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 "Confirm and Deny" Edition 02/24/2021
The "Confirm and Deny" Edition President Biden’s nominees for attorney general and CIA director mostly sail through their confirmation hearings. The administration kickstarts policy on Iran, with an eye towards salvaging a nuclear deal. And the Supreme Court rules that a New York grand jury can see Donald Trump’s tax returns.
info_outline The "Not Guilty but Sort of Guilty" Edition 02/17/2021
The "Not Guilty but Sort of Guilty" Edition It's our 300th episode! The Senate acquits Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial. Rolling blackouts in Texas offer a glimpse of climate insecurity to come. And the Pentagon delayed promoting two female generals to four-star commands over fears of Trump’s reaction.
info_outline "The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer Does Impeachment" Edition 02/10/2021
"The Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer Does Impeachment" Edition President Trump’s impeachment trial begins in the Senate as a prosecutor in Georgia investigates efforts to overturn the election. President Biden sets out to “revitalize” national security and foreign policy in his administration. And the U.S. is (cautiously) rejoining world bodies it left under Donald Trump.
info_outline The "Impeachment: Part Two" Edition 02/03/2021
The "Impeachment: Part Two" Edition The Senate prepares to try former President Trump on charges of inciting a riot at the Capitol. A military coup in Myanmar deals a potentially crushing blow to democracy. And how do you solve a problem like Marjorie Taylor Greene?
info_outline The "Domestic in the Extreme" Edition 01/27/2021
The "Domestic in the Extreme" Edition The storming of the Capitol on January 6 has exposed the long-simmering threat of domestic extremism in the United States. How will the Biden administration combat it? Protests break out across Russia as a prominent dissident returns home. And can we just skip impeachment and get to the 14th Amendment?
info_outline The "So Not-Nice They Impeached Him Twice" Edition 01/13/2021
The "So Not-Nice They Impeached Him Twice" Edition The House impeaches President Trump—again—for his role in stoking an attack on the Capitol. President-elect Biden announces more national security appointments, including his nominee to lead the CIA. And Mike Pompeo breaks some diplomatic furniture on the way out the door.
info_outline "The Peaceless Transition of Power" Edition 01/06/2021
"The Peaceless Transition of Power" Edition A normally procedural session of Congress dissolves as protestors descend on Washington and occupy the Capitol. A new crackdown on pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong will complicate the incoming Biden administration’s approach to China. And how will a (barely) Democrat-controlled Senate affect Biden’s national security agenda?
info_outline The "F--- This Year" Edition 12/31/2020
The "F--- This Year" Edition President Trump issues another round of pardons, raising expectations that his family members and maybe Trump himself will be next. As 2020 comes to a merciful close, we’ll take a look back at the big national security stories that didn’t get enough attention. And we’ll talk about what we’ve got our eyes on for 2021, besides a triumphant return to the actual Jungle Studio.
info_outline The "Disbarred" Edition 12/17/2020
The "Disbarred" Edition Attorney General Bill Barr exits the stage. Did he leave before Trump could fire him? A massive computer hack attributed to Russian intelligence may have exposed dozens of companies and government agencies. And in the face of that and other Russian threats, how is a Biden administration likely to change U.S. policy towards Moscow?
info_outline The "Stocking the Cabinet" Edition 12/10/2020
The "Stocking the Cabinet" Edition President-elect Biden continues building his Cabinet, but his pick for defense secretary leaves some supporters cold. Administration officials drag their feet on the transition as Trump’s lawyers mount increasingly absurd and dangerous efforts to overturn the election. And the White House tries to rally support for a controversial weapons sale to the United Arab Emirates as the Gulf Arab states look ahead to a Biden administration that may be more skeptical of close ties.
info_outline The "You Get a Pardon and You Get a Pardon!” Edition 12/03/2020
The "You Get a Pardon and You Get a Pardon!” Edition A top Iranian nuclear scientist is assassinated. Everyone gets pardons this Christmas! And the attorney general takes steps to ensure the investigation of the Russia probe continues in the Biden administration. Plus, the gang welcomes special guest Noah Efron of "The Promised Podcast."
info_outline "The First Day of the Rest of Our Lives (Revisited)" Edition 11/25/2020
"The First Day of the Rest of Our Lives (Revisited)" Edition We're off this week for Thanksgiving, but we're bringing you back four years ago to reflect on the day after the 2016 election. What national security themes drove Donald Trump's supporters? What challenges did we anticipate Trump would face in forming a government? And what did we get right?
info_outline "The Firings Will Continue Until Morale Improves" Edition 11/18/2020
"The Firings Will Continue Until Morale Improves" Edition President Trump fires the country’s top election security official because he won’t go along with his lies about a stolen election. Promising news about coronavirus vaccines raises important questions about who should get it first, and where. And President Trump prepares to draw down troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.
info_outline The "Peaceful(ish) Transfer of Power" Edition 11/12/2020
The "Peaceful(ish) Transfer of Power" Edition Joe Biden is elected president, but Donald Trump refuses to concede, and the transition to a new administration is rocky. Attorney General Bill Barr authorizes federal prosecutors to investigate potential voter fraud. And the gang takes questions from our live audience!
info_outline The "Still Counting" Edition 11/04/2020
The "Still Counting" Edition President Trump falsely declares victory and asserts the election was fraudulent. What havoc could he raise as states continue to count ballots? Some of the most dreaded threats of foreign interference didn’t materialize, but other danger may lie ahead. And Trump may be defeated, but Trumpism may be alive and kicking.
info_outline The “Buckle Your Seatbelts” Edition 10/28/2020
The “Buckle Your Seatbelts” Edition Americans head to the polls in the face of a virus and potential disruptions at polling places and beyond. Whoever wins next Tuesday, the period between Election Day and the inauguration is bound to be rocky. And we’ll take a big picture look at the national security challenges that the next president will face, whoever he is.
info_outline The “That’s Rudy!” Edition 10/21/2020
The “That’s Rudy!” Edition Rudy Giuliani finds himself at the center of a misbegotten effort to interfere in the 2020 election. American diplomats and intelligence officers complain they’re being left in the cold after mysterious attacks. And the Trump administration sends an unusual envoy to Syria to discuss U.S. hostages.
info_outline The "Unmasked at Last" Edition 10/14/2020
The "Unmasked at Last" Edition A Justice Department investigation into whether Obama-era officials improperly requested the identities of individuals from intelligence reports ends with a whimper. An investigation into the shooting of a protestor in Portland raises questions about the federal government’s use of force. And CyberCommand takes down a Russian botnet.
info_outline The “Don’t Let it Dominate You” Edition 10/07/2020
The “Don’t Let it Dominate You” Edition President Trump tests positive for the coronavirus and the White House becomes a hot zone. Justice Department officials were “a driving force” behind an immigration policy that separated families at the border with Mexico. And two ISIS militants are charged in the murder of American hostages.
info_outline The "Sh*t Show" Edition 09/30/2020
The "Sh*t Show" Edition Trump tells a white nationalist group to “stand by” as he further tries to erode confidence in the November elections, this time from the presidential debate stage. Election officials are bracing for a wave of litigation and shenanigans when Americans head for the polls. And new information about Trump’s taxes reveal he’s massively in debt, adding to long-standing fears that his finances make him vulnerable to manipulation.
info_outline The “Could Have Done More” Edition 09/23/2020
The “Could Have Done More” Edition A top member of the Mueller team says the special counsel “could have done more” to hold Trump accountable. A career government official accuses the White House of improperly trying to stop John Bolton from publishing his memoir. And the CIA is clamping down on intelligence about Russia, according to a new report.
info_outline The "Trump Trolls" Edition 09/17/2020
The "Trump Trolls" Edition A Trump-aligned political organization is accused of running a troll farm. The No. 2 on the team investigating the origins of the Russia probe quits, reportedly over concerns that the investigation is being politicized. And Israel signs an historic accord with two Arab states, as a fight over weapons sales to the UAE looms.
info_outline The "Summer is Definitely Over" Edition 09/09/2020
The "Summer is Definitely Over" Edition Multiple news organizations report that Trump has disparaged combat veterans, calling them “losers” and “suckers.” A senior Homeland Security official says he was told to stand down on the threat of Russian election interference. And the legal battle continues over whether a former White House counsel must testify before Congress.
info_outline The "Cruel Summer" Edition 09/02/2020
The "Cruel Summer" Edition Shootings in Kenosha and Portland raise new concerns about violent protests in the U.S. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn is not yet free of the justice system. And a prominent Russian opposition leader has been poisoned with a nerve agent.
info_outline The "Near Abroad" Edition 08/19/2020
The "Near Abroad" Edition The Senate Intelligence Committee issues its long-awaited—and very long—report on Russian electoral interference in 2016 and the counterintelligence risks in the Trump campaign. The GAO determines that the leadership is serving illegally. And Belarussians have taken to the streets in protest against another stolen election by long-time strongman Alexander Lukashenko.
info_outline The "Russia and Running Mates" Edition 08/12/2020
The "Russia and Running Mates" Edition Russia wants to “denigrate” Joe Biden and China would prefer Trump lose in November, viewing him as “unpredictable,” the nation’s top election security official says. An investigation by The New York Times raises questions about whether intelligence officials are softening their views on Russia to avoid upsetting Trump. And Biden picks Kamala Harris as his running mate. We look at her national security positions and how those issues will or won’t influence the 2020 campaign.
info_outline The "Dangerous Tweets" Edition 08/05/2020
The "Dangerous Tweets" Edition The Homeland Security Department compiles “intelligence reports” on protestors and journalists—including the tweets of our own Ben Wittes. Massive explosions in Beirut compound that country’s political and economic crises. And officials are increasingly warning about foreign interference in November’s election.
info_outline The "Barr, Portland, Pompeo, Camera, TV" Edition 07/29/2020
The "Barr, Portland, Pompeo, Camera, TV" Edition Attorney General Bill Barr testifies before Congress—about a lot. State and federal officials negotiate how to remove federal forces from Portland amid continuing protests. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faces his own day on the Hill after a blistering report on State Department dysfunction.
info_outline The "Not-So-Secret Police" Edition 07/22/2020
The "Not-So-Secret Police" Edition Federal officers descend on protestors in Portland, over the objections of state and local officials. Why did Trump choose this city, and what does he hope to gain from this expanding campaign of federal authority? And the U.S. hits back at Chinese spies, indicting two hackers and shuttering a consulate in Houston.