Russ Baker Breaks Down Russiagate, JFK Records and More

Felix Sater, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump

WhoWhatWhy Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker recently sat down for a conversation with Pat Thurston, the popular talk host from KGO 810, a major San Francisco-based radio station. Front and center in the discussion is an exploration and update on Russiagate: why do the president, his family, associates, and business empire have so many troubling connections to Russian money, oligarchs, and organized crime? What do these ties mean, and what could the three ongoing government investigations discover? Also discussed is the upcoming JFK assassination records release, media bias, and more.

Full Text Transcript:

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Recording: The Pat Thurston show continues on the next generation of KGO 810.
Pat Thurston: Good evening. I’m Pat Thurston. Hey Lynn, could you turn my sound up for me? I’m sorry, there’s just behind the scenes stuff.
Lynn: You’re damaged.
Pat Thurston: That’s perfect. I am damaged, I can’t put my own headphones on, and I hope this ends soon, because I’m sick to death of it. However I am very happy that Russ Baker is here. He’s in studio with me and that doesn’t happen nearly often enough. Russ Baker is the … You are the CEO and editor in chief of WhoWhatWhy.com, an investigative journalism site. It’s fantastic. If you haven’t been there, you should. He’s also an author, and the book that I think he’s most well-known for is Family of Secrets. This is about the Bush family, and if you haven’t read that book you don’t know anything about the Bush family. You are really missing out if you haven’t read that book yet. First of all, Russ, welcome, I’m so glad you’re here.
Russ Baker: Thank you Pat, I always enjoy doing your show.
Pat Thurston: Can I tell you that I went today to WhoWhatWhy.com, and I looked in the section called About Us, and I learned things. Can you just tell people the Reader’s Digest version of what you do, what that’s about, and why it is, and who’s involved?
Russ Baker: Sure. First of all, I need to update you on this, because we’re a nonprofit, and so we use WhoWhatWhy.org. We also have .com  but anyway-
Pat Thurston: Is the information the same on both?
Russ Baker: It’s the same, but yeah, we just want people to know that we’re a nonprofit, and we don’t accept any advertising. Our objective is to go deeper journalistically than the media does, to be more open-minded, to be both less restricted than the corporate media is, and less biased, or thumb on the scale, than the ideological media is. The idea is to go in with an open mind, to basically be agnostic, look at things, but then once you’ve done your research, you’ve interviewed enough people, don’t be afraid to say what you found.
Pat Thurston: The thing that occurs to me about the kind of reporting I read on WhoWhatWhy is that you’re somewhat cynical. I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean that there are times when a red flag just goes up to you, when your eyebrows are raised, when you hear something, and it just doesn’t quite sound right. Instead of letting that pass, you remember it, you pursue it, you need to be satisfied about what you’re being told, generally, by government sources. That has led you to a lot of places, Russ. You’ve done some amazing reporting because you’ve got that capability to recognize BS when you hear it.
Russ Baker: Yeah, I think that when I worked, before I started WhoWhatWhy, when I worked for other news organizations, I saw, I felt … I don’t know if I had to be explicitly told. There was this reticence to break from the pack, and very early a narrative gets constructed. We know that if you go all the way back in American history you find the extent to which these government agencies were actually trying to shape the media, to infiltrate the media, to be able to tell the story that they wanted to tell. This isn’t unique to the United States, it’s not unique to recent history. Throughout the history of the world, the rulers have always sought to shape the narrative, to shape people’s perceptions, because that’s critical to getting and keeping power.
Pat Thurston: And they’ve been successful at it, so that’s one of the reasons we need people like you, who are not biased and who will dig in. The thing that is … I always want to say there’s the story, but right now, in these days, there are so many other stories that every single day you’re being slammed by something. But we still have one story that we are focused on even as we lose track of it, and that has to do with Russia and the election, and Russia and members of the George W. Bush campaign, and potentially members of his administration now that he’s the president. You’ve been doing some work on this. You’ve written about the Ukraine, and this lawyer in the Bush administration, Cohen.
Russ Baker: The Trump administration.
Pat Thurston: Trump administration. What’d I say, Bush?
Russ Baker: Yeah.
Pat Thurston: You see? You know what…
Russ Baker: Bush on the brain.
Pat Thurston: I’m telling you though, Bush is looking good to me right now. I hate to admit that but it’s true. Okay, do tell about Ukraine and the lawyer, Cohen.
Russ Baker: The background is that, at WhoWhatWhy, as I’ve said, we’re skeptical and wary of the rush to judgment from the pack, and last year when we were first hearing things about Russia we were cautious. We remembered, as I think we need to, how anything associated with Russia, the former Soviet Union, was vilified to such an extent that we would go after our own country people. We were careful about this, and we were reticent to do it, but I’m pleased to say that once we dug in to see if there was anything to it, we discovered what looked to be indications that there was something to it. We weren’t afraid to say, “Okay, we think there’s something here.” We notice again with the media that people stake a position, and they kind of stay with it.
Pat Thurston: They protect themselves there.
Russ Baker: Yeah, some of my friends, liberal lefty journalists or something, they’re so … I understand it, they’re so upset about the past generalizations about other powers in other countries that they just can’t deal with this story. I have to say that as we dug into this we did find indications, and have found indications that Putin, and his regime, and the Russians, have made an effort to exert influence in this country. I have to say, it’s not like the United States doesn’t do that in Russia and everywhere else in the world…
Pat Thurston: Everywhere else.
Russ Baker: So I don’t want to make a judgment about it, but the fact is that every country has a right to be concerned about any sort of meddling, and just as we’re concerned about domestic meddling by the Koch Brothers, you and I have talked about them, and of course Wall Street and so on, and as or more so certainly about foreign powers. This is a real issue, and as we began digging in we began finding things that had not been properly explored. I think, I can’t remember, I think the last time I was on we talked about another story we had done about a fellow named Felix Sater.
Pat Thurston: Yeah, I have that written down here, because man, he is coming … There are people now who are starting to really look into Felix, and you are the first person, I think, who ever mentioned his name, that I knew of.
Russ Baker: When we did your show he was not well-known.
Pat Thurston: No!
Russ Baker: We had to explain to people who he is. Since then, I must say almost every news organization has jumped on the Felix Sater bandwagon. I might point out that with the exception of two or three of those outfits, the rest of them, almost entirely, never mentioned us, never credited us. I understand that. It makes it hard, of course, for a small outlet like us. People say, “How come I haven’t heard of you?” That’s why.
Pat Thurston: Because they steal your work and don’t credit you for it.
Russ Baker: Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on that.
Pat Thurston: He’s bad news. Felix Sater is a very bad guy.
Russ Baker: Felix Sater was one guy, and now we’ve done this other story about Michael Cohen, and I consider them kind of like Trump book ends. That’s the way to think about it. Felix Sater is a fellow who had organized crime connections, he ended up in business with Trump, and Trump later on tried to pretend he barely knew the guy, and yet they were extremely close.
Pat Thurston: You see pictures of them hugging and everything.
Russ Baker: There’s a whole background to that, and one of the things we did, Pat, at WhoWhatWhy, was we got into Felix Sater and how he was being run by the FBI, how he was an FBI informant while he was in Trump Tower, and how, we think, that the complicated relationship between the FBI and Sater makes it difficult for the FBI to fully investigate and disclose what it knows about Donald Trump’s past. That’s very, very important. Flash forward to our more recent piece about Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen is Trump’s long-time in-house consigliere or whatever you want to call him. He’s his lawyer, super loyal, he would always say, “I would do anything for Trump.” Real bulldog, intimidate people. Trump, historically famous, kind of, for let’s say taking a long time to pay his bills. That’s about as generous as I can be. This guy would just stare people down, any journalist that was digging into things, and he would intimidate them.
Michael Cohen is this fascinating figure, and we started talking at WhoWhatWhy about, should we take a closer look at this fellow. There have been a few articles about it, but the piece you’re going to read on WhoWhatWhy is the most in-depth look at this fellow. It’s 8,000 words of Michael Cohen, telling the story of this man who was so central to Trump, and fascinatingly, fascinatingly, has his own parallel set of relationships to these countries of the former Soviet Union completely independent of Trump, comes into Trump’s operation when Trump himself is deeply involved with Russia, with Ukraine, with Kazakhstan and so on, and where moneys from those countries seem to be integral to Trump’s very survival.
Pat Thurston: In business.
Russ Baker: Then this Michael Cohen comes in. But what hadn’t been widely reported is that Michael Cohen himself had his own money, connections, family associations, with those countries prior to joining Trump. That’s very, very important.
Pat Thurston: We’ll take a break, we’ll come back. I want to ask, what’s on my mind right now is, is Cohen … Did he work hand in hand, was there any association between him and Paul Manafort at this point in time? Because we know Manafort was somebody who was definitely involved in Ukraine as well.
Recording: Now back to Pat Thurston, on the next generation of KGO 810.
Pat Thurston: Good evening, I’m Pat Thurston. Russ Baker is here in studio with me, so good to see you again Russ. I just loved reconnecting. Russ is the CEO and the editor of the website WhoWhatWhy.org. This website, I call it an investigative journalism site, everybody calls their websites that. With this site, this is where you go and you get the newest, the hottest, the stories that have not been published, and everybody’s going there. Everybody’s going there. They may not credit Russ with the stories that they’re picking up, but they’re going there and they’re picking up the stories, including the story on Felix Sater. This is the first place where it appeared, and this is the place where people were able to see, oh my God, this is something that we need to look into, and now they’ve developed some of their own stories on that.
Russ, we’re talking right now about Michael Cohen, the attorney, one of the Trump attorneys, an attorney that he’s very, very close to, and because he has connections to Ukraine, my question had to do with Paul Manafort. Are these two individuals in any way connected to one another?
Russ Baker: We’re still investigating this, and we don’t know, but it is fascinating to note all of these sort of tentacles into Trump that are related to the former Soviet Union. By the way, Manafort owned and lived in an apartment in Trump Tower. Michael Cohen is very interesting. He came onto Trump’s radar around the year 2000 when he began buying very expensive Trump properties. He bought one, he bought two, he bought three, he bought four, he bought five, he bought six, it was…
Pat Thurston: Aren’t they terribly expensive?
Russ Baker: They are, they cost millions of dollars. This man bought five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, we think even 12 or more, he or his in-laws bought all of these apartments, which I think is more than anybody else, I’m going to venture, in the world, bought of the Trump brand. You’d never heard of this fellow. We looked at his background, because of course if you’ve got that kind of money, people would’ve heard of you, or you would be known to be very, very successful. He went to some practically unrated law school, he was a personal injury lawyer of no particular repute, never heard of him-
Pat Thurston: Better Call Saul, that guy?
Russ Baker: Never heard of him, I mean doesn’t show up anywhere. Then suddenly he’s spending all this money. By the way, in addition to all of these Trump properties, he also owns some entire buildings in Manhattan. Then we discover he owned taxi companies, hundreds of medallions in Manhattan and elsewhere, and he’s in business with these people, and they’re all from the former Soviet Union.
Pat Thurston: Wow.
Russ Baker: Not just that. Again, I’m not smearing people who are from these countries. I’ve been to a lot of these places, I love them, I have friends from these places, I hope to go again, enjoy the food, the history, whatever, but I’m just stating some facts here. He married a woman from Ukraine, and his brother married a woman from the Ukraine…
Pat Thurston: Interesting.
Russ Baker: And he’s in business with all these former Ukrainians, Russians, whatever they are, with all these different businesses, gambling boats, all from this, I don’t know-
Pat Thurston: He’s a lawyer; is the business that he’s conducting, is he providing them with legal services?
Russ Baker: As far as we know, no. It had nothing to do with that. In other words, the legal profession doesn’t seem to have been where he made his money. He made his money in all these businesses. The question, of course, is what did he bring to the businesses? Why was he a partner with these wealthy-
Pat Thurston: Right, and how did he make so much money.
Russ Baker: Wealthy people from the former Soviet Union, yeah.
Pat Thurston: Yeah, and do you know?
Russ Baker: We’re looking at that. We want to be careful and precise and be fair, and we’ve asked him and he declined to answer those questions. We asked him point blank, “How did you make all this money,” and he decided not to answer that. What’s interesting to us is his brother’s father-in-law, who’s a Ukrainian, who came to the United States. He’s one of the people who bought a Trump property. He came to the United States, I don’t think he had particularly much money when he came here, but he started doing things, and we report this at WhoWhatWhy in this article. This is while the Soviet Union is still there. Even though he’s emigrated, he convinces them to let him start doing reproductions, lithographs, of art work in the Soviet State Museum in St. Petersburg. He starts doing that, which, people were surprised that anybody could get a contract, so he had some connections.
Then after the fall of the Soviet Union he decides to get into the grain business. Ukraine is sort of the breadbasket of Europe, it produces more grain than, as far as I know, any other country in Europe, and so this man gets into the grain business and they become hugely successful. He sells it to a big Swedish concern, and then they get into making synthetic fuel from ethanol from grain. He becomes very, very big, and he gets into business with a fellow who we identify in this article, we mention that the FBI and other outfits identified the partner as having connections to organized crime from the former Soviet Union.
Pat Thurston: The Russian organized crime.
Russ Baker: That’s right.
Pat Thurston: That is actually a part and parcel of the Russian oligarchy in the government, right?
Russ Baker: This larger theme, Pat, yes, this larger theme gets to Paul Manafort. The connections a lot of these people have, how they made their money, how they have power, their close connections in many cases to Vladimir Putin, and their ability to continue operating with his agreement. There’s a lot here. There’s really a lot here, and there’s also a figure whom we mentioned first in the Felix Sater article and then in this, fellow named Mogilevich, who is called the don of dons. He’s believed to be the most powerful criminal in the world, in the world, and he ostensibly ran, or runs, this huge network of people from the former Soviet Union who are all over the world. They came to the United States, some of them, and they began infiltrating Wall Street. This has something to do with the FBI’s getting interested in Felix Sater, because they wanted to know more about these things.
There are tentacles of this into Wall Street, into technology, into, some believe, running weapons to terrorists, to the Taliban and so forth, so this is just this vast … You talk about fiction, it’s like these movies, it’s this vast kind of James Bond movie-like entity.
Pat Thurston: With all these various tentacles. Why would Donald Trump be interested in Michael Cohen as a lawyer?
Russ Baker: That’s a very good question. We don’t know. Basically the story that Cohen has told is that he and Trump met, and he said he was a huge fan of Trump, he thought he was just fantastic. He had read all his books and thought this guy was just amazing, and he really wanted to sort of dedicate his life to the Donald. That’s really what he wanted to do. He’s not just a lawyer for Trump, he came in as the in-house counsel. He was the lawyer, and he also was, whatever they call it, a senior vice president of the Trump organization. He was a key guy right around Trump through years and years and years prior to Trump getting elected president…
Pat Thurston: But he didn’t come into the organization until after Trump was already connected to the bankers who saved his business.
Russ Baker: It was right in the same period, is what’s interesting. In other words, he comes in around the same time that Felix Sater and all this other stuff is going on. By the way, Trump himself, and we quote them, Trump’s son and Ivanka and so on, they all traveled to the former Soviet Union doing all this business and so forth, and Felix Sater was showing them around. Trump actually called Sater and said, “Can you take the kids and introduce them to folks”. Here’s Felix Sater, of whom he later said, “I wouldn’t recognize him in a room,” after it came out that he had those crime connections. Yeah, so there’s all of that. Then he brings in Michael Cohen, and here’s a fascinating fact: it turns out Michael Cohen and Felix Sater were friends in childhood. They knew each other. They went, I guess, their separate ways, and then they come back together working with the Donald in the same period.
Pat Thurston: Oh my God, this is just squirrelly. This is the kind of thing that, if it were a plot that somebody had put together, you would say, “No, that’s not believable. It’s just too weird, it’s too coincidental.” By the way, we’re going to take a break, but I do want to say something to you Russ. We’re going to continue with this discussion, but these are complicated stories. They’re very complicated stories. They’re not simple. You can’t do these stories in a sound bite and really understand them. One of the things that I love about the work you do, and that other reporters do at WhoWhatWhy, is that you’re able to be succinct, and you’re able to engage us, and make the stories palatable so that we can understand these complexities and how all of these things put together. It’s a big puzzle, and it’s a complicated puzzle, and you need somebody to guide you through it. That’s not an easy thing to do. It’s not easy for a reporter, it’s not easy for anybody.
Russ Baker: I’d like to just do a shout-out to my team, because the first draft, if I write it, or whoever writes it, it goes through so many edits. Other writers have told me, they said, “At first I was frustrated and exhausted by this process, and at the end I said my gosh, the commitment to quality here is just tremendous. You guys make me look good. We had this battery of superb editors, and they’re not afraid to tell the boss or anybody else, “This needs a lot more work.” We edit and edit and edit, and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite, until we have it to a point where we say, “We think this incredibly complex story is more or less followable.” Because that’s critical.
Pat Thurston: It is critical.
Russ Baker: It’s absolutely critical that the storytelling works.
Pat Thurston: Yeah. Otherwise we give up, and then we move on to talk about Donald Trump dissing Steph Curry. Which is awful, but not as awful as this.
All right, we’ll be back. Russ Baker is my guest. By the way, go to the website. It’s WhoWhatWhy.org. Flip around, read the articles. You will be happy you did, and you’ll be going back again and again. By the way, this is a nonprofit organization. They’re doing the most incredible forensic journalism, and yet they sell no advertising. There’s no advertising involved here, but they do take donations, because that’s the only way that they can keep their work going. If this is the kind of journalism you want for America you need to go there. WhoWhatWhy dot O-R-G. Look around, it’s high quality, and then make a donation so that they continue the great work that they do.
Recording: Now back to Pat Thurston on the next generation of KGO 810.
Pat Thurston: Good evening, I’m Pat Thurston. Russ Baker is my guest. He’s in studio with me, and he is the CEO, he’s also the editor, of WhoWhatWhy.org. It says here on their masthead, “We don’t cover the news, we uncover the truth.” That is the truth. Go to that site and be sure that you make a donation while you’re there so they can keep this work up. What we’re talking about right now has to do with some of the Russian connections. This is a different spotlight. This time it is on Michael Cohen, Trump’s mysterious lawyer with deep Ukraine ties. That’s actually the headline, I just stole that from Russ. Because all the other news people are doing it, so why can’t I. That’s who we’re talking about here.
We’ve talked about a number of these things. I still am unsure of the role that he plays in the Trump administration. In the organization, in the administration, which one is he involved in now? Both?
Russ Baker: This is very strange, because he had made statements that sounded like he was leaving the Trump organization, and we thought he had said that he was looking forward to joining the administration, but he never did. He now, I guess, describes himself as Trump’s private lawyer, but Trump has so many private lawyers. He’s got, you may remember there’s a whole litany of these people, the ones handling his investments and the ethical conflicts, the ones who are handling his response to this investigation.
Pat Thurston: The White House counsel is actually supposed to be representing the office of the presidency, right?
Russ Baker: Yeah, and he’s not the White House counsel either, so what is he? This is one of the things we wanted to ask him, “What are you,” and he kind of has disappeared. He kind of got on the-
Pat Thurston: Is he in Russia?
Russ Baker: He got on the public radar back briefly … It was this big story, right around the time of the inauguration, that Michael Cohen actually and Felix Sater had met with a Ukrainian politician at a hotel in New York. This man had supposedly come with this peace agreement, the New York Times reported this, that he’d come with a proposal to settle the dispute the United States and Russia was having over Ukraine, and that he had met with these two men in this hotel and given them an envelope, and that Michael Cohen then supposedly had taken it and delivered it to Flynn, the then national security advisor.
Pat Thurston: This was after Trump had been elected.
Russ Baker: Yes, that’s right. It was right around the time of the inauguration. This was all very, very strange, because what does Felix Sater, ex whatever he is, ex criminal, he’s what, meeting … Well why? On behalf of Trump, who says he doesn’t even know him? With his childhood friend Michael Cohen, Trump’s former primary lawyer, and they’re meeting with this man and they’re saying, “We’ll deliver this thing.” We don’t really know what was in that envelope, I want to emphasize that. We’re told it was a peace agreement. It may not have been a peace agreement. This Ukrainian politician was a pro-Putin Ukrainian politician, so we don’t know what this really was about, and for a moment it really got on the radar. It seems right around that time that, for whatever reason, Michael Cohen never entered the Trump presidential orbit.
One thing you notice about Trump, he’s very, very loyal to people who are loyal to him in general. He will not get rid of them. He kept Bannon forever, long past his expiration date.
Pat Thurston: Right, and he still speaks highly of Flynn.
Russ Baker: Yeah. He kept as many of those people as he could for as long as possible.
Pat Thurston: What about, Russ, we know that Manafort was involved, or we think he was involved, in the change of the Republican platform as concerns Ukraine, because the platform read something, but then he was the person apparently behind the Trump administration when they changed it, I think, just at the convention or before the convention.
Russ Baker: Right.
Pat Thurston: Was Cohen involved in that as well, or do we know?
Russ Baker: We don’t know about that, but certainly Flynn, Manafort, all these people were involved with this process, and it’s very clear that they did respond to what the Russians wanted them to do. That’s huge. That’s huge. You’ve got this constellation, I’m glad that you brought up Manafort, and I’m glad that also, Manafort, Flynn, this Carter Page, there’s this sort of small group of people around Trump, all with separate Russian connections. The notion that Trump wants to put out, and I think his supporters, who generally don’t follow these things very closely frankly, want to put out is that this is all political, it’s all rubbish, but in fact-
Pat Thurston: It’s a hoax, it’s a witch hunt!
Russ Baker: But it’s so far from a witch hunt. To be fair they went after Obama for every little crazy rumor. They said he was a Muslim, he was this, he was that, he wasn’t an American citizen, his wife was secretly a man, this was all over the internet. Yet here’s all this stuff, and almost every one of these key people we’re talking about have independent Russian connections. We see Trump poo-poo-ing anything about Russia, anything about Putin, never saying anything bad. One could reasonably conclude that they’ve got something that they’re holding over him.
Pat Thurston: Talk about that dossier. The ever famous, infamous, dossier.
Russ Baker: Yeah, and we don’t know what to make of that in its entirety. This is people who were hired to collect scuttlebutt, and I assume some of it may be correct and some of it may not be correct. We still don’t know for sure about the golden showers, some of these other wonderful details. Michael Cohen is mentioned in there too, and they say that he traveled secretly to Prague to negotiate something with the Russians, and he denies it. We don’t know, can we take his word for that or not? All of these things are open. Mueller, everybody’s saying Mueller is going to get to the bottom of these things, but it’s very hard. I was just looking, how do you even get in touch with Mueller if you’ve got something for him? They don’t even make themselves available for any kind of input from people who know something. If you could figure out how to reach Mueller, I would sort of challenge you, it’s quite interesting to figure out how you would even do it.
These investigations, to be practical, we all, whenever there’s an investigation, they say oh boy, there’s an investigation; well historically, how about that Warren Commission? And if we have time maybe we can talk about the Kennedy records that are being released after 50 years. How about that Warren Commission, how about the 9/11 Commission, how about the Iran Contra? Did they ever really get to the bottom of anything? And how likely is it that we’re ever going to learn the true outlines of this? This is-
Pat Thurston: This is different, isn’t it? This is an investigation that’s being conducted by a special prosecutor, not by some sort of a commission that seems to be just bringing people in and listening to testimony and then writing a lengthy tome. This is being investigated by people who can charge them criminally, and know how to follow these routes. Like you said, the FBI already has Felix Sater, so they’ve already got him, so they know part of what they’re doing anyway.
I hate to admit this, but I was watching Fox the other day. That crazy bow-tied guy, Tucker Carlson, God he’s annoying, but the people who are on Fox are really resentful of the intensity of the investigation, of the Mueller investigation, and how far back they’re willing to go. They think that is outrageous, and it way oversteps what his mandate is, what he is supposed to be doing. But it seems to me that it’s crucial that you go back wherever it’s going to take you, and that’s how you start putting all the pieces together.
Russ Baker: Absolutely, and you’ve made a very valid point, although historically also, if you look at some of these special prosecutors, special counsel, their investigations, even when the public thought, wow, Watergate, Nixon, whatever, even when they thought that, the truth was, you know this from my book Family of Secrets, I discovered a whole other history of Watergate which never came out. The problem is that the establishment in this country … By the way, Family of Secrets is only nominally about the Bush family. What I really spent years doing was investigating how the establishment creates a consensus, and makes things happen in ways that we don’t understand. A guy like Mueller is a representative of the establishment. I’m not saying he’s not going to do a terrifically intense job here, he may well, but he’s the former FBI director, don’t forget, and there were a lot of controversial things that happened on his watch that were covered up.
Now as we say, WhoWhatWhy, we did a report on Felix Sater, and our question is, can the FBI itself ever admit whatever it was doing with Felix Sater, whatever it knew about all of these things? It gets very, very complicated, and sometimes what they have to give the public … I understand that this may be heading towards something where Trump has to leave office; even that may be done in such a way that we never understand the full outline.
Pat Thurston: That is one of the most frustrating things, is that this stuff is important for the American people to know about, and the investigation is collecting information. They’re getting vital information, and some of that, Russ, we’re never going to know what that is. They’re never going to tell us, it’s all going to be classified. That stinks. In this country we should know this stuff unless there really and truly is a national security interest that could be jeopardized. I don’t think that’s it at all, I think they don’t want to be embarrassed, I think they don’t want to admit wrongdoing, I think they don’t want to show the corruption, and how vast it is, and how you can expose all of that corruption with this story about Donald Trump. We’ve got to take a break, we’ll come back.
Recording: You are listening to Pat Thurston on the next generation of KGO 810.
Pat Thurston: Good evening, I’m Pat Thurston. Russ Baker is here. He is my guest, he is the CEO, he is also the editor, and he’s also a journalist at WhoWhatWhy.org. It’s a nonprofit, it is an amazing site that everybody is going to now to find out the latest, the most in-depth, the most unbiased but honest reporting on the things that are going on, that you can possibly imagine. Russ, there’s so much going on. I know that you guys are also covering the release of the Kennedy assassination documents, what’s going on with that?
Russ Baker: First of all, just quick background. In 1964, when the Warren Commission report came out, they told us that this was the final authority, everything we needed to know about the assassination of the President of the United States, and yet they withheld all these documents. They withheld, by some accounts, up to 50,000 documents for half a century, because we couldn’t know about these things. That’s kind of extraordinary.
Pat Thurston: That’s so stupid.
Russ Baker: Anyway, here we are, and they did release documents, and now they’re supposed to be releasing the final documents by the end of October. They did one small document dump last month. At WhoWhatWhy, we looked at those and found a little bit of interesting stuff. We figure somebody would’ve gone through and mopped up anything they didn’t want the public to see…
Pat Thurston: Right, they purge it.
Russ Baker: But they always miss things, and that’s the great thing. Anyway, we now are putting together a team to actually go through every single one of these thousands of documents and look at them painstakingly to see if there are little tiny morsels in there that can help us figure out this remaining puzzle of what actually happened to John F Kennedy, and frankly what happened to America. Because Ike and Truman both thought that the country had sort of gotten out of control, and that the military and the military industrial complex had sort of, in a sense, taken over the country.
Pat Thurston: And the CIA was out of control.
Russ Baker: Yeah.
Pat Thurston: There were those Dulles brothers and all of that.
Russ Baker: That’s right, and my book Family of Secrets is about the culmination of that under George HW and then George W Bush, both with their own connections to the CIA that were not publicly known, the background…
Pat Thurston: Everybody’s in your book. Nixon is in your book, everybody’s in your book.
Russ Baker: There’s all this uncharted territory, yeah.
Pat Thurston: All this stuff people don’t know. But listen, we don’t have a lot of time here, and this relates to what you were just talking about with the Kennedy papers being released, that one of … I have to say “one of,” because there were many I think, but one of John F. Kennedy’s mistresses was murdered, and now you have got this amazing story. It’s in, I don’t know how many parts this is going to be, I’ve only read part one because you’ve only given me part one. How many parts is this going to be before I get to the end?
Russ Baker: I don’t know, because I didn’t edit it. These are excerpts from a book, and these kind of books, you’re one of the few radio hosts with the guts to have these sorts of subjects and authors on. These people generally cannot get into the mainstream media. Same thing David Talbot, we originally ran excerpts of his book about Allen Dulles because he wasn’t getting on the show. Same thing with this by Peter Janney.
Basically in a nutshell, John F. Kennedy had a particular mistress by the name of Mary Meyer that he was really, I think, in love with, and she, we understand, was very influential in changing his whole view of what he could do as president, was influential with Kennedy moving away from being kind of a cold war hawk to trying to see if he could create an enduring peace with Castro, with Khrushchev, and so forth. Very, very important. Anyway, Kennedy is killed. She apparently believes that he was murdered, not by Lee Harvey Oswald, but by domestic power elements in the United States. Then, in October of 1964, around the time that the Warren Commission Report is coming out, and she’s out there agitating, talking about this stuff, she is killed, and she’s killed while in this park…
Pat Thurston: Potomac Park.
Russ Baker: Yeah, and she’s killed by somebody who does not take her purse, does not take her wallet.
Pat Thurston: Shoots her at close range, once.
Russ Baker: Yeah, why did they do that? Then, we don’t have time here, but what this gets into is this fascinating thing. Her husband, Cord Meyer, was the head of CIA propaganda operations, the Mighty Wurlitzer, the attempt to use the media to shape all these things.
Pat Thurston: And her sister was married to Ben Bradley of the Washington Post.
Russ Baker: That’s right, and Ben Bradley, as you know, from Family of Secrets, had its own intelligence background, as did Bob Woodward.
Pat Thurston: As did Bob Woodward with naval intelligence.
Russ Baker: Yeah, none of this, you didn’t hear any of this on public television or radio or any of those places. They don’t either know or they don’t get into any of this stuff. Mary Meyer, yeah, and Angleton, this sort of nefarious figure inside the CIA, Angleton was also married into this mixture, and she had a diary where she wrote all of her stuff about Kennedy, and the diary disappeared. Ben Bradley, when he talked to the police, he never mentioned it, but they obtained the diary and they gave it to Angleton, who supposedly had it destroyed.
Pat Thurston: Yeah, gave it to the CIA, that was really, really nice. Her husband, Mary’s husband, Cord Meyer, he was the guy who was in charge of Operation Mockingbird, the organization within the CIA that planted disinformation in major US publications, which is still going on today of course. There’s no question this is still going on.
Oh, it’s a three-part series, it says at the very bottom, so I’ve got two parts to go. It’s absolutely compelling. It is so important, this stuff, to read this. By the way, I know you’ve looked into a lot of the stuff on Kennedy, and part of that interest was sparked because of your book Family of Secrets, but what about Marilyn Monroe? Because I spoke with her aunt, I think it was her aunt, several years ago, and I can’t give you all the details of it, but her family … I’m sorry, it wasn’t her aunt, she was actually related to Joe DiMaggio. But their family really believes that Marilyn was murdered by the CIA, and she said her mother … She wrote a book on this. Her mother was on the phone with Marilyn Monroe when she was murdered. That’s what she says.
Russ Baker: I’m speechless. We should talk more about this. I will say that I am working on a book that is about the Kennedy assassination, I’ve been working on it for years. I’m hoping it’s not more than another couple of years, and I’m doing my best to try to put the whole puzzle together. One thing we know is that there are all these tentacles back to that military-industrial complex. The sons of a man prominent in a piece of the military-industrial complex attempted to burgle Marilyn Monroe’s place prior to this. There’s a lot of stuff there. There’s a lot.
Pat Thurston: Yeah. I’m going to find that book for you, because it didn’t get a great deal of attention. The aunt, she might have been Joe’s aunt, anyway she was on the program, we spent a solid hour together, but she had somebody, like a ghost writer, with her, because she was old. She just would lose her words and stuff. But the stories she told, and how involved she got, everybody I spoke to who heard that interview said that they really believed that she was completely, utterly, totally credible. It was absolutely fascinating. I’ll find that book for you, because she’s a member of the DiMaggio family, and that’s what they believe happened. She said her mom was a witness by ear, and then her mom was scared and she wouldn’t talk about it until she was dying.
Russ Baker: It’s important to note that the members of these families, as a rule, publicly always say, “No conspiracy, there was nothing here, the official account is right,” because they’re under pressure to do so.
Pat Thurston: And sometimes they’re afraid.
Russ Baker: And sometimes they’re afraid. What we do at WhoWhatWhy.org, and what I do with my books, is I try to get to these people and I try to convince them that they have an obligation to tell the truth and to be part of this.
Pat Thurston: And it’s time.
Russ Baker: And that it’s time.
Pat Thurston: Russ, so good to see you. I thank you so much for coming in. It was a delight to see you, and again let me tell people, go to the website. It’s WhoWhatWhy.org, it is a nonprofit, they rely on our donations. You’re going to love what you read. You may not like what it tells you but you’re going to know that it’s the truth. You have on the back of your card, I just wanted to mention, that on the back of your card you have a quote from Jim Morrison. I suspect that David Talbot showed you this quote before you found it.
Russ Baker: He did not, believe it or not.
Pat Thurston: All right. “Whoever controls the media controls the mind.” Yikes, that scares me. That sounds very Soviet. Thank you Russ, good to see you.
Russ Baker: My pleasure, thank you very much.

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