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Talking Feds

Author: Harry Litman

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TALKING FEDS is a roundtable discussion that brings together prominent former government officials, journalists, and special guests for a dynamic and in-depth analysis of the most pressing questions in law and politics.

89 Episodes
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Charter Feds and DOJ alumni Amy Jeffress, Ron Klain, and Matt Miller join Harry to analyze the US’s abysmal record controlling the virus. They then discuss the bad news the President got from both the Vance and McGahn cases, and move to the testimony of Sally Yates in the Senate, where she got a full dose of Republican fantasies about Michael Flynn. Finally, all 4 Feds contemplate what a prospective Biden Administration can do to restore the institutional stature and stability of the DOJ. 
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.
In a week in which President Trump effectively declared war on designated American cities, a classic group of charter Feds -- Frank Figliuzzi, Paul Fishman, and Joyce Vance -- join Harry to break it all down. They explain the deploy of federal agents in American cities was stunning and dangerous, even if a core power is in play. They then turn to Trump’s China-baiting and then his immigration memorandum. An overall theme: Trump’s efforts to elude the force of law and political accountability.
Toxic Mask-ulinity

Toxic Mask-ulinity

2020-07-2043:48

Congressman Joaquin Castro, Zerlina Maxwell, and Max Boot join Harry to break down a week in which the virus roared back to all-time highs in many states. Red-blue politics, and the suppression of science, continued to complicate efforts to get on top of the virus. School reopenings in particular, which the CDC says are the biggest risk for the virus’s strong return, were completely uncertain. Meanwhile, prospects for comprehensive police reform have waned in the wake of Republican opposition.
It was already a big week with the Supreme Court’s final decisions and the House hearing with ousted SDNY US Attorney Geoffrey Berman; but Trump’s Friday-night commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence made it enormous. This episode begins with a 1-on-1 with Harry and Congressman Adam Schiff about the Stone scandal, then moves into a larger discussion with the Congressman, Jen Rubin, and Barb McQuade about the Trump cases – were they great or a mixed bag? –the politics of a Stone commutation, and Berman.
The Supreme Court issued two momentous opinions last week – but the press coverage only appreciated one of them. A phenomenal panel – Dahlia Lithwick, Ron Klain, and Larry Tribe – joins Harry to break down the Court’s abortion decision in June Medical and its executive power decision in Seila Law. They end with practical reflections on Chief Justice Roberts’s position as the most powerful Justice in a century. And a sidebar of 10 of Tribe’s most famous students toast the master’s retirement.
In our continuing series of 1-on-1 interviews with political leaders who are mentioned as possible running mates for Joe Biden, Harry spoke with Stacey Abrams, who as Democratic candidate for Georgia governor in 2018 garnered the highest number of Democratic votes in Georgia history. The discussion focuses on Abrams’s new book, Our Time is Now, which is part personal memoir, part historical survey of impediments to voting to the present day, and part manifesto for growing the franchise in 2020 and beyond. Abrams also responds to the criticism that she doesn’t have sufficient experience to permit her to step into the presidency if the need arose.
In this special edition of Talking Feds, Joyce Vance hosts a conversation with Maya Wiley, Barbara McQuade, and Jill Wine-Banks. The four discuss police reform, the Barr-Berman debacle and the testimonies of Aaron Zelinsky and John Elias, two current assistant United States attorneys, who talked about politically motivated prosecutions. They close with the impact the COVID-19 pandemic may have on voting in November. New Westchester DA Mimi Rocah joins for the sidebar.
Peter Baker, Laura Jarrett, and Juliette Kayyem (with a sidebar from Frances McDormand) join Harry on a banner week in which the Supreme Court issued two decisions bringing joy to the DACA dreamers and LGBTQ citizens; former national security adviser John Bolton’s long-awaited book trashed the President as dedicated to obstruction as way of life; Trump took it on the chin from other quarters; and the virus continued its chokehold even as more citizens seemed to think the danger had passed.
It was an extraordinary 24 hours, even by the measure of this DOJ. AG Barr announced Friday evening that SDNY US Attorney Geoffrey Berman was resigning; but Berman responded saying he was doing nothing of the kind. That led to a feverish series of moves that ended with Berman’s agreeing to leave but his Deputy, a career prosecutor likely to protect ongoing investigations, in place—for now. Feds Barb McQuade, Matt Miller, and Andy Weissman join Harry for a rapid reaction to the crazy events.
Trumpocalypse Nu?

Trumpocalypse Nu?

2020-06-1548:10

Minnesota native sons Al Franken and Norm Ornstein join David Frum and Harry on a week that saw the protests from Minneapolis consolidate into an international movement. The Feds discuss the broader circumstances that gave rise to the George Floyd killing, and turn to the national political landscape and the President’s out-of-step chest-thumping response. They analyze the systemic reasons for the election day chaos in Georgia and close with some observations about AG Barr’s bad week.
As worldwide demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd stretched into their tenth day, Feds Roy Austin, Barb McQuade, and Jen Rubin join Harry to discuss the state of play in the case against the 4 officers charged in the death and then take up the possibility that the stars are aligned for comprehensive national legislation to reform police practices. The Feds then turn to Trump’s disastrous photo-op and the fallout it generated before speculating about whether real change is in the air.
Minnesota Burning

Minnesota Burning

2020-06-0145:15

In a week that began with turbulence and ended on the edge of anarchy, Natasha Bertrand, Matt Miller, and Senator Barbara Boxer join Harry to make sense of the unfolding dramas in Minnesota, DC, and around the country. The Feds analyze the impact of the killing of George Floyd and its interaction with the continuing ravages of COVID-19. They then turn to current events in DC, including McConnell’s insistence on immunity for companies for transmission of the virus and Pompeo’s deepening troubles.
Four charter feds, ex-prosecutors and government officials all -- Paul Fishman, Maya Wiley, Barbara McQuade, and Harry – convene in a classic home-for-Memorial-Day Talking Feds. The 4 explore why the virus disproportionately victimizes people of color, and turn to the new wave of lawsuits challenging state authority. They then take up the DC Circuit’s aggressive move to possibly disable Judge Sullivan in the Flynn case, and end with Trump’s aggressive resumption of bogus claims of voter fraud.
After a week with dramatic action on multiple fronts – testimony by Fauci and Bright; Trump’s “unmasking” charge and Obamagate trope; abysmal economic news; and the specter of criminal charges against Senator Richard Burr—feds Aaron Blake, David Gura, and Asha Ragganpa join Harry to talk through the political and legal landscape but also the real-world impact, especially on more vulnerable populations, of the virus and of the Administration’s bumbling and politicized oversight efforts.
In our continuing series of 1-on-1 interviews with political leaders who are prominently mentioned as possible running mates for Joe Biden, Harry spoke with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Whitmer has drawn fire from Trump and extremist protesters for her relatively strict shelter-in-place order; but she continues to have strong approval ratings among Michiganders generally. We focused on virus issues but also touched on her background, other goals for Michigan, and the Biden VP possibility.
In Like Flynn

In Like Flynn

2020-05-1144:59

Journalistic legend Andrea Mitchell joins Ron Klain, Anne Milgram, and Harry to discuss the jaw-dropping news of the Flynn dismissal, which the Feds unanimously agree can only be explained by corruption at DOJ. The group then takes on the uneven and dangerous pattern of easing of shelter-in-place orders in various states, and then discusses the whistleblower complaints, particularly the one by Dr. Rick Bright, that portray a White House making life-and-death decisions on the basis of cronyism.
Four of the nation’s premier experts in counter-intelligence and national security—Kate Brannen, Frank Figliuzzi, Juliette Kayyem, and Sam Vinograd—reconvene without Harry at the virtual Double Agent Bar & Grill, for a no-holds-barred discussion of the most troubling and important aspects of the virus. The 4 cut to the core in a rich and freewheeling conversation about the grave dangers that the virus, and Trump’s inept handling of it, pose to the US’s security and our standing in the world.
Abortion returns to the Supreme Court with June Medical Services v Russo, which the Court heard March 4 and could decide any day. It’s the first big abortion case since Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were appointed by Trump, who promised in the 2016 campaign to select Justices who would overturn Roe v Wade. Former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, Leah (no relation) Litman, and Amy Howe join Harry to discuss the case and situate it in the 50-year sweep of the Court’s abortion jurisprudence since Roe.
An All-Feds classic, featuring 4 former AUSA’s/MSNBC contributors: Joyce Vance, Maya Wiley, Andrew Weissmann, and Harry. The feds focus on the federal, state and local law enforcement’s responses to the virus, including the efforts to ensure (and Trump’s resistance to) effective oversight; the DOJ’s ongoing work and its political support of Trump; and the only partially successful effort to integrate law enforcement and health care, especially for vulnerable sub-populations.
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Comments (21)

Myron McLeod

This podcast is a national treasure. Amazing guests!!

Jul 27th
Reply

Barb Krull

I can't thank you enough for posting pod cast like this. I'm a nurse with limited knowledge about the justice system. not because I don't want to know bit I sometimes struggle with it being out of my scope/understanding. You have a way of speaking about all these topics in a way that I can understand. I think understanding these topics as a citizen are critical and I'm so thankful for your time.

Jul 6th
Reply

Nancy Gerseny

listening for the 2nd time so much to digest

Jul 1st
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DMC

Sisters in Laws rock! Talking Feds great podcast

Jun 30th
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Diane Thompson

this was terrific!!! more please

Jun 29th
Reply

J. Steinman

I was hoping, Harry, that you were going to define your use of the Yiddish "Nu" for your audience...otherwise, super discussion!

Jun 20th
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J. Steinman

I trust we'll be hearing your respective Haftorot, too?!

Jun 15th
Reply

Kathleen Fuller

Why would you discuss BLM and policing with only white men?

Jun 15th
Reply

Ami Tallman

what about the homeless vote? mail-oblu ballots do not account for their vote.

Apr 22nd
Reply (1)

Claude Poliakoff

it's appalling, compounded by AG Barr banning presidential investigation

Feb 6th
Reply

Claude Poliakoff

loss of respect for truth is foretelling the end of morality

Jan 31st
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J. Steinman

Wow: what an informative and more than slightly disturbing show, Harry. Thanks!

Jan 18th
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Michael Dunscomb

Does the microphone get better?

Dec 4th
Reply (1)

howard mhc

Will this be fixed ever

Sep 21st
Reply

Alice Haugen

link goes to the episode about violent extremism. please fix.

Sep 4th
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Kathleen Fuller

Couldn't find a woman?

Jul 21st
Reply (1)

Gayle Allen Choojitarom

"I think the American public* is smart enough to see somebody that looks like they're hiding something" re: Barr's testimony. *The same American public that elected Trump? I fear you overestimate a lot of us.

Jun 17th
Reply

Gayle Allen Choojitarom

Gotta side with Matthew Miller over Joyce Vance in this instance.

May 28th
Reply
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