Playbook Deep Dive
Playbook Deep Dive
Welcome to Playbook Deep Dive, the stories behind the power. From Congress and the White House to bar stools and back rooms, POLITICO Playbook’s Ryan Lizza brings you interviews with the most compelling and important figures who explain what’s really going on in Washington.
Chris Coons has thoughts on Gaza, the border and Biden’s age
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), one of President Joe Biden’s closest foreign policy advisors, gives his assessment of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial upcoming address in front of Congress, the politics of the Hunter Biden trial, why Coons thinks the president’s executive order on asylum is hollow, how our allies around the world are bracing themselves for the coming election, what would happen if China invaded Taiwan in a Trump versus a Biden administration, and his honest assessment of what’s changed about Biden as he’s aged,.
Jun 7
37 min
Trump’s Guilty. Here’s what he shouldn’t do on appeal.
POLITICO’s senior legal affairs reporter Kyle Cheney and legal columnist Ankush Khardori debrief on what happened at the Hush Money trial, how Trump’s team may have hurt its own case, and what their best plan is to win an appeal after Thursday’s massive guilty verdict.
May 31
37 min
Inside Rick Scott’s quest to be the Senate’s Florida man
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) joins host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza to discuss his entry into the Senate GOP leadership race to succeed Mitch McConnell. They discuss why Sen. Scott is running, what Donald Trump told him about his decision, his relationship with key Republicans such as McConnell and Susie Wiles, his policy agenda on foreign aid, abortion, entitlements, and Israel if he’s elected leader, Trump’s running mate choices, and the importance of having a purpose in life.
May 24
35 min
“Political malpractice”: the Debate Commission chief thinks Trump blew it
On Wednesday morning, Frank Fahrenkopf received a letter from the Biden presidential campaign that ruined his day. Fahrenkopf is co-chair of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has produced 33 debates since 1988, the first election year it was in business. He was planning on four more this year: three with Biden and Trump as well as the quadrennial vice presidential debate. But the Biden campaign told Fahrenkopf that the president would not be participating in any of them. Instead, the Biden campaign announced that it would negotiate with the Trump campaign and individual media organizations to plan two debates outside of the Commission’s process. By the end of the day Biden and Trump were set to debate in June on CNN and in September on ABC. On this episode of Deep Dive, Fahrenkopf joins host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza to discuss the fall-out from this decision, including the roles of Biden, Trump, and Anita Dunn; why he thinks RFK Jr. may have grounds for a lawsuit against CNN and what some of his favorite behind-the-scenes stories are from his decades of producing debates.
May 17
1 hr 4 min
Mike Johnson told us what he really thinks about Joe Biden, Hakeem Jeffries and Donald Trump
Fresh off fending off a hard-right coup attempt, the House speaker opens up about his strategy and his future plans for the GOP Conference. Topics in this lengthy interview include: Johnson’s victory over the GOP radicals; Israel; Ukraine; January 6th; the Trump trials; abortion; and his relationships with key Washington leaders, such as Joe Biden, Hakeem Jeffries, Kevin McCarthy and, of course, Donald Trump.
May 10
45 min
Rep. Jerry Nadler opposed the House antisemitism bill. Here's why
Rep. Jerry Nadler, who has represented a big piece of Manhattan since 1992, is one of the longest-serving Jewish members of the House. He’s also a Columbia University alumnus: he was on campus in 1968 when police cleared Hamilton Hall of anti-Vietnam war protesters. Nadler is a close observer of the Middle East and the politics of Israel in the U.S. And he’s the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, where he’s long seen himself as a champion of civil liberties. All of this background helped put Nadler at the center of a swirl of events this week as pro-Palestinian protesters at Columbia were ejected from Hamilton Hall, as President Biden made his first public remarks about campus protests, as a ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel seemed tantalizingly close and as the House passed, by an overwhelming majority of 320 to 91, the Antisemitism Awareness Act — a bill against which Nadler led the opposition. On this week’s episode of Playbook Deep Dive, host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza talked talks with Nadler about all of this and about Trump’s interview in Time Magazine, the potential for disruption at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, the vote Nadler most regrets in his long career and the nature of truth.
May 3
46 min
‘I used to be very combative’: How starring in ‘Civil War’ changed his politics
The biggest movie in the country right now is about a civil war — in America. If you see the film “Civil War” at a theater in downtown Washington, the scenes of the Lincoln Memorial exploding and the White House being attacked are jarring when you exit into the D.C. air. The movie is writer and director Alex Garland’s very in-your-face attempt to imagine the unimaginable in America — an authoritarian leader in the White House, intractable political differences being resolved through violence and the very specific horrors of modern warfare — urban fighting, refugee camps, mass atrocities, the collapse of the currency — all the things that we associate with stuff that can happen over there happening right here in the United States. “Civil War” is also a movie about journalism. It follows four reporters traveling from New York to Washington, D.C., via a circuitous route through Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia. The movie takes on a lot of the weighty issues we talk about on shows like this one: media ethics, political polarization, disinformation polluting our media ecosystem and the potential threat from an autocratic leader. Wagner Moura plays a hardened war correspondent addicted to the battlefield. He also provides some much needed levity in the movie. Moura is best-known for his role as Pablo Escobar in “Narcos.” But he’s also a former journalist, a political activist and a writer and director himself. His 2019 movie “Marighella” about the coup and counter-revolution in Brazil in the 1960s incurred the wrath of then-president Jair Bolsonaro in Moura’s home country of Brazil. Deep Dive host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza talked with Moura on Thursday just as Washington’s annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner festivities were getting under way. It’s the time of year when the relationship between journalists, politicians and Hollywood is at its peak in this town. They had a fascinating conversation about how making a movie about a new civil war changed Moura’s own personal thinking about politics, how his experience with Bolsonaro in Brazil is a warning for Americans and the role of art in politics.
Apr 26
35 min
Rep. Tom Cole’s cigar diplomacy to secure Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan aid
After months of delay, this week House Speaker Mike Johnson advanced his much awaited version of the Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan foreign aid package. Standing between that legislation and the House floor: two very powerful committees. First, the House Appropriations Committee, which controls about a third of federal spending. And second, the Rules Committee, which controls access to the House floor, and which has become a problem for GOP leaders in this Congress. Johnson needed to pick the lock on both of these committees. And there is one Member of Congress who has chaired them both. Not just in the past year — but in the past month: Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole. Deep Dive host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza caught up with Cole on Thursday afternoon after he’d just testified in support of the foreign aid bill in front of his old committee. They got deep into the weeds of why the Rules Committee has been such a trouble spot for recent GOP speakers; and they discussed Johnson’s tenure so far and whether Cole thinks the Speaker can hang on as members threaten to oust him. Cole also previewed how he will run the Appropriations Committee, including how he’ll handle the controversial earmarks process. And Cole answered some prying questions from some of his favorite historians on the subject of Donald Trump.
Apr 19
50 min
Michael Cohen on the first Trump trial: Prepare to be surprised
Michael Cohen may be the only person standing between Donald Trump and jail. Three of Trump’s four criminal trials — the ones in Washington, Florida and Georgia — seem hopelessly stalled. But on this coming Monday in New York, the hush money case is set to begin. Deep Dive guest and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen is the star witness in the case. On this episode, he joins host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza to discuss how he will defend the assault on his credibility at the trial, why Alvin Bragg’s case is stronger than analysts believe, the legal tactics he’s expecting from Trump’s team and whether he ever regrets breaking with Trump.
Apr 12
37 min
Abortion will now be on the ballot in Florida. Here’s why that’s awkward for Biden.
On April 1, the Florida Supreme Court issued a pair of decisions on abortion that led the Biden campaign to declare that Florida, which Democrats have lost twice to Donald Trump, was now “winnable.” The only problem with that? Some of Florida’s abortion rights advocates want the president to stay away. At issue is Amendment 4, a measure on November’s ballot that would enshrine abortion in the state constitution — and will also need Republican and independent votes to pass. On this episode of Deep Dive, Anna Hochkammer, the executive director of the Florida Women’s Freedom Coalition and one of the architects of Florida’s abortion ballot initiative, joins host and Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza to discuss the delicate politics of building a bipartisan coalition around abortion rights in a red state like Florida.
Apr 5
37 min
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