- Jill Steinthe 2016 presidential nominee for the Green Party.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Dr. Jill Stein, the 2016 Green Party presidential candidate, for documents as part of its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Committee Chair Richard Burr of North Carolina said on Monday that they are looking for potential “collusion with the Russians.” Among the actions that reportedly drew their attention was Stein’s attendance at a 2015 dinner in Moscow sponsored by Russian state-run TV network RT, where she sat at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin. Also at that table was Michael Flynn, who went on to become President Trump’s national security adviser and has since entered into a plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference. Flynn pleaded guilty to a single felony count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s U.S. ambassador. We speak with Dr. Jill Stein, the 2016 presidential nominee for the Green Party.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today’s show with the expansion of the Senate intelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s suspected Russia ties to include another 2016 presidential candidate: the Green Party’s Jill Stein. The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Stein for documents as part of its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Committee Chairman Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina said Monday they are looking for potential, quote, “collusion with the Russians.”
AMY GOODMAN: Among the actions that reportedly drew the attention of the Senate intelligence investigators is Dr. Stein’s attendance at a 2015 dinner in Moscow that was sponsored by Russian state-run television network RT, celebrating its 10th anniversary. A photo, that was later widely shared, shows Stein sitting at a table across from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Seated next to Putin is another American, General Michael Flynn, who went on to become President Trump’s national security adviser and has since entered into a plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference, pleading guilty to a single felony count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s U.S. ambassador.
Well, to respond to these new developments, Dr. Jill Stein joins us now from Boston.
Jill Stein, welcome back to Democracy Now! Can you tell us exactly what the Senate Intelligence Committee is demanding of you and your 2016 presidential campaign?
DR. JILL STEIN: Great to be with you this morning, Amy and Juan.
The Senate Intelligence Committee contacted us and basically sent a letter requesting documents that we might have that would shed light on potential Russian interference in the election. And they were very clear in their letter that they were not targeting us. They were not blaming us. There was no suspicion of collusion. And this was also clarified in their dialogue with our legal team. And then, suddenly, when it hit the press two days ago, suddenly, the Senate Intelligence Committee changed its story, and now, suddenly, we were being investigated for collusion. So, this has been kind of a surprise.
We are cooperating with the study—with the investigation. Our campaign takes very seriously the issue of interference in our elections. That’s why we, ourselves, launched an inquiry into potential interference in the actual vote, in the voting machines and the software, a so-called recount campaign. But it’s more than recounting. It’s essentially an effort to examine the actual technology of the vote and to answer the question, for once and for all, whether or not our votes were tampered with. And unbeknownst to the public, the voting machines and the software has never undergone a forensic examination. So when they use the term “there’s no evidence of interference,” they actually mean, in fact, there’s no physical evidence. It has never been examined, at least to the knowledge of our computer expert advisers, who have also been testifying before Congress. So, just to make the point that we take very seriously the issue of interference and, in fact, would not restrict interference to simply the question of interference by one particular foreign government. We think any interference—foreign, domestic, by governments, by gangster networks, by corporations that control voting software—none of that is acceptable. Likewise, interference with the right to vote, with the passage of voter ID laws, with corporate media that only covers certain candidates and not others, when the public is clamoring for more information—to my mind, all of that is interference, which is not good.
Nonetheless, we support this limited inquiry into interference, targeting, in particular, Russian interference. And transparency is very important. So we have agreed, from the beginning, to cooperate with the legitimate and important aims of the committee and its mission. On the other hand, I think we’re in a perilous moment for democracy, and it’s very important that this inquiry not be a launching pad for political intimidation and for the effort to silence political opposition. That’s a very dangerous proposition.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And so, Jill Stein, have you already begun handing over documents, or are you seeking clarification of the difference between the public statements versus what the letter to you from the Intelligence Committee said?
DR. JILL STEIN: So, from what I understand, our legal team is discussing with the committee exactly what the focus of the search will be. So, we’re in the process of determining that and hope to be able to begin doing that search and turning over documents within the next couple of weeks, certainly as fast as we possibly can.
AMY GOODMAN: Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted Tuesday, “Click on 'Jill Stein' that’s trending & you’ll see countless leading Dems–with large platforms–strongly implying if not outright stating she’s a Kremlin agent: all because of a Congressional inquiry. They couldn’t better replicate McCarthyism if they tried.” Glenn Greenwald made a similar point last August on Democracy Now!
GLENN GREENWALD: To me, this is one of the more remarkable things of this campaign, which is that any of us who grew up in politics or came of age as an American in the ’60s or the ’70s or the ’80s, or even the ’90s, knows that central to American political discourse has always been trying to tie your political opponents to Russia, to demonizing the Kremlin as the ultimate evil and then trying to insinuate that your political adversaries are somehow secretly sympathetic to or even controlled by Russian leaders and Kremlin operatives and Russian intelligence agencies. And this was not just the McCarthyism, which was sort of the peak of that, but even long after. This was typically a Republican tactic used against Democrats. So, if Democrats advocated greater detente with the Russians, arms deals or other negotiations with Russia to decrease tensions or decrease conflict, Republicans would immediately accuse those liberals and Democrats of advocating that, of being—either having allegiance to the Kremlin or being useful idiots or stooges of Russian leaders.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Glenn Greenwald speaking to Democracy Now! in August. But on Tuesday, ThinkProgress ran a story headlined, quote, “The pro-Kremlin talking points of Jill Stein: Trump wasn’t the only one promoting pro-Kremlin talking points last year.” In it, Casey Michel writes, quote, “Stein’s willingness to praise Russian propaganda outlets and push Kremlin talking points didn’t end in Moscow. Indeed, she challenged—and arguably surpassed—Trump in crafting the most Moscow-friendly campaign of 2016.” And it also claims, quote, you “seemed more than willing to spout Kremlin talking points at every turn—and all, it appears, for free.” Your response to the ThinkProgress statements?
DR. JILL STEIN: Well, you know, this is the Podesta organization speaking through ThinkProgress. They’re basically the mouthpiece for the Podesta organization, which is very closely tied to the Democratic Party—John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, funded by Saudi Arabia and large, nefarious corporate interests. So, you know, this is the kind of shameful journalistic standard that we’ve come to expect from the—what shall we say? You know, those who have a political ax to grind here and who have really been conducting a smear campaign against our campaign for the long haul here.
And this—you know, this Russia smear, essentially, emerged after the DNC emails, the Democratic Party emails, were exposed, showing the collusion on the part of the Democratic Party to sabotage Bernie Sanders, how that primary was rigged, which then, you know, attorneys for the Democratic Party testified in court that they had a right to essentially rig the election and determine the outcome as they pleased, and that the appearance of a democratic process was, you know, essentially a sham and a cover-up. So, you know, of course they were very alarmed by those emails. And that’s when the smear campaign began in earnest, you know.
And it’s not only ThinkProgress. The New York Times ran an article yesterday that began with a Democratic Party spokesperson essentially establishing the framework for the investigation, which is that Democrats are furious at my campaign for what they think was our audacity to vote on behalf of our agendas—against war, against offshoring of our jobs, against the attack on the climate, whether by fracking or by coal. They had—you know, they basically said that this was outrageous. Democrats are furious at me, whence this—you know, whence this investigation. And I think it speaks volumes about where this is coming from.
Not to say that this is only Democrats. The chair of the committee—the committee is run largely by Republicans. And as Glenn Greenwald himself pointed out, there is a bipartisan benefit here to smearing, intimidating and silencing third parties, in addition, while, for the Democrats, this validates their framing of Russia as sort of the prime mover and the major issue in our politics today. For the Republicans, it enables them to say that their—that the committee focused on someone else besides Trump. So there are all kinds of ulterior political motives here, which are—you know, are not a service to our democracy.
Our democracy is threatened by interference in our elections. Our democracy is also threatened by this climate in which our First Amendment rights, our rights to political independence, to free political speech, the right to protest—with the J20 trials that you have covered, which are so outrageous, in an effort to intimidate and frighten people out of our right to protest, with people who just happened to be standing on a street corner at the J20 inauguration protest. It you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, you got kettled and charged with a felony riot and threatened with up to 50 years or more in jail, for just being on a street corner, and essentially without evidence. So, there is a real assault going on right now. Not only the danger of fascism that we see out in the streets of Charlottesville and so on and, you know, other—
AMY GOODMAN: Jill Stein—
DR. JILL STEIN: —many other cities. But—
AMY GOODMAN: We have to break. We have to break, but I want to—when we come back, we want to ask you about the dinner that you attended—we have actually spoken to you about this on Democracy Now!—back in 2015 in Moscow. And then, what does it mean? You haven’t been subpoenaed, but if you are, what does this mean? What kind of resources do you have to put into dealing with this? Dr. Jill Stein, 2016 presidential nominee for the Green Party, is now being asked to hand over documents by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “Pink White House” by Priests, here on Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, the Senate Intelligence Committee has asked 2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein for documents as part of its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Committee Chairman Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina said Monday they’re looking for potential, quote, “collusion with the Russians.”
AMY GOODMAN: Among the actions that reportedly drew the attention of investigators was Stein’s attendance at a 2015 dinner in Moscow that was sponsored by Russian state television network RT, celebrating its 10th anniversary. A photo, that was later widely shared, shows Stein sitting at the table of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Seated next to Putin, across the table, is another American, General Michael Flynn, who went on to become President Trump’s national security adviser, has since entered into a plea agreement with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference and just recently pled guilty to a single felony count of lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russia’s U.S. ambassador.
So, Jill Stein, talk about why you were in Moscow and at the table of President Putin. And do you feel you should have to explain why you were at this table?
DR. JILL STEIN: So, let me just say, I’ve explained a thousand times why I was at the table. And we have been completely transparent all along here. We raised money in order to get there, because we were not going to accept money from a foreign government, even in the form of, you know, sponsoring our transportation or our hotel fees or food and so on. So, we entirely self-paid. We raised the money to get there. We were very public in our emails to our supporters, in our website, in press releases, about the fact that we were going, about the fact that I hoped to meet with Russian officials when I was there, in order to address our agenda, essentially, for peace and climate security and nuclear weapons abolition, which are critical issues that needed to be raised in our campaign here and need to be raised as matters of foreign policy. So, this information has been up on our website for all of two years. So, somehow, if the intelligence committees have failed to see it, you know, maybe they haven’t done their homework yet. But we’ve been completely transparent about everything that went on.
And at the dinner itself, you know, which we sent pictures of and reported on, at the dinner—you know, the dinner was really a non-event, because there were no translators at the table. Putin was only there briefly. He walked in with his entourage, which I thought were his bodyguards. I later learned that they were actually his chief of staff and head of communications. But no one was introduced to anyone. Putin was there briefly, before he gave a speech, in Russian. There were no translators at the table. I spent the entire dinner, actually, speaking to the person on my right. Person on my left did not speak English. The person on my right was Willy Wimmer, a German former diplomat. And we talked a little bit about international relations and international law. And other than that, there was nothing substantive at the dinner.
The New Yorker actually reported that Putin and Flynn exchanged one sentence, which went something to the effect, “How’s it going?” “OK.” And that was reported by the Czech diplomat, who was the one person at the table who spoke both English and Russian, that was sitting next to Flynn, as well. Flynn actually introduced himself to me just before we sat down at the dinner. I thought it was curious that there was a military person at this conference that largely seemed to be peace advocates. And I should mention, by the way, that Ray McGovern was there, Rocky Anderson, Jesse Ventura, Thom Hartmann, Max Blumenthal. It was really a who’s who of the peace community, that, regrettably, has to resort to a foreign TV network in order to be heard in this country, because—
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Jill—Jill, I wanted to ask you—
DR. JILL STEIN: —the issues of war and peace are not accepted by corporate media.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jill Stein, I wanted to ask you—you mention a foreign TV network. Your response to the attempt to essentially ostracize RT TV in the United States, having them declared as—registering as a foreign agent. Your sense of what is happening in the campaign against RT TV?
DR. JILL STEIN: You know, it’s very interesting. I don’t watch RT myself, except there are some programs that I find very interesting and informative. There are several newscasters who were thrown out of U.S. corporate media because they opposed the war. Chris Hedges, who refused to accept the disinformation by the intelligence community in the run-up to the Iraq War, he has a program. Max Blumenthal is featured. Thom Hartmann. You know, so there are good programs on RT. Hillary Clinton herself is on record as praising RT, several years back, saying that when she’s out of the country, she actually watches RT and the programming is quite good. She recommended it.
So, you know, what’s going on here? If you actually read the intelligence community report, it criticizes RT for saying things like that our democracy is flawed, that our elections are problematic, that—for lifting up the voices of the anti-fracking community, for saying that Wall Street greed is a problem. You know, if that’s the basis for requiring RT to—you know, for ostracizing RT, then, you know, we’re lucky that Democracy Now! has not been ostracized yet, because many of those same issues, I daresay, are also prominent in Democracy Now!'s coverage. This is part of the effort to demonize, to vilify the social movements, who are likewise characterized as Russian assets, that Black Lives Matter, that the Standing Rock protests, that anti-fracking movements and so on are essentially Russian-instigated. So, if this isn't an effort to explain away social movements and social unrest, I don’t know what is.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Jill Stein, just explain technically. You only have been requested documents now. What’s the difference between that request and a subpoena? And are your lawyers—do they know if you are going to be subpoenaed? And will you have to testify?
DR. JILL STEIN: We don’t know. We intend to cooperate, because there is now this presumption of guilt that’s been created by this ongoing smear campaign. There’s a presumption of guilt, and the air really needs to be cleared. We’re all for transparency. And as I say, our documents have been—you know, what we’ve been doing, who we’ve been talking to and what we’ve been talking about has been public, in real time, and continues to be public. So, no harm for us to gather up those documents and put them all in one place and make it possible for everyone finally to examine them. We’ve been trying to draw attention to the actual facts of the case ever since the smears began. So, I don’t think, you know, anything is really going to change here. There will be some administrative emails, our communications with RT about what time I’m going to show up and what studio I will be at. I don’t think they will have much content in them.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Jill Stein, I want to ask you an entirely different question. You were the 2016 presidential nominee for the Green Party. We only have a minute. But today, the Senate and House poised to finalize the tax bill, which some call a tax heist, which some call the largest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top that we have seen in decades. As a presidential nominee, your comments on what’s happening today?
DR. JILL STEIN: This is a shameful commentary, not only on the Republican Party, but really, I would say, on all of Congress, on the bipartisan establishment, which has—you know, the public is profoundly opposed to this bill. It’s something like—you know, it’s got a support level that’s, you know, just down at the 30 percent level. It’s really pathetic that Congress is as unresponsive as it is and that the so-called opposition party, in the form of the Democrats, have been focusing on Russia and not focusing on the harm being done right here in our own country.
This is why, you know, to my mind, the crisis of our democracy now is a crisis of economic survival, of economic security, of our climate, of the endless war, which is also costing us more than half of our discretionary budget. It’s not working. This is why the public is in political revolt right now, which speaks volumes about why these committees are now turning to suppress political opposition. So I encourage people to go to our social media, DrJillStein—that’s D-R-no period-Jill Stein—and be a part of standing up at this critical time for our democracy.
AMY GOODMAN: Jill Stein, I want to thank you for being with us, 2016 presidential nominee for the Green Party. The Senate Intelligence Committee is now questioning the campaign and Dr. Jill Stein, asking for documents about her connection and involvement with anything to do with Russia. Jill Stein, thanks for joining us from Boston.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, a remarkable new documentary about a black woman sharecropper raped in the 1940s in Alabama. And what does Rosa Parks have to do with investigating it? Stay with us.