priorities are fine, particular direction to prosecute adversaries or to protect allies, not fine. I just want to mention one other thing that may have been lost in the news a little bit, which I think is important. It was reported this past week that a woman named Heidi Stirrup. Stirrup is a White House liaison embedded in the Department of Justice, and she was acting as, this is an unfortunate term, according to reports as the “eyes and ears” of the White House. Apparently, she was a close ally of White House advisor, Stephen Miller, and she was going around in the Justice Department trying to get information, perhaps even grand jury secret information about potential election fraud cases and other criminal cases that she could report back to the White House, presumably Stephen Miller, perhaps even the President himself, so they could make political hay of it.

Preet Bharara:

The reporting also says that because she was acting in this way, improper way, so blatantly violating this principle of independence of the Justice Department, she was banned from the building. That’s an example, we haven’t seen a lot of them lately of the Department of Justice asserting its traditional independent role, and for that, they should be congratulated. But the incoming AG, as I said, needs to make sure that kind of thing doesn’t happen, there should not be any eyes and ears for the White House. Obviously, there’s coordination. Obviously, there’s policy discussion. Obviously, there’s a national security aspect to the Department of Justice and briefings occur regularly with the FBI director and sometimes the Attorney General too so the President is aware of all that he needs to be aware of to protect the country and keep the homeland safe.

Preet Bharara:

With the kind of nonsense we’ve seen, with the bypassing of the pardon attorney, even though it’s the President’s right, the blatant calls for Jeff Sessions to unrecuse himself, the direct commands, it seems, for Bill Barr to make sure that some report was issued by Jon Durham before the election. All of those things, those kinds of things undermine people’s confidence, that should be the top priority for the incoming AG to put aside and say, this is not how we’re going to do it anymore.

Preet Bharara:

There’s a good sign, by the way, Joe Biden, when asked questions along these lines, whether or not there’ll be investigations of the president, he said, I think the exact right thing, he’s not going to do what Donald Trump did, and insist at his direction, that the DOJ do any particular thing with respect to any particular person. That’s left up to the independent judgment and discretion of career and political officials at the Justice Department.

Preet Bharara:

This question comes in a tweet from Carrie Engelstad, “Preet Bharara, do you have any 2020 book recommendations? #askpreet. PS, I listened to the audio version of Doing Justice while assembling and wrapping kids presence last year around this time, and it was delightful.” Well, thanks for listening to the book. It’s still available, by the way. I’ll mention off the top of my head, three books, and they’re all, as you might imagine, books that were written by guests of this podcast, Stay Tuned.

Preet Bharara:

Of course, every single book written by every guest is wonderful and amazing, and should be in the list of best books of the year. But at the risk of picking out some favorites, let me go ahead. I’ve said a number of times, here and elsewhere, that a book that really made me think deeply about a lot of things, and I think is important, I tweeted about it after the election, and I think we want to understand better where the country is, why it is where it is, why some people are so disaffected and what the structure of inequality comes from in this country.

Preet Bharara:

You have to read Isabel Wilkerson’s, Caste, if you haven’t listened to that episode, I would go back and listen to it, and then read the book or vice versa. But it’s an eye opening… I know people like to say eye opening a lot, but it was truly eye opening. Another book along those lines that I think also helps understand where we are in the country, in the Justice framework to figure out why it is that there’s so much inequality in the country, and what inequality means and what we should be striving for in a just society, because it’s not necessarily what people think. The book that I really enjoyed reading, it made me think I think about it almost every day is the book by Michael J. Sandel, my former Harvard professor called The Tyranny of Merit, in which he talks about the disenfranchisement of people who haven’t gone to college, people who haven’t been as lucky in life to succeed, and the dynamic in which people who succeed think that they are deserving of their success is not necessarily a bad thing, but tends to be wrong, at least not fully deserving of their success, but implies that people who are not successful, who are not rich, who were not prosperous, are deserving of their lower station in life, that’s not necessarily just either.

Preet Bharara:

That’s a very thought provoking book, I recommend it highly, and then third, this is not from 2020, but it’s on my mind, because I was thumbing through it, because this gentleman, this author will be my special guest in the zoom, Bill Browder. His book, Red Notice is the most page turning thing you’ll read, probably in a long time. If you haven’t read it, I would get that. I’m also going to ask him about the new book he’s writing, Freezing Order, with promises to be just as good.

Preet Bharara:

Today, December 10th, at 5:00 PM Eastern Time, I’ll be having a drink virtually, with Bill Browder, the author of Red Notice. If you want a free link to the Zoom event, go to cafe.com/preet 5:00 PM Eastern Time, today, December 10th.

Preet Bharara:

One more thing, before we get to the interview, we spent a lot of time, I’ve spent a lot of time and Milgram and I have spent a lot of time talking about the various legal challenges that President Trump and his allies have made to the election generally, to the election specifically in various states, and I will tell you, I’m relieved that we are soon coming to an end of when we have to talk about these dubious, ridiculous, overhyped, erroneous lawsuits, virtually none of which have succeeded, nor do they have any chance of success.

Preet Bharara:

I just want to mention one thing that happened yesterday, which is emblematic of this whole game that you’ve been seeing played by Trump and his lawyers. There was a lawsuit in Pennsylvania brought by a Congressman, Mike Kelly, that sought to throw out basically all of the voting in Pennsylvania, on the ground that all mail-in voting was wrong and unlawful. That went all the way up to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said basically, are you crazy, we’re not going to do that. There’s no basis to do that.

Preet Bharara:

On this doctrine called Latches said, basically, you delayed too long and everyone relied on the legality of voting in this particular way, we’re not going to undo the election for this reason. With great fanfare and drama, Mike Kelly made an emergency application to the Supreme Court, oh, going to the Supreme Court, here we go. All sorts of folks, experts on constitutional law, expressed their view correctly, but the Supreme Court was going to do nothing about this.

Preet Bharara:

Then Samuel Alito, who covers that area of the country, moved up the date for briefing on the matter, and people thought, well, what does that mean? Maybe that means the Supreme Court is going to come to the rescue. It’s not how the Supreme Court works. Then, of course, earlier this week, in a one sentence order, Justice Alito wrote, “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice Alito and by him referred to the court is denied.” Do you know how many dissents there were? Zero? No, Amy Coney Barrett, no Justice Kavanaugh, no, Justice Gorsuch, no Justice Roberts. In fact, the Supreme Court’s order from Alito came, I think, a couple of hours after the final briefing occurred in the Supreme Court.

Preet Bharara:

I mentioned that only as potentially a final bookend to the nonsense of these suits that had been brought, and the propaganda that has been emanating from Jenna Ellis and Rudy Giuliani and others about how the next case is going to be won, the next case is going to be won, they are not. The election is over. No evidence has been presented. President Trump and his allies have lost in state court, they’ve lost in federal court, they’ve lost in the High Courts, they’ve lost in the low courts, they’ve lost in every state they’ve brought an action in. So, the circus hopefully is soon coming to an end.

Preet Bharara:

Stay Tuned, there’s more coming up after this. Jon Ossoff is my guest this week. He’s the Democratic candidate for Senate in Georgia running against incumbent Republican David Perdue. Ossoff is one of two Democrats with the opportunity to pick up a senate seat in the runoff elections in Georgia. If the Democrats win both, they’ll effectively take control of the Senate. I spoke with Ossoff on Monday. The night before he debated an empty podium after Senator Perdue refused to attend their scheduled debate.

Preet Bharara:

Jon Ossoff, welcome to the show.

Jon Ossoff:

Thank you so much, Preet, I appreciate it. By the way, if you hear me pouring some tea in the background, I’m just going through my podcast ritual here.

Preet Bharara:

One housekeeping thing I should probably disclose to everyone who doesn’t follow me on Twitter, that my sons and I, my teenage boys and I did a project in August and early September, where they would recommend someone for me to donate money to, House candidates, and also eight Senate candidates and my boys picked you. So, I’m an official donor to your campaign. We’ll make sure people know that.

Jon Ossoff:

Grateful for the support, Preet. Thank you.

Preet Bharara:

They love them some Jon Ossoff, I’ll tell you. We’re recording this on Monday, December 7th. The first thing I want to ask you about, so you had a debate yesterday with yourself. I hope you won that. Did you win?

Jon Ossoff:

I think that I was the clear victor.

Preet Bharara:

Because that would be bad for your campaign if you lost the debate without an opponent.

Jon Ossoff:

A month ago, or something like that, I debated an empty suit when Perdue actually bothered to show up, and last night, sadly, I debated an empty podium because I guess he doesn’t think he can handle himself in debate or he might be concerned he’s going to incriminate himself, frankly.

Preet Bharara:

We’ll get to those charges in a second. Do you prepare differently for a debate where you know your opponent is not showing up? Or do you prepare anyway, in case at the last minute, he makes a surprise appearance?

Jon Ossoff:

That occurred to me in the last… I was like, hey, maybe he’ll summon some courage here and come and give the people a debate. But no, not really. It was a chance for me to address the people directly, and explain what this campaign is all about and what the stakes are. Talking about health jobs and justice for the people here in Georgia.

Jon Ossoff:

But I do sincerely regret that Georgia voters didn’t have the chance to hear a debate. I think, this is not just political talking points, this is real. It is a an incredible demonstration of arrogance and entitlement for a sitting senator to feel like he should just be able to ask for reelection without even having to answer questions or debate his opponent.

Preet Bharara:

Or how about fear? Fear too?

Jon Ossoff:

No doubt about it? Look, the last debate didn’t go very well for David. I tried to encourage him on Twitter, I’ve let him know it couldn’t possibly go any worse.

Preet Bharara:

That was very generous of you. Here’s the weird thing, there are times when incumbents who are in a strong position or don’t want to give too much attention to their opponent and give them equal footing on a stage, where they will just take the position that we’re not going to debate at all. That’s not what happened here. He agreed to a debate, had a debate, I think objectively did poorly in the debate, had agreed to another debate, tell me if I have any of this wrong, and then on the eve of the second debate, just said, “Hey, you know what? Guess what, I’m not showing up.” Fair?

Jon Ossoff:

Yeah, that’s exactly right. We debated in Savannah, he did very, very poorly. He didn’t have answers to the most basic questions, and within a few hours, he canceled our next debate, which was on the eve of the general election, and now he no-showed this one, because he is terrified, which is a sad spectacle, a sad sight for someone who’s supposed to be leading the people and representing us with courage and integrity. How does he go back to his own supporters, he’s not even willing to take a stand for what he believes in.

Preet Bharara:

Let’s talk about you a little bit, then we’ll get back to Senator Perdue. Maybe people don’t appreciate who are not in Georgia and seeing you campaign on a regular basis that one of your early formative experiences was you were an intern with the great legendary late John lewis in high school. How did that come about, and how does that affect how you think about politics and running?

Jon Ossoff:

I was just basically a history nerd, and was interested as a very, very young man in learning as much as I could about the civil rights movement. Because growing up in Atlanta, you’re immersed in that history. We walk among giants here in this city. Our streets are named after King and Hosea Williams, and at that point, John Lewis, of course, represented the city of Atlanta in Congress.

Jon Ossoff:

I grew up in a community that was civically engaged, that was diverse and had always been taught about the civil rights movement, and was really taking a deep dive as a very, very young man into that history. I read John Lewis’s memoir, Walking with the Wind. It had such a profound impact on me, because, first of all, his courage and the courage of all those who were marching in the movement and freedom riding in the movement and fighting for the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act were so extraordinary, and also their youth.

Jon Ossoff:

John lewis was in his early 20s when he was leading SNCC, when he was helping to lead the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. I was just so inspired that I wrote him a letter and asked if I could spend some time with him, or interview him or learn from him or anything. Being the kind of man that he was, he invited me to come and spend a few months working for him in his office.

Jon Ossoff:

The very first meal that we shared, he wanted to talk to me for about an hour and a half about the historic bonds between the Jewish and black communities here in Georgia, and during the Civil Rights Movement. Then being the kind of man that he was, when I left his office, he stayed involved in my life, he mentored me for 17 years, he helped guide me through my career and through my personal life, and I miss him dearly, but feel his presence strongly here with us.

Preet Bharara:

Do you think we’ll ever get the name of that bridge, the Edmund Pettus Bridge changed to the John Lewis Bridge?

Jon Ossoff:

We very well might. I was actually in Selma just a few weeks ago, and it was my first time visiting the bridge. Looking down the slope of that bridge as it enters the city, and imagining how they must have felt singing as they marched, but also staring at row after row of troopers, with billy clubs and dogs, knowing that they were walking into brutal violence and possibly death, just for daring to demand the right to vote for black Americans in the south in the mid-60s, it was a moving experience to go and visit that place, that kind of pilgrimage.

Preet Bharara:

You mentioned the youth of civil rights activists and participants back in the ’60s, you are not a very old man yourself. I believe you are 33 years old. What do you say to people who might react with, well, that’s a bit young. What have you done in your 33 years that makes you a good candidate for Senate and a good senator?

Jon Ossoff:

Well, first of all, I think that my youth is one of my greatest strengths as a candidate. I think that when people look at the state of things in our nation’s capital, and the sorry state of our politics, the catastrophic incompetence of our government, the last thing that they say is, gee, the problem is we got too many young people up there.

Preet Bharara:

Right.

Jon Ossoff:

I think we need more young people in office. I have dedicated my career to exposing and fighting corruption and the abuse of power. I run a 30 year old media production company that produces investigations of war crimes, organized crime.

Preet Bharara:

You started that company when you were three?

Jon Ossoff:

No, my colleague, Ron McCullough founded a company in 1991.

Preet Bharara:

Wow, you are more precocious than I thought.

Jon Ossoff:

The company was founded in 1991, and I joined in 2013. We specialize in long term undercover investigations of official corruption and organized crime as well as frontline conflict reports, reporting from hostile environments, and investigations of war crimes. That is what I’m passionate about is exposing the abuse of power, and doing what I can to make sure that those who have faced abuse or exploitation or have suffered from corruption, have a voice, and that’s the same passion that’s propelled me into the public arena at this moment in our history.

Preet Bharara:

I want to talk about the race a little bit, and then get into what you think of the record of your opponent, David Perdue, who will not debate you. Have there been, in this campaign, so far, elements of racism or anti-semitism?

Jon Ossoff:

Well, David Perdue was lengthening my nose in his ads to remind everyone that I’m a Jew.

Preet Bharara:

Can you explain that to folks? Because that got some attention previously, and I think it’s faded from view. Explain to people what happened, and what the explanation was.

Jon Ossoff:

Well, they were running a digital attack ad campaign in which they had digitally doctored an image of my face to extend my nose. As anti-semitism goes, Preet, I don’t give them points for originality.

Preet Bharara:

Was anyone fired?

Jon Ossoff:

I think that one junior staffer was fired. The American Jewish Committee demanded an apology from the senator. He never apologized, he never took responsibility. But David Perdue is a known bigot. This is a guy who publicly prayed for Barack Obama’s death. This is a guy who’s lengthening my nose in his attack ads. By the way, when that didn’t work, then he started calling me a Muslim terrorist. Then when that didn’t work, he started calling me a Chinese communist. This is the same guy who got up on stage at a Trump rally and mocked Kamala Harris’s name in order to mock her South Asian heritage.

David Perdue:

And Kamala, or Kamala, or Kamala, or Kamalamalamala, I don’t know, whatever.

Jon Ossoff:

This is just who David Perdue is.

Preet Bharara:

Oh, I remember that very well. It’s a colleague, it’s not even a stranger, it’s someone who has served in the Senate with her for a number of years, and I don’t think he apologized for that either, did he?

Jon Ossoff:

Never. He’s an unapologetic bigot. But this is the old southern strategy. See, Preet, this is what the GOP has been doing here since the early ’70s, it’s about dog whistle politics, or in this case, more like a foghorn, but it’s about dividing people along racial and cultural lines so that we can build those multiracial Coalition’s necessary to advance economic justice and expand access to health care.

Jon Ossoff:

But what’s happening in Georgia right now is a repudiation of the bigoted politics of David Perdue. What’s happening in Georgia right now is you got the young Jewish journalist, son of an immigrant, running alongside a black preacher who holds Dr. King’s pulpit at Ebenezer Baptist Church, building a movement together to secure jobs, justice, health for the people.

Jon Ossoff:

I think that running alongside Reverend Warnock, and what we represent is a new south where the tired bigotry of David Perdue fades into history.

Preet Bharara:

Why do you think Georgia is beginning to turn more blue? It went for Joe Biden, now certified, I think more than once, when that is a state in the south that has eluded Democrats for many, many years? Are there other things that are happening? Is it that the black vote is coming out in bigger numbers or are people who previously voted for Republicans now repudiating that kind of politics, like you suggested a moment ago? What’s your analysis of why Georgia is trending the way it is?

Jon Ossoff:

It’s the intersection of demographic transition, cultural evolution, and strategic political organizing and investment. Georgia has become younger and more diverse, literally by the hour over the last decade, and that has been met by unprecedented investment in long term political organizing. A lot of this work has been led by Stacey Abrams, a lot of this work was done during my 2017 special election campaign in the northern suburbs of Atlanta, and at Stacey’s 2018 gubernatorial. We have registered so many voters in Georgia over the last 10 years. Just between 2018 and 2020, alone, more than 900,000 new voters added to the rolls here.

Jon Ossoff:

That’s bear in mind that in ’18, Stacey only lost the governor’s race by about 50,000 votes. Between then and this general election, we added about 900,000 new voters to the rolls. What we’re seeing emerge in Georgia is this multiracial, multi-generational coalition that just wants to see this country become what it can become, or what it’s meant to become. That wants to see this country become the America whose promise drew my mother here as a 23 year old immigrant.

Jon Ossoff:

She came here alone as a young woman, because she believed in an America that is open and decent and tolerant, that offers equal opportunity to all, that rather than focusing on our racial or ethnic divisions, or our religious divisions, focuses us on our common humanity and our common American identity. We’re building something special here in Georgia that I think represents where the country is headed, certainly where the South is headed, and it’s an exciting thing to be a part of.

Preet Bharara:

I want to break that down just a little bit with another question. Are you saying in part that Georgia and maybe some other states in the south could have been blue earlier, but a combination of lack of registration and otherwise, techniques of voter disenfranchisement has caused those states to tend to go Republican before, or is it something more than that?

Jon Ossoff:

It’s all of the above. It’s that the state has become younger and more diverse, and we’ve built massive political infrastructure, and we have made great strides at protecting the franchise. Since Shelby County v. Holder, as you well know, when Section IV of the VRA was struck down, suddenly, states like Georgia didn’t have to pre-clear changes to voting procedures with DOJ, Civil Rights Division, and that’s when we’ve seen this wave of precinct closures and purges of the roles and these changes to voting procedures that have disproportionately disenfranchised black people and young people, and low income people.

Jon Ossoff:

That has been met in Georgia by this extraordinary organizing effort led by Stacey Abrams to defend ballot access. Also, this paradigm shift where we used to maybe think we shouldn’t talk about voter suppression because it might deter participation, We now recognize that when people become aware that someone is trying to take away their sacred hard fought right to vote, they’re just galvanized in their determination to exercise it.

Preet Bharara:

What’s interesting about what you just said, there’s this other dynamic on the other side, with Donald Trump and the two senators who are running, it’s not suppression necessarily, but casting doubt on the validity of the presidential election, and also casting doubt on what’s going to happen during the runoff, that includes you and Reverend Warnock on January 5th. There was some speculation that that kind of talk is going to depress the vote on the Republican side. Do you have any view of that or thoughts about that?

Jon Ossoff:

I don’t know what effect it’ll have on turnout. But I do know that what we’re seeing is that they felt entitled to victory in a walk, and they assumed that that apparatus of voter suppression would be enough to keep the lid sealed on the pot. But the will of the people boiled over in Georgia. Biden won the state, Perdue and Loeffler forced into runoffs because all of that work that they’ve done to disenfranchise people wasn’t adequate when people are this inspired, and mobilized to participate.

Jon Ossoff:

Now, they’re basically throwing a public tantrum because they feel entitled to high office. If you need any further evidence that they feel entitled to high office, I think my opponent’s refusal to debate tells you where his head’s at. He doesn’t think he should have to do this at all. He thinks that seat belongs to him, but this seat belongs to the people.

Preet Bharara:

There’s also been this bizarre, and we see this in other states too, but particularly in Georgia, this bizarre fight between Trump and his allies, and the Republican governor of the state, Governor Kemp and the Republican Secretary of State, Ravensburger, who have said again, and again, even though they’re supporters of the president, claim they wanted the president to win, that they’re not going to engage in some of these election shenanigans, they’re not going to seek to overturn the valid results of the election. Did they deserve some praise, some credit for that?

Jon Ossoff:

I think that they’ve shown steel in their spines that some of us perhaps did not expect. While we cannot forget that some of these same folks have been involved in building that apparatus of voter suppression, I do commend them for resisting this outrageous, and I think, in some cases, illegal pressure campaign to undermine the outcome of the election.

Jon Ossoff:

Lindsey Graham, calling Georgia Secretary of State and urging him to find some way to disqualify legally cast ballots to throw the state for the president, truly, truly outrageous. The vicious campaign that the president has been ginning up against these Republican election officials in Georgia has been putting people’s lives at risk. Our senators have been accomplices to it.

Preet Bharara:

Do you expect Joe Biden to come campaign for you?

Jon Ossoff:

I’d love to see the president-elect down here, would welcome him with open arms. I don’t want to presume, amidst the transition that he will have time to, but I certainly hope that his official duties permitting that he’d be able to make it down here. Would love to see the vice president-elect as well.

Preet Bharara:

It’s in his interests. Maybe you can explain for folks, although they probably understand why it is so much attention, so much interest, so much money is going to be pouring into the race, not one race, your race and the other race in Georgia. What do you think is the difference between winning those two seats, and losing those two seats for the first couple of years of a Biden presidency?

Jon Ossoff:

Well, here’s the bottom line, Mitch McConnell is going to try to do to the incoming administration, exactly like he tried to do to President Obama. First of all, we just can’t have that in a moment of crisis like this, we got thousands of Americans dying per day from a virus spreading out of control. There are millions of families on the brink of financial ruin, families who have faced or are facing foreclosure and eviction. Small businesses that are at 20% or 30% of capacity, that are going bankrupt, and there’s no financial relief coming from Washington.

Jon Ossoff:

The only way that we’re going to pass the COVID relief package that we need, and that means resource from the public health effort and direct economic relief for the people, and a large infrastructure jobs stimulus package is by winning these two Senate races. Because McConnell, as he always does, will put party over country and he’ll sabotage this administration’s efforts to fight COVID and rebuild the economy, purely out of partisan malevolence, and pure power politics.

Jon Ossoff:

Paralysis at a moment of crisis is not tenable. The bigger picture here is that we had so much good work to do to build the America that we want to live in, to build a country where there’s equal justice under the law for everybody. Where we are responsibly stewarding our environment, leaving future generations at a clean and healthy planet.

Jon Ossoff:

For us to pass a new Civil Rights Act, for us to make big investments in clean energy, for us to make investments in student debt relief for young people who are drowning in debt. All of that requires victory in Georgia as well, and I think that’s why you’re seeing this movement blossoming to win these two Senate seats.

Preet Bharara:

Hear more of our conversation in just a moment.

Preet Bharara:

You talked about corruption earlier, and I believe you’ve accused Senator Perdue of being corrupt. How so?

Jon Ossoff:

Senator Perdue’s pattern of financial misconduct is very clear, it’s flagrant. His defense amounts to the fact that he hasn’t yet been indicted for anything. The bar should be a little higher.

Preet Bharara:

Right, and the allegations that had been swirling around, relate to his stock trades. The New York Times had an article, I think, in the last few days, setting forth that Senator David Perdue has engaged in more stock trades, than I think the next five most frequent traders in the Senate combined. I think they also said that one third of all senator’s trades in the last six years are attributable to David Perdue. Why do you think that’s bad?

Jon Ossoff:

First of all, it’s important to stipulate that while he’s been insisting all year that he doesn’t direct his own stock trading, banking records subpoenaed by a federal grand jury found that he does direct his own trades. So, he is directing these trades, and he’s directing these trades in a way that presents obvious conflicts of interest, and he’s cashing out on his access to power and legislative information.

Jon Ossoff:

All of the authority that he has a US Senator, he’s trading banking stocks while he sits on the Banking Committee. Just before he took up the chairmanship of the Seapower Committee, which funds and oversees the Navy, he bought a bunch of shares of a defense contractor that makes submarine components. Then his committee dutifully directed taxpayer dollars to the procurement of those components, and he cashed out of the stock at a profit.

Jon Ossoff:

He was buying up shares in manufacturers of vaccines and medical equipment while he was getting private briefings in Washington on COVID-19. At the same time telling the public, it was no worse than the flu. It’s just an egregious pattern of misconduct. The bar for a sitting US Senator has to be higher than that he hasn’t been criminally prosecuted.

Preet Bharara:

I think about this… I just want to pause on this for a moment. Obviously, I have some track record as a prosecutor, prosecuting insider trading cases, which are not always easy to bring, but also I was a Senate staffer for four and a half years, I was just a staffer, not in the public eye, anonymous, behind the scenes. Senate staffers, just like members have to fill out financial disclosure forms, and I didn’t have a lot of money, but I had a little bit of savings at the time. Even I, and I was almost as young as you back then, even I felt it would be incredibly inappropriate, and it would look terrible, if even I, an unknown Senate staffer, were trading in individual stocks, because there was no way to be able to show that that wasn’t necessarily influencing the advice I was giving Senator Schumer, who had pretty broad jurisdiction on the Judiciary Committee, of course, but then obviously, I was a staffer who might advise him on other issues as well, and be in on meetings where other issues were discussed.

Preet Bharara:

If I as a staffer in his 30s thought, I should never trade in individual stock, I wonder what goes through the head of someone like this, who does it thousands of times, as an actual powerful senator in the majority?

Jon Ossoff:

It’s mind blowing. I will put my portfolio in a blind trust on day one, and I’ll offer a bill to ban trading in individual stocks by members of Congress all together. I don’t think members of Congress have any business playing the market. The conflicts of interest are so obvious, and Perdue, as you said, he’s trading more than the next five senators combined. He’s buying shares in relatively obscure regional banks who stand to benefit from specific legislation that he’s championing. He’s cashing out on the federal response to the opioid crisis. He’s treating his Senate office like his E*TRADE account, and it’s just over the top.

Preet Bharara:

There’s a particular stock that I think has been in the news and you have talked about, a company called Cardlytics, if I’m pronouncing it correctly. He sold more than a million dollars worth of Cardlytics stock this year. What’s the deal with that?

Jon Ossoff:

This is probably where DOJ has taken perhaps the most interest. He exchanged emails with the CEO of the firm the day before. He personally called up his broker at Goldman Sachs, and ordered a huge liquidation of his position, and then several weeks later, that CEO announced that the company had missed its earnings estimates and that he was resigning.

Jon Ossoff:

The emails between Scott Grimes, the CEO of Cardlytics, and David Perdue, the signal of the US Senate, I believe the CEO says something like, “Hey, David, before you have that conversation about the upcoming changes, some other people aren’t aware of it.” Then there’s this frantic exchange of emails basically giving the impression that, oh, it was just an email sent awry. It was sent by accident.

Jon Ossoff:

It’s exactly the kind of signature that you’d look for if you’re seeking out evidence of an exchange of nonpublic information between a corporate executive and a major shareholder, who also used to sit on the company’s board, and to which the CEO of the company had donated substantial funds. The very next day, Perdue is on the phone with his broker, liquidating a huge amount of his position. The stock craters when the CEO later makes public pronouncements about his earnings and his resignation. Perdue buys it on the dip, and then sees huge gains as the stock recovers.

Preet Bharara:

Right. He got to call directly from the head of the firm, the company, sales in advance of the dip, then buys after the dip, and makes money in both directions.

Jon Ossoff:

He’s exchanging emails with Scott Grimes, the CEO of Cardlytics, the day before he dumps the stock. In his emails to Senator David Perdue, the CEO of the company is talking about upcoming changes we discussed. Perdue cashes out and it’s just a few weeks later that that same CEO announces his resignation, and that the company has missed its earnings estimates. Come on.

Preet Bharara:

David Perdue has said in response to these allegations into the things that you’re saying, that he was exonerated, it’s a favorite word of President Trump too, that he was exonerated by the SEC and the DOJ. Is there any evidence that they have told him that he’s exonerated, that he’s an innocent man?

Jon Ossoff:

He has not presented a shred of evidence to that effect. I don’t think… You’d know better, I don’t think that the DOJ or the SEC are particularly in the habit of issuing exonerations. What we know is that he’s not been indicted for something yet. But if David Perdue has any documentary evidence whatsoever that he has been, “exonerated” by DOJ or the SEC, he should present it.

Preet Bharara:

Well, maybe the case that either the SEC, and or DOJ, there’s been some reporting to this effect, have closed their investigations and that’s usually not an announcement that’s made publicly either. Sometimes that is told to the particular party, if they’re a prominent figure or for some other reasons related to fairness. But that does not mean that there was a finding that the person is innocent. It is often just an indication, that at that moment in time, there’s not sufficient evidence to be able to persuade unanimous jury beyond a reasonable doubt that a particular criminal offense has been committed.

Preet Bharara:

In the cases that I did, and I’m not making any allegation from my end, that’s for the Department of Justice to do, and for you to ask questions about it in connection with your race. But the circumstances surrounding that call from the CEO of Cardlytics, and the senator directing his own stock trade in the face of saying that he doesn’t direct his own stock trades, is obviously smoke. The problem with being able to prove a criminal case, for folks to understand, is that if you don’t have a recording of what was said on the call, and you can’t specify, through witness testimony or otherwise, that there was specific material, nonpublic information that was conveyed, it just becomes a little bit of a harder criminal case. I think people just need to understand that.

Jon Ossoff:

These are notoriously challenging cases for prosecutors, precisely because without that kind of material evidence, it can be difficult. But here you’ve got this exchange of emails proceeding the massive sale of shares. The bottom line is, and again, this is what… David Perdue’s campaign slogan at this point is, I have not been indicted. He is rubbing voters’ noses in the fact that he has been prolifically trading stocks, personally trading stocks, conflicts of interest, left, right and center, strong evidence that he’s trading stocks on the basis of nonpublic information, and he’s rubbing it in our faces, that he’s gotten away with it. The only remedy is accountability at the ballot box, Preet.

Preet Bharara:

When you go and campaign around the state, do people talk about this? Do they ask about this? What are the things that they’re asking you about as you seek the Senate seat?

Jon Ossoff:

The reason that these repeated instances of financial misconduct are relevant is that at the same time, for example, that Perdue was profiting from the pandemic, he was blocking relief for ordinary people. In the court of public opinion, Preet, that is the aggravating circumstance. Is not only was the guy looking out for himself, he was actively obstructing help for regular people. As I’ve traveled across the state, the number one thing I hear from people of all backgrounds and all political persuasions is where is the relief? Why hasn’t Congress acted? What are you going to do to pass additional stimulus in small business relief?

Jon Ossoff:

To have a sitting senator who’s holding up help for working people, while aggressively maneuvering to protect his own assets, it’s just like a cartoonish example of a corrupt oligarchy. The guy lives on a private island. He’s a day trading while he sits in the US Senate, and he’s holding up help for the people who pay his salary during a pandemic, he told us was going to be no worse than the flu. It’s almost like a TV villain.

Preet Bharara:

Let’s talk about some of your positions on issues and the things that you want to accomplish if you get elected to the Senate. First thing I want to ask you is, do you consider yourself a moderate, or do you avoid labels?

Jon Ossoff:

I consider myself a John lewis Democrat.

Preet Bharara:

What’s that?

Jon Ossoff:

I consider myself a civil rights Democrat. I think that there is a new generation of Democrats emerging in the south who maybe don’t fit neatly into the factional labels that have marked recent presidential primaries. I am running and we… And I say we, Reverend Warnock and I are building a movement that is for health, jobs and justice for the people. I believe we get to 100% insurance coverage for the American people through a strong public option.

Jon Ossoff:

I want to see massive investment in infrastructure and clean energy to create good paying jobs with benefits, and to invest in urban and suburban and rural communities with transit projects, clean energy, rural broadband, new hospital and clinic construction, new transportation links to help our farmers get their harvest to market, affordable housing. I want to raise the minimum wage to $15 so that people doing good honest work can sustain themselves and their families, let having to work multiple jobs.

Jon Ossoff:

America’s working class has gotten a raw deal for 40 years. Have been forced onto this treadmill of financial precarity and debt, never able to quite make ends meet, and it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s because of the corruption in our political system, that public policy has favored people like David Perdue, who made his fortune shipping jobs overseas, or paying his Dollar General employees starvation wages, paying the women less than the men.

Jon Ossoff:

We’ve had government for and by oligarchs like David Perdue. It’s time that we had government for and by the people. Health, jobs and justice. Great health care for every American, dignified work that pays a living wage for every American, and a new Civil Rights Act to advance criminal justice reform to end race and class bias in our justice system. That’s what I’m running on. I don’t worry too much about the labels, I let pundits figure out what to call it, but I call it health, jobs, and justice.

Preet Bharara:

Talk a little bit more about immigration. What do you think the country should be doing and changing from what the Donald Trump immigration, both approach, mentality, philosophy and policy has been?

Jon Ossoff:

Well, I think that the Trump administration’s immigration policy has been about brutality, xenophobia, gross violations of human rights. It’s not border security, it’s border brutality. Ripping babies from their mothers and locking them in cages. I mentioned that my company produces investigations of war crimes. We’ve investigated war crimes committed by peacekeeping troops. We’ve investigated atrocities committed by ISIS.

Jon Ossoff:

If in an area of active armed conflict, combatants seize children from civilian families, and lock them up, that would be a war crime. This cannot be what America is about. I mentioned, my mother is an immigrant. This is a country built by immigrants, and really where we go in terms of policy has been known for like 15 years, almost passed in the mid to late 2000s. It was some extremists in Congress who held it up. Its comprehensive immigration reform.

Jon Ossoff:

We’ve heard those words so often, for the last decade and a half, we’ve almost forgotten what it means. Comprehensive immigration reform means border security, which is not the same as border brutality. It means a path to legal status for people who lack documentation, but otherwise follow the law. It means protection of dreamers who are every bit as American as anybody else, and it means an immigration policy that puts American workers first. That’s the immigration policy that I would support. I think that it’s the immigration policy that the majority of Georgians and Americans support.

Preet Bharara:

A couple of other things that you’ve spoken about that not every candidate talks about. You have tweeted and otherwise discussed your wish to ban private prisons. Why is that?

Jon Ossoff:

Because I think that first of all, that profiting from incarceration is deeply immoral, that it is an inherently corrupt enterprise, and that when the profit motive is introduced in the carceral system, it creates incentives for politicians funded by those who profit from incarceration to lock more people up. My opponent is heavily funded by the private prison industry. It’s no surprise that he opposes any meaningful criminal justice reform or efforts to tackle mass incarceration at serious scale, because his donors increase their profitability and their return to their shareholders, when there are more young black and brown people being held in prison cells. I think that for profit incarceration should be banned. I think it’s a shameful enterprise.

Preet Bharara:

Before I let you go, I want to ask you about where you think the Democratic Party is going? If you succeed in your candidacy, running as a certain kind of Democrat, John Lewis, Democrat, you said, Civil Rights Democrat, moderate on some issues, I will use that term. As southern states like Georgia, and you’re seeing this trend a little bit in North Carolina, possibly in South Carolina, as they start electing democrats like you, what does that mean for the size of the tent of the Democratic Party, and or as the tent increases in size, does that increase tensions within the party? How do you see those resolving themselves in the future?

Jon Ossoff:

I think a big tent Democratic Party is a beautiful thing. Some internal debate, vigorous primaries, it’s all fine. We shouldn’t worry that there are differences of opinion on policy within the Democratic Party. That’s okay. That’s healthy. Look what’s happening within the GOP right now, just as a counter example, where any dissent or any criticism of the leader is like, a taboo that warrants excommunication. We don’t want to be like that.

Jon Ossoff:

Look at what that’s doing to them in Georgia right now, they can’t consolidate and focus on the task at hand because they’re all tripping over each other to indulge the whims of their failed presidential candidate. We should embrace differences of opinion within the Democratic Party, we should remain focused on improving daily life for ordinary working people. That is my North Star. My North Star is human flourishing.

Jon Ossoff:

The basic conditions of human flourishing are not mysterious. In Georgia, anywhere in America, anywhere on planet Earth, human beings need housing, health care, work that pays a living wage, education and equal justice. Everywhere on Earth, that is the conditions under which human beings, human families can flourish and thrive and build better lives for themselves and improve their standards of living over generations. Health care, housing, education, and living wage and equal justice. Let’s stay focused on expanding access to those things for all people.

Jon Ossoff:

There’s not just one way to do it, there’s not just one way to make sure that everybody has great health care. The point is to make sure everybody has great healthcare. There’s not just one way to reduce the cost of housing, the point is to do it. I am a pragmatist, but I am also an idealist, in that I believe that we can build not just a country, Preet, but a world where every human has access to those conditions of human flourishing, and let’s build it.

Preet Bharara:

Okay. If people want to help you in this lead up to the January 5th election, what can they do?

Jon Ossoff:

I would be grateful for support, make some phone calls to get out to vote, chip in a few bucks to power our turnout efforts. Post on your social media accounts. Reach out to people you know and love who live here in Georgia, and make sure they’re aware, especially help us mobilize young people out to the polls. That is the most important task that we have right now is to inspire young voters to get back out there. You can find me on Twitter @Ossoff. You can find me on Instagram @jonossoff. You can find me on the web at Elect Jon, Elect J-O-N.com.

Jon Ossoff:

Preet, I’m grateful for your time and your service to the country and for the opportunity to address your fans and followers.

Preet Bharara:

Jon Ossoff. Good luck, Godspeed.

Jon Ossoff:

Thanks so much.

Preet Bharara:

I want to close the show with some sad news for me and for folks in the law enforcement community. A friend and former colleague of mine, Larry Byrne, passed away last Sunday at the age of 61 after an apparent heart attack. Now, Larry is pretty well known in law enforcement circles. He was an assistant US Attorney in the Southern District of New York, and for a number of years, was the Chief Legal Officer at the New York City Police Department, the NYPD, Deputy Commissioner for Legal Matters.

Preet Bharara:

I worked with him right out of law school. He was, I think, a junior partner of counsel, and I was a fresh young associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in New York, and then of course, had occasion to work with him on a frequent basis when I was a US Attorney and he was the Chief Legal Officer at the NYPD. Larry was dedicated to the cause of public safety and public service. In fact, his entire family has been. His father was a cop for 22 years.

Preet Bharara:

Byrne family is no stranger to death and tragedy. Way back in 1988, Larry Byrne’s younger brother, Eddie Byrne was a rookie cop in New York City, and in 1988, just five days after Eddie turned 22, he was sitting in a marked patrol car in South Jamaica, Queens, protecting the home of a witness who was set to testify in a drug case when he was assassinated, shot to death by a drug trafficker. That case got a lot of attention, it got national attention.

Preet Bharara:

In fact, former president George H.W. Bush carried Eddie’s badge with him during his bid for president, and the Justice Department named grant after Eddie Byrne. You may have heard of the Byrne grants, which are a leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions that help fund lots of programs for crime prevention, technology improvement and the like.

Preet Bharara:

Larry Byrne talked about and clearly thought about his brother all the time. His brother’s service in the NYPD is one reason why Larry left private practice, lucrative private practice to return to public service as a lawyer for the NYPD. I want to tell one quick story about Larry Byrne that has nothing to do with any of this, and that is, as I mentioned, when I was a young, green associate, at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, I had occasion to work with Larry, who was much more senior to me, and there was a civil case we were working on with a very difficult client. I’m not sure I should mention their name, but I will, it was MetLife, and it was some insurance matter, I don’t remember a lot about it. I don’t remember the facts of the case, I don’t remember the legal posture of the case. I remember one thing about the case, and that is there was a day where for some reason, the client wanted me to look at a set of documents, very voluminous set of documents in their office, and they were so voluminous and they wanted it done by a particular time, that it would have required me to stay all night at the client’s offices.

Preet Bharara:

Now, I’m a hard working guy, I put a lot of all nighters, I don’t mind if there’s a need. But again, for reasons that I can’t recall, it was a silly and onerous and abusive request, and it made no sense to do it on that timetable, but I figured that’s my fate, I’m a junior associate at the firm and the client is always right.

Preet Bharara:

I told Larry on the phone, this is what was going on, he was not on site. My recollection is he told me to hand the phone to the client, and Larry told the client in no uncertain terms that it made no sense, that there was no reason for Preet to spend the entire night looking at these documents on this timeframe, and he was directing me to go home, and if they didn’t like it, that was too bad.

Preet Bharara:

For the non-lawyers out there to understand how significant a thing that is for a lawyer to tell the client, they’re wrong, and he was defying a direction that they made to me, the junior associate, it’s a pretty remarkable thing.

Preet Bharara:

I never spoke to Larry about it, and I’m sure he never would have remembered that. But I mention it, because at the end of life, you think about things that people did, and it’s sometimes the small kindnesses that you remember, and there’s a reason why I remember nothing else about the case, the facts, the law, I don’t even know what happened. I don’t remember who won. But I remember what Larry Byrne did for me, a young associate that could have lost the client for us.

Preet Bharara:

It also suggests to me that for those of us who are still around, think about the things you do, think about the small kindnesses because you may not appreciate how much the other people appreciate it, and remember it even 26 years later. All my best to the Byrne family. Thank you for your service, rest in peace.

Preet Bharara:

Well, that’s it for this episode of Stay Tuned. Thanks again to my guest, Jon Ossoff. 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. Tweet them to me @PreetBharara with the hashtag #askpreet, or you can call and leave me a message at 669-247-7338, that’s 669-247-PREET. Or you can send an email to [email protected]

Preet Bharara:

Stay tuned is presented by CAFE Studios. Your host is Preet Bharara. The Executive Producer is Tamara Sepper. The Senior Producer is Adam Waller. The technical director is David Tatasciore and the CAFE team is Matthew Billy, David Kurlander, Sam Ozer-Staton, Noa Azulai, Nat Weiner, Jake Kaplan, Calvin Lord, Geoff Isenman, Chris Boylan, Sean Walsh, and Margot Maley. Our music is by Andrew Dost. I’m Preet Bharara, Stay Tuned.