Omnicidal Tendencies: The Nuclear Presidency of Donald Trump

Peace activist Liz McAlister, investigative journalist Johnny Dwyer, and journalist Emily Guendelsberger are this week’s guests.

Photo illustration: Elise Swain/The Intercept; Photo: Getty Images (3)

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Donald Trump now controls all U.S. nukes, and seven activists who protested this threat are now facing decades in prison. This week on Intercepted: Legendary peace activist Liz McAlister has spent her entire life resisting U.S. war. The 79-year-old grandmother of six, who is on trial with her Kings Bay Plowshares co-defendants, explains why she and her friends snuck onto a U.S. nuclear base to deliver an indictment of the U.S. government. Rudy Giuliani has emerged as Trump’s dollar-store Roy Cohn and put himself right in the center of the impeachment inquiry. Journalist Johnny Dwyer, author of “The Districts,” chronicles Giuliani’s time as a prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, his connections to shady characters from a host of countries, and why he may never face indictment. Journalist Emily Guendelsberger went undercover working at Amazon, McDonald’s, and Convergys. She discusses her experience in the dystopic world of low-wage work and her new book, “On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane.”


Chris Wallace: White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Mick, welcome back to Fox News Sunday.

Mick Mulvaney: Good morning.

CW: Why did you say in that briefing that Ukraine depended on investigating the Democrats? Why’d you say that?

Jim Carrey [as Fletcher Reede]: Let me explain. Something has happened to me. I can’t.

CW: Let me pursue that because I believe that anyone listening to what you said in that briefing could come to only one conclusion. Let’s play what you said.

Reporter: What you just described is a quid pro quo. It is funding will not flow unless the investigation into the Democratic server happens as well.

JC: What? Ohhh, yes, I can’t lie!

CW: You were asked specifically by Jonathan Karl “Was investigating Democrats one of the conditions for holding up the aid? Was that part of the quid pro quo?” And you said “It happens all the time.”

JC: Yes, but this time it’s different. Now I’m telling the truth.

CW: I hate to go through this but you said what you said, right?

JC: Oh, I’m such a shit!


JC: Jordan fades back, and that’s the game!

CW: Mick, thank you. Thanks for coming in.

JC: The truth shall set you free!

[Music interlude.]

Jeremy Scahill: This is Intercepted.

[Music interlude.]

JS: I’m Jeremy Scahill, coming to you from the offices of The Intercept in New York City. And this is episode 104 of Intercepted. 

[Radio skipping through channels.]

Donald J. Trump: First the moon and then we go to Mars. Thank you both very much. Have a good time.

[Radio skipping through channels.]

Charlotte Greensit: We have this breaking news out of north eastern Russia. Seven Catholic peace activists cut a fence on the outskirts of Russia’s feared Northern Fleet base, which houses some of the most powerful nuclear weapons systems in Vladimir Putin’s arsenal. They hammered on a statue celebrating the power of Russia’s nuclear force and poured their own blood on the doors to one of the command buildings. They waited on the base until they were discovered by Russian military police who took them into custody.

In a statement released by supporters of the group, seven activists described their motivation: “We come to the base of Russia’s Northern Fleet to answer the call of the prophet Isaiah to ‘beat swords into plowshares’ by disarming the world’s deadliest nuclear weapons. We resist militarism that has employed deadly violence to enforce global domination.” The statement concluded: “This weapons system is a cocked gun being held to the head of the planet.”

Vladimir Putin’s government has responded by arresting the seven activists and they now face a slew of charges that could result in their imprisonment for decades. Among the activists is an 80-year-old mother of three and grandmother of six. Supporters of the activists say that they understood the risks they were taking in this action and said that the fact that they were able to make it onto this nuclear base is clear evidence that these weapons systems are not secure and pose an imminent threat to humanity.

In the U.S., several leading Democratic politicians praised the bravery of the activists and called for their release, saying that their protest has unmasked the danger of Vladimir Putin’s control of the massive nuclear arsenal….

[Radio skipping through channels.]

JS: The events that are being described in this newscast are based in fact. But this anti-nuclear action did not happen in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. In fact, it happened right here, in the United States, where Donald Trump has his finger on the nuclear button. This protest was carried out on April 4, 2018 at a U.S. nuclear submarine base in St. Marys, Georgia by seven activists calling themselves the Kings Bay Plowshares 7. The Kings Bay nuclear arsenal houses nuclear armed submarines equipped with two dozen ballistic Trident D-5 missiles. Each of those missile has roughly 30 times the explosive force of the nuclear bomb that the United States dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. 

The activists were able to cut a fence and enter the base completely undetected. They staged a demonstration. They used household hammers to deface a monument to the Trident weapons system. They also poured their own blood and placed a banner on the base that read: The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide. According to the activists, they also managed to make it undetected to three different sites on this nuclear base, including a nuclear weapons storage bunker. They displayed crime scene tape and delivered an indictment charging the U.S. government for crimes against peace.

After they did their demonstration the activists were eventually taken into custody by the U.S military and then handed over to local authorities. Several of the defendants were held in jail for more than a year and a half as they awaited trial. Among these was the Jesuit priest Father Steve Kelly and the legendary peace activist, Liz McAlister.

Liz McAlister: If the world is obliterated by these weapons, it will be perfectly legal. What does that say about the law? We have tested this question again and again and have yet to find a police-person, a prosecutor, a judge or a jailer who would say no when told to protect or carry out the orders of Rockwell International, General Electric, the Pentagon, the IRS, or the Commander in Chief. But that’s irrelevant. Where do we stand? When do we say no?

JS: McAlister, who founded the Jonah House community in Baltimore with her late husband Philip Berrigan, is 79 years old. She’s the mother of three children and the grandmother of six. On Monday, the trial of the Kings Bay 7 began with prosecutors attempting to portray these activists as common vandals whose motivations for staging this protest are irrelevant. At the close of Monday’s court session, the judge in the case admonished the defendants and their lawyers telling them that they are in fact banned from any mention of international law, or using a necessity defense, or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Kings Bay 7 argued in pretrial motions that nuclearism is essentially a state religion in the United States and that it is a violation of their religious liberty. 

Earlier this year, on this program we interviewed Carmen Trotta and Martha Hennessy of the Catholic Worker movement about their role in this Plowshares Action. And joining me now is their co-defendant Liz McAlister. She is a former Catholic nun, a lifelong anti-war and anti-nuclear activist. And she has lived a life of voluntary poverty, of service, and of resistance to U.S. militarism. Her late husband Phil Berrigan and his brother, the late Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan, rose to international prominence in the 1960s for sparking the movement to raid U.S. draft boards and to destroy files that were being used to conscript young men into the war in Vietnam. The most well-known of these actions was the 1968 Catonsville 9 where the Berrigan brothers and seven others burned draft files using homemade napalm.

Daniel Berrigan: May he make it more difficult for them to kill one another. We make our prayer in the name of that God, whose name is peace and decency and unity and love.

JS: In 1980, Daniel and Philip Berrigan and six others carried out the first of what would become more than 100 Plowshares actions. Liz herself did one of these early actions in Syracuse, New York in 1983 where she and six others actually got on to a nuclear base, hammered on a B52 bomber, and poured blood on it. In that case, it took authorities over an hour to discover that these activists who had immobilized a powerful U.S. warplane were on this highly protected U.S. military base. Liz McAlister spent more than a year in prison following her conviction in that case. And now Liz McAlister will soon be turning 80 years old and depending on how things go in her trial this week, she may well spend the rest of her life in prison.

Kings Bay Plowshares Activist Liz McAlister on Her Upcoming Trial and the Need to Denuclearize the Earth

JS: Liz McAlister, thank you so much for joining us here on Intercepted.

Liz McAlister: Thank you for having me.

JS: First, I want to ask you why you were at the naval station at Kings Bay on April 4, 2018.

LM: Because of how incredibly destructive nuclear weapons are, and the fact that they deny our future. They deny the future of our kids and they destroy the Earth. I can’t look at these children and the children that surround me and not feel compelled to do something, to say something about what we are doing to this Earth.

JS: Among the weapons at the Naval Station at Kings Bay — the weapon system that the Kings Bay Plowshares targeted — was the Trident submarine with the Trident D-5 missiles. Explain the capacity of those weapons and why you chose to go after that specific weapons system.

LM: There is enough firepower right there at Kings Bay to make life on Earth unlivable. Right there in Kings Bay. Now that’s pretty overwhelming. I find that overwhelming, and I found that absolutely something we had to address. And we are continuing to try to do that.

JS: Explain to people the origins and the philosophy behind the Plowshares movement.

LM: It begins with four swords into plowshares that we want to build and nurture a future with things that will help people to live decently on this Earth. So, plowshares are tools of growing food, growing food to feed, hopefully to do it in a way that renews the Earth even as we use the Earth. That’s what I would like to see the Earth devoted to, to have the Earth filled with swords and weapons, especially weapons of mass destruction is profoundly destructive. I think we’re trying to say something about the fact that they are not as safe and secure as our government wants us to believe they are.

JS: And the origins of this movement, where you’re inspired by the scripture, inspired by Isaiah and the notion of hammering your swords into plowshares, how has that translated into action over the decades?

LM: The idea of approaching weapons of mass destruction and putting dents in it so that they can’t be used — but without detonating them, of course — that it was an obvious thing to some of us that if we can get to them and use a hammer on them so that they can’t be used, it’s a way of addressing how dangerous they are, and a way of broadcasting that, because people do go to court, they do go to trial. In that trial, they speak out and in almost every instance they’re imprisoned, and they speak out from the prison about the danger of these weapons and the need to stop building them, to stop threatening their use, and certainly to never use.

JS: It’s similar to what the government does in these whistleblower espionage cases where they don’t want you to talk about why you did what you did — your motivation. They don’t want you to talk about international law. They want to reduce it down to basic burglary or basic trespassing or disorderly conduct or damage to property. If you were allowed to fully present your defense of why you did what you did on April 4, 2018, what is an argument that you would make to the people including a jury or a judge?

LM: Well, it would have to do with the constant threat to Earth itself and all of life on Earth that come from nuclear weapons, and the fact that they cannot be protected and they are not protected. I think we’re trying to say something about the fact that they are not as safe and secure as our government wants us to believe they are.

JS: What are the potential consequences that you and your comrades face right now in court in Georgia?

LM: Well, I think we could be talking about life in prison. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but it could happen. And I think when you take that kind of risk, you have to embrace that as a possibility.

JS: What was it like spending a year and a half in jail on these charges?

LM: I mean jail is jail. And this was not prison, it was jail. So you’re in this incredibly limited space with a lot of other women. No one wants to be there. And the food is not all that appetizing and not all that nourishing. There was no significant activity. I mean you get up, you will get breakfast, you clean your room, you read, write, talk to people. There’s not an activity in that place, except what you are able to create with others. And I was there for a year and eight months. So, I saw a lot of people come and I saw a lot of people come back.

JS: Why is it, Liz, that you were held and some others were released? What conditions wouldn’t you accept?

LM: The whole gamut of conditions. There was a house arrest that they talked about for a while. There was an ankle monitor. I just did not feel that I was in a position where I would agree to these conditions. And when they did release me, it was very weird because they rushed me out. They rushed me away from the jail I was in. And it wasn’t until I got to the next town that I discovered there were these conditions.

JS: Are you currently wearing an ankle monitor?

LM: No, no, and I think I wore an ankle monitor for about four days and they cut it off.

JS: Did anyone ever tell you why they ultimately just let you out?

LM: No, there was no discussion of that at all. And I asked and they just all shrug their shoulders and said, “Goodbye.”

JS: Liz, I think you know, for some people who aren’t familiar with your history and the history of Jonah House or even the Catholic Worker movement, share some of why you ended up doing this work — being a resister, living in community. How did you make the decision to live your life the way that you have?

LM: I started out in the convent living communally, living simply. Even in that convent, I was with people who felt compelled to go out and say, “No to weapons of mass destruction. No to war. No to killing in many, many different forms.” So all through that period in the convent, I was one of the people who was out saying, “No to the war in Vietnam. No to weapons of mass destruction.”

JS: In addition to the resistance work that we’re talking about today, how else have you lived your life in that community? And what other kinds of work have you done when you’re not in prison? Or you know what your husband Phil Berrigan always called minimum security.

LM: First of all, we pray and we pray together. And then we work to earn our living. And we’ve done that over the years by contract painting, some gardening, things of that sort. We also work particularly hard to build community — the community we live in — but also a wider community of general support. Because it’s not a culture that focuses very deeply on the inner life that each of us is trying to live.

JS: Liz, as you now face yet another trial potentially going back to jail and then prison, what is your message to people, particularly in this country right now with Donald Trump as president, with these wars, what would it mean to be human in this country at this moment in time?

LM: People have to find ways to address the obscenity that is going on in Washington, and especially at the White House, but also in the Congress. People need to be right at the door in an ongoing fashion. There ought to be a round the clock vigil going on both at the White House and at the Congress, addressing every bit of what is coming out of those two major institutions in our country.

JS: Well, Liz McAlister, thank you so much for being with us and thank you for your resistance on behalf of all of us, thank you so much

LM: Thank you.

JS: Liz McAlister is a legendary anti-war activist and the co-founder of the Jonah House community in Baltimore. She is currently on trial in Brunswick, Georgia with six other activists who call themselves then Kings Bay Plowshares 7. You can get more information on this case at That’s the number seven. Also, just a note: as I mentioned when we first covered this story, I know these activists personally and lived for a period with Phil Berrigan and Liz McAlister in the 1990s. 

[Music interlude.]

Journalist Johnny Dwyer on His New Book, “The Districts,” and Rudy Giuliani’s Starring Role in Trump’s Impeachment

JS: The Democrats in the House of Representatives are reportedly slowing down the pace of their impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump in an effort to put as much damning information before the U.S. public as possible. For the most part, the inquiry thus far has consisted of closed door testimony from a variety of witnesses, including some U.S. officials and diplomats. Trump and his supporters have attempted to portray these closed-door hearings and the taking of witness testimony as some sort of extrajudicial stripping of Donald Trump’s rights, though by all accounts this is basic procedure in an impeachment inquiry. 

Well, Trump took his characterization of this investigation to all new lows when he claimed that what he was experiencing was a “lynching.” This is an utterly disgraceful image for Trump to use given the long history of the lynching of African Americans in this country. And it wasn’t that long ago that lynchings were taking place. And then like clockwork, one of Trump’s most sycophantic followers in the U.S. Senate was right there to defend his use of the term “lynching.” Here is Sen. Lindsey Graham:

Lindsey Graham: So yeah, this is a lynching in every sense. This is un-American.

JS: On the floor of the House of Representatives, Democrat Al Green, who was one of the most early proponents of impeachment, condemned Trump.

Al Green: How dare the president compare lynching to impeachment. How dare he do this. Does he not know the history of lynching in this country?

JS: Donald Trump knew exactly what he was doing by using the term lynch to describe the impeachment inquiry. This is Trump’s playbook and it is intended to stoke racist sentiment while demeaning the very real lived experience of Black people in this nation. Trump knows exactly what he’s doing.

Each week, Trump seems to become more and more unhinged and paranoid. At a cabinet meeting Monday, Trump’s erratic and enraged tantrum was on full display and he told his Republican allies to “get tougher.” This week Trump also went after Republican Senator Mitt Romney (aka Pierre Delecto) as speculation swirled around whether Romney may come out in support of the impeachment inquiry.

DJT: I think they’re lousy politicians. But two things they have, they’re vicious and they stick together. They don’t have Mitt Romney in their midst. They don’t have people like that.

JS: If there is one thing we know definitively about Donald Trump it is that he demands unquestioning loyalty. And one of his most loyal friends throughout this entire bizarre presidency has been former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani. 

Currently starring in the role of Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Giuliani seems to be constantly in front of a camera or a microphone or brazenly tweeting potentially incriminating information and posting screen grabs of text messages he has had with U.S. officials.

Rudy Giuliani: No, I’m not concerned about my future. What I did is perfectly lawful, perfectly legal.

JS: It’s easy to watch Giuliani and dismiss him as a total wacko, a garage band version of a tough guy. His media performances are often so outrageous that you have to remind yourself that this guy actually won elections — races to become the mayor of New York City. But Giuliani’s bread and butter is the mythology around his post-9/11 role as America’s mayor and his self-proclaimed storied career as a top prosecutor who took on the notorious mob in New York. 

And right now, as we speak, Rudy Giuliani is one of the only former U.S. attorneys for the Southern District of New York to be facing an investigation by the Southern District of New York. That’s because there is so much smoke around Giuliani and his consulting work and his associations with shady characters that Giuliani could open a massive barbecue warehouse. It relates to Turkey, Iran, sanctions, Ukraine, election interference and on and on. Giuliani’s associates have been arrested in airports trying to leave the country, some have been charged with serious crimes. And yet, Rudy Giuliani is walking around putting on the act of someone who has nothing to fear. Why is that?

Well, we’re going to get into all of this with investigative journalist Johnny Dwyer. His latest piece for The Intercept examines Rudy Giuliani’s position at the center of this Trump storm and how he got there. Dwyer also has a new book out. It’s called “The Districts: Stories of American Justice from the Federal Courts.” It examines the Southern and Eastern districts of New York. Johnny Dwyer, welcome to Intercepted.

Johnny Dwyer: Thanks for having me.

JS: So, let’s begin with this latest piece that you wrote for The Intercept. You write about how Rudy Giuliani is one of the only, I think he’s the second U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in history to face investigation by his former office. What’s the significance of that?

JD: I mean, I think it’s significant because Giuliani, he’s not just any former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. He leveraged his position there to become mayor of New York City.

C-Span: Up next on C-Span, our focus on New York mayoral politics concludes now with a campaign appearance by Republican candidate Rudolph Giuliani. He was a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

RG: It’s an election about competence, honesty, and integrity, about leadership.

JD: And then after the attacks on September 11th, he became essentially Mayor for America.

Dan Rather: Tell me what is your philosophy of leadership? So many people are admiring your leadership just now.

RG: I think that you have to, I think a couple of things. You have to lead by example. You have to be honest.

JD: Since that time, he’s become something of minister without portfolio for the Trump administration.

RG: It isn’t true. Truth isn’t truth. The president of the United States says I didn’t.

Maria Bartiromo: Did the President threaten to cut off aid to the Ukraine?

RG: No, that was a false story.

MB: 100 percent?

RG: Well, I can’t tell you if it’s 100 —


RG: The only thing I ask about Joe Biden is to get to the bottom of how it was that Lutsenko who was appointed dismiss the case against —

Chris Cuomo: So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?

RG: Of course I did.

CC: You just said you didn’t.

RG: Here’s Kurt saying “Great, I will tell Yermak and he’ll visit with you there. Thanks, Mr. Mayor, how was your meeting with Andre? Do you have time for a call? Best, Kurt.” Now, they were all over me. You know, asking me to do it. I was happy to do it. I helped my country get this relationship in good shape.

JD: So he’s a sort of case study on how to leverage this position as a federal prosecutor into something much, much larger.

JS: Talk about his time as a federal prosecutor and his reputation. I know in this piece, you quote James Comey talking about when he was working under Rudy Giuliani in the ‘90s, but just give a kind of brief overview of the legacy of Giuliani as a prosecutor.

JD: So Giuliani started in the Southern District in the early ‘70s. And this was a moment when the mob was a significant presence in New York. The sort of statutory tool kit at that point was really limited and how to deal with the mob. He’s someone who saw the opportunity to make a name for himself in the office, but also by having a political sort of position.

Newscaster: The top 24 mafia families, to wealthy white collar criminals and corrupt politicians. But now they’re up against it. Mafia bosses have been imprisoned for life, politicians jailed, insider traders caught in the act. All victims of the government’s chief prosecutor in New York, and likely challenger to Koch. He’s Rudolph Giuliani.

RG: If you violate the law —

JD: Immediately after he served as a line assistant, which is the sort of low level federal prosecutor, he went to main justice, which was a pretty decent promotion, and then he took a demotion and came back to become the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District.

RG: I see my job as in some ways, I wouldn’t call it a crusade but part of the excitement of the job and part of the reason why you’re willing to trade a certain amount of economic reward or even a certain amount of danger is the feeling of fulfillment in being able to remove from society some people who do terrible harm to it. 

JD: His record was one of being a hard charging prosecutor. Also he was known for theatrics. You know, in one case, he famously held an executive over the barrel on a cross examination, even though the executive had agreed to plead out. This is sort of indication of the theatrics he’d be known for as a politician later.

JS: You write, “Giuliani’s entire post-government life,” now fast forwarding to where we are right now, “has provided a case study in ethical adventurism, if not actual criminal conduct.” So what did Giuliani do post-prosecutor, post-mayoral race that leads you to write that?

JD: The most glaring thing I saw at the outset actually had to do with Purdue Pharma, which Giuliani represented and was able to successfully get the Justice Department to back off of prosecuting their executives. As a sort of a white collar private attorney, that’s a significant feat. But we have the benefit of looking back on Giuliani’s record both as a prosecutor and as a mayor, where he was tough on drugs. He was especially hard on drug abusers. He pushed to close methadone clinics. He pushed for greater incarceration.

RG: New York is a city overwhelmed by crime, crack, and corruption. But the truth is none of these candidates understands the justice system and the criminal justice system in particular the way I do.

JD: So the Purdue Pharma case is essentially a reversal of that. What sort of is different between Purdue Pharma and the average drug user is power. There’s power and money behind that. And he sort of gravitated towards that after he left office. And I think that was the most egregious case. But then we’ve seen what he did with Giuliani Partners, which provided security consulting after 9/11 throughout the world and a lot of oil and gas contracts there. He did political consulting, I discuss what he had done in Peru and in Serbia. I mean, this raised eyebrows, especially in Serbia, because Vucic — who he had consulted for — was tied to Slobodan Milosevic, who was charged in The Hague for crimes against humanity.

JS: In fact, Alexander Vucic was Milosevic’s minister of information at the time of the NATO bombing in 1999 in the Kosovo War, and was the chief propagandist for the Milosevic government at the time.

JD: Yeah, and you would think that when you’re vetting potential clients, that would be sort of information that you take into consideration, maybe I’ll take another client, but Giuliani was unabashed, and he was an early supporter of him.

JS: What work was he doing specifically for the Vucic and his government?

JD: Well, it’s really unclear in particular, but he was appearing at public events. He was going on Serbian TV. I think he was lending his aura as this American political official, especially the reputation he had earned after September 11, as someone who was a security professional, understood terrorism and giving legitimacy to someone who had a huge strike against him with his relationship with Milosevic.

Ivan Ivanovic: So what is your real reason —

RG: We’re here to give advice to Mr. Vucic who’s running for mayor about economic development. Those are things I’m an expert on. That’s what I did in New York City. And I’ve advised other cities throughout the world.

JS: Before we get to the role that Giuliani is playing right now, I want you to talk about some of the other post-government work that he did. You write about how some of it brought him into direct conflict with Southern District prosecutors, particularly when he represented Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader. This is your writing, “charged with evading U.S. sanctions. The case raised immediate diplomatic issues with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pressing both the Obama and Trump administrations to release Zarrab.” What is that case about?

JD: It’s about sanctions, ultimately. And it’s about this individual who had connections to a major financial institution in Turkey that was helping Iran evade sanctions. Zarrab was sort of the classic Southern District case where they were pursuing an international target, which they do often, and they essentially instigate a diplomatic incident. Giuliani stepped in and it was clear from Zarrab’s attorneys that he had no intention of actually participating within the courtroom, but he was going to pursue an outside resolution. At the time, when the case was being prosecuted, it was really unclear what that meant. Bloomberg reported recently what that meant was he was actually going to push Trump would then push Rex Tillerson to raise the diplomatic issue with the Justice Department.

JS: Rex Tillerson was the Secretary of State at the time.

JD: Yes, exactly. That was the job that Giuliani wanted. I mean, he sought to be the Secretary of State, but withdrew from that. And sort of, the situation with Giuliani, it’s like, absent voter consent or congressional approval, he’s still going to pursue his own policy agenda. In this case, he was representing a client and he sought to do for Zarrab, exactly what he had done for Purdue Pharma, which was to get DOJ to back off.

JS: And in the end, he ended up pleading guilty.

JD: Yeah, he pleaded guilty.

JS: You know, I wonder as I watch Giuliani on TV or you know, when he releases his text messages with people, what on Earth he’s thinking. He seems to believe there is no chance that he’s going to get whacked with an indictment or face any real consequence. What’s going on there as best as you can surmise?

JD: Well, I mean, I think there’s two things. One thing is I think, there’s nothing to be more afraid of in life than a junior federal prosecutor who has the support of his office to drop an indictment. That is a terrifying thing. That Giuliani is not terrified of that, or at least apparently not. He has been quiet over the past week. I think it may be a reading of the history in the Southern District where they have this sort of long, illustrious history of going after the underlings.

But the primary targets the people who appear to be at the top of illegal activity, they’ve got a less illustrious history of doing so. So he may just simply understand that they don’t want to go after him. The incentives are sort of allayed against it, in that he’s one of their own. It would hurt the office to some extent, and he may be an extremely tough case. I mean, white collar cases, by and large, are difficult cases even if they’re resolved at the sort of district level. They get overturned on appeal routinely. And I think Giuliani understands how that could potentially play out.

JS: Explain the significance of Giuliani’s relationship with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who they are and what this case is about.

JD: Well, these are two businessmen — Ukrainian American businessmen — who’ve been charged in the southern district with funneling foreign cash into campaign contributions. Giuliani of this crime has said it’s not really a big crime, not these specific charges —

JS: It’s just like George Bluth would say “It’s just light treason.”

Jeffrey Tambor [as George Bluth]: There’s a good chance I may have committed some light treason.

JD: Well, yeah, exactly. And you know, minimizing the sort of import of these crimes. These men one, attended George H.W. Bush’s funeral with Giuliani. It’d be hard to imagine Giuliani spending a lot of time with these men when he was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District or even when he was the mayor, but he’s now connected to them. And they are connected directly to this apparent effort to remove the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, which places Giuliani, again at the center of the potential impeachment proceedings. So it’s a significant development. And I mean, we don’t know what the Southern District is doing right now. I think the sort of order of operations when you bring someone in under a federal indictment is you try to get them to cooperate, talk, plead out. If I were in Giuliani’s position, I’d be concerned that these men would share information that could potentially implicate me in something broader.

JS: Giuliani in a way is sort of acting as a front facing consigliere of sorts for Trump. And I wonder what the benefit is. It seems just from a layperson’s point of view that part of what might be going on is that Trump realizes that he could at some point try to put all the dirt on Giuliani and have him take the fall for this, but maybe I’m wrong. I’m just trying to assess why Trump would think it benefits him to have Giuliani acting the way he is in public.

JD: I resist the temptation to crawl inside the head of either Trump or Giuliani. But the history between these men goes back 30, 40 years. And if you look, I think what’s most interesting is the final case of Giuliani’s career as a prosecutor was against a guy named Stanley Friedman, who was a Bronx Democratic Party boss, but Stanley Freeman had also negotiated the tax abatement around Trump Tower. So the connective tissue is extremely involved between these two men. And I have to credit that reporting to Wayne Barrett, who was the sort of legendary reporter who really a lot of what we understand about Giuliani is because of his work, The Village Voice, on Giuliani and Trump as well.

JS: I also want to back up because in your book, you write a lot about federal prosecutors, the power that they have, the Southern District of New York. Just explain the kind of authority and power that people in these positions have.

JD: Well, I think the most fundamental power in U.S. government — across branches — is the power of accusation. And that’s really concentrated in the Justice Department, and particularly at the level of the line assistant. Junior prosecutors can really suspend your life in this sort of aura of suspicion just by dropping indictment or even suggesting that there’s an investigation around you. And I think, actually the presidency is another object lesson in this. I mean, in a lot of respects, Trump has been able to accomplish very little beyond stacking the federal bench because he’s been under the aura of investigation. And whether that’s fair or not, I mean, I’ll leave that up to people to make their own mind. But fundamentally at the bottom of that is the power of the federal prosecutor, whether it’s a junior line assistant in the southern district or whether it’s someone like Robert Mueller.

JS: What’s been the impact of William Barr being the Attorney General on the way cases are handled and priorities within the Justice Department?

JD: Barr right now, he’s telegraphing his significance as a figure within the impeachment inquiry and within the investigation into the Mueller inquiry. But his attachment to the day to day work in the Justice Department is less clear.

JS: Well, it does seem like Big Justice played a significant role in this SDNY case seeking Trump’s tax returns.

JD: Yeah, they stepped in. I mean, the initial, the notice that they’re going to intervene on the case that was signed by the head of the Civil Division for the Southern District. But then when the actual motion was filed, it was clear that the Southern District appellate attorneys, were not working on the case. And, you know, there may be a perfectly reasonable explanation for that. Or it may be that the office did not want to touch it or that they weren’t trusted to do so. I mean, it’s really hard to tell. And we’ll see when the argument happens before the Second Circuit, what the exact posture of the administration is.

But I did talk to some Southern District alums who said, this is the president of the United States. Regardless of how we feel about him, we have to ensure that a county prosecutor can’t just step in and start interfering with his, essentially, his personal business. And that was from the rare Republican alum from the Southern District. But it was interesting to hear that point of view on it because that was a minority point of view — where as I said earlier, a lot of people feel like the allegiance is first to the office, then to main justice, and then ultimately, to the presidency.

JS: Before we wrap up, I want to make sure that I get your response to the work that you’ve done on Felix Sater. You talk about the case against him being emblematic of the secrecy in the Eastern District. Talk about Felix Sater and why that case is so interesting to you.

JD: Well, I mean, Felix Sater, he’s a New York story. You know, he was a convicted felon who found himself in a white collar criminal conspiracy, and was asked to sit down by the FBI and prosecutors in the Eastern District. Among them, Andrew Weissmann, who would then go on to be part of the Enron Task Force, and later, Robert Mueller’s team. At that moment, he looked like he was just part of a boiler room scam, but he actually had ties to the Defense Intelligence Agency and to officials connected to the Russian intelligence community, and he was able to parlay that into essentially, what I call John Doe status. In the Eastern District confers this status upon cooperators where they remove their identity from the court record and the judges acquiesce to this. And for the better part of 10 years, he was unknown to the world and he was working for the bureau. And he was doing things like obtaining the phone number for Osama bin Laden, working on cases involving hackers, as well as just standard mob cases. All the while he began working with Trump.

So, I think the case of Sater is that we can engage these cooperators, they can become assets to the government, but they also have these other lives, where they’re pursuing their own business agendas. And whether those things overlap, it’s really at the discretion of the cooperator and of the Department of Justice. All this occurs out of the view of the public. And this is the worst thing about these cooperation agreements is there is no voice for the public within them. There is no sort of due process for the press to sort of cover or write about. It all occurs out of view. And I can’t tell you how many courtrooms in the Eastern District I’ve been kicked out of involving these cooperators whether it’s in a national security case or a tax fraud case. The prosecutors, they want to protect their cooperator. I mean, that is how you make your name as a prosecutor is you flip people. And the worst thing that could happen is a reporter gets the name of that cooperator — as the New York Times did with Felix Sater — and makes it public because then they lose their value to you almost immediately.

JS: Well, and also, I mean, you had this battle with the Eastern District, and it was a successful one to unseal records about Felix Sater and his post 9/11 asset work.

JD: I mean, I was really grateful that The Intercept supported me in that because this was a file that many other news organizations had sought to be unsealed, really unsuccessfully. And eventually the judge in the case relented, in part because Sater himself had been very public about his role. And it was really interesting. One thing that the judge noted in his ultimate order on this was that judges take representations made by the Department of Justice when it comes to national security at face value, which it’s understandable why judges would do that — a lot of them are former prosecutors.

But as reporters, we can’t take anything at face value. And that’s sort of an affront to our role in the process. So I think doing things like seeking the unsealing of cooperators records, whether it’s Felix Sater, or whether it’s an unknown cooperator in another national security case, it’s important because we have this adversarial system of justice. And it’s not just the prosecution and the defense, and the press has this role in it. And we are supposed to advocate  for transparency when others aren’t going to do it.

JS: What cases do you think are most dangerous for Donald Trump, the man, the individual? Yes, he’s president now but if you were sort of handicapping this, what are the cases that are most interesting to follow as we explore the question of whether Trump has committed crimes?

JD: Propublica did a great story this past week involving essentially fraud that the Trump Organization has put forward regarding their properties and ownership and the valuations of those properties on tax documents then on loan applications. And this is something I actually asked Felix Sater about, “What is it with overstating the value of your assets?” And he said, “This is how it’s done. This is real estate business 101. Whenever you’re seeking financing on a private property, of course, you’re going to overstate the value of the assets. That’s how you open the negotiation. And then the bank comes back.” Well, I don’t think federal prosecutors see it that way. I think they see that as potential grist for a fraud charge, whether that’s a viable case, I don’t know. But I look at that — and you have all the paper, you have the people — and I think that’s enough to make a case. Again, going back to the size of the target, I think there’s a real reticence within our culture, to go after these big targets. And you saw it with the Mueller investigation, and I think whether Trump leaves office and sort of loses his immunity, whether that will happen, I would be very surprised.

JS: Johnny Dwyer, thank you very much for your work, and thanks for being here with us.

JD: Thank you.

JS: Johnny Dwyer is an investigative journalist and adjunct professor at Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU. He is the author of two books, “The Districts” and “American Warlord.” His latest piece at is called “Rudy Giuliani Turned NY’s Southern District Into a Spin Machine. His Legacy is Coming Back to Haunt Him.

[Music interlude.]

Journalist Emily Guendelsberger Discusses Her New Book “On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane”

DJT: Last month, unemployment reached its lowest level in 51 years. 

We’ve created 6.4 million new jobs. Just last month, unemployment reached the lowest rate in over 50 years. 

Since my election, and everybody in the fake news would’ve said, that’s absolutely impossible. 

JS: Donald Trump sings his own praises about well, a lot of things, including the unemployment rate. It is lower than it has ever been since 1969 at around 3.5 percent. But there’s a lot the unemployment rate doesn’t reveal, such as the number of people who’ve stopped looking for work all together and the quality of jobs available. Much of the landscape is made up of low-wage service sector jobs. 

My next guest, journalist Emily Guendelsberger went undercover to better understand the challenges low-wage workers are facing in this country. Here she is sharing what some Amazon employees told her: 

Emily Guendelsberger: “People say, ‘Well, I’ve worked for such-and-such warehouse, surely it’s not that different—’ No, it is different. It’s downright dehumanizing.” 

“Worst job I’ve ever had, and I worked at a goddamn McDonald’s.” 

“I’ve never seen psychological abuse anywhere like I’ve seen at Amazon.”

“The temp agencies that Amazon uses are atrocious. They absolutely treat you like human waste.”

“There’s no room for getting tired.”

“The pay and benefits are usually good, but it’s just not worth it if you don’t like being a complete robot.” 

JS: Emily Guendelsberger documents her experience working at Amazon, at McDonalds, and at the mega-call center company Convergys. It’s all in her new book, “On the Clock, What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane.” She joins me now to discuss what these companies’ business practices reveal about the future of work. 

Emily Guendelsberger, welcome to Intercepted. 

EG: Hey, how’s it going?

JS: What was your motivation when you approached writing this book?

EG: Before my newspaper went out of business in 2015, I had just done this very long piece on Uber, did something similar. I went undercover, like “undercover” with quotes because it’s not like, you know, you have to make anything up. They just hire kind of everybody.

JS: Right, you weren’t wearing like a fake mustache?

EG: No. Uber was coming into Philly’s market at that time and they were doing so without approval from you know, government or whatever. So they were just kind of like barging their way in and their defense of this was like, we’re creating doing really good jobs, like the average Uber driver, they make 90 grand a year. And I was like, no, like, that is not true, that cannot be true. Because whenever I would, you know, take one of these, it was exactly the same people that were driving cabs, they had just switched platforms. And they all, when I talked to them, complained about making much less money than they used to, which before was not like 120 grand. You know, it was already, you know, 50 or 60, maybe if they were, you know, working a lot.

The whole Uber business model — which is the thing that you know, most of the gig economy is sort of built around — is just sort of their ability to skirt regulations. I remember I was, you know, talking to a Wharton class about this one time, and somebody in the class was like, “Hey, so what would happen if they did make everybody get classified as an employee?” It wouldn’t exist anymore, or else it would be like $20 a ride, no matter what. They’re passing off most of the risks and costs of doing business along with like, all of the downtime, because you don’t get paid when you’re sitting around. It’s sort of like they’ve solved the problem that businesses have had of like, you know, McDonald’s slogan, “If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean.”

David Spade [as restaurant manager]: If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean, buddy, all right?

EG: Uber’s business model has eliminated time to lean entirely because when you’re leaning, you’re not getting paid at all.

JS: Talk about the companies that you chose to work at for this book, Amazon, Convergys, and McDonald’s. Let’s start with McDonald’s.

EG: You just are so constantly understaffed, and it’s on purpose. It’s sort of like implementing the ideas of like Toyota production system and like lean.

Announcer: At the heart of the Toyota production system are the concepts of intelligent automation and just in time manufacturing.

EG: Instead of just applying them to the supply chain and to like your inventory, they started saying, “Like, well, we do this to all these products. We could just do this to our people too.” The idea is to have the most flexibility possible for the company and workers are expected to give up their own flexibility in exchange. So, for example, with McDonald’s, they supply the computer systems that help you algorithmically schedule your employees based on the data that they’ve been collecting about how busy the store has been over the past year — like what was it like on this day last year? What was it like on the same day last week? What was it like yesterday?

The reason that you get all these crazy schedules for people in retail and fast food and on a lot of the time very short notice unless you live in a big city that’s passed, you know, some sort of law that you can’t give people their schedules one day in advance. So it makes it kind of impossible for workers to plan anything involving their lives anymore. The schedules are all very irregular because they are slotting in people to exactly fit the business that they predict, which means, you get crazy things like, clo-open, which is you work until close, which can be like two in the morning and then you’re scheduled to open the next day, which can be at five or six in the morning with like, just a couple hours in between.

JS: And now is it that they just sort of say, “Well, the computer says you’re coming in”?

EG: That’s exactly it. And that’s sort of, kind of a theme with all of these things is technology is a way to sort of pass responsibility on to some non-person thing. It’s just like, well, just logic and math and reason made it this way, like so whatever. This is the way it’s the most efficient so this is the way it’s going to be. And there’s just no value whatsoever put on to like how difficult this makes life for people like whether you’re able to ever plan a visit to your parents, whether you’re ever able to meet up with your friends, whether you know that you can pick your child up from daycare on time or whether you’re going to have to fight to leave on time, which you frequently are.

JS: You talk about research failing to prepare you for just how dehumanizing this work was. Share with people what you mean by that, that it was dehumanizing.

EG: You are competing sort of, almost with robots. You’re sort of being as a human held up to robotic standards. There are of course, things that humans can do much better than robots. And they’re going to be much better at them for a long time, like picking stuff up, like visually recognizing things, like interpreting you know, human speech and responding in kind. But the benefits of those that humans have are kind of matched by what are seen as the downsides of human workers as compared to robots, such as like, oh, human workers have families. They need to pick their kids up from daycare so they need to be able to stop at a certain time. They need to use the bathroom. They get sick. Like, they have to take time off.

But right now a lot of low wage workers are in competition with these robots which drives down wages and also sort of drives people to compress themselves — like compress their needs outside of work to make it no problem at all, like to not be a problem, any more problem than a robot would be to the company. So you’re basically incentivizing these people to pretend like they have no needs on pain of losing their jobs. And that is the biggest dehumanizing thing, I think, is that they do treat you like you’re a robot and there is really not very much thought given or value put on like, is this awful? Like, is this awful to do? Is this an awful job? Are you going to give these people repetitive stress injuries? Are people having panic attacks out on the floor of the call center? Which I saw two of those. I was only there for a month, and they were both in my 20-person group. It was wild.

JS: This was at Convergys?

EG: Yeah, at Convergys.

JS: Let’s talk about your experience at Amazon. So lay out for us how you got the job, where it was and what you were doing.

EG: I sort of started doing this project on a whim. I didn’t really have a book contract. It was just that my newspaper had just gone out of business with a week’s notice and I was kind of heartbroken and I couldn’t go get another newspaper job that soon after that had happened. So I was like, “Hey, I’ve always wanted to see what it’s like in an Amazon warehouses.” I’ve always been really curious. And a friend of mine hooked me up with his aunt who lived outside Louisville, Kentucky. I arrive. I spend the night there. I go apply the next day. It was like three days between my arriving in Louisville and starting orientation.

JS: And what was the job that you were hired to do?

EG: I was hired for picking, which is generally regarded I think as the least desirable job at warehouses. We would get a cart and we’d have the scanner. There were about, I think it was four or five steps to going out to locate the coordinates that it gave you and find the actual, whatever the thing was. You would just walk around all day and do that. Every single step of this was accompanied by a little countdown. At the bottom of the screen, there is a blue bar. It says how many seconds you have left to do it, and then it would start ticking those seconds down. So it’s kind of constantly reminding you like, “Hey, move. Keep moving. Keep moving. You are not keeping up.”

JS: What happens if you don’t do it in the sufficient amount of time as determined by the machine in your hand?

EG: Well, it’ll blink at you a little bit, and it’ll tell you you have zero seconds remaining. But what really happens is you have a rate that you’re supposed to be making that day. It was generally 90 to 100 items per hour. Never were quite sure exactly where the line was. If you went too slow or had too much they called it “time off task,” which is just anything where you were not actively working and doing what they wanted you to do like using the bathroom or getting water. And a little bit of time off task was OK. They say like, “People are always free to use the bathroom.” Technically true, yes. But that’s the thing if you are on like the fourth floor and you’re way out in this huge mod, this place is the size of like multiple football fields. It can take you like 15 minutes minimum to get to a bathroom and back.

JS: This description that you’re offering right now, at one point you write about this in the book, you took a voice memo, where you start off with:

EG [in voice memo]: Fuck your sexy candy corn costume. Fuck your endless Michael Kors bags. Fuck your ten pounds of Twizzlers. Fuck your NFL branded team gnome.

JS: And then you go out with more “Fuck your fucking Amazon gift card. Seriously, what kind of asshole orders an Amazon gift card off fucking Amazon?” What was going on at that moment?

EG: All the jobs there are on your feet for pretty much the entire day. But pickers are actually walking and I snuck in a step tracker. The step tracker recorded like on a usual day after I had sort of gotten used to it was 13 to 16 miles a day of walking around this crazy mod, and it is on concrete. And it is really painful. Everybody told me that like your first two weeks are going to be really awful. First day, I’m like, “Wow, this place looks amazing. Like here is like how the scanner works.” There’s this very steep decline in my mood that you can just hear very clearly in the voice memos. So yeah, like after a few days, I just like hate everyone and everything. It just started getting infuriating. You just never want to buy anything ever again because there’s just so much stupid stuff that nobody needs.

JS: What is the vibe among the workers in the mod and in these warehouses?

EG: When you’re a picker and you’re out in this crazy mod in these shelves — the aisles between the shelving — they’re only wide enough for one person with one cart. So, like the algorithms that sort of send you around on your pick paths all around the warehouse there, and they’re doing this for, you know, several hundred people at the same time. It’s honestly, it’s a miracle of programming. It’s incredible. But they keep you apart, both so that you aren’t going to, you know, run into each other in an aisle and someone has to back out, but honestly, it’s, I think, intentionally so that you can’t talk to each other. And honestly, like the physical part of this was not the problem for me. Don’t get me wrong, it hurt a lot. It hurt more than anything I’ve ever done actually. And I’ve done a lot of painful things. But just the monotony and the isolation like being alone for 11 hours a day really gets to you.

JS: You compare productivity management to a Simpsons episode where Homer is overseeing a group of engineers.

Homer Simpson: Are you guys working?

Worker: Yes, sir. Mr. Simpson.

HS: Could you work any harder than this?

Worker: Sure thing, boss.

JS: How has the concept of productivity and managing workers productivity evolved, like what have you found on that?

EG: I think the fundamental concept is actually the same. And it’s sort of been the same since Taylor-ism, like back in the 1890s. Frederick Taylor sort of came in and he was like, kind of obsessed with the idea that increasing productivity and efficiency was going to cure poverty — something that is still very much an undercurrent today. He’s like, yeah, if you can time people and monitor them and sort of yell at them into doing three times the amount of work that they were doing before, they’ll be able to produce three times as much. They’ll get paid more and voila, no more poverty, cool. Except like, that all depends on workers actually being cut in on, you know, the increases in their productivity which they are not.

JS: On this issue you write, “The less obvious but equally important effect of Taylor-ism was breaking the power that skilled workers held over the pace of work and the operations of factories. He began disassembling skilled jobs into multiple smaller unskilled jobs often designing specialized tools to replace a skilled workers, ‘sorcery and black magic knowledge base.”

EG: Skilled workers, they used to be sort of, in control of how fast work was done. And Taylor, he was sort of like the 1890s equivalent of like, Bill Gates or somebody that dropped out of college to do a startup or something in his garage. Like Taylor, he was like rich guy from Philly. He was supposed to go to Harvard, but instead he was like, “You know what, I’m gonna go work at a steel mill instead. I’m going to start at the bottom. I’m gonna work my way up and I’m going to understand everything about how a steel mill runs.”

And while he was sort of working his way up, he saw how the skilled workers — who had been there longest and were most senior and were hardest to replace because their jobs were, you know, very skilled — they usually sort of set the pace of work themselves by something called, you know, soldiering. It’s just “All right, we’re all gonna work this hard. Nobody go above that, or you know, you’re going to be looked at poorly or possibly, you know, get beat up.” He saw that as like literal evil. So he, first thing is starting to time things and, you know, figure out how long everything should be taking exactly like, you know, Amazon does, but just much more higher tech. And then he also started purposely disassembling these skilled jobs.

One of the things that people gotten angriest with like factory workers when Taylor came to their factories and started Taylor-izing their stuff is that like, they hated de-skilling almost as much as they hated the speed up of work that always accompanied Taylor’s visits. If you can’t take pride in your work, you can’t take pleasure in your work. And it’s very hard to take pleasure in your work if like this is something that a robot could do in this version of, you know, very carnivorous capitalism we have is afforded a value of zero. It doesn’t matter whether people can take pride in their jobs. It doesn’t matter whether they’re miserable all day or they kind of like enjoy their eight hours that they, or however many hours they spend at work.

JS: At the beginning of the book you write about think pieces like puzzling over how and why millennials aren’t achieving the same markers of adulthood as past generations.

Fox: More young adults are living high off the hog on mom and dad, and not working than we’ve seen in ages.

NPR: Young adults today are more likely than previous generations to get financial help from their parents.

CNBC: Millennials may be shaping a lot of things in American culture, but they’re not adding to society in one big way: having babies.

JS: Why do you think people have such a hard time grasping the reality that a big part of the reason that people can’t afford to live, can’t afford to have families, can’t afford to buy a home is because they have no money despite the fact that they’re working 40 plus hours a week.

EG: So there’s like an actual linguistic problem with talking about work between classes. When people talk about these things, there’s a completely different understanding of what good benefits means between classes. And there’s a similarly different misunderstanding of what hard work is, of what actual hard work is. Like, honestly, the hardest jobs I’ve ever had have been the ones that are the lowest paying, like that’s the ones where someone’s always on you. Like, somebody is always watching you. You don’t have any freedom. The further up the scale you go, the easier jobs tend to get, frankly, and I think a lot of people see it as the other way around. 

My experience was not the same. And I didn’t have nearly as much problems as most people do. I didn’t have to take care of kids like that was the only thing that I was there to do. And most other people like were again, in worse shape than me. And were doing this without this dangling carrot of like, you only have to do this for a month. It’s OK.

JS: As we wrap this up your view on what you’re hearing out of the Democratic candidates in 2020 when it comes to these specific issues that you’ve been writing about, and sort of what you think needs to change going forward, or is it too far along?

EG: What’s not very well understood by the media or I think most politicians running for office is if they have not really interacted with a lot of McDonald’s workers lately, like if they haven’t really interacted with any Amazon, like warehouse employees, they don’t know how hard things are right now. And they don’t know how angry people are about this and how stressed out they are and how ready, how desperately ready for something else, for something different, for some change. People are ready for it is what I’m saying and I think underestimating the desire for anything but this, I think that’s how Trump got elected because he was outwardly angry about how hard people had it right now, working class people.

I knew a lot of Trump voters like I met them at at these various jobs. None of them really actually liked the guy, honestly. They’re just like, maybe he’ll do something different, like this sucks. Doing another Clinton will suck, it will suck the same way it sucked for the past 20 or 30 years. Biden’s like nothing is going to change. Things are just going to go back to the way they were in 2015 is a terrible, terrible shoot yourself in the foot message.

Like unless the person who is running against Trump is outwardly able to be angry and let people know that they are outraged at what has happened to you and your family. They’re outraged that your son is addicted to you know, opioids. They’re outraged that like your factory closed and now your $25 an hour job is a $9 an hour job on the phone, having panic attacks and getting screamed at all day by jerks. It sucks right now unless people acknowledge that like America ain’t so great right now, then we’re going to lose.

JS: Emily Guendelsberger, thank you very much for being with us.

EG: Thanks for having me.

JS: Emily Guendelsberger is a journalist and author of “On the Clock, What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane.” You can find her on Twitter at @emilygee. 

[Music interlude.]

And that does it for this week’s show. You can follow us on Twitter @intercepted. We are now also dipping our toes into the waters of Instagram where you can find us @interceptedpodcast. If you like what we do, you can support our show by going to to become a sustaining member. Intercepted is a production of First Look Media and The Intercept. Our lead producer is Jack D’Isidoro, our producer is Laura Flynn. Elise Swain is our associate producer and graphic designer. Betsy Reed is editor in chief of The Intercept. Special thanks to the wonderful Charlotte Greensit for playing the role of a British news presenter with gusto. Rick Kwan mixed the show. Transcription for this program is done by Nuria Marquez Martinez. Our music, as always, was composed by DJ Spooky. Until next week, I’m Jeremy Scahill.


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