The Lawfare Podcast
The Capitol Police and the Enduring Effects of Jan. 6
Over the last year, our national dialogue about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack has become ever more focused on politics, congressional investigations and criminal prosecutions. But what about the people who were actually on the front lines on Jan. 6?
Natalie Orpett sat down with Susan Dominus and Luke Broadwater, who recently published an article in The New York Times Magazine called, “The Capitol Police and the Scars of Jan. 6.” The article tells the stories of some of the law enforcement officers who were there that day, many of whom continue to experience the impact of Jan. 6 in profoundly personal ways. They talked about what they learned through their reporting and what it means for ongoing efforts to respond to the attack.
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The Authoritarian Playbook in 202551:25The advocacy group Protect Democracy last month issued an updated version of its report entitled, “The Authoritarian Playbook.” The new report is called, “The Authoritarian Playbook for 2025: How an authoritarian president will dismantle our democracy and what we can do to protect it.” It is a fascinating compilation of things that Donald Trump has promised to do and how they could likely be expected to affect American democracy if he is elected to a second term in office. To discuss the report, Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes spoke with two of its authors: Genevieve Nadeau and Erica Newland, both of Protect Democracy. They talked about what's new in the report, how much of it is speculation and how much of it is simply taking Donald Trump's words seriously, opportunities to mitigate the most dire consequences of which the report warns, and whether this is just baked into the American presidency when occupied by a truly authoritarian personality.
Joel Braunold on the State of the Gaza Crisis01:00:34The conflict in Gaza is headed toward a critical juncture. Israeli political leaders have signaled their intent to assault Rafah, one of the final safe havens for displaced Gazan civilians—a move that U.S. and other international leaders fear could trigger a humanitarian crisis, or the long-term displacement of Palestinians from Gaza. Meanwhile, negotiations for both a ceasefire and a longer term resolution of the crisis are ongoing, but have little to show thus far. To discuss the many moving pieces of the Gaza conflict, Lawfare Senior Editor Scott R. Anderson sat down once again with Joel Braunold, Managing Director at the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace and someone who has long been involved in Middle East peace efforts. They discussed the current state of Israel’s military operations, how it is impacting (and being impacted by) domestic politics in Israel and elsewhere, and the significance of recent events ranging from the International Court of Justice’s grant of provisional measures to the Biden administration’s efforts to sanction the perpetrators of West Bank settler violence—all with an eye for better understanding where this crisis may yet be headed.
Lawfare Archive: Christopher Moran on ‘Company Confessions: Secrets, Memoirs, and the CIA’38:51From December 10, 2016: This week at the Hoover Book Soiree, Jack Goldsmith interviewed Christopher Moran, a professor at the University of Warwick, on his book “Company Confessions: Secrets, Memoirs, and the CIA.” Moran's work is a history of CIA memoirs, but it's also a history of the Agency itself and its efforts to shape its image in the public eye. How does an organization whose work depends on keeping secrets justify its efforts within a democratic society?
Rational Security: The “Licking the Cow” Edition01:17:56This week, Alan, Quinta, and Scott were once again joined by co-host emeritus Benjamin Wittes to talk through the week's big national security news, including:“Constitutional Annoyance.” Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Trump v. Anderson, the case weighing whether former President Trump’s involvement in Jan. 6 should disqualify him from being able to stand as a candidate in 2024 under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. And the justices, for once, seemed almost unified in their skepticism of the idea that he should be—though there was far less agreement as to why. Where is this case headed? And what will its ultimate impact be on the 2024 election and beyond?“Putting the Hur(t) On.” Special Counsel Robert Hur completed his investigation into President Biden’s alleged mishandling of classified documents last week and, while he opted not to bring any charges, his lengthy final report has caused a stir: not just for laying out Biden’s apparent mishandling of classified documents over an extended period of time but also for citing Biden’s advanced age and apparent memory issues as grounds for not prosecuting—observations that have reignited anxieties regarding Biden’s capacity to stand for reelection. Was Hur out of line or just doing his job in making these observations? And how will his conclusions impact events moving forward, including the prosecution of former President Trump for his own mishandling of classified documents?“‘I Can’t Pay the Rent,’ ‘But You Must Pay the Rent!’” Former President Trump has resumed his role as enforcer over the defense spending level of NATO members, suggesting most recently that he would encourage Russia to do whatever it wants with any members who fail to meet their commitments—comments that have triggered new anxiety over how NATO may fare in a second Trump presidency. How serious are these comments? What should folks be doing in response?For object lessons, Alan recommended the weirdness of Donald Glover's new spy remake, "Mr. & Mrs. Smith." Quinta urged listeners to check out a recent New York Times piece on "How Mark Meadows Became the Least Trusted Man in Washington." Scott mourned the end of football season by endorsing the sportsfan comedy of Annie Agar. And Ben announced that he had completed his quest to identify the worst rhetorical question headline ever.
Trump’s Trials and Tribulations: A Wild and Woolly Week01:25:43It’s another episode of “Trump’s Trials and Tribulations,” this one recorded before a live audience on Zoom on Friday afternoon. It’s been a wild week in Trump coverage. We’ve got a judgment from New York, we’ve got the best evidentiary hearing ever held in Fulton County, we’ve got Tyler McBrien at the scheduling conference for the New York criminal trial, and we’ve got updates from Florida and Washington.Joining Lawfare Editor-in-Chief Benjamin Wittes were Lawfare Senior Editor Roger Parloff, Lawfare Managing Editor Tyler McBrien, and Lawfare Legal Fellow and Courts Correspondent Anna Bower, and they covered it all. They also took audience questions from Lawfare Material Supporters and, this week, guests.To be able to submit questions to the panelists, you should become a Material Supporter at lawfaremedia.org/support.
Lawfare Archive: Jim Baker on FISA Errors45:51From April 10, 2020: Jim Baker served as general counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was also the counsel for the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review at the Justice Department, where he supervised FISA applications. He joined Benjamin Wittes in the virtual Jungle Studio to discuss Inspector General Michael Horowitz's shocking report on inaccuracy in FISA applications, and the problems at the FBI that led to these errors.
Itsiq Benizri on the EU AI Act43:23The EU has finally agreed to its AI Act. Despite the political agreement reached in December 2023, some nations maintained some reservations about the text, making it uncertain whether there was a final agreement or not. They recently reached an agreement on the technical text, moving the process closer to a successful conclusion. The challenge now will be effective implementation. To discuss the act and its implications, Lawfare Fellow in Technology Policy and Law Eugenia Lostri sat down with Itsiq Benizri, counsel at the law firm WilmerHale Brussels. They discussed how domestic politics shaped the final text, how governments and businesses can best prepare for new requirements, and whether the European act will set the international roadmap for AI regulation.You can listen to Eugenia’s October conversation about approaches to AI regulation with Itsiq and Arianna Evers here.
Chatter: Life and Death in Ukraine with Journalist Christopher Miller47:54In February 2022, Russia launched a full scale invasion into Ukraine in the largest attack on a European country since World War II. This invasion did not start a new war, but escalated the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War that started in 2014 when Russian forces captured Crimea and invaded the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.In his book, “The War Came to Us: Life and Death in Ukraine,” author and journalist Christopher Miller tells the story of the past fourteen years in Ukraine through his personal experiences living and reporting in Ukraine since 2010. For this week’s Chatter episode, Anna Hickey spoke with Chris Miller about his book, what led to the full scale invasion in 2022, the 2014 capture of Crimea, and his journey from being a Peace Corps volunteer in Bakhmut in 2010 to a war correspondent.Among the works mentioned in this episode:The book, “The War Came to Us: Life and Death in Ukraine,” by Christopher MillerThe article, “Documents show Russian separatist commander signed off on executions of three men in Sloviansk” by Christopher MillerThe book, "Voroshilovgrad" by Serhiy ZhadanChatter is a production of Lawfare and Goat Rodeo. This episode was produced and edited by Cara Shillenn of Goat Rodeo. Podcast theme by David Priess, featuring music created using Groovepad.
Jonathan Cedarbaum and Matt Gluck on the NDAA’s Cyber Provisions50:39The National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, is considered must-pass legislation and is increasingly becoming the only reliable vehicle for national cyber policymaking. Lawfare Senior Editor Stephanie Pell sat down with Jonathan Cedarbaum, Professor of Practice at George Washington University Law School and Book Review Editor at Lawfare, and Matt Gluck, Research Fellow at Lawfare, to talk about the key cyber provisions of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2024. They talked about new cyber provisions that address threats from Mexican criminal organizations and China, along with how some of the new cyber provisions expand the military’s role in protecting against threats to critical infrastructure. They also discussed what Jonathan and Matt would like to see in future versions of the NDAA.