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Rational Security

A weekly discussion of national security and foreign policy matters hosted by Shane Harris of the Washington Post and featuring Brookings senior fellows Susan Hennessey, Tamara Cofman Wittes, and Benjamin Wittes.
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Nov 6, 2019

A key witness in the impeachment investigation changes his testimony. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is under fire for his leadership of U.S. diplomacy. And the House lays out the rules for the public phase of the impeachment process.

Oct 30, 2019

A senior National Security Council official testifies about Trump’s phone call with the president of Ukraine. The U.S. military kills the leader of ISIS. And an investigation into the origins of the Russia probe takes a turn.

Oct 24, 2019

The top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine delivers devastating testimony about a quid pro quo. The White House chief of staff says that quid pro quo was real—then says it wasn’t. Plus the latest breaking news on the impeachment inquiry, and what to watch for next.

Oct 16, 2019

Testimony on Capitol Hill this week reveals that Rudy Giuliani was running a shadow foreign policy on Ukraine. The White House vows not to cooperate with the impeachment investigation. And Turkish forces move into Syria, sparking a new national security crisis.

Oct 9, 2019

Congress releases a series of revealing text messages that show the Trump administration pressuring Ukraine. Trump blocks a key participant in that effort from giving a deposition to Congress. And Trump’s announcement that he will withdraw U.S. troops from Syria inspires a rare Republican rebellion.

Oct 2, 2019

Secretary of State Pompeo says he was on the call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky at the center of the House impeachment inquiry. Rudy Giuliani’s contacts with Ukraininian officials and the State Department are under scrutiny. And Attorney General Bill Barr has asked foreign officials to help investigate the Russia investigation.

Sep 25, 2019

This week, the gang talks about the explosive revelations of a whistleblower regarding a phone call that Trump had with the president of Ukraine. What's the political and legal significance? What does it mean for U.S. national security? And how is an impeachment inquiry likely to proceed?

Sep 19, 2019

The Director of National Intelligence refuses to tell Congress about a whistleblower allegation that may involve President Trump. Israelis go to the polls as Benjamin Netanyahu fights to maintain power. And Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski gives defiant testimony to lawmakers considering whether to impeach the president.

Sep 12, 2019

Donald Trump and John Bolton finally part ways. The CIA had a spy in the upper reaches of the Kremlin, then got him out of Russia. And Trump’s Middle East peace negotiator calls it quits.

Sep 4, 2019

A new inspector general report faults former FBI Director Jim Comey for how he handled memos about his meetings with Donald Trump. The CIA isn’t so sure about a White House plan to expand its presence in Afghanistan. And National Security Adviser John Bolton is being cut out of big decisions in the administration.

Aug 28, 2019

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suspends parliament as the Brexit deadline looms. World leaders push back—maybe?—on President Trump at the G7 summit. And Trump tells aides that he’ll pardon them if they have to break the law to build his border wall.

Aug 14, 2019

Susan and Shane are away, so Ben and Tamara are joined by special guests Scott Anderson and Quinta Jurecic. A Russian missile test accident kills scientists and raises questions. Hong Kong and Kashmir are both in crisis, and the United States shrugs. And the House of Representatives seems to have slouched towards impeachment.

Aug 7, 2019

A series of shootings renews the discussion and debate around domestic terrorism. The U.S.-China trade war raises big questions about America’s role as a global power. And the United States faces a make-or-break moment in Syria.

Jul 31, 2019

President Trump said he will nominate a junior congressman and prominent Mueller critic as the next director of national intelligence. CIA Director Gina Haspel has become a bulwark between the White House and the intelligence community. And investigators probe connections between Middle East money and the White House.

Jul 25, 2019

Bob Mueller finally had his close up. Was he ready for it? Did he change any minds? Did we learn anything new about his investigation? We’ll talk about Mueller’s testimony this week before two congressional committees, and ask where do we go from here.

Jul 23, 2019

We have a special treat for you in the Rational Security feed. Last week, Susan and Ben shared an Object Lesson with you: the podcast The Report, a deep dive narrative look at the contents of the Mueller investigation. We've released the first episode, here for you now on this feed. For future episodes, subscribe to The Report on whatever podcast distribution service you use.

Jul 17, 2019

Joe Biden lays out his foreign policy agenda. The Trump administration issues new rules for asylum seekers. And Julian Assange reportedly had some curious guests at the Ecuadorian embassy.

Jul 10, 2019

The British ambassador to the U.S. resigns after his candid opinions on President Trump are leaked. Federal prosecutors intensify their investigation of a top Trump fundraiser. And a malicious conspiracy theory about a murdered DNC staffer was planted by Russian intelligence agents.

Jul 3, 2019

President Trump takes his show on the road to Osaka, Japan, for a meeting of world leaders. A man at the center of the Russia probe has disappeared, and conspiracy theorists have tried to fill the void. And a consulting firm is accused of making the intelligence community less effective.

Jun 26, 2019

President Trump prepares to strike Iran in retaliation for downing a U.S. drone, but says he pulled back to spare Iranian lives. Former special counsel Robert Mueller is subpoenaed to testify to Congress. And the National Security Agency, yet again, says it improperly collected Americans’ phone records.

Jun 19, 2019

Shane and Tamara and Susan are all away—so Rational Security is dominated this week by acting officials. The acting secretary of defense has been replaced by another acting defense secretary, and much of the rest of the government is vacant as well. Congress and the Trump administration are still butting heads over oversight matters and compliance with congressional information demands for information. And the New York Times reports that U.S. hackers are in the Russian power grid—and want the Russians to know that they're there.

Jun 13, 2019

Shane is off gallivanting elsewhere, so we wiped our bitter tears and did a show without him. Sophia Yan—yes, that Sophia Yan—phoned in from a Chinese airport on her way to Hong Kong to talk about ongoing protests and violence in that city. Kamala Harris urged the indictment of President Trump after he leaves office. And Pete Buttigieg gave a foreign policy speech.

Jun 5, 2019

Robert Mueller speaks! What does it mean for the future of investigations and possible impeachment hearings? Bill Barr is given new authorities to declassify information about the Russia probe. And Jared Kushner says he finally has a plan for Middle East peace.

May 22, 2019

The Trump administration moves to block a Chinese telecom giant. White House counsel Don McGahn is a no-show at a congressional hearing. And the president is considering pardons for military service members convicted of murder.

May 16, 2019

Tensions with Iran escalate amid new intelligence suggesting U.S. personnel in the Middle East could be at risk. The Russia investigation is now under investigation by a federal prosecutor. And two senior Homeland Security officials tried to halt a mass deportation plan, just before they were ousted.

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