• Show Notes
  • Transcript

On this week’s episode of Stay Tuned with Preet, “Becoming a Warrior,” Preet answers listener questions about the decision by the Director of National Intelligence to cancel all in-person election security briefings for Congress, the likelihood that Trump will pardon Steve Bannon, the FBI’s role in SDNY indictments, and whether the Trump administration violated the Hatch Act during the RNC.

Then, former California Congresswoman Katie Hill joins Preet for a conversation about her new memoir, She Will Rise: Becoming a Warrior in the Battle for True Equality, which details her personal experiences with misogyny and cyber exploitation — and her eventual resignation from Congress.

To listen to Stay Tuned bonus material, try the CAFE Insider membership free for two weeks and get access to the full archive of exclusive content, including the CAFE Insider podcast co-hosted by Preet and Anne Milgram. 

Sign up to receive the CAFE Brief, a weekly newsletter featuring analysis by Elie Honig, a weekly roundup of politically charged legal news, and historical lookbacks that help inform our current political challenges. 

As always, tweet your questions to @PreetBharara with hashtag #askpreet, email us at [email protected], or call 669-247-7338 to leave a voicemail.

This episode contains discussion of suicide, domestic violence, and sexual assault. 

If you are having thoughts of suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or text HOME to 741741 for the Crisis Text Line. Additional resources can be found at SpeakingofSuicide.com/resources.

If you or someone you know is being affected by domestic abuse, please call 1-800-799-7233 for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, or text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474. 

REFERENCES & SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS

Q&A

THE INTERVIEW:

HILL’S RUN FOR CONGRESS

  • Tim Dickinson, “Chatting With Millennial Candidate Katie Hill About Flipping One of California’s Red Districts,” Rolling Stone, 10/15/2018
  • Dana Goodyear, “Katie Hill is a new kind of California Democrat. Can she help flip the House?” The New Yorker, 6/12/2018
  • Michael Brown, “Katie Hill Leads The Pack In Congressional Campaign Finance,” Hometown Station, 4/16/2018
  • Jeff Daniels, “Democrat Katie Hill is the apparent winner in key California House race, will unseat GOP Rep. Steve Knight,” NBC News, 11/8/2018
  • “Katie Hill Flips The House In 2018,” She’s Running Ep. 4 (HBO), 11/16/2018
  • Li Zhou, “Young women are one of the most potent political forces of 2018,” Vox, 10/31/2018
  • Clare Foran, “No other Congress has ever looked like this,” CNN, 1/4/2019
  • Tara Law, “Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Becomes Youngest Woman Ever to Preside Over the House of Representatives,” Time Magazine, 5/11/2019
  • Crystal Duan, “Hill elected to be co-representative to House Majority leadership,” The Signal, 11/29/2018
  • Ella Nilsen, “House Democrats just passed a slate of significant reforms to get money out of politics,” Vox, 3/8/2019
  • “Katie Hill Wants to Give Electoral Power Back to the People with HR 1,” NowThis, 1/29/2019

RESIGNATION

  • Katie Hill announces her resignation on Twitter, 10/27/2019
  • Emily Cochrane, “Katie Hill Will Resign From Congress Amid Ethics Investigation,” The New York Times, 10/27/2019
  • Carrie Goldberg and Annie Seifullah, “Revenge porn is a tactic of abuse. Katie Hill’s case makes that clear.” Vox, 10/30/2019
  • Caitlin Moscatello, “Katie Hill, After the Scandal Her rise to Congress heralded the arrival of a new and modern political generation. And then the pictures leaked.” The Cut, 3/2/2020
  • “Katie Hill: Public shaming made me consider suicide,” BBC News, 8/25/2020 
  • Jane Mayer, “The Case of Al Franken,” The New Yorker, 7/29/2019
  • Jenny Hollander, “Midterms Candidate Katie Hill Calls Brett Kavanaugh a ‘Serial Predator’,” Marie Claire, 9/26/2018
  • Sarah D. Wire, “Rep. Katie Hill has Nancy Pelosi’s favor, but will that do her any favors?” Los Angeles Times, 4/24/2019

HILL’S FUTURE

Preet Bharara:

From CAFE, welcome to Stay Tuned. I’m Preet Bharara.

Katie Hill:

Even before enacting these policies, the only way that they’re going to happen is if you elect more women, and part of that is electing women because they’re women. We always hear, “Oh, well, yeah, we should elect women, but it’s got to be the right woman. Or I don’t know, I just don’t like her. She’s too annoying or she’s too ambitious or she’s too this, too that,” and all of those are excuses.

Preet Bharara:

That’s Katie Hill. She’s the former Democratic Congresswoman from California who flipped her district in 2018, becoming one of the youngest women to be elected to Congress. She resigned last October after the conservative website, RedState, published non-consensual nude photos of her and text messages between her and a former campaign staffer. Now Hill is speaking out. In a new memoir, She Will Rise: Becoming a Warrior in the Battle for True Equality, Hill details her experiences with misogyny, sexual abuse and cyber exploitation. And she calls for the election of more women because they are women. That’s coming up. Stay tuned.

Preet Bharara:

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Preet Bharara:

Let’s get to your questions. This question comes in a tweet from Twitter user 00, Mrs. Cooper, who’s responding to a Nancy Pelosi tweet. Speaker Pelosi tweeted, “The Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s decision to cancel all election security briefings for the Congress is a shocking abdication of its responsibility to keep Congress informed.” Mrs. Cooper asks, “Is ODNI’s move legal. What can anyone do? #AskPreet, #DoSomething.”

Preet Bharara:

As with so many things with this administration, new policies changes in practices. It’s often the case that there’s not a law that specifically prohibits it. It’s a norm, it’s a tradition, it’s standard operating procedure. And this appears to be one of those things. So the move by ODNI, having scheduled briefings about election security already from mid September and then canceling them is troubling, it’s unsettling, I think it’s unfortunate, but it’s likely not illegal. By way of background, John Ratcliffe, if you’ll recall, is the most recent ODNI. He was floated as a possibility for that position some months ago.

Preet Bharara:

People thought he was unconformable. Somehow he had a political resurrection and he’s now in the job. Fairly political person, was notable in the impeachment hearings and is a strong supporter of Donald Trump. So the DNI John Ratcliffe sent a letter to congressional leaders last week that says, “In order to ensure clarity and consistency across the ODNI’s engagements with Congress on elections, the ODNI will primarily meet its obligation to keep Congress fully and currently informed, leading into the presidential election, through written finished intelligence products.” So you’ll note that even in the rack of letter, he accepts and agrees that he has an obligation to keep Congress fully informed.

Preet Bharara:

There’s a section of the National Security Act of 1947 that makes clear that the heads of the intelligence community agencies shall “keep congressional intelligence committees fully and currently informed of all intelligence activities of the United States.” But there’s nothing that I’m aware of that says anywhere whether that briefing or that information has to be conveyed in person, by a human, or in writing. I imagine that there’s a combination of both things that takes place over time.

Preet Bharara:

The Democratic leaders of course are upset about it. You saw Nancy Pelosi’s tweet. There was a combined statement made by Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff, the chair of the Intelligence Committee in the house, chastising the ODNI for making this decision, decrying it, and they say in their joint statement among other things, “We expect the administration and intelligence community to keep us fully and accurately informed and resume the briefings. If they are unwilling to, we will consider the full range of tools available to the house to compel compliance.”

Preet Bharara:

I don’t know exactly what that means. I suppose they have subpoena power and they can call people to come testify, either behind closed doors, which is what this you would think have to be if it’s talking about sensitive intelligence matters relating to the election or otherwise. So we’ll see what happens with respect to that impasse. Now, why is it that John Radcliffe decided to end these in-person briefings? Well, it’s reportedly because he’s angry about leaks from recent briefings and there’s a back and forth about whether or not there were leaks, who were the leakers, et cetera. That’s a perpetual problem and a perpetual back and forth, he says. She says argument about whether or not things that are said in private briefings become public.

Preet Bharara:

We know, putting this issue aside in this particular circumstance, there has been a considerable amount of leaking from the executive branch. What’s curious to me though is to the extent you’re providing sensitive information in written form. I don’t know how the leaking problem is ameliorated by just doing it in writing as opposed to in-person. Obviously, one of the reasons that members of Congress are upset that they’re not getting in-person briefings is because that’s the kind of briefing that is more informative. If you get cold words on a written page, we talked about this in connection with Trump testifying as opposed to submitting written answers to questions in the Mueller investigation.

Preet Bharara:

When there’s a live human being coming to brief members of Congress or in any other setting, there’s an opportunity to ask follow up questions, to ask for clarifications, to ask why some things have been admitted and to ask for further information, whether in written form or in testimony again in the future. It is seen as an opportunity for people to be evasive about what they want to convey and be minimalist in what they want to convey and be selective in what they want to convey.

Preet Bharara:

In my experience as a lawyer in court and my experiences as a person generally trying to understand an issue and get information that’s important to my being able to do my job or carry out some tasks is to be sitting in a room with somebody who provides information and there can be a back and forth and request for further information if necessary or a clarification. And that’s what I think is going to be lost by this seemingly partisan move to cancel those briefings. But as someone likes to say, we’ll see what happens. And by the way, Lisa Monaco and Ken Wainstein will be talking about this issue in greater detail on Friday’s episode of the United Security Podcast.

Preet Bharara:

This question comes from a Twitter user, A Gallant, who asks, “Hey, Preet Bharara. What are the penalties for violating the Hatch Act? Asking for America, #Ask Preet.” So I presume you’re asking the question because of the spectacle that was at Republican National Convention last week. In particular, day four, the final day, when essentially the White House grounds were made into a campaign site. You had Donald Trump addressing the nation in one of his most important speeches to accept the nomination of his party, right on the South Lawn with lots and lots of folks inside and outside of government who had to have participated in making that possible.

Preet Bharara:

The quick answer to your question, what are the penalties? There are certain circumstances in which there could be a criminal violation, but generally speaking, someone who violates the Hatch Act, which is a prohibition against using government funds or government office buildings, taxpayer-funded locations to engage in political activity, that’s the prohibition. But someone who does violate that, if you’re a federal employee, is subject to certain penalties. In particular, “Disciplinary action, consisting of removal, reduction in grade, debarment from federal employment for a period not to exceed five years. Suspension or reprimand.” Also potentially a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000.

Preet Bharara:

So, there are real penalties for violating the Hatch Act. As Anne Milgram and I discussed on the Insider Podcast, there are a number of examples of ordinary rank and file federal employees who have suffered penalties for violating the Hatch Act. The Washington Post had a good article recently talking about some of these folks. There was a defense logistics agency employee who was suspended for 30 days without pay last fall after giving his office colleagues a PowerPoint presentation that displayed the words Vote Republican. There are other examples. There’s a civil servant who faced a 120-days suspension without pay from the FDA after creating a Facebook page with his name and photograph to solicit political donations and then co-hosting a fundraiser.

Preet Bharara:

There have been Hatch Act violations in most administrations and usually they’re taken seriously, maybe not as seriously as some would like, but there are reprimands. There are precautions taken. Among the other things, by the way, that happened at the RNC last week was Donald Trump seems to have used a naturalization ceremony, which is an official government act, for pure purposes of political propaganda to be used at the convention. And then you have the instance of Mike Pompeo, the sitting Secretary of State, not only addressing the convention, which is unprecedented in modern times for someone of that position to address a political convention, but he did it from Jerusalem, injecting politics into all sorts of things.

Preet Bharara:

Previous administrations, both Republican and Democratic, have been careful about that. And certain cabinet secretaries have been told not to participate in political conventions. And when some have, they’ve been told to do so without reference to their office and without talking about the official position that they have. They’re acting in their personal capacity.

Preet Bharara:

Now, implicit in your question is, why aren’t people being penalized in connection with what has happened under the Trump administration. And the reason for that is the responsibility for investigating these kinds of things resides in an office of special counsel. Not the Mueller Special Counsel, this is a different special counsel and they make findings and they make recommendations as they have with respect to Kellyanne Conway, for example, who they’ve recommended firing. Well, she’s gone, so that’s no longer an issue there. But that action has to be taken by the relevant supervisor of the person who’s engaged in the transgression. And for all the things we’ve been talking about in the last couple of minutes, that supervisor is kind of the president of the United States who has chosen not to care.

Preet Bharara:

So, there are penalties. They have been brought to bear on people who are not as powerful and close to the president as some of the folks engaged in these activities. There’s not a whole hell of a lot people can do. I think this is one of the things that a future Congress in the next administration should think about amending perhaps in some way and giving it more teeth. Because at the end of the day, these are things that protect democracy, separate politics from government that are important for both parties, not just Republicans, not just Democrats, and the precedents being set here for the flouting of the Hatch Act are not going to be good precedents for the future if and when a Democratic administration decides to flout them too, not to mention what message it sends to rank and file federal employees around the country who can suffer severe consequences when they see people above them being able to get away with it.

Preet Bharara:

I should note also, in fairness, that the Hatch Act specifically exempts the president and the vice president of the United States. Maybe that’s what gives them some comfort that they can do these things. But obviously the president and the vice president are not solely responsible for organizing events like the fourth day of the RNC. One of the arguments also made by this special counsel in the Trump administration in fairness is that as a technical matter, the Rose Garden in the South Lawn are not considered subject to the Hatch Act. I think that’s open to interpretation, but that’s the state of play. I wouldn’t expect any penalties for Trump folks violating the Hatch Act, but thanks for asking. By the way, our very own Elie Honig writes a bit more about the Hatch Act in this Friday’s CAFE brief, check it out. If you don’t already receive our free weekly newsletter, sign up at cafe.com/brief.

Preet Bharara:

This question comes in an email from Dave who says, “Hi Preet, what are the chances that the president pardons Steve Bannon at all after the election and before the inauguration? Great podcast. Thanks.” That’s a perennial question we have to ask with respect to any human being now who gets charged if they’re an associate friend, former ally, current ally of the president of the United States, and there are two reasons why the president might choose to pardon someone or commute their sentence as he’s done before with Roger Stone and others. One is, cynically, he wants to keep them quiet. And it’s kind of an understanding that if you keep your mouth shut, that there’s going to be something in it for you because I can reach my hand in and short circuit the criminal justice process and save your skin.

Preet Bharara:

And the other reason is Donald Trump just doesn’t like certain people who are close to him to have to be punished. His whole emo with respect to how he thinks about the justice system is punishment for political adversaries and the saving of people who are political allies, whether it’s Michael Flynn or anyone else. So this is all speculation. But I do think even at this late date, when Donald Trump has engaged in so much seemingly absurd conduct when it comes to pardons and other things, that the Steve Bannon case is different.

Preet Bharara:

The Bannon case is not really about the president’s campaign, it’s not really about saving the president, protecting the president in any way. It’s sort of rank and file charity fraud in which Steve Bannon and others made clear to the public that they were taking donations to build a wall at the Southern border and that every single penny was going to go to that cause and no one was going to take a salary and no money was going to go into the pockets of the heads of that organization. It’s a simple fraud. It’s one that should upset the people who gave money. Some of them did not have a lot of money to give. And so, it’s a little bit removed from the kinds of things that Trump seems to care about, like the Russia investigation, which he calls the Russia hoax.

Preet Bharara:

It doesn’t really implicate the president. There’s also reports that he and Steve Bannon had a parting of the ways. Steve Bannon obviously left the administration after not a very long while. Trump has done his usual thing when he doesn’t like someone so much, saying, “I barely knew the guy. I didn’t have him on the campaign for very long. He’s worked for a lot of other people, including Goldman Sachs.” So the combination of this not being directly related to something that’s in Trump’s interest, it being kind of a straight financial fraud of a bad nature and the comments that Trump has made in distancing to me make it seem like it’s unlikely that Steve Bannon will get the benefit of it. But you never know. If it turns out that Steve Bannon is thinking about turning on the president, has information to give about him or members of his family or other associates, anything is possible.

Preet Bharara:

This question comes in an email from Jason who writes, “Dear Preet. Kudos to the SDNY AUSA’s agents in USPS, United States Postal Inspection Service inspectors for the recent indictment in the We Build the Wall investigation. It seems highly unusual to me that our good friends at the FBI were excluded. Why do you think FBI and IRS CI, that’s IRS Criminal Investigations, didn’t participate in this impactful financial investigation? Yours truly, a humble IRS CI agent.” Well, that’s a good question that people have been asking. Obviously I ran that office for seven and a half years so I can speculate. And this is pure speculation because I have no knowledge at all. And as you know, as a former agent with the IRS, that case has come about in various ways.

Preet Bharara:

Sometimes a case comes across an agent’s desk because there’s a whistleblower or there’s an informant or a complaint made or it’s a offshoot of another case that the agent has been working on. And then that agent, in whatever agency, DEA, Secret Service, FBI, IRS, whatever, can generally in their discretion bring the case to a particular US attorney’s office. In New York, they’re multiple options right there. They’re two US attorney’s offices in New York City itself, the only city in the country that has more than one US attorney’s office. The entire state of Massachusetts only has one US attorney’s office. New York state has four.

Preet Bharara:

So it’s possible in this case that the matter came to the attention of the US Postal Inspection Service, and they brought it to SDNY, which makes sense for a lot of reasons. It’s also possible, as happens in SDNY in particular, that cases originate within the office. Not only are there great and fabulous assistant US attorneys, both in the criminal and civil divisions there, but it’s sort of a well kept secret that the SDNY has a whole group of investigators. When I was there, there were about 19 of them. Some of them former police officers, some of them former federal agents, and they work for SDNY and have the ability to carry on investigations. And they are a force to be reckoned with.

Preet Bharara:

Some of our most significant political corruption investigations, for example, were largely driven by the SDNY investigators who were among the greatest people I’ve ever met. I’ve written about several of them in my book, Doing Justice, which you may recall if you’ve read it. So one possibility is that the Southern district was on its own conducting this mostly document-driven, bank-material-driven investigation with respect to Steve Bannon and the others in the We Build the Wall investigation, and at some point it becomes necessary to involve another federal agency just for a lot of reasons relating to procedure, administration and logistics, and also to get their training and experience and bring them on board after you’ve advanced a particular amount. I don’t know if that’s true, but that sometimes is the case. It happened with some of our political corruption cases.

Preet Bharara:

And then there is speculation. And again, I will not opine one way or another on this. But I think it is possible that given the sensitive nature of the investigation, given the degree to which SDNY might have been concerned about intrusion and interference at the highest levels of the justice department, because Steve Bannon was a potential target, that when the SDNY was choosing who to partner with, they went with an agency that is great and respected, and I’ve worked with them on a lot of cases when I was in the office as a line prosecutor also, to bring in an agency that was not part of the justice department so that the risk of it being reported up in a way that might draw interference was lower. Some people have said that. I don’t know if that’s true. I wish I knew. I miss being there and knowing all the secrets. I don’t know. In any event, the partnership between SDNY and the US Postal Inspection Service goes back a long way and they will ably handle the case.

Preet Bharara:

Stay tuned, there’s more coming up right after this.

Preet Bharara:

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Preet Bharara:

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Preet Bharara:

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Preet Bharara:

My guest this week is former Congresswoman Katie Hill. One of the youngest women ever to be elected to Congress. Hill stepped down in October following the unauthorized publication of intimate photos of her and allegations of an inappropriate relationship. Hill’s new memoir tells the story of how years of domestic abuse culminated in a scandal that ended her political career, at least for the time being. Now she’s channeling her experience to fight for the election of more women to public office.

Preet Bharara:

Katie Hill, thanks for joining the show.

Katie Hill:

Thanks so much for having me.

Preet Bharara:

Congratulations on the book, She Will Rise: Becoming a Warrior in the Battle for True Equality.

Katie Hill:

Thank you.

Preet Bharara:

Congratulations. Was it a hard book to write? I guess it must’ve been because you write about some painful things. Why did you do it?

Katie Hill:

Yeah, I mean, part of it was that it, yes, I will say it was hard, but it was also very cathartic and therapeutic to go through. I wrote it in the weeks following my brother’s death. So, right on the heels of my resignation, less than two months later, well I guess just about two months later, my mom had brain surgery. Then my brother passed away. And the book deadline was already coming up because I wanted it to be released in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment passing. And so I had to do it really fast, but I think the start of quarantine plus everything else plus really just buckling down and doing this 24/7 for several weeks was, I think it was the right way for me to try and do the book.

Preet Bharara:

Where did you find the strength?

Katie Hill:

Family support and honestly a feeling of purpose, like I needed to have something to dedicate my energy to. I felt like my work was not done when I resigned. But I knew that it was going to take a new form. And so the book is really intended to show, using my experiences but also more importantly the experiences of other women, how these are universally faced barriers. These are experiences that are shared by so many women and that the only way that we’re going to truly achieve true equality is by electing more women. And in fact, electing women because they’re women and intentionally choosing that path to get to equal leadership.

Preet Bharara:

So you, in the subtitle to the book, you talk about becoming a warrior in the battle for true equality. And you talk about what it means to be a warrior. Why warrior and what does warrior mean to you?

Katie Hill:

Well, I think, warrior, I talk about it in the book that I grew up kind of on this track of idealizing warrior women, whether it was Xena Warrior Princess or fictional characters in books. And I think the further I’ve gone in my life and especially over the past couple of years, the more I’ve realized that women are warriors every single day. Especially during my resignation, that was a phrase that a few of my colleagues used a lot and it really resonated with me. And I think that I really did feel like I was put, when I had gone through my roughest time where I considered suicide.

Katie Hill:

And I came out of that and I felt like, okay, I’m coming out of this as a warrior. I’m starred. I’m going to put on my battle uniform, I’m going to put on my battle makeup, which was the red lipstick. And then I felt like it was my armor and I was able to go out. And I think that that’s kind of the ongoing mentality is that that’s how you can not give up is by saying that no, I’m in this fight for the long-term and it’s a duty that I have.

Preet Bharara:

You talk about how when you were young, you had a good amount of confidence. Where did that confidence come from?

Katie Hill:

I think that really came from my family and from being encouraged to believe that I can be anything. There was nothing that says that a girl can’t be something that a guy can. And I actually, I really give my parents tremendous amount of credit for that. But the thing is, reality hits you at a certain point and it hits you in, I think it probably hits every woman in different ways, but for me my first experiences, my first battle wounds as I refer to them as were sexual assaults. And unfortunately that’s a shared experience. It doesn’t matter if you can get the job. If we are still continually undermined in the way that we are trying to assert our power in the world and if we can’t even guarantee our basic physical safety, then we are not equal and it’s going to take a really conscious effort to try to address that culture and that toxic masculinity that has led us to this place.

Preet Bharara:

How did some of those early awful experiences change who you think?

Katie Hill:

I think it made me realize that I’m going to have to fight that much harder to find my place and to determine my own destiny. But even over the course of time, when I was younger, I fell victim to the same kinds of things that many women do, which is believing that it was your fault in the first place. So it’s taken years to kind of overcome that mentality and to really try and turn that into something that’s useful. Part of why I shared the stories that I did in the book is because when I’ve spoken about them before, whether it was on the campaign trail or in some of these op-ed pieces that I’ve written afterwards, or even just on social media, I get these messages from women who say, “I felt so alone. I didn’t think that anyone else had been through this and you sharing your story means so much to me.”

Katie Hill:

And I think that women in power, women in any kind of a public profile, public position should be using their platform to show the commonality of these experiences and how we need to push through them and what kind of changes need to be made in our society so that this isn’t the expectation for girls in future generations.

Preet Bharara:

Yeah. I want to talk about your run for Congress and your time in Congress before we get to some of the other more difficult things. How old were you when you decided, I’m going to run for Congress from California’s 25th?

Katie Hill:

I was 29 when I started running.

Preet Bharara:

29?

Katie Hill:

Yep.

Preet Bharara:

What made you think that that was the right thing to do for you? What was your impetus?

Katie Hill:

Honestly I didn’t necessarily think that it was the right thing to do for me. I was really spurred into action because of the results of the 2016 election. I had been the executive director of the largest homeless services nonprofit in California and we’d worked on this really crucial legislation locally. We knew how important the federal resources that we got were to enact our mission of ending homelessness. And all of that was in jeopardy with a Republican house and Senate and with Trump entering the White House. But more than that, I was fundamentally shaken, I think, like so many women were that this blatant misogynist who’s unapologetic defeated probably the most qualified person that has ever run for president and who would have been the first woman US president.

Katie Hill:

I was really invested in that and I think it just became so clear to me that the fantasy world that we’re living in of, oh, of course all women are equal and it’s just a given that we’ve, just like I think people thought when we were able to elect Barack Obama, that a lot of people were like, “Oh, obviously racism has gotten solved.” I think we got comfortable too by saying, “Well, Hillary Clinton is the nominee and of course she’s going to become president and therefore sexism is solved.” And it was just like, it’s not. It’s not at all. And obviously we’ve all woken up to the problems with that line of thinking in both cases.

Katie Hill:

But for me I was like, I have to do something, and I wanted to get involved in one of the congressional races. And I found out that the district that I’ve spent my whole life in was key in us being able to flip the house. So I was like, “Great, this is so exciting. I’m going to be able to help flip my very own community, get the representation that I think we deserve.” But as I started to look into it, the person who was kind of the likely candidate, he had run in 2016 and had lost by a solid margin, even though Hillary Clinton won the district by almost seven points. So I thought this isn’t the person that can beat the Republican incumbent, Steve Knight, and I’m complaining about it, I’m saying we got to get somebody who’s local, it’d be great to have a woman, blah, blah, blah.

Katie Hill:

And finally some of my friends and mentors said, “Well, Katie, why don’t you run?” And at first I laughed at that. But then eventually I was like, “Well, you know what, why not?” And tried to figure it out. It honestly was just such a long shot that as it built, every single step of the way was monumental and it surely really felt like a movement. I’m proud of what we accomplished. Even though it ended the way that it did, I think that we still made a difference with the campaign.

Preet Bharara:

So when you begin a race like that and you perceive it as a long shot, is that liberating in how you go about campaigning and in your effort, or does it add more stress? What was your feeling about it, given how tough a job it was going to be?

Katie Hill:

I knew that it was near impossible odds and that the entire time we were going to be facing this uphill battle of showing who is this person, who’s Katie Hill? Why is she on the scene? Why does she think she’s the one to run for Congress? I had to define myself. I had to run a campaign that got interest and that mobilized people in a way that you wouldn’t traditionally necessarily have gone, because the institutional support was already there for my main primary opponent from the last time around. He had all the union endorsements, he had most of the local party support.

Katie Hill:

And so it was, I liked fighting as the underdog. So I would say, yes, it is liberating. There wasn’t a playbook to follow and I believed that, and I still believe that’s true that any playbook that existed before has been broken and we’re in a new age of figuring out what works politically. And especially now with COVID, no one knows the answers. So I think I really just tried to run as a real person and as someone who believed in the things that I was saying and wanted what was best for our community, and I think that that’s what was picked up.

Preet Bharara:

Did you enjoy campaigning or like some people, did you see that as necessary to get to the place where you could make a difference?

Katie Hill:

I saw that our campaign was making a difference in the number of people that it inspired and how many people were mobilized during it. I mean, we had 5,000 people show up to knock doors just during the last few days of the campaign. And that was something that had grown and grown and grown over the entire course of it. We were funded by small dollars. It really was a grassroots effort that just kept growing to the point where I guess we won by one of the largest margins of anyone in one of these red to blue seats. And we ended up fundraising more than practically anybody else. It was like the underdog becoming, I don’t know, the favorite and so it was cool. It was a cool experience. I loved campaigning. You certainly get exhausted pretty regularly, but to me, it was very fulfilling.

Preet Bharara:

What was your margin?

Katie Hill:

I won by nine.

Preet Bharara:

Was that surprising to you or did there come a time before election day that you really felt the momentum and you thought it was going to happen?

Katie Hill:

Well, I felt the momentum all along and I felt that it just kept building and building. I called, I said to my staff that from before we won in the primary, I said that we’re going to win. If we win the primary, we’re going to win the general by 10 points. Everyone laughed at me and thought, no way. They’re like, okay, maybe we’ll win by a couple points or maybe we’ll squeak out a win, but they certainly didn’t think we could win by a big margin. I didn’t quite make it to 10, but we got to nine. So I was happy.

Preet Bharara:

It’s nothing to sneeze at. You describe in the book election night.

Katie Hill:

Hey guys. Steve Knight just called to concede.

Preet Bharara:

You want to share some of your thoughts about election night with us.

Katie Hill:

I’m trying to even remember what I wrote in the book about that, but the election night was the culmination of so much work that not just I had put into it, but my staff and so many volunteers and our supporters and people in the community. And at that moment, it just felt like we were on the cusp of really achieving something historic. And it was, I felt certain at that point that we were going to win and I think that it was like, okay, this is real. Now we’re going to have to move to the next stage. And the next stage is figuring out how to be effective as a legislator is different from being effective as a candidate. Often really effective legislators are horrible candidates and great campaigners are terrible legislators. So I wanted to do both. And I feel like for the time that I was there, I was.

Preet Bharara:

So you wake up on Wednesday morning, or maybe even late on Tuesday night and you see that not only have you won, but there are a whole bunch of other folks who have won who are new and who are very young. In fact, you were almost the youngest person elected to Congress in 2018, but not quite.

Katie Hill:

Yeah. I was the third youngest.

Preet Bharara:

In election day, were you still 29?

Katie Hill:

No, no, no. At that point I was 31. Time had passed, yeah.

Preet Bharara:

So at 31, you were only the third youngest to be elected.

Katie Hill:

Uh-huh (affirmative). Yeah. There was Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Abby Finkenauer.

Preet Bharara:

Did you get to know some of those people who later became your friends in Congress? Did you get to know them during the campaign or only after you started in office?

Katie Hill:

No, I did get to know them beforehand because many of us who were in these, they call them red and blue seats, that the DCCC had decided to focus on, many of us did joint events further and further it went throughout the campaign. Many of the women candidates who were successful, we were supported by Emily’s list in our primaries. And so, we did events together even before that. So, there were certainly new folks, but there were a lot of them that I’d met over the last year, like Lauren Underwood, for example. She became my roommate and she became one of my closest friends here.

Katie Hill:

But she also, like we had become friends and kind of a group of us, women, would text each other support and just kind of stay in touch throughout the campaigning, especially as we got to fundraising deadlines and as someone’s polling would come out. It was just like you had this group of people who understood what campaigning was like, and especially campaigning in this kind of a dynamic in a hard race, like what we were facing. So, yeah, I think that that made it… we became close knit and as a class, we were close knit the entire time.

Preet Bharara:

So you start your term, you immediately get some impressive postings along with Representative Neguse. You guys were posted to what?

Katie Hill:

We were the freshmen leadership representatives for the class, which means that… the class of freshmen was over 60 people on the Democratic side, and that made up a quarter of the Democratic caucus. So we recognized that we could have a very large block of power if we worked together and we wanted to make the case to leadership that we deserve to have our representation. We weren’t going to just sit by and let the people who have been there before tell us how everything went. We wanted to have our voices taken into account. And so every class gets this leadership representative.

Katie Hill:

Apparently most classes haven’t done a whole lot with it, but you’re invited to every major decision making meeting, well, I shouldn’t say every. I’m sure there were plenty more in the caucus. But to the major ones, the ones that anyone else is as part of the leadership team. So you’ve got the web, you’ve got the assistant speaker, which was Ben Ray Luján, you had Chairman Jeffries and this just incredible group of people who are the top Democrats in the country and who are deciding the strategy as we’re facing an unprecedented president and how we were going to try and maintain some semblance of order during all of that, and also push forward an agenda that was progressive and ambitious.

Katie Hill:

And even knowing that we were going to be up against Mitch McConnell trying to stall everything, we felt that what we had promised to voters was that we were going to push this. And at the end of the day, I think part of the reason that we’re seeing the momentum that Democrats have in taking over Republican-held Senate seats this time is because of us in the house having accomplished these things but being blocked at the Senate level. So I think this is our best shot to flip the Senate. And I think mostly people are going to credit that to Trump and that’s part of it. But I also think it is in large part due to the progress of the 116th Congress and the pressure that’s being put on the Senate because of that.

Preet Bharara:

What was your top priority when you started in office?

Katie Hill:

Very quickly when I started, and this is what I ran on, was getting big money out of politics and making sure that we had true representation. So H.R. 1, it was the first major bill that we passed and I got on the whip team for it. I was a major advocate for and I spoke on behalf of it everywhere. I considered it kind of my, like I helped in developing pieces of it. This is very, very early on. The intention of it was to limit the influence of big money in politics, ensure that gerrymandering would be stopped, insuring voting rights or restoring the Voting Rights Act. And it was really about, the bottom line is that we need to have representation of the people by the people for the people and that the current system, the way that it’s been operating has not done that.

Katie Hill:

We were elected to office because we aren’t insiders. We are actually representative of the public that we’re supposed to serve. And that’s exactly why I’m so proud to support H.R. 1.

Katie Hill:

So I think H.R. 1 was such an important first step for us and I was really, really proud to help be something of an architect in that, and also helping to push it forward and setting the agenda of the class. And I think that that needs to continue to be the priority if we do get the Senate and the White House. If don’t pass it H.R. 1 in the very beginning, we are doing a major disservice to our likelihood of being able to continue to make progress, no matter what your other priorities are.

Preet Bharara:

You’re on this great trajectory. I imagine many, many people are saying and writing, and they did, that you are a rising star and you’re meeting with great success and you love campaigning, and it went wonderfully for you. But at the same time, other things were going on in your life that made all of this very difficult. And I’m asking you about it only because you were very honest and straightforward about it in the book. I think both, as you said, for yourself but also maybe your stories will help other people. I guess, to begin, why don’t you explain to folks some of the things you say in the book about what was going on with your husband even before you got elected?

Katie Hill:

Yeah. I met my husband when I was 16 years old and he was almost 21. This is after a series, like I had three sexual assaults leading up to this before I met him, so I don’t know, I fell for him in a way that I think looking back certainly wasn’t healthy. And also knowing the age difference now, it’s something that’s… Yeah, anyway, looking back, it’s just like a mess, right? But I was in this relationship for my entire adult life. It was getting just progressively worse and worse. I think the more successful I was as a candidate, the more he tried to assert his control and dominance in other ways.

Katie Hill:

The relationship became more and more abusive. The campaign was my escape and the people I worked with who at the beginning, it didn’t feel like I was any different from them. It felt like we were all… I was maybe the face of it, but it felt like we were all on the same team to try and accomplish something that was so impossible. And so I got too close to my staff, I think, and didn’t set clear boundaries and ultimately I ended up having a relationship with someone who worked on the campaign. And once I got to Congress, I knew that I was going to have to leave my husband. Shortly before the election, I tried to leave and he told me then that he would ruin me if I left.

Preet Bharara:

What did you understand him to mean when he said, “I will ruin you.”

Katie Hill:

Well, I mean, obviously the most obvious thing was that he knew about this relationship that I had. And so to me that was a very obvious threat. I didn’t know about the images that he had, but I figured it was related to that. And so I decided, I said “Okay, I can’t face this right now,” and I went back to him. But then after I was in Congress for a while, I was like, this is not sustainable. I felt like I was, I kind of figured out I can be independent. I was living on my own first time, even with a roommate by myself as an adult. Oddly that was a very, I don’t want to call it juvenile, but kind of juvenile life accomplishment at the same time that I had been elected to Congress.

Katie Hill:

So I finally was like, okay, I have to leave. And I guess you kind of fall back on this like, this has been the person that I’ve been closest to, that I’ve trusted for my entire adult life and that they wouldn’t do something like that, especially because I didn’t think he’d want to hurt her either. But she did. So I left him in June and a few months later, we started hearing that he was trying to circulate information locally and apparently it made its way into the hands of Republican operatives in the districts who were dead set on trying to find something on me and he gave it to them and then the images made their way into RedState and the Daily Mail.

Preet Bharara:

So before we get into some of that, going back to your husband’s abusiveness, did you fear for your physical safety with him?

Katie Hill:

Oh, absolutely. I mean, my physical safety was… Physical abuse takes many different forms and I talk about some of that in the book, and abuse in general takes many different forms. But specifically the most endanger I felt was he had weapons, he had firearms. We lived in a rural area where it’s just you can’t rely on law enforcement to get there any time that would matter. They’re just too far away. So I had a gun that was my grandfather’s gun that I kept by my side of the bed, he had his by his side of the bed in these little compartments. I started to get scarier and scarier and then I realized that he had taken mine from my side and then he started carrying his more and more just regular during the day, just brandishing it. It was clearly an intimidation technique and at one point he was shaking it at me and I was just, that was when it was so clear. I was like, he’s way too volatile. I don’t know what he’s going to do. And he’s got weapons and I don’t even have anything to defend myself with.

Preet Bharara:

And is that when you left?

Katie Hill:

That was when I left the first time. And then I guess I tried to… well, I guess that wasn’t the first, first time, but that was when I left right before the election. And after the election, I think things calmed down a little bit and I was also gone a lot. I didn’t have to stay with him because I was in Washington.

Preet Bharara:

Your district is very far away in the other side of the country.

Katie Hill:

Yeah. My staff obviously wanted me to come back to the district all the time because when you’re in a competitive district, you need to be there, you need to be present. And generally people go back every weekend and I for the most part was, but I tried actively to come home less than I know that they wanted me to because I didn’t want to be around him. And so when I finally did leave for real, I’d gone home I think a week before and it had just been another horrible experience. He wouldn’t let me sleep. If we got into a fight, he would literally force me to stay up and then I’d still have to do my campaign events and my congressional events the next day.

Katie Hill:

I did that. And then I went home to DC or went back to DC and I realized how much happier I was when I was able to just do my thing and not have to worry about him. And that was when I decided I need to actually make this permanent. And so because of my safety, I brought my dad with me when I left. My dad’s a police officer, he’s a captain. And so I didn’t want to go alone. And after that, there’ve been many times that I’ve been worried for my safety, especially he said some things on social media that are scary. It’s something that my family is constantly kind of concerned about too.

Preet Bharara:

Are you still concerned?

Katie Hill:

I think, yeah. One of the things I’m worried about about this week is the more attention that I get, the more volatile I think he becomes. And the more that I talk about this, the more I think that it’s likely to set something off. Fortunately I am on the opposite side of the country, so that’s something. But we’re pressing criminal charges on him for the distribution of non-consensual pornography, which is the photos. But that takes so long and the criminal charges haven’t actually been brought yet by the US attorneys. So, the protection that you have is just very limited and I think that mine is a case where I’m a very high profile former Congresswoman, was a Congresswoman at the time, and I can’t even get a whole lot of protection around this.

Preet Bharara:

Yeah. Well, we’ll talk a little bit about that because the laws are not very clear because it’s an emerging thing. But just to focus for a second on what he did and how you came to understand what he was doing, he says to you once or more than once, “I will ruin you.” You leave him. And then as you began to mention these images surface. When did you learn about that?

Katie Hill:

Like I said, I started hearing little rumors that Kenny is trying to shop some stuff around from local activists, but no details. I learned that photos were, I didn’t actually know what photos he had or was shopping around or anything like that until they were published in RedState. But about two days before they were published in RedState, he’s actually, this is what’s so horrifying. I think he’s still the chairman of the school board of the high school district in my congressional district. It’s actually the high school district of the school I went to. He has this blog, this right-wing blog and a radio show with Joe Messina and he wrote this whole thing about how he got these photos and was describing the photos but he didn’t publish them and said that they were non-redacted. And then sure enough, two days later, they’re in two different publications.

Preet Bharara:

And how’d you feel?

Katie Hill:

My heart just dropped. And then I remember very vividly that day in the office, that’s not a moment you can forget. My staff came in and she just showed me the phone with the pictures and I’m just like, oh my God. I can’t freak out because my staff is freaking out. And so, I just sat back and I was like, okay, and I said I need a minute. And then we came back and we were like, well, what do we do? It’s not a very easy thing to figure out what to do in that situation and we did the best we could.

Preet Bharara:

Did you understand when that happened, that it wasn’t just going to be one dump, that it was going to continue and be repeated again and again?

Katie Hill:

No, I didn’t. I mean, I had no idea. I’ve never been through something like in the news cycle. But I knew that it was salacious enough that it would be getting attention. And I didn’t know, until later, that he apparently had some kind of a drive with a combination of screenshots of text messages and photos. And since I didn’t even know that these photos existed in the first place, I had no idea what else he had. And so knowing that they said, they literally said in multiple different places, “We’re going to keep releasing this bit by bit until she resigns,” I didn’t feel like I could get through that. I didn’t feel I could put my staff through that who were getting these horrible harassing phone calls and having to deal with them all the time and so on.

Preet Bharara:

But your husband, he claimed he was hacked. He didn’t accept responsibility for going out to ruin you. Correct?

Katie Hill:

That is just no. I know that people have to add that in as a denial, since there hasn’t been…

Preet Bharara:

Oh, no, I believe you. My belief doesn’t matter so much. I’m trying to get at the point of, even to this day, he does not concede that he had a role in that. Is that right?

Katie Hill:

Yeah. And it’s just impossible. Like there wouldn’t be a file that was put together by hackers that happened to get it on his phone. I mean, that’s just total baloney.

Preet Bharara:

At some point, you make the decision to resign from Congress, which is a pretty big decision to make. But that wasn’t based necessarily on the fact that these pictures had emerged. Is that right?

Katie Hill:

Yeah. I mean, I think it’s a combination of things. Like I said, the idea of just continuing on with this, it felt like a continuation of his abuse. It felt like it was something that I was going to have to put… I wasn’t the only one being put through it, right? My colleagues were, we were about to go into this impeachment inquiry, which was going to be a huge liability for so many of my freshmen colleagues, especially from these hard seats. I didn’t want to be an additional liability for them. I mean, they were already getting questions of like, what about Katie Hill? And I didn’t want to be the one who was putting people in the position of having to either stand with me and be called hypocrites or have to admonish or distance themselves from me when they were my friends, they were my allies.

Katie Hill:

I just didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do to put them in that kind of a situation. I think I was naive thinking that it would be easy to hold onto my seat since we flipped it. I think that I didn’t really realize the power of the movement that we had built and that that’s something that’s hard to replicate. So, mine was lost to a Republican in the special election. I think we’re going to win it back in the fall, but it’s just a reminder that these things are fragile and we can very easily move backwards if we’re not paying attention.

Preet Bharara:

And you had an ethics inquiry you had to deal with also?

Katie Hill:

Yeah. I mean, that didn’t really go anywhere because that was also… and this is actually something that I think is flawed with the system, that ethics inquiry was opened entirely based on a tweet that my husband had put accusing me of an affair with an actual staffer. That was based on literally nothing else. It’s not like there was a complaint from a staffer or even a complaint from that staffer or any other staffers. It was literally just an accusation that my husband had posted on Facebook. And I think that shouldn’t be the policy. I think we need to be a lot better than that. At the very least there needs to be some kind of an accuser that isn’t somebody who’s determined to try and destroy you.

Preet Bharara:

I think you said in the book that it was notable in your head that you had called for Al Franken to resign when there were allegations made against him. Did that factor into your thinking about what you needed to do?

Katie Hill:

It did. I know each of us has our own ways of kind of feeling like our situation’s different, right? And I have mine. But at the end of the day, I know that it’s not something that I should have done and it’s something that I should have recognized earlier that I did have this power differential and I didn’t realize it at the time. But I think for me, I really got uncomfortable thinking about how I had called for Kavanaugh to not be confirmed as a justice. I had called for Franken to step down. And then when it came to me I didn’t feel like I could, with a straight face, say to the world I shouldn’t be held accountable in the same way.

Preet Bharara:

You described in the book, which I thought was very compelling, a phone call with Nancy Pelosi, with the speaker. Was she, you think, supportive of your staying or do you think she just wanted to defer to you? Describe how that conversation felt to you.

Katie Hill:

No, she asked me not to resign and even later she called me back and said, even staying on through the rest of the year and seeing how you feel after that. But I was in the throws of depression at that point. That was when I was suicidal and it just felt insurmountable. So I think she really was supportive. I didn’t know how that would manifest though in terms of what would be required of her. I just hated the idea of her or anyone else having to talk about me and my scandal when they should be talking about the president and the impeachment and everything else that’s important.

Preet Bharara:

Are there times when you regret having resigned?

Katie Hill:

There’s certain times. It’s a hard question to answer and when I have to choose yes or no, I don’t regret resigning. I think it was absolutely the right thing to do at the time. I’m moving forward. I’m making the most of it. I think I’m even now realizing that I’m going to be able to have an even bigger impact by helping more people get elected. But there are certainly times where you think, well, if this was my second term and not my first, or if I wasn’t in the middle of the divorce, or if we weren’t about to go into impeachment, there are times that you think I might’ve been able to ride this out. I don’t think it’s very productive for me to just… I would get crazy if I just kind of spun that over and over in my head.

Preet Bharara:

Have you thought about or have you commenced any kind of legal proceeding against RedState for publishing those photographs?

Katie Hill:

Yeah. We’re in the process of that. That’s actually an interesting dilemma, I think, especially as a progressively minded person where the right to privacy, including the distribution of photos like this is in conflict with what the papers are going to claim is protection of the 1st Amendment. And especially when you’re talking about a public figure, they’re going to make the argument that as a public figure, basically I don’t have any protection whatsoever. But the case that we’re going to make is that we cannot have this as a standard where women can, if you’re entering politics or public life, that means that every image that you’ve ever taken is fair game.

Katie Hill:

I don’t think that that’s right. And so, we expect this to be quite the legal battle and we’re planning on pursuing that. Basically I was waiting for my divorce to be final, but he won’t sign, my ex still won’t sign because he’s still trying to hold on to control and the court date has been pushed out because of COVID so many times. Now we’ve just been deciding on when the best course of timing is on when we actually file that lawsuit. But yeah, absolutely.

Preet Bharara:

So the way that people describe what happened to you and what your husband perpetrated against you, they call it revenge porn. As you say in the book, that’s a problematic term. You prefer cyber exploitation. Explain why you think that’s a bad term.

Katie Hill:

Yeah. I mean, it’s a connotation thing. The word revenge implies that the victim has something that they’re being taken revenge for having done. So it’s almost like it puts them in immediately a position of like, “Oh, well you did something to deserve this.” The fact is usually it’s that they left the guy or, I mean, pretty much that’s the only time that it happens.

Preet Bharara:

Basically you’re right.

Katie Hill:

Yeah. Or they’re being blackmailed for something. So revenge is just wrong on its face. But the second part, pornography, is I think problematic too because it’s not something that we should be even looking at in the same vein as something that is used by millions for an allowable form of sexual enjoyment, which is pornography, and this is not that. This is exploitative photos and videos that are used without the consent of the person or persons in those. And it’s over 90% of victims of cyber exploitation are women, and it has devastating consequences.

Katie Hill:

I mean, mine was a very public one and I’ve talked about my own suicidal thoughts, but I have had so many women reach out to me afterwards saying that they went through this and the same thing happened to them and just me sharing my story was really meaningful so that they didn’t feel so alone. And I actually think that… my DMs are full of people saying this happened to a friend of theirs and I’ve been able, because of the research I did for the book, especially I’ve been able to provide resources that I hope are actually helpful.

Preet Bharara:

What do you hope people learn from your experience when they read the book?

Katie Hill:

I have a few things. One is I hope that the experiences that I talk about, that both I’ve been through and the other examples that I use, that they aren’t alone and that there is a universality of these experiences that we need to see a systemic sexism and we need to take a true concerted effort to break down, or it’s not going to be broken down. That’s the first thing. The second thing is I hope that they’re able to see from the stories that I tell here within their experiences, maybe somebody at an earlier age than me reads it and says, “You know what? This is what my relationship looks like, and that’s not right and I need to get out of this.” That’s honestly one of the biggest learning moments or things that I hope to instill in especially younger women, like the part about coercive control and abuse.

Katie Hill:

Women, especially younger women, are really prone to getting into those kinds of relationships, especially after they’ve been assaulted or have gone through a traumatic experience. I really hope that people read that and it allows them to reflect on their own relationships and choices. But the third is saying that we have a path forward and we can solve these problems and that we’re obligated to. It’s been a hundred years since we got the right to vote, the hard fought battles that other women, our fore-mothers, had to go through; and that are we okay with where we’ve made it in a hundred years? And for me the answer is no. I’m also not okay with waiting another a hundred years to get to what we would consider equality.

Katie Hill:

And I think that the book is a call to action of saying that if we want to truly change this, then we need to enact these policies. But even before enacting these policies, the only way that they’re going to happen is if you elect more women. And part of that is electing women because they’re women. We always hear, “Oh, well, yeah, we should elect women, but it’s got to be the right woman. Or I don’t know, I just don’t like her. She’s too annoying or she’s too ambitious or she’s too this, too that,” and all of those are excuses that are frankly internalized sexism if it’s not more overt than that. And so when I say elect women because they’re women, it’s an intentional challenge to that notion. And it’s frankly saying that we’ve been electing men because they’re men for this entire time. So let’s flip the switch on that.

Preet Bharara:

People who are listening are probably wondering why we’re not talking about the vice presidential pick. That’s because we’re recording this before that pick is even made. But when people listen to this, it will have been made, so we’ll not make any predictions about that. Do you think, and I know you get this question a lot, but I’m going to ask it to you also. Given you’ve remained active and you are sort of dealing with the issues that have hurt you and have held you back and caused you to resign, do you think you might run for office again or make an impact doing things outside of elective office only?

Katie Hill:

I will never rule anything out because if you’d asked me five years ago if I would ever run for office, the answer was probably no. So I know how quickly things can change. But it’s certainly not in my immediate term plans of any sort. But what is is really trying to make an impact through the organization I started, HER Time, which has three main ways of mobilizing people. The first is helping women get elected, and especially these long shot women candidates that haven’t necessarily gotten that national attention, putting in the resources at an early stage so that we can actually make an impact and help people pass that “viability test”.

Katie Hill:

The second is to activate young women voters in a way that I think is an untapped, there’s an untapped potential there. We’re working on doing some research with HER Time that can help us kind of figure out what it is it’s going to take to get women from 18 to 40 who can be such a powerful voting block to do that to mobilize for our candidates. And not just ours, but Democratic and progressive ones across the board. And then the third is once people are elected or even those who are already in office, we’re going to be pushing these policies like equal pay, like passing H.R. 1 and getting rid of gerrymandering and getting big money out of politics because that’s such a barrier for people, raising the minimum wage that has a disproportionate impact on our minutes, ending forced arbitration.

Katie Hill:

So it’s this set of policies and priorities that will push kind of, it’s an agenda, a feminist agenda if you will, that will be advocating for as well. So I’m going to be able to focus on HER Time and really feel like it’s a… I know that it’s going to make an impact and I’m excited about that because this is just the beginning and next cycle, after the presidential race is done, we are going to have a hell of a time trying to maintain the seats in the house. If you just look at history, you almost always see the party of the president who’s elected loses seats in the following house election. And so I think we’re going to need to really fight to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Preet Bharara:

And finally I have a running joke on the show in which I say that there is a secret law that was passed federally in this country that mandates every former government official to start a podcast. You’re proving me too on that point.

Katie Hill:

I didn’t know that.

Preet Bharara:

Oh yeah. It’s almost, especially for those who are like you and I, either resigned or retired, you got to start a podcast. So tell folks about your podcast and then we’ll let you go do your good work.

Katie Hill:

Sure. The name of the podcast is Naked Politics with Katie Hill, and we’re just leaning all in. The idea is basically getting into the dirty stuff around politics and things that people don’t necessarily see or know about because it’s not talked about much. So for example, the first person that I talked to is Bill Burton, who was Obama’s spokesperson and who actually started the first major Democratic Super PAC in 20, it actually started in 2011 or maybe at the beginning of 2012. But it was after Citizens United. And just talking about what it does take to compete with the other side and the dirty aspects of it that are just unseen if you haven’t been kind of living in this world. I’m really excited about some of the people that we’ve got coming on. We’ve got current and former electeds who are willing to share their stuff that they normally wouldn’t. But also just people who are in this space. We’ll see. We’ll see if people care about what I have to say on this front, but I’m interested in it.

Preet Bharara:

I’m sure. Well, as I learned when I first started doing a podcast, the most important thing is that you have an interest in it and you have curiosity about it. And if you do then other people will also.

Katie Hill:

There we go.

Preet Bharara:

That’s my one bit of advice that was given to me.

Katie Hill:

Thank you.

Preet Bharara:

Katie Hill, thanks for being with us. Thanks for your book. Thanks for sharing your stories. The book is She Will Rise: Becoming a Warrior in the Battle for True Equality. Thanks very much.

Katie Hill:

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Preet Bharara:

Well, that’s it for this episode of Stay Tuned. Thanks again to my guest, Katie Hill.

Preet Bharara:

If you like what we do, rate and review the show on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. Every positive review helps new listeners find the show. Send me your questions about news, politics and justice. Tweet them to me @PreetBharara with the hashtag AskPreet, or you can call and leave me a message at (669) 247-7338. That’s (669) 24-PREET. Or you can send an email to [email protected]

Preet Bharara:

Stay Tuned is presented by CAFE Studios. Your host is Preet Bharara. The executive producer is Tamara Sepper. The senior producer is Adam Waller. The senior audio producer is David Tatasciore and the CAFE team is Matthew Billy, David Kurlander, Sam Ozer-Staton, Noa Azulai, Nat Weiner, Jake Kaplan, Calvin Lord, Geoff Isenman, Chris Boylan, Sean Walsh, and Margot Maley. Our music is by Andrew Dost. I’m Preet Bharara, stay tuned.

Preet Bharara:

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