The Axe Files with David Axelrod
The Axe Files with David Axelrod
The Institute of Politics & CNN
David Axelrod, the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, and CNN bring you The Axe Files, a series of revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. Go beyond the soundbites and get to know some of the most interesting players in politics.
Ep. 439 — Jamie Dimon
Jamie Dimon assumed the roles of CEO and Chairman of JPMorgan Chase in 2005 and 2006 respectively, just before the onset of the Great Recession. He's been widely credited with steering the bank safely through the global financial crisis, making his one of the most sought-after voices in finance. Just days after releasing his annual letter to shareholders, Dimon joined David to talk about his outlook for a post-pandemic economy, America’s competitive edge over China, the responsibility of government and business to combat and correct systemic racism, and the precariousness of the American Dream.  To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
Apr 15
1 hr 1 min
Ep. 438 — Sen. Tammy Duckworth
When Senator Tammy Duckworth was shot down over Iraq while serving in the US Army, she did not notice at first that her legs were mostly gone, destroyed by the blast. After countless surgeries and hours of rehab, Sen. Duckworth eventually learned to walk on prosthetics. Her new memoir, Every Day Is a Gift, recounts her injury and recovery, as well as her childhood and rise to the US Senate. Sen. Duckworth talked with David about growing up in Southeast Asia and Hawaii and the financial struggles her family experienced, the challenges facing working mothers today, and why she refused to see then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during her recovery at Walter Reed Hospital. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
Apr 12
45 min
Ep. 437 — Bud Selig
Growing up, former Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig was enamored with baseball, thanks primarily to his mother’s love of the game. After a brief stint selling cars, he jumped into the MLB, working his way up to commissioner. Commissioner Selig joined David to discuss watching Jackie Robinson’s debut at Wrigley Field as a 13-year-old fan, always doing what he thought was best for the game as commissioner, dealing with the steroid scandal, and why he believes baseball is a social institution. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
Apr 8
52 min
Ep. 436 — Rev. Dr. William Barber
Growing up as the son of an ordained minister, Rev. Dr. William Barber didn’t want to be a preacher. But during his senior year of college he reconsidered, and after a long talk with his father, he preached his first sermon a few weeks later. Rev. Barber has since become a leading voice in the national fight for social justice. He joined David to talk about desegregating his school as a second grader, starting Moral Mondays to combat voter suppression, how he sees the fight for a $15 minimum wage as a fight for racial justice and why he believes we’re in the midst of a third Reconstruction. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
Apr 1
1 hr 5 min
Ep. 435 — Kara Swisher
While using an early iteration of email in the 1990s, tech journalist Kara Swisher, host of the podcasts “Sway” and “Pivot,” had a feeling the internet was about to become a giant story. She jumped on it and became a preeminent source of tech news with distinct insight into Silicon Valley. She talks with David about the power that comes with speaking her mind and being bold, the moment she realized digitization was about to change the world, how she quickly pinpointed the privacy and disinformation dangers of social media, and why she believes China could one day run entirely on artificial intelligence. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
Mar 25
1 hr 9 min
Ep. 434 — Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
For Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, the last year was full of unexpected challenges and opportunities. She has led her city through the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, and when summer social justice protests in Atlanta turned violent, Bottoms gave an impromptu press conference imploring people to go home. Mayor Bottoms spoke to David the day after a string of shootings in the Atlanta area that left eight dead. The two talked about how her father’s time in prison shaped her and her family’s life, how her faith has guided her political career, enacting police reform while pushing back on an uptick in crime, and why she believes “outrageous” voting legislation proposed by Georgia Republicans won’t stop the state from voting blue. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
Mar 18
1 hr 3 min
Ep. 433 — Tim Alberta
Journalist Tim Alberta got his first taste of Washington, DC straight out of undergrad as an intern for The Wall Street Journal. Since then, he has become a plugged-in political reporter, with a particular focus on the Republican Party. He has watched and reported as American politics and priorities shifted—something he said most of the country has yet to fully grapple with. He joined David to discuss growing up the son of an evangelical pastor, covering the 2020 election from his home state of Michigan, what the media missed in 2016 and his 2019 book, “American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump.” To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
Mar 11
1 hr 10 min
Ep. 432 — Rep. Joe Neguse
Rep. Joe Neguse first became interested in politics at a young age, inspired by his immigrant parents’ lesson to give back to the country that had welcomed them from Eritrea. He joined student government and got elected to the University of Colorado Board of Regents while still in law school. But the second-term congressman reached national prominence as an impeachment manager in the second impeachment trial of former President Trump, delivering deft and emotional arguments on behalf of House Democrats. Rep. Neguse joined David to talk about his personal connection to immigration legislation, his experiences on January 6 and throughout the impeachment process, and why he believes voting rights might force filibuster reform. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
Mar 4
58 min
Ep. 431 — Fareed Zakaria
As the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the US and much of the country hunkered down under stay-at-home orders, journalist, author and CNN host Fareed Zakaria was already thinking about the future. He began considering the lessons the virus could teach us about our health, the economy and society moving forward. Fareed joined David to discuss what we’ve learned so far about combatting Covid-19, why today’s economy needs political intervention for a more equitable future, the faltering American Dream and his new book, “Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World.” To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
Feb 25
1 hr 2 min
Ep. 430 — Heidi Heitkamp
While former US Senator Heidi Heitkamp was growing up in Mantador, North Dakota, her family made up one tenth of the town’s population. She took the lessons she learned from her small-town upbringing to the Senate, where she served as a rare Democrat from a deep-red state willing to work across the aisle with then-President Donald Trump. Former Sen. Heitkamp joined David to talk about rural America’s emotional attachment to Trump, the energy industry and climate change, why she couldn’t vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and the passing of conservative radio star Rush Limbaugh.   To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit
Feb 18
1 hr 8 min
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