The Lawfare Podcast

Attorney General Jeff Sessions faced questioning from the Senate Intelligence Committee today. He answered questions on his recusal, on his role in James Comey's firing, on his disputed conversation with the former FBI Director, and on his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He also declined to answer a lot of questions about his conversations with President Trump—without an assertion of executive privilege.

We stripped out all the extraneous material, leaving just the questions and answers: no repetition, no senatorial speechifying.

We left in every question that produced new information, and that's all we left in. It's everything you actually need from today's hearing in 90 minutes.

Direct download: Sessions_Emergency_Podcast.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:38pm EDT

As the dust settles following former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Lawfare Podcast brings you expert views on what exactly happened yesterday and what it means for the Trump administration going forward. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Carrie Cordero, a former attorney at the National Security Division of the Justice Department, and Paul Rosenzweig, who worked for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, for a conversation on the Comey testimony and its implications.


In much-anticipated testimony today, former FBI Director James Comey spoke before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the subject of his many interactions with President Donald Trump prior to his dismissal. The testimony took up a tight three hours, but there were still plenty of repetitions and instances in which the former Director was unable to answer questions in an open session. To save you from all that, we at Lawfare are providing you with a bare-bones, just-the-facts version of Comey's testimony today. It's the distilled version of what we've all been waiting to hear.

Direct download: Episode_231_Comey_v_Comm_Emerg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:05pm EDT

With the impending sunset of Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in December 2017, debate is heating up over how the crucial intelligence-gathering provision will be reauthorized by Congress—and even if it will be reauthorized at all. At the Hoover Institution, Benjamin Wittes sat down with former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matt Olsen to talk about the intelligence community's perspective on 702 and what lies ahead for it in these turbulent times.

Direct download: Episode_230.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:30am EDT

Just before the holiday weekend, as you were drifting out of town, the Washington Post dropped its 15 kiloton Kushner bomb. Over the weekend, the New York Times piled on, and by the time we got here this morning, there was only one thing to do: A special edition of the podcast.

Carrie Cordero, Susan Hennessey, and Benjamin Wittes talked through the details of the latest bizarro revelations about the attempted secret back channel between the Trump transition and the Russians, using Russian diplomatic technical means. 

If you'd like to read Carrie's Lawfare post on the Kushner story, you can find it here

Direct download: Episode_229.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:01pm EDT

Amidst the hurricane of news coming out of the White House in recent weeks, one question has surfaced again and again: why isn't White House Counsel Don McGahn stopping Donald Trump from doing all this? This week on the podcast, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Bob Bauer, former White House Counsel for Barack Obama, to talk about the Office of the White House Counsel and how President Trump can and can't be restrained.

 
 
Direct download: Episode_228.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:20pm EDT

It's been a long and stressful week on the domestic front, so we at the Lawfare Podcast are bringing you a podcast on a cheerier subject: the looming crisis on the Korean Peninsula. Benjamin Wittes sat down with Mira Rapp-Hooper, Senior Fellow with the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, to chat about the recent series of escalating North Korean missile tests and the crisis we're all being distracted from. 

 
 
Direct download: Episode_227.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:49am EDT

It has been, to put it mildly, a busy week. So perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that when Benjamin Wittes sat down with former attorney general to President George W. Bush Michael Mukasey and former Obama White House Counsel Neil Eggleston this morning at a Federalist Society panel on the unitary executive, Mukasey and Eggleston made some news of their own—pointedly criticizing the Trump White House's recent handling of the Russia investigation and the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey. Now we're bringing you audio of the panel on a special edition of the Lawfare Podcast, featuring Mukasey and Eggleston's expert thoughts on recent news events as well as their considerations of the state of the unitary executive. 

Direct download: Episode_226.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:10am EDT

This afternoon, the Washington Post broke a major story: Donald Trump disclosed highly classified material to the Russian ambassador and Foreign Minister in the Oval Office last week, compromising a highly sensitive counterterrorism program run by an allied intelligence service. This evening, we got former DNI General Counsel Robert Litt on the line for a discussion with Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes of the latest mess. Litt helped coordinate and manage the intelligence community's response to the Edward Snowden revelations, so he knows a little something about responding to massive intelligence disclosures. We talked about how bad the disclosure may be, what the remedies for it are, and what we still don't know. 

Direct download: Episode_225.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:08pm EDT

It’s been a long week, so after our special emergency edition on the firing of FBI Director James Comey, the Lawfare Podcast is coming to your rescue with an episode that has nothing at all to do with the crisis at the FBI. Instead, take a listen to Jack Goldsmith’s interview of Mark Moyar at the Hoover Book Soiree about Moyar’s new book, Oppose Any Foe: The Rise of America’s Special Operations Forces. The conversation delves into the history of special operations forces and how they’ve been used and misused over time.

Direct download: Episode_224.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:04pm EDT