A weekly discussion of national security and foreign policy matters hosted by Shane Harris of the Washington Post and featuring Brookings senior fellows Susan Hennessey, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and Benjamin Wittes.
info_outline The "Hand Grenades and Drug Deals" Edition 10/16/2019
The "Hand Grenades and Drug Deals" Edition Testimony on Capitol Hill this week reveals that Rudy Giuliani was running a shadow foreign policy on Ukraine. The White House vows not to cooperate with the impeachment investigation. And Turkish forces move into Syria, sparking a new national security crisis.
info_outline The “Unmatched Wisdom” Edition 10/09/2019
The “Unmatched Wisdom” Edition Congress releases a series of revealing text messages that show the Trump administration pressuring Ukraine. Trump blocks a key participant in that effort from giving a deposition to Congress. And Trump’s announcement that he will withdraw U.S. troops from Syria inspires a rare Republican rebellion.
info_outline The "Rudy Tooty Fresh and Fruity" Edition 10/02/2019
The "Rudy Tooty Fresh and Fruity" Edition Secretary of State Pompeo says he was on the call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky at the center of the House impeachment inquiry. Rudy Giuliani’s contacts with Ukraininian officials and the State Department are under scrutiny. And Attorney General Bill Barr has asked foreign officials to help investigate the Russia investigation.
info_outline The "Rubicon: Crossed?" Edition 09/25/2019
The "Rubicon: Crossed?" Edition This week, the gang talks about the explosive revelations of a whistleblower regarding a phone call that Trump had with the president of Ukraine. What's the political and legal significance? What does it mean for U.S. national security? And how is an impeachment inquiry likely to proceed?
info_outline The "WhistleSTOP" Edition 09/19/2019
The "WhistleSTOP" Edition The Director of National Intelligence refuses to tell Congress about a whistleblower allegation that may involve President Trump. Israelis go to the polls as Benjamin Netanyahu fights to maintain power. And Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski gives defiant testimony to lawmakers considering whether to impeach the president.
info_outline The "'Surprised,' 'Stunned,' and 'Shocked'" Edition 09/04/2019
The "'Surprised,' 'Stunned,' and 'Shocked'" Edition A new inspector general report faults former FBI Director Jim Comey for how he handled memos about his meetings with Donald Trump. The CIA isn’t so sure about a White House plan to expand its presence in Afghanistan. And National Security Adviser John Bolton is being cut out of big decisions in the administration.
info_outline The "What’s Past is Prorogue" Edition 08/28/2019
The "What’s Past is Prorogue" Edition British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suspends parliament as the Brexit deadline looms. World leaders push back—maybe?—on President Trump at the G7 summit. And Trump tells aides that he’ll pardon them if they have to break the law to build his border wall.
info_outline The “Skyfall” Edition 08/14/2019
The “Skyfall” Edition Susan and Shane are away, so Ben and Tamara are joined by special guests Scott Anderson and Quinta Jurecic. A Russian missile test accident kills scientists and raises questions. Hong Kong and Kashmir are both in crisis, and the United States shrugs. And the House of Representatives seems to have slouched towards impeachment.
info_outline The “It’s the Terrorism, Stupid” Edition 08/07/2019
The “It’s the Terrorism, Stupid” Edition A series of shootings renews the discussion and debate around domestic terrorism. The U.S.-China trade war raises big questions about America’s role as a global power. And the United States faces a make-or-break moment in Syria.
info_outline The “You Too Can Be the DNI!” Edition 07/31/2019
The “You Too Can Be the DNI!” Edition President Trump said he will nominate a junior congressman and prominent Mueller critic as the next director of national intelligence. CIA Director Gina Haspel has become a bulwark between the White House and the intelligence community. And investigators probe connections between Middle East money and the White House.
info_outline The “I Refer You to the Report” Edition 07/25/2019
The “I Refer You to the Report” Edition Bob Mueller finally had his close up. Was he ready for it? Did he change any minds? Did we learn anything new about his investigation? We’ll talk about Mueller’s testimony this week before two congressional committees, and ask where do we go from here.
info_outline The Report: Part I: Active Measures 07/23/2019
The Report: Part I: Active Measures We have a special treat for you in the Rational Security feed. Last week, Susan and Ben shared an Object Lesson with you: the podcast The Report, a deep dive narrative look at the contents of the Mueller investigation. We've released the first episode, here for you now on this feed. For future episodes, subscribe to The Report on whatever podcast distribution service you use.
info_outline The "Special Relationship" Edition 07/10/2019
The "Special Relationship" Edition The British ambassador to the U.S. resigns after his candid opinions on President Trump are leaked. Federal prosecutors intensify their investigation of a top Trump fundraiser. And a malicious conspiracy theory about a murdered DNC staffer was planted by Russian intelligence agents.
info_outline The "OMG20" Edition 07/03/2019
The "OMG20" Edition President Trump takes his show on the road to Osaka, Japan, for a meeting of world leaders. A man at the center of the Russia probe has disappeared, and conspiracy theorists have tried to fill the void. And a consulting firm is accused of making the intelligence community less effective.
info_outline "The Bitch is Back" Edition 06/26/2019
"The Bitch is Back" Edition President Trump prepares to strike Iran in retaliation for downing a U.S. drone, but says he pulled back to spare Iranian lives. Former special counsel Robert Mueller is subpoenaed to testify to Congress. And the National Security Agency, yet again, says it improperly collected Americans’ phone records.
info_outline The "Acting" Edition 06/19/2019
The "Acting" Edition The acting secretary of defense has been replaced by another acting defense secretary, and much of the rest of the government is vacant as well. Congress and the Trump administration are still butting heads over oversight matters and compliance with congressional information demands for information. And the New York Times reports that U.S. hackers are in the Russian power grid—and want the Russians to know that they're there.
info_outline The "Utterly Shaneless" Edition 06/13/2019
The "Utterly Shaneless" Edition Shane is off gallivanting elsewhere, so we wiped our bitter tears and did a show without him. Sophia Yan—yes, that Sophia Yan—phoned in from a Chinese airport on her way to Hong Kong to talk about ongoing protests and violence in that city. Kamala Harris urged the indictment of President Trump after he leaves office. And Pete Buttigieg gave a foreign policy speech.
info_outline The "Washed Up Psychos" Edition 06/05/2019
The "Washed Up Psychos" Edition Robert Mueller speaks! What does it mean for the future of investigations and possible impeachment hearings? Bill Barr is given new authorities to declassify information about the Russia probe. And Jared Kushner says he finally has a plan for Middle East peace.
info_outline The 'No Way, Huawei' Edition 05/22/2019
The 'No Way, Huawei' Edition The Trump administration moves to block a Chinese telecom giant. White House counsel Don McGahn is a no-show at a congressional hearing. And the president is considering pardons for military service members convicted of murder.
info_outline The 'Drumbeat of War' Edition 05/16/2019
The 'Drumbeat of War' Edition Tensions with Iran escalate amid new intelligence suggesting U.S. personnel in the Middle East could be at risk. The Russia investigation is now under investigation by a federal prosecutor. And two senior Homeland Security officials tried to halt a mass deportation plan, just before they were ousted.
info_outline The "Privileged Executive" Edition 05/08/2019
The "Privileged Executive" Edition The White House asserts executive privilege over the Mueller report, and House Democrats move to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt. Republicans revive allegations of spying on the Trump campaign. And Israel says it attacked a building housing Hamas’ offensive cyber operations.
info_outline The “Eating Your Soul in Small Bites” Edition 05/02/2019
The “Eating Your Soul in Small Bites” Edition Special Counsel Robert Mueller told the attorney general that he failed to convey the “context, nature, and substance” of his investigation. Rod Rosenstein steps down from the Department of Justice and bids President Trump a fond farewell. And is John Bolton’s view of foreign policy compatible with the president he serves?
info_outline The "Calm Before the Storm" Edition 04/17/2019
The "Calm Before the Storm" Edition Julian Assange is taken into British custody, and the United States wants him to stand trial here. President Trump vetoes a resolution to end U.S. military involvement in the civil war in Yemen. And Attorney General Bill Barr says there was “spying” on the Trump campaign.
info_outline The "Purge" Edition 04/10/2019
The "Purge" Edition The White House launches a purge at the Homeland Security Department. Some prosecutors in Robert Mueller’s office are frustrated by the attorney general’s portrayal of their report. And the Trump administration designates Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
info_outline The "Mar-a-Lago Thumb Drive Lady" Edition 04/03/2019
The "Mar-a-Lago Thumb Drive Lady" Edition A White House official claims more than two dozen denials for security clearances were overturned. Six months after Saudi agents killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, what has changed in the U.S-Saudi relationship? And oversight committees gear up for the post-Mueller era.
info_outline The "Still Waiting for the Mueller Report" Edition 03/28/2019
The "Still Waiting for the Mueller Report" Edition This week: What else?! The gang talks about Bill Barr's summary of the Mueller report. What did the special counsel say about a Trump campaign conspiracy with Russia? What did he say about obstruction of justice by the president? And what happens when, as expected, we all get to read the Mueller report itself (or some portion of it)?
info_outline The "Domestic is Global" Edition 03/20/2019
The "Domestic is Global" Edition The killing of 50 Muslims by a white supremacist in New Zealand prompts us to reconsider the meaning of domestic terrorism. The Pentagon identifies projects it will cut to pay for President Trump’s border wall. And the Trump administration revokes visas for investigators with the International Criminal Court.