Underhandedness. Trickery. Unscrupulous behavior. Skullduggery breaks down the conduct of Washington's political class, tracks the latest in conspiracy theories and disinformation campaigns coursing through social media — and who is pushing them —...

  • 1 hour 51 minutes
    Skullduggery's Jan. 6 Farewell (w/ Rep. Jamie Raskin and Judge J. Michael Luttig)

    Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin laid out the four criminal referrals the January 6th Committee made to the DOJ recommending that Donald J. Trump and others be investigated for the events relating to the attack on the US Capitol. The report included some startling new disclosures including testimony from a former White House staffer that is a potential case of witness tampering. How do we assess the report from the Jan 6 Committee and where do the investigations go from here? We talk to Rep. Raskin and one of the Committee's star witnesses, retired Federal Appellate Court Judge J. Michael Luttig.

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    24 December 2022, 5:32 am
  • 1 hour 5 minutes
    JFK: The Mother of all Conspiracy Theories (w/ Phil Shenon & Jeff Morley)

    In the Pantheon of American conspiracy theories, the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy is the gift that keeps on giving. For nearly 60 years it has been dissected and debated by partisans of countless conspiracy theories. So what does the newly released material on the matter show? And what are they still keeping secret? We talk to two leading experts on the subject, former New York Times reporter Phil Shenon and former Washington Post Reporter Jeff Morley.

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    16 December 2022, 11:41 pm
  • 41 minutes 18 seconds
    The Autocrat in your Phone (w/ Ron Deibert)

    On this episode of the podcast, we sit down with Ron Deibert, who runs the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, to discuss the “mercenary spyware” industry - and its proclivity for providing “almost god-like” spyware programs to governments who’ve been proven to use them to surveil “opposition politicians, human rights activists, journalists, academics, embassy workers, and political dissidents.

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    16 December 2022, 12:32 am
  • 1 hour 2 minutes
    The Wild World of Marjorie Taylor Greene (w/ Robert Draper & Marquise Francis)

    The violent insurrection at the Capitol last year was a sobering day for American democracy, and yet many people thought that - at the very least - it would break the fever that had overcome the Republican Party and push it to separate itself from Trump and move on from his repeated lies with respect to “the big steal.”

    That is not what happened - instead, the past two years represented a pivot point between “this is not normal “ and “this is dangerous and not going away” as we’ve all been witness to GOP taking the “plunge deeper into a Trumpian cult of compulsive dissembling and conspiracy mongering,” falling “hostage to the party’s most fevered extremists” as “the usual partisan differences [have given] way to an existential call to arms.”

    So writes journalist Robert Draper in his recently published “Weapons of Mass Delusion: When the Republican Party Lost its Mind,” an account of how a “new breed” of Republicans - the likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Lauren Boebert, and Madison Cawthorn - far from moving on from Trump, have taken the “politics of hysteria” to even greater extremes.

    Through his extraordinarily intrepid cross-country reporting, Draper chronicles the ascent of these faces of the “new GOP” among the Republican base and within Congress, rendering unforgettable portraits of how “Greene and her ilk” came hold such sway over the GOP, shaping its terms of engagement to an extent that the GOP establishment -  likes of Kevin McCarthy - would only begrudgingly admit.

    On this episode of the podcast, we sit down with Draper to talk about just how the GOP has, as he says, “lost its mind.”

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    8 December 2022, 3:10 am
  • 53 minutes 36 seconds
    Buried Treasure: Democracy’s Forgotten Crisis (w/ Adam Hochschild)

    “I have been accused of having obstructed the war. I admit it. I abhor war. I would oppose the war if I stood alone. I believe in free speech, in war as well as in peace.” So said Eugene Debs on September 12th, 1918 to members of a jury tasked with deciding whether he had, as prosecutors argued, during a speech given a few weeks earlier to a crowd of socialists attempted “to promote insubordination [in the military]” and “propagate obstruction to the [military] draft.” 

    Debs - a socialist, political activist, trade unionist, one of the founding members of, among many leftist groups, the Socialist Party of America - would be convicted of and handed a lengthy prison sentence for violating the Espionage Act, pushed through Congress the year prior by former President Woodrow Wilson - just after the United States entered into the war in Europe.

    Upon signing the Act - which made criminal dissent against the war - into law, Wilson, at once, began to use it to go after opposition to the establishment - communists, socialists, trade unionists - and continued to do so even after the war had ended.

    This is just one of the many subjects of American Midnight, journalist and historian Adam Hochschild's recent book, in which he examines a period during which the United States saw a swell of patriotic frenzy and political repression that makes McCarthyism look almost subtle by comparison - 1917-21.

    On this episode of “Buried Treasure,” we sit down with Hochschild to look back on this all too often unremembered period that gave birth to the Espionage Act - some of the “darkest years of the republic” in which the government and political establishment weren’t at all opposed to blatantly illiberal approaches to achieving their desired outcomes.

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    2 December 2022, 7:47 pm
  • 45 minutes 21 seconds
    World Cup Iran Moment (w/ Jason Rezaian)

    “Every so often over the past quarter-century, analysts have predicted that Iran was on the cusp of major change. They always turned out to be wrong. Now, unrest is engulfing the country yet again.” So writes Jason Rezeian in a recent piece for the Washington Post about the threats the Iranian government is facing, what people are saying - and why this time could be different. 

    For the past three months, Iran has been rocked by protests prompted by the death of a young woman - Mahsa Amini - while in the custody of Iran’s “morality police” for the alleged crime of wearing an improper hijab. 

    Images of Amini - bruised and on life support - spread on social media, and her name has become the latest rallying cry in what have been largely women-powered protests against the government’s repression and misogyny.

    It has been estimated by human rights organisations that - over the course of the protests - hundreds have died, thousands have been injured, and yet thousands more detained - upwards of 18,000 people.

    Rezaian, the global opinions writer for the Washington Post, served as the Post’s bureau chief in Tehran from 2012 to mid 2015, before he was arrested and convicted on bogus espionage charges and held in an Iranian prison for a year and half before being released in early 2016 as a part of a prisoner exchange with the United States. 

    Rezaian joins us to discuss the protests, Iran’s worsening relations with the West, and what he thinks the future holds for the Islamic republic

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    30 November 2022, 10:28 pm
  • 1 hour 3 minutes
    Garland's Special Council Bombshell (w/ Michael Zeldin & Sarah Leah Whitson)

    Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday announced what amounts to a legal bombshell in the two most high profile investigations being carried out by his department. He's appointing a Special Council to oversee the ongoing probes into whether Donald Trump illegally sought to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. And whether he violated federal law by taking classified documents from the White House and then refused to turn them over in response to a court approved subpoena. Garland named Jack Smith, a career department prosecutor who once headed the Justice Department's Integrity Section to the job of determining Trump should be prosecuted. And yet Garland still has ultimate power to approve or reject whatever Smith decides. What does this move mean for Trump's future and the integrity of the Justice Department? We talk to Michael Zeldin, a former career prosecutor and Independent Council himself. And then we check in with Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the human rights group D.A.W.N. about the State Department's controversial decision to recommend shielding Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman from a lawsuit.

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    19 November 2022, 2:44 am
  • 58 minutes 28 seconds
    Molly Jong-Fast Unplugged

    Donald Trump on Tuesday night announced to no one’s surprise that he will once again run for President. By Trumpian standards he seemed subdued as he described America’s decent into war, crime, and economic catastrophe ever since he left the White House twenty-two long months ago and Joe Biden took office. And yet the timing seemed curious. And to many Republicans infuriating. The party had just suffered un-expecting setbacks in the midterms. Once again losing the Senate and it seems just barely taking back the House as Trump endorsed candidates fell by the wayside one by one. And if that wasn’t enough, GOP leaders were still determined to eek out a win in a Georgia run-off and are desperate to have him stay out of the headlines. How much of a threat to Republicans stability and future success as Trump’s candidacy? We talk to Yahoo News correspondent Alex Nazaryan who was at Mar-a-Lago for the big announcement. And then we check in with Molly Jong-Fast, a popular liberal podcaster and social media influencer about what she makes of Trump’s candidacy and the unexpected midterm results.

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    17 November 2022, 1:02 am
  • 48 minutes 5 seconds
    The House GOP’s Circular Firing Squad (w/ Juliegrace Brufke)

    Even while still reeling from their disappointing performance in Tuesday's election, Republicans are bracing for more turmoil, as they prepare to likely take over the House of Representatives with the thinest of majorities. Instead of celebrating the election results as he had expected, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy is now facing serious unrest within his ranks, threatening his prospects of taking the gavel from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when the new congress convenes Jan. 3rd. And even if he does ultimately prevail, how much power will McCarthy actually have? And what should we expect from a Republican controlled House in which the hard-right Freedom Caucus has new power. We talk to one of the reporters most plugged in to the House GOP Caucus, Juliegrace Brufke of The Washington Examiner.

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    11 November 2022, 9:06 pm
  • 50 minutes 2 seconds
    The "Red Wave" that wasn’t (w/ Matt Bai and Andrew Romano)

    For weeks the conventional wisdom in Washington couldn't have been clearer. There was a red wave coming that would sweep Republicans to a historic victory. Winning back control of the US House by wide margin and potentially control of the Senate as well. But then the voters spoke and the conventional wisdom of the pollsters and pundits was wrong once again. As we sit on Wednesday the GOP seems likely to win control of the House after all, but by an exceedingly fine margin that could prove a nightmare for presumptive speaker Kevin McCarthy. And the Senate seems that it could once again depend on the results of a run-off in Georgia where the party's Donald Trump backed candidate Hershel Walker will have huge challenges in his hopes of unseating incumbent Democrat Senator Raphael Warnock. What do the election results say about what passes for the conventional wisdom in American politics? And what do they mean for a 2024 Presidential contest that could well begin as early as next week. We talk to Yahoo News Political Reporter Andrew Romano and Washington Post columnist Matt Bai.

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    9 November 2022, 8:33 pm
  • 43 minutes 2 seconds
    How dangerous is Elon Musk? (w/ Vivian Schiller)

    When Vivian Schiller signed on as a Senior Executive at Twitter in 2013, she was excited to be joining a company that seemed poised to remake the world. It was a heavy time for the social media start-up. Just a few years early, it had been messages on Twitter that connected Democracy activists throughout the Middle East leading to a revolutionary moment known as the Arab Spring. But Schiller soon became disillusioned and has long since left the company. In the years since, Twitter was increasingly hi-jacked by purveyors of hate and disinformation, fouling democracy instead of spreading it. Now, billionaire Elon Musk has taken over twitter, fired half its workforce, and signaled plans to revise if not roll back the content moderation policies that lead the company to kick Donald Trump off the platform for spreading election lies. We talk to Vivian Schiller about what we should make of the Musk takeover and what it portends for the future of Twitter, social media, and American Democracy.

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    5 November 2022, 8:23 pm
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