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Bill Kristol and Ben Wittes: We Still Have to Do the Work

March 4, 2024
Notes
Transcript
The courts aren’t taking care of Trump and we can’t live in denial about the state of play. Meanwhile, words keep failing him at his weird rallies—and telling Romney voters you don’t need them doesn’t seem all that smart when Nikki gets 30% of the vote. Kristol rejoins Tim, and Wittes is back for a mini-Trump Trials.

show notes:
Send your questions here: [email protected]
Tim’s Not My Party: https://t.snapchat.com/SnxQ5aG0

This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:07

    Hello, and welcome to the Bulwark podcast. We got a double header for you today. Bill Crystal and I will peruse the wreckage of the weekend poll numbers and some weird Donald Trump events at Nikki Haley winning a DC primary. Then Ben Willis on the Trump trials. We’ve got a fourteenth amendment ruling and much more on that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:22

    One quick note first. Starting next week, I’m gonna try out a mailbag segment on the show to give you a little something something if the guest is getting you down. Hit to hit bill. So send in your questions on politics Yeah. But on anything you want my take on parenting, music, policy, gay stuff, travel, adoption, Louisiana, Nicole Yokic, If you need some life advice, I’ve got you.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:45

    You know, if there’s a man out there that’s got you down and you want my feedback on it, I’ve got you on that too. So send him questions on whatever your heart desires. The new mailbox, Bulwark podcast at the bulwark dot com, bulwark podcast at the bulwark dot com. I’ll answer the questions at peak. Our team’s interest on the show.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:03

    Alright, Bill Crystal. Do you have any questions for me? You need any advice?
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:07

    My advice to our viewers and listeners is sent him questions about Yokit. She’s excellent on that topic. Some of those others I don’t know. I’d be a little a little bit not so much, maybe. Just my my two cents worth, you know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:19

    Okay. Yeah. Well, we’ll see what the people want. Everybody can think about it. And, you know, maybe it won’t work out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:24

    Maybe this will be one of those one and done segments. We’ll see people think. Alright. Nikki Haley has won the Washington DC primary. About two thousand people turned out for this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:33

    And my response is shouldn’t these be the people that decide the nominees, bring back smoke filled rooms? Two thousand people in Washington former administration officials, lobbyists, pundits? Shouldn’t we be in charge and not we anymore, but the Royal we bill? What do you think about that? I know we’re in the pro democracy movement, but just for the primary process.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:53

    Maybe a little less direct democracy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:54

    And also, the the primary result of the Madison Hotel, one block from the Bulwark offices and our people. I think those who live in DC, They trudged that block. You know, it was tough. It was uphill. Maybe it was raining, but they went out to vote.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:07

    So give them credit, you know, that she won two to one in DC. Truck cuts. The third of the votes, that’s a little disturbing about the DC revolt weapons.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:14

    I guess. Those are a lot of these. Many of them, I assume, worked for them, or aspired to
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:19

    They either work for him or, you know, have very lucrative lobbying businesses based on their close connections with Trump world. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:26

    Yeah. They’re a little worried that somebody might have looked over their shoulder. You know, and seeing their true vote. Okay. Well, anyway, I don’t maybe for another podcast, but I’m half joking, half serious about how, I don’t know, maybe we overdid it a little bit on our democracy when it comes to nominating contests, but, you know, we’ll get some feedback on that another day.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:43

    We are where we are. Trump, on the other hand, he was pretty weird this weekend. Frankly, he had a speech in North Carolina, another one in Richmond. The creepy music is back. And there was one one quote that stood out to me, that I wanna listen to about what he thinks about the people that voted for Nikki Haley in Washington, DC.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:02

    Let’s take a listen.
  • Speaker 3
    0:03:04

    And they say always trying to demean. Well, Maga really, represents forty eight percent of the republican. But now, It represents ninety six percent and maybe a hundred percent. We’re getting rid of the romneys of the world. We wanna get romneys and those out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:21

    We wanna get Romney’s in those out. Well, on on the one cents bill, it’s a pretty accurate pundit analysis of the party, but potentially harm you know, I mean, is that a useful message? I think that really did hurt Carrie Lake when she said get the hell out to the McCain voters. It’s kind of a PG version of that. What do you think?
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:39

    Yeah. Isn’t Nick Haley getting all in, loop beside GC, which I will acknowledge as a bit of an outlier? What about a third of the vote? I think so far in the Republican primaries, we just add them all up.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:48

    Yeah. Sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:50

    And I think she may get a quarter or so. Maybe more than that, tomorrow and super Tuesday. I’m hopeful here in Virginia. I’ll be out voting early, early and often here, and taking a Republican ballot for Nikki Haley. I believe you’ve commented that you took one in Louisiana
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:04

    I reregistered. We’re not super Tuesday. It’s not till later, but I need to re register. You
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:09

    had to actually re register.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:10

    I was worried that, like, I was gonna get struck down from the heavens when I clicked the Republican button. It gave me a shiver down my spine. I felt a cold chill. What else are you gonna do? You know, here’s the thing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:21

    I’m not becoming a Republican or anything. And, obviously, like, Nikki’s not gonna win, but but why not do anything that you can to, on the margins, weaken Trump, is the one motivation. And the other is there’s no veteran Dorfin rush than getting to walk into the booth and vote against Donald Trump. And so I’m excited to get to do that one bonus time.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:39

    I’m I’m glad you’ve preceded me and sort of, I we don’t have to be registered here, but I’ll be asking for a Republican ballot to our morning, for the first time, I guess, what, in seven years. So as you get a drink first, maybe, you think I can do it though. I don’t know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:53

    I would get a drink for I would, you know, maybe wear a little light wrap, you know, just to kind of protect your skin from any potential, you know, sort of I
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:02

    will do that. I will do that. To our morning. And, yeah. Anyway, look, I mean, let’s just gonna say Nikki Haley gets thirty percent of the vote in these Republican primaries.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:10

    Let’s even say that half of those voters are really democrat Biden voters ultimately. And so Trump’s not alienating them half maybe a little high, but some number like that. Still less fifteen percent of the vote is going against Donald Trump. He really is telling them all, forget it. I don’t want you in the party.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:27

    That’ll expedite. Or any other Democrat. Right? So, I mean, I do think he’s being a little cavalier, and I hope the democratic candidate uses this against Trump. I mean, you need to explicitly tell people Trump does not want your vote.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:39

    You know, you voted for Nikki Haley. Trump doesn’t want your vote. That’s a pretty good short ad, I think.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:45

    It does. And anecdotally, I mentioned having spent a lot of time in Arizona in the midterm, the Bulwark and the circus and covering that race Again, I don’t know how much you can measure this, but it came up when I was talking to people that Carrie Lake said that that she didn’t want John McCain voters votes. And so Yeah. I I do think that certain people for whom, you know, their identity is tied to being that part of the Republican Party and who have maybe reluctantly some level going along with Trump or, you know, maybe they didn’t vote or maybe they voted for him and held their nose. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:17

    I think that clips like that you know, it’s not a silver bullet, but I can add to kind of the the case to nudge some of those people that one step further.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:25

    It’s one thing to attack another candidate. Trump’s really going this step further, which they always tell you not to do in politics, which is to attack the candidate’s supporters. That clip of Trump not just saying I don’t like Mitt Romney. You know, he’s, like, I don’t want any of these people who are supporting Romney or Haley. And as you say, with that’s exactly what Carrie Lake said in Arizona, I think.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:44

    It wasn’t just she’s had cocaine. She doesn’t want those cocaine backers.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:48

    Yeah. Get out of the room.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:49

    Maybe that will do some damage. Let’s hope so.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:51

    Question is whether Nikki is taking him up on this I know this is Alicia at the football situation, and I’m just I’m not letting myself hope. But, it is noteworthy. We should at least listen. Here was Nikki. On the Sunday shows this weekend talking about whether she has to abide by her pledge to support Donald Trump.
  • Speaker 4
    0:07:09

    You did sign a pledge, an RNC pledge to support the eventual nominee. Do you still feel bound that pledge. I have always said that I have serious concerns about Donald Trump. I have even more concerns about Joe Biden. So is that a no?
  • Speaker 4
    0:07:24

    Are you bound by the RNC approach? The RNC pledge I mean, at the time of the debate, we had to take it to where would you support the nominee and you had to in order to get on that debate stage, you said yes. The RN see is now not the same r and c. Now it’s So you’re no longer bound by that pledge. No.
  • Speaker 4
    0:07:40

    I think I’ll make what decision I wanna make, but that’s not something I’m thinking about.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:45

    Do we have a technicality here by kicking Rhonda Mcromney out? Did they give Nikki an out? How do you read that? How what’s your daily criminology there on that answer?
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:54

    I’m it would just be easier to say that, you know what, as Haley said, elsewhere in the show, she’s not sure Donald Trump believes the constitution.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:01

    And that’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:01

    a good enough reason not to vote for him in the fall. And she’s been getting there gradually. She’s been doing it in her own way, right, over the last three, four weeks. And I do think this reasonable chance, she will not Doorstrom.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:12

    The non binding, a non legal contract that I signed is now voided.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:18

    There
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:18

    was no notary public when I signed the document So I get to move forward. I’m hoping. I’m not hoping. I’m interested. Unfortunately, it’s meaningful.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:27

    Nikki’s sitting it out. I think makes a difference in the margins and not my party I did last week was all about this. Where, frankly, I think the most important four months for her legacy and her influence are the next four months, not the last four months, and kind of how she decides to to handle that. So fingers crossed. Let’s say.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:45

    Alright, Bill. Are you ready? People, if you don’t wanna hear about the New York Times pulls, if you are enjoying your weekend, you know, and you just don’t wanna hear about it, you can just click that forward button five minutes, and, you know, we’ll be on to something else. But for the rest of you, Donald Trump, forty eight, Joe Biden forty three, New York Times, Sienna, Biden had a thirty two percent favorable, fifty nine percent unfavorable as you point out in your morning newsletter. Another interesting number on the approval, thirty eight percent approval, forty seven percent strongly disapproved.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:18

    Seventy three percent think he’s too old to do the gig. Bill, your response is that we should not be living in denial about these numbers. Talk about that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:29

    Yeah. There were three other polls this weekend that were also had buttoned down. He could win. Obviously, trump is so flawed, and button could have something of a comeback, but I don’t know. These are very bad numbers for an incumbent.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:40

    You can’t fix the age issue, really. You might reassure people that it’s these are better shaped than some people out there think. The judgment on his incumbency you know, once that settles in, I’ve seen this over the years, it can be totally unfair. It was unfair in the Georgia H. W.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:52

    Bush administration in which I serve. But once it settles in, it gets beyond any one issue immigration. Inflation. It just becomes he’s not up to the job. You combine that with the age issue.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:02

    I think he should step aside, and and I think a non eighty year old non incumbent Democrat, any of a host of governors actually could defeat Donald Trump and maybe do so pretty easily. I know it’s late, and it’s hard, and how do you arrange the succession and all this, but that’s
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:17

    And, Kamala Harris. You’re familiar that there’s a vice president
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:20

    not sure at this point that she wouldn’t be stronger, but I think you need someone who’s not part of this administration. There’s such an anti encompassing mood out there. Again, some of that unfairly that I think recognizing that reality would suggest finding some governor. Some of these governors are pretty good approval ratings in Saudi, and they won big in twenty twenty two. So I’m for them, but as you say, it’s funny that we began talking about the DC, Republican primary and smoke filled rooms, Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:44

    We could use a nineteen, you know, thirty two types smoke filled convention. We’re on the third or fourth ballot. The someone emerges. The West war, Josh Shapiro, you know, Liz Cheney, a surprise VP ticket emerges, and they and they win easily over over Trump and save the republic. But, that’s a little hard to imagine these days, but you need to have a little imagination, you know, in politics.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:06

    And, denial is a useful psychological mechanism. Obviously, none of us could make it through probably the trials and tribulations of life without a certain amount of denial and wishful thinking Biden really is into denial. That interview, have you seen that new New Yorker piece? It’s out just early this morning by Evan SOSmas?
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:23

    Yes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:24

    I don’t know. I think he and his team are in denial, and I think maybe I can shock him out of denial, but probably not. So we’re all gonna be supporting Biden. Don’t get me wrong. I’m I’m there, you know, and if it’s what it’s fighting to be, Trump, unproviding, but I think one shot
  • Speaker 3
    0:11:37

    at it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:37

    On the t shirt.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:38

    One shot at improving the odds of defeating Trump is worth taking here, I think.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:44

    I should have just brought JBL on the podcast. He is in the Atlantic today. Biden is still the Democrat the best bet for November. No amount of wish thinking is going to magically produce a winning candidate. B, you know, going around and around on this is probably not that helpful at this point.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:58

    But here’s the way in which I agree point. And Dan Ffeiffer made a similar point to yours, you know, maybe not about necessarily replacing Biden, but just about how to look at these numbers. And here’s Piper. He says, instead of dismissing the polls, we should embrace the idea that Donald Trump can win this election. And then use that frightening notion to reenergize the anti Magga majority that delivered victories in eighteen nineteen twenty two and twenty three, telling people what they want to hear maybe satisfying in the short term, but it rarely works out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:29

    And I think that his point is well taken, right, that I blanche at the reflexive oh, the polls have been wrong. The polls are terrible. This is biased. Hey. I lived through this when I was on the other side in twelve.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:43

    Everybody’s unskewing the polls in favor of Mitt Romney and people are looking through the crosstabs and convinced that Mitt Romney is actually gonna win. And I was the one person at the RNC. Literally, I remember being in the RNC in a conference room, looking at the people in charge of the data and the politics and saying, prove this to me. Walk me through this because I think you’re wrong. Like, I think the numbers are pretty clear that we’re on a track to lose, and they got mad at me, and I was no longer invited to those meetings.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:08

    So you don’t want that to happen in the biden. Campaign. In fairness, as the deputy communications director, was I needed in those meetings, probably not. But still, I certainly wasn’t needed if I was gonna be the turd in the punch bowl. So It’s not helpful to not pay attention to it, assuming it is Biden, then there are things you can take away from this about, like, what needs to be done and pretending, like, the numbers aren’t what the numbers are.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:29

    And pretending like the polls have been that far off. Like, I I go back to twenty two, for example, and there’s this kind of belief that the polls were really off. When really the punditry was off. Right. Self included, by the way.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:40

    Like, if you looked at the numbers, they ended up being pretty close. To reality. And they’re a little bit off. Right? It’s any time.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:45

    Like, polls aren’t perfect. Right? And so just like in twenty twenty, they’re off a point or two, but it’s not like there was an eight point miss.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:50

    There was almost no miss in twenty twenty two. I was actually on the rare case of being correct sort of said there wasn’t gonna be a red wave. The reason I said that is I had actually looking at the polls and there were r plus one, Republican plus one, Republican plus two. And that is not a wave. A wave is plus eight or something like that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:06

    And in fact, the final result National if you had to pull the House racist was about r plus two and a half. So they weren’t off. Yeah. Democrats won a couple of very close races that helped too in the in the Senate and stuff. And the Republicans had some awful candidates, which made a difference at the governor’s level.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:20

    So with Carrie Lake, your friend there in Arizona, and, and, obviously, Pennsylvania and and Michigan. So interestingly, I looked at twenty sixteen and twenty twenty. The two races Trump has been involved in, which probably a pretty good, like, you know, guidance for this one. And the polls even in March were not off the final result by much. Hillary Clinton did, I think, a point worse than the March average pull, the March fourth or whatever today as the average polls had.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:44

    And I think Biden did a point worse actually in twenty twenty. But the polls said Hillary’s gonna win an arrow popular vote. Victory Biden’s gonna win a more comfortable one. In March, and they were right. And the final point I make just one reason they may not be off much, unfortunately, is these are two incumbents.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:59

    This is not the situation where you have a challenger and voters learn more about that person, and it gets disqualified, where they learn more about that person, and he’s okay. That was the rake in nineteen eighty situation. Everyone has seen Trump as president for four years. They’ve seen Biden as president for three years. They’re settling into this, you know, Biden, Trump plus three, plus four type judgment.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:21

    That could be changed. It could get eroded. It could flip the other way and be in Arrow Biden lead, but but it’s worrisome. And it’s not only one other polling number. I didn’t mention this in my in my little piece.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:30

    That’s very striking is people’s retrospective judgment of the Trump presidency is that it was good for them. They benefited personally from it. I know you can’t believe it. Right? But maybe that could be changed with a lot of advertising and education.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:42

    But their current judgment of the Biden presidency is negative. So it’s not even that they’re sort of having, like, an image of, you know, some challenger who turns out not to be quite so good. They think they’re making their decision based on their own perception. That’s a harder thing to change. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:57

    Yeah. Then I really don’t know much about this guy, but I’ve seen him on TV twice. They know Biden and Trump.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:02

    Yeah. I think that there is one potential way to change it a tone to get to in one second. I will make one caveat to my anti unskewing of poles. You know, people and Maga people are deep in the crosstabs at the time. Some of these polls talking about how much better Trump is doing with voters of color, particularly working class lack and Hispanic voters, It was Rhonda Sanchez, Paulster Chris Wilson, is is pretty good, frankly, which I think is something that we have seen on trends.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:29

    Republicans arguing with Latinos, There’s a major caveat that only three percent of the times Will Saletan interviews were in Spanish, but Spanish dominant Latinos are usually about twenty percent of Hispanic voters twenty twenty two, they went for Democrats by forty over republicans. And so you have seen this. And I think that in Nevada, some of these other states that have a lot of Latinos and Spanish speaking ones have under counted them. And that that has been, like, kind of, the one consistent miss of the pulls over the past few cycles, anyway, worth noting that wanna talk about potentially optimistically the way some people might change their view on Trump. And this is this kind of conversation about how Trump is not.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:06

    Like, been in their face. You know, a lot of people that are casually watching this, I could have picked a million clips from these two weird rallies that I suffered to this weekend. Here’s just one. Let’s listen to Donald Trump talking something about Russia with a score behind him.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:23

    Recently heard that Saudi Arabia and Russia will re we’ll be reducing their oil production so sad. Well, at the same time, substantially increasing the price.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:40

    Was that music from the rally, or did you just put that in here?
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:42

    The music is from the rally.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:44

    That is the same.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:45

    About forty minutes into his rally. He, like, some fascistic kind of background music comes in now. There’s a QAnon connection. I can’t quite figure it out, but, like, people in the crowd start putting one finger up It’s very cultish, very weird, and he couldn’t say warmonger. Again, we could have done a million clips.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:04

    This is the weird thing where he gets lost, talking about drilling in Russia. I do think this is our optimistic case, right, that, like, people have, like, tuned him out. And now it’s, like, wait a minute. This guy I’ve kind of forgot how weird he was. Like, not obviously not listeners of this podcast, but people who have normal lives who listen to podcasts about, you know, the real housewives or the NFL or something, maybe getting re reminded of him
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:27

    I totally agree with that. And I hope that people get re reminded of how both extreme and crazy and also just weird he is, and also he’s not exactly a spring chicken himself. And all of that makes Trump very vulnerable. I I think trump should lose in twenty twenty four, all things. And his numbers are bad.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:45

    I mean, if you again, if you and I showed up somewhere and they give you a thing, and here’s the challenger with the forty three fifty four, I think,
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:51

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:51

    That’s not great. I mean, you know, it’s your challenger. Usually, you’re a but Biden was fine and what he was challenging.
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:58

    Up in the air.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:59

    His challenges usually are sort of favorable. If people are unhappy with the way things are, for Trump to be underwater doesn’t help him, but, fortunately, Biden right now is further underwater. So I I agree. Trump’s weakness remains real. And that’s why the Democrat will have a chance against Trump, including Biden.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:14

    Biden will have a reasonable chance against Trump. I just think it’s slightly under fifty fifty now. And it could be much better than fifty fifty if Biden chose to step aside.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:23

    Alright. Two more things really quick. What do you say to the medium criticism part of this? And I I don’t love being a media critic. There’s so much media out there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:31

    I think everybody’s like, nobody’s talking about this. And it’s like, well, no. You’re just not watching the right thing. But I think there is something too. The fact that, like, the mainstream media is feeling very obligated to go overboard in focusing on Biden’s weaknesses and a sense of being fair and that the Trump doing weird music at his rallies and and fumbling words and saying and things and being racist.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:55

    And, like, you know, he compared this guy to Martin. They’re king two x. All of that is old news. And so they don’t have to talk about that. What do you think that’s a fair critique and that that’s that that is in some way creating a death spiral here a little bit for Biden?
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:09

    I think it’s somewhat fair critique, and it’s creating some problems for Biden. It’s worth calling the media on that. I think the media will adjust. I mean, once we have the real clarity, what’s the Haley thing in a way goes away, which is I’m I’m happy she’s staying in there and causing a distraction. But once it really, really becomes Trump v Biden, everyone will be reminded of trump for six, seven months, and that’s that’s obviously Biden’s best shot.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:32

    Alright, Ukraine. They’re still dithering. Nothing’s happening. The war’s getting worse, day in, day out. These guys are doing what?
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:40

    I don’t know. Washing their hair. In the House of Representatives, there seems to be absolutely no urgency. What’s your sense of that at this point?
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:48

    No. Just you say no sense of urgency. And even the good Republicans who are working quietly at discharge petition, and Hakim Jefferies is working on it, and then they’re also pressuring Johnson. So the speaker, but, I mean, this is important. Some I read the last night might get this late in the month or at the beginning of April because there’ll be another vehicle for it to move on.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:07

    I just feel like it’s the most important foreign policy moment since the end of the Cold War, and we’re not approaching it with a sense of urgency. We should be.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:17

    I don’t have the chance to talk about this, the state of the union. I do think that being able to reframe this in the immigration thing is an important opportunity for him later this week during the state of the union because, like, I think that there are legitimate critiques you can level advantage on the border. Less legitimate ones, you can level him on Ukraine. But he did what you’re supposed to do. There’s a deal.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:35

    There’s been a Bulwark. Worked with Republicans, worked with conservative Republicans, gave up stuff that Democrats don’t like on the border. All the liberals in California running for that Senate seat said they would be again the immigration bill because it was too harsh. Biden made the compromise, did what was needed. And now these guys are doing nothing because of Donald Trump, and I and I think that that’s a worthwhile contrast.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:55

    Look, I think Biden has a the state of the union is people saying it’s important always in Washington and never really is rarely is important. I think it is this, this week because he has a chance to obviously reassure some people and make the case strongly, I mean, and substantively. And then let’s see if the White House in campaign are also ready to really follow-up in a serious way with paid advertising on something like the border and other issues. And then let’s see if the special counsel, her the guy who wrote that Biden was twelve to, you know, have charged with other documents, what his testimony is like next week, actually a pretty important week when you think about it, but if you go through the state of the union through the herd testimony next week, we’ll have a better sense in two weeks whether these polls are maybe the low watermark and maybe I don’t have some recovery or whether they really are, you know, give us a sense of what’s to come.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:44

    Alright. We’ll be back talking about this next week. We will not be in denial. We will not be in denial. We’ll be clear eyed about the challenges and the threats And what we need to do to beat them up next, we’ve got Ben Will Saletan a little bit on the trunk trials.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:58

    See you on the other side. Thanks, Bill.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:59

    Thanks, Tim.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:01

    Hey, all here’s a simple but meaningful gift idea for your mom or dad or grandparent who lives across the country, a digital picture frame from aura. It’s perfect for sharing pics of all the things that can’t be there for, from family vacations, to graduations, to just silly little pictures from behind the scenes. We’re using this. The aura frames. It was awesome.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:20

    You can upload new pictures to it all the time. Now I’ve got a couple new frames going out to my in laws. And so I highly recommend this a very easy gift. And, you know, you can just show them a little bit of joy, update the pictures, They can sit it by their bedside. They can sit it in the living room, show off their cute grandkids to the friends.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:40

    It’s a wonderful present. It comes with unlimited storage. And simple controls on the frames. You can upload as many photos as you want as often as you want. And, mom or grandma can pick the perfect one.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:52

    See why it was named the number one digital frame by wire cutter, the strategist, and wired. Right now, you can save on the perfect present, one that keeps on giving. By visiting aura frames dot com for a limited time. Listeners can get twenty dollars off their best selling frame with code Bulwark. That’s a u r a frames dot com promo code, Bulwark terms and conditions apply.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:17

    Alright. We are back with the May on the myth, the legend Ben Willis, editor in chief of law fair senior fellow in governance studies at the brookings institution. He also writes dog shirt daily on Subsuck. Is that a daily? Well, you know, that’s daily ish.
  • Speaker 5
    0:24:30

    The dog shirts are daily. I reserve the right to publish it at any moment. So But, on any given day, it may or may not appear.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:41

    Got it. Though you’re not on a dog shirt today, I might notice for our YouTube fans. Okay. We have breaking news from the Supreme Court. They have rejected Colorado’s attempts to strip Donald Trump from the ballot in a unanimous decision.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:57

    What’s your initial reaction to this?
  • Speaker 5
    0:24:59

    So this opinion will not remotely surprise anybody who listened to the oral argument at which the justice is pretty uniformly expressed skepticism that a state can implement, section three of the fourteenth amendment by enforcing against a federal presidential candidate through the ballot access process. They did seem to be a little bit divided about the specific mechanism of that idea, and that division is reflected in a five to four division on the court between people who frame the the matter broadly Ron DeSantis Amy Coney Barrett and the three liberals who would frame it more narrowly. But by and large, this is exactly the opinion that I think everybody who listened to the oral argument expected from the court.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:59

    Yeah. The it seems like the narrow, side of this time, if I’m wrong, but so do my or particular and the other three, all the women justices, I guess. I would notice. Seemed to, just as a hypothetical matter, did not want to take away the possibility that somebody from January sixth say someone that actually stored in the capital was convicted, that runs for office in the future. They did not want this ruling to preclude that the fourteenth amendment could apply to them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:27

    Is that is that essentially the the breakdown
  • Speaker 5
    0:26:30

    Yeah. And also, I I think more broadly did not want a holding that is broader than necessary to resolve this particular case and this particular case required in their judgment only that the court say a state can’t exclude a federal presidential candidate on the basis of Section three without Congress getting involved somehow And the majority went further and said there’s a specific mechanism by which Congress needs to get involved and they didn’t buy that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:07

    Got
  • Speaker 5
    0:27:07

    it. It’s not an unimportant question, but it’s pretty hypothetical question. And the broader point as Justice Barrett points out in her little concurrence is that nine of them agree on the position of this case, which is to say Trump wins.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:24

    That was good. Do we
  • Speaker 3
    0:27:24

    have to say it like that? Trump wins? Could we could
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:24

    we say Jana Griswold loses? How about that? That just that just stings a little less.
  • Speaker 5
    0:27:34

    Okay. So let let’s let’s put it this way. All nine agree on the following proposition. Which is we need to do the work and defeat Donald Trump at the ballot box.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:44

    We do, or the senate needed to have done the work and they let us to fuck down.
  • Speaker 5
    0:27:48

    Right.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:48

    So, you know, but unfortunately, that’s in the past. So we need to do the work now. I’ve been agitating for that as you know. Okay. Let’s talk about, on that question about us need to do the work.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:59

    Skotis has agreed to take a presidential immunity case. We’ve hash that out a lot on the various Bulwark platforms. George Conway seems to be the most optimistic about the prospects that this case might still come up in the fall and that Trump might find himself facing trial in the fall. Where are you on that timeline question? Just kind of the broader timeline about how these cases are gonna shake out over the next few months.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:24

    I know that’s something you wrote about for for dog shirt kinda daily.
  • Speaker 5
    0:28:28

    So let’s start with what we know for sure. Okay. Which is that with a very high degree of probability, we can assume that on the twenty fifth of this month, jury selection will begin in the Alvin Bragg, Stormy Daniels case in New York. So the first of the Trump criminal trials is actually happening and it’s happening soon. Everybody ignores it because this case, can’t get no respect, and there are some reasons good and bad for that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:59

    I’ve changed my view on that just as a standard. I’m giving this case respect. I’ve had a total flip on this, and I’m like, okay, fine. Let’s do it. Let’s roll.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:06

    Alright? I’m ready to roll with Alvin Bragg. You know, the law is the law. Alright? I thought we were the law and order party.
  • Speaker 5
    0:29:12

    We are rolling that case as happening it’s a longer conversation, what the merits and demerits of it are. I think there’s more to be said for it than the commentary it has acknowledged, but Look, it’s happening. That’s the non relative non variable.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:29

    Well, for people that were interested in your merits and demerits, we’ll have a bonus special Ben Willis episode in April where we just do one hour on Stormy Daniels.
  • Speaker 5
    0:29:37

    I’m gonna be there Okay. With a trial. And I I’m taking it seriously enough to go to it So, happy to do that. So now we get into the variables. There are three trials, and we don’t know when any of them is gonna happen.
  • Speaker 5
    0:29:52

    Here is what we know. The Supreme Court is going to hear this immunity case when it rules and it will rule rejecting the claim of immunity in one form or another. Judge Chuckan, who’s presiding over the case, has said she will add what amounts to eighty eight days to the time she gets the mandate back before trial. Don’t ask why eighty eight days. Just trust me on that.
  • Speaker 5
    0:30:20

    So if they rule at the end of June and they don’t require more litigation which is another possibility. You could have at a minimum, July, August, September, sometime in the September, for time frame, maybe as early as August, depending if they rule a bit early, you could have a trial. I think that’s a little bit optimistic. But George is not wrong that it’s certainly possible. If their ruling requires more litigation, you’d push it off into the future.
  • Speaker 5
    0:30:52

    So that’s variable case number one. Variable case number two is Judge Eileen Cannon’s case in South Florida. This is for me the most frustrating because this is the Barnburner case that the Justice Department just has him dead to rights on And they’ve got a judge who seems committed to making it hard to bring it to trial, but it’s a real doozy of a case. And the justice department has now asked for a trial date in July. Trump has asked for, you know, that New Yorker cartoon.
  • Speaker 5
    0:31:29

    Thursday doesn’t Bulwark. How about never does never work from you? That’s his brief. In the but he but he has this added, like, part. Okay.
  • Speaker 5
    0:31:39

    If you can’t do never, how about August? So I think we are likely to get a trial date in that case sometime in the summer, but it’s not clear to me whether that trial date will be stable or whether judge Cannon will push it back further.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:56

    Yeah. It seems like it should be very amenable to any appeals. You know, they they look at precedent from eighteen thirty two, you know, some absurd filing. And then she’s like, oh, we’re gonna have to review this for a few months. And you
  • Speaker 5
    0:32:09

    just alluded to what I think is her remarkable strategy, which is just if you don’t rule on any motions, it becomes very hard to schedule a case. You have all this work that piles up.
  • Speaker 3
    0:32:20

    Right.
  • Speaker 5
    0:32:20

    And then you can write opinions about how complicated the case is. And, you know, the answer is, well, fucking rule on some motions, lady.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:28

    Right.
  • Speaker 5
    0:32:29

    That’s not the way you’re supposed to talk to federal judges.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:32

    I kind of think why not at this point. Can’t we talk to Arlene Cannon like that? I know. I’m okay with it.
  • Speaker 5
    0:32:37

    I just did. So the last one is the Fulton County case, and this one which, you know, has been sidetracked on this crazy, disqualification question, which required several weeks of litigation, that’s now done. Judge McAfee, who is the opposite of Aileen Cannon. He’s been working extremely hard and has a really, really tough job. He is gonna issue a ruling in the next couple weeks that will either disqualify Fani Willis, the DA, and thereby throw the case into permanent turmoil, maybe killing it altogether, or he will reject this motion.
  • Speaker 5
    0:33:18

    I think the latter and set the case back on track. At that point, you might see a trial date scheduled.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:25

    So Why do you suspect that he will he’ll reject it, similarly to the last time you’re on this podcast? This is the one I’m not reading. I’m just choosing not to click on these articles because it brings me rage. So I’m not up to speed on the latest.
  • Speaker 5
    0:33:39

    Yeah. So I just wanna say you’re you’re making the wrong choice there, Tim.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:43

    Okay.
  • Speaker 5
    0:33:43

    This is the best reality show I have ever seen. It’s better than the o j simpson case.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:50

    But I can’t enjoy it. It’s not a thing of beauty. It’s like just fuck anybody. You could fuck anybody. It’s fine with me, but, like, you have to do each other.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:57

    Now we have to do this. And now this asshole, like, Roman gets to, like, have smug look on his face about it. He’s dragging you through the dirt, and it’s helping Donald Trump. It just makes me so mad. I can’t.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:06

    I can’t. So anyway, what’s what’s been happening?
  • Speaker 5
    0:34:08

    Well, what’s been happening is so there was a multi day evidentiary hearing that in which they gathered a lot of evidence. It was unflattering. And then they had arguments about it on Friday. It was a three hour oral argument. And my read of Judge McAfee He’s very hard to read because he’s a real pro.
  • Speaker 5
    0:34:28

    But my best read of him is that he understands the gravity of qualification here
  • Speaker 3
    0:34:35

    and that he’s likely to refer her to the bar for having
  • Speaker 5
    0:34:36

    maybe lied in his court. But he is unlikely to disqualify her. I wanna say I could be very wrong about that. And I would not be altogether surprised to be wrong, but that’s my read of his body language and the questions he was asking.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:58

    Okay. Back to the Jack Smith cases. From a scale of one to ten on, like, a rage meter, What do you think Jack Smith’s like level of rage is at this point and frustration at the calendar timing? And do you think that you know, they are maintaining optimism, or do you think just kind of handicap that for us? Because to me, it’s just like if I was Jack Smith, I’d be ready to just kind of take somebody downtown with some MMA moves at this point.
  • Speaker 5
    0:35:24

    I think it’s gotta be very frustrating to them. The Supreme Court intervention here. You can look at it more or less cynically, but it is whether you’re cynical about it or deferential to their reasoning, it’s extremely inconvenient for a prosecution that
  • Speaker 3
    0:35:39

    clearly feels about this case, like,
  • Speaker 5
    0:35:48

    getting him convicted before the election is an important preventive deterrent step to other election shenanigans and to other coups, and they look at this case clearly as, like, okay, you’re prosecuting a murderer to punish the past murderer, but also to prevent other murderers. Right? You know, you lock the guy up, you disable him from other murders.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:17

    I get that. But the timing, though, I mean, it’s notable. Mean, they were able to turn around ruling in Colorado by today. What is happening that is taking so long?
  • Speaker 5
    0:36:26

    So that’s the reason for cynicism. This is a much simpler case than Colorado. You could have affirmed summarily. You could have set a really expedited briefing schedule. And instead, you set a briefing schedule that Trump can win by losing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:41

    Right.
  • Speaker 5
    0:36:42

    And that’s gotta be very frustrating for them. The Aileen cannon stuff is even more maddening because You know, people think the Supreme Court is powerful, which it is in some grand sense, but there is nobody in the world more powerful than the district judge who has your case. And that is a horrible position to be and to be for a judge who you can’t catch a fair break from. And she has all but openly said she’s in the tank for Trump. It’s just gotta be very, very, very frustrating for them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:19

    Alright, Benjamin. I see you. You’re dressed up. You’re not in your camera today. You’re in a suit.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:23

    You’ve got a Ukraine pin and a Ukraine flag behind you. Do you have any Ukraine activism updates for us before we let you go?
  • Speaker 5
    0:37:31

    Well, I had a little run-in with the Capitol Police the other day. I projected, on the Library of Congress. To welcome speaker Mike Johnson back, and to urge him to pass the, supplemental and it took five minutes for the Capitol Police to show up and inform me that projecting on Capitol Complex buildings was an arrest, no warning offense. So I shut it down and held out my hands to be arrested. And they said, no, we’re not gonna arrest you.
  • Speaker 5
    0:38:00

    And, so that’s fine. Were you trying
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:02

    to secretly hoping to get arrested to raise attention for your efforts to the speaker? Or I assume maybe your wife was maybe not that excited about the possible handcuffs.
  • Speaker 5
    0:38:12

    I’m never hoping to be arrested, and I’m really not interested in making trouble for the Capitol Police. So I shut off the projector, moment after being ordered to and took it down to the Smithsonian, where the National Park Service Police really don’t care if you project on the Aaron Space Museum. And so I’ve decided that for Capitol Hill purposes, the Aaron Space Museum and the Hirschhorn, which have these big windowless walls. They’re they’re really great are my new projection location. Because you get all the traffic or independence Avenue.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:47

    I’m excited for you, and I appreciate your activism for friends of Ukraine. And the one thing that this does call to mind, is the grand theory of the case about January six about the deep state about how it was an FBI op. I’m intrigued about a contrast between your story and the behaviors of the January six protesters. Right? Because you would think that if it was an FBI sign up, and they didn’t really wanna storm the capital that when Capitol Police informed them that they should not do so.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:15

    And when they reached the barricades, they would have done what you did and listened and had respect to the Capitol Police, but they did not do that. I so I do think that the behavior contrast is pretty noteworthy.
  • Speaker 5
    0:39:25

    Yeah. So I I mean, jokes aside in all seriousness, the Capitol Police are firm. They’ve got a serious set of problems to deal with. But they are not looking for trouble with anybody, and my interactions with them have been uniformly professional and excellent. They cited me chapter and verse on the reg that forbid the projection, and they couldn’t have been more gentleman and gentle womanly about it.
  • Speaker 5
    0:39:52

    And So I have kudos to the Capitol Police, and I will not be projecting on Capitol Hill just below it. They even told me where the line of their jurisdiction in it. They said if you stay on the other side of third street and don’t project on capital buildings, we got no problem with you.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:08

    Well, we’re gonna send this tape to our friends in the January sixth choir. Because in all seriousness, this is what you’re supposed to do. I was making a joke, but also being serious. And fortunately, frankly, some of the insurrectionists have experienced the accountability of their actions and not listening to our friends Capital Police. Ben Wittis, sounds like you’re gonna be back a bunch in April.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:29

    You’re gonna be four or five cast correspondent to New York City for the Alvin Bragg trial.
  • Speaker 5
    0:40:34

    I will be there for the trial or for at least for much of it, and I’m happy to join you guys anytime. Alright.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:39

    Appreciate it, Ben. Wanna talk to you soon, brother.
  • Speaker 5
    0:40:41

    Yep. Take care.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:42

    Alright. Thanks so much to Ben Willis, and Bill Crystal. We’ll be back tomorrow. See you all The board podcast is produced by Katie Cooper with audio engineering and editing by Jason Brown.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:06

    Let me sweat.
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