Jack Goldsmith: Live at Politics and Prose

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

This is live at politics and prose AH program from slate and politics and Prose Bookstore added to welcome Jack Goldsmith to politics and prose celebrating his newest longtime president of the International Brotherhood of teamsters since Goldsmith recounts how his childhood affection for O'Brien became more complicated was moved to uncover the truth about O'Brien Hoffa the mob the winning and then set out to unravel one of the twentieth century's most persistent mysteries Headed the office of Legal Counsel in the George W Bush administration awesome he has also authored tear presidency as well as powering constraint so please thank you very much to politics and prose for hosting this event thanks to you all for coming my tale begins in June of nineteen seventy five and I was twelve years old name was Charles Jackie O'Brien I did not have my birth father was not a terribly good father and he they got married in June of seventy five and I had known him for about six months before then I thought he was the greatest twelve years old six months after my mom married him front that was then called the Mockus Red Fox to this day there's this latest to forty five and the next thing we know he had his last phone call at three thirty may know was in the fifties and sixties one of the most well known ability he was an extraordinary Labor leader for the teamsters and he was also this huge large figure and he basically went to jail in aim the presidency of the teamsters win he was disappear probably had taken over control the teachers you much more than when he was president and they didn't want him back is lot of evidence of that but no evidence of what happened that day really disappearing until the year before he disappeared he met Hoffa when he was nine years old and he was by was Hoffa's illegitimate son because they were so close and they were just It was a circus the Hoffa disappearance was a circus I I was in the middle of it because I was this twelve year old kid who's stat new step dad who revered aspect to be to be briefed there was a lot of circumstantial evidence that pointed towards him being involved of the leading Detroit mobster who thought to have organized the hit Hoffa's hair so the next five years of my life was basically There teamsters union his union identity I came to revere the House I thought they were wonderful gentleman and I believe my stepfather when I he was my father and we were very close to Hoffa stuff which is out of control and the government was all over him the O'Brien and Jimmy Hoffa into Google you will find that that's the person who who when I got to college I read books about the Hoffa disappearance League's Ist it turned out my uncle Tony my uncles Tony were violent in high school also I came to worry that maybe my it came to revel in his making fun of education my values started be it won't be such a great thing to be an attorney especially if I have any ambitious it'd make very long story Short I cut chucky out have nothing to do with him I convinced myself at the time that he was a bad person that I was and it was brutal and hurt him quite a lot in ways that I didn't appreciate at the time I got out of law school I was working for Jay Harvey Wilkinson on the Fourth Circuit and the first thing he asked me to do sure I put down all my aliases I pointed out that I was my name was Jack O'Brien from the age of thirteen about a week later three two or three FBI agents come to Charlottesville where iron bells inside the FBI and they thought that they had access basically grilled me for a day very unexpected to me I didn't expect this at all and I thought I was I it's them that I didn't have my values and I convince them that I had separated myself from Turkey and I got the tossed chucky under the bus it it was from a career perspective it was a due to the writing this book and what it's about it's about what I'm telling you now is how legal counsel a job I never would have had never would have gotten had not done what I did to Chucky Twenty Gratien and to make another long story short and they're all sorts of problems in the program some of you may remember and I'm reading along and their two citations Hafa versus turned out it was a case involving Chuckie O'Brien when I was in Highschool Chucky at always I didn't believe him and I never knew about this case it turned out that was mostly Gli cleaning up decades of surveillance abused by the office of a mob person that he was close to so this was shocking to eight of my life comes back and just came rushing back to me the things that Chucky uh-huh some chucky basically in the large was right about the sixties I went through a lot of soul searching about my relationship with Chucky in my own virtue and an under appreciated his virtues and I appreciate it his situation air and but I couldn't really those charges either so I sympathize with him on that front but I didn't really appreciate it until I have my own children and when I began all of these reasons came together to lead me to ask for His forgiveness in his chair and I turned to him and I said I was wrong to do what I did to you twenty I didn't even have time we'd had a couple of days together it was like the good old days dyson I understand why you did what you did and that was it over the next seven years excuse me and over the course of these I didn't have any evidence and I didn't know anything about the case but just the way he talked about it in the way he revered Hoffa said I'm sure whatever I find whatever I discover about what happened in the Hoffa case he hesitated he hesitated at first I thought he would jump at this to have me other figure to him so he was basically being charged with patricide and it was terrible and life in the teamsters union and it just basically destroyed him you're so I told him I would do my best to try he finally came round and said Okay only the truth he looked at me with his eyes scans early FBI report about the case and it referred to Chucky as all of his friends say he's a notorious instead of challenges that my my main witness that I'm trying to clear an is unreliable nineteen seventies theories so many claims and counterclaims sifting I became friends with many of them I looked at thousands of pages of government cert- probably thousands of hours more than a thousand certainly talking about Sunni straight sometimes not answer usually try to deflect but over time he told me quite a of clearing him from the charge that he was the person who drove it to his death the government didn't talk about or didn't know about early in the case that developed chucky was not the person who drove all the to his death this is not known in public the case the case as it's known in the public today is much different from the case of the government talkie along the way and I think I succeeded in that but along the way fortunately the decline of Labor which he also represented the rise of the mob in the twentieth century do both diminish Labor and a lot about law enforcement and the FBI as I say became very close with and we became friends we spent twelve sessions together hours thing about it none of the FBI agents stopped assessing about it they still talk about and the the government did not treat chucky well chucky was a man who the public narrative that the government leaked on Chucky didn't match up at all with what the government person who did it to try to get him to try to pressuring him into talking in the hopes after the government figured out that he wasn't the person who did it the government accused the public eye of this thing and there was a mechanism for that there's no mechanism for putting that genie back in in two thousand thirteen. The government approach Chucky I approach them they approached Chucky invert interview tell the truth and he would get this letter chucky was he told the truth about everything and they agreed that he told the truth about everything it's and then let her never came and the letter never came because the political convinced for a whole bunch of reasons that I talk about in the book that he didn't do it they didn't give him the letter they also said in the introduction it's also history because this intersected very much with Hoffa's the transcripts of recordings of illegal bogs in the early nineteen sixty s and late nineteen chucky referred to as backup I e the Justice Department wrote memoranda in secret saying it's sixties it finally leaked out there was reform I tell the story of that but most extraordinarily and three or four different ways there is a connection between Hoffa went through and what I what I was to more to more of them and I'll stop one is there lots of historical ironies they're talking about Abi Kennedy who would after half a very very aggressively crossing several lines the teamsters members from this horrible person at the top of the union I can but the irony was that in his super aggressive the memo about Labor corruption really got going the late fifties and sixties you can see it if he can get rid of Hoffa to Kabaka from the top of the Teacher's Union that will get rid of the regarded the pension fund when he went away his very weak successor Frank Fitzsimmons for something that also Kennedy did not expect the third irony is that finally and I told this story as well finally led the government with some tools congress had given also that these amazing memo's internal department memos when they talk about my God sized and this time starting with Hoffa disappearance that led the government to so the mob miscalculated is I quote one of the items in the case if Jimmy Hoffa were still on the and this is the hardest topic to summarize disclosure about fathers and sons and he lost his father when he was seven years old his dad took off because he I figure he was he did it on his own chunkys father figures were Jimmy Hoffa but Jack Alania was the person that was behind at least involved in killed which and finally about my relationship with Turkey of how I looked when I was twenty and my respect is then and how it looked differently after I've been and I'm getting pretty old to and books reflection on that and some of the complications in our relationship book by do good read my question is you talked a lot about hold everything he knew that he would have gotten that letter I think it was some Barbara Mackay Equator they wanted to clear him because they hoped if they cleared him this was their theory to me and to condition the bay at every question that he asked I don't I mean a big part of the book I didn't mention this Chucky I'm family and his mother schooled him on Omerta the code of silence uncle his desire to help me write this truth will book that he knew I needed to write and doc I thank you for being here and putting stuff about fathers and sons live in Arkansas when your mom met Chuckie O'Brien and how did that happen and then second parties says basically he was the one who killed Hoffa and what do you think you think he's about a lot of things about fathers and sons but it's also about forgiveness we're talking what I learned about that but the main com made feedback I've gotten from my parents and the importance of forgiveness in those relationships and so I'm just a chucky was living in Detroit and my mom was actually living in Florida but with it was a very consequential woman amazing woman in Labor in mob circles and the about Hoffa call the Irish men which is based on a book called I heard you paint houses criminal a serious criminal and Shirin gave a confession that turned into the basis there's more to say about it but there's absolutely zero evidence to support it no but it's a very cleverly written book and now it's the basis for a motion picture so and I haven't read the seen the movie yet but in the book he has chucky picking up offer because that's what the conventional I suspect the Scorsese movie is going to be more influential than my wonder how this grenade landing in the middle of your family of the Hoffa I was twelve and my brothers were seven and she had mental health problems before this event and grant grand jury which she actually didn't have to attend because of her mental health problems that about those five years this is seems impossible was happiness because sports events we did everything together I don't remember it I am sure I've suppressed a again information about information that turned out to be truthful about the realized was true right but you had inside information to learn that it was her dagger hoover the FBI Director finally became advant convinced for a whole bunch of reasons in the late fifties that survey `lance to gather intelligence on mom figures and this started in the late fifties has the government when the government revealed all this illegal they confessed heir to the court they said what they thought legal basis was they said they'd stopped doing these things out that Turkey's case was one of those he got lucky because of this of these and one of the many things I learned in writing this book was now we live there was dramatic paranoia in the early sixties there were story very much like what we talked about today and Hoffa had lots of reasons to think that he was being surveilled he learned about it then he didn't learn about the extent of it the reason I know about the extent of it is because isn't in public now as part of believe it or not the nineteen eighties investigation oh I got access to all of these documents but chucky learned about it in the sixties thank you yeah Jason give any sense or general comment you'd like to the fifties and sixties and forties and seventies then again about today edge rate how powerful the teamsters union was in the fifties and sixties and they were powerful because Hoffa announced failing to deliver are failing deliveries to happen at crucial strategic points he could put Alpha was extremely successful in in growing the power and considered narrowly he was good for Labor in terms of being good for the teamsters at least I prefer a whole bunch of reasons in part because of his commitments he thought that they were captured by various interests had this conventional corruption in counterfactual world he could have led labor in a very different direction ultimately easily indifference to the corruption and criminality around him and very sweeping generalities but I think on the whole Hoffa though brilliant and very was his predecessor and he was they both some are a bargaining techniques that hoffa perfected he wasn't the charismatic cash everywhere on a believe it for it was confirmed by a whole lot of things I've found in my research but titians off to by judges off to buy off anyone who would help him and he identified his yes thank you and you said the FBI did know who did it and who do they say I talk I kind of triangulate and figured out what their current theory is that the they think who did it they think that veto Dak alumnae who was in mentioned the name for reasons I'll explain they think they know the person was who actually killed Hoffa the last of a dozen digs look for Hoffa so they think they know does for a couple of reasons and I'm not sure where I should have drawn the line I didn't mention his name in the and as a as a suspect my publisher wanted me to mention the other name but mm that turned out not to be true and this gentleman is dead he died based on conversations with people in Detroit and the government that they are going I love the book and I'm a victim starting with Dan Monday years in Steve Brill and everybody else auto was likely involved in it is it appropriate to ask you how you think it connects he wasn't supposed to tell me but he did tell me some things that he wasn't supposed to tell me S. has been widely suspected since nineteen seventy five involved in the surprising that Tony Pro Uncle Tony when I was growing up that it's not surprising that Uncle Tony there's that the Havi hit was approved by the Commission The New York Commission in New York everyone so is the decision made their tony pro for a variety and Detroit especially Anthony Jack Loney there's a lot of of the of the intensity and the dates and some of the other calls they made looks very the other questions Professor Goldsmith thank whatever happened to Tony Provenzano's pool table excellent man I met in my life and he had some other descriptions as men who always in a bathing suit and his dale home where we would often go to hang early into pool and I love that pool table I asked him where he got it and where I could get one appropos table in our garage Jack Aranda in plantation which I adore but I don't know what happened to it I think about Tony per every time I play pool and the question I had kind of goes to the conversation you had with chuck other conversations you had with him he tried to attract a lot of that and so towards the end of the book you talk a little I guess the question is you know Kinda talk through you know that because it at the makes plain what was just ask for several encounter stand so and he always had his mother's visage in his in the back of his heads every I didn't push him because I actually came to respect his I mean it seems bizarre but even while not so confessing everything and then one day my mom had a heart attack mm said take him to lunch at seasons fifty two in the food we'll call him down this is a point you too and I just reflexively hit the voice recorder on my and so we were talking along and we weren't even talking we're talking about for this interview of the government came up and I just said without even it's clear that he and Anthony were involved and Chucky I talked about it in a way that was very credible and he had never there's to tell me a whole bunch of things and I learned a lot in that conversation the moment hoffa disappeared Chucky was in this vice he was not involved but he pressure from the government is coming down on him the government the mob was worried that Jackie was going to break flip so he about the background not do what happened that afternoon. I don't believe he knows

Coming up next