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Welcome to Political. I'm Ron Suslow and this is 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 transforming the political landscape. We have a really tremendous panel today making his political debut is David Becker. David is the executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, a CBS News contributor and a former senior trial attorney in the voting section of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division.


David, welcome and thank you so much for joining us. Thanks for having me. Returning to the roundup is Lucy Caldwell, a veteran political strategist and tech founder and a former senior political adviser at the Goldwater Institute. Lucy. It's always good to have you back. Good to see you guys. Also returning is Mike Madrid, a political strategist and our resident expert in demographics and Latino politics and a former political director of the California Republican Party. Mike, welcome back.


Hey, guys. Great to be back on today's show. We'll discuss election integrity as it relates to Georgia's recent elections and former Trump legal team mastermind Sidney Powells defense against him in his lawsuit. We'll examine the new evidence showing preplanning and premeditation among multiple perpetrators in the January six insurrection and the astounding political donations insurrectionists made in the wake of the election. And finally, we'll talk about the heartbreaking and infuriating events in Boulder and the cyclical debate we are stuck in over guns.


So to kick things off, let's talk about election security and specifically election security in Georgia. You may recall Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's Republican secretary of state, who emerged as a pivotal figure through former President Trump's attempts to overturn the results of the 2012 election. Trump and his allies sought Raffensperger help to alter votes to ultimately change the results in Georgia under the guise of widespread fraud, which did not exist. And Raffensperger adamantly defended his state's certified results in November and then again in January, when Georgia voters replaced Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Lefler with Democrats Reverend Raphael Warnock and John Asaph.


So first, David, it would be great if you could set the scene for us and sort of describe what Secretary Raffensperger was saying as he defended the integrity of Georgia's election results in the most recent election cycle. Well, I think it really goes back to all of the preparation that Secretary Raffensperger and, frankly, his colleagues all around the nation did in advance of the 2020 election, even before the pandemic hit, and then how the pandemic changed that so much.


We have a real schism between reality and fantasy right now in the United States. The reality of the twenty twenty election in Georgia and throughout the rest of the United States is that we just ran the most secure, transparent, accessible, successful election in American history. And we did it in the middle of a global pandemic. And yet there are still tens of millions of people fed by a stream of lies coming from the losing candidate in the race that that believe the exact opposite of that.


Georgia is ground zero for this. And Georgia is a great example of this schism. Georgia in 2020 had very accessible voting. Everyone in the state could choose to vote by mail. They could choose to vote early in person. And they did this very successfully at places like State Farm Arena where the Atlanta Hawks play, and they could choose to vote on Election Day. They checked every single mail ballot application to confirm the identity of the voter multiple times and checked the ballots when they came in.


The signature matching was overseen by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, which I think most people who work in criminal law enforcement will tell you is one of the the the most effective state bureau of Investigation in the United States. Georgia also, very importantly, for the first time in two decades, offered auditable paper ballots, paper ballots that could actually be recounted by hand by human beings. And this is important because in 2016 and even in 2018, they were still using electronic voting machines that only recorded those ballots digitally.


If you do a recount, you literally just hit a button and hope it reports out the same numbers. There's no way for human beings to check that the machines were working properly. Under Secretary Raffensperger, the state moved to an entire statewide paper system so that they could do what they did do, which was they counted those presidential ballots not once, not twice, but three times, three different ways, twice using two different machine methods and once entirely by hand, overseen by observers, from both political parties, from both campaigns.


And those ballots clearly indicate on them either Trump or Biden or some other candidate in some cases. And now after three counts, we've confirmed that every single time Biden won by a five digit margin and Georgia voters more so probably than voters anywhere else in the United States, should absolutely feel confident that their votes were counted accurately and that there was security. And and it wasn't just Secretary Raffensperger and his staff who did an outstanding job during this whole process. It was also local election officials, Democrats and Republicans, who worked tirelessly to make sure this would take place.


And largely their reward for it was death threats and vitriol from people who were upset about the outcome.


Just out of curiosity, what catalyzed that decision to move to paper, to a paper trail, essentially? When did that happen? Yeah, and I don't actually use the term paper trail. These are paper ballots that the ballot itself, the the the record of the voter's intent is on the ballot.


And those are the ballots. It isn't some separate receipt or something like that. OK, but that being said, it has been the consensus of people who work in election security like myself for some time, that we need an indelible record of the voter's intent at the time they cast the ballot. Right now, that is paper, whether they be Democrats or Republicans. We see states moving to paper. In 2016, for instance, about roughly 75 to 80 percent of all voters voted on paper.


But that excluded states like Georgia and South Carolina and large portions of North Carolina and Virginia and Pennsylvania, which are obviously very important states, especially when you look at the presidential map. All of those states in twenty twenty were all paper. Every single battleground state had auditable paper ballots and we saw more audits of those ballots than ever before. That is a best practice. It is consensus. It is not political. And we could see the value in that when when those ballots can be recounted.


I think, interestingly, the Trump campaign had the opportunity to recount ballots in Pennsylvania and Michigan and Wisconsin. I think we all remember in twenty sixteen, the Jule Styne campaign paid for recounts in those three states statewide. And they did confirm the results that Trump won all three states narrowly and did win the presidency in twenty twenty. The Trump campaign had the opportunity and certainly had the funds to pay for that. And they chose to recount out of those three states, only two counties in Wisconsin, and neither of which ran the famous Dominion voting system software, even though there were other counties in the state that did run those those systems.


So they basically bypassed the opportunity to have a hand recount and review the. Review of those paper ballots, so put your money where your mouth is, maybe Mike. In a tweet earlier this week, Raffensperger equated the false claims of widespread voter fraud in 2020 with Georgia's contested twenty eighteen gubernatorial election. In the in the tweet, he says for two years at Stacey, Abrams spread the same conspiracy theories about Georgia's elections that have been used since November to devastating effect.


Securing Georgia's elections means acknowledging baseless, stolen. I put that in air quotes. Election claims are a bipartisan problem. So can you help us understand why Raffensperger seemingly is conflating twenty twenty false claims of voter fraud with twenty eighteen alleged voter suppression? There's two different things going on here.


Well, I think the bigger point is, and I agree with Raffensperger, I think that the bigger point is that this has become a tactic that both sides have used. And it's unfortunately a tactic that I have seen to the better course of my 30 years as a practitioner. You know, one side talks about ballot integrity and fraud. The other one talks about voter suppression. These are all very legitimate concerns that we must, as an American people, be very vigilant to be watching.


But the accusations that are levied from both sides do suggest that it is a far bigger, far more widespread problem than they actually are. I want to be very careful when I say that, because I will get tremendous and extraordinary blowback, because people have bought into this idea that this is a very, very common tactic that is used nationally by both sides. The truth is, the examples of both voter fraud and voter suppression are remarkably small in account in a country where there are many, many tens of millions of people voting.


And as David accurately pointed out, even in the middle of a global pandemic, we had an extraordinarily successful election. That does not mean that we should not remain vigilant, always vigilant, but it also means we should put it into perspective and not fall into these partizan silos, because whether the attack come from the right or from the left, whether they come from our heroes or our villains, it starts to undermine confidence in the system. And that's the ultimate danger.


We will always find these few exceptional examples. And I fully acknowledge that they're becoming less exceptional when the president of the United States is actively asking people to undermine the integrity of the elections, a fully acknowledge that fully agree with that have been completely critical of that. But by and large, these examples have been very few and far between. And it is important to remember that the vast majority of our history as a as a country have largely been about having fair and honest elections, not always.


And I think with increased scrutiny, we are getting better at it. And again, we just came out of a very successful one. But the point here is that both sides engage in this type of dangerous rhetoric. It is entirely legitimate to raise those concerns about these elections when there is demonstrable evidence, when there is not, and when it is for crass political purposes. The only the only end game here is to undermine our confidence in the legitimacy of the office holders who are making decisions and the process itself.


That is perhaps the greatest threats to our democratic institutions at this moment in time. I fully believe that that we can beat back these fringe elements that are attacking our institutions. I think we need to fight them vigorously. But it is very difficult to fight against is against something that David pointed out. You know, you've got a good third of the American people who believe that the most transparent, competent election in our history that was just held was somehow rife with voter fraud and is illegitimate.


That's dangerous. That's dangerous. That's the design. And unfortunately, and I'm not trying to make an equivocal comparison here, it's dangerous when it comes from both sides and it's rhetoric that should not be allowed to be acceptable without evidence. And it's incumbent upon people from their own parties to step up and call out their own leaders. The way Raffensperger did is just as imperative that people on the Democratic side of the aisle stand up and say this is inappropriate rhetoric without demonstrable evidence at the same time.


So, Lucy, The New York Times reported that in December, Raffensperger voiced his support for ending no excuse absentee voting, saying it opens the door to potential illegal voting even while he was in the midst of defending Georgia's electoral system against accusations from Trump that the election was rigged. So how are you thinking about Republicans, even those who will defend democracy from false claims of voter fraud, being so willing to support some of the same forms of voter suppression?


Well, I think that we have to be really careful when we talk about vote by mail and more broadly absentee voting, because first we should say that it appears that in Georgia, that controversial provision that had been proposed, that would be part of a package in Georgia to do away with some of these kind of cherished voting voting options that the provision to do with doing away with absentee voting will not be part of that package. And that's that's good news for people who want to expand and maximize voters ability to vote.


Ditto in Iowa, where a package just went through a couple of weeks ago. There are some problematic aspects of that, but mail in voting has remained intact. I think that we have to not only ask Republicans to be honest with themselves about the fact that before twenty sixteen mail in voting was a thing that Republicans loved and did well with and used at at high rates. But we also need to ask Democrats to be honest about their rhetoric around these issues more broadly, they said.


An op ed in The Wall Street Journal this week by Karl Rove about whether these sort of bills going through these state legislatures represent voter suppression or whether this is sort of left wing scare tactics gone wild. And one thing that Karl Rove, who is not exactly like a guy that I would say is like a champion of democracy. But one thing that Karl Rove says is that he notes that some of the provisions in various states that Democrats now are either holding up as these are sort of like core cherished voting tactics or things that they claim Republicans are doing to suppress votes are are not even voting options in some blue states, in states like New York or Connecticut and others.


And so I think that I am for maximizing people's ability to vote anyway. Anyhow, let's get as many voters as possible. But I think that it would really help Democrats in their messaging on this if they would also say to Democratic state legislatures around the country, you should be looking to maximize voting options as well. David, you're nodding. I'd love to get your thoughts on this.


Yeah, I think Mike and Lucy bring up so many important and absolutely right points too often. And this isn't just this past year, but it's gotten much worse in this past year. The debate is defined by two kind of binary opposites. One, the extreme right says it's either integrity and fraud that we're concerned about. And the extreme left says its accessibility and suppression that we care about. And so many of the successful election procedures that have been implemented by states both red and blue across the country encompass both of those.


It is they are not polar opposites. They often go hand in hand. One of the things I like to point out a lot is that early voting and mail voting is not only really great as an option for voters for convenience, it's also an important integrity measure. The more we spread voting out over a series of days, the more likely it is that we're going to discover fraud or we're going to discover some kind of cyber event that infected a voter database, for instance, as was attempted to some degree in twenty sixteen.


So much of these things work together. Arizona has found that to be true.


Arizona has a long history with very successful mail voting that their voters like and have very, very successful, secure elections. Georgia has found that to be true.


And if we look at states like Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Iowa, I like to talk about those states sometimes because those states have a lot in common.


All of those states have very accessible mail voting. All of those states have very easy early voting. All of those states have very accessible Election Day voting. They all have paper ballots. They all have Republican legislatures, Republican governors and Republican secretaries of state. And the only difference you can really identify in any of those processes in those four states is that the outcome of the election is one of those states in the presidential race was slightly different than the other three.


And and and they all run excellent elections. And I think we do need to start listening to the election professionals, the election administrators like Brad Raffensperger in Georgia, like Secretary Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat in Michigan who've really successfully navigated this process. Arizona's secretary of State, Katie Hobbs is another good one. And they are the main differences, as election officials always say, please let the margins be wide. Know the only difference in what happened in Georgia and what happened in Florida is the margin was much narrower in Georgia.


And I'll tell you, they're very good. Election officials in Florida couldn't have been happier about that regardless of the outcome.


Can you talk a little bit about what happened in twenty eight? And the difference between Stacey Abrams and Donald Trump, essentially because there's a substantive difference here between actual voter suppression, even if it's not going to swing an election and a far fetched conspiracy that Chavez was trying to swing the election to Biden. Right. These are these are two very different things and we shouldn't conflate them. So maybe you can help our listeners parse these.


So first, I'll say Mike is exactly right when he says this is something that infects both parties. To some degree, it is not equivalent right now. It is much more prevalent on the right and in the Republican Party than it is in the Democratic Party. But there is a smaller segment that is less powerful that didn't have the White House as a bully pulpit, that in 2016 said the machines were hacked without any evidence whatsoever and in twenty eighteen, to a slightly lesser degree, criticize the outcome of the of the Georgia election, which I've looked at all of the data.


I see no evidence that voter suppression or any other effort had an impact on the outcome of that race.


And I think this what this tells us is we need to reframe our discussion about this. There are things that are morally wrong or not don't don't have political impacts.


If a single eligible voter finds a barrier, an unnecessary barrier placed in their path to cast their ballot, that's a moral problem that we as the world's oldest continuous democracy should address.


But it might not be a political problem. It might not have changed the outcome of the election. And from my perspective, I am very grateful that there are people fighting that good fight to fight for every single eligible voters. Right. To cast a ballot with convenience and knowledge that will be counted accurately. But on the other hand, the political parties need to stop equating those two things. And there might have been circumstances and there certainly were in twenty eighteen in Georgia where eligible voters found problems voting.


I have yet to see enough evidence that there were was a net 53000 of those voters that would have changed the outcome of that twenty eighteen Georgia election, which doesn't mean that raising those problems is wrong. It we absolutely should try to correct those problems. And actually, if you look at what Georgia achieved in twenty twenty, I think they they've taken remarkable steps forward, which is why it's all the more important that they don't roll back those things that brought them that success.


Yeah. And, and, and the rhetorical sort of weaponization of those claims actually I think Mike is right. Leads to much bigger problems with the integrity of the system and the trust in the system in the first place. How do you think about that?


Well, Mike is exactly, exactly right on that. There is nothing that our adversaries in Russia and China and Iran would like more than for American citizens to lose trust and confidence in our system of democracy. We have seen them focusing their efforts on this for years, going back to before 2016. And their job is becoming easier because the content that they amplify is originating from places like the White House and now the former president's platforms that he uses and those who are honestly grifters who have who have tried to raise their profile and make money by spreading these these false lies.


And unfortunately, the people they're victimizing are the former president's own supporters.


I mean, these it is it is really shameful to see people who, for whatever reason, supported President Trump, wanted him to win reelection, be targeted for disinformation in this way, for both raising money and for other reasons and for delegitimizing American democracy and for our listeners.


If you're interested in going deeper on this, we just had a conversation with Molly McHugh and John Seyffer about this very thing yesterday on the podcast. So I encourage you to check that out. Shifting gears just a little bit now on the topic of election security. If you're if you've been listening to the show, then, you know, Attorney Sydney Powell of Cracken Fame is a defendant in a lawsuit by Dominion, a voting technology company, for defamation after Powell made dozens of TV appearances and online posts where she repeated unfounded claims that Dominion was, among other things, linked to communist Venezuela as part of Trump's alleged widespread voter fraud and stolen election.


So on Monday, Powell claimed in a court filing that reasonable people put that in quotes wouldn't have believed her assertions of fraud in the 20 20 presidential election, saying, quote, Reasonable people would not accept such statements as fact, but view them only as claims that await testing by the courts. We've seen similar arguments before from Alex Jones and from Tucker Carlson vis a vis Fox News that reasonable people should. Know that they're not being told the truth when they when they when they hear what these men have to say.


So, Lucy, what does it say that when held to account in a courtroom, the best defense that these prominent conservative voices can come up with is essentially to disavow their own words. Well, I think it's really alarming and to pick up on a theme of just a few moments ago, it's it's not only harmful to their followers and to their supporters, but it's really insulting to their supporters because it certainly signals that they either don't think that their supporters are worthy consumers of the information that they're that they're being furnished with or that our democracy and that sort of how we talk about voting, how we talk about our elections, how we talk about any number of issues, that everything is performative, that everything is just sort of for the shtick.


And and that's really serious and really disturbing.


David Powell has responded to some of the coverage of this court filing, and she says her words have been misinterpreted, that she stands by her legal opinions against facts, opinions. Can you help us understand the distinction she's trying to make and whether or not this will impact how we approach election law moving forward? And is she going to be successful?


Well, I don't know that I'm going to be successful in getting outside Sydney people's mind and explaining exactly what she's thinking. But how much time do you have?


Yeah, I will say this. I want to take a second. Right. Yeah. Let's let's let's take the Wayback Machine to mid-November for a second.


And remember that from, you know, almost November 7th when the election was called for Biden through the inauguration, the same drumbeat was made by these these con men that each time we lose in court and we lost over 60 cases.


I mean, it's really hard to go one in 62 and in court, federal and state, and lose two judges that your own candidate appointed as regularly as they do. And I've litigated for a long time. But they kept saying, well, you know, none of these cases were on the merits. They wouldn't hear the evidence. No one remember the stacks of affidavits.


If only we get our day in court, will prove our case, will prove all of these things are true because we know they are and then they get their day in court. And Sidney Powles response is, well, look, I'm a liar. Everyone knows I'm a liar. If you don't believe I'm a liar, you're not a reasonable person. And so you shouldn't have believed my lies in the first place. That's very prominent in that filing.


In the motion to dismiss what else is prominent is that they use these technical terms like jurisdiction and choice of law venue, which are not really technical. They're very substantive legal issues.


And that's what most of their motion is about, even though they disparaged them in previous cases. The one thing that is not in this filing is any allegation that what she said is true. The best defense against defamation is, is what I said was entirely true, and she doesn't want to make that claim. She has this opportunity in court. She has she has the opportunity for discovery. She has the opportunity to put our case on. And not only is she seeking to avoid that, she is not even going to attempt to do that.


She's not getting up to the plate and swinging missing. She's refusing to step into the batter's box when she had her opportunity. This is I think Lucy said it really well. This is this is an insult to the people that were invested in the lies that she told for so long and others told for so long. We live in a country that is very narrowly divided. And yet there is a portion of each side of the political spectrum that can't quite believe that their candidate might lose a close election in this country.


And that's really unfortunate because you need to be able to convince one of the things we talk about in elections all the time is the purpose of integrity and transparency in elections is to convince the loser in the loser supporters that they lost.


And we can go back in history to, you know, the Florida 2000 election, the Washington governor's race in 2004, the Minnesota Senate race in 2008 are much closer than the twenty twenty election. And there were processes there to convince the loser and the loser supporters that we lost. And the loser accepted that this is the first time in American history we had a presidential candidate who refused to do that, just refused to do that.


And and I wonder, you know, Mike, I want to ask you about the you know, what we do, what people can do to to hold leaders accountable. But, David, I just wonder if you're following you know, we had a conversation with Joyce Vance a couple of weeks ago about the impact that this this lawsuit, this very lawsuit could have on the way cable news networks, for example, are held to account for the information that they disseminate.


Are you how are you thinking about that in terms of election security and in convincing people that the loser lost? Well, I think we have to look at how all of the media platforms are are performing in this, I mean, I'm not talking about necessarily changing defamation laws, particularly the famous New York Times versus Sullivan case and public figures, and that although there are some who are suggesting changing those things. Now, I what I'm suggesting is that we know that media platforms and also social media platforms very obviously are being used to amplify lies and target them at people most susceptible to those lies.


And I think it's the targeting that we have to really be concerned about. And Fox News is one of those, at least on the right side, that that's dealing with that. And of course, when Fox News wasn't willing to amplify the lies enough, we saw the prominence of places like Newsmax and OEI in it and people starting to rely on those things. And I see this all the time. When people engage me on things like Twitter, they will constantly send me links to articles that have appeared on extreme news sites to justify their positions.


I think we need to take a hard look at this. This is going to be the damage that's been done is going to take us decades to fix. This is not going to be fixed by a single law passed by a single Congress. It's not going to be fixed by one president. It's not going to be fixed by one state.


But we have incredibly to me, Republicans in the state of Georgia holding out Governor Camp and Secretary Raffensperger as so-called rhinos, Republicans in name only. And I know I know them both very well. I know Brad Roethlisberger particularly well. He is a dyed in the wool conservative Republican, and there's absolutely no question about that. And not only that, I mean, in my view, he's an American hero. He ran an incredibly competent, secure, transparent election under incredibly difficult conditions and with very narrow margins.


So, Mike, over to you, other than billion dollar defamation lawsuits, what are the other ways that we can hold liars accountable and find some patchwork of shared truths to ground our political discourse with the with the context of everything David just laid out for us? How are you thinking about this? I'm glad you're enjoying today's episode. I want to give a special shout out to a few of you who have generously contributed to keep this show running, including Bill S.


Samuel A Kathy D. and Margaret L.. On behalf of the political team, you have our sincere thanks. And we're all thrilled that you're with us on this journey if you want the show to continue. And most importantly, if you want to be a part of making it happen, we would appreciate you pitching in. What you can just visit our website, Politico, Dotcom and click contribute.


There's a link in the show notes today.


So the danger here is that we are in a moment in time where there is actually an industry that is built on fomenting the undermining of confidence in our elections and in our democracy itself. And it's important to understand that the beauty of what we have as a system as nerdy, as wonky, as geeky as it is, is really literally the process itself. As David is saying, that's that's literally the strength of American democracy. It's these small tactical things that provide confidence in the system that is the beauty of the system.


We talk about the peaceful transfer of power and of course, that's a part of it. But that's all predicated on confidence in the system. And so what is important and again, this is a value that is increasingly going to be important in terms of our civic virtue, is not just saying being a passive participant and saying and having that confidence, I believe that there has to be vocal ostracization of those that are seeking to undermine the confidence in our system, because if we allow it to become legitimized, we start to see what happened this election cycle, which was this.


You started to see these fake news stories coming out. And it's important to understand if you looked at public polling within 72 hours of the November contest, there were no issues. Nobody had any issues. The public would have said, OK, fine, he won. It's over by high numbers, high 60s people like, OK, Joe Biden won. It was when the Trump misinformation machine started to begin and realized, OK, this is going to be our strategy, that the numbers started to collapse.


And then suddenly people are going, oh, wait a second, if Trump is saying that something went bad, then things went bad. We then have that echoed on the floor of our the Cathedral of Democracy in our Congress, where people were starting to say, oh, well, you know, whether there was election fraud or not, millions of Americans believe that that happened. And so we should be giving that voice and I'm going to represent that voice.


So it's like it's a way to amplify the lie and that that becomes the danger again, too, because there is a party at this moment in time that believes that it has lost in the marketplace of ideas, is no longer trying to compete for majorities, and is going to continue to use these types of tactics to pull off these wins. Look, it's not just that that Georgia we lost so narrowly, although that is a huge part of it.


A big part of this is the symbolism of the fact that they lost Georgia. You can't win as a Republican Party without Georgia now. It wasn't necessary to get to 270, but they also lost Arizona. They're losing states that are central pieces to the coalition. And what they're realizing is it's because their ideas are not competitive in these states, because they've been trending away for a long time. And as a result, the only solution is to start attacking that process.


And as I mentioned earlier, the actual process of voting as mundane, as geeky, as nerdy, as bureaucratic as it is really is the beauty of the system. That's the integrity of the system. It's the confidence of the system. Everything else that comes after that is what everybody views as the politics that we have come to know and, you know, throughout throughout all of our history. But it takes each, you know, the process of counting ballots, the confidence, ensuring that they cast with integrity that they were counted securely.


That's what makes the whole system work. And so, again, ostracization the legal stuff, of course. But but simply not allowing that to become commonplace, I think is incredibly important. It's not terribly dissimilar from people who who who equate not wearing masks as equally valid science with those who do. Right. They're not it is not a both sides issue. It's not a both sides issue. And we can't allow it to become that because it starts to threaten public health in the case of masks and the health of our democracy, in the case of of some of this misinformation.


So I want to get to what we learned this week about the perpetrators of the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol. And NBC News analysis of ABC filings found that in the five weeks after the election, those who would later be charged in the insurrection increased their political donations by seventy five. Percent compared to the five weeks leading up to the election and in total, the Trump team and his aligned groups, including the RNC, raised two hundred and eleven point five dollars million in the 19 days after the election.


And all of that is according to NBC. And I bring this up because this this story is important because it reveals the effectiveness of this big lie that the election was stolen in motivating Trump supporters and including, you know, including the insurrectionist. But it also tells you that the commitment to choose an issue like this to use for fundraising purposes inside the context of a campaign is a it's like planting a flag that you really can't pull out. Right. It's it's staking a position that you that you have no intention of reversing if you're going to go use that issue as something to raise money on.


There's no coming back for that from that. So it was extremely persuasive and also signals just how committed they were to this, to this, to this, to this line, to this rhetoric. So, David, help us think through how this big lie going all the way back to Trump's claims about voting by mail through the claims after the election impacts how voters and elected officials as two separate groups of people think about election integrity. Yeah, it actually goes farther back than that.


I mean, if you think about it, it was in August of 2016, then candidate Trump started talking about the election being rigged and that mirrored what we were seeing out of Russian propaganda outlets at the same time, shortly after the election, even though he won and even after the inauguration of 2017, he claimed that there were millions of fraudulent votes. And that's the only reason he lost the popular vote by nearly three million. And in fact, he cited a report I wrote back when I was a two and I had a I had a moment in time where I was on Anderson Cooper a lot talking about the fact that the report I wrote said nothing about millions of fraudulent votes at all.


And he continued that. I mean, as you pointed out right after the pandemic hit, rather than focusing on some of the the health considerations that we as a society need it, he was he was beating the drum about the problems with mail ballots. Even though he votes by mail, he continues to vote by mail. To this day, even though states and both Mike and Lucy have pointed this out, this is mail voting is something that has definitely not historically had a Democratic slant of anything.


It's had a Republican slant to it. It tends to be preferred by older white voters disproportionately. And it has been implemented in states by Republican secretaries in states like Arizona, Washington, Colorado. So this is this is something that that does not have a partizan slant to it at all. And the the ability to use the White House as a platform for spreading these lies. And I think you're exactly right. The fundraising is incredibly telling. It is, as they always say, follow the money.


This is this is largely about money. This is largely about former President Trump trying to protect himself against what we know is going to be an onslaught of criminal and civil liability that he's going to have to face. And the problem is that it filters down to these public servants. If you look, I just watched the movie Recount this past weekend. I really encourage everyone to do. It's a little bit jarring because Kevin Spacey has a starring role.


But if you can put that aside, what you see in 2000 was very different.


It was a narrow, narrow election, much, much closer than any election, any state election we saw in twenty twenty.


And there were legitimate ballot issues in that. And they were largely caused by both the Republican secretary of state and a Democratic county supervisor of elections in the state of Florida.


So it was caused by both parties and they had to try to determine the voter's intent after incompetence by election officials had led to problems. Twenty twenty was the exact opposite. We had extreme competence by election officials and they had to face a torrent of lies that said the election was stolen when in fact the election was much more auditable, secure and transparent than we had ever seen. And this is really difficult. I, like I always say this about election officials.


There's no headline on the Wednesday after an election that everything went great, usually only know the names of election officials. If it's if something went wrong or something is perceived to have gone wrong, they don't make a lot of money. They don't get a lot of fame. They don't get a lot of credit. These are these are not people who are going into this for their self-interest.


They are true public servants.


And I've talked to so many of them who have shared the death threats they've received. I've heard these death threats. I was on a call with the secretary of state who said, I have to get off the phone. I'm I'm at home and my house is under siege by protesters. She has a four year old son talking to another who had to have police escorts while he and his children are Republican. Local election official, he and his children were out and about four months after the election.


So these things have consequences.


It's not just and Mike is completely right, both Mike and Lucy, the consequences to the overall health of our democracy are are severe. But they also have real world personal consequences to individuals, to people who are public servants, who are just trying to do their jobs.


And frankly, it's it's incredibly disheartening for me to see these people. We are losing a lot of people who are election professionals because they just can't do it anymore. I've had several say to me, I am not going to be doing this again in twenty twenty two because I just can't do it anymore. And the expertize we're losing, the competence, the patriotism is is something that is going to take years to rebuild.


Mike, we talked about Trump's new PAC and their fundraising back in December, and part of that conversation was that Trump and the Republican Party were using the election challenges to raise money, which they did. But how should we be thinking about the people who used Trump's election challenges to fundraise? What is their responsibility for the attack? Well, they're just as complicit, I think, as the people who were actually there storming the Capitol, right? They were fueling it.


They were financing it. And what we're realizing was these are not spontaneous events. It's also why I've said here on political blog that I don't think that this ends. I think this is just the beginning. There's not only money to be made out there, but there's political hay to be made with a constituency of people that have basically feel that they have already lost America, that it's already gone. And when you believe that, you start to take on this peculiar martyr syndrome where you think that what you're doing is somehow justified, it's some some sort of Alamo fight.


It's some sort of, you know, mythology of the lost cause. And and there's money there's money to be made in people who are willing to sacrifice their reputations and their lives in certain instances and willing to take arms and, you know, get involved with these crazy ideas of kidnaping governors and and and undermining democracy. And so it's a business and it's not going to go away because, again, look, I tend to believe, as I've shared with you here before, many times demography is destiny.


It explains so much of what is happening. And we are entering a 20 year period. And I think it's a very specific time frame where demographically we are witnessing a dramatic decline in the white share, especially the non college educated white share of the American electorate that feels hopeless. They feel that it is that America is gone, that America is not America anymore. And many of them would rather than adjust and and change and expand the American idea, they choose to regress.


They choose to fight, and they choose to say that it's not a white Christian nation, it's not America. And I'm going to go down swinging. And so it's become an industry. It's become a political movement that has limited itself and its ability to reach other people because it doesn't want to. And so extremism is the natural outgrowth of that mentality. And we are going to watch these unfortunate and dangerous developments characterize our politics for probably the next couple of decades.


Lucy, I want to talk about the Justice Department now releasing online communications dating back to December of twenty twenty, revealing coordination, essentially demonstrating that members of so-called militia groups, including the Oath Keepers, proud boys, three percenters and more, were planning not for a peaceful rally, but for a violent attack on our nation's seat of government. Kelly Meggs, who is the Florida leader of the Oath Keepers, said in private messages obtained by prosecutors that he'd been in touch repeatedly with proud boys leadership.


And in one message he wrote Trump staying in. He's going to use the emergency broadcast system on cell phones to broadcast to the American people. Then he will claim the Insurrection Act. So, you know, I can't help but think of the debate when Trump told the proud boys to stand back and stand by. Everybody remembers that we saw Trump refused to distance himself from these types of groups all the way back to the 2016 campaign. So how should we be thinking about Trump's role for priming these militias?


I think he was giving them instructions. That particular militiamen also was part of a discussion of escaping to Kentucky and bringing all of these similarly oriented freedom fighters to some big farm on in Kentucky, and you can see how far the. Delusions go. There's there's discussion of how at one piece of land in Kentucky, there's a lot of tree cover and that'll be good because of the drones that are inevitably going to be monitoring. I didn't see this.


I think through that story, through the story of donations by some of these rioters to Trump in the aftermath of the election and also even thinking about what we were talking about earlier about Sidney Powell. There's a common thread here, which is about the degree to which this has become truly cult, like one of the people who is now facing federal charges, a guy from San Antonio who was a Capitol writer. He had only ever given two hundred and fifty dollars to Trump before November of last year.


After that, he has given more than a thousand dollars. But more interestingly, he got a thousand dollars between November and January occurred in 40 discrete donations. So what does that tell you? So that's an average of like twenty some dollars. It means that he was getting spun up. I should also add his donation to Trump in twenty sixteen. Was his only political donation ever? Well, up until November of twenty twenty, he had given once to any candidate ever.


It was to Donald Trump in the 2016 cycle. He then gave 40 times to Trump the RNC Trump related PACs between November and January. When you just think about the mental state of someone like that, that is a person who's like watching the news, consuming content. And it's like I need to spend a little bit more. Right. It is it really, really underscores this sense that these people were impacted and a lot of them probably still are.


And there are many people who are and we probably don't even realize they are by this by this cult mentality. The same goes for this idea of the kind of middle layer of the organizers of these riots that they were talking about going to land in Kentucky. I think people who have who have friends or family members who deal with mental health issues, it's hard to read some of these stories and not think that this sounds like something that looks a little bit like mania, like this idea that these random, anonymous, everyday Trump supporters are being monitored by the government, by drones.


It just shows the the reach of this this disinformation. And what's so offensive about it, and this is why I go back to the Sydney thing, is that you have not just in defense of crazy, crazy disinformation, but also justifying that their hands are clean. You have regular Republican consultants that many listeners have never heard of, the people who are relatively anonymous, talking about this in interviews and sort of saying like, well, these people were just crazy.


We don't have anything to do with that. A consultant who's a sort of middling Republican consultant about town in D.C. gave an interview to NBC where he said, I think the things that that's clear is that the people who took over the Capitol are not interested in the political process. They donated to campaigns after the votes had already been cast. They are only interested in the chaos, not the process.


That is so disingenuous.


It is.


It is. But it is the it's the Sydney Powell defense like. Well, yeah, we were spinning you up, but if why were you taken in by it? It's hard to hear that or read that and not think that there's nothing hyperbolic about comparing what's at play in the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement to any number of cults, people basically thinking that they need to start tithing or sending tons of little packets of money because it's a crisis.


People talking about going to land somewhere because they're being monitored and they're all going to go hide away together. People thinking that this this important figure leader, figure head is going to use the the national broadcast system. This sounds like any number of cults that we know about. It sounds like Waco or or, you know, things that go on with Scientology, just this complete takeover of people's lives. This is not a matter of reasonable minds disagreeing. And the Republican consultants who make money on this, who perpetuate these candidates, who speak to these messages, they're happy to wipe their hands and they're perpetuating it.


Yes, they are perpetuating it and profiting from it.


Mike, just last week, we talked about some of the ways Republicans are attempting to whitewash the attack and. I wonder how you think evidence that these groups were coordinating well in advance and and not to attend a peaceful political rally actually debunk the revisionism. But actually, more importantly, is it going to matter? There's so much to unpack here. And I think I think Lucy was really hitting on something important. Folks, this is this is this is radicalization.


This if these people had Middle Eastern Arab names and if we were transferring Donald Trump's name for Osama bin Laden, the same dynamic, we would be viewing this as Islamic radicalism. This is this is what has happened online. It is cult like, but it's even broader than that. It's the radicalization of an extraordinarily large swath of people for political ends. There's this apocalyptic sense that people have been inculcating themselves with these consultants, these campaigns, these messaging and this media ecosystem for so long that the end game is literally viewed as the end game.


So when you hear consultants start to distance themselves from that, because make no mistake, they know what they're peddling and they know when they're selling this to the Republican base that it's garbage, but they know that they're using it as a motivating tool with an ever shrinking base. They need to hyper motivate their folks to get their propensity, meaning their likelihood to vote up and increase it and to then wash their hands of it or try to pretend it didn't happen afterwards is it's not only disingenuous, candidly, it's it's immoral.


It's evil. It's and it's extraordinarily dangerous. Will it work? I think it may work in the short term, but this is what what happens. The end of this is when you lose control of the monster that you've created. It's exactly like those US senators who have been feeding this beast for so long and then find themselves on January six with the barbarians knocking down the door hunting for Mike Pence. They created this. They not only incited it and fomented it.


And it's not like it just began one day at a rally that got out of control. This is the logical conclusion of an entire industrial complex financed to the tunes of tens of millions of dollars over a very sustained period of time. This was the end game. This is the end game. And the goal has not yet been achieved. So it's it is disingenuous, Ron, to watch people wash their hands of it. Will it work? I think it will work only because this this the size and scope of what we're talking about has gotten so large and so out of hand that you can't point to any one person's complicity in it.


It's an entire industry. It's an entire hierarchy. It's an entire culture that has fed this beast for so long that there isn't any one person that's complicit in it. It's an entire cadre of folks that are entire industrial class, its entire professional class that has made this all work for so long. There's one other piece of this that I think is kind of interesting to think about that really dovetails, what with what Mike has said today and on many other episodes, which is what is driving this among the people who are so susceptible to radicalization.


And in some of the coverage of some of these rioters of of their political donations, the vast majority to Trump, there was a mention in some of the coverage about the fact that some of them had had given to other candidates in recent years. And and I'll tell you who those candidates are, because I think it actually goes to something Mike has talked about a lot, which is that this is not just a matter of these are not like people who are just really, really worried about overregulation of the free market or making sure we have limited government.


These are people who are very, very worried about their ongoing American way of life. And I'll tell you the names of some of the other candidates that people who've been charged in the capital riots have donated to. And I want to give the caveat that I'm not remotely putting those candidates in the same basket as Trump. But I think you'll pick up on something interesting, which is that among the other candidates who these people have supported in the recent past, it's people like Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang, the guy who had the horns and the fur thing who stormed the Capitol, has given to Andrew Young many times.


And I don't at all mean to suggest that Bernie Sanders or Tulsi Gabbard or Andrew Yang are the same as Donald Trump. They are far from it, but they are all politicians who've been successful in growing a following very, very quickly, really usurping traditional channels of communication, talking directly to their supporters and bringing a message that appeals to people who feel a deep dissatisfaction with how things are going and have shared a message of it's not your fault, it's this way.


And so it's interesting to think about that connection because. Because there there's a big difference between being, say, an Andrew Young supporter and a Donald Trump supporter in terms of what policies you're voting for, but when you just think about the kind of emotion that is associated with that, it appears to come from a place of desperation and that makes people very, very susceptible to extreme abuse by people like Donald Trump, by people like that Republican consultant that we talked about, who sort of threw up his hands and said, well, there are just dumb people in the world really alarming and despicable.


Not just horrible. Despicable. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. It's these Trump and Republican politicians and the RNC and the Republican machinery, the way that they're trying to wash their hands of this, they're gaslighting their supporters, their gaslighting people who I think many of whom really believed in earnest that this was an acceptable thing to do because Donald Trump needed them because the election had been stolen, because Sydney Powell and Fox News host say that this is horrible. But then the moment that the moment that the kind of the shades come down, you actually talk about draining the swamp.


You have this little elite group of Republican consultants and Donald Trump at Sydney, Powell at Fox News host saying like, who would believe that? You idiots? That is the ultimate that's the ultimate kind of like disgusting political elite as that that really drives this kind of polarization and radicalization. Earlier this week, we saw yet another mass shooting in Colorado coming just days after the string of murders of several Asian Americans in Atlanta last week. And both of these attacks have renewed calls for gun reform.


But this debate, if you can call it that, has been a stalemate for years. The debate over the Second Amendment, what it says and how it should be interpreted aside. There is actually a lot of common ground on this issue. Expanded background checks and waiting periods for firearm purchases have widespread bipartisan support, yet have seen very little movement in Congress. And in the wake of Sandy Hook, West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey brokered a deal to expand background checks.


And it was even supposed to have the support of the NRA until they backed out at the last minute.


And the bill ultimately failed 54 46, because in the Senate, you need 60 votes to overcome the filibuster.


Lucy, we're hearing a lot from certain senators about their desires for bipartisanship, especially as the Senate weighs potentially doing away with or at least modifying the filibuster. Do you think bipartisanship, which seems like a foreign word at this point, is even possible on this issue? And if so, what might it look like? What would it have to look like to get it done? Well, I think that gun control is actually a really good candidate for a bipartisan package through which to do away with the filibuster for a few reasons.


One of them is that we have a lot of evidence that this is has to be done federally to get control of gun violence because it's too easy to federalism doesn't really work here. It's so easy to go across the state line by a gun, go back somewhere else. I mean, we even saw that in a way in Boulder at a lower level. But Boulder had actually tried to pass ordinances against AR 15s. Right. But that was overturned by a court last week.


But even in the days before the shooter bought the gun. But even if that had been on the books, sort of doesn't matter because he could go to Denver or he could go to Fort Collins, whatever. And we see this in states that have tried to do common sense gun reform, states like Illinois, which has a huge, huge problem with gun violence, but super easy to go across the border to a neighboring state. And so I think we can see why we need a federal bill here.


I think that there are some provisions that we can really pretty quickly outline as common sense provisions, like red flag laws that would be where if if a person has a reasonable belief that a loved one or a colleague, someone that they know is in a state where they may do something dangerous at a mental state or a headspace that they can take action to help make sure that a gun doesn't get into their hands. That's a common sense provision that would have had a big impact if the family of the Boulder shooter had felt they had access to a system like that.


They talked about how they believed he was paranoid that he was playing with. Guns, that it was a worrisome situation, they didn't know or believe they had access to a system to do something about that universal background checks, mandatory waiting periods. And then I think getting real about the fact that the Second Amendment does not mean anything under the sun that we could call a gun. There's a really big difference between an AR 15, which is modeled on a military grade.


Weapons to these are guns that are meant to kill, that some of those kinds of weapons just we do not have to extend Second Amendment protections to those kinds of weapons, just like we don't believe that the Second Amendment means that you can go make bombs in your garage and drive around town with them. Right. And so I think there was.


And just how the second the First Amendment doesn't mean you can go yell bomb in a theater. Right. There are certain limitations to these provisions. Right.


And so there are all of these just really commonsense provisions that I think there would be enthusiasm for widespread public support. And and would they solve all of the issues? Of course not. I would suggest to everyone that they they prepare themselves for the fact that every time you talk about one of these recommendations, someone, a gun nut, will tell you about why that wouldn't have stopped this scenario or that scenario. And the idea is, yes, we we are not able short of putting everyone in a straight jacket and a padded room.


Yes, we are always probably any time that we're trying to maximize liberty, we're going to continue to have scenarios where things slip through the cracks and we're going to continue to iterate to try to make our community safer. But just that is not an argument against comprehensive reform. Now, I think the challenge is whether or not moderate Democrats, people like Joe Manchin, people like Kirstyn Sinema, moderate Republicans are going to. Really be willing to do this, and it's appalling, but true because gun ownership is so much more at play in voting patterns, in political demographics and affiliation than we realize.


And I just started reading a book called The Gun Gap by a researcher named Mark Josslyn. And a lot of it is about how predictive gun ownership is of political affiliation. So the likelihood of voting for Republicans, of being a Republican, and you can actually make the link between becoming a gun owner and then becoming a person who's very, very likely to vote for Republicans. And when you think about some of our swing states, they also many of them happen to be gun states, states like Arizona, states like Michigan, states like Wisconsin.


And so I think that the challenge will be what not whether or not we can make the case that there is broad popular support for this. But whether or not those other factors of who's not only likely to vote as a Republican, but who are very, very reliable voters, gun owners, you could continue to see this challenge where that is such a powerful constituency that it is a very, very hard, hard hurdle to get over. And I hope we can because but we don't want to be in this pattern of needing mass shootings to take or encourage us to do something about this.


Mike, I want to take a minute to talk about Lauren Bogot on Monday, about two hours after the shooting in Boulder, Bowerbirds campaigns at a fundraising email pledging that she will fight calls for common sense gun control laws. With everything I have, how much of the fundraising appeal around this debate in particular and other hot button debates more broadly get in the way of actually governing? I think it's a primary obstacle, right, because it's it's a sign of intensity among supporters.


It's what allows a candidate who is performative, which is increasingly a characteristic of our politics. It's not necessarily ideological. It's performative, gives these elected officials, these politicians, a national platform. It's important to understand that really the guts of conservatism as people of our age and granted, I'm much older than than the other guests on the show are, you know, what was really driving the Republican coalition at one point in time was economic conservatism, was fiscal conservatism.


You don't hear about any of that anymore. All that really remains in the Republican Party, in the American right are these cultural issues of which guns and gun control is a central piece of those. As Lucy was just accurately pointing out, there's a direct correlation between gun ownership and your political views. When you understand that what is happening and the American right is about a sense of cultural loss, you then understand why everything becomes performative and there's a need to become more extreme to be viewed as a defender of our way of life.


So to answer your question once once you understand that performative nature, you understand Bobert, you understand Marjorie Taylor Greene, you understand Donald Trump, you understand Matt Gates, you understand Louie Gohmert. You understand the ridiculousness of what the Republican Party has become because it's no longer trying to be part of the governance process. It's trying to preserve, protect and defend, quote unquote, an American way of life, of making America great again, returning to this mythological land of American ness and American identity.


And central to that also is this idea of the Second Amendment right, which the rhetoric is often about. These guns weren't created to be hunting guns. They were created for revolution. They were created just for this moment to defend ourselves against an oppressive government. And a militia is required to take on the military. It's our only it's our last stand against moments like this. And so when, again, the apocalyptic terms, the end of culture as they as these adherents see it, is all part of developing and speaking to this this demographic group which increasingly feels alienated from their own country.


That's a huge opportunity to raise a ton of money, provide an extraordinary platform for a politician at the national stage as long as it is. And this is an important word, performative. It's not about actually trying to accomplish anything. It's about demonstrating how committed I am to a cause, how much of a champion I am for this lost cause, for this mythology that we're all holding onto as the Alamo is under siege. That's what these politicians are trying to accomplish, most of them quite successfully.


Well, speaking of mythology, I think that a way to kind of put a finer point on this just to quickly add on, is that there's a lot of mythology around guns as an American tradition. And if you actually look at the tradition of gun ownership, it's actually really exploded in this century. And actually the proliferation of weapons like AR 15s, that's a very new phenomenon. And you can even track back, I mean, to kind of keep saying on some of the demographic trend themes that Mike talked about a lot, you can even track back massive purchases of AR 15s around both of Barack Obama's elections.


So you can really kind of see that this is a new issue. This is not a and undermining the American way of life issue. This is an ongoing but new issue that is a modern a modern problem. And that's really important when talking about this, I think because it really once you establish that you can really cut out this idea that we are, again, just sort of upending what our founders wanted.


So I want to play a little game here for a second, because what I really want to get at is how can we think about governing in this environment? How do we break through that performative stalemate? So we're strategists, all of us political strategists who've worked in this space. Imagine we have a client and the client is American people and they've just hired us to figure out a way to get something done on gun control. Where do you start, Mike?


Well, I'd start where I'd always start, which is with the data, and again, I also believe that in political campaigns and in political movements, history is made on the margins. So you're not going to you're not shooting for 50 percent of the Republicans and somehow convince them of what is right and what is wrong. I would do exactly what I did. We did together candidly with the Lincoln Project. Where is that demographic? That's the way I would approach this as a strategist.


And I can tell you it's that white, college educated suburban mother that swung this last election. The Republican Party is losing voters in the cultural war in a way that it has not since the Southern Strategy in the mid 1970s and since the Nixon administration, the Southern Strategy and cultural wars are now shrinking. The Republican electorate is making it more intense, but they're losing the really critical college educated vote not in droves, but by enough to actually move these voters.


So where would I begin? I would work right there with that demographic on exactly these issues, characterizing it specifically the way that Lucy's talking about it and demonstrating that they are the ones that have the balance of power and simply moving four or five percent. Right. That in line. No, we talked about nationally. It's even bigger with women on this issue. Once you start, once Republicans lose three, four or five percent of their base on this issue, it will change.


There will be movement on gun reform legislation. There absolutely will be, because without that margin, you're talking about four or five Senate seats going away, just just those three to four percent of the Republican base. Keep in mind, and it's not it's also beyond this issue. The Republican Party now needs to have one hundred percent unanimity in most marginal states. If it's going to hold on to these seats, that's extremely difficult. That also explains to our previous conversation why voter suppression tactics and lying about election results and redistricting all become central to the party's fortunes and its very survival to beat the Republican Party on any issue, you need to look at where you can move three, four or five percent of the voters off of this cult that has developed and you start to see tectonic shifts in public policy.


So sorry, long way of answering, but that's where it needs to begin and it needs to be the fact that Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Bobrick specifically have made themselves champions on this by doing a podcast with AR 15s in the background. It helps them individually. It hurts the overall brand immensely because she is losing more people, more women, more college educated suburban women who don't celebrate gun culture the way that she is. Then she is building and bringing back into the party.


And that's how that frankly, that's how we won in twenty twenty was highlighting the cultural extremism of these candidates, where cultural issues are not just a feature anymore, they are actually central to Republican identity policy.


I think that this is actually an issue where you could see the kind of down home, gaffe prone kind of style of Joe Biden being a huge strength. Remember a few years ago when Joe Biden got a lot of flak because he talked about thinking about jail, being at home and going out front with a shotgun that was sort of a slice of Americana that sort of sounded funny. But really, I think is something that one must appeal to when talking about these issues.


So I think that a baseline should be affirming that we're not doing away with the Second Amendment. We can't, but we wouldn't even if we wanted we wouldn't want to, even if we could. And that responsible gun ownership is fine and that it is actually sort of incumbent on responsible gun owners to set limits about how guns are purchased, how guns should be sort of allowed to trade hands, what the process is on the whole, and and then use that as a way to sort of to kind of pivot into this idea that responsible gun ownership, part of being a responsible gun owner, is agreeing to a framework whereby we prevent guns from being in the hands of bad actors.


So I think that people who are gun owners are among the best spokespeople for this, not necessarily just sort of like people who are activists about. About curbing the sale of guns. I think that the family stories are very compelling, but I think that this really, really also should come from people who themselves are longtime gun owners and involved in in gun culture for lack of a better term. Now that we're up to speed on the major stories of the week, what stories are you following that may have flown under the radar or that our listeners might have missed, but also that will influence our politics in a way we might not expect.


Lucy? This week was equal pay day, Megan Rapino, the soccer star, was part of an event at the White House and in that sort of she was highlighting some of the struggles of female athletes. And that was really interesting because at the same time, it's March Madness and we have these women who are NCAA basketball players pointing out that the conditions for them at March Madness at the tournament and I'm probably going to botch terms because I really don't watch sports.


So I'm sorry.


We're not remotely like the men's right. They had no weight room to speak of. They did not have the kind of swag bags that the men's athletes were receiving. And there was a public outcry about this, which is totally understandable. And the NCAA has made some commitments about fixing this. But people were quick to talk about Title nine and Title nine as a component of this. But most of what was happening was actually to do with the market for women's sports.


And I started to think about this, about how many of the people who in the in the Venn diagram of people who follow March Madness and people who were upset about the women being treated unfairly, how many of them made brackets for the women's teams, how many of them were watching the women's games and how many of them, if they attend games in person, have bought season tickets or tickets to women's basketball games, NCAA, WNBA. And so I'm not just trying to fall back into some kind of libertarian while the market is of supply and demand issue.


And it's not just that I just started to think about how much we probably need to examine our own implicit bias about some of these things, in this case in women's sports, but in the background of this larger discussion of how women are compensated across a range of fields. And I have heard from people who follow sports that women's basketball is actually very exciting and a really fun sport to watch. And and so as I thought about that, I thought maybe we all should be thinking about small actions that we could make as we sort of wage war behind our keyboards on Twitter to correct some of these issues and sort of start to change some of how we talk about these within our own within our own communities.


So I guess this is a story and a little under the radar, but I think maybe this weekend taken one of those women's basketball games. If your local cable provider doesn't air them, you should ask them to maybe go to the website of the sports teams that you are following and buy some of the women's swag. But it just made me think about how there actually are some. I really believe in the power of collective action and there maybe are some things I'm not saying it's not up to leaders or the NCAA or colleges.


They have a role in this. But there are things that we could start to do to look inside ourselves and think maybe I need to make a few changes to help make this better. So I understand it's too late for brackets, but I don't know. Go consume some women's NCAA basketball this weekend.


I love that, Mike. Vice President Kamala Harris was tasked by President Biden to lead a commission on immigration reform and it has now reared its head. This is going to be an extraordinarily contentious discussion, the way that it has been for the better part of two or three decades now. The last time we got anything comprehensive done on immigration was nineteen eighty six. Don't know how old you all were in 1986, but it was a long time ago. Immigration reform is extraordinarily hard.


It always is. It's a once in a generation dynamic. But we are now into the second generation of this not happening and we are starting to see this bursting at the seams. You are also beginning to see the rhetoric of kind of the caravan's and the crisis at the border and the swells of people showing up. Fox News is trying to frame this as well. Joe Biden has become a magnet because now that Donald Trump is not securing the border, the entirety of the population south of Mexico all the way down to the tip of Chile is now trying to come to become, you know, come to America.


The truth, of course, is is is not anywhere near that. But what we are going to see, I think, is a very vigorous, very emotional debate on immigration reform. We are also also, if we're honest with ourselves, coming to recognize some of the limitations. I'm being generous and generous and diplomatic here of the Obama administration's policies, which was can be characterized accurately as very anti-immigrant and Joe Biden's continuation of a lot of the Trump policies, at least to this point in his administration.


Granted, it's very early. And the reason I bring that up is because there has to be some sort of border security. There has to be done humanely, but it has to be done. And both Democratic and Republican presidents and administrations have recognized that. I think we are at a breaking point where something needs to get done. And it's very similar to where we were at in 2008 when Barack Obama had a choice to make where am I going to get health care done or am I going to get immigration reform done?


This is the unresolved issue of the Democratic Party since 2008. They have to get this done. If they don't, they will suffer the consequences for a generation because there are too many people in their own base constituency who have waited too long for this not to happen. And so this issue, I think starting this week is going to really catch fire. It is probably the single most emotional, visceral, divisive issue I have run across in 30 years of being a political professional.


And it's going to absolutely characterized the Biden administration's success, at least early on in the first 100 days. So my eyes are peeled for this one. Keep your eyes on it. It's going to be a big one.


So I have just two quick things I want to mention. Well, first of all, Lucy, Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, UConn plays Iowa on ABC. And actually every game of the women's basketball tournament is televised on ABC or the ESPN family of networks. So Jack Dorsey, the founder and CEO of Twitter, just sold his very first tweet, not as in he sold a tweet for the first time, although that is also true. He sold the very first tweet that he ever put up on Twitter.


And how do you sell a tweet? Good question. You use an NFTE, which is a non fungible token and this is part of the cryptocurrency space. So if you're not familiar with those, I'm not going to explain the whole thing here. But but I'm just he sold this tweet for two point nine million dollars for a single tweet. And and I just think this is I don't have strong opinions on NFTE yet. I do follow the crypto space and Bitcoin in particular.


But but I don't you know, I don't know enough about is yet to have a strong opinion. I just think it is fascinating and I think it's a space to watch. But I think there's my sense is that there's a lot of sort of garbage in the conversation. There's a lot of noise in the signal right now as it relates to NAFTA. And it's a very exciting sort of emerging use of block chain technology to to facilitate the sale and ownership of digital assets.


So think like digital art and and other things that that are sort of intangible but still constitute property that you want to be able to buy and sell. And I don't know how a tweet fits into that. It's a little bit baffling to me. But the fact that it did sell for two point nine million dollars sends a big signal that this is a space. To to pay attention to and I'm sure that everybody on Twitter is going to have very strong opinions about this, so we'll see what they say.


But I was I was I think that to watch this space as well. Also, I just want to mention Dr. Rachel Levine was confirmed as the assistant secretary of health and she is the first openly transgender federal official ever confirmed by the Senate. And that is a huge win for the LGBT community. Before I let you go, where can people find you on the Internet, Lissi? At Lucy Am Cauldwell on Twitter, Mike. You can find me on Twitter at Madrid, underscore Mike starts today because my tweets are going to be worth millions.


And I'm at Ronstadt's low on Twitter, and we loved having David Becker on the show today, but he had to run to an event. You can find him on Twitter at Bekker, David Jay. Thanks to Lucy and David and Mike for taking the time to have this conversation today, and I want to thank everyone at home or on the go for listening, if you have questions or advice for us or if there's a topic you'd like to see covered in a future episode of the round up, you can reach us, as always, a podcast at political dotcom.


And you can follow us on Twitter and Instagram at Political Jackpot. If you enjoy the show, make sure to follow or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. And if you want to help us grow and continue the fight to protect our democracy, it would also help us tremendously. If you could rate and review the show wherever you get your podcasts, it helps us rise in the rankings and really does help new listeners find the show. I'm Ron Kessler.


This is political. I'll see you in the next episode.