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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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Feb 20, 2020

Bill Barr says that Trump’s tweets make his job more difficult, and he has considered resigning over them. But Trump is still tweeting and Barr is still the attorney general, so…? Also, the U.S. charges Chinese telecom giant Huawei with conspiracy and racketeering. And European leaders are bracing for a second Trump term, and a redefined relationship with America.

Feb 12, 2020

Four prosecutors step down from the Roger Stone case after the Justice Department contradicts their sentencing recommendation. The White House purges officials who testified in Trump’s impeachment trial. And the Justice Department is taking a look at Rudy Giuliani’s investigation into the Bidens.

Feb 6, 2020

The Senate prepares to acquit Donald Trump on charges that he abused his office and obstructed Congress. We’ll take a look back at the impeachment trial and discuss what comes next. Also, governments around the world scramble to deal with the threat of coronavirus.

Jan 29, 2020

John Bolton has a story to tell about that Ukraine “drug deal.” The White House unveils its much anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. And Joe Biden envisions foreign policy after Trump.

Jan 22, 2020

The impeachment trial of Donald Trump begins in earnest, with a marathon session hammering out the rules and procedures. U.N. investigators say there is credible evidence that the crown prince of Saudi Arabia hacked Jeff Bezos’ phone. And you may have heard—Ben and Susan have published a book! We’ll talk about “Unmaking the Presidency.”

Jan 16, 2020

The impeachment trial is about to begin in earnest. We’ll recap the latest. The Trump administration deals with the fallout from the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani. And in the final debate before voting starts, Democratic candidates for president have little to say about foreign policy.

Jan 9, 2020

President Trump says Iran is backing down after a missile strike on U.S. bases in retaliation for the killing of Qasem Suleimani. The crisis has calmed, but what did we learn from the administration’s tense and at times bungled handling of it? And the latest on the still pending impeachment trial.

Jan 3, 2020

Protesters attack the U.S. embassy in Baghdad following an American airstrike. U.S. Cyber Command contemplates information warfare to deter Russian election interference. And we’ll talk about the themes we think will loom large in 2020.

Dec 19, 2019

The House impeaches President Trump. What will a Senate trial look like? Former U.S. officials helped the United Arab Emirates build a domestic surveillance system. And a federal judge rebukes the FBI for its surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser.

Dec 11, 2019

The Justice Department Inspector General delivers a detailed report on the origins of the Trump-Russia probe. House lawmakers unveil articles of impeachment against Trump. And The Washington Post reveals that senior officials knew the U.S. wasn’t making progress in Afghanistan, contrary to their public claims.

Dec 4, 2019

The House Intelligence Committee submits its impeachment report, and the Judiciary Committee takes up the baton. Also, friend of the podcast Sophia Yan gives us an on-the-ground report from China.

Nov 22, 2019

The House conducts marathon impeachment hearings with key witnesses. And Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is indicted.

Nov 15, 2019

The first witnesses testify publicly in the impeachment inquiry. A jury deliberates Roger Stone’s fate. And Turkey’s president Erdogan visits Washington.

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.

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