DiscoverVox's The WeedsInfrastructure week (jk it's about Comey)

Infrastructure week (jk it's about Comey)

Update: 2017-06-09


Dara Lind and Yochi Dreazen join Matt to talk about Comey's testimony and the larger consequences of the Russia investigation.

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

hey guys if a six for the governor what America needs to another seven weeds in the Vox Media podcast Network I'm mad to play CS are joined by Carl ending of the treason of frequent guests in the past glad to have both with us to be here and that obviously this week has been infrastructure we cats that dominate his attention in Washington we did have a request from the Facebook group for some analysis of the air traffic control privatization proposal but we're not going to talk about that today because also former FBI Director James Comey came to the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday and told his version of events I mean it was a striking moment in American politics it seems to me completely separate from the legal issues simply to have former FBI director former deputy attorney general well respected Republican issue public figure standing there under oath saying the president is a liar the administration was def aiming the FBI and to me that brought home the sort of gravity of the idleness of that the situation that we find ourselves and that you know we have a lot of investor to Tori questions of but also just this kind of fundamental baseline reality that leading figures in the government are saying that's like quite openly about the president the United States and the Republicans on the committee did not really have a substantive defense yeah I mean I go out on a limb and start this by saying I think yesterday was good for a public which is a phrase that I rarely I think this deserves it if you think about the fact that we have this notion that what makes drama in American politics is the clash of ideas that is a noble idea of it often in practice whether it's on the floor of the Senate or on cable news means that you just put two people who disagree next to each other and have them yell at each other and that's what makes drama to have something that was such an event that was such an act of political theater where the drama wasn't cheap people disagree about what is good for American or young each other about it but a bunch of people are trying to get down to the facts and trying to figure out you know who acted in morally and who should be held accountable for their actions and public forum made for riveting drama and it was good to see video the business of politics is interesting not just because people are out there slugging it out that members of the committee were actually very good for the most part and not saying well I think the real problem here is love love love love which is usually a problem you have in committee hearings people taking up all their time not ask any questions the most part both sides of the committee had things that they wanted to get information from CA me on they wanted to move the ball forward and even despite the fact that few of the Republicans on the committee appeared to agree that President Trump did anything or much of anything wrong he thrust of the hearing was let's get down to the fact let's hear out a figure who has an important window into this scandal that's really consumed America and try to get chronology of what happened who was responsible I think that there's just that history elements mean it's always cliche usually to say this is a historic moment but it is not cliche notion of a recently fired FBI director under oath the sitting president United States a liar repeatedly and we remember that only submitted a very well written as writers that God created the writing of it was really good compelling almost a personal story of our contract with Don Trump anything took the oath and basically said you've all read that let's get right to it in his first answer is literally first answer was I was worried on trumpet lie and when I took net which is very striking was in some ways here like this with an unimaginable any other president for all who in this false notion of her Fang FBI director and then being accused of direct line by him tight imagine with Obama impossible to match with George W Bush hard to imagine here in some ways it seemed inevitable from the down from one that there be moments like this somebody in position of power saying he is a liar at the same time it seemed on one hand the match with anybody else inevitable don't Trump finally happened start your point I was struck by the fact that the chairperson of the committee at the beginning and again at the end praised commies honesty there's almost a sort of preemptive I know Don Trump will say something dumb about you being dishonest I'm going to plant a flag as a Republican a rock ribbed red state Republican I trust you you are an honest man with integrity preemptive what became as we net later saw the dotted line of Cami light which basically means the president said former FBI chief commit perjury which is criminal let's be honest with her was also defending Congress' right as an institution for the most part Republicans haven't been willing to do that when Donald Trump has said things you know about the Freedom Caucus and tried to get involved in the HCA he has unnecessarily respect that Congress has a separate job but for a trip or to say it is our job as a congressional committee to get to the bottom of this and you've helped us do that job was also kind of not necessarily a brush back pitch but a signal that if Donald Trump is going to go impunity their process they might actually hit the weight but I think it is worth looking at what was the sort of lines of Republican argument that you heard from Senators because it was interesting they didn't go in line with the sort of Trump be an attack and call me but they also didn't line up with the Democrats are really with what Coney was trying to say instead that they raised a bunch of points that seem a little bit sort of subsidiary or possibly relevant and one major theme was getting homey to say negative things about war and a winch which is interesting and you know I mean I think the history files are going to need to deal with that whole issue but is not really relevant there's no two wrongs make a right of defence of Presidential misconduct the other was a lot of questioning of ko mi of like well if this was so bad why didn't you say something at the time and call me you know handle that well try to have a you know a mix of sort of humility and are you kidding me the strange argument because I guess the implication well maybe comb we didn't really think this stuff Trump did was bad at the time but now he's mad because he got fired and then the third was everything James Lankford said this most directly was like well this kind hope stuff that didn't seem too too aggressive to me which you you could see except for the fact that the elephant in the room of this whole line of questioning is that only got fire right I mean you could make the case I mean you can always sort of parse words that well exactly what Trump said about I hope you can get rid of this fun thing wasn't really a direct interference if teams come he was still FBI director right if he had been up there saying Trump said This saying I took it to be inappropriate I didn't do what he asked and now the investigation is gone along merrily you'd say well OK maybe Trump who knows you know he's new to being president things happen to come he got fired and Republicans did not seem to me to have much to say about that subject but it's it's pretty critical because we're going to have a new FBI director soon and TransCanada did you know he looks like a well qualified guy you see his resume that the whole deal but from what we know that trumps interactions with co me you have to ask what is being solved the problem has Donald Trump solved by replacing James Koh me with a different sort of George W Bush era high ranking Justice Department official and it seems from Trump's own narrative what he is solving is getting someone who is willing to pledge personal loyalty to him which to me seems obviously inappropriate I think Senate Democrats will feel it's inappropriate but some Republicans didn't seem to have anything to say on that subject and take a step back Madison East at the outset the rush of peace was fascinating I think there are three parts but they're all worth kind of taking a step back and look at each one separately one was calmly saying again and again really explicitly and forcefully being really rush and if you're in the election Russia try to interfere in the succeeding get a line about how Americans are about to vote for but it's an American decision here because Lima something online to rush into trying to say this I should think act and vote to hit that point again and again and again he also raised us or hinted that there are things about the Russia pro get to come once he avoided any questions about this very shady Russian bank that your question or has dealings with and said that to be close session hinted there's more stuff the chat sessions in Russia that it closed liter leaked out that there appears to be another meeting Jeff sessions with Russian ambassador there was tons of clothes which are the bees perjury fun from a Senate committee confirmation hearing and then there's a certain other question about Trump collusion he hit that again and again and again as a real possibility and hit again and again again that mothers looking into the president is looking to present a hill at the end that this one last question if you didn't get the attention deserved but at the end of this very impassioned monologue about the sanctity of American elections get in line at the end dagger of if they're Americans who helped Russia do that that's a very big eel yes it is for the closed session was entirely about that to the bottom of the probe which is just getting going and regardless of which comes within it have the FBI unless he fires popular atheists can be a snowball I think that it's worthwhile to kind of separate they're really two things that John Kerry is accusing President Trump of trying to interfere with the FBI one of them is the request to drop the investigation into my flat which is where if you're going to make the argument that Donald Trump committed a federal crime of obstruction of justice that's where the clear cases that's where the kind of well wasn't asked or was it and I hope you are did you actually take it as a direction that's where that becomes really relevant and then there's the separate allegation that Trump was trying to pressure his way into how the FBI dealt with the Russian investigation or the allegation isn't that Trump was directing them to investigate or not to investigate but that he was really upset even though the FBI was not currently looking at him as a person of interest they had publicly said that yet you know that that is why Trump said he fired to me for that's what Coney said come inside I trust the president didn't lie to Lester Holt and that's really what I was fired for and that's where it becomes a little bit weird that everyone is so lovely about it because Donald Trump makes sense that don't doesn't care if the FBI rules up anybody that he was associated with as long as he stays clean and that clearly in at one point even told coming you know some of my satellites were involved that's you know sure we should get that out but that's a problem for him as a as an executive is a problem for his administration is a problem for the way that he won the election and the fact that not only Donald Trump was unknown to us like of course to try for an under the bus by the Republican Party who represents not only him but the rest of his administration is taking this lying that sure if other people who were employed in the White House are involved in the successful Republican presidential campaign committed crimes that is alright as long as the person who is currently in the presence he didn't commit crimes that seems like it's going to go badly for JJ seem like a weird standard mean you imagine this narrative emerging in which Susan Rice David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett were all being rolled up in some connected criminal conspiracy and the view was that well as long as Barak Obama was not personally directly implicated be like a really bad day right I mean Republicans would be really upset Democrats would be like how did we get these people in here we would be wondering why did you appoint all these crooks you know and the theme moved to this sort of direct insulation of Donald Trump personally is that on one like this early in the game and what the was was most sort of interesting under plea was that there was one line of questioning of call me about you know did the president express any interest in the Like underlying investigation into question hacking and cyber attacks coming was basically saying no that he attended a briefing about it but that in the course of these nine conversations that they had in which Trump brought up the west investigation several times he was never because he wanted to know about the substance of the investigation whatever trumps culpability or lack there of silly as a policy judgment it is a little bit disturbing write one thing that we've seen since the US election particularly from the French election and other events around the world is that the Russians regard this seemingly as a successful rollout of a strategic approach that they intend to keep using them for whatever their own purposes are it's a little bit murky but this is something they are going to keep doing and saying that the American government and other Western governments are interested in trying to understand better what's the scope of it what are their capabilities who was involved how does this stuff work what can we do and Donald Trump doesn't want to know he doesn't want to talk about it he sees the whole subject as undermining his legitimacy but there's a commie brought this up but there's a very serious problem here separate from from Trump and you are a great grape these yucky about how you know there's a massive Russian success here any day this excess is sort of twofold one if your Poon want to do basically since you took the presidency which will hold for life obviously is make America doubt itself and make America a treat in the world stage there's no better example of both those things than the Trump presidency the first place and this hearing in the second don't come to show himself willing to bend lie and break is passed into almost anything but he's consistently pulling the world us back from leadership on any issue taking us out of the Paris accords have a little practical impact except the response to the rest the world including Chinese was America no longer matter we're now into our own thing when Trump whence the NATO headquarters staff that cared for my speech which explicitly reaffirmed the thing made almost want him to reaffirm which is attacking one is an attack and all which existed solely to deter Russia he had that text we know the twenty seven which is supposed to speak and he on his own didn't speak them that's remarkable thing a present given a script every other word he kept two but the one line is most important he skipped so if you're putting anyone one have America s seem less interesting less important in world stage mission accomplished to one Americans to doubt the integrity of their whole political system also mission accomplished trumpet loss to the counter factual some people might've said Well there's Russian meddling the U S government talked about it too much rock above me and even mentioning the middling that cost us the White House and then the thirty five for the country are with them no matter what will not accept Hillary so almost independent of one Russia succeeded in making us as a country doubt everything about what has made America arguably a special place the last fifty years and it's just profoundly depressing another point that you ate them on to things is we're talking about for second Brock Obama I don't think he handled the Russian hacking as strongly as he should have as aggressive as he should have a western span that he should have but we do know that he communicated himself personally and through his aides to Moscow to basically say that the fuck up we're not accept this anymore we're calling on its top we know that down Trump not only has not had the FBI chief talked about it he's never said that who so if Russia is saying America's classroom to keep packing the previous president called them on the current president is and hasn't and won't that is also remarkable I think it's worth pointing out everything you he said is true even in death and without going to the point of assuming that it has some dirt on from that too is deliberately you know that Trump is in some way a puppet of the Putin administration I think that it often can seem like there's going to be some smoking gun that comes out there's going to be we're going to find out that the famous Key tape Israel or the twenty Something else that makes it clear that Trump was being blackmailed all time I don't know whether anything like that is out there and not think that it's worth assuming that it's not to think about what we know for sure even if we know everything that happened what we know is that Donald Trump who even before he was a politician had this very view of world affairs that America was with other countries are winning America must be losing their four other countries must lose for America when entered politics and was successful and in other countries on the continent Mary McCann and the National Front other parties that have this view that to protect the interests of their countries requires fading other countries are fighting international forces rather than leading on them also are gaining in power and Putin's Russia has decided that that is a good thing for them so this is all the rise of these four says doesn't have to be Desa borne by or even driven by Russia to be a good thing that Coons going to celebrate if they see the back off from the hacking he is particularly remarkable I mean I think as you say I think you talk to people were in the Obama administration a lot of them will tell you that they feel that the decision making was a little too soft on Russia starting with Ukraine that the hole final to three years of the Obama administration people in there were pushing for a harder line than ultimately the White House adopted I think certainly in retrospect almost all of them wish that the response to the Russian hacking and cyber attacks have been more aggressive and what's amazing about the administration is that Donald Trump is like only person in America who's take away from the events of October November twenty sixteen was that the Obama administration was too hard on the Russians great but nobody else thinks that including the Republicans were backing from nowhere in this confusing situation where they spent eight years criticizing Obama for being basically not aggressive enough in that response to food and income comes in and he's like he's trying to give them back at the diplomatic facilities that the Obama administration sanctioned he had some weird feelers out about making some kind of special deal with them and Syria is not clear that any of those initiatives are going to go anywhere because there's such an overwhelming consensus against it and you know in in the government try to mean that nobody in the military thinks is a good idea nobody in the State Department thinks it's good idea but Trump out of leather and something shady or as dar says it's just his sort of natural gut level instinct that like Putin was helpful to him so he resents this idea that he should be mad about that it's a very remarkable policy take mean I don't expect normal voters to be like out in the streets angry and furious about the handling of these like two properties that the Obama administration froze but it's really bizarre and indefensible it seems to me and there's not been the sort of legalization of this in Cory leaves that kind of stuff off the table like he's the president he has definitely allowed to make terrible foreign policy choices if he wants to but in a lot of ways to me that's the sort of core issue here is like your job as president is is to lead the country and something about what's going on in this Nexus of pressure issues is preventing Trump from doing that in a responsible way and this is where can we come back I want to give a quick five point chronology point one we now know that there was interest in the trombonist ration lifting sanctions on Russia the first week of the Trump presidency they didn't act on that at that point to Trump gets increasingly frustrated with homey as Cummings testified that there's this kind of cloud over him because of the Trump investigation that he wants to clear point three fires come in then tells Lester Holt that it was because the shooting was big news point four he tells Russian officials in a meeting in the Oval Office the county was a nutjob and now that he's been fired the pressure is off him and point five the trap in this region gives these diplomatic facilities it's certainly does look like they felt that that was something that they couldn't do and then they fired homey and they could do but she let me stop there for a second because I think now when Fahey hasn't happened in the movie is set in my pants they haven't succeeded in doing it for I think in some ways essential to technology when Trump one of the convention was about Trump and Russia was potentially potentially do things Russia wants to lift sanctions to say you know it's okay you invaded part of Ukraine but Arabic annual policy changes their five thousand US troops going to Poland to try to be along the Polish border to say Russia like you can't invade other countries in Eastern Europe and that conventional wisdom was nothing new can happen when the case the sanctions lifted that was wrong nothing is wrong but Trump is made of this thing so toxic they can't happen last month of coverage this week that the Senate is finishing up a new Russia sanctions bill explicitly draft in a way that makes it harder for Trump to lift any Russian sanctions including the new ones soon as I think that that's a Senate Republican drafted bill that basically says we don't trust our president such a degree where drafting this bill has to keep the short orange fingered hands off of it which is really impressive to me but you have one and the irony of the tangible things people thought would happen have not happened instead Trump has been consumed consumed by this Russia scandal which shows every sign of snow blowing the Jeff sessions piece of it can get bigger he testify next week and will get explicit questions of did you purge ears of July Jared Kushner is now put into it he made a point earlier both you and are of that and you're safe typically match of this for Valerie Jarrett David Axelrod therapist in hell happened Obama had other circles of people from whom he could draw people to fill those jobs down from dust he doesn't trust anybody he loves his family loves Jared Kushner someone inexplicably left Jeff sessions so if you're Obama you least like a vegetable from Trump and your top people on strike and picked off one by one by one who runs the government who's running the West we get that the sessions piece of this totally blows my mind obviously as someone who has covered the issues on which sessions was a voice of one in the Senate who now somehow is running large loss of the federal government he's one of the few people in the trombonist rationing has lots of government experience which means that he's been running his inner his department very confidently he's been working very aggressively to stiffen sentences on low level drug offenses immigration offenses into no direct attention toward those away from white collar crime most of the administration isn't really functioning at sessions Department of Justice is functioning a much higher level than most and it's really the best expression of the issues that Trump brand on of trumpets of this kind of worldview of America as something that has been polluted by crime and disorder needs to be purified that we have so it turns out to be the case that sessions has to go that is a massive defeat both for the Trump administration as a government that can do things and for trumpet as a governing yeah and I do think I mean the ears were dwelling on and sessions in that regard because if not for the fact that it looks like he's maybe going to be in legal jeopardy I think people would be saying that needs to do to right the ship here is possibly actually bring sessions further into PAP or that maybe Jeff sessions should be Donald Trump's chief of staff that Jeff sessions is not a good politician type figure the way Donald Trump is Jeff sessions believes in a Trump be ideology and way the Rams previous doesn't the decisions knows a lot about politics and government in a way that Jared Kushner and even Steve Dad in really don't and that you need to like it but it's a professional Justice Department that does what it's supposed to do put out statements but he appears to me to be in very serious trouble I mean we saw him was that there was a line of questioning from Ron White Right who did he did this is like if you not Intelligence Committee hearing junkie this is like Ron Wyden move is to have the witness come up and ask a question that seems a little Atta left fielder little but not all and then the witness says like and talk about that in open session and then all the reporters that the notes haha because if you know it's weird because you can't you can't ask the witness classified questions but you can ask things that you know he's got us or drop that bomb then went to the closed session and the leak that came out of there was that it was a third meeting between sessions and investor ghastly act and the significance of that it seems to me is that we already had sessions testifying before Congress and he said there had been no need this thing came out that in fact had been meetings and so if you don't like Jeff sessions you jump up and you say lying to Congress perjury I do think the more mole generous interpretation of that is look people may speak he said something it wasn't true he got called on it he corrected it he recused himself from the investigation said a great look for sessions but it's also not a criminal look but if the process of correcting your previous false testimony to Congress you don't fully correct it that really casts the regional testimony in a much more insidious lie right I mean he has two of once that was a news story and he was like in the crosshairs right you've got to go to your staff to anybody you know they need to look at this rigorously we need a full accounting and even if the only thing is we were at a cocktail reception because that was that after a speech at the Mayflower you gotta put that in and if he didn't really makes him look bad and that in turn you know it's a serious problem for time he is a guy who was polled the major player in the campaign and is a major subsidy figures in the administration and that seems to me we may that was not the headline that anybody want without us but depending on what happens over the next few weeks I think we may see that as the biggest news that broke this question of the F B I's trust in sessions because if they knew that there was a subsequent meeting before sessions recused himself which is what come the implied they had this other information that made them think he was going to accuse and then he recused himself and didn't divulge that information in fact denied that that information existed now you have the FBI who yes sessions has recused himself from the Russian investigation but he's still their boss's boss you know in everything else knowing that the attorney general has misled the American public that seems like it could be an organizational problem for the next several years the case that he considers whether some ways it about Trump he clearly believes the sessions a liar that he cannot trust these men have zero integrity that came through pretty loud and clear in his public testimony it certainly came clear in the closed door testimony and you could tell that it resonated because it leaked instantaneously like the doors that meeting opened a can the senators and within minutes years and Twitter what we know is that there is this undisclosed their meaning that I completely agree and it's not hard to check your own calendars Senator where time is blocked out by ten or fifteen blocks and feel like there was this their clock went off the rush mesh mention that next week's hearing with sessions isn't to be this It's not unlike another kind of Watergate level of Washington stops to watch it but it is substantively really big deal is also in that weird criminology where the Times report with that amazing way to supporters of course this person is out this person's down bans on Way Out Dance nine as we have Christians love cushions not like there's a story last week the week before that got deliver the tension overshadow completely anti commie Trump is a great Jeff sessions I mean the single word of the truck there is fury like every stories Trump is furious about this history about that but he was and remains in good of sessions for the refusal so the thing Jeff sessions did arguably the most ethical thing he's done so far as attorney general which even his belated imperfect not complete but taking the right step of saying I shouldn't be involved in this time accusing specifically the thing that our troubles anguished about and wise and just keep having this rate the sessions and feeling of If sessions Henry himself had not done this task ethical thing Russia would Conway and I find it fascinating that what he may want to get rid of Jeff sessions for the thing that the rest of Washington both parties
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Infrastructure week (jk it's about Comey)