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CAP’s Mike Sozan on Shocking Revelations From the January 6 Committee

CAP’s Mike Sozan on Shocking Revelations From the January 6 Committee

This week on "The Tent," Daniella speaks with CAP's Mike Sozan about the most shocking moments from the January 6 hearing.

Part of a Series

This week, Center for American Progress senior fellow Mike Sozan joins Daniella to ​discuss the latest blockbuster hearing of the January 6 select committee, what we can expect from the remaining hearings, and MAGA extremist challenges to our election integrity and security. Daniella also dives into recent and upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decisions and discusses ​the state of abortion rights with CAP’s Maggie Jo Buchanan.

Learn more about the podcast here.


Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone, welcome back to “The Tent,” your place for politics, policy, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger. How y’all doing? What a year this week has been. This week, amid everything else going on—which we’ll get into in just a moment—we had a surprise hearing of the January 6 select committee, featuring shocking testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, former executive assistant to Mark Meadows. We will have CAP’s own Mike Sozan with us today to help us recap the hearing and talk about what it means for the investigation, for our elections, and for our democracy.

But first, let’s get to some news.

So, the Supreme Court has officially entered its supervillain era. We’re seeing the disastrous result of the extremist takeover of the bench since [Donald] Trump’s three appointees were confirmed, and the results have been astounding and horrific. In a few short weeks, these radical justices have overturned decades of legal precedent to take away our rights and push an agenda that is out of step with what a majority of Americans want.

So far, we’ve had two rulings that dramatically and inappropriately remove separations between church and state and come dangerously close to government endorsement of a religion, which is prohibited under the First Amendment. In Carson v. Makin, the court ruled that the government is required to use public funds to support religious education, and in Kennedy v. Bremerton—I believe—School District, it overruled decades of case law prohibiting government-sponsored prayer in public schools.

We also saw a 108-year-old law regulating concealed carry handguns outside of the home struck down in New York. I can’t believe we even have to discuss a ruling like this mere weeks after the deadly mass shootings in Buffalo, [New York,] Uvalde, [Texas,] and so many other places. Yet, here we are.

And of course, another ruling we’re expecting this week—because we just can’t have a nice holiday weekend—is West Virginia v. EPA. If the court rules as expected, it will severely limit the EPA’s ability to regulate power plant emissions. And I have to point out in taking this case, the court decided to weigh in on an old, moot Obama administration era rule for the sole purpose of halting progress towards clean air and a stable climate. Now, I don’t know about you, but that reeks of partisan activism to me. It’s not just a wink and a nod to the fossil fuel industry and big corporations; it’s a whole handshake. It’s a flagrant abuse of judicial power for political aims, and it shows a clear need for lawmakers to act to protect our climate. The Senate needs to respond by passing President [Joe] Biden’s clean energy investments to protect our future, and the Biden administration’s EPA needs to be bold in using its remaining authority to set stringent standards for pollution reduction.

So, long story short, this month was a huge step back for our country, and it was no accident. This was the culmination of decades of work by extremist Republicans to strip away our fundamental rights. And perhaps no case demonstrates this quite as powerfully as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in which the Supreme Court—going against what a majority of Americans want—overturned Roe v. Wade and nearly 50 years of precedent that several justices had confirmed, during their nomination hearings, that they viewed as settled law. Here to help us break down the fallout from that is CAP’s own Maggie Jo Buchanan, senior director of our Women’s Initiative and former director of our Courts team. Maggie Jo, welcome to “The Tent.”

Maggie Jo Buchanan: Thank you so much for having me.

Gibbs Léger: So, I want to just start, you know, kind of level setting and making sure all of our listeners are on the same page about last week’s ruling. So, can you describe, you know, what it did and what it means going forward?

Buchanan: Absolutely. So, in its most basic terms, last week’s ruling denied a federal constitutional right to abortion and returned the question of whether or not abortion can be legal entirely to the states. And what we’ve seen from that is a variety of different bans going into place, as well as a lot of court challenges to try to block those bans. And we’re really looking at a state of confusion across the country.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I was gonna ask you, you know, it’s been about a week since we got that decision. And, like you said, there are already states where abortion is no longer legal. So, how is this playing out in those red states in particular?

Buchanan: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, after Friday’s decision, those who represent patients and providers filed a flurry of lawsuits to try to block the different bans going into place. And there’s a few different types of bans that we’re looking at. Some of the most prominent are what are called “trigger bans,” which were passed after Roe and are designed explicitly to go into effect if—and now, now that–—Roe has been overturned. There are also laws on the books in states, you know, passed more than a century ago, originally, that ban abortion that are also now in play. And of course, over the past few months, states have rushed to enact a flurry of different abortion bans, ranging from a six-week ban that we all heard about in Texas that is enforced by a bounty hunter scheme to near total, with only the most narrow exceptions, of a ban passed in Oklahoma.

So, I just give that overview to perhaps underscore a little more of just the complete changing-by-the-minute nature of what’s going on in the states. But you know, we have seen some successes. In Louisiana, the ban in place in that state was temporarily blocked, pending a hearing, I believe, on July 8. We’ve also seen bans be blocked in various states, including Texas. Many of these claims are actually focused on the extremely confusing and vague nature of these laws, saying they’re just impossible to adhere to—of course, that’s essentially what the ruling would say, I’m sure all the litigators would wince if they heard me summarize it that way—while others are, you know, claiming that the laws violate state constitutional protections of privacy. And while we are seeing some action at the federal level—unfortunately, a federal judge lifted an injunction on South Carolina’s ban recently—most of this is playing out in state courts, which is really a shift from historically how litigation on abortion has been centered.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, some states are actually moving in the opposite direction and taking measures to become sort of safe havens and put some protections into place. So, can you talk about what’s happening there and how that works?

Buchanan: So, states like California are swiftly moving to both try to strengthen state constitutional and statutory protections to the right to abortion, while other states are also moving—California, I believe, included, as well as Massachusetts and a few others—to ensure that these states that we know are going to want to criminalize providers, as well as just people who help others access care, are not prosecuted over state lines. So, [they’re] really putting in place more robust protections just to, you know, ensure people aren’t targeted and dragged into court and thrown into jail just for providing basic care.

Gibbs Léger: You know, this isn’t so much a question as more of a rant, but there was a doctor in—I think—Alabama, who was talking on the news about how when the news came down, they had patients in the waiting room, waiting to have abortions. And you know, he and his staff had to go out and tell them that they had to go home. And like, people were obviously devastated. And I can’t even imagine, like being a patient in a waiting room and then you’re told that the Supreme Court has said that you cannot get the care that you have arrived, you know, to get. It’s really sad. It really just sort of brought home, like, the awfulness of that decision. Like I said, that was just a rant, not a question.

Buchanan: But everyone should be ranting right now.

Gibbs Léger: Yes, yes. Is there more that the Biden administration could be doing to protect abortion rights right now?

Buchanan: Yeah. And I think, you know, we’re starting to see some of that unfold. And there’s a lot more to do. First and foremost, I was heartened to see that the administration unveiled the startings of a website to inform people of their reproductive rights and how they can access birth control and abortion. This is going to be—it might sound a little bit like small potatoes, but we know—like we were just talking about the massive confusion that’s on the ground right now—people are going to need to be able to know where they can get care and what their rights are. So, I hope to see that strengthened and expanded so people can actually go and find a reliable source of information—right?—and not have to rely on—some of it would be well-meaning, some of it’s not, but—confusion and disinformation that’s out there.

But we also know it’s going to be critical—absolutely critical—in the states that abortion is still legal, that clinics can keep their doors open and even expand capacity. And there is room for the administration, I believe, to be able to help in that way. You know, the Hyde Amendment—which prohibits coverage of abortion under Medicaid as well as other government insurance programs, except in very narrow cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the patient is very much at risk—right now, those exceptions are not really utilized. There’s a lot of bureaucracy and confusion both among patients and providers of how to access care under those exceptions. So, while again, you know, that’s not enough, we can do that. We can clarify that. We can make sure that people in those situations—those really horrible situations—are able to better access care, and doctors can be reimbursed for that to help to help keep things running.

And I know these things are technical and wonky, but they can really make a difference on the ground. And, you know, I think we’re starting to see progress. And of course, the DOJ has a role to play here, too. There’s where we have the FACE [Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances] Act, which can protect against violence at clinics. We need to be doing everything possible to protect the safety of patients, providers, as well as their privacy. You know, the AG recently announced a series of steps that they were looking at. And we need to see strong enforcement of people’s civil rights and doing whatever we can to protect people. You know, and I’ll also note with early abortion medication making up the majority of abortion care in America, and it being allowed to be sent through the mail—you can take that at home—states are trying to stop that. And I think we have to look to the federal government to ensure that all patients are able to access these medications in a way that the FDA has approved as safe.

Gibbs Léger: Well, Maggie Jo, I want to thank you so much for helping break this down for us today. To our listeners, if there’s anything else you’d like us to cover on the pod, please hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod, that’s @TheTentPod. And please let us know what you think of the show. You can rate and review us wherever you’re streaming from, and we really appreciate your feedback. Stick around for our interview with Mike Sozan in just a beat.

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Gibbs Léger: Mike Sozan is a senior fellow on the Democracy Policy team at the Center for American Progress. Prior to joining CAP, he served for six years as chief of staff to former U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and held several other senior positions on Capitol Hill, in the Department of Justice, and with the Federal Communications Commission. His work on democracy, government reform, and elections has been cited in outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, Politico, NPR, and MSNBC, to name a few. Recently, he’s been using his expertise to analyze the events of January 6, Trump’s attempts to meddle in the 2020 election, and the hearings of the [January 6] House Select Committee. Mike, thanks so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Mike Sozan: I’m happy to be here with you, Daniella. Thank you for having me on.

Gibbs Léger: So, in June, we had several blockbuster hearings of the House Select Committee investigating the events of January 6. And I have to ask you about the latest hearing featuring Cassidy Hutchinson, top aide to Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s chief of staff at the time of January 6. We heard, I think, some of the most shocking testimony yet from her, which is quite an accomplishment because all of these hearings have been pretty astonishing. So, let me start with: What were your biggest takeaways from what she had to say?

Sozan: What a blockbuster hearing, right? I mean, even as someone who has followed the Trump conspiracy for many, many months now—actually a couple years—I was riveted by Cassidy Hutchison and her testimony. And I mean, just to start off with, let’s level-set that this was yet another Trump supporter, in her own words, telling us about the Trump conspiracy to steal the election. This isn’t some, you know, Democrat or somebody else that Trump loves to criticize. This was one of his own people. She was a true MAGA Republican who had worked for [Sen.] Ted Cruz (R-TX) and [Rep.] Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). And she was obviously a Trump supporter and had a key position in the White House, a top aide to the chief of staff, Mark Meadows. So, she essentially was a nucleus, privy to a lot of sensitive information in the White House.

So, my biggest takeaway really is the mountains of detailed evidence that she gave about Trump’s plan to steal the election. And she talked about how he wanted to hold on to power at all costs, and even with his White House counsel warning him, and others warning him and warning Mark Meadows against trying to steal the election, and warning them that they could get into huge trouble and be charged with quote unquote, “every imaginable crime,” on January 6. And you know, Mark Meadows was right there the whole time as well, as Cassidy was explaining. So, I feel this has been like a big puzzle that week after week after week of these hearings and the investigation that more and more puzzle pieces are put into the puzzle. It’s getting filled in as we watch it. So that’s what really struck me. And look, I’ll just say we already knew what kind of a petulant and corrupt president Trump was, but wow, she painted the picture for us as well about just what a child he was—his violent streaks and ultimately, as she said, just how un-American his actions were.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, you know, I used to always call him a big man baby. And I mean, the throwing of the food against the wall, I mean, that is like peak baby, toddler behavior right there. But I also want to talk just a minute about, like, the possible, you know, real legal challenges that Trump could face given what she talked about. There’s the alleged assault of his security detail, but even if you want to put that aside, there’s the witness tampering, you know, sending a mob to the Hill—to Capitol Hill—that he knew had guns. You know, like even Mick Mulvaney—who I cannot stand—his former chief of staff said, it was a very, very bad day for Donald Trump. So, like, what do you think about the possible legality issues coming out of this?

Sozan: I think you’re right that it swept in some potential new crimes. And Pat Cipollone, who was Trump’s White House counsel, the top lawyer in the White House, was describing some of these crimes, according to Cassidy Hutchison, and, you know, incitement to riot was one of them; and as you said, you know, allegedly attacking a member of his security detail, who was a federal employee. And this is on top of the crimes that have really been at the center of this for a while, that have been developing regarding, you know, obstruction of the counting of the valid electoral votes, trying to, you know, interrupt a valid government process.

And let’s not forget there’s also the ongoing investigation in Fulton County, Georgia, where the local DA there has convened a grand jury and is presenting evidence to the grand jury. And I actually think that might be the first of the criminal proceedings, that could move forward with an indictment against Trump, perhaps even the Department of Justice. But certainly, as you say, it would seem that this compelling evidence from yesterday’s hearing really adds more and more to Trump’s potential criminal liability. And I’ve been heartened to see from polling and just kind of from the zeitgeist out there amongst Americans right now, more and more Americans, as they watch these hearings, are saying that everyone involved in the conspiracy to steal the election should be held accountable, even the [former] president of the United States.

Gibbs Léger: So, let’s talk about, you know, the hearings. And I think that yesterday’s hearing is a good example of how agile and flexible the committee has been as they’ve been receiving new testimony and evidence. And it’s a huge undertaking to present all this information to the American people in a way that makes sense, that’s cohesive—as you said, putting the puzzle pieces together—but also that’s engaging. So, how effective do you think the hearings have been thus far? And aside from maybe yesterday, you know, what’s been the most shocking or unforgettable moment for you, that you think might stick in people’s minds?

Sozan: I think the hearings have been extremely effective. I really do. And I think that you can see that these hearings are the result of really careful, deep investigation. Let’s not forget that there are multiple former career prosecutors who are helping to oversee this massive investigation and all of the interviews of witnesses, etc. So, that’s the first thing is this is very credible in terms of its investigation. And also, what’s interesting—and I’m kind of glad they did it—is the committee apparently called in a TV producer to help produce the hearings. I think that a lot of us are familiar with the fact that many times congressional hearings can be boring, or they can be full of grandstanding by members of Congress, right? We’re not seeing that here. We’re seeing one or two members taking the questions. Sometimes even counsels are helping. And there’s none of that jockeying for position or for grandstanding. So, I’m really glad it’s being produced in such a way that’s breaking through to the American people. So, I just think they’ve gone so well, so far.

And in answer to your second question about what’s been the most shocking or unforgettable moment: There have been many. If I had to narrow it just to one though, I would say for me, the most shocking has been that Donald Trump was willing to allow his own vice president to be killed in order to carry out the plan to keep Trump in power. I mean, think about that. You know, Trump knew the crowd had set up a gallows outside the Capitol building. He knew that they were chanting, “Hang Mike Pence.” His top aides were begging him to tell the insurrectionists to back off, and his counsel even told him, “There’s gonna be blood on your hands.” And we now also know that the violent mob got within nearly 40 feet of Mike Pence inside the Capitol as he was being rushed to safety. And so, to me, this this is really shocking that a U.S. president would go to these lengths to hold on to power, including not minding the fact that his quote unquote, “disloyal vice president”—who was really upholding the Constitution—might be killed.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, that one … I mean, as much as we’ve all watched Trump do various things that are shocking and galling, this definitely took the cake. We’re gonna have to wait a couple of weeks for additional hearings, but we’ve heard that there’ll be significantly more to share. We’ve already seen so many angles of this investigation: evidence that, like you said, Trump’s inner circle was well-aware of plans for violence, evidence that they intentionally fueled the riots at the Capitol that they knew would be violent, evidence that they were hesitant to respond. But what do you think we might see from the next round of hearings?

Sozan: So, I expect that we will see a number of things and part of my answer actually goes back to the way that Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), who’s the vice chair of the committee, laid it out in the very first hearing. So, what I think that we’re going to see in upcoming hearings is the committee diving deeper into the specifics of the lead-up to the attack on the Capitol. I think there’s going to be a bit of a moment-by-moment description. For example, who was talking to whom? Who was pulling the levers at what times? How might Trump and [Rudy] Giuliani and Mark Meadows and others have been involved specifically with that lead-up to the actual attack? And I think we’re going to hear more about how leaders on Capitol Hill begged Donald Trump to intervene to help. And he refused to mobilize any government unit to help stop the insurrection at the Capitol. And so, we might hear more about how Mike Pence was the one who had to step in and do that. And also, I think we’re going to hear about how Trump’s cabinet members discussed invoking the 25th Amendment and several resigned. And lastly, I’ll just say I really hope the committee also talks more at the end, or as these hearings go on, about the ongoing threats, the future threats to our elections, because those are also very, very real.

Gibbs Léger: Well, that’s a great segue to my next question. We have midterm races coming up in November, and the events of January 6 and results of the committee’s investigation have massive implications for the integrity and security of those elections. In many states we’re seeing folks who supported the insurrection and the former president’s attempts to throw out legitimate American votes running for key offices, from legislative candidates to even secretaries of states—you know, the people that certify the election. So, talk to our listeners about what it means for election deniers and pro-January 6 candidates to be running for these offices and what it can mean for future elections if they actually win.

Sozan: Daniella, this is such a good question. And it is a huge threat. And I think that Americans and your listeners are getting more and more clued in and understanding about this big threat because we have MAGA extremists running for important state and local positions all over the nation. And you know, I think a lot of people are getting familiar for the first time with the with the secretary of state position in each state. It’s not a position that most people have ever really had to think about. But in most states, the secretary of state is the top election official and oversees the conduct of elections. And there are many MAGA extremists running for that position.

But we even see it as governor, right? I mean, let’s look at Pennsylvania, where they just had their nominee chosen and the Republicans actually chose Doug Mastriano, who is an absolute MAGA extremist. He is a close ally of Donald Trump. He was in [Washington,] D.C., on January 6. He’s a huge proponent of the big lie. And he is already polling pretty well, pretty close with his Democratic opponent. And Doug Mastriano is somebody who has said that if he becomes governor, he will decertify voting machines, if and when he feels like it. He has said that he might make every person living in Pennsylvania have to re-register to vote because he doesn’t trust the current voter rolls. And so, that’s the sort of candidate who might get elected and might be able to change the results of elections, especially in these battleground states. These are people who might be able to change the rules of the road so that their favorite candidate wins.

Gibbs Léger: Well, that’s terrifying. You know, you talked about what the potential governor of—the Republican governor of—Pennsylvania, if he wins, what he would do, but what are some other types of tactics, that these MAGA extremists, what else are they planning if they get into power, so that people can be on the lookout for them? And then, like, what are the most effective ways to, like, keep these efforts in check, besides just bringing them out to light?

Sozan: Yeah, another great question. I mean, you know, one of the most disgusting things that continues to stick out for me watching these hearings, but also studying this over the past few years, is the tactic that they use of intimidating election workers and their families with death threats. We heard harrowing testimony about that already during these hearings. And you know, one-quarter of election workers—longtime election workers—have already resigned their position recently, due to these death threats and the constant challenges now that they never had to face before, and being constantly called into question and having some states that they work in criminalize some of their election-related activity, so that if election workers step one direction in one way, or another way slightly where partisans in their state think they shouldn’t have, they could actually go to jail.

And so, there are a lot of other tools, though, in the toolbox that the MAGA extremists have right now. And then they’ve got the new state laws that have been passed that suppress voters, especially voters of color, and allow partisans to sabotage election results when they don’t like the real winner. They’re making it harder for voters to register. They’re purging voters off of the rolls. They’re getting rid of drop boxes, making it easier for partisan poll watchers to challenge the votes that they think are suspicious, even if there’s no reason to think they’re suspicious. And so, there are so many of these tools that they now have at their disposal in a lot of states. And these, again, are largely built on the big lie that there’s rampant voter fraud, which is not the case.

So, going to what you asked about: What can we do? What can people do to help keep these in check? Well, we certainly need any state officials—all state officials—who believe in valid, fair, and free elections to really be on guard, to really use their voices during the upcoming elections. And then again, in the presidential election cycle next time, to really call out anytime that voter suppression or election sabotage is going on. And we as citizens can get involved, we can become election workers, we can become volunteers, we can become poll watchers, we can be in on the side of protecting our democracy. You know, no matter which party wins, we just want to protect a valid election. And lastly, I’ll say the courts are going to have to be a backstop. Even though we’ve seen a lot of times, judges aren’t always going to do the right thing. We’ve certainly been seeing that with the U.S. Supreme Court recently. But courts sometimes can be a valuable backstop to step in and force the valid election results to be upheld.

Gibbs Léger: So those are all excellent suggestions and things that people should be looking out for and things that people can do. We like to end our interviews on a positive note. There’s not a whole lot of positives about this entire situation, but we have seen a lot of moving stories of brave folks standing up to this MAGA power grab, whether it’s the election workers that you just mentioned, who were unjustly vilified by Trump and his camp, or the Capitol police officers who risked—and in some cases, sacrificed—their lives to protect our democracy. Like, that stuff has been pretty inspiring to me—the bravery and dedication of these everyday American heroes. So, I wonder if you could indulge us for a moment and, you know, share, you know, what from this testimony was maybe most moving for you or what was most inspiring for you?

Sozan: Well, Daniella, I’m going to have to say something very similar to you because the time that I really found myself choked up during these hearings was when we heard the testimony of the longtime election worker from Georgia, and we saw clips from her mother’s testimony as well. And sometimes I’m hesitant to say their names because I know they’re under death threat, I’m sure, from extremists right now who are angry with them. But out of respect, I am going to say their names: Shaye Moss and her mom Ruby Freeman, who, as we know, is called “Lady Ruby.” They’re inspiring because for many years, they just wanted to be active parts of their community and active parts of their democracy, namely by helping people vote. And they took pride and joy in it. You could just tell from the testimony, the way that Shaye was describing how joyful she was to help people be able to vote. And Donald Trump and his cronies just turned their lives upside down with total lies—total lies. And to see the tears that Shaye Moss was shedding over this, as she had to talk about, you know, how she had to quit her job and how she’s afraid to even go outside now—that was really tough, but here’s why I find it inspiring: Not only the fact that she and her mother have dedicated so much of their lives to democracy, but I also thought about it from a couple of other angles. One is that it was Black women again stepping up to do their job to help protect people’s right to vote, after the U.S. Constitution really has shut Black people out of the political process for so long. And so, that I find deeply, deeply inspiring. And then also, I was just noting on Twitter how many people stepped forward after the hearing that day, regular people—and there were massive Twitter threads about this—saying that in honor of Shaye Moss and Lady Ruby Freeman, let’s step up, and let’s go be volunteers or poll workers, election workers. Let’s fill in these gaps. Let’s help protect democracy the way that they’ve been fighting to do. And I was really inspired by that.

Gibbs Léger: Well, that is really a great place to end this interview. I felt really bad for them, but like you said, also extremely inspired by their willingness to come forward, given everything that they’ve gone through. And you know, just to echo again, you know, it is often, you know, Black women who are there, holding up this democracy, despite the way it treats us sometimes. So, Mike Sozan, I want to thank you for coming on “The Tent,” but also thank you for just all of the great work that you are doing at CAP with our allies and friends in the democracy space to, you know, keep this thing afloat. So, thank you.

Sozan: Thank you, Daniella, for having me on and for dedicating this show to this very important topic that all Americans should be tuned into.

Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks for listening. You may have noticed that I was not here last week, because I got COVID. Isn’t that funny? The person who’s always reminding you to take care of yourselves because we’re still in a pandemic got herself some COVID. I am very thankful for vaccines and being boosted. My symptoms, while highly annoying, were relatively mild—you know, knock on wood—I’m still a little congested, but that’s usually my state of being during the summer. You know, I didn’t need any extra medication. I never lost my sense of taste, or smell, or anything like that. But it definitely, like, knocked me down for a few days, obviously, because I did not record the podcast last week. I say all that to say: My goodness, if you have not gotten your booster shot, please go ahead and do it right now, immediately. Okay? Because I do have preexisting conditions and I shudder to think how I would have felt if I’d gotten this if I wasn’t vaccinated.

So, moving on from COVID, I’ve got a couple things I need to talk about. First of all, we have to circle back to the story of the elephant that we talked about a couple of weeks ago. It has now been revealed—may God rest her soul—that the woman who died, that she was, I think, throwing rocks at the elephant so that poachers could poach the elephant’s babies. So, she was helping poachers. Elephants are really smart animals. And I’m not saying she deserved to die—because that’s, like, a terrible thing—but I am saying that actions have consequences, apparently. And we’ll just leave it at that.

Next topic: Beyoncé. Yes, she released a single for the girls. And I love it. I am a child of, like, I don’t know, I’m a Gen Xer, so I love house music. And my sister and I may quibble about you know, “Oh, well it’s not really house music,” is what my sister would say. Whatever, it’s great. It’s a song that made me want to get up and dance. Like, if I felt well enough to do so last week, I would have done it as soon as I heard it. It’s a great tune. It’s a great little ditty. And I’m very excited for the video and for what the rest of this album is going to be, because I think she knows that we need something to move our bodies and to help heal our souls. So, thank you, Beyoncé. Thank you.

And then the last very important topic is: Have we talked about the Real Housewives of Dubai yet? Because I’m loving it. Okay, these ladies are—first of all—they’re, like, really rich. I mean, they make some of these other housewives—not look poor because none of them are poor, obviously, but like—decidedly, like, middle class. These ladies are … they’re just so rich. I really can’t get over it. But I love the diversity of the women on the show, the diversity of careers and things that they do. It’s a really interesting and unique look into a lifestyle that I will never know anything about, but also a part of the world that maybe someday I’ll visit but probably won’t. So, I love it for that aspect, too. Very, very interesting—highly recommend if you’re into housewives, reality TV, want to shut your brain off for an hour. So, those are my recommendations. We are still in a pandemic, LOL. Take care of yourselves, and we’ll talk to you next week.

“The Tent” is a podcast from the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It’s hosted by me, Daniella Gibbs Legér. Erin Phillips is our lead producer. Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer. Tricia Woodcome is our booking producer, and Sam Signorelli is our digital producer. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcasts.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Daniella Gibbs Léger

Executive Vice President, Communications and Strategy


Erin Phillips

Broadcast Media Manager

Kelly McCoy

Senior Director of Broadcast Communications

Tricia Woodcome

Former Senior Media Manager

Sam Signorelli

Policy and Outreach Associate, Government Affairs

Michael Sozan

Senior Fellow



Explore The Series

Politics. Policy. Progress. All under one big tent. Produced by CAP Action, “The Tent” is a news and politics podcast hosted by Daniella Gibbs Léger and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Listen each Thursday for episodes exploring topics that progressives are focused on.


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