Talking Feds

A weekly News, Politics and Government podcast
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Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson, journalist EJ Dionne, and Congressman Jamie Raskin join Harry to assess and analyze a week of wretched news. Continuing high numbers on the virus combined with the worst quarterly economic report on record for a deadly 1-2 punch, and the Administration seemed to have no plan for either. Trump floated the prospect of postponing the election, but was roundly rebuffed by his own party. And Bill Barr’s House testimony showed that he is all-in for Trump.
No government agency bore the impact of Trump’s wrath more than the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Trump singled out the Bureau, the traditional crown jewel of U.S. law enforcement agencies, for outrageous and vicious slander. Three of the country’s most prominent and thoughtful experts on the FB–Frank Figliuzzi, Andy McCabe, and Asha Rangappa– discuss the damage the last four years inflicted and what the Bureau now needs to do, including to respond to the grave threat of domestic terrorism.
It was a week of intense storms, natural and political. Record-setting frigid weather spread across the country from Washington to Texas, and a cold war took effect between Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. A stellar set of guests—Lawrence O’Donnell, Ashley Parker, and Norm Eisen—join Harry for a bottom-line assessment of the impeachment, an analysis of the GOP sturm und drang, a look at the first lawsuit against the former president, and a preview of Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearing.
As the evidence in the second impeachment trial draws to a close, an expert panel of legal and congressional experts – Matt Miller, Norm Ornstein, and Hakeem Jeffries, who served as a House Manager in the previous impeachment trial – join Harry to analyze the trial and what an acquittal portends for the future of Trump, Trumpism, and the GOP. 
This week Talking Feds turns its view outward, to the challenges in foreign policy the new Administration inherits. After 4 years of aberrant foreign policy that saw the US bully our allies and coddle our enemies, the Biden Administration faces a different herculean task trying to right the ship of state, with the complication of China’s arrival as an economic superpower. Anne Appelbaum, Garry Kasparov, and Uriel Epshtein join Harry to analyze the challenges and prescribe the best path ahead.
The debris from the Trump years litters the political landscape, and it’s a herculean task to try to clean up the mess and repair our constitutional foundations. Where to begin and who has the political will and interest to pursue it? And is it even possible, with some 70 million citizens, and much of the Republican Congress, still in thrall to Trump? Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith, whose book “After Trump” is the best primer on the topic, and former Deputy AG Jamie Gorelick join Harry to discuss.
Three veterans of the heady first few days of a new Administration – Dee Dee Myers (Clinton), David Frum (George W. Bush), and Valerie Jarrett (Obama) – join Harry to analyze and critique the Biden Administration’s first few days and the challenges it faces for the first 100. Should the new government go big early? How will the impeachment trial affect it? Can Biden hold the Ds together while reaching out to pick off a few Rs? Invaluable commentary and counsel from people who have been there.
In another barnburner week, in which the first-ever second impeachment of a President was only one of several huge stories, Natasha Bertrand, Norm Ornstein, and former Senator Al Franken join Harry to break down the fallout from the storming of the Capitol. They then turn to Trump’s impeachment and coming trial, assessing the dynamic for Biden, Senate Republicans, and Trump himself, before taking up the political and legal status of the Members of Congress who may have facilitated the attacks.
On the most tumultuous week of the Trump presidency, and one of the most in US history, Congressmen Eric Swalwell, George Conway, & Laura Jarrett join Harry to discuss whether the President can hang on for 12 days to finish his term. The Feds discuss the triple challenge to Trump of the 25th Amend, impeachment, and prosecution, all based on inciting an insurrectionary mob of supporters to storm the Capitol to try to terrorize Congress into changing the election results. Sidebar by Robert De Niro.
In this special Talking Feds Now, Harry convenes with Andrew Weissmann, Sam Vinograd, Jennifer Rodgers, and Steve Vladeck to discuss one of the most harrowing and memorable days of our lifetime, when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol. They discuss the dozens of questions this raises, including sedition, possibilities of impeachment, the 25th Amendment, and national security risks.
This week we expect Biden will announce his selections for DOJ brass, including solicitor general, the executive branch's lawyer in the Supreme Court. In this special episode recorded last year at George Washington University, we go beyond the basics to discuss the role which has a huge importance in the development of constitutional law with Seth Waxman, the forty-first solicitor general serving under President Clinton from 1997 to 2001, Paul Clement, the forty third solicitor general who served under President George W. Bush from June 2005 until June 2008, and Don Verrilli, the forty-sixth solicitor general under President Obama, serving from June 2011 to June 2016
All eyes turn to Georgia for the all-important Senate runoffs on January 5, with control of the Senate at stake. A fantastic panel combining local and national knowledge, experience, and political savvy – former Columbus, GA mayor Teresa Tomlinson, new Congresswoman Elect Nikema Williams, DNC Chair Tom Perez, and Democratic strategist extraordinaire Bob Shrum – join Harry to describe the scene on the ground and break down the critical points on which success or failure will turn.
In a week when the virus hit ravaging new levels and we learned of a huge new hack; but also in which people first began to get the vaccine and key leaders in Congress recognized Biden’s election, Congressman Ted Lieu, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash, and Pulitzer-prize winning New York Times journalist Michael Schmidt join Harry to discuss the political road ahead, the resignation of Bill Barr, the repercussions of the hack, and of course, the Cleveland Indians’ name change.
A back-to-basics Talking Feds with three highly experienced prosecutors and DOJ veterans: Jen Rodgers, Mimi Rocah (now the DA for Westchester County), and Andrew Weissmann. The group joins Harry in discussing the potential charges against Hunter Biden and then conjectures whether President Trump’s lobbying campaign to state officials might have broken any laws. They close with an extended discussion of the stakes for Biden of the AG selection, comparing the 4 candidates’ upsides and downsides.
With the virus spiking ever upwards and a winter that promises to be the most challenging time in US public health history, a phenomenal set of guests —Senator Michael Bennett, Natasha Bertrand, and Fareed Zakaria—join Harry to look ahead at the measures the country needs to take on the health and economic fronts. They then assess the ongoing damage to the country of President Trump’s narcissistic fantasies of having won the election. Sidebar by chess great and democracy advocate Garry Kasparov.
With national security issues rife, it’s time for a return trip to the Double Agent Bar & Grill to eavesdrop on the candid conversations of top national security experts. Frank Figliuzzi, Sam Vinograd, Josh Campbell, & Kate Brannen trade notes on what Biden’s new team projects about his national security operation; how to repair the damage that 4 years of Trump rule has inflicted on our national security institutions; Trump’s attempt to install his operatives at DoD and NSA; and more.
On a week in which new daily virus cases approached 200,000 with 250,000 Americans dead, President Trump focused on his preposterous claims to have won the election, in the process continuing to block President-Elect Biden from formally beginning the transition. Charter feds Frank Figliuzzi, Paul Fishman, and Amy Jeffress discuss the costs to national security and the country of Trump’s hopeless campaign and then analyze what Biden’s initial decisions indicate about his coming Administration.
Peter Baker, Laura Jarrett and Robert Raben join Harry to discuss a strange and troubling week when President Trump, abetted by cabinet members and Senate Republicans, hunkered down and refused to allow President-Elect Joe Biden to begin a transition. The group analyzes the harm that the Trump charade is causing before turning to what Biden’s first moves and appointments suggest about his upcoming tenure. They end with some supplementary lessons for our political life from the election results.
In the wake of the call of the election for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Feds Natasha Bertrand, Joe Lockhart, and Mike Murphy review Biden’s winning strategy. They then analyze the relative underperformance of down-ticket Democratic candidates and what it says about the state of US political culture. Finally, they turn to the challenges the new Administration inherits, offering some surprising conclusions about how Biden can make important headway even if McConnell remains Majority Leader.
The day after the contested Presidential election, Feds Matt Miller, Melissa Murray, and Norm Ornstein convene to explain just where the country is and where we’re headed. They canvass some improbable scenarios before zeroing in on the pivotal states (PA, AZ, NEV, and GA and a sophisticated analysis of each one. They then analyze why Trump out-performed the polls, what it says about the country, and what it augurs for the next two years, with a President Biden and a Majority Leader McConnell.
A powerhouse crew of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congress Member Adam Schiff and Kristen Clarke, President of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, join Harry to take final stock of the political landscape just before the election. They assess the closing statements of Trump and Biden and then move to the rushed and completely partisan confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett. Finally, they consider the prospects for a Bush v Gore style intervention in the election by the Supreme Court.
In the wake of the final presidential debate, Vanita Gupta, Matt Miller, and Congressman Jamie Raskin join Harry to analyze the candidates’ final messages and anticipate what possible bumps may lie on the short ride to the finish line. Trump turned in a more disciplined performance but lied promiscuously; Biden scored strong hits on the virus and immigration and directly connected with voters on kitchen table issues. The feds then canvassed the likely paths of both campaigns in the last week.
With two weeks to go until the election, Al Franken, Dahlia Lithwick and Bill Kristol join Harry and take up first the confirmation hearings for soon-to-be Justice Barrett. Did the Republicans make a mistake going all in and did the Dems play their losing hand right? The Feds then move to the campaign trail, and the bizarre simultaneous town halls by Trump and Biden. Finally, they take stock of the Senate races and the very real prospect that the Dems will sweep the board in November.
About 24 million Americans born after 1996—our so-called Generation Z-- will have their first opportunity to vote in a presidential election in November. Who are they and what motivates them? In this special bonus episode, Harry sits down with four young voters and leaders -- Xiye Bastida, Victor Shi, Bianca Vivion Brooks, and Ziad Ahmed -- to discuss climate change, the Supreme Court, intersectional politics, the electoral college, and why social media is their love language.
Michael Steele, Laura Jarrett, & Steve Vladeck join Harry on a week when President Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed hospital and proceeded to act even more erratically than usual. They then take up the DOJ’s change to its hands-off election year policies, and its announcement, to Trump's chagrin, that there will be no Durham report pre-election. Finally, the Feds analyze the attempting kidnapping of Michigan Governor Whitmer, and tie it to Trump’s incendiary rhetoric in office.
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Podcast Details

Created by
Harry Litman | L.A. Times Studios
Podcast Status
Mar 12th, 2019
Latest Episode
Mar 1st, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
About 1 hour

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