An Author Investigates His Family Ties To Jimmy Hoffa's Disappearance

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Support for this podcast and the following message come from cohnresnick whose business of baseball and original MLB video series shares key insights on the business side of America's America's pastime for a game changing strategies to help your business visit cohnresnick dot com slash mlb from whyy in Philadelphia. I'm Terry very gross with fresh air today. New Insights into the nineteen seventy five disappearance of the mob connected Labour leader Jimmy Hoffa who's portrayed by Al Pacino Achino insecure says he's new film the Irishman we talk with Jack Goldsmith who stepfather Chuck O'Brien spent decades at Hoffa side willing to do anything for his is boss like intimidate nosy journalists he purchased ahead of a cadaver put it in a box wrapped up the box and Senate to Martin Hayden. Who is the editor of the Detroit News when Hafa disappeared authorities fingered O'Brien as a prime suspect goldsmiths new memoir about investigating his stepfather's involvement in Hoffa's disappearance and about the abuse of Government Power Goldsmith headed George W Bush's Office of Legal Counsel where he challenged warrantless wiretapping and retracted memos that legally justified torture the new Martin Scorsese film the Irishman will introduce a new generation of Americans to Jimmy Hoffa the tough mob connected leader of the teamsters union who vanished and was presumed murdered in Nineteen seventy-five Hoffa's disappearance as one of the greatest unsolved unsolved crimes of the twentieth century our guest Jack Goldsmith has a close family connection to Jimmy Hoffa and his mysterious demise Goldsmith Smith is a Harvard law professor but he's best known for having headed the office of Legal Counsel in the George W Bush administration during his tenure he challenged warrantless wiretapping program and withdrew to memos written before his tenure justifying the use of torture in the war against terrorism goldsmiths new memoir in Hoffa's shadow is about his investigation into his stepfather's role in Hoffa's disappearance Goldsmith Stepfather Chuck O'Brien was a close associate of office for decades and when Hoffa disappeared O'Brien was suspected of having driven him to his execution. O'Brien is portrayed in Scorsese's Garcetti's new film by Jesse Plummets Al Pacino Plays Hoffa Jack Goldsmith spoke with fresh air's Davies. Will Jack Goldsmith welcome to fresh. I share this is quite a story and there's a couple of generations of Americans who don't remember Jimmy Hoffa. So why don't you just tell us a little bit about who he was and his place in the American Labor movement sure thank you for having me on Jimmy. Hoffa was the president of the teamsters union from nineteen fifty. Seven in two thousand nine hundred sixty seven the teamsters union was at the time the largest union union in the country and the most powerful Hoffa rose to become the ahead of the Teacher's Union from Detroit where he where he expanded his power over the decades he was simultaneously the best known Labor leader in the country the most powerful Labour leader in the country and also probably the most corrupt he had ties to organized crime. He was defiant of the law aw but he was much beloved by the members of his union because he was very successful in raising their standards of living right and of course he was was driven from the presidency of the teamsters after some criminal convictions of the Justice Department went after him in a very big way and then nineteen seventy five he disappeared appeared and is presumed to have been murdered. That's one of the great unsolved cases of the twentieth century. You're I guess in about eighth grader so then right and I was twelve years old. I think I was in okay. What was I in sixth grade. Okay and your family's life intersected with this case in a very personal way explain thing that for us six before Hoffa disappeared which was on July Thirtieth nineteen seventy five my mother married a man named Charles Chuckie O'Brien and I and it turned out that Chuckie O'Brien who was my stepfather at that point was Jimmy Hoffa's longtime right hand man and most intimate aid and and then after the disappearance six weeks after my mom married him he soon became the leading suspect in the disappearance and he was believed that he picked up Hoffa at enter outside of a restaurant where he was waiting and delivered him to his killers. How did this affect you and your family life well. It had an just an extraordinary impact. I it's hard to exaggerate how what a national circus the office appearance was. it was front page news news and on the evening news every night for weeks it was the largest one of the two largest investigations the FBI ever had chucky. Chucky was the central suspect on the front pages every day and so our lives were completely overwhelmed by it my mother at the time had been suffering from severe mental health issues and they got a lot worse because of this understandably and so it basically was a life record. He was accused on the front page of every newspaper then in ever since of basically picking up his man it was like a father to him and taking them to his death. Wow and you're a kid kid. what did it feel like was twelve years old when the disappearance happened. It was a discombobulating time to put it mildly. I had the new stepfather and I loved my stepfather. He had immediately from the time I met him. I had met him about six months earlier and we have become intensely close. He he was he was had a huge influence in my life he was incredibly loving and supportive and gave me attention that I'd never received my my real father father left when I was very young and so I was deeply loyal to him and then this happened and he portrayed it as a setup at the time and and I basically believe him at the time believed everything else he told me at the time about the mob the government set up and the like and but but having said that it was it was still very very difficult because we were bombarded with newspaper reporters and accusations my mom's mental my mom's health was spinning out of Control and my new stepfather what seemed to be in terrible trouble. What was chucky like. Tell us about it so he was he was amazing. I I mean he wasn't he was not a man who was well educated and he was not someone who I see now from my current perspective who care much about the law but he had varies firm sense of right and wrong and he taught us right from wrong in a in a in a way that had a huge impact on my life the main thing I can say about him. It was that despite all of his troubles he spent all of his time every second second of his free time devoted to be my two brothers and just everything we did and it's it's hard to exaggerate what an impact this had on me because as as I say I was basically fatherless for the first twelve years and it was the first time any male attention had ever come my way to that degree and so he basically did everything we wanted to do. We went to distant cower bookstores to get caught books. He always seemed to be able to get tickets to sports events. Even though he always had money troubles he went to all of Var athletic events he had big Cook cookouts for my team and he was just a hugely supportive loving father right and there were a couple of mob figures that he was close to you got to now right sure one was Anthony Jack alumnae a senior organized crime official in Detroit and another was Anthony Providence auto teamsters official and a member of the Genovese Genovese family in New Jersey and of course when I was a teenager I didn't know any of this. I mean I read the newspapers and saw them referred to his mobsters but to me they were uncle Tony and knuckle Tony and they were you know upstanding gentlemen. Uncle Tony Jacklin was impeccably dressed. He had a beautiful apartment that we used to go to a lot uncle. Tony Province Zano had an amazing pool table and we used to play there a lot and he ended up giving us that Pool Table One day so I was very close close to these people who are being described in the newspapers these horrible violent mobsters but to me they were family. Part of this book is sort of a look at the American labor movement and Jimmy Hoffa's is life and it's fascinating you know he had a reputation as a guy who was you know violent and corrupt you kind of the worst of the American labor movement and you argue so there's really more to his story. tell us what people don't know about. Hoffa his life and motivations. There's much more to a story and I I really do think that only one half of of Hoffa's career has been told the one you just described he came up through organized labor the hard way in the nineteen thirties thirties which was the most violent time in American labor history he was in constantly fighting with police in management in truly violent street fights where employers with the state behind it was truly violent towards efforts to organized labor unions at a time time when the American worker was just a terrible terrible shape so this is the Worl- he grew up in as a young man and it colored the way he looked at Labor labor relations with management and the government for the rest of his life and he basically assumed from that early period when he saw the state and management together fighting unions and violent ways he basically assumed and believed that was the way of the world ever since and that shaped his outlook he was also it's not well known but but he was also a true genius and this is not a word that it's not just something. I think it's what Labor stories who studied his career has had that a true genius at bargaining organizing and he built out the Teamsters Union and he leveraged the power over transportation and the ability to shutdown transportation which was at the heart of the economy to expand his power nationwide to the point where right at the height of his career right when he was the height of his criminal trouble he he one of an historic nationwide labor pact that was really the highlight of his has twenty years of dramatically expanding wages and benefits for the hundreds of thousands of people in the union that was actually over a million at that point so he was a very important person in the Labor movement and very consequential and very good at what he did despite the fact that as you say he was a serial real lawbreaker and had all sorts of Krupp ties and it's pretty remarkable to have gotten a national contract for truck drivers when you consider the fact that you know of truck. The trucking industry was pretty decentralized. You're talking about hundreds of different employers and all all over the country and what's interesting as you tell. The story is that one of the ways he got so connected to the mob was in trying to get all of these different locals unified and negotiating together for National Komo contract and in he was from Detroit but a lot of the locals in the east had some serious mob ties how did that affect his relationship with organized crime. His relationship relationship with organized crime began earlier in Detroit in the nineteen forties but the relationship between Unions in Detroit and the mob there one of arms length than the mob didn't control unions in Detroit but when Hoffa tried to expand his power nationally he met an encountered lots lots of unions that were mob-controlled especially in the east in New York New Jersey and basically and he also had to it was important to get get a national contract to slow down wages in the large cities so he could bring up wages elsewhere so that basically it meant that the unions in the big cities would have to at least least in the short term take a hit so to make a long story short he basically had to accommodate the mob that controlled these unions in order to both win win the presidency of the Union and achieve his goal of winning national contract and for Hoffa. I don't think he blinked I. I don't think he gave it. A second thought. His basic nick view was that he would do business with anyone on any terms which he found advantageous to him and his union and so I think that his deal with the mob in the east to win their support for going slow on wages and giving them support for the presidency for half of that just like bargaining with employers or bargaining or you know giving money to politicians judges that he thought would bring him in advantage. It's interesting is that he was not particularly attracted to mob life mob culture right yeah this is this is something that Chucky taught me that I certainly didn't appreciate from my research. HOFFA's always referred to as mobbed up mob connected and that's certainly true he had had relations with the mafia all over the country but they were always at arm's length and as Chucky said to me he never really understood the Italians he didn't understand the rituals he didn't understand the code of silence he didn't understand how kissed each other when they saw each other and he didn't understand the organization Asian he basically dealt with the person in charge of the place or in the context where he needed help and that was often with the mob and he just picked uh-huh viewed it as a transaction like his other transactions now the most significant transactions he had were with loaning money to to the mob for various projects that they had and that brought off a huge huge amounts of money personally and for the teamsters union and but for him as I say it wasn't like he was hanging out going to dinner with these guys or spending a lot of time with them he was for him. It was just part of doing business. didn't drink right worked around around the clock. He was a workaholic. He didn't drink he with He was very very moralistic. He didn't like it when guys screwed around Indus he would say when some of his people that worked for him or having affairs he was strangely moralistic given that he was such a serial lawbreaker he he spent almost all of his waking hours with the locals hanging out with members of the Union listening to them he gave away his telephone number and he would literally feel collect phone calls day and night from any member of the Union he he was extraordinarily narrowly committed to his union and that's where it's been all the time even when he was on trial and he had many many trials he would go to trial in the morning and then in the afternoon in the hotel where they had a sweet he would he would spaces set up an office on the road and spend the afternoon and evening doing union business as Hoffa was having these battles and building his union career career a year. Stepdad chucky was with him. You didn't know him yet that that that came later but as you came to understand it what was chunkys relationship ship with Hoffa and his role in the Union chucky met Hoffa when he was nine years old he was introduced to him by his mother Sylvia Pagano now and Soviet began. I was actually a very important person in the story because she introduced Tafa to the mob in Detroit and other mobsters around the country when she was a very consequential figure in Hamas relationships with organized crime so chucky new Hoffa and was close to him since he was nine on years old and then when he was eighteen he wanted to get a job in the union and Hof eventually gave him a very low level job as an organizer as business agent but then when Hoffa became president of the Union in Nineteen fifty seven when Chucky was just twenty three years old he asked Chucky Chucky to basically be a special assistant and from that point on from nineteen fifty seven until Hoffa went to prison in Nineteen seventy-one. CECCHI was basically the always at Hoffa's side. He was basically I'm in fact totem seems like it's not a very attractive where but that's basically what he was. He took care care of anything and everything. HOFFA needed from meals to organizing meetings to collecting intelligence. He was also a bodyguard he would tiniest high in the morning because off a never was very good at tying tie. He was basically his round around the clock assistant but it was more than just that they were. They were extremely extremely close in everyone believed because they were so close and because Hoffa was always covering for truckee or showing affection to chucky that he'd usually didn't shut others. Everyone assumed and it was widely rumored. That Hoffa was actually his real father. You don't think that's the case I spent a lot of time digging and I do not believe that's the case. I think the reason people believe that is because Hoffa was very very close to chuck his mother Sylvia and because he had served such showed such affection to Chucky but no. I don't believe that's the case I mean if for no other reason than that at the time chucky was born in the year two before there's no reason to think that Jackie's mother and Hoffa were in the same town or near one another but also cecchi insists that it wasn't true and I believe he would do almost anything for Jimmy Hoffa wooder order a couple of the wilder moments in in his service of of Demi off. He said to me many times that he would do anything for Jimmy Hoffa some of the stories I recount in the book. are one of the funniest ones I guess it's funny is the time when Hoffa was complaining about the editor of the Detroit news who was incessantly excessively pounding Hoffa and his corruption in the like in a way that Hoffa thought was unfair and he told Chucky to take care of it and do whatever he needed to get the gadget to tone it down so chucky got the brilliant idea of going to the Wayne County morgue where he purchased a cadaver or purchased. I should say the head cadaver. Put it in a box wrapped up the box and put a note in he didn't tell me what the note said and send it to Martin. Hayden who is the editor of the Detroit. News is to us his reaction was. We don't know what his reaction was. I'm and I actually was able to confirm the story through a variety of sources um I'm but I wasn't Hayden's no longer with us and I wasn't able to figure out what his reaction was. So Hamas big enemy for a long long time was Bobby Kennedy who I went after Hoffa and the teamsters as an investigator for a Senate Committee and there was clearly deep personal title and animosity between these two men he then after his brother. Jack Kennedy was elected President Bobby Kennedy became the Attorney General and he he kept going after after Hoffa seeking criminal convictions and some eventually secured Kennedy was as attorney general very aggressive with surveillance of Hoffa and others was it legal surveillance so there was a lot of illegal surveillance going on during Bobby Kennedy's tenure as attorney general and end large swath of it were clearly illegal the the bugging was going on against organized crime at the time was flew in the face of clear Supreme Court directives the that it wasn't allowed you weren't allowed to bug a private abode through a break in which is what the FBI was doing. Kennedy was also and his department were also super aggressive surveilling Hoffa personally sometimes through wiretaps and bugs Hoffa was never able to prove Kennedy. acted illegally against him on. There's some evidence in the in the book that I was able to collect that shows does it maybe there was some illegal surveillance against Hoffa but more generally in addition to the legal surveillance it was all around Hoffa and through which the Department of Justice and the FBI. We're learning a lot about HOFFA including about his trials. Kennedy just pushed the envelope in terms of prosecutorial discretion and throwing all of his resources against Hoffa in being super super aggressive in using every trick in the book in the way that he talked about the case in public his brother at the first debate in against Nixon pledged that he became president he and his brother. We're going to put off in jail so there were a lot of ways that he crossed the line surveillance being one of them. We're listening to the the interview fresh. Air's Dave Davies recorded with Jack Goldsmith author of the new book in Hoffa's shadow a stepfather disappearance in Detroit and my search for the truth breath after a break go smith talk about his efforts to get to the bottom of his stepfather's involvement in the Hoffa case and what happened when he talked to the F. B. I. Agents who worked on the investigation. I'm Terry Gross and this is fresh air support for this podcast and the following message come from Adt in abt medical alert system system can give you confidence at home and miles away with wireless two way communication GPS location services fall detection and compassionate care from Adt Adt. What do you want to protect your own independence and freedom. Maybe it's your mom or dad whatever it is. Nobody has more ways to help. Keep you safe than the health professionals she knows at Adt Visit Adt dot com slash health to learn more. Let's get back to the interview fresh. Air's Dave Davies recorded with Jack Goldsmith. Both he's a Harvard law professor and was a top government lawyer in the George W Bush administration but his new book in office shadow is about his stepfather Chuck O'Brien Brian who was a close associate of the tough mob connected Labour leader Jimmy Hoffa who disappeared and was presumed murdered in nineteen seventy five O'Brien as a character in the new Martin Scorsese film the Irishman. He's played by Jesse plummets. Jimmy Hoffa is portrayed by Al Pacino Chuck O'Brien came came into Goldsmith's life just weeks before Hoffa vanished when O'Brien married Goldsmith mother he would soon be named by the FBI as a suspect and Hoffa's this disappearance so all of this remarkable stuff about Hoffa's career his battles with Kennedy has self-enrichment his ties with the law his eventual conviction and imprisonment happens before so you get to know your stepfather chucky he comes into your life right around the time that Hoffa disappears nineteen seventy five and you find him a loving and devoted father for many years years after that in fact you change your name from Jack Goldsmith to Jack O'Brien taking your Stepdad's name but then your attitude attitude towards him changes. Tell us why what happened. What happened so what happened was? I went to college and when I went to college is a lot of things started changing. I I started to think about my future in my life in a way that I really hadn't before I got to college. I wasn't a terribly serious high school student and I hadn't really focused on my life beyond high school. When I was in high school in College I began for the first time to read some of the new books about Hoffa disappearance and these new books painted chucky and Uncle Tony like Loni uncle Tony Province Zano and an objectively unflattering lights and so the the kind of myth that checking head perpetuated when I was a teenager in that are bought completely by the time I got to college. I started added to see that there was a quite different reality behind that also in college. I started to become embarrassed by Chucky. I used to revel in his Labor identity entity in the union identity. I used to revel in or at least enjoy his rough language and his his indifference a different status his his nickname for me was even in high school but especially in college the educated idiot which was kind of indicative of how he thought about the education he'd. He didn't think much of Education He. He got his education in the streets. Any thought book learning was was worthless I used to I became to have a different attitude about that. one afternoon in my sophomore year my car was repossessed by very thuggish looking repo man in a way a car that chucky had given me and he had not been able to make the payments on it and the car was taken away from me in a very embarrassing and threatening way and that kind of scared me and I started to think maybe my cessation chucky will have bad impact or a dangerous impact on my life and then finally I started thinking in in college but especially in law school all about my career and I decided in college that I wanted to be a lawyer and I started to think that maybe wouldn't be such a great thing to be a lawyer and especially if I want work in the government which had a dim ambition to do at the time it wouldn't be so great to be associated with the leading suspect in the disappearance and his organized crime friends right so you actually get your name changed back to Jack Goldsmith and you write your step data letter. Would you tell them. How did he respond the week. After graduation he came to my graduation and I as I recall I was a bit distant at my graduation and towards him a week after graduation. I was in Memphis Tennessee where I was born. I was working there for the summer and I decided the week after graduation something I've been thinking about for the last year or so that I was going to change my name at which at the time was O'Brien since he adopted me back to Goldsmith which was my the name of the job was born since I was born in Memphis and had done the name change there. It was easy for me to do there so on father's Day in nineteen eighty I wrote him a letter kind of strangely upbeat letter wishing him fathers happy father's Day telling him how much I loved him and telling him that the name change which I told him about in a phone call a week earlier was no big deal. I still loved him but that I just wanted to have my own name and I tried to be upbeat about it. it was a pretty unconvincing letter to read it today. He responded by sending me an extraordinary eight or nine page letter written on the stationary of the International Brotherhood of teamsters handwritten in his kind of looping cursive handwriting and it was something that he later told me he spent a week on all round the clock. He talked a lot the people about it he practiced his handwriting wouldn't make spelling mistakes and it was just an extraordinary letter about how much he loved me and how her he he wasn't what I did. And how much did it hurt my family my my little brothers who still O'Brien my mother but it was also a letter that it said you have to decide for yourself sign. You're an adult and you have to make decisions for yourself and I can accept this. It's going to hurt me a lot but I accept it and I love you very very much. That's a short summary of what was really an extraordinary letter but that's basically what it said and then you you really barely had any contact with him for like close to twenty years right so that was in one thousand nine hundred eighty by the time. I got to law school in eighty six. I basically decided that I wasn't GonNa talk to him anymore. And I basically cut him out of my life and I it was kind of brutal about it. and we didn't speak again. We barely spoke again. I didn't see him for a couple of decades. you graduated from Yale Law School and and and you ended up having a very eventful turn as the head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in the George W Bush administration when you encountered the enhanced interrogation techniques that were being used in the wake of nine eleven as well as the surveillance of American citizens and wrote legal memoranda undermining the justifications for that which lead to some serious confrontations nations in the government. You wrote a whole book about this. It's been written about a fair amount you left after I guess nine months but I bring it up because I wonder if mm-hmm you're looking at you know the unconstrained power of government had something to do with reconsidering your relationship with chuck it did in a any kind of surprising moment and then a reflection on that moment or during my time in government when I was working on I'm trying to understand the warrantless wiretapping program that had been in place since two thousand one this was in the fall of two thousand three or the late fall two thousand three in the middle of working on that case on about warrantless wiretapping. I came across an important Supreme Court opinion that had a citation in it to O'Brien versus United United States and I thought that strange and it was in the mid nineteen sixties. I knew that was the time when Chucky was having some troubles with the government in connection with Hoffa so I looked up the case and it was actually a case about my stepfather chucky and it was actually a case where the government had illegally surveilled in a way that overheard conversations the lawyer and the Supreme Court had basically invalidated the conviction and ordered retrial so this was an extraordinary moment for me `but berth for lots of reasons when I was a teenager chucky always kind of gone on in his not really illegally informed but insistent way that the government always cut corners corners. He called it back up. The government always was able to break the law in secret when they were going after people in public for breaking the law and he'd always said that he had a famous Supreme Court case and that the government in had surveilled him illegally and I really didn't believe any of it and I didn't know about this case in law school and I didn't believe any of that stuff that he had said and here I was in the Justice Department working on a program that was could be described as legal cutter corner cutting to put it nicely involving surveillance program and seeing smart lawyers who had worked on this case who had made what I viewed as opportunistic interpretations to help support an intelligence Pittsburgh with the president to meet the enemy within so to speak and in some sense exactly what he had said to me when I was a teenager turned out to be true and I was in the Justice Department so in a different context of course so that was a moment certainly didn't flip on a dime right there and say okay. I forgive chucky. I was wrong about everything but that was the moment in which I started to rethink him and me and my what I'd done to him and May and I started rethink that maybe I wasn't so smart and I wasn't isn't so justified in my moral superiority to him when I was younger man and in my really poor treatment of him the during my young adult wow so you left the Justice Department in mid two thousand four and this would have been nearly thirty years after Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance nearly thirty years after Chucky was identified publicly is the guy who probably drove Hoffa to his death. how widely widely known and widely shared and celebrated was his alleged role in this. I mean the Reef Hollywood films with him as a character right it was it's not just it. It's assumed truth everywhere you look there are dozen books who have placed. Chucky in the car picking up Hoffa. There are a couple of movies. There's the Jack Nicholson Movie Hoffa. I think that was in the eighties. there are thousands upon thousands of stories that have placed he's talking in the car. The reason that the public believes and has believe since nineteen seventy five that he was the person who actually picked up profit drove him to his death is because that was the early. FBI Theory it was mentioned in an early FBI report that was leaked to the press and that early report from nineteen seventy six has basically been assumed assumed truth about the case ever since then and it certainly was in two thousand four and frankly it is today if you if you will O'Brien and Hoffa you will find thousands of story story saying he drove Pompidou's death right and there's a new Martin Scorsese film coming out the Irishman and Chuck Isa character played by Jesse Plans Chucky is the character played by Jesse Clemens. I haven't seen the film obviously but the book upon which it is based like every book that's been written about. This basically in every story has chucky in the carpet NAPA NAPA. We're speaking with Jack Goldsmith. His new memoir is in Hoffa's shadow a stepfather a disappearance in Detroit and my search for the truth. We'll talk more after a short break. This is fresh air. This message comes from NPR sponsor Panera bread. Ask Yourself. One was the last time you had a meal that was fresh and filling filling. PINERA's new warm grain bowls are full of flavorful ingredients like hardy keen wa Spicy Salsa Verde and creamy avocado full of flavors textures and colors full all of good so you'll be full of good to try a new bar or Mediterranean warm grain bowl warm grain bowls full of good now available for delivery Panera food as is it should be. I think it's time for a big change all right. What does that mean. I think it's time to make the NPR politics podcast a daily podcast. Well we do have more than ample news news you and I are on the campaign trail like nonstop and now there's an impeachment inquiry into president trump so starting this week the NPR politics podcast will be in your feed every every weekday to keep you up to date ahead of the twenty twenty elections subscribe wherever you get your podcast the NPR politics podcast now five days a week this is fresh air and we're speaking king with Jack Goldsmith. He headed the office of Legal Counsel in the George W Bush administration for time where he was involved in critical battles over the legality of interrogation techniques warrantless surveillance of American citizens his new memoir focuses on a very different story his stepfather. Chuck O'Brien's close connection to Labour leader Jimmy Hoffa offer and the suspicion many held for years that O'Brien was connected to Hamas nineteen seventy-five disappearance Jag. Goldsmith's book is called in Hoffa's chateau auto you eventually decide. You're going to try and get to the bottom of at least chunkys role well first of all. How did you reconcile reconciled with him. What was that look so it happened at Christmas of two thousand four about six months after government and my wife Hyphen my two very young sons and I went down there to see my mother for Christmas for the last twenty years I refused visit my mom with one exception exception when Chucky was there because I just didn't want to even be seen with him but I decided this time for a bunch of reasons that it would be fine if he were there. He was actually quite sick. He had had heart surgery he had died of diabetes and my mom basically said I can't ask him to leave. If you WANNA come down here he's going to be here. In any event. I have been thinking being in the months before that I had terribly wrong tim earlier when I had renounced him in basically cut him out of my life and I had come to realize what extraordinary pain and I had caused him in large part because a my own children I really appreciate the time when I was twenty one when I sent him but I basically basically changed my name and renounced him. I had just had no conception of how painful that could even though my mom had told me how bad it was and it was really having my own children was also reflecting on how could have moralistic and writes. I was thinking he was a bad person and I was a good person. I came to think that it was is much more complicated than that especially after I had been knee deep in some problematic activities in the government a whole bunch of things led me to change my mind and want to apologize to him and Bay but it happened one night very simply we were when I got down there. I was nice to him for the first time in twenty five years. He responded as if nothing ever happened. We had a great couple of days together. We Cook Together. We shop together. He was to care my baby children and then one night when we were watching Seinfeld in a commercial. I just turned to him and I said to him. I'm so very sorry sorry for what I did for you. For the last twenty years I was wrong and I hope you'll forgive me and let me come back into your life and he looked at me with his puzzled expression and he started crying and he basically said you don't need to apologize. I understand why you did what you did and that was basically it and we that was it we from that moment on we. He never brought it up again. We talked about it sometimes the decade later but never in any in any way that think caused him to bring up those twenty years in a bad way and after that we grew very very close through conversation and travelled together in the like still painful to think about that it's every time I think about what I did to him and went the paint. He went through. It's very painful. Yes you decide you're. I'M GONNA try and get to the bottom of Chunkys at least chunkys role in the Hoffa case and you know your lawyer. You're you're. You're skilled investigator. What did you do. What did you find so I decided after years of talking to him. After we reconciled just just having you know casual conversations hoffa would come up the disappearance would come up and I kind of became convinced that he didn't do it and the the main reason I became convinced was because of the way he revered Hoffa and spoke about Hoffa and also because the circumstances in which he was alleged to have done it but he didn't didn't add up to me so what did I do. did everything I could. I basically talked to every FBI investigator that ever worked the case starting with the original four FBI investigators who are on the case to in Detroit one in New Jersey one in New York. I spent a dozen sessions with them. Their extraordinary men and we actually actually improbably in probably became friends over the course of our mutual investigation into figuring out what happened what actually happened in the disappearance I read boxes and boxes of government documents some of which are publicly available redacted a lot of which I got my hands on through various sources that have never been revealed and talked about before I spoke to the FBI investigator who was on the case for fifteen years for the longest and I followed up leads that suggested that the FBI starting in the nineties started to think chucky perhaps wasn't involved so I followed that lead up and it turned out when when I done that I learned more about why the F. B. I thought that Chucky may be had not done it. In Indiana concluded that he had not done it and they had reason to think someone else did so at least a a whole bunch of evidence together I figured out the holes in the circumstantial case against him and I came up with a whole bunch of reasons why I didn't think he was able to dumb what he what he was alleged to have done that day and on July thirtieth nineteen seventy five and finally I think the the clenching piece of evidence if you WanNa call all of that is the FBI itself and several agents and US attorneys assisting attorneys that I talked to were completely commence. He was innocent indeed. They were on the verge of exonerating him. Jack Goldsmith new book is called in Hoffa's shadow. We'll continue our conversation in just a moment. This is fresh air support for fresh air and the following message passage come from rocket mortgage by quicken loans. 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One in a year now convinced and many others that that Chucky was not complicit in office disappearance but you I always believed that he probably does know things about what happened. what did you get him to tell you. So one of the themes of the book is chucky struggles Duggal with Omerta. an America is the code of silence that is one of the defining commitments in the Italian syndicate and Chucky was not a member of the mafia he was half Sicilian and half Irish therefore he couldn't be a member but he always completely imbibed Sicilian values as he put it any completely adhered to America and he did so because his mother and Uncle Tony Jack Loney and all all the people on the mafia side of his life had not convinced him. This is just the way of the world so this was very important for him not to tell things. He wasn't supposed to talk about on the other hand. He knew that he needed to be truthful with me and then he knew that I wanted to write a credible book so he ended up telling me quite a lot about a lot of things but not everything he didn't tell me. I'm convinced everything he knew but he did. Tell me quite a lot about especially the run up to the disappearance. It's and I think the basic conspiracy the disappearance and he told me enough certainly to convince me of what the horrible situation he faced after the disappearance in between the government Kaha for family and the mob he was an impossible position there and enough to convince me that he in fact didn't pick up off of that day right. How do you regard his insistence instance ongoing to his grave with secrets well. I don't know how many secrets he's taking to his grave but he certainly taking some secrets to his grave and I'm of two minds about it mostly. I certainly didn't try to didn't push him to tell me things he didn't WanNa. Tell me and we had this very complicated relationship over years and years of talking where he was trying his best to tell me things and sometimes indirectly pointing things and I was asking question after question interrogating him but I was always not wanting to go too far because I didn't want him to cross any lines is he wasn't supposed to cross to replace this dance for years that we were both aware of and for most of the time especially starting out I thought that his commitment to America was self serving and probably unprincipled and I didn't really understand it but I have to say by the end and I I did come to understand it at least in this sense for Chucky. It was the really in some ways. The most important thing is life. It was the principal of honor that that he grew up with and that he always adhered to and frankly was the thing he held onto for forty five years after the disappearance when he could've sat other things things to to sort of exonerate himself and didn't do you think that the Hoffa case will ever be solved. I'm not sure it will ever be solved in the sense that we will find Hoffa's body or remains or that will know exactly what happened in the parking lot in outside aside. The Marcus Red Fox on July thirtieth nineteen seventy five what happened there the FBI currently has what it thinks is a new theory of the case if it believes it believes that Hoffa was picked up by veto Jack Alani who was the brother of Anthony Jacqueline and it believes it knows who the murderer you're is. What's the brother of your uncle. Tony when you wouldn't Speedo Jack Lonnie otherwise known as billy was the brother of Tony. I never met veto and it believes it knows who the killer was. He was someone who was a low level. organized crime figure in the seventies who rose to pretty significant prominence in the family lane who died earlier this year. I don't name the person in the book because I don't know what the basis of the. FBI's judgment is told me. Several people told me that they have surveillance evidence and informed evidence that makes it think that this is what actually happened to Hoffer at least who is involved. I it beyond that I don't know and I don't think the FBI has a clenching case. I think they have basically information about who they did it but not how and and that kind of the irony is that in broader sense it was sort of clear from the beginning that Hoffa wa- was engaged in a course of conduct trying to return to the presidency of the teamsters teamsters in attacking the then president Frank Fitzsimmons and his mob ties and was making enemies. Yes he and he brought this on himself self quite literally and in the book. I give a lot of new detail about the run up to the disappearance. The disappearance based on everything we know and everything reporting the book was is a perfectly predictable consequence of Hamas behavior. He was basically threatening to reveal how the mob and infiltrated the teamsters and he was threatening that in a credible way and that's basically why he was killed House chucky now. He's he's not in great shape. He has a bunch of medical problems and he goes up and down he still with us but he's not in great shape as he has he seen and read the book he has read the book yet. Some what did he think well. I showed him the book before I decide side to publish it. I originally was going to wait until after he passed away to publish it because I was afraid there will be some things in there that he wouldn't like and that even with dishonor him mm and at the same time he really wanted me to publish it before the Scorsese movie came out because he wanted the world to know that he in fact did not kill Jimmy. Living offers did not drive him to his death so I decided that I was going to allow him to make them and read the manuscript and decide whether I publish it or not. I was going to abide by his wishes. I saw him reading parts of the book. I'm wince a few times. He asked me to take out two or three very small things just out of respect for various people nothing material to the book so that's what I knew before. The book was published. He's read at sense then. I know he's right now. Since it's been published he's got a variety of emotions about different different emotions at different times and he told me he was sorry for being such a pain in the ass by not telling me things we'll jekyll Smith. Thanks so much for speaking with us. Thank you very much Jack. Goldsmith spoke with fresh air's. Dave Davies Goldsmiths new book is called in Hoffa's shadow auto a stepfather a disappearance in Detroit and my search for the truth tomorrow on fresh air my guest will be Conan O'Brien in addition to his tbs late night show. He has a podcast which is about to start. It's second season. We'll talk about making changes his career trying new things and how much of his life he's been driven by Zayed's. I hope you'll join US fresh fresh. Air's executive producer is Danny Miller our interviews and reviews produced an edited by Amy Salad Phyllis Myers Sam Berger Lauren crandall and Maribel Donato Theresa Recent Madden Moods Eighty Challenor Seth Kelly Andro Wolfram. I'm Terry Gross and.

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