tv Democracy Now LINKTV August 9, 2022 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT
08/09/22 08/09/22 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from new york, this is democracy now! in an unprecedented move, the fbi has executed a search warrant of former president donald trump's mar-a-lago resort in florida. the raid is reportedly tied to a federal probe into trump's unlawful removal of documents from the white house. we will get this latest. then we will look at the senate's sweeping $739 billion
bill to address the climate crisis, reduce drug costs, and establish a 15% minimum tax for large corporations. >> the senate has passed, significant build a five the climate crisis ever. it is going to make a difference to my grandkids. the world will be a better place for my grandchildren because of what we did today, and that makes me feel very, very good. amy: we will speak to rob weissman of public citizen, indigenous land defender tara houska, and bishop william barber. we will also speak to the bishop about why he wants to go to russia to help free basketball superstar brittney griner and we will look at the trial of far-right conspiracy theorist alex jones, who has been ordered to pay $45 million to the parents of a sandy hook shooting victim. we will speak with elizabeth williamson, author of the book "sandy hook: an american tragedy and the battle for truth."
all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. the fbi seized documents from donald tru's mar-a-lago resort d home in florida. on monday evening, trump issued a statement saying "my beautiful home mar-a-lago in palm beach, florida, is currently under siege, raided and occupied by large group of fbi agent's. they either broke into my safe." trump was in new york at the time. multiple news outlets are reporting guy executed a search warrant as part of the probe and whether trump removed 15 boxes of white house records, including some classified documents, after he left office. such a move might constitute a criminal violation of the presidential records act. in response, house minority leader kevin mccarthy threatened to investigate attorney general
merrick garland of republicans win back control of the house after the midterm elections. this all comes as donald trump is facing multiple other investigations over his attempt to overturn the 2020 election. after the headlines, we will be the latest with rob weissman, president of public citizen. the head of ukraine's state-run nuclear power company is calling on russia and ukraine to adopt a 5-kilometer-wide demilitarized zone around the zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after weekend fighting damaged safety equipment at the site. petro kotin said russia's military had turned zaporizhzhia into a base used to attack ukrainian positions. and was threatening a disaster that could spread radiation across the globe. >> the situation is very dangerous. we encountered such a situation at turn noble nuclear power plant, if you remember, but
there's a very big difference here. there are six units. all are filled with nuclear material. there are pools of spent nuclear fuel. this requires constant cooling. these pumps run on electricity. amy: ukrainian officials have also accused russia of placing explosive land mines around the power units at zaporizhzhia in what president volodymyr zelenskyy condemned monday as nuclear blackmail. elsewhere, ukraine's military says its forces are advancing on the strategic city of izyum in northeastern ukraine as part of a counter-offensive aimed at retaking areas under russian occupation. meanwhile, the biden administration said monday it's sending another $1 billion in military aid to ukraine, including advanced anti-radar missiles produced by raytheon. it's the 18th time the u.s. has sent a package of weapons since russia invaded ukraine in february. the pentagon said monday as many as 80,000 russian troops have
been killed or injured in the fighting, though that number was impossible to verify. the palestinian health ministry reports israeli soldiers killed three palestinian men earlier today as they raided a house in the city of nablus in the israeli-occupied west bank. the ministry says at least 40 other palestinians were wounded, four of them are in serious condition. israel says none of its troops were injured in the raid, which killed a senior commander with the al-aqsa martyrs' brigade. the latest violence came after a cease-fire held following three days of israeli assaults on the za strip, killing 44 palestinians, including 15 children. 350 others were injured. the palestinian authority says so 1500 housing units were damaged or destroyed by israel's assault. this is muhammad shamlakh, whose family's home in gaza city was demolished. >> cease-fire or not, i house
was shelled and demolished. who will put it back in its previous day? leaders have shaken hands. that is fine. but what about the people who lost their homes and are stranded n? we have relatives who lost their house previously and now it has happened again. amy: here in new york, hundreds of people gathered outside the midtown manhattan offices of the group "friends of the israel defense forces" monday for an emergency rally in response to israel's ongoing assault on gaza. this is abdullah akl of the group "within our lifetime" which organized the protest. >> all across the country. cease-fire. [inaudible] we are here fighting. amy: european union negotiators have put forward a final draft of a document that would restore
the 2015 iran nuclear deal. president trump unilaterally pulled the united states from the landmark agreement in 2018, prompting iran to expand its nuclear activities. on monday, u.s. and iranian negotiators wrapped up talks in vienna, austria, with a proposal that would see iran halt the enrichment of some nuclear materials in exchange for relief from sanctions. negotiations have remained stalled for months, in part due to president biden's decision to keep iran's islamic revolutionary guard corps on a terrorist blacklist. in immigration news, the biden administration said monday it's officially ending the contested trump-era remain in mexico policy and will no longer force asylum seekers to wait in mexico while their cases are resolved in u.s. courts. the announcement came just hours after a judge lifted an injunction, in effect since december, blocking biden officials from terminating the program formally known as the migrant protection protocols, or
mpp. the supreme court ruled in the june biden administration had the authority to end the policy. thousandof asylum seekers enrolled in the program reported faced kidnappings, torture, rapes, and other extremely dangerous conditions while waiting in mexico. a federal court in brunswick, georgia, has sentenced the white father and son gregory and travis mcmichael to additional terms of life in prison on federal hate crimes charges for the 2020 murder of ahmaud arbery, a 25-year-old black man shot and killed while jogging through a mostly-white neighborhood. an accomplice, william bryan jr., was sentenced to an additional 35 years. all three men are already serving life sentences in georgia after they were convicted last november of arbery's murder. on monday, a judge rejected a bid by the mcmichaels to serve their time in federal prison, which they argued would be safer than the georgia state prison where they're being held. ahmaud arbery's mother wanda cooper-jones spoke to reporters outside the courthouse after the sentences were handed down.
>> travis chose not to even say he was sorry. so he really shows the court, he shows the family, it shows everybody who is been sayin what kind of people really took my son away. amy: in maryland, the family of anton black has reached a $5 million deal to partially settle their wrongful death lawsuit. black was a 19-year-old african american young man who died in 2018 after he was electrocuted with a taser, pinned down by three white police officers, and shackled by the legs, and tasered. a physician at johns hopkins concluded anton black died of asphyxiation. his family sued, saying officers used excessive force and later tried to cover up the killing with false claims that black was on drugs and showed "superhuman" strength. as part of the settlement, three coastal towns in maryland have agreed to change their policies on police use of force and will adopt new methods of training
officers they say. in cuba, at least one firefighter is dead and 14 people are missing after a massive fire at an oil storage facility spread to a third storage tank. officials say the blaze began late friday after lightning struck part of the oil depot in the western province of matanza. it's one of cuba's worst environmental disasters in decades and threatens to bring rolling blackouts to the island, which relies heavily on imported foreign oil to generate electricity. and in the philippines, police arrested former vice presidential candidate, scholar, and activist walden bello on cyber libel charges. he's since been released after he posted bail. last year, ahead of the presidential election in the philippines, a member of vice president sara duterte's campaign filed a cyber libel complaint against bello over statements he allegedly made on social media. she's the daughter of former president rodrigo duterte, whose government has been accused of severe human rights violations
and repression against critics and journalists. on twitter, walden bello wrote -- "these people are mistaken if they think they can silence me and suppress my exercise of free speech." and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman in new york, joined by democracy now! co-host juan gonzález in new brunswick, new jersey. hi, juan. juan: hi, amy. welcome to all of our listeners and viewers from around the country and around the world. amy: the fbi has seized documents from donald trump's mar-a-lago resort in florida monday morning. multiple news organizations are reporting the fbi executed a search warrant as part of a probe into whether trump illegally removed 15 boxes of white house records, including some classified documents, after he left office. the fbi and justice department has made no official comment about what happened monday.
the fbi is run by christopher wray, who was appointed by president trump. the contents have also not been revealed. on monday, trump issued a statement saying -- "my beautiful home, mar-a-lago in palm beach, florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of fbi agents. they even broke into my safe!" trump was in new york at the time. the federal investigation into trump's handling of the records has been escalating for months. cnn reports the fbi interviewed aides to trump in april and may about the missing documents. and then in june, lawyers with the justice department traveled to mar-a-lago to see how the documents were being stored and to meet with two of trump's lawyers. cnn reports trump was at mar-a-lago during that visit a made small talk with the investigators. days later, federal investigators sent a letter requesting the documents be stored in a more secure fashion and aides to trump reportedly then added a padlock to the door of the room. supporters of trump responded
with outrage to the news of the fbi raid. house minority leader kevin mccarthy threatened to investigate attorney general merrick garland if republicans win back control of the house in the fall. this all comes as donald trump is facing multiple other investigations over his attempt to overturn the 2020 election. it also comes as trump is considering another run for the white house. we begin today's show with robert weissman, president of public citizen. rob, can you explain exactly what took place? this is unprecedented, the fbi raiding the home of a former president. >> great to be with you. it is unprecedented and we don't know exactly what is going on and i think we should be cautious about being too excited about this development. they raided mar-a-lago. according to news reports, as you said, in search of
classied documents that he improperly took with him when he left the white house and started at mar-a-lago. it is not exactly clear why that is sufficient that the fbi with the authorization of the justice department would have taken this step. maybe the documents really are important. maybe they show something he is trying to hide. maybe they actually compromise national security. so i don't think we should jump on board the -- be too excited and trusting of the fbi. we should be mindful of over classification and excessive claims to national security when it comes to government documents. i think we just have to wait and see. on the bigger picture, far more important issue of the january 6 investigation, we know what happened, laid out incredible detail. we saw it with our own eyes. the pride visited organized the coup -- the president organized
a coup. for that, i think we should prosecute. juan: rob weissman, could you remind us of the issue that the national archives raised about president trump taking a whole bunch of official presidential records out of the white house when he left and some of these were supposedly classified as well? >> right. he just took a lot of stuff with him. when you're president, the material you generate, those belong to the american people. there is a whole process. in general, to have those stored at the national archives and be part of the historical record and also kept classified when there is secret material. we know trump by nature and specifically did not care about proper document retentio policies. we have ongoing and reports he ripped of documents, flushed them down the toilet.
obviously, given his personality, he is not a guy who's going to take the sears lay. so he took at least 15 boxes of documents with him. it has been a struggle to get those documents back where they belong. it may well be this raid is just about that or may be there something specific in these documents that poses a bigger risk than just the fact he improperly took document. juan: to get to the big news this week which was the senate's passage of the inflation reduction act, you have called this a very good legislative package, once enacted it will make america better place. could you lay out some of the key provisions of this act? i was a little skeptical about the issue of medicare negotiating drug prices because it only involves right now, as i understand it, 10 drugs of the
thousands that are out there and even those the negotiations, the actual prices won't increase -- want to be capped until 2026 as i understand? >> yes. that's right. i think for the overall package, i think it is a very positive bill and i think the key elements -- lower and capp druge pricesd subsidies, raise taxes on corporations, and take important measures to deal with the climate crisis. they are significant. they would not have happened absent movement across the country and the bernie sanders campaign -- which forced them on the agenda and forced them congress. that said, there are limitations toll the good things in there. the case of the climate and energy portion, there are some bad things. i had the case of drug pricing,
for example, yoare right. when it comes to medicare negotiation, as you know, medicare is forbidden by law from negotiating the price of the drugs it pays for seniors. that was put in there by a representative in 2005 shortly before he left congress and went over to be head of the pharmaceutical trade association , one of the most corrupt moments in american history. it has cost americans hundreds of billions of dollars since 2005 and even more going forward. so the proper solution would be for medicare tefl authority to negotiate all the drugs, the price of all the drugs advise and if companies don't agree, to let medicare authorize generic competition and to buy from generics at a wer price. this bill falls way short of that.
it lets medicare negotiate the price of a handful of drugs and will have to wait a little while to do that. but even that will save american people about $100 billion over attain years. and has gotten pharma, the industry come up in arms because they don't lose and congress ever. and they are super worried this is a break in the dam and it lead to more negotiations once the american people find the cost savings available. it is limited but also important. amy: we're going to continue to look at the senate bill, sweeping $739 billion bill to address the climate crisis, reduce drug costs, and establish a 15% minimum tax for large corporations with rob weissman a public citizen. we will also be joined by indigenous land offender tara houska and then bishop william
amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. as we continue with the vote on the senate bill. the house is preparing to vote friday on that sweeping $739 billion bill to address the climate, reduce drug costs, and establish a 15% minimum tax for large corporations. the senate passed a measure sunday when vice president kamala harris cast the deciding vote after every republican in the senate voted no. senate majority leader chuck schumer described the legislation as the boldest climate package in u.s. history. >> the senate has now passed the most significant bill to fight
the climate crisis ever. it is going to make a difference to my grandkids. the world will be a better place for migraine told him because of what we did today, and that makes me feel very, very good. amy: many climate groups praised the senate for taking action but says far bolder steps are needed to address the climate emergency. the founder of the sunrise movement tweeted -- the senate bill aims to cut u.s. carbon emissions by 40% by the end of the decade but also includes controversial provisions added to win support from west virginia senator joe manchin and arizona kyrsten sinema. it will make it easier for the pipeline industry to win approval if new projects, including the proposed mountain
valley pipeline in west virginia. the bill could also lead to more drilling on public lands and waters and expand tax credits for fossil fuel -- fossil, coal, writing planes. it has been described as a climate suicide pact must up still with us, rob weissman, president of public citizen. we're also joined by tara houska , indigenous lawyer and activist. she is founder of the giniw collective. she is ojibwe from couchiching first nation. can you respond to this bill that many of the more mainstream environmental groups are declaring a great victory? you have the sunrise movement saying it is not what they would have done but it is a beginning. your response? >> a bill that in order to get access to renewable energy dollars and invesent, upfront, the fossil fuel industry has handed off millions and millions of acres of public lands, of
waters -- side project deals where you see the rolling back of the bedrock environment a law all just to get investments of renewable energy. that is not a climate solution. motherature is not dealing in u.s. dollars. that is my response. juan: i wanted to ask you, the two main crafters of this bill, senators manchin and majority leader chuck schumer, both of them have received significant contributions, according to "the new york times" from next era energy, stakeholder and the mountain valley pipeline. chuck schumer alone has received more than $281,000 just this election cycle. what does this tell us about the continuing role of the fossil fuel industry in crafting federal legislation? >> to me it says yes i project
that has not passed environment a review, a project that funders and investors are very concerned about. it is a project that is bad all the way around and just cannot get momentum and get it going. and here you see congress deciding, you know what? we will give it a pass, specifically this project. citing this question -- well, even if your project is not meet environmental reviews, not fiscally responsible, you still might get it through. amy: let me play what west virginia senator manchin had to say about this. >> it has nothing to do with me. it has everything to do not only with west virginia but our country and the security and energy we need. there's not another project in america today that will bring this much energy within four to five months.
there's nothing we can go to that will bring to billion cubic feet back into the marketplace. amy: "near tums coastal reports contributions from natural gas pipeline companies dramatically increase from the $20,000 in 2020 to more than 331 thousand dollars so far this election cycle. >> it is doubling down on fossil fuel to get the renewables. we had to dollars renewables themselves are still going to be a distraction, still going to be the model the fossil fuel and extractive industry wants which is new mines and new places which ans indigenous people continue to disparate experience the effects of the destructive industry. it means ming companies are showing up in our backyards, which is already happening. i mean, to get to the place these folks are saying is a solution requires a lotf
damage. that is their climate crisis decision-making process. it is sorely lacking. juan: rob weissman, if you could talk -- resnd to some of the negative aspects terms of climate on this till but also talked about the positive aspects. clearly, there are all kinds of subsidies and enticements for renewable eneies, but there are also questions as to whether the industry already, especially the automobile industry, is not profiting from these rebates for electric cars by hiking the prices of cars. >> there's a lot in it. look, there's lots of bad in it on the climate and energy side. everything tara said is right. i would not disagree. there are a lot of good things in it. the top line is it will reduce overall emissions from this 2005
baseline from about 30% to 40%. that is not nearly enough but it is consequential, consequential as opposed to the choice of doing nothing, which is unfounately our alternative. there are a lot of good programs. there are a lot of investments. billions of dollars, for example funding to decarbonize ports for the diesel pollution that so badly affects community's around ports. there's a lot of resilience money targeted for low income coastal communities. there is big money to try to facilitate a rapid transition to renewables. there is a ton in there and a lot of it is really good. it is absolutely right the overall deal because of senator manchin and senator sinema includes outrageous things that are completely counterproductive
to the objective of reducing the climate crisis and absolutely will worsen both the problem of emissions and really focused harm on communities that have to deal with oil and gas extraction, pipelines, and mining. those overwhelmingly, for mmunity's, community's of lor, and often native americans. amy: let me ask about what senator sinema extracted in order to get her support. democrats agreed to drop a proposal to raise taxes on private equity and hedge fund firms. both of these senators, they feared, could torpedo this deal. but what about senator sanders torpedoing it from another direction or threatening to unless he, too, got concessions around the issues -- everything
from what tara is raising to this issue of what senator sinema was demanding? if you could respond? i wanted to get senator bernie sanders in here come his voice speaking on the senate floor this weekend. >> the fossil fuel industry will receive billions of dollars in new tax breaks and subsidies over the next 10 years on top of the $15 billion in tax breaks and corporate welfare they already receive every year. interestingly enough, mr. president, that may well be the reason why vp, one of the largest oil companies in the world, supports this bill. it may be the reason why shell and other huge oil companies support this bill, and it is the reason i suspect why the ceo of exxon mobil is pleased by many
of the provisions included. we had to think a little bit about what it means when major oil companies in the process of just throwing the planet support this legislation. amy: if you could respond to what sanders said, the difference between senator sanders he does not hold the bill hostage unless he gets what he wants supported. if you could respond to that? everything from the fossil fuel companies he is talking about to what sinema got? sinema received more than $500,000 in campaign donations from private equity group executives in this election cycle alone, representing about 10% of her fundraising from individual donors. this includes, i am reading from the financial times, donations totaling $54,900 from executives at kkr, $35,000 from carlisle,
more than $27,000 from apollo, more than $24,000 from capital, and more than 23,000 from riverside partners. >> for the first part of the question, bernie does not have the leverage of manchin and sinema do. because they won't go along with what might have demanded, any additional thing that would have said fine. we know that for certain because we thought there was going to be no bill just a few days before there was a bill. i have no criticism for bernie. i think he did everything he did -- and if we step back, the reason this bill exists at all is because of the sanders campaign for president and how he framed things they get go, at the start of the biden administration. i think all of the positive things, the -- the single most credit for that is bernie sanders. the most positive things are the reflection of a grassroots movementcross e country. that is what we got this.
he did not have the leverage to get more. on the part about senator sinema, you are right. you're referring to a special loophole in the tax system that makes it possible for some of the richest wall street actors to pay a lower tax rate. is complicated why, but that is what the loophole does. e indury itself, no conceivable policy justification for it but if they're paying less in taxes, they do have thing they can to keep it going. this is for the rich people at the top. they got senator sinema to carry water for them. her price of agreed to the bill was to take out a provision that would partially closed this loophole. only partial. so giving it up is not as bad as it might seem. in exchange it turns out she was able to extract something also important, very progressive, and
raises more money, which is a 1% tax on share buybacks. at the end of the day, sinema took care of her donors, complete outrage, but that netted out the american people something more progressive in terms of the tax system and i guess a net positive. but noakes but -- no excuse for what senator sinema did. juan: if we can, i would like to bring in tara houska as well. the reduction act provides over $60 billion in funding for environmental justice priorities. something rob weissman mentioned earlier. tara, was anyone in the environment of justice movement you know involved in helping to craft this provision? >> no. there's been some serious pushback regarding the last representation in the drafting of this bill, specifically on the pieces that affect our communities directly.
from my perspective, it doesn't really work to throw money at us if we don't have habitable laces to live. if our communities are underwater or if our air is poisoned and we have pipelines and minds destroying our lands actively, how does this help us? ose are serious questions this bill is lacking. where we're at in terms of blocking the bill, there is this ideal that manchin has mentioned that they promised him, like a handshake agreement about their permitting provisions, the rolling back come the "streamlining" environment of processes in 25 different projects to avoid these reviews. that is going back to appropriation so there is still something that can be done at the congressional level. amy: i want to bring into this conversation bishop dr. william
barber, cochair of the poor people's campaign and president of repairers of the breach. you tweeted monday about the reconciliation package -- "while many politicians are applauding this compromise and it does some good things, it falls short of its promise and very short of addressing america's most pressing economic problems." you can elaborate on that and also the mountain valley pipeline that senator manchin got revived and funded in this bill. those from west virginia to north carolina where you are. >> thank you so much. one of the concerns i have and many of us have is how we keep applauding so much compromise. compromise is directly has been very -- historically has been very problematic once you read the details.
john lewis and many others criticized saying it was not doing what it said it was doing come that voting rights act. history has taught us that when politicians get a compromise, we must look at what was put in and put out. it is very possible to celebrate the good things in this deal, the historic investment and climate issues and greenbank and economic justice, but you have to at least say, wait a minute. part of putting the pipeline that black and white and brown, especially poor people, are finding right now from west virginia through north carolina, how the dangerous the pipelines are.
who is it going to help? is it going to benefit everyday people, working class poor people? is it going to benefit corporate interests? we also have to say, wait a minute. while we can celebrate some things, we have to honestly say what is not a part of this deal so we don't act as though this is an end -- this is a dunk if you're in basketball, game over. no, we have wrestle with what is wrong with our politics in order to get something good you have to give up universal pre-k? yes to cut childcare? you have to cut eldercare? you have to cut child tax credit from the bill and money for public housing for affordable housing from the bill, cut the expansion of earned income tax credit from the bill, cut closing the medicaid gap from the bill. you have to cut the millionaire surtax from the bill. and then we saw all of this work -- 20 hours one day and 20 hours
another day that we only get one vote on restoring the voting rights act. one vote on the john lewis bill, which manchin actually said while john lewis was living that he would sign off on, that he agreed. he told people when he was running that he supported. we haven't had -- we haven't gotten a living wage. manchin said he was for a living wage when he ran. so did sinema. all of these scenes have been pushed down in order to get this. we have to honor what is historic but we also have to say what is problematic. it is a moral right and because 90% of the things that were cut out will hurt poor people, low-wage people, and low-wealth people who represent 140 milli-people in this country. 30% of the electorate overall and 45% in seven battleground
states. we have to address this. it is always been in the midst of american politics. dr. king talked about a lot when he said the moderates were the worst enemiesecause they were more interestein compromise. we still have to have that critique today. some don't like it. i come out of a sports background. when i played football and when i watch basketball, you win a championship seven-game series. you did not winne gamis say, series over. he did not jump in a plot until you won all four games. democrats should say, look, this is what we were able to do with 50 votes and a the senate and two renegade senators. 54 votes, 55 those and we will get the rest of it done.
but you can't just celebrate what was done and leave. these other things that matter so much in the life of poor, low-wealth people in this country because to do so is morally inconsistent, constitionally inconsistent and economically insane. amy: wish of, you raised sports and i want to stick with that, although this goes way beyond sports. i want to ask you about cost of bring written griner home after a russian court found the basketball star guilty of drug smuggling, sentencing her to nine years in a penal colony. during closing arguments last week griner took responsibility , for bringing vape cartridges containing a small amount of cannabis oil with her through the moscow airport, where she was arrested by customs authorities in february. she said the cannabis was prescribed for medical reasons. >> i understand everything being
said against me, the charges against me. and that is why i've pled guilty. but i had no intent to break russian law. i made an honest mistake and i hope that in your ruling that this does not end my life here. amy: that is brittney griner, her voice speaking from behind bars in a cage in the russian courtroom. president biden called her nine-year prison sentence "unacceptable" and promised to work to bring her home. russian foreign minister sergei lavrov said the kremlin remains -- remains ready to discuss a prisoner swap. you have called for humanitarian delegation to travel to russia to bring home brittney griner. can you lay out how this would work? you id you wt to be part of that delegation. >> if i might step back just for two seconds and also say that on
this other piece with the bill, you're right, it is not a game. we're working to mobilize more than 5 million voters who are going to say our votes are not just support but for public policy that lifts all people. what we are concentrating on with brittney griner's situation is hurtful release. we talk about oil and traces of oil and something she used for medicinal purposes. and only reason she's been targeted is because she's a high profile basketball player that is now caught up in geopolitics and russia is using her in some kind of pawn. i have daughters. if i had daughters, i would hope that people would be willing to fer their more strength. some weeks ago in front of the embassy, standing there with a
few people at a prayer vigil and we said in front of the embassy there have been others -- i think as many of us as possible should dit. we sent to the white house more than 800 clergy and religious leaders signed off on a letter saying that if the embassy in russia -- the two governments would have to allow it, we cannot do it on her own. if they would come together, we would be willing to put together -- shod not be ane of tw peop. theyhould be blac white, brown. shoulde wish, muslim, christian. theyhould have internationa reh or we c calon clerg not onere but en in russia, evein other par of the world to say that we want to bring this young lady home, that is all we are concerned about, put down the sword, stop using her as a pawn. you know this is ridiculous.
nine years for something that is medicinal and it was oil. no intent. now we also say -- we don't know all that is going on behind the scenes. we have said we don't know what negotiations are. we hope the prisoner swap works. [indiscernible] meeting at the embassy, the russian embassy. we will do it there.
[indiscernible] juan: reverend barber, i would agree with you on the issue of trying to free brittney griner t why do you need the embassy's approval? congressman richman in the990's went to iraq to free american's were jailed. he went personally as a congressman without u.s. government approval. he went to korea. reverend jackson went to cuba to free prisoners. he just got on a plane and went step is it impossible for just a few clergy to go directly without the embassy's approval? >> i talked to jackson. he has even offered to talk about this and our lawyers have told us there has to be some dialogue. you can't just go into russia or other places. there has to be some allowan. listen, whatever works. we are saying to the white house, we are saying to the
world, many people are talking -- [indiscernible] have attorneys that are looking at all that. [inaudible] behind the scenes went on. reverend jackson is a tremendous friend of mine. his mind is still strong and powerful. i am sure he is involved. if not, should be talking to him because he has done this. even though he cannot go
physically, he could be a tremendous ally. the main thing is clergy and religious leaders in moments like this should always step up and offer and be willing, and that is what we are saying. am bisp dr. william barber, thank you for being with us, co-chair of the poor people's campaign and president of repairers of the breach. next up, we speak with elizabeth williamson, author of "sandy hook: an american tragedy and the battle for truth." alex jones ordered to pay $49 million to the parents of a sandy hook massacre victim. back in 30 seconds. ♪♪ [music break]
amy: this is democracy now! i'm amy goodman with juan gonzalez. two years of right-wing conspiracy theorist alex jones' text messages have now been turned over to the house select committee investigating the january 6 insurrection. the messages were first revealed in court last week in austin, texas, just before a jury ordered infowars host alex jones to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages and $45.2 million in punitive mages to the parents of jesse lewis, a six-year-old boy killed in the 2012 sandy hook elementary school massacre in newtown, connecticut. for years, alex jones spread conspiracy theories that the newtown shooting was a government hoax and the victim'' families were paid actors, resulting in online harassment and death threats for sandy hook families.
during the trial, alex jones admitted on the stand that the sandy hook massacre was real. but he continued to spread the -- lies on his infowars radio show. this is jesse's mother, scarlett lewis, confronting alex jones as she testified. >> my son existed. still on your show today trying to say i am implying that i am an actress, that i am deep state. truth is so vital to our world. truth is what we based our reality on. we have to agree on that to have a civil society. sandy hook is a hard truth. nobody would ever want to believe that 26 kids could be murdered. amy: for more, we're joined by
"new york times" reporter elizabeth williamson who covered the this latest alex jones trail -- trial, as well as many others, and is the author of the new book "sandy hook: an american tragedy and the battle for truth." welcome to democracy now! you are in the austin, texas, courtroom, what, like 10 feet from alex jones during jury instruction? as you wrote the book, spent a good deal of time with the family members of those little children and other staff at sandy hook who were murdered. talk about what you felt was most significant about this trial and that particular moment when you have the mother confronting alex jones saying, "i am not a crisis actress" >> thawas a remarkable,
extraordinary moment. i'm glad y played that specif one because for 90 minutes scarlett lewis addressed every response while e was on the witness stand directly to alex jones. it was so powerful. but that moment you played was particularly so because withi that was the reason why the families have brought this suit, that they feel like sandy hook -- and i agree and that is what i wrote in my book -- that this was a foundational moment in this decade-long descent into disinformation and false narrives that our society is undergoing. and that families are raising a red flag that this is not only impacting us, this is eroding the foundation of our democracy. and that is what scarlett was saying in that clip. juan: but elizabeth, even as the trial was going on, alex jones was still on his show blasting
the attempts to basically as a witchhunt against him. what is the likelihood of him tually having to pay any of this huge damages, given the fact texas has a cap on punitive damages? >> absolutely. he will probably eventually, but it could be years, havto pay about $5 million rather than $49 million and that is because state law in texas has a --ps punitive damages at $750,000 per plaintiff. that means they would each receive 750 thousand dollars. but let's not forget that are two more trials for damages coming up. another one in texas and could expect maybe a similar result but there is one coming in connecticut where there are not those types of caps on.
and that case has been brought by the families of eight victims. so that is really one to watch for. will this bankrupt alex jones? he already claims he is a crypt. that is in dispute by the families the lawyers. who knows? will he ever change? probably not. i would say 90 & he will never change. but he does send a message to would-be alex jones is and also sends the societal message that this is just so important to push back against the lies and disinformation that are flowing online that more and more americans are grabbing onto and believing. juan: what can you tell us about what wlearned in the trial about the impact on these families come on scarlett lewis, neil heslin, that parents have jesse lewis and others as well? >> sure.
within hours after the shooting, alex jones started to spread the lie that ts was a false flag operation. meaning a pretext but planned by the govnment to confiscate americans firearms. he liked to say he was only echoing the claims of others or that he was only asking the questions that other people were asking. that is not true. he really did begin to talk about this whin hour d he has a following of tens of millions of people. so that circulated. it only takes a small percentage who are willing to confront the families. so what startedo happen was initially this was online. people started seeking out the family members who jones is implying andany others as well we complicit in the government plot. so they were calling them frauds , saying they did it for money, comi on to memorial pages that
have been set up on facebook and elsewhere on social media and a recognition and honor the victims, and then they kind of crossed that virtual dividand began confronting them on the street, lookingn their windows, digging through the trash, following themround at funerals and memorial services and commemorive events. and they made their lives a living hell. they have threatened their lives. the next case, the youngest sandy hook victim, they have moved almost a dozen times because their personal informion, including the home address, has been published online by these conspiracy theorists. it is really a substantialnd serious and horrific secondary trauma that has been inflicted on these families most of amy: that claims on infowars that these children never died or never existed to begin with? if you can talk about what he
said about that in court and then the money he made off of the lies. the texts, hard to believe, but his lawyer mistakenly headed over to the prosecutors that now ended up at the january 6 committee talking about hi making $800,000 in a day? >> yeah. yeah, no, he has made -- one of the reasons, amy, he never stopped talking about this for years, only after the lawsuits were threatened and filed did he stop talking about sandy hook. it was because it was a money spinner for him. his audience doubled. that was the perioof time which he was talking about is -- he has revenues in excess of $50 million a year. this business model is ingenious in that he sells products that are targeted to the paranoia of
his conspiracy-minded audience. supplements people who don't want to register firearm with the federal government and preparing for the end of times were full government takeover. he was making a lot of money. this was a claim that people really latched onto. there were significant number -- one thing in court was a year after ndy hook, there was a study de -- john amy: 10 seconds. >> that said a quarter of americans at that time believed sandy hook was likely were definitely fake. amy: we are going to do part two and post it online at democracynow.org and talk about the texts handed over and what they may speak. we are speaking with elizabeth williamson "new york times"