America’s Lawyer E03: The Biden Administration is creating a new office at the Department of Homeland Security to monitor misinformation, and the impacts of this program could shut down independent media outlets for good. We’ll bring you the details. Gas prices are still going through the roof – but so are the profits and executive pay at the largest oil companies. Will tell you how these companies have pulled a massive con on the American public. And Republicans are fighting to stop President Biden from getting rid of student loan debt – we’ll tell you why this fight matters. All that, and more is coming up, so don’t go anywhere – America’s Lawyer starts right now.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Hi, I’m Mike Papantonio and this is America’s Lawyer. The Biden administration is creating a new office at the Department of Homeland Security to monitor misinformation and the impacts of this program could shut down independent media outlets for good. We’ll bring you the details. Gas prices, well, they’re still going through the roof, but so are the profits that executives are being paid. These large oil companies, they, they’re taking advantage of this situation. We’ll tell you how these companies have pulled a massive con on the American public. And Republicans are fighting to stop president Biden from getting rid of the student loan debt. We’ll tell you why that fight matters to you. All that and more it’s all coming up. Don’t go anywhere. America’s Lawyer starts right now.

The Department of Homeland Security is about to start cracking down on what they consider to be misinformation, but this program could easily be abused to shut down dissent. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins joins me to talk about this and many other issues. Farron I, I, I think you have covered this whole misinformation issue more than most progressives and you’ve done a great job understanding. First of all, you and I, I think you, you know, when we first started looking at, at this, I concluded it’s not constitutional. I, I really do believe somebody’s gonna test it. It’s not, it’s not constitutional because you can’t create something that interferes with the vibrant free speech that we’re all entitled to. Now, there are exceptions. Don’t get me wrong. There are exceptions and the exceptions fall with what we call the police power, health, safety, and welfare. So they’re trying to hang it on national security and we’re gonna do this because it, when we start looking at this, my prediction is it’s gonna fail. Somebody’s gonna test this, but take it from there.

Farron Cousins:                  It, it, it’s a very stupid idea. I, I think is probably the nicest way I can say this. You know, is misinformation a huge problem? Absolutely it is. And we know that. We’ve known that. But you cannot have the government come in and say, okay, we’re now in the business of telling you what’s real and what’s not, what is allowed and what isn’t. You know, that’s kind of the slippery slope that everybody had worried about, you know, with, with online, you know, bans and things like that. This is the culmination of it and this of course is a massive problem. The government cannot and should not tell us these things. And the thing I wanna point out is each side, you know, left and right, both of them think, we’re the good guys.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm.

Farron Cousins:                  Well guess what, your good guys, whichever side you’re on, they’re not gonna be in charge of this program.

Mike Papantonio:             That’s right.

Farron Cousins:                  All the time. Marjorie Taylor Greene even came out and said this past weekend.

Mike Papantonio:             I can’t wait.

Farron Cousins:                  Oh, imagine what conservatives could do with this.

Mike Papantonio:             Yes.

Farron Cousins:                  And it’s probably the same thing, the powers that’ll be abused with this DHS.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, let, let me be a little small here. I gotta be. The woman they’ve put in charge. This Nina Jankowicz is a complete nut case. I mean, I, she’s been called an clown and everything else and, and you know what? She kind of deserves it. Go back and just take a look at some of the videos this woman’s done and you conclude the woman ain’t right. And so it’s not only that, but, you know, you have to have, if you’re gonna do it, at least do it with somebody who’s neutral. What do we know about this woman? We know that she’s joined the hip with Hillary Clinton. She was her cheerleader. She was Biden’s cheerleader. And all that does is gives ammunition to the conservatives to say, this is a joke. Not only is it constitutional, but you have this nut case, they call her the Mary Poppins of disinformation, this Jankowicz woman who’s running the show. It’s, it’s, it’s a little scary.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, it really is. And, and then again, back to the decision to even do this, what a horrible time for this administration to come out and announce the creation of this. We’re in a midterm election. Biden’s approval rating is horribly in the toilet. Democrats are struggling. Republicans have captured every narrative possible.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  So they come out and say, okay, well, what if we crack down? No. What a stupid time to sit, to give Republicans the opportunity to say, look, here’s the censorship we warned you about.

Mike Papantonio:             Farron, what if Donald Trump that absolute scary character, I mean, a very scary character, what if Donald Trump had come out and said, hey, I’m gonna start a disinformation program? Would, would these progressives that have said, yeah, this is okay, would they be good with that? Because that’s what’s gonna happen.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             You understand, that’s right around the corner. And so, so, so look, here’s, here’s, here’s prob, here’s the problem I see. Government is the absolute worst about getting it right. And you have this, this, it fuels distrust by the average American. You’ve got, look, I mean, go back, win, we’re, you know, we’re winning in Afghanistan. We heard that. We heard the argument they, they, we’ve got weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We’ve heard that Putin is responsible for the supply problem in the United States. Putin is responsible for the gas problem. Putin’s responsible for inflation. We, we’ve learned, you know, these are things that are, they’re promulgated by part of the government for purely political reasons. Or the Chinese lab leak that it’s racist to even talk about it. When you see this again, and again, and again, the, the public starts saying I can’t trust any of it. And so we’re gonna see that really bad with this thing I think. I think this is gonna take off and we’re gonna see the edge of yeah, I told you so. And I think the Republicans, I mean, you know, these conservative Republicans are gonna use this as a hammer.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, absolutely. I mean, the first time this group comes out and slaps any kind of disinformation label on a conservative outlet, a conservative news reporter, conservative YouTube video, at that point, they’re gonna use that as really the, the flash point, the rallying point to get everybody on board with them saying, look at this, the government is trying to shut me down. They’re trying to take away my free speech.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm.

Farron Cousins:                  And that is why any kind of targeting of misinformation is very difficult because you have a right to go out there and spread misinformation. People may not wanna hear that, but the government cannot stop you from doing that.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. I mean, censorship, I mean the big picture, censorship is to democracy what lynching is to justice. I mean, that’s really the equivalent that I see. That’s how bad this is. Now, we, you and I, granted we are extreme where it comes to censorship. We say, you know, you and I have talked about this a lot of times, it’s just dangerous. The market will take care of itself. People will figure it out. But you have to put it out there. And as I look at this right now, and I don’t think Biden understands, but his, the, the rap, the, the rap on him right now is that he’s probably the strongest censorship president. I mean, John Adams, they, they equate him to John Adams for God’s sake.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             You know, who wanted to shut down the media. So I don’t think this is a good move. I don’t think it’s, I think it’s just gonna give the conservatives more ammunition. By the way, you know, I get these comments, Pap must be a real Republican conservative, would you please defend me? That’s ridiculous. I mean, that is so absurd. But you know what we try to do, we try to tell, call balls and strikes. Right?

Farron Cousins:                  Right. And, and that’s something people have to understand. You know, I get, I get that a lot all the time too with some of my stuff, because sometimes the truth is not flattering for your side.

Mike Papantonio:             No, it’s not.

Farron Cousins:                  Sometimes the facts don’t line up with what you’d want them to do. And that’s what we always try to do. We tell these uncomfortable truths, and it’s not because we hate you. It’s because you gotta open your eyes and, and that is exactly the opposite of what this program is doing. And listen, if you want the, the people to be able to spot misinformation, invest in education programs, train them to do research, to read books.

Mike Papantonio:             Maybe, maybe take a, take a civics course.

Farron Cousins:                  Exactly. And that’s how you combat misinformation.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, it.

Farron Cousins:                  You don’t do it by, you know, closing your eyes and plugging your ears and saying, my side is best, the other side is terrible.

Mike Papantonio:             I see comments that, as crazy as it is, you and I have been working together what 18 years? Something like that, we go all the way back to, to what was Air America. Where we were the only progressives out there. It was Al Franken. It was Janeane Garofalo. It was Sam Seder, Bobby Kennedy. It was Cenk Uygur. I mean, we, this incredible mixture of progressives, that’s where we started. So when these boneheads write in, they say, you know, Pap he’s, you know, crazy right wing conservatives, or, you know, you do, God forbid you do a story where you actually call balls and strikes, these snowflake types write in and say, oh man, he’s just one of them. You know, write in say that .I don’t care. But go do a little search before you do that.

A leaked SCOTUS draft shows that the court’s about to overturn Roe V. Wade. Wow. What a story. I mean, the impact of something like this, first of all, the, the Democrats have gotta be jubilant about it in a lot of ways, because this could affect the midterms. They’re in trouble in the midterms. On the other side, the conservatives say, no, not so fast. This might actually, this might buoy, buoy up the conservatives because the, the, the decision’s gonna come out in June. Right. And the, and then the next move’s gonna be, well, we need to do legislation to change all that. So there’s gonna be that immediate flash point. Why don’t you gimme your thought on what’s happening.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. I mean, it’s gonna happen actually on both sides too. The Democratic controlled states will say, okay, we need to make sure everything’s open and legal. Republican states are gonna go back and say, listen, we’ve been given clearance now, we can pass our laws and restrict this. And of course, bases on both sides are going to be happy about that. But this decision, you know, what this does and, and I think the best analysis I’ve seen and I, I wish I remembered who to credit this to, is this is not gonna put an end to abortion. This is gonna put an end to safe abortion.

Mike Papantonio:             Ah, yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. You, you’re talking about, you know, the back alley type stuff that could arise from this. Women’s lives could be in danger and that of course is always the concern. And not to mention, just in general, we had this court decision.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  This was settled.

Mike Papantonio:             Well it’s precedent.

Farron Cousins:                  It was a settled matter.

Mike Papantonio:             It was precedent for decades, man. I mean.

Farron Cousins:                  And so you can’t just throw precedent out the window because if you can, okay, then open season on getting rid of Citizens United.

Mike Papantonio:             Exactly.

Farron Cousins:                  McCutcheon. If, if.

Mike Papantonio:             That, that’s a great point.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             If this happens, I mean, and if this is true. Now look, we all know this. We saw this same thing play itself out with Roberts on Obamacare. Do you remember that?

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh my God. Something was leaked. It wasn’t the, it wasn’t the decision. Just some phrase was leaked and all of a sudden Roberts was going to deep six Obamacare. It was a lie. It was fantasy.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             And now, I don’t know whether Roberts was committed to A and then turned to B, but it never happened. And I, as I watch this, I wonder, is there some similarity here?

Farron Cousins:                  I, I feel like there could be a little bit, or at least perhaps that’s the motive of the leak.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  And so with so many unknowns right now, you know, could this have been a leftist up there that leaked this?

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  That’s a, certainly a possibility. Could it have been a conservative? That’s a possibility, both sides have reason to believe that this decision would help them in the midterms.

Mike Papantonio:             Well.

Farron Cousins:                  And, and you know, one of the analyses I saw from an article from Slate actually talked about, you know, this could be more of a neutral get the bandaid off.

Mike Papantonio:             Yes.

Farron Cousins:                  So everybody has the reaction before the actual decision.

Mike Papantonio:             That’s, that’s exactly right. Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  And it’s one of those we’re gonna have to wait and see who, who it is, what the motive is, who they’re working for.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. So, so who it is. Okay. Is it a progressive clerk? You know, whose career is now officially over.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             They may make her into, you know, the, make him or her into a hero. It’ll last about six months and their career is over. I mean, it really is. There’s no, because they all go to work for these silk stocking defense firms, you know, they don’t go to work for.

Farron Cousins:                  Conservative, liberal, doesn’t matter.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. They don’t do what we do, plaintiff’s work. They wanna work for Wall Street law firms. So that careers over. They might be a hero for a little while, but it’s over. But you raised something that I, I want to ask you about. Your, your reaction was that maybe, maybe, just maybe it’s a conservative that is leaking this.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. One, one.

Mike Papantonio:             Talk about that a little bit because that, I don’t know that I buy into it, but I think it’s a good argument.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. It’s just one of, you know, obviously several possibilities. One of the possibilities Slate even brings up is maybe this was a justice. That’s way too far fetched. But the conservative side of this is that right now we’ve got lots of states that currently are drafting legislation to limit abortion. So if a conservative.

Mike Papantonio:             Empowers them.

Farron Cousins:                  Right, they could have leaked this to say, hey, as you’re drafting this, keep in mind, we’re about to repeal the whole thing. So you don’t have to go with a 13 week ban. You can go with a no week ban.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  You know, you can change it. You can make it illegal. And this is what I’m afraid is gonna start happening. Make it illegal for somebody to leave your state to go to a blue state.

Mike Papantonio:             Ah.

Farron Cousins:                  To terminate a pregnancy.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Okay.

Farron Cousins:                  Texas is already attempting that obviously.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  So that’s what it will be.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, that’ll never happen. I mean that, that first of all, that is so unconstitutional. It’s beyond.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, we thought this would never happen too though. I mean.

Mike Papantonio:             Well.

Farron Cousins:                  We’re in the land of anything goes at this point.

Mike Papantonio:             You’re right. For me to say that it’s unconstitutional is almost meaningless anymore.

Farron Cousins:                  The Supreme Court, the Supreme Court’s a joke though and, and we have talked about that plenty of times in the past. This entire Supreme court top to bottom has become a joke. It’s all partisan hacks.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. It’s a shame.

Farron Cousins:                  There’s no real rule of law.

Mike Papantonio:             And moreover, a lot of this law is established at the federal court level. I mean, it’s not, it’s not, you know, the Supreme Court matters obviously, but a lot of this is enforced at the federal court level and it can be, it can be moved around as people wanna move it around. A good lawyer can go in a federal court and they can make an argument. For example, just like Obamacare. I mean they almost decimated Obamacare in federal court right here in Pensacola, I think.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

A Capitol rioter was busted after documenting his crimes in his daily planner. You know, some stories you read and I almost, I, I just, this story just cracked me up, this 70, this what, 71 year old man, he’s keeping a daily planner of all the crimes he’s committing January 6th at the Capitol. Pick it up from there.

Farron Cousins:                  As he’s committing them.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  So he went in there with his little day planner and as he, we gotta read it because this is hilarious. Parked, parked car at 11:00 AM. Was at the front of the Capitol building at 12:15. Gates were breached at 1:00 PM. Moving up to steps at 1:30. Got pepper sprayed at 2:00 PM. Started to leave at 3:30. So even after he got pepper sprayed, he still stayed an hour and a half.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. So, you know, let me take the lawyer. How do you defend it? I mean, he’s doing the work for the police and all they do is they take the video, right. They’re video and all this. They’re saying, okay, does this match up to this guy says he’s, you know, pepper sprayed. This guy was such a nut he started beating on one of the police officers with a pole.

Farron Cousins:                  So he.

Mike Papantonio:             It’s on camera.

Farron Cousins:                  And he is facing very serious jail time. Serious fines for this.

Mike Papantonio:             Eight years, could be eight years.

Farron Cousins:                  But, but it’s so funny. It’s like, if you’re going to rob a bank and you’re like, 11:00 AM put on mask.

Mike Papantonio:             Nine, o’clock had breakfast, prepared to rob the bank.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. That’s how stupid so many of these people are. And, and this honestly I’ve, I’ve reported on all of these that I can because they are so hilarious to me. This is the dumbest, I, I gotta tell you this guy right here.

Mike Papantonio:             This, this wins the prize in Farron, in Farron Cousin’s mind?

Farron Cousins:                  So far. I mean, I’m sure we’ll find dumber eventually, but so far, this is the worst.

Mike Papantonio:             Gas prizes are at record high, but so are the profits of big oil CEOs and that’s not a coincidence. You know, look, we could go back all the way to the Carter years and the gas, gas crisis back then and we saw the same story. Here’s the problem. This doesn’t have to happen. But Biden can talk about it. He can say, I’m gonna do something. Now we’ve heard the talk. We’ve heard all that. I’m gonna go do something. I’m gonna make this. Nothing happens. You’ve got, you’ve got the federal trade commission that could shut these people down. They could argue, you’ve got a monopoly going on here. You’re price fixing. There, there’s a stack of laws this big, that could stop all this, but you have to have a Department of Justice. You have to have a Federal Trade Commission that’ll actually go do it. Why won’t they do it? I’m interested. I know that’s a surprise question. Why won’t they do it?

Farron Cousins:                  Well, first and foremost, they’re all gutless cowards anyway. Secondly, there’s that revolving door issue.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  They, they go to work for the industry. The industry comes and works there. Nice little rotation. Everybody wants the big payday after they leave these government services. You make friends with them and you don’t make friends by putting these people in jail. And so that is the biggest problem that we’re seeing with these organizations.

Mike Papantonio:             And the administration is afraid of it. Oh my God, we can’t make ’em too mad because we’ve got midterms coming up. Citizens United has given us the chance to take as much money as we want. Why would we really go after ’em? Look, Biden can talk all he wants. He can talk. He can have his people out front. We’re gonna do that. It’s way past time. Do it. Stop the monopolies. This actually, this could be so important that if they start looking into it, you could actually bust up some of these, some of these monopolies that are taken. This corporate.

Farron Cousins:                  They’re cartels.

Mike Papantonio:             The cartels. Corporate consolidation is nothing different than a cartel, is it?

Farron Cousins:                  Absolutely. And that is what we’re dealing with, especially with this fossil fuel industry. And to me, one of the worst things about this, you know, in addition to them paying themselves tens of millions of dollars in bonuses in January, then extra millions somehow on top of that.

Mike Papantonio:             It was four, $400 million, total.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. Just in compensation for the CEOs

Mike Papantonio:             In compensation. Right.

Farron Cousins:                  And that.

Mike Papantonio:             Plus the extras now, which are 7 million, 10 million bonuses on top of $400 million.

Farron Cousins:                  And they get those bonuses because the company is so proud that they’re price gouging us, you know, in, back into having to ride bicycles 30 miles to get to work.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  But all of this could have been avoided decades ago had we started making that shift.

Mike Papantonio:             Of course.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. There’s no reason to have vehicle fleets that run on gasoline anymore.

Mike Papantonio:             Do you know when, on the look back to what Carter did, Carter, you know, first of all, Carter was the most misunderstood president. He was a very decent president. I mean, he really was. But it was the same problem that he, he, the same problem was he would talk about it, but then he didn’t have agencies and regulatory that would execute on it. And back in that those gas crisis, had they gone ahead and done it, then we wouldn’t be having the problem we have now because in MBA school, they’d be talking, hey, let me tell you the history of what happened when we did this. It opened up this big, this, this big box of uglies where they went, they came after us for anti-trust, collusion, all sorts of things, price gouging. He didn’t do it then and it’s the same thing happening all, all over again.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and, and you know, let’s not forget too, the early two thousands. Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Right, right.

Farron Cousins:                  With the Bush administration.

Mike Papantonio:             That’s right.

Farron Cousins:                  Bush took office, gasoline was 89 cents per gallon. And I, some of the younger audience may, oh, what?

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. You paid a buck a gallon at most. And then during the height of the Bush administration.

Mike Papantonio:             You weren’t even born then, were you?

Farron Cousins:                  I think it was o’ five.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  It was, it was actually even higher than, it was like 4.60 something.

Mike Papantonio:             Yes, yes.

Farron Cousins:                  So even higher than it was now, but that is the largest increase in gas prices that we have ever seen in history. And everybody kind of forgets that because oh, well we had these conflicts in the Middle East. No, we started wars in the Middle East and now these oil companies are looking at Russia and Ukraine and they’re saying, we can use this to our advantage. Not only can we use it to just raise prices because why not?

Mike Papantonio:             And blame it on Putin.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Blame, you know, blame, the blame game seems to relieve everybody because most people don’t take the time. I mean, we have to do this. We, people watching this program, you know, they don’t, they’re trying to live their lives. Right. They’re trying to make ends meet. They’re trying to go to school or work and raise a family. They don’t have time to look behind the stories. I don’t blame ’em for that. But I think a lot of times we have these types that count on that and we have government regulators that count on that. Nobody’s gonna find out what I did. Here, this could have been done all the way back in the Carter administration and it wasn’t.

There’s never been a better time to be a white collar criminal in America, as prosecutions have hit a new low under the Biden administration. What a surprise. I remember, I remember again, this isn’t politics, God forbid I’m not a right wing conservative. I’m simply making a statement that tells you what are the balls and what are the strikes. Under the Obama administration, right, his promise was Wall Street has stolen $8 trillion from us. I’m gonna do something about it. Remember the campaign? I, I was actually on talk shows telling people that, that, that vote for this guy because he’s gonna do that.

Farron Cousins:                  Get the handcuffs ready. I remember.

Mike Papantonio:             And get the handcuffs ready was, get the handcuffs ready was my pitch when I’d go on MSNBC, wherever I went, I was all for it. I was so excited about it, man. This guy’s really gonna do something. How did it end?

Farron Cousins:                  It, it didn’t happen. And then of course, you know, because during the Obama years, we did see a decline in these corporate prosecutions. Trump came along, the decline went even further and every year of the Trump administration, you and I did a segment when this same report came out.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  I think Public Citizen is the one who does it. They’re phenomenal with it. And we talked every year, they’re down from the year before, Trump’s not prosecuting these people. Okay. Well now we got a full year of Biden under our belts. Same report comes out and says, hey, guess what? As bad as Trump was.

Mike Papantonio:             1%.

Farron Cousins:                  As bad as Obama was, things have somehow gotten even worse. Only 90, 90 not even prosecutions, you could call them.

Mike Papantonio:             No, they, they’re investigations. Not prosecutions.

Farron Cousins:                  90, 90 deals really.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  To, to let you off with this corporate leniency as they call it.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Why again, I’m gonna throw this out there again until you’re tired of me asking this questions, why? It, isn’t it the same issue that the politicians are afraid that they’re gonna, they’re gonna lose money if they go after the people that have the money. Regulators are looking for jobs, they’re never gonna do what has to be done. Corporate media, most of the time is totally asleep at the wheel or they have some big advertiser who can.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Advertisers spending a gazillion dollars on NBC or CBS. They’re not gonna do a story like this. So how do, you know, where, where does it stop, unless we have, unless we have a Department of Justice that takes it on themselves and just goes after these folks, right?

Farron Cousins:                  Well, the problem with the DOJ is, is usually even much worse than we see at these other agencies because it gets stacked with these lawyers who come from these law firms that, oh, you were just my client, you know.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  Last year I was in court defending you.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  And now, now I’m supposed to, I’m not gonna go after you.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  You’re my buddies. We went golfing after I won your big case for you.

Mike Papantonio:             That’s so true. Remember the HSBC story we did?

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. HSBC, washing money for terrorists. We’re handling that case. You know, we, we, we are the people handling that case where the, the banks were washing money for terrorists. HSBC signs a 16 page document. In there they say, yes, we did wash money, billions of dollars. Yes, we knew that human lives were at risk, contractors lives from all over the world, soldiers from all over the world at risk. We knew what we were doing. We understood where the money was going. It’s right there in 16 pages, they admit all of it. Do you know what was done? Eric Holder under Obama, you know what happened? Nobody was even criminally investigated. Nobody, nobody went to jail. They fined ’em a hundred, they fined ’em $1.6 billion. What did they, who paid for that $1.6 billion?

Farron Cousins:                  Most of that gets shifted back onto the taxpayers through all of these loopholes and ,you know, clever accounting methods. And of course they made way more than $1.6 billion.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  Off of the money laundering. So they profited from it. Nobody goes to jail and that $1.6 billion fine just becomes a fee at that point.

Mike Papantonio:             The number was a hundred, a hundred, a hundred million dollars.

Farron Cousins:                  Billion.

Mike Papantonio:             A hundred billion dollars is what they made.

Farron Cousins:                  So 1%.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, 1%.

Farron Cousins:                  That’s your 1% fee basically for doing crime.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. So, so here’s what is happening now. We have bid rigging going on from Wall Street, insider trading, lying to investors, spying on American citizens, big tech is outta control and this administration is asleep at the wheel. Now Biden in his mind, he might think something’s happening. Who knows? I don’t know what’s going on in the guy’s mind. But nothing is happening.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. And, and it all comes back to Merrick Garland, which of course is why many, many, many, many years ago, I think on free speech TV, you and I sat here doing segments about why Merrick Garland is a bad pick for the Supreme Court.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh, yeah, he was terrible.

Farron Cousins:                  Because he’s a big friend of corporations, terrible on environmental issues. And he’s no different, even worse actually, as attorney general of the United States.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. It’s happening right as we speak.

Republicans in the Senate have drafted legislation to stop president Biden from forgiving student loan debts ahead of the midterms. I love your position on this, Farron. Your position is if we’re gonna save the midterms for the Democrats, this is what they must do.

Farron Cousins:                  Yep.

Mike Papantonio:             This at least this gives them a fighting chance in the midterms. Why wouldn’t we do that? We spend $800 billion, $800 billion on the Pentagon.

Farron Cousins:                  A year.

Mike Papantonio:             A year. And we can’t, we can’t say to these students, bless your heart, God bless you. You went, you got a college education. You tried to better yourself. You did all these things that we asked you to do as a democracy and now we want you to be in debt for the rest of your life.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. And, and you know, the interest rates on these loans have gone through the roof. The cost of college has risen exponentially in the last 20 years.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  And we beat it into these kids’ brains in high school, you will be nothing in your life.

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Farron Cousins:                  If you don’t go to college. We shame them into going to college and then tell them, oh, well just take out a $40,000 a year loan. You could pay it back. You’ll get a great job coming outta college to pay these off. Well, no, those great jobs may have existed in the, you know, seventies and eighties, early eighties. They don’t exist anymore.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. I, I came out of law school almost $250,000 in debt. I know you had a huge debt that you had to pay off too. And you’re having to pay that debt off when you’re trying to start your life.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             You’re getting married. You’re having children. You’re trying to become part of the workforce in America. You’re trying to better yourself. And now, and then every month you’re getting this bill, you know, and the worst part about it is let me call another ball and strike. You know what, you know, the Democrats took the right of that student to declare bankruptcy.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             In other words, every, everything could be falling down, the Democrat bill, this is a Democratic bill that said that student may not declare bankruptcy. And of course the Republicans, oh my God. They jumped all over it. Yeah. Yeah. We’re with you on that. We’re gonna make this person pay until it hurts. And this is government money. We, it’s we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re being shortsighted if we don’t do this. But you got Republicans trying to stop it right now.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. They’ve got this legislation that would, you know, remove this ability, you know, basically declare he can’t do it, but of course they don’t even have the numbers to get it passed. But they, by passing the legislation, what they’re doing is acknowledging that he can do this.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins:                  And some of them are saying, well, this is just bribery. Okay, fine. Look, I honestly don’t care what you wanna call.

Mike Papantonio:             I don’t care how this qualifies either.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. I mean, we got one point, was it 1.9 trillion in student loan debt.

Mike Papantonio:             Yes.

Farron Cousins:                  Like you said, this was the government’s money for the most part.

Mike Papantonio:             They can, they can, do it over time. There’s all kinds of ways to get this. And you know, the argument is, well, we can’t afford one point trillion dollars. Really? Really? You know, we, we’re handing money out like a drunk sailor all over the world and we can’t take care of these students that have done what we’ve asked them to do, go to college, get better. They’ve done that.

Farron Cousins:                  Well. And, and, and the other argument too, is, well, this will take the economy. Really? Because we haven’t been paying for two years now and nothing bad has happened with that.

Mike Papantonio:             Exactly. Yeah. Trump gave a stand down just to, he gave a stand down on the debt, right?

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah. He, he froze the payments, you know, and they’re still frozen now.

Mike Papantonio:             And here’s a bit of good news. Florida governor Ron DeSantis actually vetoed a bill that would’ve killed rooftop solar power in the state of Florida.

Farron Cousins:                  Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             Wow. You know what, let me, let me take a minute to really tell you what’s on my mind about this. Two of the people in the state of Florida are, one of them, Alex Andrade. His name is Alex Andrade. Now he’s, he’s a representative. He signed off on this. Bradley who’s from Jacksonville, it was her bill in the Senate. What they were trying to do is say, no, you can’t use solar energy because it’ll cost Florida Power and Light money. This is the ugliest story I’ve ever seen. Thank God DeSantis at least said, I’m gonna veto that one, baby. It ain’t gonna make it through.

Farron Cousins:                  Right. I, I, I was shocked when this decision. I had to read it about five times just to make sure did, did he actually do this because this doesn’t seem like something we’d see from DeSantis. But I’ll give him credit where it’s due. This was a good move by him.

Mike Papantonio:             Oh, yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  Like you said, here in the state of Florida, we have a law in place that says if you’ve got your rooftop solar panels, which is only 90,000 residents in Florida, whatever’s extra you don’t use, you sell it back to the power company. They give you money.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Farron Cousins:                  And that’s it.

Mike Papantonio:             What bothered me. Alex Andrade is a punk. Okay. He’s from he’s right from here from Pensacola. He signed off on this. His life experience is almost zero. It, it really is. It’s his life experience is zero. He doesn’t understand that right now, Florida Power and Light has raised the rates so high that a mother of three that used to be paying a hundred dollars a month is now paying $400 a month. To Alex Andrade that was just fine. And you know what? Alex Andrade is in for a really rude awakening with the campaign I’m getting ready to start here.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and this is, you know, Florida residents that have now been sucked into Florida Power and Light, because they’ve grown their monopoly here, they’re. Left is. The right is. Everybody is angry about this. I mean, personally, I’ve seen my power bill go up by 40 to 50%. Oh yeah. I mean, just in the last couple months here.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, everybody in Florida.

Farron Cousins:                  Right.

Mike Papantonio:             And it’s not just a Florida story. You understand this is all controlled by a company called NextEra. NextEra owns, owns utility companies all over the country. This is taking place in California right now. In California, the Alex Andrade’s of California tried to shut down the solar energy in California too. Now what’s wrong with putting solar panel on top of your house? Do what we’re telling everybody to do. Use green energy. But these guys, no. We didn’t wanna let ’em do that because it was gonna cost the people who are giving us campaign money, it’s gonna cost them money. Bradley from Jacksonville who signed off on this, who this is her bill, she was paid $10,000 by NextEra just to put her name on this. Farron, thanks for joining me.

Farron Cousins:                  Thank you.

Mike Papantonio:             As many as 27,000 main street investors are at risk of losing part of the retirement or investment savings after GWG declared chapter 11 bankruptcy last month. Attorney Michael Bixby joins me now to explain this and this is a guy that deals with the sociopaths all the time. This story is really troubling. Tell us a little bit about what these Wall Street hustlers did here.

Michael Bixby:                    Sure. So GWG Holdings is it’s an alternative asset management company, Pap, and what they did their business model was to buy life insurance policies. So the company would go out and buy life insurance policies. If you had a life insurance policy on yourself and you didn’t want it anymore, you could sell it to them. Maybe it was getting too expensive for you. And their whole business model was based on raising money from investors to go out and buy these life insurance policies

Mike Papantonio:             Betting on death is what they were doing.

Michael Bixby:                    They were betting on death and here’s what they were doing. They were using nontraditional models to do it. So they said, we’re not gonna follow the standard actuarial models. We’ve got our own things that we’re going to do. And it was extremely risky because if they were wrong even by a little bit, they basically, Pap, they issued bonds and they had payments that were due to the bond holders that they had to meet. And what happened is they stopped being able to issue their bonds. And in 2021, they didn’t issue some financial statements, some SEC filings, their auditor resigned and basically their ability to go get new people to invest in the bonds.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Michael Bixby:                    To be able to continue paying for the bonds and invest with other life insurance policies, it dried up.

Mike Papantonio:             In other words, the investment they would, they would stay ahead of going bankrupt by selling more, almost like a Ponzi scheme. Isn’t it? I mean, you, it, there’s no difference. I think a headline that I saw in here is they were borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Anytime we see that in Wall Street, that’s a Ponzi scheme. Now my guess is the DOJ will do nothing about it. Nobody will be prosecuted. But put that in terms of who was affected here. Let, let the viewers understand who, who is the, who’s the risk.

Michael Bixby:                    That, that’s exactly, I think the important thing, Pap, is you understand, because this isn’t just, oh, a hedge fund did something crazy and the hedge fund owners are now. What we’re talking about here is literally main street investors.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Michael Bixby:                    We’re talking about over 25,000 individuals. These are retail investors who were sold these bonds because it wasn’t, the hedge funds are probably too smart to really make a major investment in these things. We’re talking about mom and pop investors. We’re talking about people that I represent your teachers, nurses, regular folks, working folks who went to a financial advisor who told ’em I have this great bond for you.

Mike Papantonio:             Now, are you handling the case?

Michael Bixby:                    Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             Okay. And as you look at the case, my guess is this. When you micromanage who’s in charge, you’re gonna find that the folks involved have past histories of similar kinds of deals, which brings me to this. Why in the world won’t our Department of Justice prosecute these folks? Yeah, they’re dressed up in Armani suits. They drive Bentley’s. But they got MBAs from Harvard and Yale. But why won’t the DOJ just prosecute ’em just like we would a kid selling marijuana on street corner?

Michael Bixby:                    No, Pap. I mean, this is, this is a constant problem. You and I have talked about this before many times. And the issue is what these Wall Street firms have learned, what these investment companies have learned is, hey, we’re gonna have this, this stack of disclosure documents they can plop on the table, that’s that thick. And essentially what they did, even in their bankruptcy filing, they said, well, we told you we were gonna do this. We told you that we could use your bond payments to us, where you purchased the bond to pay other investors. And so they’re gonna tell the DOJ, they’re gonna tell any of the authorities, we disclosed this. We properly disclosed it to everyone, which brings me to the relationship. How did the people end up in this? The teachers and the nurses and the other normal people. They didn’t go and find it themselves. We’re not talking about, you know, Wall Street bets type investors with GameStop. We’re talking about retirees, regular people who went to a financial advisor who told ’em, hey, I’ve got this bond. And you think of a bond. Bonds are secure, right?

Mike Papantonio:             Right.

Michael Bixby:                    Bonds are supposed.

Mike Papantonio:             That’s the safest thing you always think about is I’m gonna put my money in bonds. I don’t wanna put in equities because I can lose everything.

Michael Bixby:                    That’s exactly the thought. So bonds supposed to be backed by something. The problem with these, these were high yield, extremely risky and they were illiquid. You couldn’t trade ’em.

Mike Papantonio:             Mm-hmm.

Michael Bixby:                    So these investors were told, some of the people I’ve spoken to were told they were safe, which is the exact opposite of what it is. And what’s crazy about this. If you look at because it’s brokerage firms, it’s Wall Street firms all around the country who are recommending this and selling it. And it’s actually a small group, it’s sort of a cabal of these certain Wall Street groups that were actually selling the GWG bonds to their clients.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, and, and you know, and the problem, the problem is until you start throwing brokers in prison, until you start throwing the folks that engineered this in prison, you know, some in the next 20 years, they’re gonna be talking about this in their Harvard MBA school. You know what, these guys got away with. It’s worth the risk. Here’s what’s interesting to me, so many things you said there is interesting, but one thing, what you described was they put it in the documents and I’m sure the writing was tiny, but more importantly, they, they basically, it sounds like they basically said we’re gonna steal from you. You know, if you, in the end, we’re going to steal from you, but we’re disclosing that we’re gonna steal from you therefore under the SEC rules, it’s okay. Is that kind of what happened here?

Michael Bixby:                    That’s the argument, but here’s the, here’s the good news when it comes particularly to the brokerage firms and brokers and advisors who are selling this, Pap, because the FINRA guidance in a lot of these cases that I’m handling are in FINRA arbitration and that’s the good news I think for investors is that somebody who was missold this, a retiree, somebody who is elderly or somebody who couldn’t take on this type of speculative risk, even if they were handed the disclosure documents, what FINRA says at least, and we argue is that you can’t lie to someone and then hand them a piece of paper saying, I just lied to you.

Mike Papantonio:             In other words, they’ve anticipated it because we’ve seen Wall Street do it so much. Wall Street creates a document.

Michael Bixby:                    Yep.

Mike Papantonio:             It’s a, it’s a hundred page document. Somewhere in the document it says we might be lying to you and, and you know what, we might even be stealing your money, but we’re disclosing that possibility to you, therefore we’re protected. And then finally the SEC comes and says, let’s rewrite that a little bit because the SEC is, they’re, they’re dead on arrival. It’s the most useless reg, it’s almost as useless as the EPA or the FDA, almost. But they come in and they say, we’re gonna fix that at least. Right?

Michael Bixby:                    Well partially. So I mean, if you look at how that’s actually implemented, I think that there’s definite guidance there that we use in our cases. But the reality is, is the SEC using that in their prosecutions? Are they using that? Not so much.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah.

Michael Bixby:                    Really. So it’s there. There’s helpful things. The good news to me and the message is is that the investors who are in this stuff, they still have an option. They still have the ability, even if GWG through their bankruptcy, maybe there’s no money left at the end of the day. People who were sold this by their broker and financial advisor have hope. Those are the type of people that I’m representing, that our firm is representing, me, Peter Mougey, the rest of our team where we’re handling these claims and we’re fighting against these brokerage firms that knew. I mean, if you go back to 2015, there’s a research report before most of the people were even sold this thing. You know what it said about these things? It, it, it literally said that, rob Peter to pay Paul, borrow from Peter to pay Paul. It called it unrealistic assumptions. It said things like fantastical fantasies about this investment. So this was, this was known, the brokerage firms should have known this.

Mike Papantonio:             Don’t you expect your broker to know that? Isn’t it like going to a doctor and the doctor says, you know, I haven’t kept up with literature and I didn’t know they had something called a pacemaker that could save your life? I’m sorry. This is the same thing. I mean.

Michael Bixby:                    It’s exactly the same thing, Pap.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. I’m sorry. I didn’t see that article. I’m your broker. I’m the person you rely on. And the other problem is, is when you have a pension program that buys by the gazillions, nobody’s paying attention to that, are they?

Michael Bixby:                    That’s exactly right. And what the brokers wanna do, the financial advisors wanna do is when it comes down to brass tax, they wanna say I’m a used car salesman. They wanna say, no, I don’t actually owe you any duties and they’ll do that. You would not believe it. It shocks the clients that I represent.

Mike Papantonio:             It says, we, you ought to expect that from us because we’re, I don’t have an education. Do you realize part of the defenses I’ve seen is the broker says I really don’t have an education to do, to give you advice. I used to be a, literally I used to be a car salesman.

Michael Bixby:                    Yeah.

Mike Papantonio:             I used to be an insurance salesman, but now I’m your broker. We see it all the time, don’t we?

Michael Bixby:                    It’s, it’s wild. It’s unacceptable. And it’s something where we need to have people held accountable. That’s what we’re working to do.

Mike Papantonio:             Any chance you can get any of these guys thrown in jail?

Michael Bixby:                    I, I highly doubt that. But I do think that there’s at least something for being able to recover what people lost if we bring claims.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Michael Bixby, thank you for joining me. Okay.

Michael Bixby:                    Thanks, Pap.

Mike Papantonio:             That’s all for this week, but you can find all of today’s videos on YouTube channel at ring of fire. The videos are gonna be posted throughout the week and you can follow us on Twitter at America’s Lawyer. I’m Mike Papantonio and this has been America’s Lawyer where every week we tell you stories that corporate media won’t tell you because their advertisers don’t allow ’em to tell those stories or their political connections just won’t permit it. We’ll see you next time.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.