New episodes come out every Tuesday for free, with 1-week early access for Wondery+ subscribers.
Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.
Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.
Tue, 01 Jan 2019 08:05
How does the Iran Contra investigation compare to the Russia investigation today? We go behind the scenes with Michael Bromwich, a lawyer who worked on the Iran Contra case. He tells us what it’s like to delve into the dealings of America’s most powerful players.
Support this show by supporting our sponsors!
I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scan. Today we wrap up our series on Iran Contra, a scandal that began in the dark alleys of Beirut and the jungles of Nicaragua, converged in the basement of the White House and was finally revealed to the public by the president himself from the Oval Office. And for over six years beginning in 1986, this scandal was under investigation by independent council Lawrence Walsh and his team. Today we'll be speaking to one of the prosecutors on that team, Michael Bromwich. As Associate Council in the Office of the Independent Council for the Iran Contra investigation, he worked alongside special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh from the very start of the investigation and helped bring Oliver North to trial. We'll discuss his decision to join the investigation, how an investigation of this size and scope works, his frustrations at the overturning of Oliver North's connections, and what this 30 year old scandal can teach us today. Michael Bromwich joined me from his office in Washington, DC. I hope you enjoy our conversation. American scandal is sponsored by the new Hulu original, Reasonable Doubt. In the high stakes world of criminal law, nobody does it like Jax. From executive producers Kerry Washington and Larry Wilmore, Reasonable Doubt is a brand new sexy Hulu original that centers on Jax Stewart played by Emma Otsi Coronaldi. Jax is a high powered criminal defense attorney who bucks the system every chance she gets. She's also juggling a rocky marriage, a high profile murder case, and the sudden return of an old flame played by Michael Ealy. So yes, it will be messy and you will not want to miss it. Reasonable Doubt premier September 27th, streaming only on Hulu. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you very much for talking to us on American scandal. My pleasure. So Iran Contra. This was largely held away from the public and congressional view for a long, long time. But in the end of 1986, some things happened and it happened rather quickly. November 3rd, 1986, a Lebanese magazine, Al Sharah, reports that the US has been sending spare parts and ammunition to Iran in return for release of American hostages. But a few weeks later, November 25th, Attorney General Ed Mies publicly announces that the diversion that this is more than just an Iranian scandal, that it's linked to the Nick Rogland Contras, and he and Reagan announces Admiral Point Dexter's resignation and Colonel North dismissal. Then just a few weeks after that January 6th or 7th, you are working on this case. The Senate and House committees are set up to investigate the affair. How did you come to be part of the team? So I was in the United States Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York. And as I recall it, I was actually trying a complicated organized crime and narcotics case in October and November and I think into early December. So what was going on with respect to the reporting that you just described, I only knew dimly in the back of my mind. When the trial was over, probably early December, I woke up more to what was going on. And I remember very clearly that my wife and I were driving out to Princeton, New Jersey to visit my brother who was teaching out there. And I mentioned to her that a friend of mine had just taken a job on the House Select Committee to investigate Iran Contra. And she turned to me and said, would you be interested in doing something like that? And I said, well, I might be. But we would have to be in Washington and we moved away from Washington because you wanted to come to New York. We had at that time a five month old baby who had been challenging, colloquy, and all other sorts of infant issues. And so my wife was all of a sudden interested in the possibility of moving back to DC, having a less pressured work life balance, a less pressured job. And so when she expressed that interest, I said, well, okay, if that's something you might be interested in, let me see what I can do to explore that. So long story short, I alerted my supervisor in the US Attorney's Office that I might be interested. I knew that she was connected with Bob Fisk, who was serving as the talent hunter for Judge Wall. She had been appointed the independent council on December 19th. And I recall being interviewed at the Davis Polk law firm, I think it was December 31st about taking a job. Now, strangely, I had been talked to about being promoted in the US Attorney's Office by Rudy Giuliani, who was then the US Attorney, to be the chief of the narcotics unit, which was the unit I had been in for several years. And I alerted him, I said, you know, I'm interviewing for a job with the independent council's office. I don't know whether I'll get it, don't know if I'll take it if I get it. And he said confidently, well, you won't take that job. So I'm going to go ahead and promote you. So he did promote me to be the chief of the narcotics unit. And I think I am the shortest 10 year chief of the narcotics unit in the history of the United States Attorney's Office. I was in the job for a full two weeks. So I got the job offer within a couple of days of the interview. And I came down to DC. And we had our first meeting. I think it was January 7th. There were seven of us, not counting Judge Walsh. And we started in right then. Well, personally for you then, this is a lot of uncertainty in turmoil. I mean, it ended up well. You know, you wanted to move back to DC. What was it about this job that attracted you? Well, it was clearly a very important investigation. It was a high profile investigation. It had all sorts of intriguing elements associated with it. As you said, the arm sales to Iran, the potential diversion of funds to the Contras in Nicaragua. It sounded extremely interesting. I think anybody who gets into the kind of work that I had been doing for the previous four years, that is doing investigations, doing criminal trials, is intrigued when something this big, this major comes along. I think there is a strong temptation to see what you can do to be a part of that. It may be a part of history. And so that really was what drove me to express interest in it and to ultimately interview for it and to take the job. So now your early January 1987, you're in DC and you've hit the ground running. Small team, seven lawyers, plus Judge Walsh. Many people are interested in really what the tasks and roles of these investigative units are. They seem to be, you know, bands of brothers out on a mission. But what is the, what's the day to day process of working on a special council investigation? What were your first tasks? Well, the FBI had actually been working on the investigation for some time. They had a very good and strong team of agents that had been working on it for well over a month. And they had already briefed Judge Walsh and a couple of the senior aides that he had brought into to service his deputies, not with the title, but in fact. And so one of the initial things we had to do was to sort of get on top of the information that the FBI had collected and was still in the process of collecting and that included the collection of documents from the National Security Council staff, the beginnings of collecting documents from other agencies that had knowledge and were involved in dealings both with Iran and with the countries in Nicaragua involved understanding who they had or who the agents had already been. The agents had already interviewed who they thought needed to be interviewed next and so forth. And so one of the sensitive issues that's associated with this when you when you start working with a group of agents in this case FBI agents who've been working on the matter for a while. And so one of the things that you've been working on is you've got to be respectful of them. You've got to realize that they know more than you do at that point. And you also have to try to be as graceful as possible about really taking over the investigation because the decisions are now going to be in the hands of the independent council and the independent council's lawyers rather than the FBI. One of the interpersonal challenges that you face is sort of dealing with that in a considerate way. The FBI is now working with you, but in a sense for you, whereas before you've arrived on the scene they were really in charge. Were you able to navigate those challenges well? Was there a strife that you either hit or avoided? Well, I think we were lucky. We had a very good and very professional group of agents starting with the senior agent on the team and really throughout the group of agents that had been assigned by Judge Webster who was the director of the FBI at the time to work on the investigation. So I think we were extremely fortunate that we had a terrific group of agents to work with and that a number of us even among the original group of seven and even more so when additional lawyers were added to the staff. We'd been prosecutors. We'd worked with agents. We knew what the dynamics or we knew the respect that we needed to show them because they deserved it. And so although there were from time to time differences of opinion and different approaches, I think the relationship between the agents and the lawyers was quite good and quite constructive really over the full two and a half years that I was part of the team. Leading the investigation was Judge Lawrence Walsh. Did you know him well or at all before joining the team? No, I had never met him. I don't remember whether I don't think I'd ever heard of him. I mean Judge Walsh was significantly older than I was. He was in his mid 70s. I was 33 I think at the time. He had actually been a federal judge, a federal trial judge. And the year 1953 sticks in my mind and he either began or ended his tenure as a federal judge that year and that happened to be the year that I was born. So there was a real generational difference between us. He had already kind of attained the heights of the profession as a federal judge and I literally was born the same year as he either got on the bench or left the bench. And then of course he had become the deputy attorney general in the Eisenhower administration. I was born six months after the beginning of the Eisenhower administration and was only about eight years old at the end of the Eisenhower administration. So there was an enormous generational difference between us. I certainly knew by the time I joined the staff what he had done in his career. Very interesting things he'd done in his career. But no, I'd never heard of him, never met him, never worked with him before. How did that generational divide manifest itself? I mean, sounds like you are a dedicated but scrappy bunch of young lawyers. And this is a much older accomplished petition leader. How did he motivate you to move forward? Well, I think the work motivated us by itself. And I think Judge Walsh was nothing if not respectful of the views of the members of his staff. He had certain strong views of his own. But one of his strengths was really being willing to listen to different views of people who came from different backgrounds. Judge Walsh had never been a federal prosecutor before. He had been a local prosecutor in New York. He had worked for the then mob busting Tom Dewey in the Manhattan District Attorney's office. But he'd never been a federal prosecutor and many of us certainly among the initial seven. And then as we strengthened our staff in terms of numbers, the majority of us came from federal prosecutorial backgrounds. And so I think he realized he had a lot to learn from us about putting together and bringing a federal case. And obviously we took advantage of his vast experience and knowledge to working on complicated cases over the course of his 50 year career. Well, let's talk about the case itself a little bit. It seems to me that it's a series of dawning realizations and sometimes stunning developments. Certainly the whole idea that there is an Iran and a contra component was something that most people didn't expect. When you started the investigation, what were you looking for? What did you expect? And how did it unveil for you? So it did it in stages. So we were divided up into different areas to explore one of the first areas that I explored together with another prosecutor out of New York was the angle of private people, private organization raising money from wealthy contributors to provide armaments to the countries in Nicaragua. So my initial focus was not on the Iran side of the transactions, but instead on the contrast side. And so we began subpoenaing documents, interviewing witnesses and so forth to understand what the involvement of these private, private citizens had been in raising money for the contras and to see whether the activities violated the federal criminal law. And so my colleague, David Zorno and I really just the two of us sort of explored that path and were able to actually secure to guilty pleas within the first few months of the investigation that had to do with the misuse of a tax exempt organization, a so called 501c3 organization that had been raising money for the contras from wealthy contributors. And people were going to meetings that included on occasion, Oliver North and North would tell these wealthy contributors what it cost to buy certain pieces of military equipment. Those rich people would then provide the money through this 501c3 organization and voila. And that needless to say, I think, is not an appropriate use of a tax exempt organization to raise money to buy armaments for a foreign revolutionary force. What if your family was the victim of a home invasion, or you woke up in the morgue, or you were seriously injured miles from help? What would you do? This is actually happening, asks our listeners this very question, while we bring you captivating real life stories of trauma and perseverance. This is actually happening brings listeners extraordinary true stories from the people who lived them. You'll hear stories about conflict, turmoil, or threats that dramatically alter the course of someone's life. Each episode is an exploration of the human spirit and how survivors manage to overcome hardship and move on with their lives, even thriving afterward. The new season of this is actually happening is available ad free only with Wondry Plus. And if this new season isn't enough, you can listen to more than 120 exclusive episodes available only to Wondry Plus subscribers. Join Wondry Plus on Apple Podcasts or on the Wondry app. Let's talk about Oliver North, perhaps one of the most well known figures of this incident. He was one of the ones who you took to trial. Military aid to the National Security Council. He was found guilty on three counts, including obstruction of justice and destroying documents. Those convictions were overturned though, a judge saying that the witnesses against North may have been tainted by his hearings that was widely televised. What did you make of that? Well, we were very disappointed with the Court of Appeals decision. We thought at the time, and I think still think it was the wrong decision and it was a political decision. And I don't say that lightly about an appellate court decision. We had done everything possible to screen ourselves from any exposure to the immunized testimony, both Lieutenant Colonel North and Admiral Point Dexter had provided testimony to the Congress under grants of immunity, which means that none of their testimony can be used against them and no leads that came indirectly from their testimony could be used against them. So the members of the staff who were on staff at the time did literally everything they possibly could to shield themselves from the immunized testimony. For me, for example, I was writing the Metro the subway in the mornings and people had newspapers with headlines about the testimony and I took off my glasses so I couldn't see them. I would be in an elevator and I would hear people start to talk about North's testimony or Point Dexter's testimony and I had asked them to be quiet, but I couldn't be exposed to it. I was awkward to do it, but I knew that we had to do it in order to preserve the purity of the investigation and to do everything we possibly could to avoid exposure to the immunized testimony. In the end, the Court of Appeals said, well, that's not good enough because the witnesses you called during the case didn't shield themselves from the immunized testimony. They watched it and therefore it became part of what was in their heads and there's no way they can surgically remove what they learned from the immunized testimony from preexisting memories that they had. We think that was the wrong standard. We think that witnesses are only able, they're only in legal language competent to testify about what they saw, what they heard, what they did, and that that wasn't going to be affected by what they heard somebody else say. And so our view was that we did everything we possibly could. The trial judge, a very distinguished trial judge Judge Gerhard Gazelle agreed with us and thought that we had taken all necessary precautions and that therefore Lieutenant Colonel North had received a fair trial. I think that was the right decision. I think the Court of Appeals decision reversing the convictions was very much the wrong decision. This leads into the question of media's involvement in an investigation like this. Certainly that's a direct and clear example of how the media's interest in this actually interfered perhaps in judicial process. Today we have another special counsel Robert Mueller who's investigating the alleged Russian interference into our elections. And he is famously tight lipped. I don't believe that Judge Walsh was as controlled as Mueller is now and actually had a relationship with the media. Can you describe how your team interacted with journalists and the public? Sure, I was not, I was, you know, was a staff lawyer at the time. I became a supervisor in the office, but I was not one of the senior members of the office and I had no direct contact with the media. The media contacts were really handled almost exclusively by Judge Walsh himself. We had a press officer, very good, very capable press officer and he managed the office's relationship with the media. I know that Judge Walsh met with and spoke with reporters on an occasional but continuing basis. And I think fairly tightly controlled circumstances, but you're quite right. The approach was different and less restrictive and less buttoned down than Bob Mueller's approach. Judge Walsh and other senior people in the office thought it was the right thing to do to engage with the media to help explain what we were doing to put it in context. I think Judge Walsh even gave a couple of speeches, public speeches that didn't touch on the facts of the investigation but stressed the importance of adhering to the rule of law and so forth. And that's very different from Bob Mueller, Bob Mueller to my knowledge is Matt Knight not made any public appearances. He's not made any public speeches and he's not met with any member of the media. This was a spectacle certainly, you know, captivated the country. It was a scandal of grand proportions and many people were very up in arms about it on all sides. Through the lens of history or maybe just the fog of history, the general impression is not much really happened though. The investigation went on for a long time, spent millions of dollars. You were there in the middle of it so you know more than most. I'm just left wondering if you felt in the moment you were achieving something and now years later, is that achievement real? It's a good question and it's a fair question, but I think my unhesitating answer is yes, I think we did achieve something. I think that when you have allegations that appear to go to the core of our political system, that is in this case, running a secret foreign policy in violation of the specific requirements that Congress has established, running it out of the White House and having senior aides to the president lying to Congress about it using tax exempts organizations when they shouldn't receiving gratuities to build security fence for themselves. That's the sort of public corruption that needs to be pursued. I think we've reached a sad state of affairs if people are inclined to sort of wave that off and say, well, that's really not all that important. I mean, it's important to remember that at the beginning of the investigation, people thought that there was a real possibility that President Reagan would be impeached because our policy, our public policy towards Iran was to cast them as the ultimate international villains and not to have anything whatsoever to do with them. And instead, it turns out that for a specific purpose is pursuing a specific agenda, we were selling arms to them. And so that was a real violation of what was announced in the United States policy, but also was a deception that had been perpetrated on the American people. And then when you pair that with what some of the money was used for, that the proceeds were diverted to support the contras in Nicaragua again in the face of specific congressional prohibitions, not to help them. That's very serious stuff. And there was some criticism that, well, yeah, there was some serious stuff, but it really is not the criminal law is to blunt an instrument to deal with those kinds of issues. There's something to be said for that, but our job was to find out whether real crimes were committed and if so, to pursue them aggressively and diligently. I think we did that. I was only there for two and a half years. And as you mentioned, the investigation as a whole went on for many years thereafter, colleagues of mine who stayed the course uncovered what they thought was a massive cover up. That is that high ranking people, defense department and the state department and elsewhere had been much more involved in the underlying transactions than that they had said. And that they had misled the American people and in effect allowed North Point Dexter to be the scapegoats. So yes, you can make arguments that it may have gone on too long that too much money may have been spent. But sometimes the reason something goes on so long and that so much money is spent is that people who you would hope would tell the truth when they're interviewed and would produce all the documents that have been subpoenaed don't do that. And you can't reward law breaking of that kind by prematurely saying, well, okay, we've been going at this 18 months now or two years now. And we're going to close things down. The worst thing you can do really for the integrity of an investigation is to put artificial time or budget limits on it. Because that'll guarantee that the people that you need information from will close down on you and say, I can wait these people out. They're going to be gone in two months or three months or six months. And so you can't really afford to send that message. I think everyone would agree that this candle on earth some very serious stuff as you just said, but I'm wondering when did you realize this scope of it? What was your personal feeling? Maybe perhaps that moment you go home at the end of the day and say, well, I wasn't expecting this. I think that we had moments of that really throughout the investigation, starting with what you described at the top, what triggered it. The disclosures by the Attorney General Mice of the diversion in late November. And one of the things that we peeled back as we went along was the pattern of deception that was perpetrated particularly on the Congress by high ranking members of the administration, particularly in the White House. And we certainly didn't know the details of those. We had to peel that back as we went along. It's hard to recreate the specifics of an investigation 20 years later, but there were lots of surprises over time. Lots of things that we learned, lots of new avenues to explore as we went along. One thing that is particularly interesting to me is the cover up itself, the deception from the Reagan administration. In many ways, it seems organized and coordinated, but as you read the story and you realize how many contradictions there were early on and missteps and mistakes, that it might have just been frantic. And I wonder what your sense is of the administration's response to this impending threat, legal, political, is your opinion of them that this deception, and we're not going to call it anything else, was a well organized strategy or just something they bungled into. Yeah, it really depends on what period of time that you're talking about. So a lot of the lies and deceptions had actually happened before the story of the diversion broke. And in fact, the specific crimes that North and Point Dexter were charged with including the deception in line to Congress really occurred before we even got on the scene. But if you're talking about some of the cover up and deceptions that happened later, I think it's hard to generalize about what people's motives were when that was most fully explored was after I left the office in October of 1989. Really the dissed the continuing deception that was going on from the defense department, from the state department from the White House, and so forth. That really came after the trials that I was involved in, the North trial in particular. And it worked on really for the first 18 months or so was the investigation that culminated in the indictment of North and Point Dexter in General C. Cord and Albert Hakeem. And it was only subsequent to that that the full extent of the cover up at the CIA, at the State Department, at the defense department came to light and that was explored largely by by other lawyers. And I was talking now today, the day of President George Herbert Walker Bush's funeral. His legacy is being examined, including his role in the Iran Contra affair. He's probably best publicly known for pardoning several of the men who were indicted, including National Security Advisor Budmick Farlin and Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, who was pardoned even before he was found guilty. In the result of these pardons, the eventual independent council's final report on the Iran Contra affair noted that the criminal investigation of Bush was regrettably incomplete. Pardons have become news today as well. They seem on face to be an appeal to the highest judicial authority perhaps. But in a political office like the President's, are they are they appropriate? Do they interfere with justice? Well, I think you have two different kinds of of pardons. The pardons that you're talking about that then President Bush granted to really the entire group of Iran Contra defendants, both those who had been found guilty after trial of those who had entered guilty. I think were wrong. I think they were rightly controversial. But they were in large part a response to what President Bush and his aides considered worthy and noble careers in government by people who looked at most charitably had done something wrong or regrettable. But that shouldn't affect their lives going forward and they had done enough public service in their time to warrant mercy being granted through the pardon power. Pardons that we are talking about these days are entirely different from that. They are being waived around as possibilities to people who have not performed public service, but who have been chronic and habitual lawbreakers, largely to feather their own financial nest. And that they have been pardons have been bandied about as possible ways to persuade people not to testify against high ranking officials, including the President. Now you can make an argument that using pardons in that fashion itself is a violation of criminal law. It sounds like bribery. But in any event you can certainly criticize President Bush for the pardons he granted. But I think when you're talking about what President Trump is talking about using pardons for that's an entirely different thing. Iran Contra scandal in its investigation was preceded of course by Watergate and followed by Whitewater. We have another one now, the Mueller investigation. Some critics will say that special counsels like these are not the best way to investigate issues in any administration or that they have a problem of scope creep they start in one place and end up far field. You are in the middle of one. What do you think their efficacy is? Is there is this their role? Is this the best way to investigate an administration? I think in some cases it's the only way to investigate administration. Just think about whether it's even conceivable that the Department of Justice headed by Jeff Sessions and now on a temporary basis by Matt Whitaker would have investigated the Russia angle potential collusion, obstruction of justice, the whole range of issues that Mueller and his staff have investigated. I can't even imagine an investigation nearly as careful as thorough and as appropriate as what we're seeing. There is absolutely no political will to do that if potentially implicates the president and other people around him. I think this is one of those cases where there is no alternative if the public is concerned about getting to the bottom facts and finding out whether high ranking government officials broke the law. I think you can make an argument that in some circumstances special counsel or independent counsel are not appropriate. My own view is that the independent counsel law under which Judge Walsh and Ken Star were appointed and which expired in 1999 that the bar was too low. That is that the legal trigger for an independent counsel investigation was too easy to trip. As a result there were lots of independent counsel investigations particularly in the 1990s. There were some of a couple of the 70s, there were more in the 80s and then there was a flood of them in the 90s. I think you can fairly argue that the trigger was too low. I think there's an argument that you can make that the special counsel provisions which are now part of the Justice Department regulations and the special counsels now report within the Department of Justice that the bar may be too high and that it takes too much to trigger a special counsel investigation. I'm not sure that there is a perfect vehicle to investigate allegations of corruption or malfeasance at the highest levels of government. I do know that without a special counsel now there is no chance that we would have learned as much as we have and that as many people would have been shown to violate the law as have already been shown and we're not done with the story here. Now as always whether it's under the independent counsel statute or under the special counsel regulations there is a whole lot that's determined by who is selected to had the investigation. Do they have the right background? Do they have the right experience? Can they be counted on to surround themselves with the best people, truly the best people, those who have the qualifications, the temperament, the judgment to do an appropriate investigation. I think the verdict for Bob Mueller is two thumbs up with respect to some of the other, some of the independent counsel who were appointed in the 90s. The verdict shouldn't be as positive. Now one other controversial wrinkle of the independent counsel law was that at the end of every investigation a detailed report would need to be filed and you've referred to Walsh's final report when we were talking a few minutes ago. I think I'm in a minority here, but I think in investigations of the importance of Iran Contra and the importance of the Russian investigation that it ought to be an automatic requirement that a report be filed so that the public is fully aware of exactly what the investigators found during the course of their investigation. So, I think the concern in that case as well, they may talk about the conduct of people that was found not to be in violation of the law or at least not so much in the violation of the law that the prosecutors thought they could convict those people beyond a reasonable data, and that's why they didn't charge them. So there is some sense that people argue that's unfair to talk about the conduct of people who weren't indicted, and I understand that argument, but I think that's outweighed by the importance of fully informing the public on issues of enormous public importance. And so I would be a favor again, I think I'm in a minority in this regard. I would be in favor of requiring that a report be a detailed report be developed, produced and made public. The pursuit of law, the pursuit of justice is really very process driven. The separation of powers in our government are artificial systemic architectures to try and preserve not not the rulemaking or following of the rules, but really public integrity. This scandal, all scandals, infringed on our trust of the integrity of government. A lot of that has to do with, though, with public opinion. The rules of law, the rules of justice, the way investigations are reported may not matter as much as the end result, what the American public walks away with. I wonder what your lesson from the Iran Contra was in terms of how the American public can pay more attention to law, to the rigidity of process, and its importance in reflecting upon our political integrity, and then how much public opinion might dilute or distract from that. Well, I think that it's critically important, as I've tried to suggest, that serious allegations of violations of criminal law be explored fully professionally and without favor. And I think the independent council law was designed to do that. It fell out of favor because of some of the excesses, I think particularly those by Ken Star. But I do think it's critically important that serious allegations be investigated seriously. And you have to hope that the public will be convinced that the time and the expense that's necessary to do that is worth it. And that the legacy will be a belief, a widespread belief on the part of the public that, yes, this was worth doing. This was not a waste of time and resources. This was not a distraction from the everyday workings of government. This was important and necessary to uphold the integrity of public life. I think what's changed in the last 30 years is the influence that certain media have over a certain segment of public opinion. And I'm speaking now specifically about the really unbelievable and unethical public campaign that's been waged against Bob Mueller, engaged in by people who knew that he was scrupulous about not talking to the press, not sharing what he was doing. And so they were dealing with somebody who had tied his own hands behind his back in a way because he believed that that's not the right way to do the work. And yet, we have seen that the public's opinion of Mueller and his staff for some substantial period of time was on the decline because of the sustained attacks on him. I think that's changing, thankfully. But for a while, it looked like the attackers of his investigation were gaining the upper hand. And I was extraordinarily frustrating for I think a lot of people, including me, to see that happen when I know Bob Mueller and I know, you know, the kind of person of integrity that he is, to see him accused of absolutely outrageous things. People emboldened by the knowledge that he wouldn't fight back, that he wouldn't respond. And yet that had an enormous influence on public opinion. I think that's really unfortunate. I think the media has become so segmented and so ideological, particularly on the right wing, that there is an influence on the opinion of a very substantial portion of the population that doesn't seem to be affected by the facts. But as instead is affected by propaganda. And that's something we didn't have 30 years ago. Well, Michael Bromwich, thank you very much for joining me and talking about your role in the Iran Contra Investigations. Thank you. Thank you. Take care. That was my conversation with Michael Bromwich. He served as the Associate Counsel in the Office of the Independent Counsel for the Iran Contra Investigations. Today, he's managing principal of the Bromwich Group, Strategic Consultant firm. From Wondery, this is episode six of six of Iran Contra for American Scandal. In our next series, a super tanker carrying 53 million gallons of crude oil runs a ground in Prince William's Sound, sparking the worst manmade ecological disaster in the country's history. American Scandal is hosted, edited, sound designed and executed produced by Nih Lindsay Grandford Airship. This episode was produced by Katie Long. Iran Contra series was written by Steve Walters, edited by Andrew Stelser. Our consultant was Malcolm Bern. Executive producers are Stephanie Jenns, Marshal Louis, and her nonmo pass for Wondery.