Rank #1: It’s a quid pro quo. Is it impeachable?
Ambassador William Taylor described a quid pro quo — military aid in exchange for a Ukrainian announcement of an investigation into Burisma — in his testimony to Congress. He says a top national security official told him that, and EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland confirmed it, saying he’d made a mistake when he said only a White House meeting depended on such an announcement. In fact, “everything” depended on it. President Trump usurped Congress’ constitutional spending powers for personal use. Is this impeachable. Rich Lowry, Linette Lopez and Josh Barro debate.
Plus: The situation in Syria heats up, Democrats and Republicans take unlikely positions on tax policy, and could Congress do anything to prevent another WeWork mess? And what’s the status of the “phase one” trade deal with China? Have we agreed to anything?
Oct 25 2019
Rank #2: Should Democrats go for it?
It’s been two weeks of dramatic public testimony in the impeachment inquiry.
The House, almost certainly, will move forward with articles of impeachment and it seems Democrats are hell bent on finishing the impeachment process by Christmas. But the inquiry hasn’t swayed public opinion of President Trump, and as a result, Republicans don’t feel political pressure to support impeachment. As for the White House, President Trump is calling for a Senate trial, so it seems he’s eager to present his case.
So what will impeachment actually accomplish? And what should the articles of impeachment be?
Plus, this week, President Trump intervened in three military justice cases, pardoning or vacating charges against three military service members who were accused of war crimes. How does that square with Trump’s law-and-order hardline?
And, oh, by the way, the fifth Democratic debate was this week. Was it a snooze? How are things looking for the candidates?
Nov 22 2019
Rank #3: Impeachment
Nancy Pelosi says the inquiry is on, and it now has the support from nearly every Democrat and therefore, a majority of the House. This may be a rapid impeachment — just two months and just about the new Ukraine scandal. Should this be quick and easy? Or should there be more hearings and more charges? Spoiler alert: no one on the show expects the Senate to actually remove President Trump if he is indeed impeached, so what then is the strategic reason to impeach him? And how might this affect Democrats, including those running for president against Trump and those running for down-ballot races in 2020?
President Trump railed against the whistleblower, insinuating that people who passed along information to that person were spies and spies should be executed. Bradley Moss, a lawyer specializing in national security issues and whistleblower protections, joins the panel to talk about President Trump’s comments, protocols for whistleblowers, and how this story saw daylight in the first place.
Finally, what is going on with Brexit? Tom Nuttall updates the panel on the mayhem across the pond.
Sep 27 2019
Rank #4: Iranian general killed in US airstrike
Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was killed in an American airstrike at the Baghdad airport. General Soleimani was arguably the second most powerful person in Iran and a destabilizing force in the Middle East for decades. He led Iran’s interventions in other countries in the region, including support for militias in Iraq that killed hundreds of American soldiers.
The targeted killing of Soleimani was a major escalation in the conflict with Iran. Lawmakers are debating over whether the strike was wise, and what the costs to American interests will be. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the attack on Soleimani was based on intelligence that he was imminently going to undertake an attack that could have killed Americans. What Iran will do now that Soleimani is dead? And could the US be drawn into a broader war? Michael Singh of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy joins the panel to analyze the attack and the aftermath so far.
Then: Natahsha Sarin of the University of Pennsylvania joins the panel to talk about California utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric, the troubled utility whose aging infrastructure has sparked wildfires, required widespread blackouts and driven the company into bankruptcy for the second time in two decades. Does the US succeed or fail at holding companies like PG&E accountable? Natasha also talk about the debate over wealth taxes proposed by Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and whether they will generate as much revenue as the candidates claim.
Jan 04 2020
Rank #5: Where is the Center?
Who is the center? Are there swing voters anymore, and what do they want? How did Donald Trump succeed at appealing at enough of the center to win the 2016 election, and what kind of candidate do Democrats need to pick to win the center back over?
Political scientist Lee Drutman will tell us who these voters are, and how being a swing voter doesn’t necessarily mean being an ideological moderate. Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, and Erin McPike talk about policy making, what’s misunderstood about voters in the center, and what centrist voters are looking for in the 2020 field.
Then, Josh talks with two Left, Right & Center regulars, Kelli Goff and Tom Nichols, about their difficulty figuring out where we can fit in this increasingly polarized political system. They talk about the road to political independence and Josh makes the case for being in a political party, even if you don’t like it very much.
Dec 27 2019
Rank #6: The impeachment hearings begin
The impeachment hearings have begun. Thirteen million Americans tuned in on Wednesday, and President Trump himself was angry tweeting about them on Friday. Will they change minds as the House heads toward what could be a near party line vote to impeach President Trump before Christmas? On the first day of impeachment hearings, President Trump met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. What explains their cozy relationship, even as the US and Turkey drift apart?
Top White House adviser Stephen Miller’s emails leaked and we know he was sending around links from white-supremacist websites.
Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is promoting her book. Is she promoting herself as a possible vice president? And Deval Patrick is running for president. Does anyone care?
Nov 16 2019
Rank #7: The polls, one year out
This week, a few polls in key battleground states made a lot of liberals nervous. The polls show signs of a close 2020 election, a departure from the picture we often see in national polling. Part of the message is that President Trump’s electoral college advantage is widening, and with critical wins in swing states, it’s possible he could be re-elected with an even smaller margin than in 2016. What’s the key message for Democrats here? What do the numbers say about the field of candidates?
Democrats did have a good night in Tuesday’s elections. Republicans held onto the governorship in Mississippi by about six points, but in Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear defeated the Republican incumbent with enduring support from Appalachian eastern Kentucky and new support in the Louisville and Cincinnati suburbs. The suburbs also delivered a win for Democrats in Virginia: the party now controls both chambers of the state legislature in addition to the governorship. And Michael Bloomberg is reportedly considering a run for president. Does he fill a void in the field? And what do the numbers say? Ariel Edwards-Levy joins the panel to talk through all of the numbers.
Then, Rich Lowry discusses the arguments in his new book, The Case For Nationalism, why nationalism shouldn’t be a dirty word, and the cultural ties that bind Americans.
Nov 09 2019
Rank #8: Laughed out of Europe
President Trump was in the UK earlier in the week for the annual NATO summit, where he fought openly with French President Emmanuel Macron about policy toward ISIS.
Macron was caught on camera having an incredulous conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. They were laughing about Trump’s rambling press conferences. So Trump cancelled his final press conference at the summit and left early to head back to Washington.
Jonathan Katz, senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, discusses what the President’s odd diplomacy means for U.S. relationships and alliances.
Plus, the impeachment process moved to a new phase with law professors making the case for or against Impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee. But did the professors add anything useful? Jonathan Adler, Case Western Reserve law professor explains.
Dec 06 2019
Rank #9: The al-Baghdadi raid
In a near party line vote, the impeachment inquiry is now a formal inquiry. Once divided, all but two Democrats voted for the resolution. How did the party coalesce so quickly?
On Sunday morning, President Trump announced a special forces mission, in conjunction with local partners, that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. But this isn’t the end of ISIS. Michael Singh, Washington Institute Managing Director and former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, says that while the news is certainly a blow to the group and its efforts, it is just temporary. “This probably throws ISIS into a bit of disarray. But, still, you have 11,000, maybe more, ISIS members at large, in addition to those in prisons, who are probably still committed to conducting acts of terrorism. And at the end of the day, the underlying conditions that helped give rise to ISIS are arguably worse now than they were then.” So what is next for ISIS? How much did oil factor into this mission? And what can we gather from the way President Trump thanked partners in the aftermath?
Then, Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan is in the news again — this time because it’s part of her plan to fund single-payer healthcare. Gabriel Zucman, one of the economists who advised Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan, joins the show to talk about the plan and the optimal tax rate billionaires should pay. What’s the viability of that wealth tax plan? Similar plans have faltered in other countries. What’s different about the US? Should we all dream of becoming billionaires? Does a higher tax rate throw water on that dream?
Nov 01 2019
Rank #10: Impeached
Donald Trump is officially the third president to be impeached. The Democrats held together, with just one defection to the GOP and one “present” vote than they had a few weeks ago to open the impeachment inquiry.
After the impeachment vote, Nancy Pelosi surprised everyone by saying she wouldn’t send the impeachment articles to the Senate for now. What’s up with that?
Then, the Democratic presidential candidates had their liveliest debate yet. They fought over who has the necessary experience to win, Afghanistan policy, trade, health care, and who’s been spending too much in wine caves, and more. Josh Barro, Rich Lowry, Liz Bruenig and Gustavo Arellano discuss.
Dec 21 2019