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Rational Security

A weekly discussion of national security and foreign policy matters hosted by Shane Harris of the Wall Street Journal and featuring Brookings senior fellows Tamara Cofman Wittes and Benjamin Wittes, and managing editor of the Lawfare blog Susan Hennessey.
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Rational Security
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Apr 18, 2018

Jim Comey has a few words to say. Nikki Haley is not confused about anything. And Mike Pompeo makes a surprise trip to North Korea.

Apr 12, 2018

Federal authorities launch raids on the home and office of President Trump’s personal attorney. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress. And the U.S. prepares for possible military action against Syria. Special guests this week: Quinta Jurecic of Lawfare and Nancy Youssef of The Wall Street Journal.

Apr 4, 2018

Robert Mueller tells the president’s lawyers that Trump is the subject of a criminal investigation. Trump vows to pull the military out of Syria. And American troops may be heading to the US border with Mexico.

Mar 29, 2018

This week, we’re live from the University of Maryland Carey School of Law! On the show: Like Goldilocks in search of porridge, the president can’t seem to find the lawyer who’s just right. The U.S. expels Russian diplomats, but Trump continues to hold his fire against Putin. And Mark Zuckerberg prepares to testify before Congress over Facebook’s role in Russian election interference.

Mar 23, 2018

Our intrepid host is off in an undisclosed location, doing his reporting thing. Tamara is valiantly attempting to helm the podcast in his absence.

This week: What we’ve learned—and what we still don’t know—about Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, and the 2016 campaign. Putin's re-election and Trump's congratulations. There’s a lot of fuss over leaking the president’s briefing paper. Do we care? What should this episode tell us?

Also: Deals deals deals! Trump brought posterboards to the Oval Office to show off how much of our stuff the Saudis are buying. At the same time, the New York Times reports that George Nader and RNC vice chair Elliott Broidy have been making deals of their own to influence the Trump administration, reportedly using laundered money.

Mar 14, 2018

Rex Tillerson is out at the State Department, and Mike Pompeo will leave CIA to take his place. The British government blames Russia for a brazen poisoning plot—but President Trump is not so sure. And Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee wrap up their Russia probe.

Mar 8, 2018

Special Counsel Robert Mueller zeroes in on a mysterious Lebanese businessman. What do elections in Italy portend for democracy in Europe? And North Korea signals it’s willing to cut a deal with the U.S.

Mar 1, 2018

Jared Kushner is under scrutiny for his contacts with foreign officials. Democrats in Congress release their own memo about surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser. And ahead of a U.S. visit by Saudi Arabia’s future king, how are his reforms playing out on the ground?

Feb 22, 2018

Bob Mueller indicts a slew of Russians who interfered in the 2016 election. Can the president distinguish between the national interest and his own? And the school shooting in Florida brings students to the frontline of the gun control debate.

Feb 14, 2018

Dozens of White House officials, including Jared Kushner, lack permanent security clearances. It’s been a really bad week for Benjamin Netanyahu. And U.S. intelligence chiefs present their annual list of threats to national security.

Feb 8, 2018

Is the intelligence oversight process as we know it dead? We delve into the education of Kim Jong Un. And FBI emails show that the White House misled the public about the reaction to Jim Comey’s firing.

Feb 1, 2018

Major developments in the Russia probe as House Republicans move to declassify a mysterious memo and the FBI’s No. 2 steps down. A new article reveals the inner workings of the Israeli spy machine. And smart watches are giving away US forces’ locations—while they’re jogging.

Jan 24, 2018

FBI Director Christopher Wray resists administration pressure to clean house at the bureau. Bob Mueller’s Russia probe interviews Jeff Sessions and talks to Jim Comey. And Rex Tillerson presents a new U.S. strategy in Syria.

Jan 17, 2018

Hawaii authorities mistakenly warn citizens they’re about to be hit by a ballistic missile. The FBI warned Jared Kushner about his relationship with a prominent Chinese-American. And updates on L’Affaire Russe.

Jan 11, 2018

The Trump administration signals it may launch a military strike on North Korea—or not. The U.S. announces it’s cutting aid to Pakistan. And the originator of the Steele dossier tells his side of the story.

Jan 3, 2018

A wave of anti-government protests grips Iran. Former Trump adviser George Papadopoulos may have been the impetus for the Russia investigation. And Defense Secretary James Mattis addresses the US role in the war in Yemen and civilian casualties.

Dec 21, 2017

Robert Mueller gets hold of emails from the presidential transition. The Pentagon has been researching sightings of UFOs. And a US citizen is being held as an enemy combatant in Iraq.

Dec 15, 2017

Republicans question the integrity of Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. President Trump says he will move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. And Secretary of State Rex Tillerson gives a year-end address (or is it a farewell?) to State Department employees.

Dec 7, 2017

Mike Flynn is cooperating with Bob Mueller's Russia investigation, and President Trump raises questions about whether he sought to obstruct justice. Deutsche Bank has been told to hand over information about Trump-related finances. And the national security adviser tries to make Trump into a modern-day Ronald Reagan.

Nov 30, 2017

Mike Flynn signals that he may be cooperating with Robert Mueller’s investigation. President Trump thinks the investigation may be nearing its end. And the U.S. plans to stay in Syria even after ISIS is defeated.

Nov 22, 2017

Should the president have the sole authority to launch nuclear missiles? President Trump designates North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism. And the “grownups” in charge of national security are exhausted.

Nov 15, 2017

The FBI is investigating an alleged kidnapping scheme involving ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Donald Trump Jr. was in direct contact with Wikileaks during the 2016 campaign. And author and scholar Yascha Mounk breaks down the breakdown in democracy.

Nov 9, 2017

Trump campaign adviser Carter Page says officials knew about his conversations with Russians. The Saudi government launches an alleged anti-corruption push, but is it really a power grab? And CIA Director Mike Pompeo is entertaining an alternate theory about the Russia hacks.

Nov 1, 2017

Special Counsel Robert Mueller unveils the first indictments in his sprawling investigation, and a surprise plea agreement. We’ll talk about the significance of his moves and where the investigation might be heading next. Plus, New York experiences the deadliest act of terrorism since the 9/11 attacks.

Oct 25, 2017

Leading GOP lawmakers say there’s nothing normal about the Trump administration. The deaths of four Americans in Niger raise new questions about the legal footing of the U.S. fight against terrorism. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions seems to have no plan for future Russian election meddling.

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