• Show Notes
  • Transcript

On this episode of the United Security podcast, Lisa Monaco and Ken Wainstein break down the national security concerns raised by President Trump’s finances and offer an election intelligence update, from a joint FBI and CISA Public Service Announcement to the leak of a CIA assessment that suggests Putin’s direct involvement in interference efforts. They also discuss the constitutionality and utility of the Trump Administration’s policy classifying New York, Portland, and Seattle as anarchist jurisdictions.  

The United Security podcast is produced by CAFE Studios. 

Executive Producer – Tamara Sepper; Senior Editorial Producer – Adam Waller; Audio Producer – Nat Weiner; Editorial Producers – Sam Ozer-Staton and David Kurlander

OPENING CHIT CHAT

  • Justin Baragona, “CNN Absolutely Shreds ‘Shitshow’ Debate: ‘Hot Mess Inside a Dumpster Fire,’” The Daily Beast, 9/30/2020
  • Statement from the Commission on Presidential Debates, 9/30/2020
  • Mia Jacowicz, “Election debate officials are considering muting candidates’ mics, report says, after Trump interrupted 71 times in the chaotic first round,” Business Insider, 10/1/2020
  • Andrew Glass, “Charles Sumner assaulted on the Senate floor, May 22, 1856,” Politico, 5/21/2017
  • Rachel Kleinfeld, “The U.S. shows all the signs of a country spiraling toward political violence,” Washington Post, 9/11/2020
  • Michelle Singletary, “Don’t be like Trump: Deducting hairstyling and home expenses from your taxes could get you in trouble with the IRS,” Washington Post, 9/29/2020

ELECTION UPDATE

  • FBI and CISA, “Public Service Announcement: Foreing Actors and Cybercriminals Likely to Spread Disinformation Regarding 2020 Election Results,” IC3.gov, 9/22/2020
  • FBI and CISA, “Public Service Announcement: Cyber Threats to Voting Processes Could Slow But Not Prevent Voting,” CISA.gov, 9/23/2020
  • Maggie Miller, “The ‘accidental director’ on the front line of the fight for election security,” The Hill, 2/25/2020
  • “Joint Statement from the Department Of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security,” DHS.gov, 10/7/2016
  • Brett Samuels, “Jeh Johnson: Media focused on ‘Access Hollywood’ tape instead of Russian meddling ahead of election,” The Hill, 3/21/2018
  • Zolan Kannos-Young, “F.B.I. Director Warns of Russian Interference and White Supremacist Violence,” New York Times, 9/17/2020
  • Chris Strohm, “Trump Chides FBI Chief for Saying Russia Seeks to Defeat Biden,” Bloomberg News, 9/17/2020
  • President Trump’s Tweet to FBI Director Wray, Twitter, 9/17/2020
  • Josh Rogin, “Secret CIA assessment: Putin ‘probably directing’ influence operation to denigrate Biden,” Washington Post, 9/22/2020
  • David Sanger, The Russian Trolls Have a Simpler Job Today. Quote Trump, New York Times, 9/25/20
  • Terry Costlow, “CIA changes the info-sharing game,” GCN, 5/4/2011
  • Natasha Bertrand and Daniel Lippman, “CIA clamps down on flow of Russia intelligence to White House, Politico, 9/23/20”
  • Mark Landler, “Trump Under Fire for Invoking Nazis in Criticism of U.S. Intelligence,” New York Times, 1/11/2017

ANARCHIST JURISDICTIONS

  • President Trump, “Memorandum on Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence, and Destruction in American Cities,” WhiteHouse.gov, 9/2/2020
  • Attorney General Barr, “Department Of Justice Identifies New York City, Portland And Seattle As Jurisdictions Permitting Violence And Destruction Of Property,” DOJ.gov, 9/21/2020
  • South Dakota v. Dole, Oyez, 1987
  • Printz v. United States, Oyez, 1997
  • President Trump, “Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” WhiteHouse.gov, 1/25/2017
  • Katie Benner, “Justice Dept. Threatens to Withhold Federal Funds From N.Y., Seattle and Portland,” New York Times, 9/21/2020
  • Maanvi Singh, “Trump signs memo to defund ‘lawless’ cities but experts raise legality doubts,” The Guardian, 9/2/2020
  • Ian Millhiser, Trump’s authoritarian “anarchist jurisdictions” memo, explained,” Vox, 9/3/2020
  • Rachel Abrams, “Police Clear Seattle’s Protest ‘Autonomous Zone,’” New York Times, 7/1/2020
  • Matt Tinoco, “Here’s Why Donald Trump Can’t Defund ‘Out-of-Control’ California,” Mother Jones, 2/9/2017
  • Annie Correal, “Trump Can Withhold Millions From ‘Sanctuary’ States, Court Rules,” New York Times, 2/26/2020
  • Joel Rose and Colin Dwyer, “Trump Administration Suspends New Yorkers From Trusted Traveler Programs,” NPR, 2/6/2020
  • Brett Nealy, “Trump Repeats Unfounded Claims About Mail-In Voting, Threatens Funding To 2 States,” NPR, 5/20/2020
  • Mihir Zaveri, “A Violent August in N.Y.C.: Shootings Double, and Murder Is Up by 50%,” New York Times, 9/2/2020
  • President Nixon, “Address to the Nation on the Situation in Southeast Asia,” UVA Miller Center, 4/301970
  • Wiliam Safire, “Before the Fall: An Inside View of the Pre-Watergate White House,” Amazon, 1975

JUSTICE GINSBURG

  • Adam Liptak, “Kagan’s View of the Court Confirmation Process, Before She Was a Part of It,” New York Times, 5/11/2010
  • Linda Greenhouse, “Senate, 96-3, Easily Affirms Judge Ginsburg as a Justice,” New York Times, 8/4/1993

Lisa Monaco:

From CAFE, this is United Security. I’m Lisa Monaco.

Ken Wainstein:

And I’m Ken Wainstein.

Lisa Monaco:

Hey. Good morning, Ken Wainstein.

Ken Wainstein:

Good morning. How are you today?

Lisa Monaco:

I’m doing great.

Ken Wainstein:

Are you really?

Lisa Monaco:

Well-

Ken Wainstein:

In the aftermath of that debate, you’re doing great?

Lisa Monaco:

Okay. That’s a very fair point. That was a complete falsehood. I am not doing great. That was… I don’t even have the words to describe what that was. Although, I thought Dana Bash on CNN used a expletive to describe it in the immediate aftermath, was pretty spot-on.

Dana Bash:

You used some high-minded language. I’m just going to say it like it is. That was a shitshow. And we’re on cable. We can say that. Apologies for being maybe a little bit crude.

Lisa Monaco:

Obviously I’m a supporter of Joe Biden for president, but you don’t have to have picked a horse in this race to determine that what we saw from President Trump was just a profoundly not presidential display.

Ken Wainstein:

It was horrible. I’ve been literally nauseous all day. I just feel like I need Pepto Bismol intravenously. It’s just the thought that that would be broadcast around the country and out to the world as a reflection on the American presidency and the state of our politics. I mean it was just appalling. And look I don’t expect these folks to get up there and act like they just graduated from finishing school or… They don’t need to adhere to Robert’s Rules of War and all that stuff, but come on. You got to have a certain level of dignity and decency, and I mean there’s a place for decorum. There’s a reason for it. And not only is it the proper thing to do, but these guys, whether they like it or not, they’re sending a signal to the rest of the world about what’s expected of people, people in public life but also people in private life. And that’s sending out a message that force and bluster takes precedence over reason and decency.

Ken Wainstein:

And that has ramifications. It really means something. And the fact that we saw that, not just isolated episodes. And we all lose our cool, but a sustained onslaught for 98 minutes of the same kind of intemperate conduct, I just found it appalling. And it meant that the debate, the insight into the ideas of these two candidates, it should have happened. It should have been an important part of this campaign. It just didn’t happen. Instead it was… I don’t know what four-letter word, or eight-letter word I’m thinking that Dana Bash used, but the last four letters were show, first four letters begin with an S. That was my verdict on it.

Lisa Monaco:

Yeah. It was. But, look, I have to say, and obviously this is not about partisanship, but I don’t think the actors here were equivalent, right? I just think that President Trump was profoundly unpresidential, which should not surprise us given the history here, but I do think these were not equivalent displays here.

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah, and let me just say, just for the record, I think we both bend over backwards to try to be fair when there are two different parties, political parties, or two different people who are having a disagreement and we’re commenting on it, but I’m with you in this case. This was the president acting distinctly unpresidential.

Lisa Monaco:

On a lighter note, everyone has been joking about how… Or not joking. Actually making serious recommendations that the Commission On Presidential Debates, which of course sponsored last night’s debate and will sponsor the future debates, that they need to really move quickly to make some changes in terms of their format and their rules. And I think they put out a statement today that they’re going to do so. And folks have been talking about… I think Twitter was ablaze last night with recommendations that there needs to be a kill switch by the moderator to cut off the mic of the person whose time it isn’t during the debate so that they can’t talk over the other person. But I think you could go a step further and have one of those escape hatches underneath the floor that just drops the person down if they’re being completely-

Ken Wainstein:

So like a James Bond movie?

Lisa Monaco:

Right. The way Trump was last night, I think you could’ve used that trap door many, many times.

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah. And look, I don’t want to be hyperbolic about it, but this really does have ramifications. I mean, the way we conduct our political discourse, that then is reflected on how the public engages in political disagreement. And, I was listening to a podcast the other day about the lead-up to the Civil War, and they talked about how Charles Sumner, the great abolitionist, made a fiery speech on the floor of Congress, and then a member of Congress from, I think it was South Carolina, came up to him a few days later and beat his head in with a cane. That happened on the floor of the United States Congress. I’m not saying that’s going to happen at the next debate, but it does show, in a similar situation leading to the greatest schism in our American history,

Ken Wainstein:

I think we’re also in a… Not similar, but in an analogous situation now where there’s great division in our country. This kind of fiery, inappropriate rhetoric can lead to actual violence. And even in preparing for our session today, I was… I really found it remarkable. I saw a poll that said something about how one in four American voters say that they think violence would be appropriate if their candidate doesn’t win. And it was evenly split between Democrats and Republicans. But that to me was shocking, the idea that an American voter would say, “You know what? I’m going to take the streets and engage in violence if my person doesn’t win.” That’s a reflection of them feeling enabled and empowered to do that by the rhetoric that they’re hearing from the top. And in this case, and in last night’s situation, that was the clear message being sent by President Trump, and I found that to be appalling and completely un-American.

Lisa Monaco:

It was depressing in the extreme. So, we’ll see what the Commission on Presidential Debates does to change the format. Maybe do something with the moderator. I thought, unfortunately, Chris Wallace was… I’m not sure what he could’ve done, but he did seem to have receded into the background. We’ll see what changes they make. But boy, we didn’t get a real clear discussion of the issues. Although there was pretty stark contrasts drawn between the two people on that stage in my view. And maybe next debate we’ll get some foreign policy and national security discussion too.

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah. And for the record, I felt bad for Chris Wallace. I think you’re right. Next time, that person will be empowered to do something.

Lisa Monaco:

It was also stunning that there’s very little attention to that bombshell that the New York Times released the other day, which some people may think, “Well, why are Ken and Lisa talking about the New York Times tax story about Trump’s failure to pay taxes? Doesn’t seem to be a national security topic.” But it is. I think it is a significant national security issue, which we should talk about just briefly. Obviously the New York Times came out with this story a couple days ago, on I guess the eve of the debate, that somehow got ahold of tax documents. I don’t think I’ve seen where they came from.

Lisa Monaco:

But the conclusion, among others, is that Trump paid no federal income tax in 11 of the 18 years to which the New York Times had access to tax documents. And for at least the first year of his presidency, 2017, he paid a grand total of $750 to Uncle Sam in taxes. Now, I don’t know about you Ken, and know you’re a big fancy partner in a law firm for a lot longer years than me, but I cannot remember the last time I only paid $750 in taxes. I don’t think that was ever the case, and I worked in government for my entire career, at least up until the last couple of years. I mean, that is just a stunning, stunning revelation.

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah but to be fair, Lisa, I mean you don’t have some of the business deductions that he has, which are expenses that are critical to his success and the success of his business, like $70,000 for his hair styling.

Lisa Monaco:

That’s true.

Ken Wainstein:

That’s a little bit more than I spend on an annual basis on my hair.

Lisa Monaco:

That explains a lot, Ken.

Ken Wainstein:

But that was deductible. And of course he had monumental losses that were deductible, or he claimed are deductible. That’s the subject of an audit right now. So he’s wrestling with the IRS about that. But I think the national security angle here, which was picked up on my commentators immediately after this New York Times article came out, is, “Boy this guy was in dire straits financially around the time that he threw his hat into the presidential election.” And in fact, some have said, maybe that’s the reason he did it because he was trying to revive his brand. Thought he could do that by running for president. And what do you know? Like the dog that caught the car, he actually became president. But that’s a different issue.

Ken Wainstein:

But here he is in dire straits, apparently has $300 some million in personally guaranteed loans that are coming due. His major properties are all losing money at a furious rate, his hotels and golf courses. And that raises the concern that comes to the fore every time any government employee goes in for a background check. Is this person over-leveraged? Is this person financially vulnerable such that he or she might be more subject to efforts to influence him or her by other people who might take advantage of the fact that they’re low on money. So the scenario being, a foreign adversary sees that government employee is financially on the rocks, knows it’s probably going to be easier to go to that government employee and induce him or her to maybe share some government secrets for the promise of $100,000. And so that’s a perfectly legitimate thing for people in the government who do background checks on government employees to look at. And as you know, you and I have each had our finances scrutinized for that very reason, making sure that we’re living within our means, we’re not over-leveraged. Yeah.

Lisa Monaco:

It is pretty simple. During the times I went through security clearance process, my finances, finances is a very generous term, for what they had to examine. But no, you’re right. Seriously, the series of questions that you get asked when you have to get a security clearance are focused… There’s a whole series of them that focus on your debts, whether or not you live beyond your means. And frankly they ask your friends and family, right? They’ll ask people, “What’s her reputation? Does she live beyond her means?” And again, so that you can’t be subject to blackmail or somebody who would pose a ripe target for a foreign adversary to incent them to trade on their access to government secrets.

Lisa Monaco:

So this all, of course, comes about not because he paid so little in taxes, although that is stunning in and of itself, but because the other revelation is that somewhere between $300 and $400 million in loans, for which Trump is personally responsible, are coming due in the next four years. And that was another revelation from the New York Times. And so having that type of debt hanging over his head, we don’t know the source of those loans. That’s another big question mark. So it really raises a ton of questions that are quite pertinent on the national security front. So, more to come, but boy it was really quite the series of revelations.

Ken Wainstein:

Right, and just to be clear, there’s the concern that somebody might be susceptible to espionage efforts on the part of another foreign government. But also there’s just good old conflict of interest concerns that you’ve got a high-level government official who’s trapped for money, might be more likely to try to pursue or encourage policies that’d be helpful to a foreign government that he might expect to do business with. So a seem incentive is there, for not just the possibility that the government official would be induced to provide government secrets, but also that he or she might use his or her office to the benefit of another government, or another foreign party, that might either already have a business relationship with him or his company, or there might be thought that there would be a business relationship down the road.

Ken Wainstein:

So that’s a very pertinent area for people to examine, and I’ve been happy to see the number of commentators over the last couple of days have zeroed in on that because all the failure to pay taxes is the more salacious part of it. For us I think the more concerning part of it is, what does it mean about his susceptibility to foreign influence.

Lisa Monaco:

Exactly. And so the source of those loans is, I think, going to be a big question. Okay. So with debates and taxes out of the way, Ken, we should focus on the two topics that we really planned to discuss today. One is the election, of course, being right around the corner and issues of election security are front-of-mind, and on the front pages again in the last week. And, of course, the Trump administration’s so-called anarchists jurisdictions policy. Not a sentence I ever thought I would hear myself say, but that’s where we are. So, let’s begin with the latest on the election.

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah. So we’ve discussed the threats to the election over several of our episodes, and the new news here is that a public service announcement was recently issued by the FBI and the cybersecurity and infrastructure agency, CISA, C I S A. And in essence it warns that foreign actors and cyber criminals are likely to spread disinformation regarding the 2020 election results. That’s the heading. And the substance of this public service announcement, basically an alert to the American people, is that foreign actors and cyber criminals are going to be involved in cyber activity to try to take advantage of any confusion and generate confusion and undermine confidence in the upcoming election. And it’s meant to alert people to that, and then to sensitize people to the mean to double check any reports they hear about flawed voting or incorrect results or any kind of vulnerability to the voting process because the government, our government, wants to make sure that people don’t lose confidence in the voting process due to the misinformation that’s being spread by foreign actors like the Russians.

Lisa Monaco:

Yeah. So, look, there are a few things that caught my eye about this. One, let’s just explain to people one of the key sentences in this public service announcement. And I’m going to quote, “Foreign actors and cyber criminals are likely to spread disinformation regarding the 2020 election results.” That’s a quote, and that is quite A, it’s alarming, but B, I think it’s a really… A, it’s a clear statement. It’s alarming. And it is unlike something we’ve ever seen before. The other thing that caught my eye is that it’s called a public service announcement.

Lisa Monaco:

I mean look. I worked in the FBI for several years. You worked in the FBI for several years. We both have worked in the national security and intelligence communities. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a document like this labeled a public service announcement. On the one hand, it’s a really apt name for what it is. As you said, they’re trying to alert the public to what they should be aware of, of foreign efforts, to dissuade or confuse people about results of the election in disinformation efforts. But normally, these types of things are labeled bulletins or alerts. So I thought it was striking to me that it’s actually called a public service announcement. The other thing… I noticed two other things, would love to get your reaction on, Ken. The other things was, if people look at the actual document, it’s what we call a double seal. Right? So it has the seals of two intelligence agencies on it that are authors of this public service announcement, and the analysis comes from these two entities. One is the FBI, as you mentioned, the other is CISA, which is this agency-

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah what is CISA? I thought I’d heard every acronym in DC, but this is a new one.

Lisa Monaco:

So it’s an agency that is a part of the Department of Homeland Security. It’s under the oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, but it’s its own agency. And it came into being in 2018, and basically is the umbrella organization for a bunch of parts of DHS, Department of Homeland Security, that existed before. But it was an effort, and it was legislated, and I think it was a very good move by the Congress and by the administration, to basically say, “This is going to be this standalone cybersecurity agency whose job is going to be to focus on infrastructure protection, focus on bolstering the efforts to protect our infrastructure, to protect and elevate cybersecurity issues.” And it’s under the direction of a director who holds the rank of undersecretary within the Department of Homeland Security, which is a very, very senior rank in the department.

Lisa Monaco:

The guy who’s the current director is Chris Krebs, who I think has done a really terrific job there, has been a really credible leader for that place and has pretty much tried to keep his head down and out of the politics, which is another good thing. But so this public service announcement is a joint effort of both the FBI and CISA, but CISA didn’t even exist until the last couple of years. So that’s a real, I think, sign of progress. That’s in the good news column, even though the news it’s spreading and the alert that it’s trying to put forth, is pretty concerning conclusion that they’re making. So the last thing that I would say that really struck me about this, Ken, was the emphasis on the election results. The point of this document is to alert people that they need to be attuned to efforts to confuse them and promote disinformation about election results, right? So to cast doubt on the results of the election. That was really, really striking.

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah. I actually noticed that. I noticed that by way of noticing what it wasn’t really focusing on, because when I first saw that they were talking about the possibility of disinformation efforts, I thought they might be talking about the way the candidates get characterized, and whether those characterizations and those rumors and this kind of thing might be reminiscent of what we saw in 2016 where rumors were spread both to denigrate candidates but also to foment discord and foment division within the country. But they really weren’t focusing on that. As you pointed out, they focused very much on, they were zeroing in on the election, the election results, and the confidence level that American people will have in the results, which really was scary because I’m with you.

Ken Wainstein:

I just always thought, “Okay. There will be an election. It might take a while, as it did in 2001, to get it resolved, but there’s not going to be a fundamental lack of confidence in the results once they’re tabulated.” But that’s what they’re suggesting here, that there is a concerted effort underway to try to generate a belief that, no matter what the results are, they’re not to be trusted. And boy, that goes right to the core of the functioning of our democracy.

Lisa Monaco:

Yeah. And look, the import of this document, and the service that it’s really trying to provide is both to alert people, as we just described, and also to give people clear actions that they can take. It’s really trying to educate people that it does always, in any election cycle, take time to tabulate the results. But it’s also trying to tell people to take action, which is to be critical, to cast a critical eye toward the information that’s coming at them on election night and the immediate aftermath of the election, and to be alert to online assertions about voter suppression or about fraud, and to really cast a critical eye and look for authoritative sources, and to be a conscious consumer of that information because they know there will be these efforts to confuse people. So it’s really an interesting development, and frankly somewhat… It shows in some senses how far we’ve come since 2016, and the Russian attack on our democracy during the last presidential cycle, but it also reminds me of the more things change, the more things stay the same, unfortunately.

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah, but look, and let’s not sell your efforts short in 2016. You all did something similar to this when you had DHS secretary Jeh Johnson, and DNI Jim Clapper come out and do a joint, once again, a joint announcement about the fact that the Russians were interfering in our election, and that was a very strong announcement, and it was, as I recall, early October, so well-timed to sensitize people to the threat leading up to the election. But you were guilty of a major strategic blunder, which was you issued the same day that the news came out about the Access Hollywood tape, where a presidential candidate, Trump, had been caught on tape making comments, very inappropriate comments about his dealings with women. And that came out and swamped the news, which should have been really big news, that Jim Clapper and Jeh Johnson were making with their announcement. And it really didn’t get the play nationally that it should have.

Lisa Monaco:

We expected it to be an absolute bombshell, right? So we labored over it and very careful about how it was constructed-

Ken Wainstein:

It was a great statement. Very strong.

Lisa Monaco:

But it was, really, it was and should have been a bombshell. Right? The US government and two senior leaders in the intelligence community saying that Russian adversaries were trying to influence the election. And like you said, it landed with a thud because it got swamped by this story, the Access Hollywood story. So, look, it’s a cautionary tale, too, to the media, I think, to pay attention to this stuff. But I wonder, Ken, we just gave some props and kudos to this public service announcement that just came out, but it does also talk about how the election system is one that’s very diffuse so that the FBI and DHS followed up the PSA we’ve just been talking about with another statement.

Lisa Monaco:

They did a follow-up public service announcement the day after, on September 23, and they were, I think, trying to answer some questions that had been raised. And they basically said that there’s no reporting to suggest compromises of ballots, and that there were multiple safeguards out there, processes in place for secretaries of state who administer the vote in this country to have backup voter registration rolls and the like. So I think trying to respond to some of the points of vulnerability that their initial public service announcement raised. Do you think that that follow-up statement painted two rosy a picture of the capabilities and the ability of our election system to withstand these types of efforts?

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah, and I have to admit, by knowledge of exactly what prophylactic measures are in place right now for the election systems around the country, and as you point out every state runs its own elections, even including the elections for federal offices, I can’t claim to be an expert on that. So one thing that gives me confidence is, if you look back at 2016, while the efforts to try to influence the American public and sow discord and denigrate, at least, candidate Clinton, there was a lot of that and there was some success reached with those efforts, there wasn’t any evidence, as I recall, that the Russians or any foreign actors were able to actually get in and disrupt the machinery of voting in the States, to actually lead to any conclusion that they changed the vote count somehow.

Ken Wainstein:

So my hope is that that’ll be the same this go around, and I think the import these two statements, two public service announcements, is to sensitize the American people that there will be reports that the voting process has been corrupted. But those reports will be incorrect but will be designed to raise a level of distrust and lack of confidence in the American people in the vote that results from November 3.

Lisa Monaco:

Well look. Let’s call out the elephant in our two socially distanced rooms here, which is that the main proponent of a lot of these theories is of course the President of the United States, right? He is the prime mover of a lot of disinformation about the voting process, and spreading baseless claims that there is widespread fraud using mail-in ballots, that the election is “rigged.” I mean it really, in many respects, certainly with that last phrase, is a total replay of 2016. But the Russian efforts to sow discord or sow confusion here, it’s pretty easy because they don’t have to do the work of developing any of the content that then they push out. They’ve got their main content producer in the person of the President of the United States. So that’s point one.

Lisa Monaco:

The other point on this is this, is this too rosy a picture by DHS and the FBI in these public service announcements. I think what I would say to that is, they have to walk a very careful line, right? They have to thread a needle where they need to alert people to these efforts, as we’ve just described, and at the same time not make people so concerned about exercising their right to vote that they end up doing the Russian’s work for them. And I’ll tell you I had flashbacks as I’m reading this and I’m talking about this because it’s exactly the same type of concern and the exact same concern, in fact, that we had in 2016. How do you balance the need and the importance of identifying these efforts, calling them out, so people know to be sensitized to them and to be alert, at the same time, not causing them to have a lack of confidence in our system such that they’re achieving the same ends that we know the Russians have been trying to do, to knock us off what they perceive us to be on our pedestal here of democracy.

Lisa Monaco:

So, I think it’s a very careful line to thread. Where I come down is that we have an exceptionally diffuse system of voting in this country. Some, I think, 3,000, at least, jurisdictions, right down to the municipal level where we conduct elections in this country. That is a blessing and a curse, right? It’s a blessing in the sense that it makes it very, very hard to conduct a wide-scale effort to intrude or manipulate the vote. But it also makes it a lot harder to secure those systems, right? Because there’s no uniform standards and uniform ways to go about it. But all of that, of course, refers to the security of the systems themselves. The hardware, the infrastructure. But when it comes right down to it, what this public service announcement is about is not about the voting infrastructure. It’s about the information infrastructure, right? And people, as consumers of information that they have to be very alert to efforts to manipulate that. So that was my take on those two public service announcements.

Ken Wainstein:

Right. And now to zoom out, not just in terms of the efforts by foreign actors to try to undermine confidence in the voting process itself, but just zoom out to the efforts by Russians and others to try to influence and disrupt the election generally. We saw that Chris Wray, I guess in his testimony before Congress, I believe it was last week, said that the Russians were hard at work sowing division and discord and disseminating information to denigrate Vice President Biden.

Chris Wray:

But we certainly have seen very active, very active, efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more the malign foreign influence side of things. Social media, use of proxies, state media, online journals, et cetera, in effort to both sow divisiveness and discord, and, and I think the intelligence community has assessed this publicly, primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as an anti-Russian establishment. That’s essentially what we’re seeing in 2020.

Ken Wainstein:

Got chastised by the president for making that statement, even though it’s fully backed up by the intelligence of every intelligence agency in the United States government. But the president said on Twitter that, in fact, China is a far greater threat than Russia in this regard, which is demonstrably wrong. So you’ve got Chris, who was out there, the CIA recently put out an assessment which found that the Russians were heavily involved in trying to disseminate disparaging information about Vice President Biden, and in fact attributing that effort to Putin and his circle. So you’ve got the intelligence community putting that information out, and then you even have reports about the actual mechanics of how they’re doing it.

Ken Wainstein:

RT, which is the state-backed Russian website, was out there basically reporting exactly what we heard from the president last night that absentee ballots are going to lead to a rigged election, are going to lead to fraud and are going to mean that the results of the election can’t be trusted. Sputnik, another Russian government news site, published… This is a good one. Published an article about how Trump was claiming that Biden is using drugs to enhance his debate performance, like a professional athlete or something, which is… I’m not sure what drug he would need to improve his performance. After last night, I was thinking maybe Valium just to keep himself from throttling the president. But the way they did this, they actually sent that out, got it repeated then by a right wing website here in the United States, which then was able to circulate it and prevent it from getting shut down because it was identified as coming from the Russians.

Ken Wainstein:

So you see this is part of this viscous circles in which these Russian troll sites would then send out this information, it gets picked up by American sites, and then gets circulated, and it does its damage. And so we’re seeing that in a way that’s exactly as everybody’s predicted since 2016, we’re going to see before 2020. So I’m hopeful that these public service announcements are going to get through to the American people. They need to be very skeptical of the kind of stuff they see on the internet about the candidates and about disagreements among the American people, and question whether these are designed intentionally by foreign adversaries to stir us up and to undermine our election, as opposed to being real reporting.

Lisa Monaco:

Yeah. I mean, and just to put a very fine point on it, the assessment that you’re talking about that was put out from the CIA, this was based on public reporting. This was a report, I think it broke in the Washington Post, that the CIA published an assessment about Russia’s efforts to interfere in the election, and this appeared in something, according to the reporting, in a product called the World Wide Intelligence Review. Right? The WIRE. That’s the name of the product. It’s something that you and I read regularly when we were in our old job. It’s a product that goes to intelligence consumers in the executive branch as well as to the Hill. So this is a product that goes to the intelligence committees and their staffs. And this was a, according to the reporting, an assessment that said, and this is a quote from the reporting about it, “We assess that Vladimir Putin and the senior most Russian officials are aware of, and probably directing, Russia’s influencing operations aimed at denigrating the former Vice President and supporting the United States president and fueling public discord about the US election in November.”

Lisa Monaco:

So that, frankly, when I read this article, brought me up short because it is eerily similar to the 2016 October 7 assessment and report that we were just talking about. And in that document, went back and looked at it because it was ringing so true, in October in 2016, four years ago, the intelligence community said, “The US intelligence community is confident that the Russian government directed the recent compromise of emails from US persons and institutions including of US political organizations.” Now that’s a reference, of course, to the hack of the DNC and the gathering of the Podesta emails. It went on to say that these thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. And only Russia’s senior most officials could have authorized these activities. So demonstrable parallels between October 2016 and here we are nearly in October 2020.

Ken Wainstein:

Right. And no surprise there. Just to repeat what everybody said in the aftermath of 2016, Putin saw how wildly successful he was at disrupting the election in 2016, and sowing division within the country. Everyone knew he was going to redouble his efforts and do it again in ’20. And he did it again in 2018, but in 2020 he’s going to do it even more so on the biggest stage there is, the presidential election. So no surprise there.

Lisa Monaco:

So the other news that came out relating to CIA and their Russia analysis that I was keeping my eye on was this story, I think it came out in Politico, that said that there’s been a claim that the CIA is slowing down intelligence coming from what’s called Russia House, which is, of course, the analytical center at the CIA that produces and focuses on Russia and produces intelligence analysis related to Russia’s activities. That the intelligence analysis coming out of there, out of Russia House, is running into some headwinds inside CIA headquarters and being slowed down before it gets sent, what’s called downtown. Right? To the White House, and that there’s some fears that that’s because there’s concern that sending that intelligence down there would anger President Trump. At least that was the assertion, or the spirit of the assertion, in that article. What did you make of all that?

Ken Wainstein:

It’s hard to know. Look, we cited earlier the reward that Chris Wray got for speaking truthfully about the Russians’ efforts to interfere in the elections. He got chastised on Twitter by the president. So, there’s a pattern here, that this has happened routinely where the intelligence community has spoken the truth, the hard truth, based on their intelligence, and they get their knuckles wrapped for it, or worse. And look, and the CIA in particular, they’ve been dealing with this, the intelligence community in general. Go back to the very beginning. Go back to the transition when the intelligence community, representing by the ODNI, the CIA, FBI and NSA put out their intelligence analysis about the election and what had happened, finding that the Russians inferred, they did so at the behest of Putin. And what really got the president was that they concluded that the Russians did so with the effort and intent to try to help Trump.

Ken Wainstein:

And when he got that in early January, his response was to call the intelligence community Nazis. He analogized them to Nazis. And my client, very good friend Jim Clapper, called the president, president-elect at that point, and told him that wasn’t the case and the intelligence community just tried to explain that they tell the truth, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent for the president. Their job is just to tell the facts so that the decision-makers, and particularly the president, know the facts before deciding on policy. It’s a hard thing to do in a very fraught relationship like you have here between the president… I’m not saying the White House, I’m talking about the president himself, and the intelligence community. So it wouldn’t surprise me if an intelligence agency, it recognizes that reality and is careful about how it messages things to the White House to make sure that it minimizes the blow back.

Ken Wainstein:

That being said, and I imagine that is happening and I wouldn’t be surprised at all, working with allies within the White House to make sure that news that might not be seen favorably by the president is delivered in a way that will reduce the possibility of blow back. That’s all appropriate. What isn’t appropriate is to limit the flow of intelligence to the White House and to prevent telling the president bad news because you don’t want to be the bearer of bad news. And my hope and expectation is that that’s not happening. If that is happening then that is an abdication of the responsibility of an intelligence professional. And what I know of the professionals who are in the critical positions over at the CIA right now, I wouldn’t expect that. So my hope is that this is reporting about this delicate way, the delicate dance, that an intelligence agency has to engage in now because of this president and his distrust of the intelligence community, but is not in any way an effort to prevent the flow of critical intelligence, whether it’s good or bad news for the president, to the White House.

Lisa Monaco:

There’s one other possible explanation for this, or at least one other possible explanation, and that’s that there is a history here of the president not paying particular attention to sensitive sources and methods, right? And sensitive information and he’s famously blurted things out and shared, in fact, with Russian actors information that he shouldn’t have in that famous meetings with Ambassador Kislyak and Sergei Vlasov, the Foreign Minister of Russia. So, it’s conceivable that the intelligence professionals at the CIA are taking great care in what they send down, because they’re worried that some of that information could find its way to folks in meetings with foreign adversaries and on calls with Putin. And that is… If that’s an explanation, that’s just crazy, right? I mean, it just shows you yet another reason why it feels like we’re in a bit of a parallel universe here.

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah, and keep in mind. And this goes back to what we were saying at the outset when we talked about the president’s taxes. The president doesn’t need to go through a background. He doesn’t need to get a clearance. He gets a clearance the day that he’s voted in as President of the United States. And he has the ability to classify information, he has the ability to declassify information. So armed with that ability and with a lack of regard for the importance of protecting sources and methods, you can see how the intelligence agency might see him as a danger, that he might release some really important information that can get some of our agents killed. So, understandable why that might well be a motivation behind whatever kind of bureaucratic process is going on that led to this report. So that’s enough now on the election. I think we’ve covered the intelligence on the election and the goings on in the intelligence community.

Ken Wainstein:

Now let’s talk about the fact that, here we are in the good old U S of A, and we’re surrounded by anarchist jurisdictions. Did you know that? Anarchist jurisdictions. In fact, I think you travel to one occasionally when you go to New York City, the belly of anarchist beast.

Lisa Monaco:

Right. And by some judgments, I live in one since I live in Washington DC, since I think the reporting is that DC is also on this hit list from President Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr. I mean, it’s a little bit head snapping here that this is what we’re talking about. But where does this anarchist jurisdiction thing come from?

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah it’s odd. So the president put out a memo to announce that his administration would not be providing federal taxes to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones. And this presidential memo sets up a process by with the Attorney General, in consultation with the secretary of DHS and the director of the Office of Management and Budget, will publish a list identifying those state and local jurisdictions that have permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract these criminal activities, I.e. anarchist jurisdictions. Those anarchist jurisdictions then will be identified as subject to loss of federal funding. And the tasking for this has fallen on Bill Barr. Bill Barr has then gone through this process in conjunction with the secretaries of the relevant departments and he has announced that the three jurisdiction that he thinks should be eligible for discontinuation of federal funding are New York, Portland and Seattle.

Lisa Monaco:

So… Okay. So, he’s labeled these three cities anarchist jurisdictions. So, now we’re in blacklist territory of these cities. And I have to say, my reaction… Look, I don’t want to minimize. There have been some definite episodes of violence and looting and arson in some of these places, right? I think that, with regard to Seattle, Portland and New York, I don’t think it’s all been equal across those three cities. So let’s just make that point. So, brushing them all with the same brush seems excessive. Second is, the whole thing strikes me as A, a political exercise, B, really, just to kind of geek out here on the law, a real state’s rights question here, which is kind of ironic that the Republican administration, which normally is one that is very protective of state’s rights, would take this approach. And then lastly, and probably most importantly, it seems massively counterproductive.

Lisa Monaco:

So, if, just stepping back to first principals, if the idea here that what the president is so concerned about is the diminution of law enforcement presence or attention to these cities or pockets of these cities, it seems to be a pretty counterproductive way to go about this to cut funding to law enforcement and community organizations and other sources of federal funding to these cities that would contribute to the decline of those communities. So it just strikes me as crazy all the way around.

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah, I mean it’s a nakedly political maneuver, right? This is all part of an effort to depict himself, I’m talking about the president, to depict himself as the guardian of law and order, and to depict the Democratic mayors of these cities and Democratic leaders in general around the country, as being permissive of violence, as being willing to condone the violence that we’ve seen in various instances in the context of the protests over the last few months. And in fact they have a list in the presidential memo, of the types of things that will trigger this treatment. “If a jurisdiction prevents the police force from intervening to restore order in certain circumstances, or designate an area,” and I think the term has come to be known as an autonomous zone, “an area where the police will not go in and try to restore order.” So a jurisdiction that establishes one of those kinds of zones.

Ken Wainstein:

And there was one in Seattle and the police ended up closing it down because it ended up getting more violent than it had been earlier on. Obviously if there’s a jurisdiction that talks about defunding the police, that’s another hot button for them. And then lastly, a jurisdiction that might, “unreasonably refuse federal offers of law enforcement assistance.” We talked about that a couple episodes ago, about the fact that federal government was sending, against the wishes of the state and local officials, sending law enforcement personnel out to the streets of the cities, Seattle and Portland, and how that was contrary to the spirit of the relationship between federal and state law enforcement in general. So that’s another trigger that could then warrant this kind of treatment by a city here in the United States. But it is pretty astonishing.

Ken Wainstein:

I mean, when I say nakedly political I mean it. I mean, DC, you mentioned, is one of the ones on the hit list. Well DC had some issues, but as you saw, the issues was more on the side of law enforcement with the way they handled things in Lafayette Square, as you recall. And I think probably the reason why he’s so upset at DC is if you walk out of the White House and walk across Lafayette Square and walk up 16 street, that is now Black Lives Matter Plaza, and they got it painted on the street in huge letters, “Black Lives Matter,” over the space of two blocks. And my daughter and I were down there during the protests, and the street signs were already up. The full, official street signs, calling that area, designating it as Black Lives Matter Plaza. And that just grates on the president. So, to me, this is just a political ploy. That’s what he’s trying to depict himself as, that he’s the guardian of safety.

Ken Wainstein:

So in order for that depiction to actually take hold in the campaign, he need to show that the opponents, I.e. the Democrats, are weak on law and order, and that he’s being strong on law and order. And he isn’t even worried about being seen as measured and strong. He just wants to show he’s being strong. So his belief is, “No matter how aggressive my law enforcement measures might be, they’re good for that narrative, and therefore I’m going to even have my attorney general designate the great American cities as anarchist jurisdictions,” because he disagrees with what the Democratic leadership is doing in those cities.

Lisa Monaco:

I think it’s important to remember here that what’s at stake here, and the net effect of this, is that these cities that are on this black list, that are dubbed anarchist jurisdictions, would have federal money not go to them, and maybe potentially claw it back, and this is federal money from any source, right? So you read this presidential memo, the excerpt from this presidential memo, which directed the attorney general to look across all these agencies, right? And the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to look across all federal agencies to inventory what federal money they provide to these cities. So that could be federal housing funds. It could be community development block grants. It could be grants to law enforcement agencies themselves, right? State and local law enforcement.

Lisa Monaco:

That’s a lot of what the Department of Justice does. They provide grants to local law enforcement for training and for assistance for officers. The Department of Homeland Security provides grants to first responders, right? Fire fighters and the like to help them with equipment for training, to run exercises so that they are capable of responding and trained up in responding to things like terrorist attacks or major natural disasters or indeed pandemics. So this translates into real money and to real impact, and it just strikes me as the kind of thing where it’s a little bit biting off your nose to spite your face. If your concerned about the failure of responsive local jurisdictions, well you’re going to take money away from them so they’ll be even less effective. Right? It just doesn’t make any sense.

Ken Wainstein:

Right. Though, keep in mind, this is not an isolated thing. This administration has done this on a number of occasions. Just to tick off a few of them, the Trump administration got upset at New York State because New York State would not give the federal immigration authorities information from the state DMV about potential illegal immigrants, and so they denied New York the ability to use the Trusted Traveler Programs. So, basically making life less convenient for New Yorkers in retribution for their policies, their law that says they will not share immigration information that they have in their DMV.

Lisa Monaco:

We should note, and made affirmative misrepresentations to the court in so doing, right? Which they had to acknowledge.

Ken Wainstein:

In addition to that, you’ve got the president issuing threats to the governors in Michigan and Nevada because they announced that they’re using absentee voting and he wanted to dissuade them from doing that so he threatened to cut funding to those two states. He’s threatened to cut funding to schools and universities, that, in his mind, don’t traditionally protect campus speech. And he also made a threat not too long ago against states that were not going to open up their schools quickly enough, that they might lose their funding. So this is a standard part of the playbook. And one of the biggest examples, of course, is sanctuary cities. You recall back in the early part of this administration, Attorney General Sessions determined that a la the same process that we have here about anarchist jurisdictions that they would identify those jurisdictions that are sanctuary cities. And what that means is that a city… That designates a city that does not fully cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

Ken Wainstein:

And that can be a whole range of things like New York not providing information from their DMV about potential illegal immigrants, to states not being willing to tell ICE when somebody is leaving prison in their state that might be an illegal immigrant, or what we dealt with back when we were prosecutors, in DC always had a policy… I can’t remember if it was a law or a policy, that the police would not ask that the individuals on the street what their immigration status was. And it for a very practical reason. It really wasn’t to try to handicap federal enforcement efforts. It was to make sure that John Q Citizen on the street, who might be concerned about his or her immigration status, wouldn’t be reluctant to cooperate with law enforcement authorities, wouldn’t be reluctant to report crime, wouldn’t be reluctant to come in and testify in a criminal case.

Ken Wainstein:

And I do a lot of work in communities that have a lot of Central and South American immigrants, and it was absolutely critical that they had that assurance that they wouldn’t be reported to then the INS before they cooperated with us and gave us critical testimony that solved crimes.So there’s a whole range of things that could cause a federal government to designate a city as a sanctuary city, and Attorney General Sessions said that funding should be cut off to a number of these cities. That then spawned a number of challenges in the federal courts. Without getting into the details, I think three of the four courts who have heard challenges to that cutting off of funding has found that it was not lawful. One, though, did. One said that it was appropriate for the federal government to condition its funding to a state based on that state’s willingness to cooperate with immigration enforcement, basically giving a nod to the federal government’s primacy in the area of immigration enforcement.

Ken Wainstein:

So, we’ve had those cases, but then this, once again, has been an area that’s been litigated over the years because other administrations have tried to do that, and other Congresses have tried to actually use the power of funding to force states to take measures that the federal government wants. And we’ve seen that, for example, Congress conditioned the eligibility of a state for federal highway construction funds on the state’s willingness to raise the drinking age within that state to 21. And that was heard by the courts and that was actually blessed.

Ken Wainstein:

Another analogous situation was the Brady Bill, that required states to do a certain background check for gun purchasers. That was determined to be not constitutional, that it overstepped the bounds, it violated the tenth amendment. And the tenth amendment basically says that any of the powers that are not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are reserved to the states. And the tenth amendment is often the source of challenges when a state feels like the federal government is trying to impinge on its authority to make decisions about how to effectuate law enforcement within its state, and that’s what we have here.

Lisa Monaco:

So look, the bottom line here is this is an effort, and I think we both describe this as a transparent political ploy to black list what the president calls Democrat cities, as opposed to American cities, and to do so to get some political bang for his buck. And it’s going to be the subject of substantial legal challenge for the reasons you just laid out, and we’ve got some precedent here with the sanctuary city effort. I mean, it’s a blatant effort of the federal government to try and coerce the states into doing something that is going to meet with real legal challenge, but just separating it apart from that, it doesn’t seem to be a real productive way to go about addressing what they purport, what the president and the attorney general, purport to be their concern.

Lisa Monaco:

But we should be really clear. There are real issues in some of these cities, right? And real grievances, real problems in terms of impact on some of these communities, real efforts at peaceful protests, some of which have also had pockets of violence and there have been really disturbing episodes of looting and arson in some of these cities. But at the end of the day, this type of presidential memo and this effort that we’ve just been talking about, doesn’t seem to be designed to get at the real concern here, the real challenge. It doesn’t seem to be designed to bring parties together, right? State and local and federal law enforcement to come together to say, “How do we cooperate in addressing some of the issues in these cities?” And it would be nice to see some of those efforts as opposed to this posturing that’s going to have some real challenges, just strictly from a legal perspective.

Ken Wainstein:

You’re right. I think this is more of a naming and shaming exercise for political reasons than an effort to do anything constructive to help what is a real criminal problem that we’re dealing with here in the United States, which is an uptick in the murder rate. And I’d like to see more constructive efforts to deal with that, or as you state, unified efforts between federal, state and local authorities rather than a naming and shaming exercise, which this seems to be. I think it’s important to recognize that this isn’t the first time that the anarchy motif has been used, and anarchy rhetoric has been used, for political reasons. In fact, there was a pretty celebrated case back in, I guess it was in 1970 when President Nixon was dealing with the disturbances in the United States with the demonstrations and the like, and also he was wrestling with the Vietnam War, and he really struggled over how to announce an escalation of the Vietnam War for knowing that that was going to be heavily opposed by many in the United States. And he ended up giving this red meat speech to the American people in which he talked about the need to deal with anarchy that was happening both overseas and in the United States, using anarchy as a bit of a dog whistle to try to both explain what he was doing but also to try to mobilize support for it.

Richard Nixon:

My fellow Americans. We live in an age of anarchy, both abroad and at home. We see mindless attacks on all the great institutions which have been created by free civilizations in the last 500 years, even here in the United States, great universities are being systematically destroyed. Small nations all over the world find themselves under attack from within and from without. If, when the chips are down, the world’s most powerful nation, the United States of America, acts like a pitiful, helpless giant, the forces of totalitarianism and anarchy will threaten free nations and free institutions throughout the world.

Ken Wainstein:

By making this speech and focusing on anarchy, he was trying to energize the American people to support the war, but actually it had the opposite effect and people felt like it was way over the line and reflected a man who was a bit unhinged, and in fact it resulted in stronger oppositions. And I think just three or four days later, as a matter of fact, they had the protests at Kent State where, tragically, the National Guard ended up opening fire and killing four college students, and that really mobilized the anti-war effort into a completely new stage and really spelled the end of the Vietnam War.

Lisa Monaco:

Ken, you know we’re discussing when there’s an automatic Nixon reference.

Ken Wainstein:

Very true, and some of the parallels are actually pretty striking. As a matter of fact I was looking through William Safire’s description of how the president, President Nixon, wrote up this speech and what he was trying to do, and he said that it backfired terribly on the president because, “Nixon came across to all too many people as a belligerent conman.” Some mind find parallels today.

Lisa Monaco:

All right. Well, we’ve had some fairly depressing topics today, but I think we should not wrap this up without recognizing another big event that happened since we last talked, Ken, and that is of course the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ken Wainstein:

Yeah, terribly sad. She was an incredible hero. And people talk about how she was a hero to women, but she was just a hero to all Americans, and unlike you I had very little contact with her. The one contact I had was taking my then 15-year-old daughter to go listen to her speak at an adult and kids session, and she spoke about her experiences as a young woman lawyer in that period of time, and I can tell you that that was one of the most impactful evenings on my daughter that we ever spent, just listening to this woman talk without bitterness, without rancor, talking about the kind of discrimination she dealt with and how she just forged ahead and created one of the great legal careers in the history of the United States. And I really felt like she was emblematic of an amazing attitude and an amazing generation, and it was very sad to see her pass.

Lisa Monaco:

Yeah, well the memorial service and the recognition and the retrospectives of her life got me thinking about her impact on me, and I can really think back to a critical time in my career, at the very, very beginning, quite frankly, of my career, where I had the unusual, I guess, experience of working on her confirmation hearing. I had this role in the Senate Judiciary Committee staff as a fresh-out-of-college, I think I was a year out of college, and I had a job working for the Senate Judiciary Committee staff, the committee was then chaired by a guy by the name of Joe Biden. It was 1993. And the activities of the committee that summer was all about the confirmation of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And I found myself sharing an office with a lawyer who had been hired just for the summer by the committee, by the chairman, to help prepare for the confirmation hearing.

Lisa Monaco:

And this is a practice that Biden did when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, he basically would hire a law professor for every Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing of a Supreme Court Justice. He’d take a law professor who was particularity expert in that nominee’s area of the law, and have them come and work on the committee staff for the summer to help prepare for the hearings. And for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s hearing, it was a woman named Elena Kagan. And I found myself sharing an office in the Senate Judiciary Committee office space with Elena Kagan.

Lisa Monaco:

And I was, again, I hadn’t gotten to law school yet, I was fresh out of college, and I was just excited to be a fly on the wall of this history-making event. And I remember reading through information about her career, about justice, then judge, Ginsburg’s career being a path-breaker for women, the theories that she articulated in the lower courts to advance equal rights for women and for men. Some of the landmark cases, of course, that she argued that ended up securing more equal rights for women, she had the men be the plaintiffs. It was an ingenious approach as a young lawyer.

Lisa Monaco:

And I just remember being so inspired by this, and really just having a great experience working on this confirmation hearing, that it set me on a path for a career in law and government. Incidentally, I also had a number of great women mentors on that committee staff who became lifelong friends and mentors, young lawyers who were working on the committee staff. And it really was an incredibly formative experience for me and my career. So I understand all these retrospectives where you’re seeing a lot of, particularly women and women lawyers, talk about the impact that she had on their lives and I can relate to that, having that same experience, in some small way, in my own early career.

Ken Wainstein:

As you know, at this stage of our episodes we usually announce our unsung hero, and I think today we’re going to deviate from that practice and we’re going to announce our sung hero. And our sung hero is Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and she certainly deserves all the accolades and the eulogizing she’s receiving, and she’s had an incredible impact on our country, and for that she’s our sung hero for this episode. And may God rest her soul.

Lisa Monaco:

So that’s all the time we have this week. Look forward to talking to you next time.

Ken Wainstein:

And in the meantime, to the audience, please send us your questions that you might have, at [email protected] That’s [email protected], and we’ll do our very best to answer them in our next episode.

Lisa Monaco:

That’s it for this week’s episode of the United Security Podcast. Your hosts are Lisa Monaco and Ken Wainstein. The executive producer is Tamara Sepper. The senior producer is Adam Waller. The senior audio producer is David Tatesciore. And the CAFE team is David Kurlander, Matt Weiner, Matthew Billy, Sam Ozer-Staten, Noa Azulai, Jake Kaplan, Calvin Lord, Geoff Isenman, Chris Boylan, Sean Walsh, and Margot Malley. Our music is by Allison Laten-Brown. Thank you for being a part of the CAFE insider community.