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Hello from the Lincoln Project, I'm Ron Suslow. Welcome back to our weekly roundup, where we bring in a rotating panel of experts to discuss the truth. You need to know behind the most important stories of the week and how they're shaping the political landscape of this election. We have an incredible panel today with three of my fellow co-founders of Lincoln Project, independent political strategist and our captain on this voyage, Reed Galen. It's great to have you back, Reed.
Thanks for our national political strategist Steve Schmidt, who has worked for President George W. Bush, Senator John McCain and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Thanks for being on again, Steve. Good morning, Ron. And communication strategist and former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Party, Jennifer Horn. Good morning, Jennifer. Good morning, Ron. On today's episode, we're going to talk about Joe Biden's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention that just wrapped up last night.
The report out of the Republican led Senate Intelligence Committee detailing the ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia and the indictment of former Trump advisor Steve Bannon on charges of money laundering and wire fraud.
So last night, Joe Biden officially accepted the Democratic nomination as the DNC wrapped up. I want to get your thoughts on the convention as a whole. But before that, what were your reactions to Biden's speech last night? Let's start with you.
I thought it was exactly the speech you needed to give. I was I think it was exactly the speech the country needed. From my perspective, this was this is not an election about any one policy. It is about no less than the future of the country when it comes to democracy, the norms that we've become used to probably all too used to and comfortable with. And we have taken for granted. And I think that he did a good job of laying out the case in a pretty stark fashion, which I think is necessary, but also, you know, applied a lot of unity to that.
And I think it was important for a lot of independent and Republican voters, a lot of whom he'll need to be president, to hear him say nothing changes until and unless it is fixed. And that's all I'm going to focus on when I'm president. And I think that that was important because it gave license to a lot of folks who were worried about whether or not it was the progressive stuff on the environment or super high taxes, whatever the case might be, that the guys focused on what's affecting all of our lives individually and each and every day, which is still this pandemic is over.
Nobody goes back to work, nobody goes back to school. And the economy is a shambles and is likely to be so until we've solved the overarching health problem.
Jennifer, but, well, he's absolutely correct, I mean, that the vice president said exactly what folks need to hear and he wrapped it up beautifully.
You know, when he came to the end there, he said, look, can you and I together, one nation under God, unite our love for America, united in our love for each other.
That's that's what people want to hear. That's what they want to know, that that this insane, destructive period of American president who cares about himself and his pocketbook only above all else, that the destruction and the quite frankly, the evil that has come out of this administration, that it's going to be behind us and that we can be back to this idea of a united nation where even if we're not united in policy, we continue to have these debates that we are united as a country.
And the other thing that I would say, Ron, is that I thought that his presentation, in addition to what he said, how he said it was really powerful on a lot of different levels. He was passionate, he was clear, he was direct. He he really touched people in his presentation. And he really shot a hole through this ridiculous attack that the Trump side is making on him, that somehow he has dementia. He's a doddering old man or he's not last night, man, you know, he hit the he hit it out of the park is what he did last night.
I thought it was terrific. Well, in the last in the last week, we've seen him ride a bicycle, drive a car.
And I read off the teleprompter in complete sentences. So he's he's three for three again.
Steve, what was your reaction to the speech and then maybe maybe to the to the convention as a whole, since it's now wrapped up? I think it was the most important speech that Joe Biden has ever given in his career. And it may well, and I say this without hyperbole, may be the most important speech that any of us have ever heard in in our lifetimes as well. It's all on the line in this election. It's all on the line, the wreckage that Trump has wrought in this country.
When you just step back and ponder it for a minute and all of us on this call were skeptical and worried the day that Trump swore the oath of office, took the presidency and then stepped out, lied the next day about his crowd size. We were all worried about the beginning. But to but to have projected from that moment to the last night of the Democratic convention of pondered by the time we get to the election of two hundred thousand dead Americans, a shattered economy, we have Russian bounties on American soldiers and a president who refuses to do anything about it.
Violence let loose by the state against peacefully assembled protesters in front of the White House, which now sits behind this gigantic wall. It's a hard thing sometimes to wrap your head around the type of damage that Trump has done in what Joe Biden said last night was that I'm to be the president for all the American people, including the people who won't vote for me. I'll work just as hard for them as I will for my most avid supporters. That's what the job of the president is, is that we are a union.
United we stand, divided we fall. The notion that we're all in it together. And this race is so clear and so simple to me after listening to the vice president's speech that it really is a choice between a good man, Joe Biden, and a really bad man, Donald Trump, between a decent man and an indecent man, between a moral man and a moral man, between a respected global statesman and an international laughing stock, between someone who cares about the country and the people in it, and someone who cares about their self-interest and their personal privilege and power.
And the choice could not be more clear. And I thought that the whole convention laid that out. There's two very different visions of America that are that are on the line. And Trump has let loose the furies. He's opened Pandora's box. He's let all the pathologies that exist in American life all the all the darkness that we fight against you. Trump has embraced in and let loose. And I thought this convention was. There's sometimes a little awkward. But what isn't awkward in the in the covid era as we try to do, is we try to navigate as we try to navigate through this.
But it but it reflected the reality that we're in. I think that my friend Stephanie Cutter, Obama's former deputy chief of staff, who was tasked with putting this convention together, I mean, I just think the job she did was genius to conceptualize this, the amount of production, the amount of work to pull that off over four days. I just think it's an incredible achievement and it's an incredible achievement in the sense that there was nothing to copy.
They had to they had to make it up from scratch. And the only thought that that I had during big stretches of this convention was what insanity are we going to see next week? Because there's no there's no process like the one the Democrats had playing out. That's very thoughtful. That's what story do we want to tell? I mean, next week is going to be a spectacle for the ages and not in a good way. And so I thought it was a very successful week, a successful convention.
And and lastly, I thought President Obama's speech. Was extremely important for the for the country. He is a controlled man. We know that from having watched him for eight years and the passion in his voice, the sadness, the. Worry about the about the country was also very, very real, and I hope that speech caught a fair amount of people's attention and they couldn't have put the president in a better place than Philadelphia to explain the stakes of the election.
So I think this is a big election. It's a big choice. There are big consequences. And I thought the convention met the moment and framing all of that. Yeah.
Reed, we used to talk about, you know what? What's the American way of life in the Cold War? It was in the context of democracy versus communism, but it was external to us. Now it is internal to us, which is what is our way of life. I mean, the way that the things that Steve described, those things, the foundation of them were the first three years of this presidency. But he's done most of them in the last seven months.
Yeah, right. Yeah. I mean, think about all that. That's scary in and of itself on the production front.
Let me just say, as someone who spent three months in Philadelphia in 2000, you know, we worked every all day, every day to get that ready for George W. Bush. And there had been people there a year ahead of us laying the groundwork for those things. And so, as Steve said, you know, putting these things on on short notice is almost unheard of. I think it probably changes what conventions look like going forward, which I don't know that anybody on this broadcast is really going to weep for the past in that regard.
But I think they did do a good job. I thought that the roll call was a great illustration of the country writ large. And it's in its it's not only the sweeping nature of it, but the diversity of its people, the diversity of its geography and just the overarching beauty that I think I'm lucky enough to get to enjoy every day. But a lot of folks probably aren't. And I think it'll be a great contrast to next week when they're going to hold Trump's renomination vote in secret.
Yeah, Jennifer, the you know, Steve mentioned something about the story that they told and you mentioned something earlier on about, you know, this was this was not what we might have expected, a Democratic National Convention to look like. Can you talk a little bit about the the narrative that they that they created throughout the week and and how that who that spoke to?
Absolutely. But even before that, you know, Steve just eloquently and beautifully laid out that the the difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden and now it moves me. I'm always moved to some degree when Steve talks. He is so eloquent in this. But what it made me think this time was that we live in this world where we are so focused on politics and process and conventions in every detail. And the truth is the majority of the American people did not watch the convention and they didn't see what we saw.
They'll see clips of it and pieces of it. But like in a nutshell, the message that you get out of this very simply is Joe Biden's a good guy and Donald Trump is a bad person. And I just think sometimes as Americans, we have a hard time embracing that. We always want to say, well, he's not a politician, he's not this, he's not that, you know, and try and try to excuse it or understand it.
No, Donald Trump is a bad person. There aren't a lot of genuinely bad people in the world, but he's one of them. So sometimes I feel like we just have to cut to the chase and be more direct. He's a bad guy. Joe Biden is a really good guy. Let's make the right choice. As far as the narrative in the convention, they did a magnificent job of storytelling, in my opinion, starting on date night one with the national anthem sung by children and adults of every race and creed from across the country, I, I always get kind of choked up when I hear the national anthem, especially when it's sung by children.
I was tears coming down my cheeks by the end of that, and I think that's what they really needed to do. They needed to touch people's hearts. They needed to really connect with the American people. And they had this covid challenge on them to try to do it. And they spent the entire week telling the story of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and America. And every night there was something there that showed us in unity that that showed the breadth and depth of the American people, you know, the color of the colors of the fabric of our country.
And the thing they did really brilliantly on every single night was speak to Republicans and independents, which you don't normally do in a convention. It's usually just about rallying your base, unifying after the primary and, you know, the big rah rah for your party. And they used messengers in messages that they were they are already in the general election on night one of their convention. I thought it was brilliant. I.
From a messaging and a communication standpoint, plus I thought that it was I thought it was brilliant and can I can I add one other thing, which is that I thought a fair amount about John McCain over the over the course of these over the course of these couple of days.
And I I think that there are two underlying crises in our in our politics. We have a crisis of truth. And we have a crisis of courage. And a crisis of truth goes to the non-stop lying and gaslighting that we see coming out of this administration every day, and there's no boundaries on it, even in the deadliest of pandemics, we have a president up there peddling snake oil, cures his friend to my pillow, CEO, advising people to take these medicines.
And it will it will kill some of them. And we just we've just become completely detached from the idea of the nobility of truth, that we have an expectation not to be bullshitted, lied to, conned by the people that we put into positions of leadership in this country. And I think that we saw President Obama and Vice President Biden speak some fundamental truths about the situation, the country, the magnitude of the of the crisis we're in. And that's important.
And I and I thought about John McCain in that space, because if John McCain was still here and I wonder this all the time, I wonder if things would have gotten as bad as they have gotten in the Republican conferences in the in the Senate. And particularly because I just he just would not have tolerated this bullshit and he would have stood up and he would have he would have called it out. And so we have this entire class of political quislings.
Right. Men that. And women, that would have been wonderful apparatchiks for the VCI in nineteen forty three, France, like Marco Rubio, like like Ted Cruz and just a crisis of courage. And then we saw last night we saw this young man with a stutter stand up on national television in front of the whole country. Introducing the next president of the United States, I mean, anybody would be nervous about that, but to watch that young man get through that, that was a character study in American Courage.
He had the same composition of the young men, not too much older than him that seventy five years ago stormed the beaches in Normandy. He represented a type of fearlessness that we need to spark again in this country. And and we would not be in this position, but for the cowards that surround Donald Trump everywhere. So I loved the exposition of courage that we saw because it's going to take guts and courage and truth and the re-establishment of those noble virtues to get us out of this disaster that Gabby Giffords displayed.
The same for sure. Ninety seconds. Someone had been shot in the head while talking to her constituents had to leave Congress to to to take care of her rehabilitation. But, you know, she was going to be there and you read the stories about it, that it took just about all the strength and energy she had to stand up there for 90 seconds and do it, and she did it. And so, you know, I think if we can be more like the young man who introduced Biden and more like former Congresswoman Giffords, I think we can all use that sort of grit and determination.
Gabby Giffords had to leave Congress to to fight for her life. You know, just but Braydon Harington, that young man, is about to come. A little boy, he's a young man is from New Hampshire. And I'm sure you all remember it was newsworthy during the primary when he stood up and spoke to Joe Biden at that event to, you know, to begin with and say to him, what did you do when you were my age and and getting bullied and because of a stutter and had to overcome it.
And I watched him. First of all, frankly, I. I like I cried, I ugly. Mom cried.
When I watched that, it was just I just I was so like I was just was so overwhelmed with pride for him. And he's not my son. But but I can't even tell you how moving it was. But what I'm thinking about now as I look back on that moment, we all you could you know, in the moment what it was, the courage, the inspiration, the touching, the hearts of every American, no matter what their political leanings might be.
But as I thought about it afterwards, I was thinking Brain Harington would have been bullied by Donald Trump if they went to school together. Donald Trump would have been the kid. Sure. The jerk in the locker room who was teasing him and tripping him and pushing him into a corner and everything else, and then standing up straight and looking the other way when an adult came in the room. And and so, like standing there was just so representative of of of exactly what is wrong with Donald Trump.
And if every American can have the courage that that young man had, then our nation will be saved, that it's as simple as that, I think to it to to to play out on that analogy.
Right. And Joe Biden would have been the kid in the school who stood up and knocked a bully on his ass. Right. For for picking on that kid.
If he if he saw it. And and I just and there is another aspect of the convention, the Biden granddaughters.
I'm so looking forward to a return to decency and normalcy to have a normal family. And they're right down to the new first dog ticket. Says something about Trump. There's no dogs in the White House.
Listen, remember, it's the it's the Billy Madison rule. He's mean to old people, kids and dogs.
That's the definition of he is the Biden. He's got a great looking dog. Major Biden, anyone who hasn't seen a picture of that dog should go look it up. A great German shepherd. Look, I think that when you look at Joe Biden and you look at the family, the other thing, if you watched all of it, is you you can't help but look into the dark places of the tragedies that have shaped shaped his life. It's that I think that all of us with kids, young kids, we have these primal fears.
Right. You want to you want to keep your family safe. Right. That there are there are bad things that happen in life and you try to push those thoughts away that they could happen to you. And you look at a family that has had so much loss, so much suffering, yet Joe Biden has not lost his faith, has not lost his optimism, has not lost his his dignity. And we live in this era. And one of the one of the things that I personally can't stand.
The most about this metastasise of the Republican Party into whatever it is today is the constant whining, complaining and victimization that that the higher you are on the ladder, the bigger a victim you are right. The louder the complaining is.
And it's such. An anti or un-American virtue, it just it truly is we're not we're not a country of whiners and complainers. And I just think about Trump's constant complaining is weakness. And then you look at Joe Biden, that combination of stoicism, toughness, faithfulness, optimism, that this idea that you can move through the darkest moment of the night, but still understand that when the sun rises, there's a new dawn, a new new possibility. And I just thought that the family and their disposition towards the harsh tragedies of of life that they've been subjected to is just remarkable character study with regard to Joe and Jill Biden and was incredibly impressive.
And this man has the requisite qualities of character to begin to turn this disaster around. One of my favorite songwriters, a guy named Jason Isbell, and he has a song and he says, you know, when talking about great loss, it gets easier, but it never gets easy. Yeah. And I think that for a guy like Biden, you know, he will carry he carries those losses with him every day. Right. Whether or not it's his his first wife and his young daughter or Beau, he carries them with him every day.
But I think that if you can turn that into a you know, if you could turn that pain in that loss into something that is channeled into something positive. Right. It doesn't mean you're ever going to get over the loss of two children and a wife. But what it means is it it can drive you either into the darkest of places or to the place where it gets you out of the bed in the morning and say, I'm not going to let this get me down, because they wouldn't they wouldn't put up with it from me.
Right. And I think that that's what Biden does. And I think there was there was an overall know. And I think that to expand on Steve's point, the family piece, I think was not an accident. Right. I mean, they clearly understood even there was there was a reporter on Twitter who said, I can't believe they put Hunter Biden on the air. Well, why not?
Of course they were right. And like, OK, you know, we all we all have family members. All families are a patchwork of personalities and issues and everything else. Like let's let's see what Don Jr. and Eric and Ivanka have to say. Right. Like, yeah. I mean, you know, so we'll see. And of course, it will be a step through the looking glass. But the idea that, like, Joe Biden wouldn't have his sole remaining son up there talking about what a great daddy was, is ridiculous and said, bring it on, Trump.
Here's my boy. Let's see what you got.
Yeah, listen, compared to Don Jr.. Come on. That's that's that's an easy one. And but the thing that all the talk about loss, you know, I hadn't thought about this and listening to the two of you just now, because we all know the story of tragic loss in Joe Biden's life, loss of of someone that you love so deeply is a is a common experience. Everybody experiences it at some time, to some degree. And so they can look at Joe Biden and and recognize the magnitude of and the tragedy of the loss that he experienced.
And in a maybe in a strange way, or maybe I should have thought of it further, it's like that tragedy and that loss is a big part of what makes him so empathetic and what makes other people look at him and say, there's an amazing guy. There's you know, it's part of what develops that connection between Joe Biden and every human being on Earth. And the other thing I'll say quickly before you move on to the next topic is if I'm going to jump ahead to the end, what are we looking at?
What are we going to be looking at and following in the next week, the cheating you're cheating on about the cheating now, from this moment until the end of the convention, might what I'm going to be looking for is to see whether or not Donald Trump has even the minimal amount of self discipline that it takes for him, not to mention Braiden Harington, that young man with the stutter who introduced Joe Biden. I don't know you. That's an obvious one, you know.
But, you know, as soon as that young man came out on the stage, everybody and Trump World said, oh, crap, he's going to. What stupid thing is the president going to say? How is what is he going to do? And I don't know if he's got it. I got it in him. That's what I'm going to be looking for.
Yeah. So this just to wrap up this topic, one last one last point that I'd like each of you to to weigh in on is what they did a masterful job of with the convention just in total was to rekindle the sense that we're all in this together, which is exactly what Donald Trump has spent the last three and a half years trying to extinguish.
And, you know, early in his speech, Biden said this is not this must be an American moment.
America isn't just a collection of clashing interests of red states and blue states. We're so much bigger than that.
And we saw that play out throughout the convention with a number of prominent Republican officials at the convention, Governor Kasich and Governor Whitman and Secretary Powell. Jennifer, maybe you want to start but reading and Steve, I'd love for you to weigh in here, too, but how important will it be for we're calling them Lincoln voters to stand up and share why they're not voting for not voting for Trump?
It is so important. And and all you have to do is watch those clips of those well-known Republicans telling their stories, if you can. That's how you connect to people. That's how you move. People both in their thinking and their action is being as personal and as real and sincere as you can possibly be. Every single person in the United States of America has been hurt by Donald Trump one way or another, whether it's economically, whether it is, you know, just to your spirit, whether you have lost a loved one to to.
Coronavirus to cope at 19, you know, someone who has if if you've had anybody in your family who has required medical care, that has nothing to do with covid-19 during this quarantine and during this this pandemic, then you have been hurt by this. Anyone who's been through that experience knows how absolutely horrific it has been for anyone to get the medical care that they need. So I just I can never emphasize enough and this is something I always talked about when I was chairman to our activists.
And whether you're on social media or talking to family or anything else, just be real. Just tell the truth, be yourself, tell your story. And that's what's going to move people. That's what's going to that's what's going to connect with people. How important is it? I don't know. What's the maximum scale of gazillions of importance. That's how important it is. Something Jennifer brought up is, you know, we don't have kings and queens in this country by design.
Right. We've fought a whole war over it. But if you tell me that having a president who is empathetic and understands the needs of individual Americans versus what we've got doesn't matter. I would I would I would commend to you the idea that, you know, all of these, you know, nativist, ethno centric people that we've that the Republican Party and the conservative movement, such as it was in the United States for many years, kept at the fringes or at least the country writ large, was able to push back into the woods, have now been allowed to flourish in or out on the plains.
And so I think what you see is that this stuff does matter is that I think there are a lot of people, and I hate to say this, who might have otherwise never said the things out loud that they might have thought in their head because it wasn't socially acceptable, because some things, whether they want to believe it or not, socially acceptable, that's part of being a society. Donald Trump has allowed those people to flourish and to come out into the sunlight.
And I think that it's someone like Joe Biden who's going to say, you know, when when my my my girls are growing up and they say, who's the president? I say, Joe Biden. And they say, is he a good person? I'm going to say, yeah, he's a grandfather, just like your grandfather's. Right. He's he's someone who cares just as much about his girls as I care about you. Can I say can I say that about the current president?
I can't because it's not true. And so I think that as a as a as a leader, it's not just about organizing the government and executing against the things that the American people need, but it's also serving as the exemplar of, I think, for our children and for so many of us what it is it means to be an American. And certainly I think we've taken a hard right turn on that.
The other thing that I think that Joe Biden talked about that really deeply connected with me when he talked about his father and the things that his father would say to him, who is a blue collar working class guy. And he would say, Joey and he would talk about the dignity of labor at a job is fundamental to a sense of purpose and worth. And it was so refreshing to hear a political leader connected to that value, which so many of them are detached from.
And I just was thinking about this story from earlier this summer where there were two men who 30 years ago made a handshake deal that if one of them ever won the lottery, that they would split, that they would split the prize. And there was no contract, just two friends and one of them won the lottery, a lot of money, 20, 30 million dollars. And he split the money with his friend on the basis of a handshake and a long ago promise.
And I think about that in the context of these lines from Biden's speech last night where he says here and I'll give you I give you my word, if you can trust me with the presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst.
I'll be an ally of the light, not the darkness. It's time for us, for we, the people to come together, which is certainly true.
But, you know, for certain that he means it. And when Joe Biden says, I give you my word, Joe Biden is the type of man that you can put that in the bank. And he's seventy seven years old. And that's been true probably for at least 70 years. And we know the quality of the character of the man and one of the great poisonings of our soul that Trump has brought us is there is around this point is around the fundamental systemic dishonesty that if Trump ever said, I give you my word, you'd be waiting for the knife to be plunged in your back again.
Good man versus bad man. And it's really at a fundamental level as simple as that.
Let's move on to the two pieces of news this week that were very noticeably absent from the Democratic National Convention, particularly Joe Biden's speech. But first was the news that the Republican led Senate Intelligence Committee issued their final report in their more than three year long investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The report concluded that Moscow, quote, engaged in an aggressive, multifaceted effort to influence or attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, end quote.
And one of the key findings of the report centers around Trump's 2016 campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The Intelligence Committee's report identifies Manafort, a longtime friend and co-worker, Konstantin Klimek, as a Russian intelligence officer and states Manafort created a, quote, grave counterintelligence threat and, quote, By passing information about the 2016 race to Klimek, Manafort shared confidential polling data and details about Trump's campaign strategy. So, Steve, let's start with you on this one, because you've worked on multiple presidential campaigns at the highest levels.
What was your reaction to the communications from top campaign officials and a Russian intelligence officer?
Well, first off, on the two presidential campaigns that I worked on, if a hostile foreign power made contact in any way with the campaign, would have called the FBI and wouldn't hesitate to do it right within 30 seconds or so, would have everybody that I worked with.
Second thing is true story. I called the Hillary Clinton campaign in, in and in the late spring, early summer when Manafort took over. And I and I said, quote. He's a Russian spy, you know that, and this was this was not news to anybody, if you were working for Yushchenko in Ukraine, you were on the Kremlin payroll. And so this isn't a revelation. None of the stuff in the report is a revelation. What's amazing, though, is to read the report, which came out of the committee that Marco Rubio is the chairman of having recently replaced Richard Burr, proving that in one man's insider trading scandal is another man's opportunity in the Senate Republican conference.
So this Rubio report comes out. And it's written in English and it's very direct in its findings, and then Rubio comes out and tells everybody that it says exactly the opposite of what's written in it. It's incredible, the gaslighting. And so, yeah, the Russians penetrated the Trump campaign. They absolutely colluded together. Collusion has a meaning in the English language, and it is and continues to be an outrage. And all of this stuff is still happening.
And it won't stop until we have a president, we have a president.
But I think that's a really important point, that this is not this is not done. And in the past, now that the report is out and final, this is happening now.
It continues. Can can I just can I just say one thing for quickly and then I'll let Jennifer go before we talk more about it is here in Utah. Back in twenty sixteen, a friend of mine said, what do you think about Paul Manafort? And I said, well, other than the fact he's an agent of Russian intelligence, I think he's a great guy. And the guy's like, you're full of shit. I'm like, OK, and that.
And then it all came out. He's like, you're right. I'm like, I know. It was the worst kept secret in Washington, D.C. for 30 years. Like, this was not a surprise to anybody who lived inside the Beltway. Going back to when I was a kid, everybody knew. And so, yeah, this is end. But I think I want to like Jennifer go. But I do think there's there's a string to play out here on the fact that it's still ongoing and what else it means.
But go ahead and just extending on that, that it's still ongoing. What else does it mean? You know, people are asking all of us all the time. We put out an ad against the senator that, senator, why are you going after the Senate? Why are you going after the senators just to beat drunk Trump? This is why we're going after the senators who is on that committee. Do you know a couple of senators that you've seen ads against from the Lincoln Project?
If when we founded this organization, we said we are here to defeat Trump and Trump ism. So here's what everybody needs to know about that. Was a Republican majority committee, a Republican authored report. It was a year and a half, a year and a half in the making. So let's set aside the beginning of the Trump administration. Just look at the last year and a half when all of these Republicans knew what we all now have confirmed for us, but we've all known all along.
But it's now been confirmed for us. And look at all the things that happened. Where were those Republicans in the middle of that impeachment trial? Where were they on the day that you had to vote on the impeachment that that cleared that presented clear and obvious evidence of the president's guilt? Where have they been throughout this entire pandemic debacle, disaster? The constant you know, Steve talked about gaslighting, but it's not just the gas lying to me. What's worse than that is the silence or the bullshit answer.
I say, oh, I don't look at his Twitter feed.
I don't I you know, that's just the president, the senior shuffle into the the conference on.
And the whole time they knew for this report tells us clearly they knew. That's why the Lincoln Project is looking at Republican senators.
Here's the craziest thing about this whole era. I think, like, if you if we maybe we could do one of these where we where we rank them all on the on the first Senate Republican Conference lunch after the. Attack on the peacefully assemble protesters in front of the White House so Trump could walk across the street to St. John's and hold the Bible upside down. The day the Senate Republican Conference lunch, I know this for a fact. In that lunch, none of this was discussed.
You just it didn't come up. I mean, think about that. You have it. You have an assembly of Republican senators get together. To have lunch, George Floyd has been killed recently. We have these protests and they didn't they didn't talk about it and they were they were they were a mile away. That's just like it wasn't like it's happening. I mean, these people aren't just silent, complicit cowards. They're there is fundamentally out of touch with what's going on in this country as President Snow and his cabinet in The Hunger Games in Panama.
I mean, it's it's it's really it's really, really incredible.
And it's why they got to go what what Jennifer said was right. They knew. They've known. Yeah. So we talk we often talk about and we we we, you know, excoriate them for their silence. This is this this is no less than active participation. If they knew 18 months ago, which we all knew, frankly, four years ago what was going on, and they had conclusive evidence of it. And then they took proactive steps to ensure that the person they knew was guilty of these things was then cleared and exonerated of further acts.
In the same vein, then they are accomplices. They were not silent bystanders. Again, I just can't help but think of John McCain. I mean, he would have gone so batshit fuckin crazy, right? There's not a there's not there's not a word not a word to describe to describe what his reaction would have been been to that and to see what it is, is just is gone. It's shocking. When you think back, I'll always be shocked.
I mean, even prior to McCain, think about in the 80s as someone like a Howard Baker from Tennessee who was a lion of the Senate in his own regard. White House chief of staff. But in someone I was lucky enough to meet when he was ambassador to Japan with his wife, Nancy Kassebaum Baker, former senator from Kansas. These were people who in their core. Right, many of them had fought for their country, right? Certainly McCain certainly sacrificed and suffered for his.
They would never have allowed this kind of behavior. And just I was thinking about this the other day when I was a kid.
Do you remember how many straight days of hearings there were with Ollie North and his potted plant lawyer sitting there because he sold missiles to Iran and used the money to fund the Contras and that took weeks. We got shit that goes on every day that is like six hours worth of news. And then it moves on like where have we gone as a country where like where we where's our outrage? Right. Remember Dole in ninety six? Where's the outrage? Like, it's a good question.
Just twenty five years too early. Yeah. Know. And so I think that we, we, as we think about this sort of great reset that occurs only when and if the trump goes is like we have to say, there are there are lines in government that we will not cross. There are institutions that matter. And we need to we need to reestablish those. And it's not an easy job. Right. As is the great. Well, I don't know if he was great, but the long time Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn from Texas said, you know, any any jackass can kick a barn down.
It takes a carpenter to build one. Well, we got the biggest jackass in the in the barnyard here, kicking barns down left and right. And we need a carpenter like Biden to get it back together.
And, you know, Steve, talking about John McCain in all of this, I did not at all know John McCain the way Steve Schmidt did. And but I campaigned with him. I was on the ballot with them in 2008 up here and and then throughout the primary. And so every time I saw them, two things about him. One, I was always impressed that he remembered who I was. That because, you know, how many millions of people did John McCain meet and interact?
But they always knew I was. But in the middle of the primary in 2016, I got in trouble because I. I forget exactly what it was. I was particularly damning remark that I gave to The Boston Globe about Donald Trump that was always getting in trouble about Donald Trump because I just couldn't keep my mouth shut. He was so horrible. I was chairman of the party and everyone expected me to be quiet. So the John McCain was up here campaigning for Lindsey Graham.
And I can't even remember. I think we were at a sort of a small town hall and I talked to him afterwards. How are you? You're doing great. This, you know, and he kind of pulled me in just a little bit closer to me. Apparently, he had read the Boston Globe story and he pulled me in and he said, keep it up. People need to hear it. People need to hear that kind of talk.
Just keep keep it up chairman or something. And and it was just like this little thing, but it was totally John McCain, you know, and and where is that person today in the US Senate? Because you know who it's not it's not his good friend, Lindsey Graham. And I have no right to comment on their friendship. That's none of my business. But Lindsey Graham has not picking up picked up the mantle of John McCain because Lindsey Graham, by the way, at a Christmas event during that primary, pulled me close and said to me something similar, something like keep it up.
You got it. You know, you're doing the right thing. I hate that effing guy is what he said in my ear at an event. So that and I'm sorry.
Are they golfing together right now, this morning? Are they on the golf course together?
It's unbelievable to me. And the thing about John McCain is, if nothing else, he told the truth and truth matters. And that's what Donald Trump has destroyed.
Steve, I'll tell a short John McCain story before we transition to our next subject, but we remember being on a plane with John McCain and there were about six of us.
And it was unbelievable turbulence and by unbelievable turbulence. I'm talking like the scene from Castaway with Tom Hanks. You heard like the engines whirring. I've never been in a plane like that. And McCain was sitting there. We were all white knuckled, looking at each other. And McCain is just very calmly reading the paper and he pulls the paper down and he looks at all of us and he goes, Jesus Christ. Everybody goes, relax, relax. He goes, I've been in five.
Plane crashes, because that's not how I'm going. And he put his and he put the paper back up and we were all we were all calm for about 30 seconds.
And then he pulled the paper back down he goes. Then again, maybe I'll be the only survivor.
That was John.
OK, let's let's move to our next.
Can I can I just run one quick thing, because I think it's important for folks listening to understand what it took to put this in the context of the next 70 some days. Yes. Is that you see the Rubio report, which now its chairman is repudiating. Remember that this is the same Marco Rubio who ensured back to Steve's earlier point that the provision about making it federal law, the presidential campaigns had to report foreign contacts, made sure that that provision was stripped out.
You know, they put a patsy in there as Chair Burr for all of his insider trading issues, was, I think, a fair dealer on these things. You now see Russian and Ron Johnson from Wisconsin, who is is chair of the oversight committee in the Senate, is now carrying Russian water for bereavement. All these things he's going to do next month as he calls people close to Biden. And I'm sure they'll subpoena Hunter Biden to make that a story and then there'll be some other October surprise that they come up with.
And so it's all of a pattern. And I think if you if you'd asked me to do this a year ago and I heard myself future Reid talking about this stuff, I'd think that I'd had some sort of massive head injury. But that's where we are now. It's all of a tire and it's all does two things. The one, obviously, there's the straight tearing down of a Joe Biden to make him more vulnerable to attack. But then there's the second piece, which is the continual and I think insidious delegitimization and sort of confusion of the American electorate to ensure that less people show up.
Because as we decided and I think our our colleague, Mike Madrid, can talk about Donald Trump can't win a high turnout election. It's got to be it's got to be a depressed, low turnout electorate like 20, which is why it's so important for everybody.
Listening to go to Lincoln Project. Let us vote. Right. Ron, thank you for that.
But Jennifer. Yes, absolutely. And actually, before we leave this topic. But so there's another piece of this report because it also provided new information about communication between Russian intelligence and WikiLeaks and between WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign. The committee found that WikiLeaks not only played a role in election interference, but also very likely knew it was assisting a Russian intelligence effort. That's a quote. And Roger Stone served as the Go-Between for WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign. In a written answer to Robert Bullets team Trump said he could not recall discussing WikiLeaks with Roger Stone.
Despite this, the report says, despite Trump's recollection, the committee assesses that Trump did, in fact speak with Stone about WikiLeaks and with members of his campaign about Stone's access to WikiLeaks on multiple occasions. Read I know the answer to this already, but I didn't ask you anyway. Do you buy that? Trump didn't remember speaking to Stone that multiple conversations about what was critical aspect of the campaign would slip his memory?
No, but he's like Vincent the Chin Gigante after he was elected or excuse me, indicted. You know, he's shuffling around in his bathrobe up and down the street in Queens or Brooklyn, wherever the hell it is. Donald Trump's memory is selective all the time. And remember that to him, whatever comes out of his mouth is the truth at that moment because he has no conception of reality. So, yeah, I'm sure he did, because it's all self-preservation or self aggrandizement.
Those are the only two gears Trump has.
So when you read that, you have to say Donald Trump is either an idiot or a crook. I think we need to understand that. He's both. He's both. Yeah, I mean, look, this is this. I mean, the Trump organization and the family and now the White House has been an ongoing criminal enterprise for the better part of four years. Yeah.
All right. Last but certainly not least yesterday, Trump's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
Here we go. Was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering. Bannon and three others are accused of using hundreds of thousands of dollars raised in an online crowdfunding campaign called We Build the Wall for Personal Use. The organization was founded in twenty eighteen to raise private funds to create a wall along the US Mexico border and told donors that 100 percent of the funds raised would go toward building the wall. The indictment was announced by acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss.
If that name sounds familiar, it's because she took over the office when Bill Barr pushed out Jeffrey Berman. For more on that, check out our weekly roundup from June. Twenty sixth. Now, after Banon's arrest, Trump said that he was involved in our campaign. That's a quote. And for a small part of the administration, very early, it is the people who brought us the best coffee and brought the best coffee.
Delicious. It was just coffee, OK?
How worried should Trump and his associates be about Bannon, so can we just just before we get to that, I just want to there's a couple of other great aspects to this story. Now, I want to start out by saying, because there's great glee across much of the land with this news, but everybody in America, including Steve Bannon, has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And so we should remember that we have one political party in this country that's for kangaroo court justice and locking up political opponents.
We don't we don't need to have a second one. So that being said, I love the fact that he was arrested by postal agents who arrived by sea plane to get them off the boat. Off of off of Connecticut is incredible.
And on the 50 foot yacht of a Chinese exiled billionaire.
Yes. Yes. So that's the postal agents. And I just like my so my first thought was on this. And I'm a huge and I know Reid is I am a huge fan. And it may be the biggest maybe in all my life.
Right. For a television show. There is no show that I have loved more than Yellowstone. Like, I love it. And there is and there's like one lesson from Yellowstone that's like really clear is say, if you go to Montana, never, ever and I mean ever fuck around with a livestock agent. No. One, you watch the show, you'll know what I'm talking about. But number two, in the same sense, obviously, you don't mess around with the US Postal Service agents coming to get you by seaplane off the coast to the boat of the Chinese billionaire.
It's incredible. It's an incredible arrest. And then baMMing comes out looking like, I don't know what like we talk about that for a minute. I've never I will say this. He does deeply and darkly tan. Right? He's got he's got this unbelievable tan. He's got the long hair. He's got two shirts on. But as we were talking about, if you go to prison, you only wear one shirt, you'll get to wear two shirts in prison.
And so that's something that Steve Bannon is going to have to think about probably in these in these months ahead.
If if you're not a real transition, if you're not a fan of Carl Hiaasen, who's whose mystery novels are just a fascinating and perfect look into Florida. I mean, Bannon is a is a is a bad guy out of a HIAS novel. I mean, he is he's like he's the guy that he he could only dream to create in one of his in his books. And he's so three dimensional and he abandoned his. So who he is. I mean this is the thing is Ron, why is this why is this not as big a deal as it should be?
Because it doesn't surprise anybody. Right. Does it shock anybody? Know that Bannon and his goons started a scam and took twenty five million dollars worth of old people's money? No, it doesn't surprise anybody. Yeah. Does it surprise anybody that Donald Trump pretended not to hear about it? And then we have the video. And I think, Ron, maybe we could pull the clips together. I think I think Keith pulled him yesterday of Kris Kobach saying he talked to Trump in the Oval Office about an Oval Office.
And Trump said, you have my full support and tell the media to. Right. It's just it's the problem is, frankly, and I mean, it's it's funny because otherwise we'd cry. Is that like it doesn't there's such a discount rate on the entire goon squads behavior that everybody's like, yeah, I guess. I mean, sure doesn't make it so. That's so. And he sort of joins a half dozen other campaign advisers who've been indicted since Trump.
So I think you went up that number at least. Yeah.
I mean, it's just it's just like it's a pack of scumbags that just almost defies description. Truly. It does, right. I mean, God Trump Junior that Kimberly Guilfoyle, the grift, the theft, the dishonesty, the scamming. It's just.
Beyond beyond words, and it's just so out in the open and what can you say if there's to be real? It's always been and they've just got a platform now where they've been able to to maximize their crooked graft. If they it's Steve. This is who Steve Bannon has always been. This is who Donald Trump has always been. What's really disturbing about it, to me, at least on the surface, when you first read the story, when you realize who are the people that donated that?
Twenty seven dollars million, there are people who gave their last dollar to that, people who were drawn in and convinced that there was some sort of deadly invasion of marauders coming across the border. And Donald Trump needed them to help save America, build this fence and elderly people giving their Social Security young, you know, I mean, just go through the list. These were not millionaires and billionaires saying, here, have a couple of my extra million.
Those are the kind of bets of the people that they're taking advantage of. Unbelievable. To me, it infuriates me.
Well, maybe one of the lessons going forward from this is that when we consider who to make future presidents of the United States, that if you ran a scam university, that tells you something, if if you decided that your business was going to be stake's right and that people would buy stakes, that said Trump on them, maybe you're not the right guy for president.
And as long as you're at it just really quickly, it's not a grift. But if you had your teenage daughter sit on your lap and you tell everybody, you know, that, gee, if she wasn't your daughter, you'd probably data. I would like to think that disqualifies you as well. It's just so creepy. There are two salient questions to this topic that I'd really like to get your many fake passports.
Just so I know, there are a lot of hot topics here, but there are two questions that are important that I'd like you to answer.
So the first and these are mirror images of each other. So I'm going to read them both and you guys can have at it first is how worried should be about Banan number one? And number two is we should note that this indictment came out of the Southern District of New York after Barr pushed out Bermann and tried to install a new acting U.S. attorney from outside the office. How concerned are you that the Trump administration is looking to use the Department of Justice to protect the president and his allies?
Those are two separate questions. But the second question answers itself. He is using it to protect him.
So, I mean, I don't I don't see all the folks you mentioned in the Southern District of New York. I don't know who they are off the top of my head. But I would say that Bill Barr is our favorite interior minister since Jaruzelski in seventy three in Warsaw. So, I mean, he's he's at it, you know, and I think that a lot of the stuff you see, you know, that that guy what's his name, Chad from DHS.
He's not smart enough to figure this stuff out at a bar. Probably is. And on the first question, how concerned should he be? He's going to let him off the hook, right. Maybe I'll let him dangle for a few days. But, you know, at some point, if and when Bannon goes to trial, Trump's gonna let him off the hook. I mean, what's at this point? What's the downside for Trump? I mean, he already let the rest of them off the hook.
I mean I mean, I think Manafort probably doesn't say anything because God knows, he's got a lot bigger problems than Trump to worry about as far as like people after him. Right. Gates is probably already in and out of prison. You know, some of these other guys got a slap on the wrist and Flynn's fate is up to a district judge in D.C. So it wouldn't surprise me if he lets them off the hook because, you know, there's no downside for Trump.
If this was going to say that, you know, Bannon isn't going to flip because he's got just look at Roger Stone. He knows. He knows. He's just got to hold on. And and sooner or later, you know, the whether it's Bilborough, Trump or, you know, it's somewhere along the process, he knows he'll get he'll get saved, he'll get rescued out of this. But then I thought about a little further and I thought, Roger Stone for the weird creepy screwed up crazy person that he is, is a lot tougher than Steve Bannon.
I think Steve Bannon is soft and I think he is really soft. So I don't know where are they going to put it? Well, I don't know what the process looks like.
They let him out always, but I couldn't. Yeah, he posted bail, which I couldn't believe that in random, given the fact that he was on a Chinese billionaire yacht in the Long Island sound. I mean, this is a guy who, for all of his other foibles, probably understands what hole he can go climb into for a few years if he needs to.
Yeah, man. Steve? Well, I mean, you know, look, I mean, he already looks like he's been living in the woods for 20 years. Right. So from a fugitive perspective, you know, I don't look, I he. He's bad guy. He's the architect of a lot of the. Real toxic sludge is shit that the country dealing with off of these Breitbart platforms and everything else and. No doubt a crooked guy in the whole lot of them, they're all just a bunch of bunch of crooks, that's what it what it proves.
I mean, the whole idea of it's preposterous. Give us twenty five million dollars will build the wall. I beat the wall literally 50 years from now.
If the country makes it and endures, I mean, it will be very hard to try to communicate to people about the total stupidity of this of this moment. Right. Particularly around the wall. Right. It'll be an avatar, the stupidity of the age, the wall that Mexico is going to pay for the wall, the Trump claims to have built but doesn't exist. Right. The twenty five million dollars that is campaign chairman and son and son's girlfriend were involved in scheming to build Americans out of millions of dollars for it's just it's just no words.
And I would say this is that, you know, what will happen is and I do not recommend anybody actually do this, but if you listen to Steve Bannon's podcast, which is not nearly as good as the Lincoln Project podcast, it is it is a total detachment from reality. You just spend 15 minutes with it and you have to sort of shake yourself out of a torpor that it puts you into because you get you get this sort of weird vibe out of it.
But it would not surprise me that if he's either on the air today, recording today or sometime next week, that this will all be part of a deep state conspiracy to get the Trumps and to get him. And they're going to try and make him flip it. By God, he's never going to turn on Donald Trump, the greatest press the United States has ever had. And so, you know, it's it's in it in its own twisted way.
Bannon will use his arrest for for for his own gain to continue to push the sewage into the American political scene.
You say you didn't state that he's already started to do that. There's this clip out yesterday from some Internet news site. I forget what it was called.
It's and it's it was called not the Russian intelligence services where I swear, not the Russian intelligence service, but it's been, you know, standing where I assume he was supposed to have been somewhere near the border.
The hair is blowing in the wind. He's got Colebatch on the phone and it's as if they're trying to set themselves up like he's interviewing them, telling this tale about the go fund me, the you know, the build the wall, go fund me account. And something about that. They had set up a go fund me earlier in the week to raise money for the victims of Black Lives Matter. And so and go fund me, shut them down.
And they're not going to tolerate this, you know, this attacking of conservatives by know media and go fund me and everybody else. So to show them we shut down our very successful Build the wall, go fund me page. We showed them we're not going to be censored. They they knew this was coming. I mean, they they knew this was coming. They knew this was just a day or two ago. I believe that they filmed this thing.
If it's well, don't leave out that the Black Lives Matter thing was just a scheme to get African-Americans to give them money. Yeah, it was.
It was for the victims of Black Lives Matter. It's even worse than that.
It's even worse than that. Oh, I think it was just set themselves up to be able to say we're being censored by go fund me. So we shut down this other account thinking that somehow that was going to protect them when this all crashed down on them yesterday. It's unbelievable.
But I mean, on the larger point is that the Trump Fox own and Bannon Limbaugh in Flywheel of death is a very real thing. And like they're added every day, you know, I say we've been we've been laughing because the humor is sometimes the best for over concern. But I mean, it's a very real thing and they work on it.
And if you talk about the Bible of death, you have to mention by name Jeanine Pirro and Sean Hannity.
Oh, yeah. Well, there was that story yesterday that I haven't had a chance to read about how everyone inside Fox News is beside themselves because even Trump has crossed some crazy line. But they don't want to go past, probably because none of them want to go to prison either, would be my guess.
Speaking of stories, other stories that you're watching. Let's let's wrap up here and look to the week ahead. So why don't we start with you, John.
Your stories focused on the Republican National Committee's convention next week. That's what I'm going to be watching and keeping an eye on. And in particular, I will be interested to see. I just out of curiosity, the production value compared to the Democrats, because the Democrats, I think, blew it out of the water with how do you run a covid convention? So I'm just curious to see if any thoughtfulness at all has gone into that. But more importantly is who is going to be speaking on behalf of the Republican Party in twenty twenty?
Who is going who will be the faces of the Trump Republican Party? How many of those U.S. senators are going to put their face in front of the camera and speak on behalf of the president? And who is the president going to bring in to be his people? We've already seen some of them. You know, the rich white couple with their guns pointed at peaceful protesters going down the street in front of their house. So I because I think that that is people, especially Republicans, especially please, my friends in the Republican Party, they have got to look at who crosses their screen at that convention and ask themselves, is this me?
Is this my party? Is this where I want to be? Is this where I want my country to be? And am I really going to give this the extraordinary privilege of my vote to this man? So that's and of course, as I said earlier, I'm going to be watching to see whether or not Donald Trump can can hold his hold, hold himself and just enough discipline to not make some comment about people who stutter or the disabled in some way between now and the end of the week.
Read, What are you looking at besides the RNC? I think the RNC will be the fever dream that it will be. So we'll just have to take that as it comes. But what I'm looking at is actually a little bit, probably two or three weeks into the future, maybe a month into the future, into September, which is I think that we've got a hell of a lot of economic pain coming our way. I think as as rental and mortgage forbearance comes to an end, as far as increasing numbers of default notices start to go out to homeowners.
You know, there's a lot of folks who think about, well, you live in an apartment building that must be owned by some big company and or some billionaire. But, you know, it very well might be if it's a nine or 10 unit building that this was bought by a couple who had a couple of good years in the 90s, the twins, and they're still paying a note on it. And if if the rent's not being paid, then they're not paying the mortgage and eventually the banks going to take it.
And those people probably saw that as their nest egg. And so I think that you're going to see a lot of this sort of cascading, you know, on the commercial front, real estate wise, on the on the residential front, know, I think we've seen an enormous small business bloodbath. A lot of these businesses, as Biden noted last night, they're never coming back. And then I think you also see even on the big company side, you're seeing massive layoffs.
Again, a lot of these folks are not going to go back to those jobs they had. And so I think that in some time by mid-September, I'm I'm deathly afraid that we're going to see some really ugly realities for tens of millions of us who have probably been for whom the the federal stimulus sort of helped keep afloat. Now the water has run out of that hose as it's been turned off. And, of course, the Republican Senate is gone until I think after Labor Day, because now and again, back to the whole purely pure aisle politics of this.
They now want to say that they're fiscal conservatives right after they've spent trillions of dollars on other crap jobs. But so I think that that's what I'm looking for. As people start to feel real pain, what does that mean for us as a country? And ultimately, whether or not I hope will be certainly making sure the people know who's whose feet it is the blame. But that's my fear, is what's going to happen sometime in the next month or so.
Yeah, Steve, let's close with you. What's your story or what are you watching next week? Well, next week will be the Republican convention and whatever levels of insanity I'm sure it will achieve, I know that it will exceed those. And we're going to get to see a really stark choice for the for the country. And, you know, next week going to be very worrying when you see the numbers of people in this country that support this rancid message which will emerge out of this out of this convention.
So all eyes on that and then the fight that follows because there's just such a clear path and such great consequences if we go down the wrong one. Thank you to read, Jennifer and Steve, for being on the show today, and thanks to all of you at home for listening. You can find more information about our movement at Lincoln Project US if you have any questions, comments or advice for us. You can reach us at podcast, at Lincoln Project at us.
Please know that even if we don't respond, we read every email we get and we appreciate hearing from you. As a matter of fact, starting on next week's round up, we're going to read a listener question and answer your life. If you haven't yet, it would really help us if you would subscribe rate and review the show wherever you get your podcasts. This helps new voters find us and join our mission to beat Trump at the ballot box for the Lincoln Project.
I'm Ron Suslow. I'll see you in the next episode.