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Talking Feds

News & Politics Podcasts

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.

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.


United States


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.






Rounding the Corner... to what?

In the wake of the final presidential debate, Vanita Gupta, Matt Miller, and Congressman Jamie Raskin join Harry to analyze the candidates’ final messages and anticipate what possible bumps may lie on the short ride to the finish line. Trump turned in a more disciplined performance but lied promiscuously; Biden scored strong hits on the virus and immigration and directly connected with voters on kitchen table issues. The feds then canvassed the likely paths of both campaigns in the last week.


Confirming Amy... Recuse, Refuse...We Lose

With two weeks to go until the election, Al Franken, Dahlia Lithwick and Bill Kristol join Harry and take up first the confirmation hearings for soon-to-be Justice Barrett. Did the Republicans make a mistake going all in and did the Dems play their losing hand right? The Feds then move to the campaign trail, and the bizarre simultaneous town halls by Trump and Biden. Finally, they take stock of the Senate races and the very real prospect that the Dems will sweep the board in November.


Talking Zeds: Social Media is Our Country

About 24 million Americans born after 1996—our so-called Generation Z-- will have their first opportunity to vote in a presidential election in November. Who are they and what motivates them? In this special bonus episode, Harry sits down with four young voters and leaders -- Xiye Bastida, Victor Shi, Bianca Vivion Brooks, and Ziad Ahmed -- to discuss climate change, the Supreme Court, intersectional politics, the electoral college, and why social media is their love language.


Treasonable Doubt

Michael Steele, Laura Jarrett, & Steve Vladeck join Harry on a week when President Trump returned to the White House from Walter Reed hospital and proceeded to act even more erratically than usual. They then take up the DOJ’s change to its hands-off election year policies, and its announcement, to Trump's chagrin, that there will be no Durham report pre-election. Finally, the Feds analyze the attempting kidnapping of Michigan Governor Whitmer, and tie it to Trump’s incendiary rhetoric in...


Talking Feds Now: Positive Uncertainty

Recorded on Friday night, in the wake of the mind-blowing revelation that both the President and the First Lady have tested positive for COVID 19, Laura Coates, Norm Orenstein, and Michael Schmidt join Harry to analyze the dizzying questions of law, medicine, national security, and politics that Trump’s sickness put into play. The Feds discuss the Administration’s stunning irresponsibility and the prospect that more VIPs fall ill. Then they analyze the political implications for Trump, the...


Judging Amy

Convening in the wake of President Trump’s selection of Judge Amy Comey Barrett for the Sup Ct vacancy caused by Justice Ginsburg’s death, Feds Dahlia Lithwick, Joe Lockhart, and Bret Stephens analyze Barrett’s qualifications and the politics surrounding her confirmation. What are the long-term consequences of the 5-member majority of far-right Justices that Barrett cements? And what is the Ds’ best short-term political strategy given that the Rs have the raw numbers to assure Barrett’s...


Honoring RBG: May her Memory be a Revolution

Initially taped just before the announcement of the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, this episode features Feds Natasha Bertrand, former Senator Al Franken, and Matt Miller delving into the stark, Orwellian divide between the true facts about the virus, the DOJ, and misinformation on the one hand, and the wholly fictional account propounded by the President and his Administration on the other. The Feds reconvene after the taping to add a discussion about RBG’s death and its implications.


Before She was Notorious: Clerking for Ruth Bader Ginsburg

In this special bonus Talking Feds: Women at the Table, three #Sistersinlaw, all clerks to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, come together to describe what Justice Ginsburg really was like as a mentor, judge, spouse, and improbable pop culture hero. Amanda Tyler, Gillian Metzger, and Ginger Anders talk about their lives during their clerkships and paint a multi-dimensional portrait of the woman they knew and revered. They discuss everything from her approach to writing to her love of opera and of...


Homeland Insecurity: Flying Blind

Convening on the 19th anniversary of 9/11, fed regulars Frank Figliuzzi, David Frum, and Juliette Kayyem take stock of the most pressing threats to the homeland; the largely fictitious threats that the President continues to proffer; and the consequences for the country of the divide between the two. The feds consider the DHS whistleblower complaint and what it suggests about homeland security in 2020.They then zero in on the provocative charges in the new books by Bob Woodward and Pete...


The Vote is in the Mail: Election Protection (from the ground up)

A dream team of Democratic Party leaders -- Marc Elias, the leading lawyer in the country for election protection, Senator Amy Klobuchar, and Congresswoman Katie Porter -- join Talking Feds host Harry Litman to discuss the gargantuan efforts afoot to protect the right to vote in the November election. You’ve heard about the manifold problems; now hear about the concrete strategic battles the Democrats are waging in litigation, legislation, and public opinion.


Sisters in Law Special Voters Rights Edition: Use it or Lose it

In Part 2 of a special bonus edition of Talking Feds commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, Jill Wine-Banks, Joyce Vance, and Barbara McQuade speak with Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) about voter suppression, the unravelling of our democracy that has been going on for years, and the role the legal community has played in these failures.


Married to the Don

In the wake of the Republican convention and the renomination of President Trump, MSNBC host Chris Hayes, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, and author Jeff Toobin join Harry for a 360° review of the Convention and what it portends about the Republicans’ election strategy going forward. The group then moves to the Kenosha unrest, and the stark red-blue divide in reaction to the events. The Kenosha bedlam sets up a sidebar from NBA Coach Steve Kerr on the federal role in firearms regulation.


Conventional Wisdom: It Is What It Is

It was the week when the Democrats formally selected their standard bearers in the 1st-ever virtual convention, and feds Laura Jarrett, Frank Figliuzzi, & Matt Miller assess the Convention and the Dems’ message. They next take up the Intel Committee’s devastating Report detailing repeated connections between the Trump Campaign and the Russian Government. And they examine the indictment of Kevin Clinesmith and what if anything it portends and do the same for the SDNY indictment of Steve...


The Sisters in Law Special Edition: Nasty Women Vote

In part one of this special Sisters-in-Law edition of Talking Feds commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote, Jill Wine-Banks, Joyce Vance, and Barbara McQuade speak with civil rights attorney Vanita Gupta and lawyer and Stanford Law School professor Pam Karlan about protecting voters rights.


Kamala: Game On!

In a week dominated by Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s selection of California Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate, Jonathan Alter, Joe Lockhart, Asha Rangappa, and Harry discuss the behind-the-scenes selection of Harris and then proceed to evaluate the choice. Turning to the Republican response, the Feds discuss the loathsome charge, countenanced by Trump, that Harris is ineligible to serve. Finally, the four explain why the attack on the USPS is so grave and what can be done about...


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.


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.


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.


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...


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,...