Saturday, January 11, 2020

Andrea Bernstein

Andrea Bernstein is the author of American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power.

From the transcript of her Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: So I'm going to ask you, like, an impossible question to answer briefly, but...

BERNSTEIN: (Laughter).

GROSS: ...I'm going to give it a shot. I think you might be up to the task (laughter). One of my favorite episodes of your podcast, "Trump, Inc.," is called Why Ukraine. And it basically asks the question, why is, like, Giuliani and his business associates and other people - you know, Paul Manafort - why are they all connected in some way to Ukraine?

And I think the larger question is, why were there so many corrupt business deals emanating from Ukraine? And you have a great podcast that goes into depth about some of this. But just tell us a little bit about, why Ukraine? And, of course, Ukraine is at the very center of the impeachment and the possible Senate trial.

BERNSTEIN: So the name of my book is "American Oligarchs." When I picked the title for it, I did not know what was going to be happening with Ukraine. But one of the things that has become clear and that I've learned in the course of reporting this book is how the political system works in Ukraine. And the way the political system works in Ukraine is the very rich simply hire the political consultants they want to install the politicians they want to make it possible for them to keep making money. And that's what we saw during Paul Manafort's trial, that exact fact pattern.

And it is an eerie premonition of our political future where the rich just contribute directly and get what they want. And what is happening in Ukraine is that it is a battleground. It is between Russia and Europe. It is a place where there is a battle of the oligarchs, where there is very little in the way of the rule of law. So it's a great place for U.S. businessmen and entrepreneurs and people like Rudy Giuliani and Michael Cohen and others to try to go and make money - and they do.

But it is also this sort of tragic place because it clearly wants to separate itself from the old Soviet ways. It clearly wants to be a democracy. And one of the things that we are seeing in this whole impeachment trial is that exact struggle, is bipartisan U.S. policy trying to make Ukraine more democratic. And what we are seeing is that, rather than that happening, what Donald Trump has done with the assistance of Rudy Giuliani is...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue