Rank #1: The World View of James Mattis
Dexter Filkins joins Evan Osnos to discuss Secretary of Defense James Mattis, his view of the Middle East, and what this means for U.S. foreign policy.
Rank #2: The United States Constitution on Broadway, and What It Means to Us
This week, a showdown between Congress and the Trump Administration over the refusal of Attorney General William Barr to testify before the House Judiciary Committee spurred further conversation about a “constitutional crisis.” In recent years, there has been a non-stop national debate about how the Constitution handles potential abuses of Presidential power and the relationship among the three branches of government. The Constitution is also the unlikely subject of a new play, on Broadway: “What the Constitution Means to Me,” written and performed by Heidi Schreck. Dorothy Wickenden visits Schreck backstage, at the Hayes Theatre, on Broadway, to discuss what the Constitution does and does not say about the basic rights of Americans.
Rank #3: David Remnick Talks to Ezekiel Emanuel about Health Care
Ezekiel Emanuel advised the Obama Administration on the A.C.A. Now he’s meeting with a new White House, to try to keep health as the focus of a new health-care bill.
Rank #4: Should Democrats Become 'The Party of No?'
Ryan Lizza joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how Democrats can exploit Trump’s vulnerabilities.
Rank #5: Mueller’s Indictments, Ryan’s Tax Plan and the Future of the Republican Agenda
On Monday, the Special Prosecutor filed his first indictments in his investigation into the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia. Later in the week, House Speaker Paul Ryan revealed the details of the Republican tax plan. Does the Russia probe jeopardize the Republicans’ final effort to pass significant legislation before the 2018 campaign season begins? John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the two issues that will be consuming Trump and Congress in the coming months.
Rank #6: James Comey Makes His Case to America
In a long career in law enforcement, the former F.B.I. Director James Comey aimed to be above politics, but in the 2016 election he stepped directly into it. In his book, “A Higher Loyalty,” Comey makes the case to America that he handled the F.B.I. investigations into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails and Donald Trump’s campaign correctly, regardless of the consequences. Even after being fired by President Trump, the former F.B.I Director says he doesn’t dislike the President; he tells David Remnick that what he feels is more akin to sympathy. Trump “has an emptiness inside of him, and a hunger for affirmation, that I’ve never seen in an adult,” Comey says. “He lacks external reference points. Instead of making hard decisions by calling upon a religious tradition, or logic, or tradition or history, it’s all, ‘what will fill this hole?’ ” As a result, Comey says, “The President poses significant threats to the rule of law,” and he chides Congressional Republicans for going along with the President’s aberrations. “What,” he rhetorically asks Mitch McConnell and others, “are you going to tell your grandchildren?” Nevertheless, Comey remains hopeful about the resilience of American institutions. “There isn’t a ‘deep state,’ [but] there is a deep culture,” he believes. “It is [about] the rule of law and doing it the right way,” and it serves as “a ballast” during political turmoil. David Remnick’s interview with James Comey was taped live at New York’s Town Hall on April 19, 2018.
Rank #7: Ronan Farrow and Alexandra Schwartz Talk to David Remnick About the Effects of the Weinstein Scandal
In the wake of the avalanche of claims about Harvey Weinstein, more and more powerful men across the nation—in entertainment, newsrooms, tech firms, politics—are being accused of sexual harassment and worse, and are being called to account. Ronan Farrow reported for The New Yorker some of the most shocking charges, including rape, that women in entertainment have made against Weinstein. (Weinstein has denied claims of nonconsensual sex.) And Farrow detailed a campaign of intimidation and threats that Weinstein waged against accusers. Alexandra Schwartz has been exploring how the scandal is rippling through our society on social media. The two writers spoke with David Remnick about how the escalating movement seems to be changing how America thinks about sexual misconduct.
Rank #8: Fire, Fury, and North Korea
The week, President Trump issued aggressive statements to North Korea, promising to meet the North Korean nuclear threat “with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that these remarks didn’t constitute a change in policy toward Pyongyang. John Cassidy joins guest host Jeffrey Toobin to discuss the President's alarming rhetoric, and what the administration's mixed messages mean for the country’s national security and foreign policy.
Rank #9: Scaramucci's Scare Tactics
On Wednesday, the New Yorker staff writer Ryan Lizza received a phone call from Anthony Scaramucci, the White House communications director. In obscene language, Scaramucci expressed his displeasure about leaks coming from inside the West Wing, singling out Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus. Lizza joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss his conversation with Scaramucci and how Trump’s obsession with loyalty is wreaking havoc on his Administration.
Rank #10: Jeffrey Toobin Talks to David Remnick About Gerrymandering
Jeffrey Toobin tells David Remnick that, despite the mounting indictments against members of Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign, Trump is almost certainly safe from impeachment. Republican House members, Toobin says, have no incentive to moderate their support of the President—despite his low national poll numbers—because the only competition these representatives face is from the right flank of their own party. Gerrymandering, assisted by the latest computer modelling, has allowed the party in power in each state to lock itself into a nearly unassailable majority of votes. The Supreme Court could conceivably change that in a redistricting case called Gill v. Whitford, which Toobin has written about; he tells David Remnick that it is “the most important Supreme Court case in decades.” Hinging on the swing vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court will decide whether it can act as a check on gerrymandering, or whether a functioning two-party system can fade into history.
Rank #11: Bob Woodward and an Anonymous New York Times Op-Ed Show Trump Isolated and In Peril
Bob Woodward's book about life inside the Trump White House won't be published until next week, but an excerpt published in the Washington Post this week portrays Trump as erratic and ignorant, and quotes top officials describing measures they've taken to limit the President's destructive impulses. Similarly, an Op-Ed in the New York Times this week, written by an anonymous senior official in the Trump administration, describes a cabal of "unsung heroes" that acts to thwart parts of Trump's agenda and his worst impulses. In response, Trump reportedly worried to a friend that he could trust no one but members of his own family. Susan B. Glasser joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the revelations of Woodward's book and the perils facing a President who values personal loyalty above all else.
Rank #12: Kirsten Gillibrand: Donald Trump’s “Kryptonite”?
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced her candidacy for President outside the Trump International Hotel. Little known outside of New York, Gillibrand was representing a congressional district in the region around Albany when she appointed, in 2009, to fill Hillary Clinton’s former Senate seat. Gillibrand has been fierce on the issue of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the military and government; as a champion of the #MeToo movement, she was among the first Democrats to call for Senator Al Franken to step down. Some in the Party, she has claimed, are still angry with her over it, and have withheld donating to her campaign. Gillibrand tells David Remnick that her experience as a female politician will be a strength if she were to face Trump in the general election. “My first two opponents were in a 2-to-1 Republican district, who demeaned me, and name-called me, and tried to dismiss me. And not only did it make my candidacy relevant but it got a lot of people deeply offended, and they wanted to know who I was and why I was running.” Trump’s “Achilles’ heel,” she says, “is a mother with young children who’s running on issues that . . . families care about. His kryptonite is a woman who stands up for what she believes in and doesn’t back down.”
Rank #13: Why China Loves Trump
The Administration is withdrawing from commitments abroad. Evan Osnos joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how China is vying to supplant the U.S. as the world’s most powerful economic and political power.
Rank #14: Inside Trump's Dirty Deals Abroad
What does the Trump Organization's unorthodox business conduct reveal about the Administration's political troubles with Special Counsel Robert Mueller? Adam Davidson joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how the Trump family's financial ties to Russian oligarchs led to extraordinarily risky behavior during the campaign and the current questions about obstruction of justice and collusion with Putin's Russia.
Rank #15: Trump Asks, “How Did We End Up Here?” We Suggest: “Follow the Money”
On Tuesday, Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, was convicted on multiple counts of tax and bank fraud. Also on Tuesday, Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, pleaded guilty to violations of campaign-finance law, which may directly implicate the President as an unindicted co-conspirator. Adam Davidson joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss what Manafort’s and Cohen’s legal troubles tell us about Trump’s history of corrupt business deals, and how to anticipate the disclosures to come.
Rank #16: David Remnick Talks Spy Novels with a Former Spy
Jason Matthews spent over thirty years in the C.I.A., working in the former Soviet bloc and other hot spots, and when he retired he turned to the next best thing: writing spy novels. While they’re contemporary —Vladimir Putin appears as a character—they have more in common with John Le Carré’s tales than with the action thrillers of the post-9/11 era. In many of today’s stories, Matthews says, “a former F.B.I. guy is being chased by crazed colleagues, and with the help of a bipolar girlfriend does something amazing. I wanted to tell a more basic story about the classic Cold War struggle of East and West.” The forthcoming third volume in his trilogy is called “The Kremlin’s Candidate,” presumably with a nod toward current events. Whatever we may eventually learn about Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence, Matthews thinks that we ought not to be surprised: in matters of infiltration and compromise, he says, the Russians are always way ahead of us. Note: In his interview with David Remnick, Jason Matthews misspoke in defining the acronym MICE used by the CIA. It is usually rendered as Money, Ideology, Compromise (or Coercion), and Ego.
Rank #17: How Long Will Trump's Economic Boom Last?
President Trump has taken to boasting about overseeing, as he said recently, "the best economy in the history of our country." But trade wars loom and the deficit continues to grow. John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss the good news and bad news about the American economy, and how the Administration's policies may affect the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential election.
Rank #18: Can the Democrats Outfox Trump?
President Trump is showing a new collegiality with Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on DACA and other issues. John Cassidy joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss how Democrats are responding to Trump's calls for bipartisanship, and how much they stand to gain and lose from working with him.
Rank #19: Will Trump Survive Mueller?
Washington is abuzz with rumors that the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report is coming soon. We know that Donald Trump’s Presidency depends on its contents. But with all the headlines of the past two years—this one brought in for questioning, that one indicted, this one coöperating—it can be hard to keep track of what this is really all about. We asked the staff writer Adam Davidson, who has been reporting on the Mueller investigation since the beginning, for a refresher on the basic facts—the broad strokes of what we’ve learned so far. Both parties are strategizing to position themselves for the unknown. But Jeffrey Toobin believes that, unless the report contains a major, unexpected discovery, its findings will have little impact on Trump’s Presidency or on his future. Toobin debates with The New Yorker’s Washington correspondent, Susan B. Glasser, about the lessons of Bill Clinton’s impeachment and Richard Nixon’s resignation.
Rank #20: The Real Mike Pence
Trump’s critics yearn for his exit, but his Vice President, the corporate right’s inside man, poses his own risks. Jane Mayer joins Dorothy Wickenden to discuss Pence’s surprising route to the White House, how he is quietly implementing his ideological agenda, and his ambitions for the near future.