• Show Notes
  • Transcript

Related Content: Listen to the bonus content for this episode here

On this week’s episode of Stay Tuned, “The Impeachment Manager,” Preet answers listener questions about Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance’s investigation into former President Trump’s taxes and about the likelihood of Steve Bannon’s re-indictment. 

Then, Preet is joined by Representative Joe Neguse, a Congressman from Colorado’s 2nd District who made waves with his powerful presentation at Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial last month. 

In the Stay Tuned bonus, Neguse discusses what it felt like to be in the House chamber during the January 6th insurrection. 

To listen, 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. 

Listen to the first five episodes of Doing Justice, Preet’s new free six-part podcast based on his bestselling book of the same name. You can hear Preet’s incredible stories from his time as U.S. Attorney on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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.

Stay Tuned with Preet is produced by CAFE Studios. 

Executive Producer: Tamara Sepper; Senior Editorial Producer: Adam Waller; Technical Director: David Tatasciore; Audio Producer: Matthew Billy; Editorial Producers: David Kurlander, Noa Azulai, Sam Ozer-Staton.

REFERENCES & SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS

Q&A

  • Original SDNY indictment of Steve Bannon and his co-defendants, Justice.gov, 8/20/2021
  • Sonia Moghe, “Manhattan DA faces critical decisions in Trump investigation as his time in office runs low,” CNN, 2/26/2021
  • Dan Mangan, “Manhattan district attorney considers prosecuting Steve Bannon after Trump pardon,” CNBC, 2/25/2021

THE INTERVIEW 

  • Tessa Stuart, “How the Breakout Star of the Impeachment Hearings Managed to Keep His Faith in Democracy,” Rolling Stone, 2/24/2021

JANUARY 6TH: 

  • “Congressman Joe Neguse Issues Statement on Today’s Breach of the U.S. Capitol,” Neguse.House.Gov, 1/6/2021
  • Eliza Collins, “Rep. Joe Neguse: Jan. 6 Was ‘Framers’ Worst Nightmare,’” Wall Street Journal, 2/9/2021
  • Ernest Luning, “Colorado’s Joe Neguse among lawmakers leading House Democrats’ response to effort to overturn Biden win,” Colorado Politics, 1/5/2021
  • “House Debate on Arizona Electoral Challenge, Part 2,” C-SPAN, 1/6/2021

IMPEACHMENT:

  • Kyle Cheney and Heather Caygle, “Impeachment made Joe Neguse a star. Now what?” Politico, 2/17/2021
  • Preet’s Tweet on Rep. Neguse, Twitter, 2/9/2021
  • Sen. Mitch McConnell, “McConnell on Impeachment: “Disgraceful Dereliction” Cannot Lead Senate to ‘Defy Our Own Constitutional Guardrails,’” Senate.gov, 2/13/2021
  • Sean Hollister, “Senators won’t be trusted to keep eyes off their phones during Trump impeachment trial,” The Verge, 1/15/2021
  • Emily Cochrane, “How Joe Neguse and Stacey Plaskett Plan to Wield Their Influence After Impeachment,” New York Times, 2/15/2021
  • Richard White, “The Trump Trial Wouldn’t Have Been Possible Without This Impeachment,” New York Times, 2/8/2021
  • “Rep. Neguse delivers closing remarks for Trump impeachment trial,” PBS NewsHour, 2/13/2021

BIPARTISANSHIP:

  • Greg Sargent, “How Republicans will sabotage a full accounting of Trump’s insurrection,” Washington Post, 2/24/2021
  • Kyle Cheney, “Pelosi reiterates call for 9/11-style commission on Jan. 6 insurrection,” Politico, 2/15/2021
  • Michael Karlick, “Neguse to start Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus,” Colorado Politics, 2/12/2021

RECONCILIATION:

  • Eric Levitz, “Democrats Can Still Get a $15 Minimum Wage Into the COVID-Relief Bill,” New York Magazine, 2/26/2021
  • Neguse’s Tweet on a $15 Minimum Wage, Twitter, 2/16/2021
  • Kelsey Snell, “Senate Can’t Vote On $15 Minimum Wage, Parliamentarian Rules,” NPR, 2/25/2021
  • Clare Foran and Ted Barrett, “Obama calls filibuster ‘Jim Crow relic’ that should be eliminated if necessary to enact voting rights legislation,” CNN, 7/30/2020

H.R. 1:

  • “H.R. 1 – For the People Act of 2021” Congress.gov, 1/4/2021
  • “Congressman Joe Neguse Reintroduces National Pre-Registration Bill,” Neguse.House.Gov, 1/28/2021

CLIMATE: 

  • Joey Bunch, “U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse sees climate change through the lens of a father,” Colorado Politics, 8/31/2020
  • Victoria Carodine, “How 2020 Has Affected the Way We Should Manage Forest Fires,” 5280.com, 12/15/2020
  • “Building the Amphitheatre,” Red Rocks History, 2019

IMMIGRATION:

  • Scott Bixby, “‘This Country Took Us In’: Merrick Garland Chokes Up Describing Family’s Debt to U.S.,” The Daily Beast, 2/22/2021
  • Martin Plaut, “First Eritrean elected to US Congress,” Eritrea Focus, 11/7/2018

BUTTON:

  • Robert Pozarycki, “Yankee Stadium, Javits Center COVID-19 vaccine sites to offer Johnson & Johnson shots on overnights,” AM New York, 3/2/2021
  • Matt Stieb, “How to Sign Up for a COVID Vaccine in New York,” New York Magazine, 3/1/2021

How does a rising star Congressman think we can bring the country back together?

Congressman Joe Neguse was in the House chamber during the insurrection on January 6th. He also served as an impeachment manager in the subsequent second Senate trial of former President Trump. Now, he tells Preet what he hopes congress learned from insurrection, and how he hopes to foster bipartisanship during these tense times.

The son of Eritrean immigrants, Neguse grew in Colorado and became a major force in state politics. He was elected to Congress in 2018, and has quickly distinguished himself for his ability to build bridges between disparate forces in the Democratic Party. Now in the leadership of the caucus’s messaging arm, Neguse has a plan to bring the Party together and to move past the painful political events that have brought us to this moment.

Recorded March 1, 2021

Preet Bharara:

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

Joe Neguse:

I think it was fairly clear to many in the Congress that we had to move forward, that we had an Article I responsibility under the constitution to hold the president accountable for conduct that was so egregious, and obviously, several of our Republican colleagues ultimately agreed with that.

Preet Bharara:

That’s Congressman Joe Neguse. He represents Colorado’s second district. Neguse made waves last month during his powerful presentation as a House impeachment manager during the second Senate trial of former President Donald Trump. Neguse joined Congress in 2018, and quickly became a member of House Democratic leadership. He’s now co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, the DPCC, the caucus’ messaging arm. He also just became the co-chair of the House Subcommittee on Public Lands where he has gotten to work tackling the devastating wildfires that have ravaged Western States.

Preet Bharara:

Neguse and I talk about the impact of the January 6th insurrection, and how he hopes to foster bipartisanship during these polarized times. We also talk about how he has been shaped by his own background as the child of Eritrean immigrants. And before we jump in, I have some exciting news. As many of you know, CAFE regularly hosts live events over Zoom. So, if you missed the last one, don’t fear. Our next live event will be March 11th at 6:00 PM Eastern Time, and it’ll feature two brilliant historians, Professor Heather Cox Richardson of Boston College, who I should mention is a former guest of Stay Tuned, and Joanne Freeman of Yale University. To RSVP head to cafe.com/live. That’s cafe.com/live. My interview with Congressman Joe Neguse is coming up, stay tuned.

Now let’s get to your questions. This question comes in an email from Isaac in New York who asks, “Do you think Cy Vance will bring charges against Trump before he leaves office? How long do you think that investigation will take?” Thanks for question, Isaac. You’re, of course, referring to Cy Vance, the sitting district attorney in Manhattan who as you know has finally received the documents that had been objected to by Trump and his lawyers, the tax documents, the supporting documents related to tax returns and all sorts of other financial information from Trump’s accountants, Mazars.

Now, I’ve tweeted about this a little bit and suggested that I think there is a likelihood of a charge or at least that that office believes there’s a likelihood of a charge. And that’s been met with some skepticism. I’m usually the one if you’ve been listening for a number of years you know who throws cold water on the idea that there’s going to be an immediate charge in a case, whether we were talking about the Mueller investigation or various other things. Prosecutions are hard. Investigations take time. And sometimes it’s impossible to figure out in a way that’s provable beyond a reasonable doubt what the intent of the target was. That’s especially true when you’re talking about someone who’s at the top of a large organization. And there are no recorded phone calls and there’s no cooperating witnesses, and there’s no smoking gun.

I will say in this case, however, I haven’t been in the grand jury. I haven’t seen the testimony of the witnesses. I don’t know what further things Michael Cohen has had to say about his former client. I don’t know if he’s fixed some of his credibility problems. But the combination of the Manhattan district attorney getting the documents, hiring an outside lawyer of some eminence Mark Pomerantz, who used to be in the Southern District of New York, retaining a forensic accounting firm, FTI. And doing all of that months before the election to replace him. And it looks like he’s not running again to me signals that they have an expectation, a fairly high expectation that they will bring some sort of charge of some sort of seriousness.

I don’t think you’d go through all those steps, given how long they’ve been focusing on the case on a lark. And I don’t think you raised expectations in that way. And I could be totally wrong. But just my sense of the world and my sense of Cy, and my sense of that office, and the activity that is taking place. This is not based on any inside knowledge. My sense is they think the likelihood is high, or at least substantial. And I also think given the way that some people the head of an office might think it’s been on his plate. He’s been supervising the matter. If it can get done, he’d like to get it done before the election, and then he’s leaving to his successor the prosecution not just a decision to make the charge. That’s my thought.

This question comes from Serena in Illinois in an email who asks, “What can be gleaned from the fact that the Manhattan DA has subpoenaed financial records relating to Steve Bannon fraud scheme? Does that mean he’ll end up bringing charges? And do local prosecutors in Manhattan have free rein to charge whatever they want if Trump’s pardon only applied to federal crimes?” Well, that’s not one question. That’s a compound. It’s a compound question. You have a few in there, Serena, but thanks for them. So this is the second time I’m going to say that I am bullish on the idea that a particular prosecutor in this case once again, the Manhattan DA, Cy Vance, his office will bring a charge against Steve Bannon. I’ve been saying it for a number of weeks and Steve Bannon uniquely among the defendants charged in an SDNY fraud case was pardoned, given a full pardon by then President Trump. The fact that the Manhattan DA is taking action, I think, very clearly signals that a charge may be forthcoming.

The fraud that Steve Bannon and his co-defendants were charged with is kind of a garden variety misrepresentation. Remember, he had an organization called Build the Wall, solicited funds from across the country making representations to people who were donating to build the wall, that none of the money would go into the pockets of the people running the organization. The allegation at the SDNY made was that Steve Bannon and others actually did line their pockets, notwithstanding their representation that they would not. They lied to people to induce them to give money. In most jurisdictions, if not all jurisdictions, if you can prove it, that’s a fraud. New York penal law provides that a person is guilty of a scheme to defraud in the first degree when he or she “engages in a scheme constituting a systematic ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud 10 or more persons or to obtain property from 10 or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses representations, or promises, etc, etc.”

That’s what was alleged in the SDNY case. I presume there are many more than 10 victims, some of whom will be in New York and in Manhattan. So I think there’s a decent chance of a case and an answer to your final question about the Manhattan prosecutors having free rein? That’s absolutely correct. The Trump pardon applied only to the federal charges, and actually, I think explicitly applied to those particular federal charges that the Southern District of New York brought. So, Steve Bannon is clearly in legal jeopardy with respect to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. It’s time for a short break. Stay Tuned.

My guest this week is Congressman Joe Neguse. He’s a Colorado representative who helped make the case against former President Donald Trump during last month’s Senate trial. Neguse and I talk about how he prepared for his role as a House impeachment manager, his relationship with lead manager Jamie Raskin, and how he strives for unity in the fractious Congress. Congressman Joe Neguse, welcome to the show.

Joe Neguse:

Oh, thank you for having me, Preet. It’s my pleasure.

Preet Bharara:

I want to start with a semi-flattering question. Maybe it’s fully flattering. So you’ve only been in the Congress for a little while. You’re younger than many people might appreciate 36. Am I correct?

Joe Neguse:

Oh, that’s correct.

Preet Bharara:

And so, you keep getting referred to as a rising star. At some point do you get tired of being called a rising star and want to have risen?

Joe Neguse:

It’s a fair question. Look, obviously, I’ve been very lucky, and very blessed over the course of the last several years to have this unique opportunity to serve our country and to serve my state and my community back in Colorado. It’s been a real honor. I appreciate all of the kind words that folks have relayed, particularly in the last two months, but at the end of the day, like you, Preet, for me it’s all about the work. So, I’m less focused on whether folks are calling me a rising star or whatnot, and more focused on the work we’re doing.

Preet Bharara:

Well, that’s a good answer, of course. So, obviously, we should spend some time talking… I want to talk about a lot of things with you. But we should spend some time talking about impeachment trial number two.

Joe Neguse:

Sure.

Preet Bharara:

But before we talk about that, let’s talk about the event that led to that trial. Could you paint the scene for us of January 6th from your perspective, and the perspective of your colleagues? What was that like?

Joe Neguse:

Sure. So myself, Jamie Raskin, who’s a dear friend and a colleague of mine on the Judiciary Committee, and we served together in House leadership during my freshman year, my freshman term in Congress. Him and I, Chairman Schiff of the Intelligence Committee, and Chairwoman Lofgren who chairs the House Administration Committee. We all had been asked by Speaker Pelosi to help lead essentially, the Electoral College certification process on January 6th, which essentially shorthand for responding to what we knew to be very baseless objections that would be made by some of our colleagues that day, and doing everything we could to shepherd a very transparent and solemn process that day to its ultimate conclusion, which was the certification of the results.

So for the better part of maybe a month we had spent time on Zooms and preparing for that moment, preparing for the day, getting our arguments ready. I offer that more just as context for my experiences that day, which is to say, on January 6th I was on the House floor with Chairman Schiff, Chairwoman Lofgren, and Mr. Raskin as well as other members and was very focused on the arguments that we were making. My speech and the rebuttals to some of the arguments that were being made by the other side. To be candid, was not fully aware of the events that were occurring around us outside of the Capitol. We, of course, had seen that there was clearly a lot of people that day around the Capitol Complex. But as we were on the House floor it was not apparent to me nor to my colleagues just how dangerous the situation had become.

I didn’t really notice how dangerous it’d become until after I gave my remarks. Another Republican member began delivering his and during his remarks I saw Speaker Pelosi escorted from the dais by her security detail, which of course was a signal that something was a mess.

Preet Bharara:

And that was without warning at all. There was no announcement, she was just escorted off.

Joe Neguse:

No, announcement. No, just escorted off the floor. We were all sitting on the floor. As I said, I’d just finished give you my argument. I think Representative Gosar was giving his argument and it was in the middle of his that the speaker was escorted off, if I recall correctly. And then a few minutes later, Steny Hoyer, who’s the majority leader of the House, who was sitting just two rows behind me. I noticed as did my colleagues that he was being escorted off the floor by his security detail. And so, again, at that point clear that something was amiss, but again, not clear what precisely was happening. There’s no video on the House floor in the chamber.

Preet Bharara:

Look, this is going to be the subject of a lot of discussion, and maybe the subject of a commission inquiry. It’s been the subject of some hearings already. But how is it the case that it came as such a surprise to members and to security at the Capitol when among other things one of the defenses, ironically, for the president’s lawyers at the second trial was all of this was known, and it was pre-planned. It was premeditated, and therefore, I don’t agree with the argument. I know you don’t agree with the argument. But the argument is, therefore, the president didn’t incited. It was already in the works. With that much information, what’s the failure that caused so much surprise?

Joe Neguse:

I think that is going to be at least part of the inquiry that I suspect this commission of the 9/11, Blue Ribbon style commission that the speaker has talked about and has proposed will take up. I think there are a lot of questions that the commission will have to to answer. I’m hopeful that they’ll have the necessary resources and subpoena power to be able to, to answer the question you just posed, as well as many others, particularly given the fact that I don’t given the testimony of the acting police chief just last week that there remains a threat. I mean, that the situation is not yet fully resolved, and it’s a very fluid situation in Washington as we speak. So I think it’s important for this commission to get up off the ground, but no, you asked a fair question. And that’s obviously something that the commission is going to have to consider.

Preet Bharara:

Did you feel personal fear for your safety on 01/06?

Joe Neguse:

I did. Yeah, certainly. I feared for the safety of myself, my colleagues, the staff. I can’t say enough good things about the Capitol Police that put their lives on the line to protect us. And their courage, their patriotism, I am just in awe of it. I think it’s important for us as a country to honor their service and what they did on January 6th.

Preet Bharara:

When on that day, or the next day, or the day after did it become clear to you or was it communicated to you we really need to think about impeaching Donald Trump a second time? Because that happened within a week, and I know it’s a short article of impeachment, but it doesn’t draft itself. What was the timeline of that?

Joe Neguse:

It became very clear, I’d say, certainly for me personally by the next day, and I think for many members it was clear during the insurrection as it was happening, and several of my colleagues, Representative Lieu, Representative Cicilline who were ultimately served with me as managers during the trial. They were beginning to work on those articles, literally, as they were… My understanding as they were locked up in their office during the insurrection. I think it’s easy to forget now just how much of an exigent circumstance we were facing that day, and in the days that followed. You literally had an insurrection to try to stop the peaceful transfer of power. President Biden had not yet been inaugurated, and there were many questions about whether or not that inauguration could ultimately occur peacefully just the following two weeks from then or a little less than that.

And so, yeah, I think it was fairly clear to many in the Congress that we had to move forward. That we had an Article I responsibility under the Constitution to hold the president accountable for conduct that was so egregious, and obviously, several of our Republican colleagues ultimately agreed with that. And the fact that you had several Republicans very early on that evening, the next day, the day after making clear that they concurred that in our assessment that what the president had done was clearly impeachable. That obviously created an atmosphere in which there was support for impeachment that built.

Preet Bharara:

I want to ask you about the article. There’s no reason you would remember this. But you and I met when Governor Christie, Todd Whitman, and I came to the Hill to talk about some of the reforms [crosstalk 00:15:15]-

Joe Neguse:

Of course, I remember it. I remember it vividly in Majority Hoyer’s office, yeah.

Preet Bharara:

Exactly. So, we had the meeting, and then you pulled me aside, and we had a brief conversation about what might be articles of impeachment the first time around. Those articles had not… My recollection is those articles had not yet been drawn up. And we had an offline discussion about whether or not it should be one article, multiple articles, whether the Mueller stuff should be in there, too. And it was interesting because I think there was no consensus at that time. What was the thinking in this case? Why one article? Should there have been more than one article? Was that a mistake? How do you feel about it, and what was the thinking?

Joe Neguse:

I’m not going to second guess. Of course, I remember that conversation vividly. And I think the president’s breaking of constitutional norms early in his tenure was, of course, a harbinger of more things to come, which culminated in the breaking of perhaps the most fundamental constitutional norm that has governed our republic since its founding, which is the peaceful transfer of power that we’ve had since the days of George Washington. And so, you could see the writing on the wall that this would be the inevitable conclusion to his conduct over the course of his time in office. And so, that conversation with you does certainly stand out in my mind.

Look, with respect to the article that we ultimately drafted and that the House approved and that we prosecuted in the United States Senate. I’m not going to second guess the decisions that were made at that time by the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee in consultation with many others. I think that it was fairly clear to all of us that what had happened on January 6th was an insurrection. And that is dereliction of duty, which even the minority leader of the Senate called disgraceful was part and parcel to that insurrection, and went to proving his intent with respect to his actions that day. And so, I thought the article was broad enough to encompass all of that conduct as we don’t try during the impeachment trial. But look, people have reasonable questions about whether there should have been additional articles. Obviously, as you know that discussion, that process was more abbreviated than has [crosstalk 00:17:25]. Exactly. When you’re facing exigent circumstance like that where you’re unsure whether the president is ultimately going to see to the peaceful transfer of power in 10 days.

Preet Bharara:

Do you agree that there could have been one article, or the only article could have been styled, and you just said the phrase, could have been styled as a dereliction of duty? Would that have been an inappropriate article?

Joe Neguse:

Yes, I think that you could have done a standalone article. I think that that conduct was encompassed within the article that was approved by the House. But yes, and there are other articles, by the way, I think that you could have proceeded with during the course of this second impeachment, but I think the focus was really on that first article because it’s what we all lived through and experienced ourselves.

Preet Bharara:

Can you explain how one becomes a House manager in an impeachment trial? Do you audition for it? Do you send in a tape?

Joe Neguse:

No, no.

Preet Bharara:

Do you give references? Does the speaker just sort of look at the list and see who she wants? How does that work?

Joe Neguse:

Yeah, so far from it. I can’t speak to the speaker’s process. I will simply say that I found out the same way that others did, which was I received a phone call from the speaker informing me that she’d like me to serve in that capacity. And I told her that I’d be honored to do that, and to serve my country in that way. I called my wife and told her that I had accepted… her request for me to do so. So, yeah, and look, I think is you review…

Obviously, I have great respect for all of my colleagues in the House. But I have to say, the team that she assembled for purposes of both the first impeachment trial and the second impeachment trial were just stellar. And I can’t say enough good things about my colleagues, people like Madeline Dean, and Jamie Raskin, and many of them are close personal friends of mine, and all of who brought something very unique and different to the table as you know. I mean, being such an accomplished prosecutor yourself and building trial teams everybody brings something different to the table, and that eclectic nature of the team is what makes it so compelling and powerful. And I thought that was the case in this instance.

Preet Bharara:

Who divides up the work? Does someone [crosstalk 00:19:25]-

Joe Neguse:

Lead Manager Raskin.

Preet Bharara:

Yeah.

Joe Neguse:

So, Manager Raskin, who as I mentioned, had really was helping and arguably was the leader of the process on January 6th in terms of the Electoral College certification, and I thought the speaker did a masterful job of selecting him as the leader of the impeachment manager team. So he was responsible for deciding in consultation, obviously, with leadership and with the team itself, the various labor of work and so forth.

Preet Bharara:

So, I’m going to say my second flattering thing now. Am I correct that you don’t have really substantial trial experience?

Joe Neguse:

No. So, I tried, and certainly not as substantial as yours, Preet. And obviously, I’m fairly young, not as young as I used to be. But no, I’ve tried cases in the commercial context. So private litigation. I practice law for several years but no, I have not tried, and how many cases you probably tried thousands of cases.

Preet Bharara:

No, not that many, but I oversaw a lot. But you couldn’t tell. I mean, the reaction to you was really something and you seemed like you had been doing it for hundreds of years when you were in the well of the chamber. I wonder what prepared you most for that experience?

Joe Neguse:

Well, that’s very kind, particularly since I was so nervous during the trial. So I’m glad to hear that you didn’t feel that way, but [crosstalk 00:20:43]-

Preet Bharara:

Were you nervous? It’s good for you to tell people that.

Joe Neguse:

Oh, sure. Of course.

Preet Bharara:

How do you hide your nerves?

Joe Neguse:

I mean, you’re standing in the well of the United States Senate, the world’s greatest deliberative body, and like you, and as you know my family’s journey is… My family’s story rather in this country is an immigrants story. And so, as the son of refugees to stand in that hallowed chamber, and to have the eyes of the world on you, and to have the weight of history on you as you’re doing what you can to defend the constitution. I don’t know that you’d do a good job if you weren’t nervous. So I think we all were a little bit nervous.

The way that I tried to center myself, and stay focused was having a routine every evening. And of course, there’s a routine, regardless, but Facetiming with my daughter and my wife back home, and trying to remember why I was there, and try not to in some respects run away from the stakes. I mean, the stakes of this trial in my view were very high. It was important for us to establish this record, and to send, again, a message to the country and the rest of the world that that our republic would endure. And so, I think embracing that and recognizing that you’re there for a reason, and you have a job to do. Anyway, that was the approach that I took. But yes, certainly very nervous as well, as I think every member of the team.

Preet Bharara:

Did the president’s lawyers make any arguments that surprised you or that you didn’t anticipate?

Joe Neguse:

No, I think I was surprised by the bombast. But I suppose I shouldn’t have been. And so, I think that was… Again, maybe a bit naive to think that, that would not… That you’re in the United States Senate. And so, this idea of yelling, and the aggressiveness to me was a bit surprising. Beyond that, I don’t know there’s anything that they said that we were particularly surprised by. We had anticipated the arguments that they would make regarding the First Amendment and the constitutionality of the trial in terms of the jurisdictional arguments, which obviously we had dispatched on the first day of the trial, so no, I was not generally surprised.

Preet Bharara:

Do you persist in the view that once the Senate had dispensed with the idea of the constitutionality being challenged. In other words, you can’t have a Senate impeachment trial for a president who’s no longer in office, even if that impeachment occurred while he was in office? That once that was dealt with in a vote by the Senate that it was an inappropriate basis on which to vote nay, or to vote not guilty for a senator?

Joe Neguse:

Yes, I do.

Preet Bharara:

I mean, I get that. I tend to agree in principle. But isn’t it the case that senators can vote in that context on really any basis that they want? And there are no real jury instructions like you would have in a normal trial? So why can’t they still vote on that procedural point?

Joe Neguse:

I think that we obviously, a Senate impeachment trial is different than a conventional criminal trial or civil trial. That being said, clearly, the framers had intended for it to function not as a purely political process. It’s why the senators take a separate and different oath as jurors at the commencement of the trial. And so, I look at it from the… As a former private litigator, the idea, the notion that you could file a 12(b)(6) motion at the beginning of the trial, and then have that motion be dismissed, and then nonetheless have a jury dismissed on the same basis for which you had made that motion. I mean, what was the point of proceeding-

Preet Bharara:

The point of the motion-

Joe Neguse:

… jurisdictional motion to begin with? I also will say it’s interesting because it is relevant to some of the discussions that are happening today around Senate procedure right and archaic rules in the Senate. The Senate has always been a body that largely purports to rely heavily on precedent far more than the House. And of course, we see that, for example, in the discussions around the parliamentarians view with respect to the Reconciliation Bill. It’s making its way through Congress now. For a body that purports to rely so heavily on precedent I was obviously disappointed that they would disregard not just their own precedent in the Belknap case, which of course, we argued at great length, perhaps more than Fox wanted to hear.

Preet Bharara:

I enjoyed it.

Joe Neguse:

I’m glad you did, but also their own precedent in terms of the law of the case. I mean, if we made compelling enough arguments that we convinced multiple Republican senators to vote to ultimately hear the case on the merits, and the notion that senators wouldn’t be bound by that ruling. If you take that to its logical conclusion, it would mean that rulings on evidence, any other procedural motions that are made during the course of the trial could all serve as the basis for a dismissal at the end of the road.

Preet Bharara:

When you were speaking, particularly at the end of the trial to whom were you addressing yourself? All the senators, the Republican senators, the public, Mitch McConnell, some combination? I mean, you chose your words very carefully, and it was noticed how you were crafting arguments and the phraseology you were using. Who was your audience?

Joe Neguse:

I would say all the above.

Preet Bharara:

But really, who was your audience?

Joe Neguse:

I’m going to have to let the listener decode that I think. Obviously, the language I used, as you can tell was very strategic and specific. And clearly, I had hoped, I believed as did the managers. We really, truly believed that we could get 67 votes. That the strength of the evidence, the strength of our arguments could overcome the political morass and gridlock that has too often gripped Washington and that they would ultimately do the right thing. And so, as you can tell the speech that I gave on the final day of the trial was not one that someone would give if they believed that the verdict was already in. And so, no, I clearly, the Senate Minority Leader, I referenced. There are various references in the speech that I thought would speak to him, and then also would speak to the country, and would speak to his colleagues in the Senate.

Preet Bharara:

Stay Tuned, we’ll be back with Congressman Joe Neguse after this. So, looking to the future you already mentioned in the more optimistic tone that I expected the possibility of this 9/11 style type commission. Does that really have a shot? I’m hearing a lot of debate over the makeup of that commission, the scope of what they would be looking at. At 9/11, the country was pretty unified in the wake of 9/11, at least. And it wasn’t seen as an inquiry about necessarily the bad conduct of a sitting president, whereas this would be. What is your sense of optimism about whether or not such a commission can actually be established?

Joe Neguse:

It’s a good question, Preet, and I think it’s an open question. My honest answer is I’m not sure. I mean, obviously, I think that it’s important for us to move forward and to have a commission. I think what Speaker Pelosi has outlined makes a whole lot of sense, and it’s a prudent step forward. You’ve heard opposition from some Republicans on that basis. Obviously, there’s going to be some pretty, I think, robust debates in the next two, three weeks, about the contours of what this commission should and could look like. At the end of the day, my hope is we could resolve those differences and just get it done. Because I think the country needs it, and we need to have a commission that actually can look at this in a bipartisan way.

But beyond that, I mean, look, the committees of jurisdiction, the Homeland Security Committee, the Judiciary Committee, Intel, House administration in both chambers, I should say, I think are also going to do their own investigations. You see that already with the investigation that Senator Klobuchar as chairwoman of the house gave a different name for it in the Senate, but their iteration of the House Administration Committee [inaudible 00:28:25], Republican from Missouri that they’ve already gotten with some of the hearings that they held. And so, in the meantime, we’ll continue, I think, on that course. But I don’t think that that can be a replacement. It’s not mutually exclusive of the need for a truly bipartisan 9/11 style commission.

Preet Bharara:

So when you say truly bipartisan are you in agreement with the people who say there should be an equal number of Republicans and Democrats?

Joe Neguse:

I support the plan that the speaker has outlined, which does not… I don’t believe has an equal amount. That being said, again, I think that’s probably part of the negotiations that will happen in the next few weeks as they further refine the scope of the Commission, the timeline, and how it’s structured. And I’ll leave those details to be negotiated by leadership. I trust their judgment.

Preet Bharara:

So more about the future of the Congress, of the country and bipartisanship in particular, what is it like post insurrection and post trial? What’s the feeling in the House when you’re in the halls, when you grab a bite to eat, when you’re in committee? Does it feel different?

Joe Neguse:

I think that the feelings are still fairly raw. What we all experienced, what the country experienced on January 6th was something that we certainly have never experienced before. And so, it’s only natural that it would take time, I think for folks to be able to rebuild partnerships that maybe had previously existed. That being said, I must tell you, and I also want to say caution your listeners on this point because I have many Republican friends in Congress that I work with and partner with. We just launched a bipartisan wildfire caucus last week with Representative Curtis of Utah who’s a friend and a colleague, and we have vigorous debates. We disagree on a whole lot. But we’re also moving ahead with addressing wildfires in Colorado and Utah, which is a big issue out here in the West, as you might imagine.

I see those bipartisan efforts and endeavors still coming to fruition, still happening on a daily basis. Again, it doesn’t mean that it’s not different than what it was before. I do think there’s a different atmosphere in Congress right now. And that’s just, again, only natural given what the country just experienced. But yeah, I haven’t given up on the hope that we can come together on issues that matter. That’s certainly my experience.

Preet Bharara:

Maybe this is a silly question. How do you go about… Explain to folks how you go about becoming friends with people in Congress on the other side? Do you pick up the phone you say, “Hey, you have a common interest in fighting wildfires or something else? Let’s get breakfast. Let’s get a beer. Does it happen through committee work, through the staff? I think it’s very confusing to people who have never been in the Congress or worked in the Congress how that happens.

Joe Neguse:

It runs the gamut. All the above to what you just described. It’s largely from your committees. You get to know the members of Congress who you serve with on your committees the best because you spend the most amount of time with them during committee hearings, markups. And so, you may during the course of a committee hearing you hear something that a colleague has said on the other side of the aisle that makes sense. Hence, it is reasonable and think, boy, this individual has a similar interest to one that I share, and perhaps you could partner together on this particular issue. So, that’s certainly been the case.

You meet members who have, for example, this is pretty COVID. But pickup basketball games in the House gym that are fairly regular. And so, you meet different members playing in those pickup games, and then from there build partnerships that in order to get benefit of your constituents. So yeah, it’s there’s no real one central way. It’s largely… It’s the same way I suspect that folks develop partnerships in their workplaces as they build out teams based on common sets of interests and values and so forth.

Preet Bharara:

You have been referred to in various articles, I don’t know how this hits your ear as very likable, as a nice guy, has a good smile, and you come across that way. And it’s occurred to me, I don’t know if it’s my imagination or not, and I’m a little older than you are, a bunch older than you are that it used to be the case that that kind of approach, or temperament was much more common in the past and seen as much more valuable. Whereas, now Donald Trump is not a pretty likable person. Bill Clinton was. Putting aside their politics, am I right about my observation that likeability has faded as an important quality for politicians, and the way that people get ahead in the House is by being rough and tumble, and obnoxious, and high decibel?

Joe Neguse:

Honestly, my sense is that, that’s not the case. At least that’s been my experience so far in the House. Obviously, I’ve only been there for a few years. But my experience has been that most people in Congress are nice people. They have a servant’s heart. They’re in it for the right reasons.

Preet Bharara:

Name some of the people who aren’t.

Joe Neguse:

Oh, I’ll let you do that part maybe after the program. I think those, it would take me long to identify those folks that. Look, I’m being honest. I mean, really, that has been my experience. I don’t-

Preet Bharara:

Can I separate it out?

Joe Neguse:

Sure.

Preet Bharara:

So, in my experience, and I work in the Senate for a number of years, and I’ve had contact with a lot of people who are in elective office. There are some people who are what you see, and behind closed doors they’re a particular way. And when they get in front, the podium, they’re the same way. Obviously, a little bit more prepared in front of the podium. And there are other people who are combative, and obnoxious, and mean spirited behind the podium, but behind closed doors they are as you say likeable folks. I guess, by definition, it’s hard to get elected in your community if you are a jerk and come across as a jerk. Is it fair to say people are not the same behind closed doors? And would it be better if people brought some of that pleasant good face, good natured manner to their public lives?

Joe Neguse:

I think what you’re describing and the performative art of our modern politics is actually I think that’s largely more a symptom of a more structural disease that permeates our body politic, which is the gerrymandering, and the need for deep redistricting reform. I think that at the end of the day most members are, and I’m not saying this is… I’m talking about to the aggregate. Obviously, there are exceptions, but most members are being responsive to their districts, and to the passions, and the beliefs, and the values of the people that they represent. And if you have a system in which you draw some of these districts in such a way that they are overwhelmingly one layer or another, obviously, that’s going to create a different set of incentives.

That’s unique. That is new. That’s a new phenomenon. I say new, I mean, relatively new in the last 20, 30, 35, maybe 40 years. But there was a time when the ideological sorting of the parties was far different than when the district composition was far different. And so, you just didn’t have that incentive structure. That’s what’s changed. But fundamentally, my experience has been that the vast majority of people in Congress are nice people who are in it for the right reasons and trying to do the right thing.

Preet Bharara:

Can we talk about some policy issues?

Joe Neguse:

Sure.

Preet Bharara:

You mentioned this already once, the $15 minimum wage. At dinner last night, and maybe you’ll make fun of the nature of conversations over my dinner table, my daughter, who’s a college student, but doing her college work from her bedroom in her parents’ house because of the pandemic. She said, “Daddy, why can’t the Congress just ignore the parliamentarian and go ahead and stick the $15 minimum wage provision onto that thing called reconciliation? Why does a parliamentarian have to be obeyed no matter what, given how important it is?” And I couldn’t give her a particularly excellent answer, can you?

Joe Neguse:

Well, I mean, you worked in the Senate, Preet. So if you can’t give a particularly compelling answer I’m not sure what a two term House member is going to be able to offer.

Preet Bharara:

Well, I started saying things about precedent that you referred to, and that the Senate doesn’t work if you start trampling all norms, and that what goes around comes around. I don’t mean to misrepresent her position, and she isn’t like it really when I talk about her on the podcast, so don’t tell her that I did. But I think there’s a feeling particularly among young people, that you know what, there’s so much trampling of norms that if there’s a good thing that you can accomplish why rests on that quaint idea when all it does is screw good things from getting done?

Joe Neguse:

I guess I would say, I get it, I hear her, and I empathize with her position, and could understand her frustrations. I think this is, it’s the crux of a debate that is happening, I think, within the Democratic Party. And frankly, I think across both parties about what do you do when this game of constitutional hardball continues in a way that it becomes this race to the bottom. There’s a legitimate question about that particular issue with respect to the parliamentarians advisory opinion that you couldn’t include the minimum wage in the Reconciliation Bill, and I’ll let the senators on both sides of that debate discuss that at greater length with you. I guess I just would say to you that I think it’s complicated. I think it’s complex. I don’t think there’s a simple answer to that question.

I think that question in some respects, it obfuscates from the larger question looming, and that has been looming for quite some time, which is the filibuster, which is a variant of the same issue. The historical abuses of the filibuster in the last 30, 40, 50 years. The fact that cloture votes are something entirely different today than they were historically. And, of course, we can go into a long debate about the history of the filibuster going all the way back to the 18th century and whether or not this is something that is even consistent with the way in which the Senate’s supposed to function under our constitution, but all a long winded way of saying it’s a tough question, and…

Preet Bharara:

Do you have a view on the filibuster? Are you going to leave that to the senators, too? Which is a pretty good strategy, but I’m trying to… This is a podcast and you’re under oath.

Joe Neguse:

Listen, I had the opportunity to travel to Georgia, to Atlanta, to participate in the memorial, or the funeral for John Lewis who was just this giants among giants, and someone who I was so honored to serve with in the United States Congress, and who paved the way for people like you and me and so many others to be able to pursue our dreams. And I must tell you, I was there listening to President Obama deliver his eulogy, which was so powerful. And I thought the argument that he made about the Voting Rights Act, which of course is now aptly named John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The ability for us to ensure that that progress is maintained and secured should not be subject to a relic of a long forgotten time, of a tool that was used to try to prevent progress before. And so, that argument appeals to me, I guess, I would just simply say it that way.

Preet Bharara:

So, you speak about voting. So let’s talk about that for a minute. There’s a bill H.R. 1, which is dedicated to election security, and even more importantly, perhaps expanding voting. Among other provisions it calls for automatic voter registration, online voter registration, same day voter registration, making Election Day a federal holiday. All these ways that would increase participation beyond even what we got in the last election, which was pretty high. A, what are the prospects for that kind of thing given how the last election turned out? And B, what do you make of what’s happening on the other end of the spectrum, which is efforts in various states on the local level, Georgia and elsewhere where Republicans lost their efforts to sort of constrict voting? How are those two different sort of missiles going to resolve, and clash?

Joe Neguse:

Yeah, clearly those two schools of thought right on a collision course. I know you live in New York. So I will say that, Colorado, obviously, I’m biased, but I think the best state in the country and one of the reasons in addition to our incredible public lands is… Not that I’m doing a sell here on Colorado, I guess, on your podcast, but one of the reasons is Colorado has the gold standard for election system in the country.

We had the second highest voter participation rate in the United States, second to only Minnesota. In 2018 when I ran for Congress the first time, our congressional district had the highest voter participation rate in the country. And I’d like to say that it’s because of the candidate on the ballot. But the truth is, it’s not. I mean, it’s because we have laws on the books, automatic voter registration, all mail ballot system, so that ultimately folks can vote from the convenience of their home. We have same day registration. We have online voter registration. We’ve got pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds like your children who can pre-register so that they’re automatically-

Preet Bharara:

You offered an amendment to that effect. Did you not?

Joe Neguse:

That’s precisely right. Yeah, which was accepted and we’ll vote on tomorrow, actually, in the House. So look, what H.R. 1 is largely doing is emulating the systems that we have in place here in Colorado at the national federal level because we know that not all states have taken the same approach that we have in Colorado, which by the way, has been bipartisan. I mean, we have Republican county clerks, Democratic county clerks, election officials, all of whom do a great job administering the laws that we have on the books in a way that ensures that there is integrity of our elections, and that those who are legally eligible to vote can do so in an easy and accessible way.

I’m excited about H.R. 1, and obviously, as I said, in part because it is modeled after the laws we’ve adopted here in Colorado. And I think you have to pursue these reforms at the federal level, if we don’t, clearly writing is on the wall with respect to what’s going to happen in some of these other states. The voter suppression efforts are alive and well, and I think if the federal government does not take this step, particularly in light of the way in which the RA, as you know being an accomplished litigator has been gutted by the Supreme Court, and the realities that it’s not functioning in the way that it used to. I think this is an important step.

So in terms of realistic prognosis as to it’s passage, I think it’s going to pass the House this week. And then again we’ll have to see what happens in the Senate. But my sense is that it will have strong support within the House Democratic Caucus. It’ll be up to Senate leadership as to how best to handle their floor managing their floor time in terms of the bill.

Preet Bharara:

I should note for listeners that we’re recording this on Monday, March 1st, and so maybe it will have passed by the time people hear it on Thursday. Hey, can we talk about climate and the environment for a moment? There’s a lot of disconnect between sides on the environment. And you signed up to the Green New Deal. Many aspects of that are not soon to be passed into law. If you had to pick one or two things on which you think you could find bipartisan consensus to advance a good and progressive and protective environmental agenda what would those be, and how should people go about getting to that consensus?

Joe Neguse:

I think there would be two pillars. the first, technology, and the second jobs. With respect to the first, look, there’s bipartisan support in the Congress for investment on the R&D side. We have incredible federal labs. My district is home to 13 of them, literally some of the most cutting edge labs in the country, NREL, UCAR, ENCAR doing incredible phenomenal work as far as battery storage technology, and trying to develop different ways to further harness the benefits of renewable energy.

And so, I think doubling down scaling up those investments, particularly when countries like China are doing the same I think is an argument that can be made on both sides of the aisle. And I think that’s been borne out in terms of some of the… For example, a bill that we passed at the end of the last Congress that included some components of this, so that would be one. I think that’d be a first pillar.

Second pillar, when I say jobs I’ll just give you a very concrete example. Here out west last year two of the three largest wildfires in Colorado’s 136 year history happened in the last seven months. And both of those fires were in my congressional district in Grand county and Larimer County. Some of your listeners may have visited Fort Collins, Estes Park, or Grand Lake communities that are incredible that were hit hard by these fires. There’s a real need for a 21st century civil conservation corp. A new generation of young people to go work in doing trail restoration, reforestation projects, wildfire mitigation, and adaptation, and it’s a program that worked as we know going back to the 1930s when FDR first imagined the Civil Conservation Corps. Some of the most incredible places in our country were a byproduct of the work done by the CCC. I’ll give you an example. I don’t know if you’re a music fan, but if you’ve ever been to Red Rocks, which is one of the best music venues in the country, again, in my district.

Preet Bharara:

I’ve never been, but I know it well.

Joe Neguse:

Well, you’ll have to come out. And when you do, you’ll be able to see the signage from the Civil Conservation Corps literally 90 years ago. The people who worked on that project. So, I think investing in that type of program, which President Biden has already announced at least in part as part of his Build Back Better program makes a whole lot of sense, and I think we can get some votes on the other side of the aisle. Not all, look, I’m not… I’m a realist, and I recognize not everybody’s going to agree, but I think we can get some votes.

Preet Bharara:

Do you think when bills pass on a complete and strict party line vote that that robs those laws of some legitimacy? I mean, does it bother you?

Joe Neguse:

No, I mean, I don’t think it robs the vote itself of legitimacy. Ultimately, at the end of the day, the House is majority rule institution in the sense that, obviously, the majority holds the governance the floor. And so, I would hope that my Republican colleagues would join in supporting, for example, the COVID relief bill, since the vast majority of the American public supports it, but-

Preet Bharara:

Right. Well, what’s interesting about that… So, I’ve seen and I think this is smart. I was going to say clever, but clever is often a mild insult. There’s been a change in the rhetoric around what it means to be bipartisan, and you just alluded to it. And that is, even if there are no Republican votes in the Senate, or in the House on a particular provision polls that say 70 or 75% of the public support a particular thing like the $15 minimum wage. That’s by definition bipartisan because the people on both sides of the aisle, whether they’re in the Senate or not support it. And so, that’s the basis on which you make the argument.

Can you explain to the public what… I still don’t understand, even though I was a political science major, and I’ve studied the law and comment on all this stuff for years, how it can be that something that has really wide, broad political support, and popular support in the country just gets crushed when it comes to Congress like the minimum wage, for example? I mean, we’re a democracy. How does that… If it’s a free market of ideas and voting how does that happen again and again?

Joe Neguse:

It’s a great question. Well, let me just say, first, with respect to how do we define bipartisanship? I guess my sense is that it’s a broad definition. It encompasses a wide range of activity. We introduced roughly a little less than half of the bills that we introduced last year, our office were bipartisan in the sense of having a sponsor, a co-lead that was Republican. But there are other ways to be bipartisan, part of it is listening and engaging. Look, the president, President Biden in my understanding he’s had more meetings at the White House with bipartisan legislators inviting Republican and Democratic senators and House members to visit with him in the last two months than President Trump certainly had in the last two years.

And so, I think that is bipartisan. Trying to make an effort, trying to reach consensus, and having those conversations and trying to convince and control and negotiate with your colleagues that that’s what governing is all about. And I think the President has remained true to that promise. In terms of your broader question about why eminently popular policies that the American public largely supports have such a hard time gaining bipartisan support in the Congress. There’s a lot of potential answers. And without belaboring the point, again, I think it goes back in part to how the districts are drawn, and to redistricting, and gerrymandering and the reality that again, if districts are drawn in a way, so that they appeal to a very small ideological pocket then that will have consequences in terms of the legislation that’s ultimately enacted by the Congress.

Preet Bharara:

I want to talk about your background a little bit. You made reference to it. You’re the son of immigrants. I’m an immigrant myself, and also the son of immigrants. Your folks came from Eritrea. I just wonder how you think about that when it comes to your policy thinking about immigration? How much does your background inform your thinking about immigration in America, and in what ways?

Joe Neguse:

Very much so. I suspect in similar ways to you, Preet. Look, our country has always been this beacon of hope, and a place where those seeking refuge and freedom can come and live their dreams. It’s interesting, I watched Judge Garland’s testimony, Attorney General Designate Garland, I should say, before the Senate as I’m sure you did, and I was so moved by his recounting of his family’s journey to this country. As I said to someone else that as he described his experience I think he was speaking for every immigrant, son of immigrants, or daughter of immigrants, or granddaughter or grandson of immigrants who feels the same way that we’ve all been given the gift of American democracy, this incredible, the freedoms and the opportunities that we have in this country that don’t exist in a whole lot of places in the world.

We feel a real debt to pay it back and to pay it forward. And that’s why many of us choose public service. It’s certainly why I did. And obviously, it impacts my views on immigration policy in a very visceral way as we think about, for example, raw refugee policies, and the ways in which those were deeply undermined by the prior administration. The refugee cap being literally slashed by three fourths, lowest admission of refugees in the modern era of our country. Obviously, the terrible abuses that happened on our southern border. So, we could devote probably a certainly an entire hour-

Preet Bharara:

You could do a whole episode.

Joe Neguse:

… to immigration policy. But it’s the reason why I serve on the immigration subcommittee in the House Judiciary Committee because I’m passionate about it. My constituents are passionate about it. My state is passionate about it. But I am too for obvious reasons.

Preet Bharara:

In reading about what you’ve said about your family I see a lot of the things that I say about my own family, and that is the emphasis on education, the emphasis on doing well in school, a particular emphasis on going to college, and getting a good degree. And that’s sort of imprinted on the brain of a lot of people, but particularly immigrants who come to the United States. And I’ve always thought of that as a great virtue and a wonderful thing and a good thing to focus on and is one of the reasons why I got to where I got, and you got to where you got. But recently, I’ve been thinking more and reading more about some possible downsides to the huge emphasis on college because two thirds of Americans don’t go to college. Do you worry that in political discussion, and in the making of policy we leave behind a little bit the people who are not going to go to college by over emphasizing the importance of university?

Joe Neguse:

I think it’s a legitimate worry, a legitimate concern. But I have to say, I think it’s somewhat mitigated now by virtue of the president that we just elected because President Biden has made workforce training, apprenticeship program investment a pillar of his education policy, and I think you’re going to find a department of education under the new secretary that is very committed to this work. When I was in state government I served for a few years running our state’s consumer protection agency and served in the cabinet of Governor Hickenlooper, who’s now of course Senator Hickenlooper, and it was a big priority of his when he was governor of trying to look at the way other countries have developed really successful apprenticeship programs, places like Switzerland elsewhere, and emulating those programs here because as you said, not everybody goes to college. We ought to have a system in place that ensures everybody can achieve their dreams on the particular path that they choose. And not every one of those paths is going to be one that includes a four year or a graduate degree.

Preet Bharara:

Congressman Joe Neguse, thank you for making the time and thank you for your service. It was a real treat.

Joe Neguse:

Thank you, Preet. It’s my pleasure.

Preet Bharara:

My conversation with Congressman Joe Neguse continues for members of the CAFE Insider Community. To try out the membership free for two weeks head to cafe.com/insider. Again, that’s café.com/insider. So I want to end the show this week by telling you about something that I did this weekend. As some of you may have seen on the internet, this past Sunday evening, February 28th I received my first shot of Coronavirus vaccine. I got the first shot of Pfizer. That means I’ll get the second shot in three weeks. I got my shot at the Jacob Javits Convention Center on the west side of Manhattan. And it was a little bit of a bizarre thing to be there. The last most memorable thing I did at the Jacob Javits Center was take the bar exam. I think 27 or 28 years ago. Maybe some of you have been to the Jacob Javits Center and gotten a shot, or will get a shot there. I think they’re doing hundreds if not thousands per day. They’re about to go overnight as well, so that more shots can be administered to more people in the New York area.

The entire experience from beginning to end was seamless. You arrive, and you’re greeted by a National Guard soldier, or airman. And throughout the process, as you move from station to station, and you have your ID checked, and you get ready to get your shot. It’s run by the National Guard beautifully. And there’s this moment when you get to sort of the end, and you’re about to enter the cavernous room where there are scores and scores of tables set up with practitioners who are going to inject your arm with the vaccine, and you’re waiting in a number of lines and there are National Guard members directing you to which table you keep hearing the phrase again and again and again, “Ma’am, follow that soldier. Sir, follow that soldier.” And then when the time came for me, I followed a particular soldier. And I was never happier to do so.

The shot itself is completely painless, takes about three seconds, and then you sit for 15 minutes to make sure you don’t have a reaction, an allergic reaction. There’s free water, and then you’re on your way. So some people have asked me because I posted this fact on Twitter. Some people reacted saying, Preet, I didn’t know you were so old. How’d you get a shot so soon? Well, there are different conditions and qualifying factors in different states. In New York, if you have a qualifying underlying condition beginning back I think on February 15th you were eligible for a shot if you could find one online. And my wife spent some time and aided me in that process. And I have her to thank for finding this Jacob Javits vaccination appointment.

And so, I do have a qualifying underlying condition, which I’m not going to share with you. One reason I wanted to share the good news of my own shot was to show other people that the shot is safe, the shot is effective, and everyone should be doing everything they can to get one. Why is that important? Well, it’s important because as you may have been reading, there are a lot of Americans who are vaccine hesitant, who plan not to take it. There’s a poll I saw in the last few days that says 56% of White Republicans say they are unsure or will not take the COVID vaccine. Why do I mention that?

I mention it because one of the last shameful acts that Donald Trump committed in the final days of his presidency was to get the Coronavirus vaccine. Nothing shameful in getting the vaccine, but he did it quietly. He did it secretly, along with his wife, Melania Trump, and we just learned about it now weeks after the end of his presidency. How much of a difference could he have made to many of those Republicans who are unsure of taking the vaccine or flatly say they will not take the vaccine? The more people know, the more people hear that folks are taking the vaccine, and welcoming the vaccine, the better.

I don’t know folks if this has been your experience if you’ve gotten a shot, but I had a hard time being happy even while I was in line at the Javits Center. I kept thinking maybe there’s a screw up with my appointment. Maybe there’s a mistake. Maybe I don’t really have one. Maybe they’ll ask me some question that prevents me from getting the vaccination. Then after I got the shot in my arm, and the bandaid was placed on my arm, and I was walking to the place where you sit for 15 minutes, I was really overcome with happiness and relief much more than I had expected. It’s kind of hard to describe. But it’s kind of like this moment after a year of being fearful for your family, for your friends for your country. And one little small shot less than 12 months after we all locked down last year it was kind of a miracle. And in that moment, I felt the miracle.

By the way, I would have taken a selfie to prove that I’d gotten the vaccine. But for whatever reason in the Jacob Javits Center photography is not permitted in the vaccination room. And finally, I just want to thank, as we all should, everyone who made not only the vaccine, but the vaccinations possible. The doctors, the scientists, the nurses, the logistical people, and the National Guard, every soldier I ran into in that process on Sunday was cheerful, helpful, and doing a very profoundly important public service. And it continues to be my view that anytime anyone, anywhere, gets a shot in the arm. It’s a beautiful thing. I hope you’re in the process of getting your own shots. I hope it won’t be too long if you haven’t gotten one yet. And share your stories about getting a vaccination. I’d like to hear them. Send them to [email protected]

Well, that’s it for this episode of Stay Tuned. Thanks again to my guest, Congressman Joe Neguse. 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 at Preet Bharara 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]

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 technical director is David Tatasciore. And the CAFE team is Matthew Billy, David Kurlander, Sam Ozer-Staton, Noa Azulai, Nat Weiner, Jake Kaplan, Geoff Isenman, Chris Boylan, Sean Walsh, and Margot Maley. Our music is by Andrew Dost. I’m Preet Bharara, stay tuned.

 

Click below to listen to the bonus for this episode. Exclusively for insiders

Featured image of the bonus content for this episode
Stay Tuned Bonus 3/4: Joe Neguse