Talking Feds

Talking Feds

By Harry Litman

TALKING FEDS is a roundtable discussion that brings together prominent former government officials, journalists, and special guests for a dynamic and in-depth analysis of the most pressing questions in law and politics.


A Tale of Two Cities: Paris, Texas and Paris, France

Charter Feds and DOJ alumni Amy Jeffress, Ron Klain, and Matt Miller join Harry to analyze the US’s abysmal record controlling the virus. They then discuss the bad news the President got from both the Vance and McGahn cases, and move to the testimony of Sally Yates in the Senate, where she got a full dose of Republican fantasies about Michael Flynn. Finally, all 4 Feds contemplate what a prospective Biden Administration can do to restore the institutional stature and stability of the DOJ. 
10/08/2048m 23s

Person Woman Man Economy Virus

Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson, journalist EJ Dionne, and Congressman Jamie Raskin join Harry to assess and analyze a week of wretched news. Continuing high numbers on the virus combined with the worst quarterly economic report on record for a deadly 1-2 punch, and the Administration seemed to have no plan for either. Trump floated the prospect of postponing the election, but was roundly rebuffed by his own party. And Bill Barr’s House testimony showed that he is all-in for Trump.
03/08/2057m 51s

A Man a Van No Plan: Portland

In a week in which President Trump effectively declared war on designated American cities, a classic group of charter Feds -- Frank Figliuzzi, Paul Fishman, and Joyce Vance -- join Harry to break it all down. They explain the deploy of federal agents in American cities was stunning and dangerous, even if a core power is in play. They then turn to Trump’s China-baiting and then his immigration memorandum. An overall theme: Trump’s efforts to elude the force of law and political accountability.
27/07/2044m 30s

Toxic Mask-ulinity

Congressman Joaquin Castro, Zerlina Maxwell, and Max Boot join Harry to break down a week in which the virus roared back to all-time highs in many states. Red-blue politics, and the suppression of science, continued to complicate efforts to get on top of the virus. School reopenings in particular, which the CDC says are the biggest risk for the virus’s strong return, were completely uncertain. Meanwhile, prospects for comprehensive police reform have waned in the wake of Republican opposition.
20/07/2043m 48s

Pardon Our Obstruction!

It was already a big week with the Supreme Court’s final decisions and the House hearing with ousted SDNY US Attorney Geoffrey Berman; but Trump’s Friday-night commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence made it enormous. This episode begins with a 1-on-1 with Harry and Congressman Adam Schiff about the Stone scandal, then moves into a larger discussion with the Congressman, Jen Rubin, and Barb McQuade about the Trump cases – were they great or a mixed bag? –the politics of a Stone commutation, and Berman.
13/07/2053m 59s

5-4 Roberts Plays the Long Game

The Supreme Court issued two momentous opinions last week – but the press coverage only appreciated one of them. A phenomenal panel – Dahlia Lithwick, Ron Klain, and Larry Tribe – joins Harry to break down the Court’s abortion decision in June Medical and its executive power decision in Seila Law. They end with practical reflections on Chief Justice Roberts’s position as the most powerful Justice in a century. And a sidebar of 10 of Tribe’s most famous students toast the master’s retirement.
06/07/2056m 59s

Talking Feds 1-on-1: A Conversation with Stacey Abrams

In our continuing series of 1-on-1 interviews with political leaders who are mentioned as possible running mates for Joe Biden, Harry spoke with Stacey Abrams, who as Democratic candidate for Georgia governor in 2018 garnered the highest number of Democratic votes in Georgia history. The discussion focuses on Abrams’s new book, Our Time is Now, which is part personal memoir, part historical survey of impediments to voting to the present day, and part manifesto for growing the franchise in 2020 and beyond. Abrams also responds to the criticism that she doesn’t have sufficient experience to permit her to step into the presidency if the need arose.
03/07/2027m 55s

The Sisters in Law Special Edition: Lowering the Barr

In this special edition of Talking Feds, Joyce Vance hosts a conversation with Maya Wiley, Barbara McQuade, and Jill Wine-Banks. The four discuss police reform, the Barr-Berman debacle and the testimonies of Aaron Zelinsky and John Elias, two current assistant United States attorneys, who talked about politically motivated prosecutions. They close with the impact the COVID-19 pandemic may have on voting in November. New Westchester DA Mimi Rocah joins for the sidebar.
29/06/2056m 55s

Pride and Prejudice and the Room Where It Happened

Peter Baker, Laura Jarrett, and Juliette Kayyem (with a sidebar from Frances McDormand) join Harry on a banner week in which the Supreme Court issued two decisions bringing joy to the DACA dreamers and LGBTQ citizens; former national security adviser John Bolton’s long-awaited book trashed the President as dedicated to obstruction as way of life; Trump took it on the chin from other quarters; and the virus continued its chokehold even as more citizens seemed to think the danger had passed.
22/06/2050m 44s

Talking Feds Now: The Barr-Berman Standoff

It was an extraordinary 24 hours, even by the measure of this DOJ. AG Barr announced Friday evening that SDNY US Attorney Geoffrey Berman was resigning; but Berman responded saying he was doing nothing of the kind. That led to a feverish series of moves that ended with Berman’s agreeing to leave but his Deputy, a career prosecutor likely to protect ongoing investigations, in place—for now. Feds Barb McQuade, Matt Miller, and Andy Weissman join Harry for a rapid reaction to the crazy events.
21/06/2041m 11s

Trumpocalypse Nu?

Minnesota native sons Al Franken and Norm Ornstein join David Frum and Harry on a week that saw the protests from Minneapolis consolidate into an international movement. The Feds discuss the broader circumstances that gave rise to the George Floyd killing, and turn to the national political landscape and the President’s out-of-step chest-thumping response. They analyze the systemic reasons for the election day chaos in Georgia and close with some observations about AG Barr’s bad week.
15/06/2048m 10s

Pouring Tear Gas on the Fire

As worldwide demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd stretched into their tenth day, Feds Roy Austin, Barb McQuade, and Jen Rubin join Harry to discuss the state of play in the case against the 4 officers charged in the death and then take up the possibility that the stars are aligned for comprehensive national legislation to reform police practices. The Feds then turn to Trump’s disastrous photo-op and the fallout it generated before speculating about whether real change is in the air.
08/06/2052m 52s

Minnesota Burning

In a week that began with turbulence and ended on the edge of anarchy, Natasha Bertrand, Matt Miller, and Senator Barbara Boxer join Harry to make sense of the unfolding dramas in Minnesota, DC, and around the country. The Feds analyze the impact of the killing of George Floyd and its interaction with the continuing ravages of COVID-19. They then turn to current events in DC, including McConnell’s insistence on immunity for companies for transmission of the virus and Pompeo’s deepening troubles.
01/06/2045m 15s

Memorial Day or Groundhog Day?

Four charter feds, ex-prosecutors and government officials all -- Paul Fishman, Maya Wiley, Barbara McQuade, and Harry – convene in a classic home-for-Memorial-Day Talking Feds. The 4 explore why the virus disproportionately victimizes people of color, and turn to the new wave of lawsuits challenging state authority. They then take up the DC Circuit’s aggressive move to possibly disable Judge Sullivan in the Flynn case, and end with Trump’s aggressive resumption of bogus claims of voter fraud.
25/05/2052m 8s

(Whistle) Blowin' in the Wind

After a week with dramatic action on multiple fronts – testimony by Fauci and Bright; Trump’s “unmasking” charge and Obamagate trope; abysmal economic news; and the specter of criminal charges against Senator Richard Burr—feds Aaron Blake, David Gura, and Asha Ragganpa join Harry to talk through the political and legal landscape but also the real-world impact, especially on more vulnerable populations, of the virus and of the Administration’s bumbling and politicized oversight efforts.
18/05/2051m 9s

Talking Feds 1-on-1: A Conversation with Governor Gretchen Whitmer

In our continuing series of 1-on-1 interviews with political leaders who are prominently mentioned as possible running mates for Joe Biden, Harry spoke with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Whitmer has drawn fire from Trump and extremist protesters for her relatively strict shelter-in-place order; but she continues to have strong approval ratings among Michiganders generally. We focused on virus issues but also touched on her background, other goals for Michigan, and the Biden VP possibility.
13/05/2023m 15s

In Like Flynn

Journalistic legend Andrea Mitchell joins Ron Klain, Anne Milgram, and Harry to discuss the jaw-dropping news of the Flynn dismissal, which the Feds unanimously agree can only be explained by corruption at DOJ. The group then takes on the uneven and dangerous pattern of easing of shelter-in-place orders in various states, and then discusses the whistleblower complaints, particularly the one by Dr. Rick Bright, that portray a White House making life-and-death decisions on the basis of cronyism.
11/05/2044m 59s

Return to the Double Agent Bar and Grill: Intelligence, National Security, and the Coronavirus

Four of the nation’s premier experts in counter-intelligence and national security—Kate Brannen, Frank Figliuzzi, Juliette Kayyem, and Sam Vinograd—reconvene without Harry at the virtual Double Agent Bar & Grill, for a no-holds-barred discussion of the most troubling and important aspects of the virus. The 4 cut to the core in a rich and freewheeling conversation about the grave dangers that the virus, and Trump’s inept handling of it, pose to the US’s security and our standing in the world.
04/05/2038m 34s

A Few Choice Words: Abortion Returns to the Supreme Court

Abortion returns to the Supreme Court with June Medical Services v Russo, which the Court heard March 4 and could decide any day. It’s the first big abortion case since Gorsuch and Kavanaugh were appointed by Trump, who promised in the 2016 campaign to select Justices who would overturn Roe v Wade. Former Solicitor General Walter Dellinger, Leah (no relation) Litman, and Amy Howe join Harry to discuss the case and situate it in the 50-year sweep of the Court’s abortion jurisprudence since Roe.
27/04/2053m 47s

Law in the Time of Corona: Trump’s efforts to foil law enforcement oversight

An All-Feds classic, featuring 4 former AUSA’s/MSNBC contributors: Joyce Vance, Maya Wiley, Andrew Weissmann, and Harry. The feds focus on the federal, state and local law enforcement’s responses to the virus, including the efforts to ensure (and Trump’s resistance to) effective oversight; the DOJ’s ongoing work and its political support of Trump; and the only partially successful effort to integrate law enforcement and health care, especially for vulnerable sub-populations.
20/04/2045m 36s

Talking Feds 1-on-1: A Conversation with Val Demings

In this first ever Talking Feds 1-on-1, Harry speaks with congresswoman Val Demings from her Florida home where she’s sheltered in place. After discussing the challenges in Florida to ameliorate the effects of COVID-19, they discuss Demings‘s career in the Orlando Police Department, where she became the first ever female chief, and her recent experience as an impeachment manager. They end with discussion of her inclusion on lists of possible vice presidential candidates for Joe Biden.
16/04/2025m 58s

COVID-19 & the November Election: A National Crisis in the Making

The National Task Force on Election Crises formed last year to try in a bipartisan effort to anticipate and stave off a series of possible catastrophes for the November 2020 election.  Now they are leading the charge to put in place measures to keep the virus from swamping the election or undermining its legitimacy.  Three of the most prominent members of the Task Force—Michael Chertoff, Vanita Gupta, and Jim Baker—join Harry to spell out the biggest risks and detail their recommendations.
13/04/2044m 39s

Tequila & Quaaludes: Trump’s mismanagement of the Coronavirus

Three of the most prominent Feds – David Frum, Matt Miller, and Ashley Parker – join Harry to dissect the domestic, political, and international consequences of the President’s erratic management of the coronavirus. Does Trump own his early bungling, or will at least his base once again give him a pass?  Are his daily conferences and Biden’s isolation working strongly in his favor?  And will there be long-term consequences to the United States's previous leadership position on the world stage?
06/04/2039m 24s

Focus on American Universities: Fighting for DACA Dreamers and Coping With COVID-19

A special episode bringing together the Presidents of the University of California, Princeton, and Notre Dame. The Presidents first explain how they are responding to the fears and threats in their institutions posed by COV-19. They then discuss at length their ardent support for the DACA Dreamers program and their opposition to the Trump Administration’s attempts to rescind the program, which the Universities have litigated all the way to the Supreme Court, where it is now pending.
30/03/2048m 7s

Governments’ Responses to COVID-19: The Good, The Bad, and The Ridiculous

The long-predicted grim effects of COVID-19 began to hit home in earnest, with numbers of cases in the U.S. doubling every 2-3 days, the economy in free fall, supermarket shelves emptied, and whole states and communities ordered to stay at home.  Chris Lu, Barb McQuade, Anne Milgram, and Asha Rangappa –former feds with rich and varied experience in governmental responses to emergencies – join Harry to assess the governments’ work to date and to analyze the formidable difficulties that await us.
23/03/2043m 3s

Corona Cataclysm: a national emergency and a political wild card

Juliette Kayyem, Matt Miller, and Natasha Bertrand join Harry and bring to bear extensive expertise on the emergency management, policy, and political aspects of the Covid-19. We run through testing, turf battles, failures of presidential leadership and more before looking ahead to capacity problems and specific needed measures, closing with an analysis of the likely effects on the presidential race. Lots of rich analysis and nitty-gritty details that will be new to listeners.
16/03/2050m 5s

Corona Clusterf**k

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) exploded into public consciousness this week, and nobody seems to know how widespread, long-lasting, and serious its impact will be. The Administration was caught flat-footed, having squandered several weeks of preparation time. Dramatic measures such as quarantines and school closings were suddenly in play.National security experts Frank Figliuzzi and Juliette Kayeem and public health law expert Wendy Mariner join Harry to explain just where we are and where we might be headed.
09/03/2048m 57s

Was the Killing of Qasem Soleimani Legal?

The Trump-ordered drone killing of Qasem Soleimani, Iran’s second ranking political official, raises profound and exquisitely difficult questions of legality under international law and the federal constitution’s war power clauses.  A spectacular panel of war powers experts-- Harvard Professor Jack Goldsmith, New York Times Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter Charlie Savage, and University of Texas Professor Steve Vladeck --join Harry to grapple with these questions.
02/03/2049m 50s

Ignorance is Strength: Trump’s War on Fact

In the wake of the impeachment trial, the President has gone into overdrive seeking to root out from government anyone seen as personally disloyal, including those who provide truthful information pursuant to legal duty.  At the same time, he seems obsessed with trying to scrub away any facts that might reflect poorly on him. Feds Frank Figliuzzi, Matt Miller, and Sam Vinograd analyze the President’s mad assaults in the context of the Stone sentencing and the ouster of Joseph Maguire.
24/02/2048m 9s

Stone Cold Disaster at DOJ

The Feds convene inside the LA office of Congressman Ted Lieu, a critical figure in the impeachment effort from his post on the House Judiciary Committee, at the end of a week of scandal and tumult at the DOJ. Congressman Lieu, former AUSA Prof. Laurie Levenson, and Atlantic writer Todd Purdum join Harry to discuss the cross currents of DOJ conduct, which ended the week with a Barr interview pushing back on Trump’s tweets and the announcement that Trump enemy Andy McCabe would not be prosecuted.
17/02/2048m 38s

Has the Presidency Grown Too Powerful for the Constitution?

Notwithstanding serious misconduct by President Trump of the sort that impeachment and removal seemed designed to address, there never was a serious prospect that the Senate would convict him.  What went wrong?  Scholars and former government officials Bob Bauer, Rick Pildes, and Kate Shaw join Harry to discuss how Supreme Court decisions, executive branch aggrandizement, congressional acquiescence, and social and political forces have sapped impeachment of the strength the Framers intended.
10/02/2058m 54s

Partial Acquittal

In this special Talking Feds Now! episode, taped hours after the Senate voted to acquit President Trump, Frank Figliuzzi, Glenn Kirshner, and Barb McQuade join Harry with initial reactions and analysis.  Is the verdict an unalloyed triumph, as Trump’s ardent defenders proclaim, or inconclusive given the failure to even present evidence? To what extent did the defection of Senator Romney take the luster off the verdict?  And what should we now expect by way of continuing oversight in the House?
06/02/2045m 6s

Can I Get A Witness?

Republican strategist Rick Wilson joins Matt Miller, Jen Rodgers, and Harry for a post-mortem on the Senate vote to deny witnesses in President Trump’s impeachment trial and an assessment on the political ramifications of the decision.  They consider whether and how the Senate can rationalize the vote, and the possibility that McConnell’s political calculation was errant.  Looking past the coming acquittal to the election season, they then assess how the decision will play in the election and in history.
04/02/2047m 9s

We're Lost

Adam Schiff and the impeachment managers wrapped up three days of tightly focused and at times stirring argument that with few exceptions seemed to full on deaf ears of Republican senators. Paul Fishman, Anne Milgram, Asha Rangappa, and Todd S. Purdum (calling in from the hearings) join Harry to discuss the legal strategies of both sides, Adam Schiff's momentous performance, the comportment of the Senators, and the legal and political maneuvers over calling John Bolton and others as witnesses.
27/01/2050m 16s

Will All Senators Now Stand

In a week in which the impeachment trial of President Trump commenced, there were ½ dozen other blockbuster stories, including the Parnas documents and interviews.  Natasha Bertrand, Matt Miller, and Joyce Vance join Harry to analyze a series of the biggest developments, including the Parnas materials, the ongoing battle over witnesses, the appointment of Starr and Dershowitz as Trump’s lawyers, and the investigation of James Comey for a three-year old leak.
20/01/2038m 2s

The Big Picture in Homeland Security: 2020 and Beyond

Three of the country’s premier experts in national security -- Frank Figliuzzi, Malcolm Nance, and Juliette Kayyem—in frank, unmediated discussion about the new threats to the nation heading into the 2020 election.  The Russian intervention in 2016 presents a sinister, existential hazard that calls for the same kind of paradigm shift in homeland security that the 2001 attacks required in intelligence.  And the Administration’s hostility to career professionals makes the threats that more keen.
13/01/2042m 10s

From Russia with Blood

The Feds cast a close focus on the scourge of Russian Organized Crime, which stepped into the gap left by the fall of the Soviet Union to play an illicit and controlling role in virtually every important in the country.  At the same time, it maintains remarkable ties with Putin’s government, which ultimately controls its actions, including ordering targeted killings of people all over the world who have fallen out of Putin’s favor; and it may have played a role in some of the Trump Organization’s business dealings over the last 15 years.  A panel of Russian OC specialists – David Hickton, the US Attorney who brought the first cybercrime case against Russian OC; Martha Boersch who brought and litigated the first important case in US courts involving Russian OC; and Heidi Blake, an investigative reporter whose new book provides an authoritative account on Putin’s use of OC to make war on the West, join Harry to plumb the depths of a singular threat to Western democracies.
06/01/2046m 28s

Demagoguing the Border: The Trump Administration’s Treatment of Migrant Families

In an episode taped live in Washington DC and co-sponsored by the American Constitution Society and George Washington law School, Vanita Gupta, Leon Rodriguez, Lindsay Harris, and Andrea Senteno join Harry to describe and analyze the Trump Administration’s treatment of migrant families at the Southern border. The group traces the historical development of the issue and explains that, contrary to Administration rhetoric, virtually none of the tens of thousands of asylum seekers have histories of violent criminal conduct, and upwards of 95% of claimants with counsel appear for their hearings.  The panelists end with some potential solutions to a particularly vexing problem of law, policy, and politics.
30/12/1955m 46s

Trump Impeached: An Act of Constitutional Fidelity

Mary Gay Scanlon, Vice-Chair of the Judiciary Committee, joins Joyce Vance, Maya Wiley, and Harry Litman on the week in which the House of Representatives approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump, making him only the 3rd president impeached in U.S. history.  The congresswoman adds to the group’s analysis the account of how it felt on the floor of the House as the Articles moved toward passage, and the sentiments within the Democratic Caucus.  The Feds all analyze the possibility the impeachment could backfire, the Democratic strategy of holding back on the Articles to try to force the Senate to agree to witnesses, and the prospect of additional future investigations in the House post-impeachment.
23/12/1947m 15s

"The Articles Are Agreed To"

The House Judiciary Committee voted out articles of impeachment against a President for the first time in a generation and only the fourth time in history, and sent to the floor a two-count case for impeachment that seems overwhelming in both the facts and the law.  But the vote was along strict partisan lines and all indications are that the Republicans in both Houses of Congress will hold near total ranks in support of the President, embracing a series of weak or diversionary arguments.  Feds Natasha Bertrand, Ron Klain, and Matt Miller join Harry to analyze the week and assess what happens next.  What short-, medium-, and long-term implications will the presumed impeachment/acquittal course of events have for Trump, the Republican Party, and the state of the Union?
16/12/1947m 57s

What Will The Trial in the Senate Look Like?

Congressional and political experts Norm Ornstein, David Frum, and Elliot Williams join Harry to analyze the probable workings – from the broad strokes to the nitty gritty – of the expected upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate.  Will Mitch McConnell control all aspects with an iron fist, and what if anything will make him part company from President Trump?  Will it all be a strictly political affair or will broader considerations of country and Constitution hold some sway? And how many votes for conviction can we expect the Republicans?
09/12/1953m 50s

Impeachment Academy

The impeachment process moves to the Judiciary Committee, beginning with a panel of scholars addressing constitutional standards for impeachment and applying those standards to the set of facts that the testimony in the Intelligence Committee established beyond reasonable doubt.  We engage the historic moment with a two-part episode featuring a remarkably high-powered group of commentators exploring the political and the constitutional considerations of the prospective impeachment.  First, David Frum, Jill Wine-Banks, Liz Holtzman, and Harry analyze and appraise the Democrats’ strategy, including serious consideration of whether opening with a panel of scholars is a blunder.  Next, we reissue portions of a previous episode in which Professor Larry Tribe, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, Congress (and Judiciary Committee) member Jamie Raskin, and Harry undertake a deep dive into the meaning of the pivotal constitutional term “High Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
02/12/191h 8m

The Impeachment Week That Was: If an avalanche of evidence falls in the Congress, can Republicans hear it?

It was one of the most dramatic and consequential weeks in the history of the Presidency, as the testimony of a series of witnesses before the House Intelligence Committee appeared to establish conclusively that President Trump had engaged in a corrupt and illegal course of conduct in his dealings with President Vlodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.  Yet at the end of this series of seismic hearings, it appeared that the House Republicans were prepared to continue to stand unanimously with the President.  Feds Matt Miller, Frank Figliuzzi, and Natasha Bertrand join Harry to assess where things stand and what if anything could force Congressional Republicans to acknowledge and come to grips with the President’s outrageous misconduct
25/11/1939m 48s

Sondland Testifies: The Answer is Yes

Feds Jill Wine-Banks, Elie Honig, and Barb McQuade huddle for a deep dive on today’s blockbuster testimony from Gordon Sondland acknowledging that Pres Trump conditioned the White House meeting and the release of military aid on the announcement of investigations of Burisma/the Bidens and the 2016 Election. Is there room for Republicans to continue to argue there was no quid pro quo? And will there be a public drumbeat for testimony and documents that the Administration has so far managed to withhold?
21/11/1944m 3s

The Impeachment Hearings Begin

In this Special Talking Feds Now! Episode on the first day of impeachment hearings, Harry, Barb McQuade, and Glenn Kirschner assess the performances of the Members of Congress, starting with Adam Schiff and Devin Nunes; the staff counsel; and the two opening witness, William Taylor and George Kent.  Schiff plainly approached the hearings as the accomplished prosecutor he used to be, and the Feds use that vantage point to explain what the Dems strategy was and how well they executed it.  They likewise evaluate the strategy and tactics of the Republicans and consider what they can credibly hope to achieve given the hand they’ve been dealt.  The Feds close with some thoughts about what to expect as the hearings unfold.
14/11/1941m 11s

Deja Vu: The Trump Impeachment Through the Prism of Past Impeachments

With Congress poised to begin public impeachment hearings, the Feds consider the coming historic juncture through the prism of the impeachment investigations of Presidents Nixon and Clinton.  Eyewitness participants in those dramas spell out key distinctions that shed light on the Trump impeachment and bring into relief some of the high hurdles facing the House Judiciary committee right now.  The episode brings together Judiciary Committee members and players from all 3 impeachment dramas—Elizabeth Holtzman, a Committee member and then the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress; Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Clinton impeachment and a senior member today, and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, the current Vice-Chair of the House Judiciary Committee,  and a member of the House Committee on Rules. Joining them is Lanny Breuer, former head of the Criminal Division at DOJ and special counsel to President Clinton during the 1998 impeachment trial.
13/11/191h 9m

The Troubled State of Voting Rights Heading into the 2020 Election

The last 15 years have ushered in a series of daunting obstacles to voting rights in this county.  It turns out that the supposed principle of "one person one vote" falls short in the field to a series of impediments, beginning with three 5-4 Supreme Court opinions that have scaled back on the ability of minority voters in particular to participate on equal footing with other voters.  Returning Fed and Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Law at the University of Alabama Joyce Vance, Congress Member (and manager of his brother's presidential campaign) Joaquin Castro, President of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (and former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights) Vanita Gupta, and Federal Election Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub join Harry to  break down the state of voting rights in the country, analyzing the Court's actions and also poll closures, bogus charges of voter fraud, and the emasculation of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  They close with some hopeful developments on the horizon, beginning with proposed HR1, which would enact a laundry list of improvements and mitigate some of the harsh effects of the Court's decisions.
04/11/1957m 39s

“Is the Dam Breaking?” Part 2-- LIVE from Politicon in Nashville, Tennessee

Charter Fed Barb McQuade joins David Frum and Malcolm Nance for a deep dig of two other issues circling the impeachment crisis.  First, the Feds discuss the crazy wild card that is Rudy Giuliani, including his prospects for indictment from his old US Attorney’s office.  Is he at the end of the day a serious risk to the President, and will Trump cut him loose or try to hold him ever close?  Turning to the prospective drafting of articles of impeachment, the Feds consider whether and how to integrate into the basic charges the President’s term-long record of grave damage to national security and to the rule of law.
28/10/1955m 42s

“Is the Dam Breaking?” Part 1--LIVE from Politicon in Nashville, Tennessee

Former Clinton Press Secretary Joe Lockhart (who served Clinton during his impeachment trial) joins Feds Maya Wiley Jill Wine-Vance, and Harry Litman for a discussion of a number of facets of what is suddenly an impeachment crisis for the White House.  What (if anything) is the White House doing right and what is it doing wrong?  How does its efforts compare and contrast with the Clinton White House’s strategy in 1998?  Turning to the Congress, the Feds consider whether the Republicans “no due process” argument is getting any purchase and speculate on how both the House and the Senate Republicans will approach the coming crisis.
28/10/1953m 0s

The Federal Death Penalty

The Feds take up the most sober, and one of the most controversial, topics in the federal criminal justice system -- the federal death penalty.  There are currently 62 offenders on federal death row, a small fraction of the numbers in the state system, and the federal government has executed only 3 federal prisoners since 1963. So why do we have, and why do we need, a federal death penalty?  Given the different approaches to capital punishment in the states, should the federal system work to ensure uniformity among all federal capital defendants or should it reflect the variations in local communities?  As a practical matter, how does the decision whether to seek the death penalty work in the federal system? Finally, how does the Department of Justice approach the trials of capital crimes?  Feds Rod Rosenstein, Johnny Sutton, and Carmen Ortiz – 3 former U.S. Attorneys who have extensive personal involvement in federal capital cases – unpack all these questions and detail the personal experience of seeking the ultimate penalty.
25/10/1941m 9s

Get over it!

After a blockbuster week in both Congress and the Southern District of New York, Feds Frank Figliuzzi, Barb McQuade, and Elie Honig join Harry to assess the damage against the President and his country lawyer Rudy Giuliani.  Several witnesses gave forceful closed-door testimony about the President’s turning over Ukraine foreign policy to Giuliani, who apparently executed a scheme designed to further Trump’s political interests to the derogation of the country’s national security interests.  None of the witnesses might have drawn as much blood, however, as Trump’s own acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who acknowledge before the camera that a quid pro quo had occurred.  The Feds consider whether removal is now on the table, and also the repercussions of a potential indictment of Giuliani by his old office.
21/10/1940m 32s

Bill Barr’s Justice

Guest host Matthew Miller sits down with three reporters who cover The Department of Justice to find out what’s going on with Attorney General William Barr, the Ukraine investigation and more. Featuring Evan Perez, Katie Benner, Devlin Barrett. Bill Barr's 2001 interview can be found here.
11/10/1947m 46s

The Whistleblowers’ Moment

The whistleblower complaint filed by a member of the intelligence community has brought the Trump Administration to the precipice, imposing a far greater threat than did the Mueller probe. Several more whistleblower complaints against the Administration are stacked up and ready to go. Whistleblowers have arrived. But who are they, and what tends to happen to them after they blow the whistle? The Feds bear down on various aspects of the life and law of whistleblowers, with two of the most prominent whistleblower lawyers in the country and the author of a just-published book that gives an encyclopedic look at this suddenly critical set of players.
07/10/1944m 35s

Are we f***ed?

From Austin, Texas, it's a special bonus episode of Talking Feds. Harry Litman, Joyce Vance, Matt Miller, Asha Rangappa and Mieke Eoyang talk about the state of politics, the president and the law while producer Jennie tries to to get queso on the mic cables. It's a free-wheeling discussion in the back room at Cisco's in East Austin, so sit down and join us!
29/09/1942m 58s

Trump Agonistes

After disclosure of a whistleblower complaint revealing President Trump’s efforts to strongarm the President of Ukraine into producing dirt on Joe Biden and subsequent WH efforts to conceal it, the Democrats moved quickly to initiate impeachment proceedings.  Talking Feds Ron Klain, Natasha Bertrand, and Frank Figliuzzi join Harry to analyze the depths of Trump’s troubles and the likely path of congressional investigation going forward.
29/09/1956m 3s

The Whistle is Blowing

Four Charter Feds – Frank Figliuzzi, Paul Fishman, Matt Miller, and Joyce Vance—join Harry Litman to analyze the complicated questions of law, politics, and national security swirling around the bombshell revelations that 1) a whistleblower complaint from someone in the national intelligence community has been filed but is being withheld from Congress notwithstanding the plain legal command to provide it; and 2) the complaint concerns President Trump’s attempting to strongarm the President of Ukraine into gathering dirt on Joe Biden’s son.  The Feds then turn their focus on Corey Lewandowski’s testimony in the House last week, including the devastating cross-examination by committee counsel Barry Berke,  and consider the possibility that Lewandowski could be charged with contempt.
23/09/1944m 16s


In the wake of unconfirmed reports that a Grand Jury in the District of Columbia refused to indict former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the feds convene in emergency TalkingFeds Now session to analyze what happened, assess how rare—and how embarrassing—a development it would have been, speculate on just what is happening now in the US Attorney’s office and Main Justice, and consider the Department’s next moves. Full episode transcripts available at Talking Feds dot com.
14/09/1927m 38s

SDNY (2); still in the house

Following up on the last episode insiders’ account of the fabled Southern District of New York, the Feds canvas various cases in which the SDNY is still investigating conduct by the Trump circle and Trump himself.  Trump insiders often have suggested that the greatest threat to the President and his family comes from the SDNY.  Now that the Mueller probe has run its course, what possible cases does the SDNY still have in store?  And if the SDNY does bring additional cases, will the new regime at the DOJ, led by AG Bill Barr, sign off on them? Full episode transcripts available at
10/09/1942m 47s

La Cosa SDNY: An Insider’s Guide to the Most Renowned United States Attorney’s Office

The Southern District of New York – the United States Attorney’s Office based in Manhattan – is the most renowned federal prosecutor’s office in the Department of Justice—and it knows it. It has a famous independence and swagger, which it has earned with a long string of high-profile prosecutions, particularly of organized crime figures.  Friends of President Trump have long identified the SDNY as a bigger threat to his presidency than Robert Mueller. What makes this office tick, and so consistently excellent?  Three long time assistants and supervisors in the office sit down with Talking Feds host Harry Litman to detail what life and work is really like in the SDNY.
03/09/1952m 9s

Left of Boom: Violent Extremism and the Law

Guest host Frank Figliuzzi leads a discussion of fighting violent extremist crimes in the United States without compromising civil liberties. Frank is joined by Barbara McQuade, Mary McCord and Malcolm Nance. In the sidebar segment, Emmy award winning actor Bradley Whitford explains the difference between international and domestic terrorism. Full transcript available at
27/08/1957m 39s

The Republican Opposition

For many Republicans, the Trump Administration has posed a stark choice between values and outcomes, a choice that seems increasingly irreconcilable with the norms and practices of previous Republican administrations. Host Harry Litman talks with three Republicans who made the choice early on not to support the President's policies. William Kristol, political author and commentator, Peter Keisler, former acting Attorney General of the United States, and Carrie Cordero, former senior associate general counsel at the office of the Director of National Intelligence.
19/08/191h 2m

The Pardon Power

What are the values and purposes behind the pardon power? How has President Trump used this executive power in his first term and how might he use it in the future?  Harry talks with an expert panel including Robert Bauer, former White House counsel and professor, Margaret Love, former pardon attorney, and Rachel Barkow, professor of Law at New York University and a former member of the United States Sentencing Commission.
12/08/1959m 49s

Who Fights for The People When the Government Won't?

They've sued white supremacists after Charlottesville, fought for bail reform in Missouri, and stood up in court for Welcoming Cities like Gary, Indiana. The former Feds at the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection at Georgetown Law left the Justice Department to take on cases that have Constitutional claims at their core. They discuss the impact of their litigation efforts in areas where the U.S. government would traditionally play a role. Host Harry Litman is joined by ICAP's team of former Feds: Mary McCord, Joshua Geltzer, Amy Marshak, Annie Owens, Nicolas Riley, Seth Wayne.
05/08/1957m 17s

The Witness Has Left The Room

Three familiar Feds are joined by director Rob Reiner to assess the testimony of special Counsel Robert Mueller and consider the prospects for continued congressional investigation. Mueller testified to Congress for seven hours about the contents of his report. Although his answers were brief, he nonetheless painted a clear picture of misconduct and potential crimes committed by the President and his associates. Harry is joined by former Feds Melinda Haag, Martha Boersch and filmmaker Rob Reiner.
26/07/1951m 18s

Mooting Mueller

Feds including some of the finest and most experienced trial lawyers in the country proffer specific, word-for-word, 5-minute lines of questioning for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.  They defend their own lines of questioning and critiques others in turn.  The  Feds then engage in a trial lawyers’ discussion of what goals are achievable from Mueller’s testimony, which risks are worth taking and which are not, what tone to take in the questioning, how to handle the expected obstreperousness of the Republicans, how exactly to make use of the Mueller Report, and other fine points of the trial lawyer’s art as applied to this critical hearing. Full transcripts available at Talking Feds dot com
19/07/191h 2m

Congress's Last Stand: Mueller's Testimony

When Robert Mueller testifies on July 17th, the stakes for the House are enormous. The two committees must use the opportunity to make the American people understand the gravity of the offenses and misconduct laid out in the Report, but that is no easy task. How should they approach it in broad strokes? How do they get meaningful answers, respectfully, from Robert Mueller?  Harry Litman is joined by Andrew McCabe, Ron Klain, Tim Lynch, and Matt Miller for a discussion in front of a live audience. You can also watch video of the live discussion at This episode was sponsored by Georgetown Law's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection and The American Constitution Society.
12/07/191h 1m

Trump’s Interference with the DOJ

Feds Jamie Gorelick, Paul Fishman, and Amy Jeffress – a group with hugely rich experience from line Assistant U.S. Attorneys to the highest reaches of Main Justice—describe and explain the norms that should govern the interactions between political employees and career prosecutors.  Those norms were firmly respected before the Trump Administration, which has routinely flouted them, infecting DOJ’s law enforcement function with crass political considerations.  The result is a series of body blows to the Department, from the morale of career employees to its reputation for impartiality before the federal courts.  The Feds close with some surmises about how likely it is that the damage will outlive the Trump Administration, and what restoring DOJ culture will require. Full transcripts and more available at
09/07/1943m 46s

“Public sentiment is everything”

Pivoting off President Abraham Lincoln’s famous maxim, the Feds consider the state of public opinion about the current President’s many serious transgressions. What explains the apparent indifference of wide swaths of the American public to the President’s assault on constitutional values and the rule of law? What are the prospects for Mueller’s upcoming testimony or other events to break through the apparent impasse? And is there a moral obligation to push back on the constitutional outrages whether or not there are reasonable prospects of changing the current calculus? Harry is joined by Barbara McQuade, Frank Figliuzzi and Julie Zebrak. And stay tuned after the discussion for a preview of the Talking Feds live event July 8-11 in Washington, DC.
06/07/1930m 34s

Mueller Report Myths and Gerrymandered Maps

In this special Feds Now episode, The Feds break down the myths of the Mueller Report, as first elucidated in a recent Time Magazine article. Host Harry Litman is joined by the co-authors of the article, former US Attorneys and Talking Feds charter members Barbara McQuade and Joyce White Vance. The Feds then turn to the ramifications of the 5-4 Supreme Court on political gerrymandering with Richard Cordray, who clerked for two Supreme Court justices and was the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
28/06/1951m 49s

No Hope

The Feds take up the administration’s assertion of absolute immunity for Hope Hicks, including whether absolute immunity is even a viable legal concept. They then consider a new Supreme Court decision that potentially points the way towards a legal breakthrough in the impasse between the White House and Congress. Finally, they consider the sobering possibility that the race is over even as Congress continues to run in place.
24/06/1944m 43s

Ted Talks

The Feds are honored to be joined by Rep. Ted Lieu, a forceful presence on the House Judiciary Committee. We begin with a probing look at the legal, ethical, and political implications of the President’s suggestion that it’s fine for a campaign to take negative information about an opponent from a foreign country, including the seemingly untenable position that Trump has imposed on FBI Director Christopher Wray by directly contradicting him in public.  Following a sidebar from Prof Larry Tribe on the federal government’s obligation to provide information to criminal defendants, the Feds engage in a candid assessment of Congress’s attempts to date to bring the Mueller report to life before the American public, ending with Rep Lieu’s declaration that  "[w]e are going to get McGahn to testify at some point."
17/06/1942m 34s

A House Divided

The Feds consider the White House’s radical and unprecedented strategy to not only rebuff all investigative demands from the House, but to deny the very legitimacy of the House’s oversight.  They unpack the voicemail from the President’s lawyer asking Michael Flynn’s lawyer for a “heads up”of Flynn’s communications with Mueller.  They then bat around a new proposal from Prof Larry Tribe that potentially could break through the drastic logjam. Host Harry Litman is joined by former Feds Asha Rangappa, Elliot Williams, and Barbara McQuade.
10/06/1941m 26s

High Crimes and Misdemeanors (feat. Professor Laurence Tribe, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, and Congressman Jamie Raskin)

An unbelievably high-powered panel-- Professor Laurence Tribe, Dean Erwin Chemerinksy, and Congressman and Judiciary Committee member Jamie Raskin--take up an incredibly important topic,  "High Crimes and Misdemeanors." The three set aside some common misconceptions and agree on important aspects of the constitutional term. They then turn to plow new ground, each opining on what potential offense by the President is the most serious and predicting how the Congress may view differently the Venn diagram of potential impeachable offenses.  Finally, they offer their thoughts on whether we are at a moment of constitutional failure, and whether the constitutional scheme is likely to prove equal to the stresses that the President has imposed on it.
03/06/1938m 24s

The Day Bob Mueller Spoke

On the day when Robert Mueller broke his 2-year silence, the Feds convene in a special @talkingfeds Now! Episode to tell you what wasn’t said in the wall-to-wall coverage.  Each Fed offers up in roundtable order a detail or nuance that the coverage overlooked or underreported, filling in some critical blanks and implications in the first and perhaps only statement that Mueller will make. Harry is joined by Barbara McQuade, Mimi Rocah and Elie Honig.
30/05/1932m 39s

Do Overs and Cover Ups

The Feds analyze the current apparent impasse between the Administration and the House of Representatives and discuss possible inroads that the House Democrats could nevertheless execute.  They detail possible witnesses that the House still can call.  They conclude by considering the legal and political implications of the two district court victories upholding subpoenas for financial records of the President, including before 2016.
28/05/1943m 59s

Game of Trump: A Song of Vice and Ire

The Feds discuss the implications of the revelation that some member(s) of Congress helped dangle a pardon to Michael Flynn, and the importance of the district court’s muscular intervention in ordering that the information be made public. They then consider Trump's deranged tweet about treason and the overall impact of Trump's threats now that he has an apparent ally and loyal servant in the Attorney General of the United States.
20/05/1945m 32s

The Counterintelligence Investigation: What it is, why it matters

Of all the many aspects of the various Trump dramas, the counter-intelligence investigation of the President and his campaign can be the hardest to understand and follow, not least because it remains highly classified and we have no way to chart its progress with certainty.  But we can bring a depth of knowledge and experience to the topic, and that is what Feds Frank Figliuzzi and Josh Campbell, who both have extensive FBI experience, do in this episode.  The Feds provide a detailed but nuts-and-bolts explanations of how counter-intelligence investigations work, and then analyze the prospects over the next two years for the remarkable counter-intelligence investigation of the Trump campaign and the president himself.
14/05/1954m 20s

Barr on the Rocks

A Talking Feds NOW special episode.  The Feds convene in emergency session to dissect the Attorney General’s remarkable testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee and to analyze the import of Barr’s apparent decision to act as an advocate for the President’s personal interests.  Host Harry Litman is joined remotely by Robert Raben, Barbara McQuade and Matthew Miller.
02/05/1933m 52s

Mueller in the House

As the center of investigation of Trump’s misconduct moves to the House, a group of Feds who have special in-depth knowledge of Congressional investigations predict what lies ahead. The Feds discuss the likely maneuvers of three House Committees and the likely counter maneuvers of the Department of Justice. They consider the prospects for the House to get the Mueller Report without redactions, and the possible critical roles for public opinion and the handful of moderate Republican Senators. Harry is in Washington, D.C. with Robert Raben, Elliot Williams and Matt Miller.
26/04/1937m 33s

A Deep Dive Into Murky Waters

The Feds probe deeply into the 438-page redacted Mueller report,  training their focus in in particular on the respective roles of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Attorney General William Barr.  Was Mueller’s decision to shy away from a bottom line judgment on obstruction of justice appropriate?  Is Barr not an honest broker, and if not, why not? The Feds tell us the one thing that surprised them the most in the Mueller report.  Host Harry Litman is in La Jolla, CA by Carol Lam, Jennifer Rodgers and from Tucson, AZ by Frank Figliuzzi.
24/04/1951m 3s

The Mueller Report: And Now What?

The Feds convene in emergency session to discuss the Mueller report and the Barr press conference.  They analyze whether Barr was a faithful expositor or an advocate for Trump, and whether Mueller’s intent was to leave the judgment on obstruction to Congress. Host Harry Litman is joined remotely by Amy Jeffress, Jennifer Rodgers and Paul Fishman. Read the full report
18/04/1928m 44s

Redaction Reaction

The Feds analyze what to expect from the soon-to-issue Mueller report and offer educated surmises on the internal dynamics within DOJ, including the relationship between the Special counsel’s office and the Attorney General. They then take up the Assange case, again explaining the dynamics within government and evaluating whether it was a case that should have been brought. Host, Harry Litman, is joined in the Washington D.C. studio by Amy Jeffress, Julie O'Sullivan, and Matthew Miller.
16/04/1937m 28s

Report Summary: [REDACTED]

The Feds analyze the outbreak of the war of press leaks between the Mueller camp and the Barr camp and the emerging dueling versions of Barr’s decision to give the President a pass on obstruction. They then consider the prospects that the House will be able to secure the unredacted Mueller Report and the President’s tax returns. Host, Harry Litman, is joined remotely by Joyce Vance, Paul Fishman, and Matthew Miller.
08/04/1943m 28s

The Mueller We Know

At a time of intense curiosity about the contents of the Mueller Report, and assessment of Mueller’s key decisions over the course of the probe, this episode brings together prominent former federal officials who each worked closely and at length under Mueller when he was United States Attorney and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director. Their vantage points, generally absent from the public discussion to date, give rise to educated surmises about Mueller’s calculations over the life of the probe to the present day, when he possibly is at odds with the Attorney General about critical conclusions from his probe. Host, Harry Litman, is joined in the San Francisco studio by Melinda Haag, Martha Boersch, and Candace Kelly.
01/04/1943m 51s

Mueller Punts, Barr Intercepts

The Feds debate Special counsel Robert Mueller’s baffling decision not to reach a judgment as to the President guilt of obstruction and the Attorney General’s decision to step into the breach and clear Trump. They then discuss the many perils that remain for Trump and his circle from investigations in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere. Host, Harry Litman, is joined remotely by Barbara McQuade and Mimi Rocah.
28/03/1934m 29s

Breaking News: The Report Is In

The Feds convene an emergency session to discuss Bob Mueller’s long-awaited submission of his report to the Attorney General. Host, Harry Litman, is joined remotely by Paul Fishman, Julie Zebrak, and Matthew Miller.
23/03/1928m 6s

Pardon Me

The Feds consider whether it was appropriate for the Manhattan DA to file pardon-proof charges against Paul Manafort, then describe the specific steps Congress and the DOJ would take to investigate the emails to Michael Cohen suggesting Trump and Giuliani may have dangled a pardon to keep him silent. Host, Harry Litman, is joined in the Washington D.C. studio by Elliot Williams, Julie Zebrak, and Elie Honig.
18/03/1931m 47s

Mueller Done, Manafort Undone?

The Feds discuss what the Mueller Report might look like and what happens after it drops, then turn to consideration of Paul Manafort's prospects for ever getting out of prison. Host, Harry Litman, is joined in the Washington D.C. studio by Joyce Vance, Paul Fishman, and Matthew Miller.
14/03/1938m 2s

An Introduction

Talking Feds is a prosecutors’ roundtable that brings together some of the most well-known former prosecutors in the country for a detailed, dynamic, and entertaining analysis of the most pressing questions in high-profile criminal cases, including the Mueller probe and related investigations.
12/03/191m 4s
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