Welcome back to Parts of the world, I'm Tommy Vietor.
I'm Ben Rhodes. Then we got a lot to cover today.
A lot of good Biden news we just saw just came over the transom here at Media Global News HQ that Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin today, said we are going to dig into what they talked about, the future of that complicated US Russian relationship. And then our guest today is a guy named Alexei Kovalyov, who is the investigations editor at Medusa, which is an independent Russian news outlet. And I talked to him this morning about the protests over the weekend, what the goal is, why Putin responded to the allegations that he has built himself a one billion dollar palace and a lot more.
So we talked a lot about the Russian angle. But Ben and I are also going to talk about the fight over Biden's special envoy for Iran policy and why it's actually bigger than one staffer going to talk about some big policy moves that Biden has made on domestic extremism, international sanctions and on Liberia. We'll talk about why we are a little bummed about Biden's policy towards Venezuela and then explained why China is sanctioning former Trump administration officials, why Google might pull out of Australia, why the Italian prime minister resigned.
And we'll hear some very special words from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. So packed show today, two housekeeping things before we get to the news. First, if you want to go deep on what the Biden administration is doing on policy in these first 100 days, really the crucial first 100 days. Check out our podcast, Rubicon. It's from Crooked Media editor in chief Brian Beutler. It comes out on Fridays. It's fantastic. It does a real good deep dive.
You will not want to miss it. Also, don't miss a great new episode of With Friends Like These, hosted by Ana Marie Cox. This Friday, she talks with the always excellent Rebecca Traister. So subscribe to both Rubicon and with friends like these, wherever you get your podcasts. OK, Ben, let's turn to Russia, because in the last several weeks, really, we've talked about Alexei Navalny and last week we talked about his return to Russia and his subsequent arrest.
Navalny is a Russian opposition leader. He's an anti-corruption activist, and he recently survived an assassination attempt by the Russian intelligence services. So Navalny, right before he got thrown in jail, called on Russians to take to the streets in protest over the weekend. They did. We talk about those protests more later with our guests. But then we saw that Biden called Putin today. And I figured we could dig into this White House piece because it's complicated. So according to the White House readout of the call, Biden and Putin discussed the new START treaty, Ukraine's sovereignty.
The solar wind hack reports about Russian bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, interference in the twenty twenty US election and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. Sounds like a very fun call. It does underscore the complexity of the relationship. Biden wants to extend the new START treaty, which is a critical arms control agreement that reduces the number of deployed U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons. He needs Putin to work with him on that. But he also needs to warn Putin when it comes to the treatment of opposition leaders hacking Ukraine, this bounty story.
So, Ben, what do you make of that set of topics and what is your guess for overunder on the duration of that phone call with that many things to cover?
I'll start with the duration, I'm going to say in 90 minutes time. But but maybe you're shorter because it was the first one. Night is a good go 90 second call.
I, I'm going to there are a few things that jumped out to me about this. The first is this is the first time that Vladimir Putin is going to hear from an American president about Russian bounties on our troops, about Alexei Navalny period, about the solar wind tech. That alone is kind of amazing, kind of astonishing to think about that. Like this is the first time an American president has uttered those words to Vladimir Putin.
So it's clearly a change from what Putin had before and Trump in office.
I was trying to think about like how to convey to people what it's like to be on these calls, because it sounds like a pretty awkward list. But the reality is with Putin, because he's willing to lie, these calls become actually very unusual. So, for instance, I remember being on a bunch of 90 minute calls between Putin and Obama at the height of the war in Ukraine. And Obama would be laying out all our concerns about what Russia was doing in eastern Ukraine.
And then Putin would give a very long speech just denying that they were even there, you know, so it's not like two people yelling at each other about all topics. It's kind of about you registering your concerns and pushing through the fact that Putin responds. I bet he denied that Russia was responsible for that hack. I'm sure he denied that they put bounties on our troops. Right. I'm sure he said Alexei Navalny doesn't really have any support in Russia and it's all fomented from the outside.
So in a strange way, Biden has to kind of register these concerns for Putin, not expecting to, like, change his mind on that call, but but rather just to kind of signal them, hey, this is what I care about. And then I think people have to understand this isn't going to be a situation where the Biden people come in and have some, you know, magic elixir to deal with these things. Part of what they're going to have to do is spend the next few weeks getting coordinated with Europe so that we can say, OK, what can we all do together to express support for Alexei Navalny and for for for democratic rights inside of Russia?
What can we all do to strengthen our cyber defenses and potentially consider responses to Russian hacks and this type of thing?
So so Biden's not doesn't even currently have the playbook developed in terms of what exactly he's going to do on these issues? The job in this call is set down some markers. This is what I care about. This is the kind of thing where they're going to be consequences and then spend the next few weeks not just developing those internally, but with allies figuring out like what is a coordinated approach that can be taken to Russia. So, you know, this is the beginning of the story in this phone call, nowhere near even the end of the beginning.
Yeah, that's right.
It's also interesting that the the Russian bounty's issue came up because there is a swath of people mostly on the left online that is seeming to convince themselves that that Russian banner story was not accurate, that it was walked back by the Trump administration, even though Mike Pompeo said he raised it with his Russian counterpart. I believe so. It was interesting that Biden raised that at the highest level on the first. Phone call seems to suggest that that evidence actually was pretty solid or else why waste your time?
That's exactly right. So Biden has had access to the intelligence for a week now. And, you know, the people who came out and denied it from the Trump administration were kind of the foreign magga hacks, you know, dead enders types, not the career people. The career people always suggested that this intelligence was true. And the fact that he raised it shows you that Joe Biden has looked at the intelligence on both the hack and the bounty's and concluded that this is true and I have to raise it with Vladimir Putin.
So there is you're right. There's a message in that readout. Interesting.
Well, not the last time we'll we'll hear about this relationship. And hopefully there is some movement on the new START treaty because it would be bad to let that thing lapse after the Trump administration is ripped up as many arms control treaties as possible over the last couple of years. So let's turn to Iran then, because there's been this a proxy battle broken out over President Biden's Iran policy. And it seems to signal that all those critics that we're attacking President Obama and attacking you personally over the way the Iran nuclear agreement are eager to refight that battle.
So the dust up here starts with a report in The Jewish Insider that that said a guy named Rob Malley is being considered for the position of special envoy for Iran policy by Biden's team. Rob Malley is a seasoned expert on Middle East policy. He's been on the show actually back in twenty seventeen. He worked for President Obama and President Clinton on the national security staff, and he has a particular expertise working on Arab-Israeli peace and counter ISIS policy. And so once this news leaked, a lot of people came out and said, that's a great choice.
Right. He's an expert on the Middle East. He understands the strengths and weaknesses of the Iran deal. Malley is tight with Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, the incoming secretary of state and national security adviser. And then this anecdote made me laugh, I guess. In the mid 2000s, Malley played on an indoor soccer team with Congressman Tom Malinowski and Tony Blinken, and they won the league championship in 2005. So good for them.
But, you know, opponents of the deal saw this report and they immediately started going after Maliki because he is in favor of the U.S. engaging in talks with their adversaries, including Iran. And because Maliki criticized Trump and Mike Pompeo and their approach to Iran, Senator Tom Cotton, who is best known for wanting to deploy U.S. troops against peaceful protesters in the US and for sending letters to Iran trying to undercut Obama's foreign policy, said, quote, The ayatollahs wouldn't believe their luck if he is selected, he being Malley.
So, Ben, you know Robert Malley well. You have been vocal about why you think you would be good at this job. Why do you think Rob Malley is the right fit?
And what are the broader stakes of this fight over this position?
Yeah, so, you know, Rob was at the White House in the second term and he was the lead NSC staffer with responsibility for Iran when we completed the Iran deal and he attended the talks. Right. So Rob, was the White House diplomat in the negotiations with Iran.
And so first and foremost, this is a guy who literally was present at the creation of the Iran nuclear agreement and has relationships with all the key players, the Iranians, including the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, the Europeans who rob, as I know, been in touch with even the last several years. The Russians who were just talking about, like Rob knows the people, knows the issues, can clearly step in and be an effective envoy right away without having to burn time.
Just kind of getting to know folks. Right. So his qualifications are unquestionable for this job. Right. He's also just I think honestly, for progressives, you know, Rob Malley is someone who's willing to challenge convention. He's you know, he's he's truly committed diplomat who's been he's got himself into political hot water in the past because he's been willing to do things like meet with Hamas to go around Middle East peace type issues.
Not because he agrees with these people, though. This is a thing drives me crazy now because he somehow agrees with the Iranians or a certain Palestinian factions.
But because you make diplomacy with adversaries, you make diplomacy not just with your friends. Like Rob is the kind of guy who understands that diplomacy requires you to get in the room with whoever is necessary to to advance American interests, to advance the broader interests of peace. And and that that reason for his qualification is also the reason the critics don't like him there. You know, the reason the critics don't want Rob in this job is they don't like diplomacy to begin with.
They know that Rob is more likely to succeed in getting us back into an Iran nuclear deal. That's what these critics don't want. So it's a proxy for everything, in part because they want to send a warning shot about who gets to to sign off on Joe Biden's Iran policy. You would think that would be normal, that Joe Biden got elected on a platform of returning to the Iran nuclear deal and would pick an envoy who helped negotiate that nuclear deal.
That's the normal consequence that you would expect from elections, but I think this right wing noise machine in Congress with people like Tom Cotton, this external pressure that's inevitable to come from the Israeli government and the governments of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, you have a lot of influence in Washington is intended to send a message that if you don't do what we want on Iran policy, we're going to try to extract a political cost you. We're going to create political headaches for you.
We're going to we're going to keep criticism and demonize individuals in your administration. They're trying to send a message out of the gate that essentially you have to give us a veto on who you appoint. And we know that it may not be, you know, Tom Cotton's choice, who can be the Iran anyway, but Tom Cotton trying to send a message that it can't be your choices or it can be. Rob Malley, let's get some milquetoast person in there who who we know is like less likely to succeed.
That's because that's what Tom Cotton Altman interested is.
So it's like a it's a proxy for the whole whole the freedom of movement that Joe Biden has on his foreign policy.
And and that's why I think it's really important for progressives to raise their voices in support of Rob Malley, because it's both about a decent guy who's bigger the job. And it's also about whether or not Joe Biden is able to have political space to do what he wants to do on Iraq.
Yeah, very well said. And I also would highly, highly recommend people read a piece by Peter Beinart about Rob Malley and the stakes, this fight, because he talks about how Malley has this like family history and experience being the son of an Arab Jew born in Egypt with roots in Syria. Rob Malley covered the war in Algeria as a journalist. Right. So he saw the brutality of colonialism up close. And that's something we talk about enough, I think, in US foreign policy.
These other sin in the eyes of his critics was that he worked on the Camp David Accords in 2000 and he later dared to go against the orthodoxy that that deal fell apart only because of the Palestinians, that no one else was at fault. And you know, Peter, of this great paragraph at the end where he talked about this pick and he said it constitutes a test of whether someone who sees beyond the smug and blinkered narrative that dominates Beltway discourse and tries to elevate the voices of people who Washington policymakers often ignore, like Palestinians can win it.
Important job. And even a Democratic administration, ambitious young wants will take notes and adjust their behavior accordingly. I thought that was really, really well said.
That's so right.
And because if the message is the only way to get ahead, the only way to get jobs like this in foreign policy is to never be controversial, you know, to never explore ways of challenging convention or never get in rooms of people that might be held against you in the future. You are going to get a very watered down version of people in all these positions. Right. Which is what Tom Cotton wants.
You know, he once kind of like a Democratic Party that is afraid of its own shadow on national security and afraid to push the envelope. I think the other piece of this, it's worth highlighting, like Bret Stephens, who we haven't had to talk about in a while, since he got forgot about it, so enraged about some bedbug issue.
I don't remember what it was exactly, but he had a column this morning. That's another narrative you see against Rob, which is that Rob is somehow doesn't care about human rights in Iran because he talks to the ayatollahs and and a human rights policy. You know, anyone cares about dissidents in other countries should reject Rob Malley. And that is such utter, complete bullshit because, frankly, Rob has used diplomacy to try to free hostages in other countries. The last few years, Rob has been running the International Crisis Group, which is an amazing organisation.
People should check out their website if you want to know kind of the nuts and bolts of conflicts around the world. But they lobby for civilian protection and it robs had employees who had been detained in China. And Rob has been standing up to the Chinese government to try to free these people. So, again, this this coopting of the language of human rights by the the far right to to demonise people interested in diplomacy is something we've seen time and again.
And we shouldn't allow that to work either. Because robt engages in diplomacy with unsavory actors doesn't mean he doesn't care about human rights. It means that he believes that the way you advance human rights is by engaging in diplomacy. You know, and and by the way, most Iranian human rights activists would tell you the same thing.
That's why there was a lot of support in that community for the Iran nuclear agreement, because they they felt like connectivity to the outside world was ultimately going to improve the human rights circumstances in Iran rather than the status quo, which has been horrendous.
Well, we will keep an eye on this. We hope that they the Biden team stays tough and that they put forward for this position. So we're going to get us a bunch of really good stuff that Joe Biden has done on foreign policy in a bit. But there's one area that was a little disappointing that I wanted to talk about then. So this came up during Tony Blinken confirmation hearing for secretary of state. He said that the Biden administration would continue to recognize one, Guido, as the president of Venezuela.
So it's a little back story here for folks who forget. In January of twenty eighteen, Venezuela's National Assembly declared that one, Guido, was the acting president of Venezuela. At the same time, the Trump administration led this big diplomatic effort to try to get other countries to recognize one Guido as president and not Nicolas Maduro. Trump even invited Guido to be his guest at the State of the Union. So all those machinations came after this twenty eighteen presidential election in Venezuela where Maduro was re-elected.
But his opponents and a lot of international observers said it was flawed, it was a regular and it was illegitimate. So also at this hearing, Tony went on to say that President Biden wants to more effectively target sanctions on Venezuela. It's obviously a good thing and promote a policy that leads to free and fair elections. I think everyone would agree that's a good thing, too. For his part, Maduro says he's willing to, quote, walk a new path in our relations with Joe Biden's government based on mutual respect, dialogue, communication and understanding.
So, Ben, this effort to install one Guido as president of Venezuela predates Biden. Trump did everything he could short of invasion to oust Maduro. Right. They put on countless economic sanctions. They had an oil embargo on Venezuela during a fucking pandemic, just like an evil thing you could do. It failed miserably. The net effect of Maduro's bad leadership and his efforts to oust him has been to just decimate Venezuela's economy and really hurt the people. What do you think the right move is here?
Like, how do you a signal, a break from Trump's failed regime change strategy without inadvertently helping Maduro and impeding your ultimate goal of a free and fair election? I know this is like the hardest question ever, but I'm curious what your thoughts are.
Yeah. And look, I think I understand why, Tony, in that context, you know, he's not going to rescind this formal diplomatic recognition the United States has offered. I think what was what was somewhat disappointing. And it's the kind of thing that has to be watched in terms of where they go after Tony's confirmed, is whether or not there's an indication that that the current approach is not working. You know, like you can not rescind the the recognition of veto while still acknowledging, like, this policy is not been working.
And to pretend like, oh, just more sanctions and a slightly smarter implementation of this failed strategy is somehow going to lead anywhere but the status quo that I think would be the thing that would trouble me. I think what they what they need to do is, first of all, it's going to hit the pause button here and kind of go around and talk to all our partners in Latin America and talk to all the people in Europe who are invested in this issue as well, and hear them out on what's going on, what's the dynamic inside of Venezuela, what's the dynamic in the opposition?
What's the dynamic in the regime? What, by the way, is the degree of Chinese and Russian influence with Maduro to they just have to kind of understand what the playing field is.
And at the same time, I think be signaling more so probably than Tony in this hearing, like we're open to any diplomacy that can lead to a free and fair election. You know, like we're not abandoning the democratic principle here that the Venezuelans have to choose their leader.
But but that essentially we're open to negotiating with the government and the opposition with one, though. And Maduro is people different, possible transitional governments that could lead to an election, you know, just an ability to start over diplomatically rather than locking yourself into a policy. If we recognize. Right. And we sanction them, that policy is not going to work.
And I think the reason people would be somewhat concerned about this is, as with the wrong policy, there are political forces in the United States that want to make sure that on Cuba and Venezuela, Biden takes a harder line than where the Democratic Party would naturally go. Right. And if you look at it's not just from the Republican Party and obviously that did very well with Cuban-Americans in Florida. Bob Menendez, Senator Bob Menendez is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He is the most hard line Democrat on all these issues. You know, he's a very hard line anti Cuba anti Maduro guy. And the temptation for the administration may be we don't want to piss off this Democratic chairman who is, by the way, going to confirm all of our nominees. And we don't want a political headache from the hard line Cuban-American community. So we'll just kind of keep doing a softer version of what Trump is doing. And I just think that that that's just going to lead you to not only that, the wrong approach for the issues and the wrong approach for the people who live in Cuba and Venezuela.
I think that ultimately you're going to have to pivot anyway. So why not start at the beginning of your administration?
Yeah, to your point, to be fair to Tony, this is enormously complicated. Maduro has done an absolutely abysmal job leading the country. The election was seen by many people as illegitimate. Regardless, the results are people in horrific poverty, hospitals that don't have power, let alone like Gaus or critical medical supplies, people starving to death, obviously like some sort of change is needed.
I do think, you know, signaling some sort of break from what was an overt regime change strategy to the point where, John, both. That's right, 5000 troops to Colombia on a notepad and basically held it up for reporters like, you know, there's sort of a middle ground in there. That's a sweet spot that like, I'm not smart. That's figure out. But Tony is. But but that didn't work.
I mean, there has to be and this is a really key thing that links both Iran and Venezuela.
The Trump people will argue that somehow this was working that like, quote unquote, maximum pressure on Iran is working.
So we just have to continue because you have all this leverage that you're recognizing, Guido, is this bold stroke, you know, and Maduro is constantly, you know, they cast him is on the ropes. It's not working. And the Iranians are developing their nuclear program. Maduro is more entrenched today than the day that they recognize one Guiteau like it's not working. And so you're right.
Like Tony needs to have all the running room he he needs to to formulate new approaches.
But the one thing I think we should hold them to account on is to not let political gravity drag them into kind of embracing or at least enabling these narratives that somehow this pressure track approach on these issues was somehow yielding results.
Right. Right. And, you know, I think critics of this policy, critics of the Democratic Party, would point to the fact that one, Guido, got like a standing ovation from Democrats and Republicans at the State of the Union. So it seemed like it was a a bipartisan support for, you know, regime change, which is not a signal we should be sending probably to Latin America, given our history of doing terrible things in the region.
Yeah, and and the world looks at it cynically if they think and the Democrats are doing that now because they believe it, because they're afraid of some politics and yet afraid of Marco Rubio. Yeah. Yeah. That's not a reason to to do that. No, that's not a reason to toy with people's lives.
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Visit F.T. Dotcom new agenda and say 50 percent off an annual subscription. That's fee like Frank Thomas Dotcom new agenda and say 50 percent on an annual F.T. subscription. OK, so some good news from the Biden folks, first of all, over the last few months, you guys have heard that and I gnash our teeth about like eleventh hour attempts by the Trump administration to install loyalists in different parts of the government. The concern was it might be hard for Biden get rid of some of them or that he might hesitate to get rid of some of them.
Good news, everybody. The Biden is just cleaning house. So some examples here. First, the Trump team tried to install a top lawyer at the NSA, the National Security Agency. Biden's folks put him on administrative leave on day two. So that guy is basically iced out. Then the Biden team fired officials installed by Trump at the Voice of America and at the US Agency for Global Media. That's, I think, been a bigger deal. Can you remind listeners why those entities are important and what they do and why you've really been focused on this?
We should, by the way, give credit to David Folkenflik at NPR, who's been covering this story like nobody's business. So really important stuff there and grateful for that reporting. Yeah, he's been great and I'm so glad that the Biden people are taking this approach rather than risking sabotage from within.
I think that the for the USA, GM people may have heard of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the BBG. That's what this kind of used to be called. And essentially, it's the umbrella that's over about a billion dollars worth of US government broadcasting. So the Voice of America, Radio, Free Europe, Radio, Free Asia, often in places those are like the straight news sources.
It's like the wire news service that just gives people the news in countries where they don't have access to objective media.
And in some cases and then that's mainly what it is. But in some cases, it's the capacity of the United States to to reach audiences in different languages and and to try to, you know, essentially represent what independent media is supposed to look like. And so there's been a firewall between when I was in government, technically, I had responsibility for this portfolio in terms of the budgeting and the personnel, but I had no ability to tell them what to do.
Like there's a a legal firewall that says that this can essentially become a propaganda organ of the US government. Well, what Trump did is when he finally figured out or someone there figured out that they had all this broadcasting, this basically his media enterprise with the U.S. government, they just put in some hard line hackish loyalists who were clearly going to set about like purging the place of any independent journalism and kind of turn it into like some MAGGA broadcasting outfit, like a OMON on a global scale.
Mike Pompeo, like, I think, pushed out a reporter who dared to ask him a tough question, like they were like punish reporters in real time.
Yeah, and you're not because you and I dealt with VOA reporters. It was just like dealing with other reporters. Like you didn't expect them to ask you guys questions or to propagandize the Pompeya for president message, which I'm sure VOA was doing. And I think what happened to me is like the Biden people went in during transition and were able to take a look at just what is going on in this place, what is the morale, what are these people been told to do?
And clearly, whatever they saw was sufficiently alarming that they were like that. And this is why a transition is useful, because those people like this place is a fucking mess. And clearly they were sufficiently alarmed by what the agenda was at that place that they felt like we can't even let these people stay in their offices for a couple of weeks. And that that tells you how big the bullet is that we dodged. Yeah, big time and good for the Biden team for moving quickly.
Just getting this done. I must do a quick round up then of some notable foreign policy news from the Biden folks. And you can just respond to any part of it. So first, President Biden has asked the director of national intelligence, our friend of real hands, to pull together a comprehensive assessment of the threat from domestic violent extremism. If the attack on the Capitol on January six bothered you. This is good news. They're also going to build out a team within the National Security Council to review what's currently being done.
Second, Biden's team announced it's going to review existing U.S. and multilateral financial sanctions and see whether those sanctions are hindering efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. This is a big deal. Congresswoman Ileana Omar has been leading the charge. Take another look at these sanctions and see how they might be hurting people, especially in places like Iran and Venezuela, like we were just talking about. So is a big deal. Third, Biden repealed Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the US military.
It was bigoted. It was cruel. It's awful. Glad it's gone. Lastly, Biden release an order that would protect people who are forced to free Liberia back in the early 90s to protect them from deportation. Basically, these Liberians came to seek asylum in the US and they were temporarily protected by President Bush and then President Obama. And because he is a racist, President Trump basically started a process that would have sent thousands of Liberians back home, even though they no longer live there, hadn't been there for decades.
So then no real common thread for those items besides the fact that elections matter. Those are really good, important things. And please jump in on any part of this.
Well, I guess the only common thread you can identify is that they all basically responding to the kind of inhumanity or insanity of Trump domestic extremism. There was no evaluation of the threat because Trump was unwilling to look at the extremist aspects of his own base. You know, the use of immigration policy to punish people, common thread, the not caring that sanctions are potentially killing people. So this shows what it looks like when the US government has to arrange itself once again around facts and around caring about human beings.
I think on the domestic extremism, because we touched on this a little bit, I think people need to let let's see what they come up with before we freak out about the construction of some new war on terror framework. We need to know the facts. We need this kind of analysis of who are these groups? How organized are they? You know what? What are their ambitions? You. Just just gathering that information will then allow you to make decisions about what kind of policies in that, and I do want to say just on the sanctions piece, I am finding carve outs for for medical and humanitarian purposes in places like Iran and Venezuela can both be very important.
And just saving lives in a covert context, but also with a new administration can create an environment for diplomacy to potentially get get a footing, you know, like, OK, we can't agree on just about anything, but we can agree on just trying to save lives of people who are at risk from covid. So so I think this is all positive and it all, you know, at all is what a normal, well-meaning administration would look like at the beginning.
Yeah. And so on this piece you mentioned about the concerns that are understandable about constructing a new war on terror that's domestically focused, I did some calls around to various offices of people that would be a part of this in my take away was that their focus is they really want to coordinate with the Biden team. They want to figure out what's necessary. They want to talk to the use of the world. They want to think as narrowly as possible to make sure that there are these law enforcement tools.
But like, I think everybody is quite mindful of the mistakes that were made after 9/11. This isn't like Jim Sensenbrenner dumping a two thousand page Patriot Act on on your desk and saying vote for this before you read it. I think this is a process that would be incredibly deliberate to figure out, OK, what are we prioritizing, where the resources focus, what is missing, then let's move very slowly and have hearings and really that these things before moving forward.
So that made me feel a little better.
Yeah, the scrutiny should be there, but this process allows for the scrutiny to happen. And to your point, after 9/11, they just gave them every authority that they could possibly imagine having through the Patriot Act. This is more like, hey, let's understand this threat and then let's have a debate about what new tools or authorities we need. And as long as that process is transparent and deliberative, you know, I that's the right way to go about doing it.
Trust but verify. You know, that's suggesting that just because people are well-meaning doesn't mean they can't, you know, end up trying to push too far. So it's good that that the groups are energized.
Yeah, no, it's good. It's good that there will be push and pull and there will be people like Rasheeda Talib and Omar and AOK saying, hell no, we don't need new authorities. We have this debate and do it publicly. Let's talk about China for a minute, Ben, because like minutes after Joe Biden was sworn into office, the Chinese government announced that they're imposing sanctions on twenty eight former Trump administration officials, including some of our favorites, Mike Pompeo, the former national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, and John Bolton, the trade adviser, Peter Navarro, and then the multiple collared shirt enthusiast, Steve Bannon.
So this press release from the Chinese foreign ministry was colorful. It said these individuals showed, quote, prejudice and hatred against China and have, quote, plans promoted and executed. A series of crazy moves which have gravely interfered in China's internal affairs, offended the Chinese people and seriously disrupted China. US relations, end quote. What this means in practice is that the individuals named here and their families can't visit China, Hong Kong or Macao. And they and then companies or institutions associated with them are restricted from doing business in China.
So then John Bolton is like tweeting about how this is a great thing and it views it as a badge of honor. I imagine that Mike Pompeo will make it part of his future stump speech when he runs for president to show how tough he is on China. I do wonder how this business provision works and whether it might make companies think twice about putting some of these folks on, like their board of directors, for example. But then you question you were sanctioned by the Russian government on your way out the door in the Obama years.
Any tips for Bolton and Bannon and the gang for four? What's going to happen?
No, I got the same full sanction. Can you tell that? Tell that story? Well, I was actually on the first list.
So when we had sanctions and Russians, the Russians reciprocated in 2014 around Crimea and Ukraine.
And I was in the first tranche of the eight Americans who were sanctioned. A travel ban put on me know my my my ability to access the ruble.
I don't have any investments in Russia. It's funny, though, at the time, I asked McFaul, who I think was still our ambassador, why I was on this list, like, what did I do? Because he was like John McCain to and like was kind of random group people. And he said that they had paired me with someone that we had sanction on the Russian side. This guy, Surkov, who is kind of the master propagandist for for Putin.
And I don't know if that's true or not. It was just like my best guess, but like it was kind of funny that the Russians had me slotted the same way that. Some Republicans did like this, this powerful manager of like information and echo chambers, which, as you know, like if only we were that capable.
But look to me, here's what's interesting about it, is that the first of all, yes, you're right. This is far more consequential than a Russian sanction because the Chinese economy touches a lot of things and the American corporate sector is all tied up in in China. So you're right. I mean, it'd be interesting to watch, like, board appointments and things like that, because ultimately those companies relationships with China are more important than the potential of their relationship with John Bolton or something, which, by the way, is bad.
I mean, I, I, I'm not siding with the Chinese on this one. I like the Chinese leveraging US businesses to kind of shape who is part of their community, even if it's someone like Magpantay who I detest, like you should have that right.
I will say what's interesting about the Chinese is that they're leaving themselves some wiggle room here to both reciprocate for some Trump sanctions without, you know, while trying to contain it to the past. So Trump sanctioned a whole bunch of Chinese officials. The Chinese doctrine mentality is we must sanction some people in response that like we can't just sit here and take your sanctions without a response.
The fact that they waited until after the new administration was inaugurated and then immediately sanctioned a bunch of people who are already out of government. I actually took this as a controlled escalation, if you will. You know, that they were they were trying to kind of reciprocate while then allowing it to stop there. And let's all move on rather than try and have some consequential impact on, say, the American economy through who they're sanctioning or current officials, you know, rather than just former ones.
So so I thought it was a subtle message from the Chinese of, yeah, we're reciprocating, but we don't want this to continue, you know. Yeah. And now Ball's in the Biden's court, like impeaching a former President Bylsma Biden's war, that is for sure.
Talked about Australia and Google for a minute. So Google is threatening to pull out of the Australian market. And here is why. The Australian government put forward a law that could force technology companies like Facebook, like Google to make commercial agreements with news outlets and then pay them to show their content. Seems like an obvious idea. Google, though, says this law would be unworkable and that it would force the company to basically leave the Australian market. They'd be stuck with Bing or whatever.
Facebook has said that the law might end up forcing them to block news content on your news feed if you live in Australia so that I don't know exactly what to make of this.
I don't know if this is the right solution for Australia. Specifically, some people have pointed out that forcing these payments could disproportionately affect Rupert Murdoch because he owns so much of the media in Australia. That said, I do like the idea of governments telling these big Internet companies, hey, yeah, you are part of why that news media industry has been decimated. You are spreading disinformation. You're going to help fix those problems. Like Google recently helped agree to pay French publishers to license some of their content.
This is under a pilot program they've launched where they're trying to, I don't know, fix these relationships with publishers. So maybe there's some path forward here. I don't know.
What do you make of this proposal? Well, not only is Google and Facebook obviously turbocharged disinformation, you know, they've also cannibalized traditional media because they get all the ad revenue right for the content that is created by newspapers and television media. Like think about how it used to be. You buy a newspaper. And if there was an ad associated with an article in that newspaper or you look at it online, you'd see it on the website of that news outlet, Google, Facebook, they just want to drive all the ad revenue to their platforms.
So all these issues are kind of connected.
And I'm not sure that the Australia policy is the right one. I think what's happening, though, that's very healthy is there's pressure coming at the tech companies from all different directions. Right. If there's pressure on the hate speech that you're disseminating, there's pressure on the disinformation and how you allow yourself to be manipulated by Russia or whomever, there's pressure on how much you're cannibalizing media. There's pressure on privacy. And already the companies are responding and most prominently, obviously, Twitter taking down Trump.
The answer has to be regulation. But I think that the more the governments that share these concerns, so generally the democratic governments are are trying to develop common ideas and common areas of concern that they're articulating the companies, the better this will go. So so in Australia gets together the New Zealand and the US and Europe and Japan and other countries that are focused on this and just try to, you know, begin to correct, you know, how messed up big tech is.
Yeah, maybe they you try to compel them to do it voluntarily, but if not, there's some form of regulation that could be cross borders.
Yeah, it does seem like the EU might be coordinating some sort of ever here, too. Yeah. Speaking of the EU, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Contee has resigned from his position. It is not clear, sort of based on how the Italian government system works. He could try to form a new governing coalition and basically get his job back in a couple of days. Someone else could try to form a coalition and take over the prime minister job, or they could call a snap election.
But Conti was in power for like 17 months. His governing coalition fractured over disagreements about how to spend this big pot of money, about 250 billion worth of funds from the European Union to help them recover from the coronavirus so bad. The timing here is that really bad. Italy got crushed by the coronavirus early. Their vaccination rollout has been slow. Holding up a snap election and a pandemic seems like a really bad idea, but also so is delaying like efforts to help fix their economy and help it recover.
I don't really have strong opinions on Contee. He's been described as like a technocratic populist. But there is a real concern that if there's an election in Italy, the most likely winner would be a far right wing coalition led by this party, the league, which is pretty vile. So that's something I think we need to watch here. I mean, I think the hope is that they will be able to cobble together another moderate coalition and resume the job.
But it would not be great to see, you know, pseudo fascist parties in charge of Italy. Yeah, totally.
I mean, can't it kind of stabilise things, you know, because it had been drifting in the direction of the far right and kind of stabilising is this consensus technocrat which may not fix the structural problems in Italy. But frankly, when you're dealing with covid and you've got this threat of far right, you know, populism, Serzh nationalism, you take that.
So I think that the main thing you're voting for here, rooting for is that, yeah, you don't see Italy tip far to the right, that there's enough of some new coalition that can emerge from the next election, that that they can kind of weather these storms. At a certain point. Italy is going to have to really go through some political regeneration here because so much of the energies flowed to the right and the left has kind of been fractured against itself.
But for now, I think we're rooting for like a stable outcome that doesn't tip the place over.
Yeah, I mean, I think Italy has been in basically constant political turmoil since World War Two. So it must be incredibly frustrating for the people. They're reeling since the financial crisis through covid tough times, but hopefully they can get it together.
Finally, Ben, I just want to close before we get to the interview with a bit of audio from our friend, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Let's play the clip.
Do you think there's some senior politicians in Britain seem to be the president? Biden is what? I I can't comment on that, I replied, no is that he's a fervent believer in the transatlantic alliance and and that's a great thing and a believer in a lot of the things that we want to achieve together. And, you know, insofar as human being being weak, but I can tell you is that I think that it's it's very, very important for everybody to have been certainly I will put myself in the category of people who believe that it's important to stick up for your history, you feel your traditions and things and your your values, the things you believe in.
So you rarely hear a politician that let the deaf that light on their feet. Silver tongue there. Yeah.
Now, OK. I mean, this is the country that brought us like the Beatles and the Stones and like, you know, punk and, you know, the The Clash and what is happening here.
You know, it's like like they used to be a little more work over there. I would love to know who asked that question, too, because it just felt like he was sneering and suggesting that being Joe Biden, being progressive, caring about people of other races, sort of being conscious of things he says and does is a bad thing. You recognize Boris Johnson, that someone who who said that Barack Obama's colonial heritage was was holding back the alliance?
Come on. Yeah, yeah. Well, yeah, I, I will say that the kind of obsession with, like, brokenness and cancel culture is like much more of a thing on the right than. Yeah.
Among actual progressives. But yeah.
Boris Johnson like is not someone I mean. Yeah we'll never forget his, his, his views on the roots of Barack Obama's feelings on issues like Brexit being tied to to the fact that he was a Kenyan heritage.
Yeah. Well, the good news is, you know, Joe Biden and Johnson talked on the phone the other day. I think the the relationship will endure. They'll try to work on it especially. We'll always be special. Always be OK.
When we come back, we'll have my conversation with Alexei Kovalyov about the protests in Russia, Alexei Navalny and what's next for Vladimir Putin. So stick around.
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It's great to see you. Hi there.
So we've been talking a lot about Alexei Navalny on this show. Listeners by now are familiar with his poisoning, his return to Russia from Germany, and then his call for protests over the weekend. Can you just start by describing what those protests were like this weekend? We saw a lot of clips on social media. There were clips of people pegging police with with snowballs that looked different than what we've seen before. But how are they different or not different from past protests you've seen?
Well, they were they were quite, quite different in spirit. I mean, in the past, they were usually the people, mostly Alexei Navalny supporters would at least seek some sort of permit or authorization from the city government, but not this time. This time nobody even bothered to to obtain one, because we are at at a stage where where Navalny previously considered as an enemy of the state, to whom at least some rules of engagement still apply. He's now been elevated to the status of a traitor and a national traitor by the propaganda foreign agent.
And no rules, no rule of law applies to him except the laws that they use to prosecute him. And his supporters and his allies are seen as co-conspirators. So it's pointless to even engage with the state to obtain some authorization. So this time they didn't even bother and people just came out.
It's really hard to to estimate how many, because normally in Moscow, if if this if a protest is sanctioned by the government, it's normally confined to, uh, to a square or or wide avenue in downtown where they were.
These kind of kinds of rallies usually take place. And there it's pretty easy to say, OK, this this is like you can look at a crowd and say, OK, this is 20000 people or this is fifty thousand people. But now most of these it wasn't a single crowd. It was just groups of people wandering throughout the city. So estimates the estimates vary from the police's own figure. It was four thousand people, but it was clear, clearly much more than that.
So the highest estimate was about 40 thousand people, but it's really hard to say. But nevertheless, people are saying that the no fewer than twenty two hundred and fifty thousand people came out across all of Russia.
Well, which seems to be well, it might be a little too high, but it's not not not too but not too much, because we've seen footage from places where people literally came out to protest for the second time, where first time in the history of this of this little town.
And there were incredible footage and images of people coming out to protest in places like Yakutsk, where temperatures dropped below minus 60 Fahrenheit.
That's amazing. Yeah, that's pretty amazing. But there are a lot of places in Russia like places in Siberia where. Right, right. Yeah, where it's well below minus 40.
Yeah. No, thanks. Yeah.
You wrote a great piece in the New York Times today, Tuesday, that I thought was fascinating, that everyone should go read it.
But in that piece you wrote, it would be foolish to think that the protests are going to lead to significant political changes or concessions from the state. If anything, they will probably lead to more criminal cases and more repressive laws. Curious why why you think that's the case and if so, what Navalny strategy is here. What is the end game for these protests if you think it could actually make the situation worse?
OK, so here's the thing. In Russia, demanding something from from the state or cornering it never yields the result. You want to, because if you demand if you demand a stop to corruption, for example, you'll get more corruption now.
So as to, for example, this this is usually what happens with Navalny, the investigation into corruption at the highest level of the Russian government.
If he credibly accused an official of corruption, he has never fired or demoted more than that, he's often promoted, or if the charge if the charges are really, really serious, it's going to take for for example, in a year or so, he'll be quietly transferred to a different department, for example.
So it's not so as not to create a feedback between a demand.
And so it's not for for a first. So it's not the state is not seen as caving in to to to popular demands because the government doesn't want to be seen as weak, as caving in to demands. So it works. You know, there's a there's kind of a negative feedback loop there.
Got it. Got it. So what is the what is normally Novelis end game? It's upping the ante. He's pretty similar to to Putin in that respect, because he's he often does things that are almost seen as suicidal. And his latest move like going to Russia, despite all the threats that he will be jailed. And he was indeed arrested. And there is a there's a quite serious risk that he will be jailed for a lot longer than 30 days, the term that he's currently serving.
But he's a risk taker like Putin.
And the moves he's making are can be can be seen outside of his logic as self-destructive, for example, in 2016 when Russian hackers interfered in the US elections.
It didn't bring any any positive result, we didn't get anything from it. You know, if the if the end game was installing a friendly president who would do Russia's bidding, that never happened. You know, if anything, we got more sanctions. Right, than that. But that's that's well within also Putin's logic of always upping, upping the ante in a game, punching well above your punching well above your weight. So Navalny and Putin are pretty similar in that respect and that they're risk takers.
Well, speaking of upping the ante, I mean, you made the point to some folks on my team that, you know, we've seen some some bad police abuses. We've seen people getting beaten, but we haven't seen Russian police firing rubber bullets, pepper spray, water cannons, things we've seen used against American protesters, frankly.
Why do you think there is like why do you think there's been that relative restraint and how worried are folks about potential escalation?
Well, you know, we know I've been covering these mass protests in Russia for over a decade now.
And although they always seem like pretty brutal on pictures, they've never crossed the line between simply beating the crap out of people with truncheons and actually, you know, attacking them with with water cannons or rubber bullets. That's never happened in the history of in the history of Russia.
But there's this here's the situation.
There is no room right now at this point where we are. There is no room for compromise. I don't see I don't see any outcome where the state where, for example, Navalny supporters apply for a permit them to say and the state says, OK, sure, because in the past that's happened, you know, in the past, they would try to kind of dampen or toned down the escalation by giving some concessions. Like, for example. Sure, we'll give you that square to demonstrate as long as you do peacefully.
And yeah, sure, everybody comes for a peaceful demonstration. Demonstrates. And then another week and then another week. And then week after week, the protest just whittles down. In the for example, at the first at one of the rallies in two thousand eleven, there were hundreds of thousands of people.
But now, weeks after weeks after weeks, only then only dozens of thousands on up and then it's hundreds of people.
So that was that was one strategy of whittling down the people's motivation and commitment to protest. And that's a pretty effective strategy. But we are past the point. So there's very little room for compromise because that can be you know, you can negotiate with an enemy.
That no one in the valley was in the eyes of the Kremlin a few years ago, but not with a traitor. So the state cannot back down and it cannot allow peaceful demonstrations because it is in its own eyes, it will be seen as weak as giving in. And they kind of do that in case of normality, right?
Maybe even if it were someone else.
Probably, yeah. But also there is not much room to go in the other direction, because if they do if they do engage the the demonstrations with water cannons and rubber bullets and tear gas, which we do know for certain that they have in the stock, because we can see that there have been some investigations before.
And you can look at the now, for example, you can look at state procurement contracts and you can see that they have an ample supply of water cannons and and tear gas and those subsonic things that make you puke.
So they have all that right. And they just haven't used it. Yeah, but doing that will cross a line, a point of no return where the violence at this demonstrations will be now or most significantly more will carry a lot more risk for the demonstrators than it does now. But I have no I don't have a definite answer to you why it's never been and why all this firepower has never been employed before.
But my kind of educated guess is that those images of protesters in Germany and Italy and the United States being pepper sprayed at, shot at with rubber bullets that, you know, gouge eyes and now do some pretty serious irreparable damage to people's bodies.
The imagery is has been used for for well, for the entirety of Putin's term.
Basically, I've covered these demonstrations from year 2000 and it's always been an argument in a state propaganda like we're going easy on you guys, unlike those compared to unlike those Americans. Right. Right. Yeah.
Well, unfortunately, unfortunately, he has a point in that specific case. Sure.
But once you cross that line, you lose that. You lose that high moral ground.
Right. High moral ground in air quotes. Exactly. I agree. So, you know, you mentioned this earlier. Well, when Navalny got back to to Russia, actually when he was in prison, his team released this hour and a half long video alleging that Vladimir Putin has built a palace that cost a billion dollars paid for in bribes by people close to him. I've seen some estimates, including in your op ed, that the video has been viewed over one hundred million times.
An aide to Navalny said Putin, quote, could not ignore what the whole country is discussing, which is why he responded to these charges on the record today. Is there any way to quantify that? Like, do you think it's true that this video about the palace was dinner table conversation across Russia? And were you surprised that Putin actually commented on the story now?
Yeah, the fact that he did actually come out to personally comment, to personally deny the allegations. And you can see how he has his legalistic brain works. I mean, he he sees himself as a plaintiff in a court.
What he said was literally not not me or any of my of my closest relatives have anything to do with the palace, which is not what the investigation claims it painstakingly described, and network of intermediaries. Connected to Putin, why an incredibly intricate network of companies owned and sub owned by different people who have at least some some very remote but some degree of connection to Putin? That's exactly that's intentional, right.
So nobody actually claimed that it was Putin's fellas, right? It isn't. It is, in fact, but not on paper. So they used to they so they dug up incredible amounts of all the paper trails that lead to Putin.
And they had actually missed a lot of spots. And we're doing us and other independent media in Russia are now very busy doing follow up investigations to that. And sure, it looks pretty much what it says.
I mean, it's a lot of, you know, a massive paper trail leads to it. It's not a Swiss bank account. It's a massive, massive palace. You get it right. You know, so we are in a stage right now. So the first the initial reaction from Putin's spokesman was, I don't know anything about any palace. There is no palace.
But like guys that you can see from space, you could literally see from space, you could go on Google Maps. And so has this been like dinner table conversation? This is the thing everybody's talking about.
I mean, all the all the little details from from these investigations are basically Meems now, right?
Yeah. And yes, sure. It's it's the talk of the town.
I mean, it's a big part of it. And Volney for a second. I mean, I think a lot of listeners to this show, a lot of Americans have been understandably inspired by his courage in the face of a regime that has tried to murder him, his fight against corruption. Those are seen as noble things. But, you know, I think you've made the point that doesn't mean that a Western audience would necessarily be thrilled by all of his views.
My my co-host on the show and I have talked a bit about Invalides nationalism, his position on Crimea, for example. But could you give a listeners a sense of sort of like what Navalny believes, maybe warts and all, some of the things that they might not necessarily think are our shared values?
OK, so we have to establish a common kind of measure here because by American and to a lesser extent, European and American political kind of framework, what you would call liberals in Russia, including Navalny, would probably be considered right wing libertarians in the United States. Got it. Yeah. So Navales even further to the right in his views. And sure he was you can safely call him far right in the early stages of his career. And he would be very much open about that.
And he, you know, given a chance, several chances actually to publicly retract his views. He never did. He'd actually double down on them. And it's not you know, it's it's it's not some secret or it's not some shameful past. He's trying to sweep under the rug, right? Yeah. He's pretty open about his beliefs, although he's very much toned them down in the recent years.
You'll never you'll never hear him refer to two people from the Muslim republics on Russia's fringes like he used to like a decade ago.
So because he understands as a politician and not as a member of a fringe right wing movement, I'm not I don't know if he's if he's genuinely, you know, involved in his political views or he's just being coy so as not to alienate large a large swath of his electorate with the more, you know, internationalist and liberal views.
I do not know that. But it's a fact. But it's the fact that he's much more moderate in his rhetoric now.
But it's all it's all legitimate points for discussion. But the thing is that he's not being persecuted for his views.
That's how his views on immigration, where he's, you know, it's ironic that the but Vladimir Putin is much more liberal than Navalny is.
They know that in many political areas like immigration, for example, Navalny is much further to the right than Putin and probably closer to Donald Trump. And he's using immigration. I didn't know that.
That's fascinating. I mean, maybe that's what makes him so dangerous, right? He can outflank Putin on the right and in other places on anti-corruption.
Yeah. And a couple of years ago, he he also started courting the the left wing audience by promoting, for example, labor unions. So he's kind of it's he's definitely a populist. Yeah. And he also he has he he's courting both the right wing, the centrist and leftist audience that it's true.
But the thing is that he's not being persecuted for any of those views.
None of his political positions on the left and the right of center matter when he is persecution by the state is concerned. He's only he's only being persecuted for his anti corruption investigations. That is the only thing that matters. So once and I'm not his advocate. Not at all. And actually, we don't always see eye to eye. And those are the publication I work for is near the top of his naughty list. Oh, really? Yeah, we've called him out in the past.
I mean, we're not his allies, but what I want to what I want to say is that it's clear that none of this matters at this point.
So whenever he runs for office and he has some right wing points on his platform. Sure. Let's debate that. Let's call him out on that. But we are not there yet or if we'll ever be, right.
No, no, I totally agree. I just think it's important to sort of understand the whole person even when so they're not, like, lionised today. And then you feel like they let you down later because you didn't necessarily know everything about them. I mean, I think we can I think we can have two ideas at the same time that maybe we disagree with him on immigration, but that is anti-corruption fight is incredibly brave and sort of talk about the whole person.
My last question for you is you may have noticed that the United States just went through a kind of a minor coup attempt by President Trump that ended with a fascist mob attacking the US Capitol. It's hard for me to imagine an image series of images that could do more to denigrate the United States, undercut democracy, undercut our system of government, then seeing those marauding thugs running through the US Senate looking like gigantic assholes. Were those images, were those events the focus of propaganda or just general news coverage?
How is that played across Russian media? You betcha.
I mean, sure, they they use that they use those images to the fullest extent possible. And of course, it's it's, of course, schizophrenic. Yeah. They're using the same arguments that they're so they are now the what I'm seeing right now in Russian television and on pro-government social media, they are portraying Trump supporters and especially those who stormed the Capitol as pro-democracy activists who are who are defending the right for free elections.
And now those now they are being unfairly persecuted. So this is I'm I'm not I'm not kidding you. This is what this is what the Russian television is saying.
Yeah. Is like our Fox News. Yeah. Yeah. So, yeah, they're the Russian television on many occasions. It's really outfoxed Fox News. But yeah, it's that. But there is no there's no real political position there. It's just the. They're using it as a as really just a prop to say so you see, you know, in in the states, they are you know, people are fighting for their democracy and the state is persecuting them much more harshly than we are dealing with malcontents back home.
So this is this is, again, going back to these kind of what about Islam? That is the pillar of Russian state propaganda. So I don't think they really care about the capital or the fate of American democracy. They're just using these events as a prop. So but, yeah, I mean, in all fairness, it did really look quite quite.
Yeah, it was bad. It was really bad. Nothing like I mean. I mean and it's given, you know, endless fodder for for the same propaganda to at the same time there's the because they really have no internal logic that you can argue with. So in the same breath they can they can claim that these protesters are you know, this is a this is a peaceful democracy movement that's fighting for free and free and fair election. And in the same breath, they can say so you see what instability, political instability leads to do.
You want to do want armed people in Russia storming government buildings?
You don't want that? No. Yeah. Yeah. You want Father Putin keeping us all safe and everyone's warm and cozy. Oh, boy. Well, you know, reason number one million, five hundred and fifty to be embarrassed by the events of January six. Alexi, thank you so much for your time. Thanks for your great reporting. Where can folks find all the work you're doing? Amadou's, if they want to read up more?
So the website is Medusa with a Zet Amidi use that a dot i o and we have an English version as well.
So it's the same. You are. Oh I n we have an English version. There's a link on the front page and you can see there's a bunch of my reporting there as well in English.
That's fantastic. And I think everybody should check it out and support independent news reporting all over the planet because we need more of it. So thank you for the work you're doing. Thanks for your time today and really appreciate it. That was fun.
Thanks again to Alexei for doing the show. Thanks to all the British press who asked Boris Johnson questions that he doesn't know how to answer. And yeah, I know.
That's all I got. Yeah, I'm got nothing.
I can't I can't top the bush or we're out of words anyway.
Talk to guys next week to party. The World is a crooked media production.
The executive producer is Michael Martinez. Our associate producer is Jordan Waller. It's mixed in, edited by Andrew Chadwick. Kyle Soglin is our sound engineer thanks to our digital team, Elijah Cohn, our Melkonian and Milo Kim film and share our episodes of videos every week.