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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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Now displaying: 2018
Jul 12, 2018

President Trump picks Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. What are his national security views? Trump blasts NATO allies ahead of a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And migrant families are being reunited with their children, but the process has been painful.

Jul 5, 2018

U.S. intelligence says North Korea is not giving up its nukes. Should the next Supreme Court justice recuse on matters involving Trump and the Russia probe? And the war in Afghanistan grinds on, with little notice, as Trump heads off to a tense meeting with NATO allies.

Jun 28, 2018

The Supreme Court upholds President Trump’s travel ban. Jared Kushner hits the road to drum up support for his peace plan. And chaos ensues as border agents and the Justice Department roll out Trump’s order not to separate families at the border with Mexico.

Jun 21, 2018

The gang from Bombshell joins us for a roundup of the week’s news: President Trump signs an order to keep immigrant families together, trying to defuse a crisis of his own making. Is the U.S. in a trade war with China? And get ready for Space Force!

Jun 13, 2018

President Trump returns from a summit meeting with Kim Jong Un, praising the North Korean dictator and castigating U.S. allies. A senior Senate staffer is indicted in an investigation of press leaks. And where did Trump’s Middle East policy come from? Israel and the UAE says a new expose.

Jun 6, 2018

Paul Manafort gets in touch with some old friends. Was it witness tampering? Donald Trump discovers an Article II interpretation that would make Hamilton blush. And we’re on the edge of our seats for a Supreme Court decision on the 4th Amendment and cell phone records.

May 30, 2018

President Trump told Jeff Sessions that he should not recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Trump feuds with the Homeland Security secretary as the administration separates children from their families at the U.S. border with Mexico. And investigators determine that Russia was the source of a missile that shot down a Malaysian airliner in 2014.

May 23, 2018

President Trump orders the Justice Department to investigate the Russia investigation. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo details the administration’s strategy for dealing with Iran. And Trump appears to say that North Korea might not need to get rid of its nuclear weapons after all.

May 17, 2018

Israel kills dozens of protesters in Gaza as the US opens a new embassy in Jerusalem. President Trump wants to save jobs at ZTE, the Chinese company officials say threatens US national security. And the government has a suspect in the leak of CIA hacking tools.

May 9, 2018

President Trump decides to undo the Iran deal. Gina Haspel faces a grilling in the Senate. And Devin Nunes wants information that intelligence officials fear could jeopardize a source.

May 2, 2018

Robert Mueller has lots of questions for President Trump. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran lied about its nuclear weapons program. And John Kelly has reportedly described the president as an unhinged “idiot.”

Apr 25, 2018

Gina Haspel faces an uphill climb to become the next CIA Director. Former FBI No. 2 Andrew McCabe may face criminal charges. And the Democratic National Committee files suit over the 2016 theft of its emails.

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.

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