Wednesday morning on WarRoom: Battleground, Stephen K. Bannon welcomed The Star News Network’s CEO and Editor-in-Chief Michael Patrick Leahy to the show to explain the non-response they received from the EPA regarding the authorization of the controlled burn in East Palestine, Ohio.
Bannon: Michael Patrick Leahy, we smoked him out to force that press conference, which was a disaster. And we had Jeffrey Clark on right after you. Jeffrey Clark says the governor does not have the authority. Remember, because you have a controlled release, and then they had this “controlled burn.”
The release was to get the liquid out of the tanks to get it into this ditch. Then they had all these different options, which they just decided to burn it because Norfolk Southern wanted to open up the train line. Michael Patrick Leahy from The Ohio Star, am I wrong in that assessment, sir?
Leahy: No, I think you’re right. And, of course, if you talk to the locals in East Palestine, they have a different view about what the environment is like there right now. Of course, you have so many people there that are talking about problems that they’re having personally with rashes and with a problem with eyes and headaches and pets having problems.
Fish dying, chicken dying. And, of course, there’s no mention by the governor of the potential long-term effects there. Now, I will say this, Steve, he did admit that “the collective we” ordered the controlled burn on February 6th, three days after the derailment. The “we” was really Governor DeWine in Ohio, and he basically assumed the right to do that.
Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark on this program yesterday said, no, the law says it’s the on-scene coordinator of the EPA who has that authority. We reached out to the EPA, and this morning they got back to us, and they confirmed that there was an on-scene coordinator there.
We don’t know exactly the days that on-scene coordinator was there. We asked them, did the on-scene coordinator order the controlled burn on February 6th and did that on-scene coordinator have the legal authority to do it? No response. I mean, they said, we don’t know. We’ll get back to you on that. We’ve also asked the governor’s office.
Bannon: (Chuckles) At least, okay, EPA, you’re trying to protect your regime. Give me a non-denial-denial just so it’s a really good question. We’ll get back to you on that. You’re supposed to know that that’s a factoid that should be, like, emblazoned in the front of your mind, not a hard one, right Leahy? This is my point.
I could have gone on for another five minutes on Morning Joe. All he’s blaming is Norfolk Southern. Hey, they got a lot of blame about why it came off all that, but from the moment it was laying on its side, government authorities had to step in.
They’re the ones that represent the people of East Palestine, Ohio, The Deplorables. Not Norfolk Southern. Norfolk Southern is a for-profit entity. What they want to do is get this stuff out, get the tanks removed, and get the train line open. And I don’t blame it them. That’s what companies are supposed to do, but it’s out of their purview.
And the whole thing of the controlled release is who authorized the controlled release and who made the decision to let the company with their hazmat guys start burning it into the atmosphere. How were these decisions brought about? Clark nailed it last night.
He says the stone-cold lying. The on-scene commander for EPA has the authority. Now you got EPA. Walk me through the questions you asked him. Again, Leahy, I want to make sure everybody understands how bluntly you asked these.
Leahy: We went to the EPA, and we got a response from them. Our great reporter Hannah Poling in Ohio has been doing a great job on this, Steve, and she asked them this question, did you have an on-scene coordinator there? And did they order the controlled burn on February 6th? And, did they have the legal authority to do that?
They confirmed they had an on-scene coordinator there to us. They didn’t say when that on-scene was there. And when we asked them did they order the controlled burn, they said, we’ll have to look into that. When we asked them, did that on-scene coordinator have the legal authority to issue the controlled burn? They said we’ll have to look into that. We’ll get back to you.
Now, Steve, I might add, we reached out to the governor’s office and said, by what legal authority did you order the controlled burn on February 6th? Now, he framed that as a “we,” but the “we” was Governor DeWine, Governor Shapiro, and unnamed federal agencies. It was DeWine who ordered the controlled burn.
Bannon: Right now he’s on Morning Joe. This is his cleanup. He went on Morning Joe today to try to clean this up and put all the blame on the company. Correct? And remember, these timelines are important because it exposes all their lies and misrepresentations.
What they’re going to continue to focus on is the company’s failure of the original crash. There’s no doubt there’s going to be plenty of liability. There’ll be lawsuits; they got insurance. They’re going to fight all that. But we’re talking about when the decision was made.
And I would tell you right now, I’d have to see the analysis because I think they’re lying about, oh, we were so concerned about getting a controlled release because they were so afraid of the chemicals blowing up in the tank trucks and putting shards everywhere. Okay, fine. Show me. Show me who did that analysis. I’d like to see that. I like to see why that is so majorly important to do the controlled release.
Leahy: Steve, we’ve asked Governor DeWine in his office for that analysis. We’ve not yet received it.
Bannon: People got to know Leahy is a Harvard and Stanford graduate, right? It’s Harvard College and Stanford Business School. Leahy didn’t go to law school. He went to the business school. Right?
Leahy: I went to the business school. That is correct.
Bannon: And you’re like a dog with a bone. Leahy used to work with me at Breitbart. He’s like a dog with a bone. And right now, you get a big bone. This is a big issue. This is a major issue.
Leahy: Let me add, what we’ve done with The Star News Network; we have built an excellent team of reporters that are skilled at investigation and don’t give up. Hannah Poling at The Ohio Star is doing a great job.
We’ve got Susan Berry, our national education editor. Matt Kittle, our national political editor, The Iowa Star, and Wisconsin Star editor. We’ve got a great team. And if you want to get real news on some of these stories, go to thestarnewsnetwork.com.
Bannon: By the way, Susan Berry is the best. You broke the story down in Memphis. That’s exactly what happened. They haven’t fessed up totally yet, but you’re going to find out that’s what happened. Michael Patrick Leahy, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Thank you.
Watch the interview: