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Can He Do That?

“Can He Do That?” is The Washington Post’s politics podcast, exploring presidential power in the face of weakened institutions, a divided electorate and changing political norms. Led by host Allison Michaels, each episode asks a new question about this extraordinary moment in American history and answers with insight into how our government works, how to understand ongoing events, and the implications when so much about the current state of American life and the country’s politics is unlike anything we’ve seen before.

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Will President Trump's immigration ban survive?

Is President Trump's executive order temporarily barring entry into the U.S. from seven majority-Muslim countries within the bounds of presidential power? With Marc Fisher, Post senior editor and author of "Trump Revealed," we answer that and more.


3 Feb 2017

Rank #1

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Pelosi signals next step. Does anyone get what they wanted?

After a long standoff, Nancy Pelosi announced that the House will finally consider a resolution to send the articles of impeachment to the Senate next week. Reporter Karoun Demirjian answers questions about what’s been gained or lost in the process.


10 Jan 2020

Rank #2

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Five things we know now that we didn’t know last week

This week, the impeachment inquiry offered plenty of new revelations. Political reporter Amber Phillips unravels Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s news conference, the debate over the Constitution, new call logs from the president’s lawyer, and more.


6 Dec 2019

Rank #3

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Republicans’ defense of Trump grows frantic. Will it work?

Reporter Toluse Olorunnipa explains what GOP lawmakers were trying to achieve Wednesday when they protested in the basement of the Capitol. What role do House Republicans play in defending the president and how much is White House guidance informing them?


24 Oct 2019

Rank #4

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Should Trump be spending weekends at Mar-a-Lago?

President Trump frequents his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, has a triplex penthouse in Trump Tower in downtown Manhattan and has his last name blazoned on dozens of properties around the world. Does that change things for the office of the presidency?


10 Feb 2017

Rank #5

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White House investigation reveals effort to justify Trump’s Ukraine aid decision

The White House’s review of President Trump’s decision to hold up Ukraine military aid found documents showing an extensive effort to justify the move. Reporter Carol Leonnig explains what we know so far about the White House Counsel’s findings.


26 Nov 2019

Rank #6

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How Trump is leveraging the presidency to campaign against Biden

This presidential campaign season is unlike any other in history. I know, that sounds like something people in world of politics say a lot. But this time, in 2020, during a global pandemic, the campaign trail looks dramatically different — and for now, mostly empty.Former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has spent the past few months holding virtual events, largely from his basement. President Trump, meanwhile, has resumed some travel, though in an official capacity as president and not as part of the campaign.That distinction though, has been muddled as Trump’s travel schedule shows trips to the battleground states that are crucial to his reelection chances. And what’s more, these events have taken on clear campaign overtones: Supporters have lined the streets to greet his motorcade, and Trump’s campaign soundtrack even played inside a facility while he toured.Is Trump leveraging unfair advantages with an election just six months away? What powers does he have to ensure he can safely resume the kinds of large campaign events that are among his most powerful political tools?On this episode of the“Can He Do That?” podcast, political reporters Sean Sullivan and Toluse Olorunnipa discuss how the two campaigns are handling these unprecedented circumstances, and how the president’s power in crisis can affect his ability to reach voters.Related reading Trump uses official travel to gain campaign edge in swing states as he seeks to move past pandemicTrump blames Democrats for his grounded campaign, even as bipartisan restrictions ban his signature ralliesBiden defends his decision to campaign from home, calls Trump reckless


21 May 2020

Rank #7

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Politics, pressure and pleas: The twisting case of Michael Flynn and the Justice Department

Last week, the Justice Department, led by Attorney General William P. Barr, moved to drop charges against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn has also been seeking to undo his guilty plea since January, and newly released documents have given him the chance, according to his lawyers. As a refresher, Flynn, back in 2017, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The new documents show the FBI preparing for Flynn’s interview and debating whether their goal was to“get him to lie.” Flynn’s lawyers call these documents“stunning” new evidence, while other legal experts say these documents merely show standard procedure for law enforcement officials preparing for an interview.Trump fired Flynn shortly after that FBI interview, for lying to Vice President Pence about Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak. Regardless, Trump has recently suggested he might pardon Flynn. A pardon that, of course, wouldn’t be necessary if the Justice Department is able to drop the case against Flynn altogether.It turns out, as it often does in our complicated legal system, dropping the charges against Flynn might not be so easy. A U.S. district judge earlier this week put the move on hold, making room for independent groups and legal experts to come in and argue against exonerating Flynn. That judge even asked a retired judge to oppose the Justice Department in all of this.These legal battles bring our Justice Department into uncharted territory, with boundaries between the department and the president repeatedly tested. And, as these matter tend to go, this isn’t the only news to emerge recently that shines a light on the relationship between federal law enforcement agencies and the president of the United States. This episode of the“Can He Do That?” podcast unpacks the latest news developments in this twisting and turning story, with the help of national security reporter Devlin Barrett.Related reading/episodesInvestigating an investigation: Barr’s newfound power to declassify materialsHow does Attorney General Barr view presidential power?Understanding the twists and turns in the Michael Flynn case


14 May 2020

Rank #8

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House Democrats unveil rules for impeachment process. What changes now?

Pending a House vote on the Democrats’ resolution, the stage will be set for the next phase of the impeachment probe. Congress reporter Mike DeBonis explains what the new procedures and rules mean for the events on Capitol Hill in the weeks ahead.


30 Oct 2019

Rank #9

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The inquiry moves to Judiciary. Can the president’s legal team sit this one out?

Trump and his lawyers won’t be part of Wednesday’s hearing. Have we ever before seen a president’s legal team absent from impeachment proceedings? Reporter Paul Kane explains how past presidents used their lawyers and how Trump’s approach is different.


3 Dec 2019

Rank #10

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What Trump's rhetoric at his rallies can tell us about his approach towards policy and diplomacy

In June, national political correspondent Jenna Johnson and producer Anne Li went to a Trump rally in Duluth, Minn. Johnson has been to dozens of Trump rallies, but this time, she and Li focused on something different - the crowd.


13 Jul 2018

Rank #11

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The problems with pardon power

Only a few presidential powers are very clearly outlined in the U.S. Constitution. One of those is the president’s power to pardon.We’ve seen President Trump exercise his pardon power at several moments during his tenure in office - sometimes to much controversy.Tuesday, the president continued this trend. He pardoned or commuted the sentences of several convicted white-collar criminals at the center of federal anti-corruption and tax fraud cases.Trump’s choice to grant clemency to this group, combined with a reported desire from the administration to issue more pardons in the coming months, raises questions about who else Trump might pardon. Among them is his longtime adviser and friend Roger Stone, who was sentenced Thursday to serve three years four months for impeding a congressional investigation of 2016 Russian election interference.Trump left this door open when he said at an event in Las Vegas Thursday that while he wasn’t going to grant clemency to Stone right now, Stone “has a very good chance of exoneration.”What do a president’s decisions about who to pardon say about his agenda? How unusual is it really for a president to pardon those close to him? And how much power does the Justice Department have to push back on a president who seeks to pardon for political gain?On this episode, White House reporter Toluse Olorunnipa helps us boil our questions down to this: If a president has sweeping pardon powers — are there really consequences to using them? And … should there be?Related episodesTrump’s view of a unilaterally powerful president goes unchallenged'The Framers would not recognize the modern presidency.'


20 Feb 2020

Rank #12

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Special episode: Trump’s lawyer got raided by the FBI. Now what will Trump do?

This week, we talk with reporter Matt Zapotosky about the FBI raid on attorney Michael Cohen — and potential implications for President Trump and the future of Robert Mueller's investigation.


12 Apr 2018

Rank #13

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Articles of impeachment against Trump are unveiled

House Democrats announced articles on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress against President Trump in its investigation of his conduct regarding Ukraine. Reporter Mike DeBonis explains what the articles mean, why they matter and what happens next.


10 Dec 2019

Rank #14

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How much power does a president have to affect an investigation?

As the fallout from Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey continues, we take a look at the limitations of presidential power when it comes to investigations. Plus, we assess how history measures up, with Bob Woodward and Marc Fisher.


12 May 2017

Rank #15

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How to Flip the House: The takeaways for 2018

Given what we've learned from the 1994, 2006 and 2010 midterms about how partisanship, divisiveness and polarizing presidents all affect affect both midterm elections and the powers of the presidency, we ask if Democrats can flip the House in 2018.


29 Jun 2018

Rank #16

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A new inquiry phase and a new revelation: Your guide to the first public impeachment hearing

Complete with contentious moments between lawmakers and insight into facts from key witnesses, the first day of impeachment hearings was eventful. Reporter Elise Viebeck breaks down new information and major moments from the day.


14 Nov 2019

Rank #17

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What we learned from Michael Cohen's scathing testimony

Marc Fisher wraps up this week's hearings, plus a look at what it was like for reporters experiencing the public hearing in realtime.


1 Mar 2019

Rank #18

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A harrowing book, an anonymous op-ed and a White House in chaos

After a week of revelations about what it's like to work for President Trump, White House bureau chief Philip Rucker offers insight into the state of the administration.


7 Sep 2018

Rank #19

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Do power struggles in the White House make Trump a more effective president?

Do staff tensions interfere with Trump's ability to govern? And are these rivalries by Trump's design? White House bureau chief Philip Rucker talks to former Trump aide Sam Nunberg about what it's like to work for Trump -- and to get fired by him.


21 Apr 2017

Rank #20