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The Fifth Avenue Rapist

February 5, 2024
Notes
Transcript
J.D. Vance has extended Trump’s Fifth Avenue immunity claim to sexual assault, espionage, RICO, and election stealing—as he angles for the VP slot. Plus, the border bill Republicans have always wanted. Will Saletan joins Charlie Sykes for Charlie and Will Monday.
This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:08

    Welcome to the Bulwark podcast. I’m Charlie Sykes, and because it is Monday, I am joined with my good friend and colleague, Will Saletan. How are you, Will?
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:16

    I’m good, Charlie Sykes is shining. It’s cold, but the sun
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:18

    is shining. So I’m in a happy mood. It is unusually warm here in Wisconsin. So, my undisputed high point of the day yesterday, was going around, the yard and in the woods and finding all of the green balls that my dogs had buried in the snow over the last couple of months. And so I actually posted this on social media, seven green balls that I recovered in the afternoon, and I have to say I had a tremendous sense of satisfaction about that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:43

    Charlie, for those of us who don’t have a dog, what is a green ball?
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:46

    It’s a ball that’s green. Okay. No. But it’s got holes in it so that you can put treats in as if that would be necessary as if a German shepherd would need a bribe to go chase a ball. But they’re the ones they’re their favorite ball.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:02

    You can put a treat in them and they they’re kinda squishy and everything, and they absolutely love them. Okay. So the theme of today’s show is gonna be a little light sedition. We’re gonna talk about Tucker Carlson being in Moscow. You know, the rumors are that he’s gonna do a little bit of sucking up to Vladimir Putin, not for the first time.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:17

    We also have to talk about, JD Vance, yet another extremely thirsty VP candidate for Donald Trump. Going on ABC with George Stephanopoulos and, checking all the right boxes, including the fact that he would have overturned the election. We have to get to that. Just running down some other big stories. Obviously, bad night at the Grammys for Maga.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:39

    Big night for Taylor Smith. I just, you know, to stick with that. Interestingly enough, what a surprise Donald Trump looks like he’s about to throw Ronald Mc Daniels under the bus? The RNC chair who had been, you know, doing everything possible to say, you know, I am so loyal to you, but But, you know, I guess the story is about, you know, running out of money that’s gotten Trump’s attention. And then, of course, we have the other stories.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:03

    We have the border bill The details of the border bill are are out. Republicans in the house quickly declaring it dead on arrival. We’ll circle back to this because by every read of this bill. And I mean this as an objective, you know, non snarky take care. This is the best bill, the Republicans are ever gonna get.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:22

    This is the toughest bill they will ever get. It is right there. They could just say yes. And, apparently, they’re going to say no. Also, it must be really weird being in the Biden campaign of the Biden White House because the roller coaster ride.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:37

    So on Friday, big Bafo jobs numbers. Right? Then you get that Cornipiac poll showing that, hey, maybe, you know, raping defamation and all that stuff or, you know, takes a toll and Trump was, you know, trailing Biden. Biden had opened up a lead on Donald Trump. And then, of course, because it’s Sunday, we get another crappy poll, and we have this NBC poll.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:57

    How would you describe the NBC pull for Biden. Bad on bad with hair on it?
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:01

    Yes. Bad on bad. For additional reasons, we can get to, but worse than just bad. Worse than just bad.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:07

    You’re just supposed to be the optimist on this podcast.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:11

    Sorry, man. I gotta I gotta tell the truth to you. We can talk about that poll now if you want.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:15

    No. No. No. No. No.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:16

    No. Wanna save that for a little bit later.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:18

    Save it for you. Your masochistic dessert. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:22

    Right. Right. Right. It’s just, like, it’s Monday morning. I wanna start off with the, as I said, the little lights edition, Tucker Carlson being in Russia.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:31

    Of course, we don’t have to spend much time on that, except that You know, he has become, I I think, Vladimir Putin’s most prominent media, useful Lydia, not the most prominent political use validity? And who would be the most prominent political? A lot of competition there.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:48

    No. There’s no competition. It’s Donald Trump, but the but for second Well, yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:52

    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:52

    Just always put Trump at a category of of his own. You know, I have to say that I wrote a piece. Wait. I you know, when the war began, And I was a piece for political magazine that basically said, you know, despite all the polls, Republicans are not gonna break with Donald Trump on this pro Putin anti Ukraine stuff. And I remember thinking afterwards, like, oh, boy, you know what?
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:15

    I might have been wrong on that. Maybe this is the one in unfortunately. And I mean, really unfortunately, that take has has aged well because rather than breaking with Trump, the way The way the Republican Party has been just transformed by this one guy is really Well, I I know we’ve said this over and over again, but watching the Republican Party about to abandon Ukraine is truly amazing even by the standards of the Trump years.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:44

    I think and we can talk about this more because I think it ties together a lot of what we’re gonna talk about today. What’s generally going on is that the Republican Party was a party that had beliefs. Sometimes, you know, violated those beliefs but had beliefs, and it’s become a cult And we’re seeing various manifestations of that. The abandonment of Ukraine and the embrace of Vladimir Putin, I think, is part of the cult nature of the Republican party as it stands today.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:07

    But it’s so dramatic because this is, like, I feel, again, we’re we’re repeating ourselves, but, I mean, the, you know, the party of Ronald Reagan being what it is today because of this guy. I mean, it’s not as if we’re talking about a, you know, a brilliant, you know, transformational thinker who has come up with a different philosophy for global engagement. It’s Donald freaking Trump. Okay. So my highlight of my weekend, at least in terms of, like, washing things, was actually the clips you sent me.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:37

    JD Vance. Now we have to put JD Vance in the category of thirsty deep candidates. And and we’ve seen this with Elise Defonic We’ve seen this with Tim Scott. We’ve seen this with Christy Noam. We’ve seen it with all of them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:05:51

    Where they feel the need to embrace the most deplorable aspects of trumpism as a way of signaling loyalty. Correct? I mean, and so they’re on this deplorable audition tour.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:03

    Okay. I have actually a darker theory than yours, which is that they actually the darker theory is that the Republican Party always had a weakness for authoritarianism and this idiot who came in exposed that. And that he they’ve chosen him as their golden calf or whatever, but it’s the nature of the party itself. But we’ll see some of that as we talk about Vance.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:21

    Okay. That is darker. Well, let’s talk about JD Vance. Because JD Vance fascinating to me because he was one time a never trumpeter. He was once considered kind of an intellectual on the right, you know, wrote the book at the, you know, Hillbilly elegy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:34

    Was, you know, published in the New York Times, you know, had deep thoughts and clearly understood who and what Donald Trump was. And then, of course, he transformed himself in order to become a United States senator. Right? I will admit I can’t believe I have any any naivete left about this, but there was a tiny bit of me tiny, tiny bit. And feel free to slap me through the screen here that was thinking that k J.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:59

    D. Vance was actually an intelligent guy. And so once he gets a six year no cut term in the US Senate, he’s gonna pivot toward rationality or perhaps decency. Just kidding. It’s like, politics is full of people like, I said this shit to get elected.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:17

    I said it during the campaign, but now that I’m elected, okay, it’s, you know, it’s time to
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:21

    put on the big boy pants. Not the case with JD Vance. No. No. And and I think he is a smart guy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:27

    But part of the lesson of what we’re seeing in the decline of the Republican Party into a cult is that intelligence that kind of intelligence, lawyerly intelligence can just as easily be turned into simply a rationalization machine for whatever you want. Right? And and so what these people are doing is not thinking their way out of a moral decline. It’s rationalizing their way into it. Which makes guys like him and Tucker Carlson all
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:53

    the more dangerous because they may know better, but they have intellectual chops to bring in. You know, let’s face, you know, America is not going to swoon over, you know, the Don Bonginos of the world. But okay. So let’s let’s go to JD Vance. Because this was an epic interview with George Stephanopoulos yesterday on ABC with a they went through everything from election denialism to whether or not the president can defy the US Supreme Court, to why he’s brushing off the rape and defamation findings And George Stephanopoulos basically had enough of him in cuts him off.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:27

    But let’s start with this where they’re talking about the election. And the question is they’re discussing Well, if you had been vice president, would you have made a different choice than Mike Pence made? Mike Pence decided to hold the law and the constitution and count the legitimately cast electoral votes. What say you, Senator Vans? Let’s play that sound bite.
  • Speaker 3
    0:08:50

    I’m not the least, but in curious. In fact, you laid out a litany there, but you didn’t answer the question I asked. Would you have certified the election results had you been vice president?
  • Speaker 4
    0:08:59

    If I had been vice president, I would have told the states like Pennsylvania, Georgia, and so many others that we needed to have multiple slates of electors And I think the US Congress should have fought over it from there. That is the legitimate way to deal with an election that a lot of folks including me think had a lot of problems in twenty twenty I think that’s what we should have done.
  • Speaker 3
    0:09:17

    So it’s very clear. You would have done what Donald Trump asked you to do there, not what Mike, sergeant and Mike Pence did.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:23

    Okay. Well, Could we just stop and ponder this particular moment in American political history? This, of course, is what, Trump asked Pends to do. Just admit and we’re gonna generate a
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:32

    bunch of fake electoral slates, and we’re gonna put those before Congress. And then Congress will choose whether to go with the slates that the governors send or the other slates that we, Republicans in Congress, would, like, essentially charlie, Charlie, what Vance is advocating is you, mister and missus America, may have gone out and voted for president. And we’ll listen to that. But if, quote, a lot of folks think that there’s something not right about the result, whatever that miserable low standard is, Then those of us in Congress will decide whether to take the Biden slate or the Trump slate. So essentially, Congress will decide who is the president, not a vote of the people.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:10

    K.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:10

    That’s not what JD Vance is saying. Go ahead. What JD Vance is saying? Pick me, pick me. Pick me, Donald?
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:17

    Because I will do what you want. I won’t pull a Mike Pence on you. This is what you’re worried about. You’re concerned that I might have like a streak of independence or integrity and would do what Pence did. No.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:27

    No. No. No. Pick me. Pick me.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:29

    Also, this whole idea of we should have multiples flights of electors. That’s not a thing, Will. I mean, could we just point this out? That’s not the thing. The constitution lays out how you get slates of electors.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:41

    That’s voter fraud. That was number one. I’m sorry. Did you wanna guys say anything else on this?
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:47

    No. I just wanna say it’s deadly serious. We’re having fun with this. And, of course, Jaydance wants to be vice president Right? But part of the lesson of January sixth when there was an actual physical attack on the United States capital to stop the peaceful transfer power is This is not just people auditioning for roles.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:04

    Right? This is not just, you know, putting on a show for one guy for Donald Trump. It is these people are willing to either condone, facilitate, or rationalize the actual destruction of American democracy. So I think it’s deadly serious when he says Congress will decide. I think There are enough Republicans in Congress, like, within the Republican conference that if Republicans control the house, this can happen.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:27

    They’ll just take it over. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:29

    Of course, there won’t be in, twenty twenty five. There won’t be a Republican sitting in the vice presidential chair. Thank god. Right. I think we get an indication of of what you have to do right now to succeed in the Republican Party.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:41

    I mean, JD Vance doing his audition. Okay. As part of the audition, they’re also talking about the administrative state and the US Supreme Court. So let’s play George Stephanopoulos talking to JD Vance about He suggested that basically everybody be fired. Let’s listen to this.
  • Speaker 4
    0:11:59

    I think that what trump should do, like, if I was giving him one piece of advice, fire every single mid level bureaucrat, every civil servant in the administrative state, replace them with our people. And when the courts because you will get taken to court, and then when the courts stop you, stand before the country like Andrew Jackson did and say the chief justice has made his ruling now let him enforce it.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:21

    Fire everyone in the government then defy the Supreme Court. Do you think it’s okay for the president to defy the Supreme Court?
  • Speaker 4
    0:12:28

    No. No, Georgia. I did not say fire everyone in the government. I said replace the mid level bureaucrats with people who are responsive to the Racey’s agenda.
  • Speaker 3
    0:12:36

    Every sales Will Saletan in the administrative state.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:40

    Okay. Now, this is one of those deep breath moments where I’m I’m struggling not to drop a series of f bombs here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:46

    Congratulations. You didn’t drop them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:49

    We’re not through this yet. So Andrew Jackson’s quote, is that an apocryphal quote or is that a real quote? Just just checking on
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:55

    I don’t know. It’s bad enough. Bad enough that anyone’s quoting it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:59

    Yeah. So but, I mean, there’s two things there. Number one, gut the federal government. Now, by the way, I am not like, here to carry water for government bureaucrats. But when you say fire every mid level bureaucrat in the entire federal government, jeez.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:13

    No. Some of those actually have responsible jobs. Would this be, like, the mid level bureaucrats in charge of nuclear safety? Would this be the mid level bureaucrats at fema. Would this be the mid level bureaucrats in homeland security?
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:28

    Would this be the mid level bureaucrats in the CIA or the, you know, National Defense Intelligence agencies. The I don’t wanna use the word radical, directlessness of this. You start with that. Then replace it with loyalists. So, basically, you’re abolishing the civil service.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:44

    Let’s wipe out a century and a half of actually having a civil service. And then let’s have a bunch of political hacks. By the way, look around Magga World, look around a Magga rally. These are the people that JD Vance wants to shove into the federal government Now he also knows because he’s a yale law graduate, right, that firing all these people would be illegal, perhaps even unconstitutional. But let’s say it would be illegal.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:07

    And so, therefore, he would go to court and the courts would rule against him. He’s almost essentially conceding that. Right? And then you’d go to court and the courts would rule against you. And, right, he wants Trump then to stand and basically say, fuck you, John Roberts.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:21

    See, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t get through the whole thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:23

    Right. So I think this is extremely grim and let me explain why. So, yes, JD Vance is putting on a song at Dance, but what you’re seeing him do in this interview
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:31

    No. This is worse than that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:32

    He’s putting together all of the elements of American authoritarianism. And for those of you who say this can happen in this country, so
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:40

    checks and
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:40

    balances Yeah. Right. So we heard him say that before that he’s gonna basically overthrow direct democracy in the election of presidents. Right? You you send in your ballots and then we in Congress decide whether to accept those or to, you choose a different state.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:53

    So now the president is no longer elected by the people. He’s elected by Congress. Of Congress that might be to a significant extent Jerry mattered in any event. So now we’ve installed this president that you didn’t vote for. Now having done that, we wanna get out of the way the deep state, the bureaucrats who stand in the way of the president that we installed.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:11

    We’re gonna get rid of every single bureaucrat, replace them with loyalists who know, in the name of the will of the people because we claim that this guy was the actual will of the people, this president. So we get the bureaucrats out of the way, then the courts step in a separate branch of government. Of course, the founders of this country set up this whole system to prevent exactly what JD Vance wants to do. Yes. We’re gonna have courts come in, right, and rule that, no, you can’t do that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:34

    And then the president, because he controls, I guess, the military, is gonna completely ignore what the courts do. So we’re gonna install our own president we’re gonna get rid of the bureaucrats who stand in the way, and they’re gonna get rid of the judges who stand in the way of our authoritarian coup. That is the whole recipe right there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:50

    Okay. So I don’t disagree with anything you said there, but also, basically, what he’s also saying is that you ignore the clear lines of the constitution. Now the president does take an oath of office. To uphold the constitution and to the best of his or her ability uphold the laws. JD Vance is saying in advance, that, nah, whatever oath you take, you don’t have to uphold the laws and you don’t have to respect the constitution.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:21

    So okay. And now in case there was any doubt about that, now George Stephhanopoulos, who I think did a pretty good job.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:27

    Yes. I think he’s the best, the best of this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:30

    Okay. He has become really good. So he’s not letting this drop. He goes, no. Wait.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:35

    Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Here you are.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:37

    You are a United States senator. You clearly are putting on the knee pads to become vice president of the United States. You are a Yale law graduate, and you just said that you think that the president should defy the Supreme Court, which said that, he’d violated his oath with violating the law. Okay. So here’s the follow-up.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:57

    Listen to this.
  • Speaker 3
    0:16:59

    The constitution also says the president must abide by legitimate Supreme Court rulings, doesn’t it? The
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:05

    constitution says that the Supreme Court can make rulings, but if the Supreme Court and look, I hope that they would not do this, but if the Supreme Court said The president of the United States can’t fire a general. That would be an illegitimate ruling, and the president has to have article two prerogative under the constitution to actually run the military as he sees fit. This is just basic constitutional legitimacy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:26

    You’re talking about a
  • Speaker 4
    0:17:26

    hypothetical where the Supreme Court tries to run the military. I don’t think that’s gonna happen, George. But of course, if it did, the president would have to respond to it. There are multiple examples throughout American history of the president doing just that.
  • Speaker 3
    0:17:41

    You didn’t say military in your answer. I mean, you’ve made it very clear. You believe the president can defy the Supreme Court. Senator, thanks for your time this morning.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:48

    Boom. And it’s over. Yeah. Okay. The military, you didn’t even bring that up the first time.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:53

    Will.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:53

    Yeah. So Vance wants to use the military as his example because the president general, you know, the president does have authority over the military. He’s he’s the commander in chief. Yeah. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:01

    So Vance, you know, there’s a little bit of I’m not gonna bring out a pony here, but there’s a little ray of hope in fact that Vance is trying to rationalize this whole thing by saying, well, I’m talking about the military. Obviously, in that quote, which is from twenty twenty. Clearly
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:12

    was not, though.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:12

    No. He was talking about any bureaucrat But notice how Vance is using this word illegitimate. Right? Remember, the election was illegitimate. So Biden’s an illegitimate to president.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:20

    If we don’t like it, it’s illegitimate. And then the court ruling, if the court ruling is against our guy, well, that’s illegitimate too. Right? The Supreme Court says this. And so you just we’re gonna ignore what we call illegitimate.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:30

    And that’s basically the death of the system when half the country, you know, or this Republican cult says we don’t like what the courts ruled. So we are gonna just say you stand up and enforce it, mister chief justice, you can’t?
  • Speaker 1
    0:18:42

    Well, as this interview went on, that was at the end of it, obviously. But in the course of the interview, they also talk about the mean, obviously, I don’t know how you could have an interview over the weekend without talking about the eugene Carroll case, the eighty three million dollar or jury verdict on top of the earlier five million journey verdict on top of the earlier finding that, in fact, Donald Trump had sexually assaulted E. Jean Carroll, And, of course, JD fans has to do with the other, you know, VP addition candidates are doing, which is to say, oh, that doesn’t matter. That doesn’t matter. So comes up with a couple of different explanations for this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:15

    The first sound byte, he’s basically saying it’s a left wing jurisdiction. Apparently, any conviction that takes place outside of I don’t know. The suburbs of Mar a lago is going to be inherently illegitimate. Let’s let’s play that one.
  • Speaker 4
    0:19:29

    This case, like so many legal cases against Donald Trump, They’re trumped up. They’re they’re in extremely left wing jurisdictions or it’s actually the Biden administration prosecuting his chief political rival.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:41

    Yeah. Okay. And then he specifically asked about the jury verdict in this particular case, and listen to the word he uses.
  • Speaker 3
    0:19:50

    You call it a ridiculous case. These were juries that found him liable for sexual assault and defamation. That’s ridiculous.
  • Speaker 4
    0:19:57

    These are juries George in extremely left wing jurisdictions. These are cases that are very often funded by left wing donors, and they’re cases that are funded explicitly to harm him politically not to seek justice for any particular group of individuals, George. If you look at all of these cases, the through line two fold. Number one, they’re funded by Donald Trump’s political opponents. And the goal here is not to help us actually have a real conversation about how to advance the country forward, their goal is to defeat Trump at the courts because these people know they can’t defeat them at the ballot box.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:33

    So I understand that that talking point is going to be very popular on, say, Fox News that the litigation is funded by these left wing organization. I’ll leave up, you know, the fact that it is the US Department of Justice that is bringing the criminal cases. But I guess I find a little bit of irony here, well, considering that And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, that many of the lawsuits that JD Vance would like are also funded by right wing sources. I mean, the federalist society is not a secret organization. It’s not a secret that there are organizations that have put tremendous amount of financial resources behind conservative legal challenges, and that’s not considered to be facially making them illegitimate.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:18

    So it was kind of a weird thing. It’s just But it’s all part of the it’s a left wing plot, left wing democrat plot, you know, Donald Trump’s a victim. It’s kind of in this mass word salad that we’re getting from, not just from JD Vance, but from Moggle World. And and frankly, the, you know, mainstream of the Republican party now. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:35

    And this is part of their campaign to essentially destroy the whole idea of evidence and the merits of a case. We’re just supposed to look at the proven itself. We’re supposed to look where the money came from. Charlie, can I throw a name from the past? Paula Jones.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:48

    Right? I mean, here was a, you know, a bunch of right wingers funding an operation to hold Bill Clinton accountable. And Bill Clinton had committed perjury. That was a fact. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:57

    No conservatives said we should disregard that because there there was a vast right wing conspiracy, right, behind, behind bringing this up. Right? So here, the the roles are first and the Republicans doing what the Democrats did except that what the stakes are, you know, much more serious crimes. I mean, here we have a a jury finding of sexual abuse, which the judge said amounted in colloquial terms to rape. And this sort of continues the JD Vance project of delegitimizing everything.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:23

    We delegitimized election, we did legitimize the courts. Here, we’re delegitizing juries. If the jury is in a, quote, left wing jurisdiction, then it has no value. So Charlie, remember the whole fifth avenue thing? Trump said I could walk out on fifth avenue.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:36

    She’s somewhere with us. This is this is the fifth avenue defense. What would happen if you shot somebody on Fifth Avenue? Well, a jury would hold you accountable and would issue a verdict, but it would be a jury. And if it were on in Fifth Avenue, a left wing jurisdiction and JD Vance would be saying exactly what he’s saying now.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:53

    Okay. Could we update this now? You can go out and you can rape somebody in the middle of fifth Avenue. You can violate the espionage act in the middle of fifth Avenue. You can engage in racketeering in the middle of fifth avenue And if you are held accountable for it, they will find a way to to discredit it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:13

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    0:23:50

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  • Speaker 1
    0:24:23

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  • Speaker 1
    0:24:57

    The only way to get twenty percent off is to go join delete me dot com slash bulwark enter code Bulwark at checkout. That’s join delete me dot com slash bulwark code bulwark. Okay. So deep breath here. Finally, we get the text of the border bill.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:16

    And I’m watching the back and forth going on about the border bill. Which is a reminder that there is no reality anymore. There is only spin. And it it’s interesting watching James Langford, very conservative Republican from Oklahoma. Going on television.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:29

    He’s he’s one of the negotiators, and he’s telling people, listen. Get off Facebook for five minutes. Read the actual bill. But, of course, the spin’s already gotten ahead of whatever the facts are in in the bill. These things are big.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:42

    They’re complicated. They’re expensive. You tell meds, I’m sure that you’ve looked at this more carefully. This is the toughest border bill Republicans will ever get. It does link the border to Ukraine.
  • Speaker 1
    0:25:55

    This is the kind of legislation that, you know, in the before times, If you presented a political party with eighty five percent of the of what they wanted, they would say this is a pretty good deal. Republicans are saying no. Just give me your take on how tough this bill is and what you think about it. Let’s remember. Let’s just step back for
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:13

    a minute. The old model for how to negotiate immigration was, Republicans wanted tougher border security, and Democrats wanted some version of amnesty. Right? We were just like, or DACA or DACA, path to citizenship. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:27

    So what we have here is the Republicans held up they held the Ukraine money hostage and said we’re demanding border security. So what they got in the bill was border security. All of it is border security. There’s zero, you know, path to citizenship here. There’s no no new anything for the left.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:43

    And what they’re doing is rejecting that. And the reason they’re rejecting it, Charlie, is we have had recently several tests of the proposition does the Republican party under Donald Trump stand for anything? Or is it simply a cult of Trump? And this is another piece of evidence that it is simply a cult.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:01

    Does their mistrava being performative over substance? Because they’ve been performing how what a crisis it is, and now they have a chance do something in reality, and they’re not interested. I don’t know how you get around that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:13

    For those who haven’t read this bill, and I have not read the whole thing, but I’ve read the basic outlines of it. The first thing it does is it ends catch and release. It ends the whole, you know, we get if you show up at the border, we just say, look, we don’t have enough people to we don’t have enough judges. We can’t move fast enough. We’ll let you into the country.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:27

    Come back in four years. Right? It ends that practice. It says you’re gonna have to, like, be in detention or we’re gonna, you know, so the second thing it does is it increases the standards for asylum. It’s we’re gonna make it more difficult for you to claim asylum because too many people are claiming asylum who who don’t actually qualify, don’t actually merit it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:44

    Again, a conservative goal here. The third thing is the shutdown valve. There’s a valve that says, you know, if you get over a certain number of people, the president has the authority to just shut it off. Right there. Like, never mind.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:54

    You show up. You have a valid asylum claim. Sorry. We’re full. We can’t adjudicate everybody who’s here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:59

    You’re gonna have to wait until we can, you know, get to your case. You don’t get to come in during that time. There’s other things that are not on the bill remaining. Mexico is not on the bill. There’s not a wall in the bill.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:09

    That’s so forth. But the point is all of this stuff is stuff that Republicans have asked for. The reason that they are rejecting this is because Donald Trump is running for president, and he wants to have the issue. He wants crisis. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:21

    He wants the caravans, all that stuff. And so what Republicans is doing is abandoning conservative policy goals to help Donald Trump.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:30

    And making this point, this is Nikki Haley who I’m really fascinated and wanted to have a longer conversation about her because She keeps walking up to the line. Sometimes it looks like she’s there. She’s going there, and then she backs up. So you never, almost from day to day, aren’t sure which which Nikki’s gonna be showing up. Although I I will tell you, and I think I’ve I’ve said this before, I am getting, like, every hour on the hour of text message.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:53

    Hey, Charlie Sykes Nikki. I’m not going anywhere, or, hey, would you like to buy my t shirt, making fun of Donald Trump threatening to exile everybody from Maga for giving money to me. Anyway, on CNN and talking about the water policy and whether or not Donald Trump is playing politics with it. Let’s listen to, Whitney Haley has to say.
  • Speaker 5
    0:29:12

    Donald Trump, as you know, was pushing Republican senators to oppose the deal in part because he wants to run on the issue in twenty twenty four in this election year. You called that a mistake Are you saying that the former president is playing politics with the border? Yeah.
  • Speaker 6
    0:29:27

    Well, I think nobody be playing politics with the border. First of all, he shouldn’t be getting involved telling Republicans that wait until the election because we don’t want this to help Biden win. We can’t wait one more day. You have millions of people who’ve come to that border. They are not being vetted.
  • Speaker 6
    0:29:43

    America’s acting like it’s September tenth. We better remember what September twelfth felt like because it only takes one. This is not a time to play politics. Is he? What I do think is they need to get something out.
  • Speaker 6
    0:29:53

    Of course, he is. He’s absolutely playing politics by telling them not do anything. But what I do think they need to do is they’ve gotta put a tough immigration law in place. I mean, right now, I don’t know what of Texas, but from what I understand, it doesn’t include remain in Mexico. We need to have remain in Mexico.
  • Speaker 6
    0:30:10

    That’s actually very important to make sure that they never step foot on US soil. And now I hear some Republicans saying, oh, but we don’t need a law at all because Biden could do this already. Well, there’s some truth to that, and then some of that is false. Yes, Biden could go back to some of the laws that put it in place, but three million illegal immigrants came under Trump. And that’s because the asylum laws are not strong enough.
  • Speaker 6
    0:30:33

    So we need to strengthen the asylum laws so that we don’t have people coming in here for loose reasons.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:40

    Okay. Will, your thought? Well, she’s making the point there that from a policy point of view, if you’re actually trying to solve the border problem, electing Donald Trump won’t solve the problem. He was in power before he didn’t asylum laws were not sufficient. He’s trying to do stuff by executive order.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:53

    She says, you know, that got blocked. You need the force of law. You need Congress to be behind this. If you cared about solving the problem, her argument makes sense. She’s talking to an old Republican party.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:03

    She’s talking to, like, the Reagan Republican Party. Right? In the Trump party, policy doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that they’ll have to solve the problem because the goal is not to get Donald Trump in office so that he will solve the problem. The goal is just to get Donald Trump back in office, just to get him back in power.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:19

    And the problem, as she explains, won’t be solved, but the House Republicans don’t care about that. They don’t care.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:28

    Okay. So briefly, the impeachment of majorca the, Department of Homeland Security Chief. I mean, apparently Republicans have decided we’re not gonna legislate, but we wanna have a show trial.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:37

    Right.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:38

    Number one is pretty obvious that it’s gonna be maybe they’ll be able to eke this through the house by one vote. There’s going to be no trial. At least that’s what I was saw over the weekend. It’s just not gonna happen. But This, again, in terms of, you know, being performative as opposed to serious, perfect example, we’re gonna show we really, really care about the border by impeaching the guy for not implementing policies, which we are going to refuse to legislate on.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:01

    Where does that go?
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:02

    Yeah. It’s to put on a show, and and it’s if they wanted to solve their problem, they’d pass the bill. They don’t wanna solve the problem. So they’re gonna do this impeachment of my orcus. Well, I don’t have this quote right in front of me, but Mike Johnson, this the speaker was on meet the press, and they asked him about the my orcas thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:17

    And they played the quote from Mike Johnson from one of Trump’s impeachments where he said single party impeachments, partisan impeachments are a bad idea, which is, of course, what’s going on. And Mike Johnson’s response in this interview was It’s really bad. You need to do this in an orderly way that in a bipartisan way, and then he says the House Republican majority is doing exactly that. Like, He doesn’t even realize the words coming out of his mouth refute his own point. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:43

    This was done, obviously, by the House Republic majority, which is like two people. Right? Let me this is like, an extremely narrow majority. And they’re doing this, not because they actually wanna get anything accomplished, but because they’re trying to maintain the cohesion of their own space.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:58

    Alright. So let’s talk about this poll that came out over the weekend. Now keep in mind, this is part of the problem of, like, you know, watching your heart monitor every single minute here. Friday, just blow away jobs numbers that even the Fox News hosts were having a hard time, like, processing, you know, I mean, when you’ve invested so much into how terrible the economy is, and you see these kinds of numbers coming out very, very impressive. Then, of course, then you had a quinnipiac poll showing Biden with a fairly comfortable lead, not definitive.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:28

    But then, of course, that’s been wiped away by the NBC poll that you describe as worse than bad. What do you mean worse than bad will?
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:36

    So worse than bad is before it was, well, people are unhappy with the economy. And the economy objectively is doing better than a lot of people feel personally, but, you know, The theory of the Biden comeback was people will start to realize that the economy is better. And when they do, they will realize that Joe Biden’s doing a good job. The reason why this poll is so bad, in my opinion, is there is a shift in this poll in people’s views of the economy. The expectations for the next year improved significantly, but Biden’s approval got worse.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:07

    It got worse. And so what this calls into question is the whole chain of reasoning that this is gonna somehow help Joe Biden. Whether they’re connected.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:15

    Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:15

    Right. To me, that’s why it’s such a grim poll.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:17

    Alright. Well, what else we seeing? We I mean, some of these numbers are just kind of mind boggling, that Trump is leading among hispanics is doing very well among young voters. Yep. Has a massive double digit lead among independents.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:30

    Unless people are told that he’s convicted of a felony. That’s the other takeaway from this is that conviction for a felony at least in theory flips large numbers of votes whether that will happen, we don’t know. Because there’s no track record or history. There’s no data set that we can compare this against. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:48

    Yeah. The thing about young voters really drives me crazy because remember Charlie, the first time a poll came out and said Trump and Biden are basically tied among young voters. The pollsters, the a lot of the smart political people said, oh, I don’t believe it. I don’t believe it. Young people are not gonna move
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:03

    that way. I said that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:04

    I I was skeptical. I’m This particular finding keeps getting confirmed. Right? Now, oh, here, I’m gonna bring out my pony for this. Well, a lot of this, I think, is a lot of young people are pissed off about Gaza.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:15

    They’re about Israel and that they don’t think Biden is doing enough to protect the Palestinians. Setting aside the policy question about that, if that’s their concern, and if the fighting in Gaza subsides, as it presumably, it will, before the election, maybe some of those young voters come back home to the Democrat or maybe they get motivated by abortion to support the Democrats. So that’s one problem. The Hispanic being virtually tied another problem. And, Charlie, can we talk for a minute about this finding that if Trump gets convicted, the election shifts, Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:44

    So what they told people is if Donald Trump is found guilty and convicted this year of a felony, that’s the quote in the poll. How will you vote? Right? And in that scenario, Biden is ahead by two points by two points. It’s forty five to forty three.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:01

    Okay. Yeah. Forty three percent of Americans are willing to say in advance. Yeah. I’d be willing to vote for a convicted felon.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:09

    Now, see, when I say that we don’t know what’s gonna happen, I’m pretty sure that outside of, say, Wilmington, you know, Delaware, someplace where they have elected I mean, there have been mayors who’ve been elected from jail. Right? You know? But generally, I don’t think there’s there’s any data showing that people would I vote for a convicted felon for city council or for state legislature or for governor or for any job other than president. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:35

    I mean, leaving aside you kinda some corrupt, you know, political machines in some big cities where they’re like, screw it. We don’t care. We want our felon, you know. Yep. There’s kind of no track
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:45

    record here. It’s interesting what that reveals about what’s happened in this country. First of all, so Biden’s leading by two points only, and he’s only at forty five. Only forty five percent of Americans are saying that getting convicted of a felony is enough to discredit you and so we’re gonna vote for the other guy. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:01

    And remember, he’s the incumbent. So if he’s at forty five, that leaves a lot of room for Trump to pick up or third party candidates. The point is that’s bad for Biden independence Charlie, when they’re told I
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:11

    saw it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:11

    What if Trump is found guilty convicted of felony. Independence are still for Trump, forty to thirty two percent. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:17

    Yeah. So it goes from eighteen point lead
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:19

    to a nine point lead, but it’s a lead. So to me, the takeaway is how few Americans actually care about this. And here’s why I think I’m really concerned. I think that this shows that the Republican campaign, to discredit the legal system in this country, to discredit judges, to discredit juries, to discredit any prosecution of Donald Trump is taking hold. To the point where if a jury decides that Donald Trump is guilty of a felony, It’s probably political left wing jurisdiction funded by left wing donors.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:48

    We’re gonna just set that aside. Which obviously culturally and politically is a really bad place for our country to be?
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:55

    Well, I agree with you. And I also think that this is one of the most damaging possible legacies of this year, you know, for people who think the fever breaks, you know, the the long term damage of Trumpism is gonna play out in a lot of different areas, but that’s certainly one of them, you know, discrediting one institution after another because You do not have a liberal democratic order, a constitutional order in which the public, decides that it is not going to respect, you know, some of the major pillars And we’re very, very close to that. Now there there is also that story, though, out of the Washington Post, I think, was Philip Bump, who looked at the number. Most Republicans still are not aware of Trump’s various legal issues. He said there’s an assumption probably, particularly among those who covered the news and those who read it, guys like us, that Donald Trump’s legal problems or common knowledge, we talk about things like the potential effects of a Trump conviction on the election.
  • Speaker 1
    0:38:48

    With the assumption, this would be an event that rose to the nation’s consciousness triggering a response, but this is a sort of vanity. This is a sort of vanity just because it is interesting to us. Certainly doesn’t mean it is interesting to others. Pulling released by CNN last week shows that only a quarter of voters seek out news about the campaign, a third, pay little or no attention, and then you get through just the details about the the number of cases. The case that was most familiar to most people was the federal classified document case moving forward, not really, in Florida, six and ten Americans, but the pattern among Republicans is as clear.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:25

    At most, forty five percent of Republicans said they knew about legal issues. Only forty five percent specifically the documents case, the case being found liable for assaulting Jean Carroll, only a quarter of Republicans knew about the value inflation suit, the fraud case in New York, only four in ten knew about the criminal charges in Manhattan related to the hush money. Anyway, so I go either way. You know, number one, maybe when people find out about it. It’ll have more of an effect or or I suspect that you are right that it’s already baked in, and that Donald Trump has internalize the idea that nothing matters or should matter when it comes to him.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:05

    Yeah. I will get excited about these findings that Republicans don’t know and that, you know, the implication that somehow they would change their votes or when I see evidence that it would change their votes, that they care. Haven’t seen evidence that they care. And I’ve looked at a lot of polling where the pollster says if Donald Trump is found guilty in, and they name the cases they name the classified documents case. They name, you know, the Gene Carol kit.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:27

    And what I see in Republican response is, basically, they’re still with Trump. It’s a reflexive loyalty. And part of it is that we support whatever the great leader wants and part of it is the Republican campaign to discredit all the institutions that find him guilty of these various We’re gonna dismiss the jury, the judge, the prosecutors, etcetera. And so I just think he has built a wall, and his party is helping him to build a wall of indifference around the base.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:53

    So what does Joe Biden, you know, a larger picture, the pro democracy coalition? What do they do about that? What is the answer for that? Other than to keep repeating the same things that we have been saying over or I’m I’m referring to the pro democracy coalition. Over and over and over again.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:12

    What changes the dynamic? What do they need to do? Now on the border, I think that Biden has made it clear as, like, I’m not gonna die on this hill. I’m gonna make compromise. I’m gonna point out where I’m in.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:24

    On the Middle East, he’s trying to triangulate without much success so far, but What else? Well, there’s two parts of this question to me. One is how to talk about the threat to democracy and
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:35

    the rule of law, and the other is how to position Biden and the Democrats beyond this. Because like it or not, and I have my differences with the left on a lot of things. What’s left in this country to protect our constitution, our accuracy is the Democratic party. So we need the Democratic party to win elections until there is a same conservative party, whether it is the Republican Party or a new party. And so to do that on the question of specifically democracy and the rule of law, the good news is there is enough to work with.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:03

    There is more than fifty percent of the country that in polling says they care about this. Not the Republican base. They’re gone. You’re not gonna get those people. There are some people who have left the party you can win an election with people who care about democracy, but you’ve you’ve gotta, you know, get those people to get it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:18

    And the other thing is on the policy questions, Charlie Sykes sorry for those progressives who are unhappy with elements of this border negotiation, but Joe Biden came out with a statement last night firmly embracing this compromise, firmly embracing a lot of strict conservative policies on the border. And I think he’s gotta do that because it is a crisis, and conservatives have a point there. And he’s got to be the, you know, conservative on this issue when the Republican Party won’t. And there’s an opportunity here for Democrats to do what Bill Clinton did a lot of, which is to stand in the center and to say, look, I was willing. I am willing embrace these policies to solve the border problem.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:57

    My opponents talk like they will, but they aren’t. There are some conservative people who will listen to that. And Nikki Haley is speaking to those people. You and I may be very unhappy with Nikki Haley in a lot of ways, but she is still talking to an audience people who remember what the Republican Party was. And if Biden can get some of those people to vote for him, he’ll win the election.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:17

    Well, I I agree.
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:18

    And that’s one of the reasons why I pushed for Chris Christie to stay the race, because I was hoping it would be him. But now if it if it’s Nikki Haley, look, we don’t get to necessarily choose the army we go to war with. Right? I mean, we have to, you know, we have to make alliances that would be uncomfortable in any other context. So could I just, say, one final thing, Will.
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:37

    It has been a real pleasure doing this podcast with you. I have been every single time that you and I have spoken or met. I have been really impressed with your integrity and your intellectual honesty and your thoughtfulness and your work ethic. And I have to say that that among the many positive professional relationships that I’ve had. Yours has been one of the most rewarding, and I appreciate it very much.
  • Speaker 1
    0:44:03

    And I’m gonna miss you guy.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:05

    Oh, Charlie. That’s so kind of you. I’ll write back at you. I I’ve I have been a guest on this show before I worked with you. And the more I have worked with you, the more I respect you.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:15

    I am constantly amazed that for somebody who has a a reputation as coming from the the world of talkers, you’re a thinker, you know, that you you you know a lot of history. And for I recommend anyone go back a couple of weeks when Charlie did the history of the Republican Party The man really is interested in history and has educated himself, and you’ve educated your viewers. I wanna say one more thing, which is when I think about you, because I’m gonna miss you dearly, I was thinking, what do I have that really reminds me of Charlie Sykes? And it’s this pony. And for people who think I’m the pony guy and that Charlie’s, you know, always Graham Reaper, and I’ve I’ve got I’ve always got the pony.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:51

    I wanna remind you, the inventor of the pony is Charlie Sykes. Charlie, you know, one of our first shows that we did together. I was coming up with a rationalization for something, and you said you are determined to find a pony in there. Right? Shoveling through the shit, and we’re gonna find a pony.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:06

    So Charlie Sykes is the pony, and every time I bring out my pony, I’m gonna think of you.
  • Speaker 1
    0:45:12

    I am touched. I’m Charlie Sykes. Thank you for listening to today’s Bulwark podcast. We’ll be back tomorrow, and we’ll do this all over again. Bohrk podcast is produced by Katie Cooper.
  • Speaker 1
    0:45:27

    And engineered and edited by Jason Brown.
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