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Jill Wine-Banks on MAGA Extremism and the Supreme Court

Jill Wine-Banks on MAGA Extremism and the Supreme Court

Jill Wine-Banks joins Daniella to talk about upcoming Supreme Court decisions; the need for ethics reform in light of likely violations from MAGA justices; and Donald Trump's possible legal jeopardy.

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Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks joins Daniella to talk about upcoming Supreme Court decisions; the need for ethics reform in light of likely violations from MAGA justices; and Donald Trump’s possible legal jeopardy. Daniella and Colin also discuss the MAGA default crisis and efforts by Republicans to roll back democracy.


Daniella Gibbs Léger: Hey everyone. Welcome back to “The Tent,” your place for politics, policy, and progress. I’m Daniella Gibbs Léger.

Colin Seeberger: And I’m Colin Seeberger.

Gibbs Léger: Colin, welcome back from Italy.

Seeberger: Grazie, Daniella. Buongiorno.

Gibbs Léger: Buongiorno.

Seeberger: I am definitely struggling not having my daily Aperol spritz in the afternoon for aperitivo hours. So, it’s been a struggle to shake the jet lag and not enjoy my daily charcuterie plate. But it was it was a great trip, and I’m happy to be back.

Gibbs Léger: Well, we are happy to have you back. And we will hear more about your trip at the end of this episode, so please stay tuned. In the meantime, I talked to former federal prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks about the ongoing legal battle over medication abortion, Supreme Court cases and ethics reform, and, of course, Trump’s legal troubles.

Seeberger: So, I feel like I may have missed one or two things while I was out. I am still getting caught up. But anything happen while I was gone?

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, Colin. And we got to get some news.

Seeberger: So, I want to circle back to this MAGA default crisis you discussed last week, because some things have happened since then. Last week, the House passed [Speaker] Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) “Default on America” plan. And I just want to be clear: This isn’t a plan. It’s an extreme MAGA wish list of radical policies. Speaker McCarthy and MAGA Republicans have taken our economy and the credibility of our nation and thrown it out the window, all so they can enact these cruel policies that would hurt America’s middle class and do nothing that actually reflects our values or would lower costs for the American people. The plan would make steep economic cuts.

Just a few things that I really, really want to drill in on here. The plan would actually cut veterans’ medical care, resulting in 30 million fewer outpatient visits for those that served our country. It would put health care coverage for 21 million Americans on Medicaid in jeopardy. It would eliminate 100,000 teaching positions in our K-12 schools. It would slash 380,000 Head Start and child care slots. It would reduce the maximum Pell Grant by $1,000 for millions of low- and middle-income Americans who need that support in order to get a college education. It would also take an axe to public safety in America, eliminating 30,000 law enforcement jobs. It would drastically scale back rail safety inspections to the tune of 7,000 inspections. This comes, obviously, right on the heels of multiple train derailments over the course of the past several months. And MAGA Republicans talk about, “Oh, we need to secure the border or whatever.” This plan would eliminate 2,000 Border Patrol agents. So, we’re talking about doing the exact opposite of everything that they promised to do when they ran for office. It does nothing to cut the cost of living for everyday Americans. It would also take an axe to manufacturing in America. We’ve added over 140,000 clean energy manufacturing jobs because of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, and this plan would actually roll that back. And the most outrageous thing is 80 percent of those jobs come from districts that these Republicans represent.

Gibbs Léger: They don’t care about you, people.

Seeberger: They don’t care. It’s ridiculous. And again, it’s not lost on me that they ran for office promising to cut the cost of living for everyday Americans yet just voted for a bill that does the exact opposite, increasing the cost of health care, increasing the cost of education and child care, and so much more.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, when people think that politicians are hypocrites, they’re talking about this.

Seeberger: Exactly.

Gibbs Léger: It is absolutely ridiculous. And all of this, as you said, it’s setting the stage for a MAGA default crisis. Now, look, it’s going to be dead on arrival in the Senate. But McCarthy and House Republicans, they already knew that. They’re trying to play this game of chicken with Democrats, and they’re hoping that Democrats take the bait. But the problem is that there’s a real urgency here. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced this week that we could reach a tipping point on this default as early as June 1. That’s less than a month away. Look, I said it last week, and I’ll say it again, the MAGA default crisis is the greatest risk to our economy today. Because if we do default, it would delay Social Security and Medicare payments, harming seniors who have earned it and are counting on it. It would increase costs for working people by driving up interest rates on items like credit cards, car loans, mortgage rates, at the same time that families are struggling with high prices. And it could cause a recession that would result in the loss of nearly 6 million jobs, double the unemployment rate, and cause $12 trillion in household wealth to be wiped out in a matter of weeks. But MAGA Republicans are Thelma and Louise at the end of the movie—spoiler alert—when they drive off a cliff, and the American people, we’re the car. We didn’t ask to be here. We didn’t ask to be driven here. We didn’t ask for any of this. But yet, here we are. So, we need to be very clear that if we do default, the people that it’s going to hurt aren’t the wealthy people; it’s working people and seniors who are going to pay a price.

Seeberger: It’s just absolutely ridiculous. MAGA Republicans are failing Americans on one of the biggest issues they care about. And it’s not like they’re doing that because they’re so focused on other things that are important to the American people. They seem to only have bandwidth for pointless culture wars and attacks on our democracy.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, let’s talk about those culture wars. And we can look no further than what’s happening in statehouses in this country to see what’s going on. As we spoke about a couple of weeks ago on the show, MAGA Republican lawmakers expelled two Black legislators in Tennessee for peacefully demonstrating for gun reform after a mass shooting, while allowing their white female colleague to remain. And recently, MAGA Republicans in Montana followed suit—saying, “Hold my beer”—barring state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) from doing her job for the rest of the term, literally barring her from coming and speaking on the floor because she spoke up to protect access to gender-affirming care for transgender youth in her state. And by the way, Rep. Zephyr, she’s not alone. One in 7 transgender or nonbinary state officials in this country have been censured just this year for representing the will of their constituents.

Across the country, MAGA Republicans are throwing out the rules of democracy to try and get their way. They’re responding to calls to action on gun violence, on gender-affirming care, and other issues by silencing or expelling elected representative[s]—not by having a policy debate as the founders would have wanted and intended, but by barring elected officials from representing their constituents and therefore silencing the voice of thousands of voters in these states. These moves by MAGA Republicans are bigoted, profoundly anti-democratic, and set a dangerous precedent for our country. And what’s more, they reveal how these extremists are focused more on imposing their agenda on people than on maintaining democratic systems, holding power to account, and maybe solving problems for the American people. Maybe they should focus on that.

Seeberger: What a novel idea. I couldn’t agree more, Daniella. And while they’re using culture war issues to expel state legislators across the country for just doing their jobs, they’re also failing to investigate what may be a real and pervasive problem of government corruption that strikes right at the heart of the integrity of our democracy. I’m talking about the Supreme Court. So, the Supreme Court justices, many of whom are MAGA appointees, refuse to be bound by a code of ethics like other federal judges, like Congress or the executive branch. You know, you served in there. Now, there are reports that, for roughly two decades, Justice [Clarence] Thomas has accepted expensive trips from conservative billionaire Harlan Crow and that Crow bought homes from his family and allowed his mother to live there rent-free. Justice Thomas didn’t disclose any of this, likely violating the law and violating the code of conduct that other federal judges must follow. These revelations are on top of a long history of other ethical lapses from Justice Thomas. He’s, unfortunately, though, not alone. It’s now being reported that Justice Neil Gorsuch sold a property to the head of one of the biggest law firms in the country, a firm that repeatedly and regularly has cases before the Supreme Court.

Gibbs Léger: Gee, what’s strange there?

Seeberger: Yeah, no, it smells fine, right? And Chief Justice [John] Roberts’ wife received more than $10 million in commissions from law firms, some of which have argued cases before the Supreme Court. We see this concerning pattern here. This isn’t just a one-off innocent mistake. Chief Justice Roberts actually declined to testify when he was invited by the Senate Judiciary Committee to come forward and talk about [the] Supreme Court’s ethics. It’s not a good look in light of all this reporting. These justices have been able to act with impunity for so long because there’s literally no one stopping them from doing so. We need full-blown investigations into their actions. And while Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee held a really important hearing this week to highlight the problem, MAGA Republicans in Congress are already criticizing and standing in the way of needed investigations and ethics reforms. It’s just outrageous. Shouldn’t the party of small government be all about cracking down on corruption? Why is keeping our judicial system impartial suddenly a partisan issue? Oh, you know, maybe because, like you said, Daniella, MAGA extremists want to impose their agenda on us at all costs, including through their appointees on the high court who have already done things like overturn Roe v. Wade, taking away 50-year-old rights that Americans have long treasured. That’s just not how our democracy is supposed to work.

Gibbs Léger: It sure isn’t. And they are saying the quiet part out loud when they call for marginalized legislators to be removed for going against their agenda but are unwilling to investigate serious wrongdoing on the part of their own appointed justices.

Seeberger: It makes you think. Well, that’s all the time we have for this week. If there’s anything else you’d like us to cover on the pod, hit us up on Twitter @TheTentPod. That’s @TheTentPod. And stick around for Daniella’s conversation with Jill Wine-Banks in just a beat.

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Gibbs Léger: Jill Wine-Banks is an MSNBC legal analyst and host of the podcasts “iGen Politics” and “Sisters in Law.” She previously served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the American Bar Association and general counsel of the U.S. Army, among other roles. Her book, The Watergate Girl, describes her experiences serving as one of three assistant Watergate special prosecutors and the only woman on the legal team. Early in her career, Jill was also the first woman to serve as an organized crime prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice. Jill, thanks so much for joining us on “The Tent.”

Jill Wine-Banks: Daniella, thank you for having me as a guest. I’m very honored to be here.

Gibbs Léger: Well, we have a lot to get into. So, let’s start. There’s lots to cover. First, I want to talk about medication abortion. The Supreme Court declined to rule on this for now and threw it back to the 5th Circuit. So, can you tell our listeners, what comes next in this case? Is medication abortion safe for now? How long? And what should we be watching for from the 5th Circuit?

Wine-Banks: Well, I’m taking the word “safe” as having two meanings. In this case, it is safe to do this medically. And that’s maybe the most important point. In terms of whether it is safely available is a different question. For now, it is available in any state that allows abortion. And so, the next question is, will the Supreme Court get it back from the 5th Circuit? First, what will the 5th Circuit do with it? A conservative circuit, so we can’t guarantee. And then we certainly cannot guarantee what the Supreme Court will do once there is a final decision out of the 5th Circuit. And that’s what we’ll have to wait and see. It is kind of complicated by another case in my mind—not everybody is making this linkage, but I think there is a linkage—you may have heard of the Chevron deference defense.

Gibbs Léger: Yes.

Wine-Banks: That’s to do with the power of administrative agencies. And the Supreme Court is going to be looking at that. And it could upend the way we do business in America, the way we delegate to federal agencies with expertise, the right to make decisions within their area of expertise. And that would, of course, include something like the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] deciding on what is a safe drug for any American to take, not just the medicated abortion drug, but any drug. So, it relates to that. It relates to other agencies and their power to make decisions that relate to their area of specialty. So, that’s another case that makes more complicated the decision that might come out of the Supreme Court. And I think that because the FDA will have the power, I hope, to continue to make medical judgments and states like the one that I’m in—which is Illinois—where abortion is still legal, will be able to have medicated abortion as well as the medical procedure, surgical abortion.

Gibbs Léger: So, you know, this was a good segue into my next question, which was about the other cases the Supreme Court is going to be hearing. So, I want to ask you, first, a question about the Chevron deference because I feel like I have heard this come up before the Supreme Court—or that it might be going to the Supreme Court—but it seems like this time people are very much concerned that given the makeup of this court, that it could be going away. So, I want to get you to talk a little bit [about] the history of where this has been vis-a-vis the court. And then what other cases are you keeping a close eye on?

Wine-Banks: So, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, which is that it is because of the current makeup of the court that people are more concerned about what will happen, because it does seem to be that the Republican agenda includes dismantling the administrative state. And I’m not sure exactly where they want to put the power to make these kinds of fine investigations and decisions. I guess they want it to be themselves, which is not a good idea, because they aren’t experts in any of these fields. And you need that kind of expertise.

But I think that the only reason that there is more concern now is because the court has changed in the same way that the North Carolina gerrymandering decision was final, and the Supreme Court of North Carolina said, “This clearly violates our state’s constitution by denying votes to people based on their partisan affiliation.” And then the Supreme Court had a change in its makeup, and it became a Republican conservative court. And they said, “Oh, well, we had a final decision, but we’re going to review it.” And they reviewed it and said, “No, it’s fine. It doesn’t violate our constitution.” So, that’s the kind of thing where you get into this problem. And that’s why Moore v. Harper is, I would say, the case that’s on my agenda for what I’m concerned about. That goes even further. And you’ve heard about this weird theory that says that states can make election decisions for federal elections that cannot be reviewed even by their own state Supreme Court. So, even if it violates the Supreme Court, the Constitution of that state, no one can review it. The federal government can’t review it. And the states are just free to deny people their right to vote. And that goes back to the [John] Eastman theory about the independent state legislature. And it’s a terrifying theory, and it would deny the reality of our current democracy. So, to me, that is, I would say, the case I’m most concerned about.

Gibbs Léger: And you know, of course, if we’re talking about the Supreme Court, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention what appears to be a number of ethics violations from Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Chief Justice John Roberts. So, it’s wild to me—and, I think, most people—that there isn’t a code of ethics that Supreme Court justices need to abide by. So, why is that? And what can Congress do on this front? How do we make an ethics change happen here?

Wine-Banks: So, Daniella, you are asking really hard questions, really good and important questions that deserve a lot more attention than they are getting and a lot more in-depth study. Right now, it is an outrage that Justice Roberts was invited to come before Congress, the Judiciary Committee, to explain what’s going on. And just to make sure all your listeners know some of the details, although they probably do, Justice Thomas has been accepting very valuable gifts—a $19,000 Bible, the sale of his mother’s home with the right for her to live in it rent-free while it was being rehabilitated—all by Harlan Crow, who also gave him the Bible, and has paid for hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of travel that is not personal hospitality by anyone’s definition. And then you have the newest one with Justice Roberts’ wife earning millions of dollars placing lawyers in firms that argue before the Supreme Court. And the obvious conflict of interest there is astounding to me, and he refused to come and explain anything. So, that takes us to, well, why don’t they have to recuse in cases where, for example, a lawyer that his wife places is arguing before the Supreme Court, or his firm is? Why doesn’t he, Justice Roberts, have to recuse himself? Why does doesn’t Justice Thomas have to recuse himself when a case that his wife has an interest in is before the court or a case where anything from the Federalist Society, who he socializes with? Or with his new friend? He says he’s friends. Notice, he was only friends after he became a justice of the Supreme Court.

Gibbs Léger: Right.

Wine-Banks: It wasn’t a long time—you know, this is my high school friend, my college friend. No, this is a friend who befriended him because he was on the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court simply has refused to hold itself to the same standards that other judges are. And there is now some bipartisan legislation that appears to be possibly passable. And I say that with some skepticism, because almost nothing is bipartisan these days. But there does seem to be some bipartisan support for having an overseer and having rules that say these are appearances of conflict that must be dealt with; you will have to recuse in these cases. These are the rules for gifts you can and cannot accept that apply to every federal employee. When I was a low-level employee, when I was a presidential appointment, I couldn’t accept lunch from anybody—and let alone a yacht cruise. And so, it’s outrageous that the Supreme Court and other judges—the appellate court judges and the district court judges—are all subject to a very specific set of rules and have to recuse when there is even an appearance of impropriety. And unfortunately, the Supreme Court says, “We’re above all that. We don’t have to do that. We won’t be guided by the same code that applies to everybody else.” That’s very carefully selected language that does not give me any comfort that my decision in a case—in any case, that a decision in any case argued—will be done based on the law.

And we’ve also seen a lot of politicization, where the political views of justices now are preempting their analysis of the law. They are deciding an outcome they want and backward-working to get a rationale that will support what they want to be the outcome. And that’s very terrifying. People will no longer trust the court. And there was a recent case in which, I think it was, [Justice Samuel] Alito wrote the opinion for himself and Justice Thomas and basically suggested, well, maybe the Biden administration wouldn’t even follow the order, which is outrageous, because the only thing that enforces any Supreme Court is that we trust them, and we follow their rules. They follow whatever their decision is. And President Biden is an institutionalist who believes in our government form and would never not follow it. And every time, Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high,” that, for better or worse, is the truth. We would never do what the Republicans are doing. And there are times when I get to thinking, well, maybe that’s not the right attitude. I like it. I feel like it’s the moral high ground, but we keep getting—I was going to say trumped, but I didn’t mean it as a pun—we keep getting overtaken by the Republican strategy, including how they have taken over statehouses.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, that Michelle Obama quote, I think it’s a great thing to aspire to. But sometimes, when they go low, you got to kick them in the ankles, right? Like, you just got to go lower.

Wine-Banks: I would kick a little higher, but that’s … sorry.

Gibbs Léger: That’s fine. So, well, I want to pivot to some recent legal troubles of the aforementioned Trump, Donald J., who has many open lawsuits against him. So, which cases are you keeping an eye on? And what is the potential legal jeopardy that he faces? Because there’s a lot going on there.

Wine-Banks: There is a great deal going on. And let me go through it because I’m following all of them, I would say, or at least all that are publicly known. There may be others. Of course, right now, I’m paying attention to the E. Jean Carroll case, which I personally think is going very well for her. And it is no longer a “she said, he said.” It’s a she said and he remained silent, because he’s not going to testify. He is not even deigning to appear in the courtroom. So, right now, it’s not only her testimony, which I have to say was extremely emotional to me and made me feel in an emotional way some of the trauma that I and my generation have experienced and stayed silent on and never fought back on. And for the first time, it’s not just the #MeToo movement making me intellectually aware. I am physically and emotionally aware in a new way because of her trial. And she has two witnesses who will corroborate her by saying, “She told me immediately after it happened.” She has two witnesses who will say, “And he did the same thing to me.” And she has the tape from Access Hollywood that, he says, “This is what I do. I am attracted to beauty, and I kiss them and I can grab their …” I won’t say the word. So, here’s him saying, “This is what I do,” and then three women saying, “And this is what he did to me.” Exactly. And so, I think the trial is going extremely well and that she should win. Now, what are the consequences? It’s a civil lawsuit. So, the most she can hope for is some financial compensation. She feels that she lost her job as an advice columnist because of him and because he damaged her reputation, because it’s a defamation case and a unique civil case for rape. So, I’m watching that, and I think that’s going to be over pretty quickly. I’m going to guess that, you know, the end of this week or early next week, that trial will go to the jury.

And then, of course, there’s Georgia, which we now have reason to believe sometime between July 11 and August 31, that there will be a decision by the district attorney of Fulton County on—we’re not exactly sure what counts—but certainly on the phone call threatening the secretary of state and asking him to find 11,780 votes. But there’s also the fake electors scheme, which now seems to be under investigation. There may be a fundraising scheme—the “big lie” leading to fundraising. So, that could be some kind of federal crime as well. There’s the New York attorney general lawsuit and the New York DA [district attorney’s] lawsuit. And I’m watching all of those. The district attorney’s in New York is also a criminal case and is based on false reporting of business records to conceal, probably tax consequences and other things. But it’s part of what it appears from the statement of facts in that case to be a broader conspiracy to undermine the election and to get him elected by hiding certain information from the voting public. So, that’s an important case. The attorney general—the state attorney general of New York—her case is based on falsely valuing properties higher when he wanted to get a loan based on the equity in that and lower when he wanted to avoid paying taxes. And that seems to be a pretty good case. I have to mention two other cases. One, of course, is Mar-a-Lago, which is an obvious one.

Gibbs Léger: Oh, right!

Wine-Banks: Yeah, I mean, there’s just so many that it’s hard to just spew them off. And that’s not just that he took classified documents—that when caught, he refused to return them—but it’s that he obstructed the investigation. And we have a pattern of only bringing these kinds of cases when there’s something more than just taking the documents. And here, there’s something more. It’s not just, “Oh, my gosh, I discovered these. I’m so sorry, here they are back.” These were left in ways that could have been seen by a lot of people. But mostly, he instructed and had fake documents, a certification saying that “I’ve done [a] diligent search and there are no other documents.” And then, 100 more documents were found when the FBI got a search warrant and went in there. So, that’s a serious case, and it’s materials that are by their very definition a threat to our security. So, that’s an important case.

And related to that—and it’s not related to Trump directly—but [Jack] Teixeira’s theft of documents and putting them on the internet is also—I think his prosecution will show why Donald Trump needs to be prosecuted. So, that’s the reason I mention his theft of documents and putting them on to make himself look bigger and better and more important. How insecure are these men that they had to do this? And we don’t know why Donald Trump did this. But, when they’re in his top drawer with his passport, you know that he knew they were there. So …

Gibbs Léger: There’s so much crime, like, there’s so much “crime-ing” happening around Donald Trump’s orbit. And his legal woes have obviously become very partisan, to the point where MAGA Republicans are attempting to punish those involved in his prosecution, such as New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg, simply for doing their jobs. Do you think these attacks have any legs? Like, it’s very clear what they’re doing right now around Trump, but is there a concern that it can further undermine folks who are trying to just do their jobs?

Wine-Banks: The threats, of course, are serious and must be taken seriously. And security must be given to anyone threatened. I’m worried. Let’s just take what’s going on right now. I think that there is an attempt at jury tampering and witness intimidation by his posting on Truth Social. I don’t know. The jury, of course, is told they’re not supposed to read the newspapers. I don’t know how seriously they are about not seeing anything on their computers, being confronted with him not coming to court to deny anything but having him accuse her of being a liar and this being a witch hunt is a terrible thing. And there’s a fine line. I’m a big supporter of the First Amendment. But there is a line between what you as a defendant can do outside of court and what you can do in court. And I don’t have a firm answer on whether he’s crossed the line or not. But it is scary to me. It’s not a good thing. I’m not happy.

Gibbs Léger: So, we like to end our interviews, when we can, on a high note or a note of optimism. So, I’m going to give that a go here. At its best, our justice system can help push back against this extremist overreach and corruption that we’re seeing. So, what do you see today that maybe gives you hope, that this MAGA extremism that seems to be spreading could be thwarted?

Wine-Banks: Well, sometimes, I have to admit, it is hard for me to stay optimistic because I follow the news very closely. But there are minutes where I go, “Well, there’s a good sign.” For the most part, the courts have stood up to the corruption and have saved us. The people who were violent inside of the Capitol on January 6, more than 1,000 have been prosecuted and more will be prosecuted. So, that’s a good thing. The Manafort trial—if we can go back to even when Donald Trump was president, [Paul] Manafort was on trial, and one of the jurors talked after the verdict, and she said: “I am a loyal Trump supporter. I believe everything he says. But in this courtroom, I was told that I could only make my judgment based on the facts presented in this courtroom. And the evidence was clear. And I voted to convict Manafort on every single count that he was charged with.” That makes me hopeful that the jury system, even with Trumpers on it, will follow the instructions of the court and make their decisions based on that. And then you have to look at the fact that 60 lawsuits were filed, and were thrown out, including by Trump judges, challenging the election. And there was no evidence that supported any of those cases, and they were thrown out. And now we have the proof, through the Dominion trial, that the news was totally false, that there was no support for any fraud in the election, nothing that would affect the outcome of the election.

And the real question is, how do we get people who listen to Fox News to know that Fox did not cover the Dominion trial. Fox is not apologizing for its lie. People who listen to Fox aren’t listening to the Center for American Progress’ podcast, I’m sorry to say. They’re not listening to MSNBC. They’re getting a very warped view. And I go back to an era when facts mattered. If there had been a Fox News, an OAN, a Newsmax, etc., back during the Watergate trial, Richard Nixon might have survived. It was the Republicans, when my team got the final tranche of tape recordings, one of them was what was known as the “smoking gun tape.” And when the Republicans heard that, the three top Republicans—Barry Goldwater, who had been the presidential candidate and the minority leader of the House—and all the top three Republicans went to the White House and said, “Mr. Nixon, if you don’t resign, you will be convicted in the Senate.” And he said to Sen. Goldwater, “Well, I have your vote, don’t I?” And Goldwater said, “You don’t even have my vote,” because they cared about the facts. They cared about democracy. They cared about our government. And they were willing to oust their own president because they believed in democracy. And we have to somehow get back to facts mattering. We need people to understand what will help them and what won’t. Let’s even just understand the facts of what President Biden has accomplished. He’s done an amazing job. He has done so much for this country and for the people who are supporting Trump, who are being hurt by his policies. So, I guess my hope for the country is that we get back to facts mattering and to having the information that we see online, on air, and in print to be based on what are facts and then debate the policy implications.

Gibbs Léger: Well, that would be a most wonderful day. And I will hope right along with you that we somehow get there. But until then, Jill Wine-Banks, thank you for joining us on “The Tent” and thank you for being out there and speaking truth to power.

Wine-Banks: Thank you for what you do and for having the show.

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Gibbs Léger: As always, thanks for listening. Be sure to go back and check out previous episodes. Alright, Colin, top highlights from your trip to Italy.

Seeberger: Oh my god, Daniella, it was amazing. The weather was literally perfect, mid-70s highs, mid-50s lows every single day—maybe 15 minutes of rain the entire time. I will say, so we actually brought our 15-month-old daughter with us, which was really fun and so special. And there was, in Piazza della Repubblica, which is like the main square in Florence, which is where we were on the first half of the trip, they have a carousel there. And taking her on the carousel was just so special. She loved it. She loved chasing around the pigeons all around the square, pointing out every dog. It was incredible. We also went to the Uffizi Gallery, and I showed you this already, but our daughter was just sprinting up and down the halls, passing by Da Vinci and Michelangelo pieces and so many other world-famous works of art and could not quite be bothered, so …

Gibbs Léger: As 15-month-olds are wont to do.

Seeberger: Correct, correct. So, some of us made a second trip around some of these pieces so we could take them in as they deserved to be. But it was just awesome.

Gibbs Léger: Well, your pictures looked great and fun. And I loved the one where you recreated the scene from “Succession,” which is a great segue into: Wow, so, you’re all caught up?

Seeberger: I did catch up last night. Wow, we need to have a talk. Roman is out of control. I love him.

Gibbs Léger: I love him dearly.

Seeberger: But dear Romulus, take five. When he came for Gerri, I was like, “No, you didn’t, sir.”

Gibbs Léger: That was a lot.

Seeberger: Yeah.

Gibbs Léger: It’s like, I want him to get help. I don’t know. I don’t know why I feel protective over him. Like I said, all these characters are awful and terrible. So, I feel like once I say that, then it’s not a problem for me to be like, I love Kendall. I do. And listen, I had severe secondhand embarrassment watching him on stage. It was cringy. It was awful. And I just loved how he came out of it.

Seeberger: Yeah, I mean, I will say the performance was incredible. I mean, that monologue was incredible acting.

Gibbs Léger: He’s great.

Seeberger: I think my underrated favorite character this season is Karl. The way Karl is like, “You better not mess up my golden parachute here. I am done with this, Waystar.” And [he] is just desperately wanting to go into retirement with as fat a check as he can get. And every single time one of them wants to do anything with the GoJo deal or some internal business decision, the way he is like, “You better not screw me over man,” is just cracking me up.

Gibbs Léger: His one-liners this season have been epic.

Seeberger: Fantastic.

Gibbs Léger: Yes. Chuckles the Clown?

Seeberger: Chuckles the Clown. Do you have a favorite character this season? That’s a choice.

Gibbs Léger: It’s hard to say, but Shiv. It is a choice, and I’m going to tell you why, because she has been just all over the map. And she has more issues than Encyclopedia Britannica, and I love it. Look, acting aside—like, just run the actress, Sarah Snook, run her all her Emmys and everything. But the character of Shiv is written so well. Written, notice, I say written by writers. Pay them what they deserve. WGA [Writers Guild of America] strong. You don’t know where you’re going with her. And like, the dynamic with her and Tom is bonkers.

Seeberger: Toxic does not even scratch the surface.

Gibbs Léger: Toxic is like almost too positive to say whatever the heck that relationship is. But you know what? I’m here for it.

Seeberger: I mean, hey, I like to watch mess. I will not lie.

Gibbs Léger: Speaking of mess. Before we go, we got to talk about the Met Gala.

Seeberger: Eeeee!

Gibbs Léger: So, every year, I get really mad at the people who don’t follow the assignment. There is a theme. Follow the theme. This year’s theme, I did not like. It was a tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, who I have a whole bunch of issues with as a person. And also, it’s not that he’s boring, but I just felt like the theme was kind of boring. However, some people I thought looked amazing, and really like, Janelle Monáe, like that whole reveal, I was like, this is what you’ve come to the Met Gala to see.

Seeberger: Yes, I have to say, I have a few faves. I thought Lil Nas X was breathtaking. I mean, just stopped you dead in your tracks. I also thought Tony Award-nominee Jessica Chastain …

Gibbs Léger: Stunning.

Seeberger: Newly announced Tony Award nominee as of this morning—was just incredibly elegant and beautiful as always. And then, I had some losers.

Gibbs Léger: OK, who were your least favorites, Colin?

Seeberger: Jared Leto needs to take a seat. I mean, meow. So, what did we think about Rihanna?

Gibbs Léger: The reveal was better than the initial approach, if you will.

Seeberger: I agree.

Gibbs Léger: I was like, “This looks very weird. I don’t know what I’m looking at. I don’t love it.” And then, afterward, I was like, “Oh, it’s OK.” It definitely wasn’t my favorite.

Seeberger: Amanda Seyfried? I don’t know if you saw.

Gibbs Léger: Oh, I don’t think I saw her.

Seeberger: Oh, my gosh, the hair was just incredible. Sam is giving me eyes right now. The outfit was … so, here’s the thing. If you looked at it from afar, I was like, “Oh, OK, this is, this is cool. This is nice.” Then you look at it up close, and you’re like, “I don’t know about that one.”

Gibbs Léger: So, you’re saying it’s like a full-on Monet? OK. That’s like my favorite Monet. But I love the Met Gala. And I know that people like to give it crap. But it is a fundraiser for the institute of something, whatever, but like clothing, fashion. This is how they stay operative through this gala. And the people who work there are like working-class people who otherwise would not be getting paid if not for the Met Gala. So, say what you want about Anna Wintour. I think she’s been doing a great job with it. And I am all about preserving culture in this country.

Seeberger: Yes. Yeah, I mean, it’s not lost on me the fact that we could not have the Met Gala in Texas or Tennessee at risk of some of our stars maybe being called out for dressing in drag in some of their Met Gala costumes.

Gibbs Léger: Yeah, I don’t think this would go over well in certain parts of the country.

Seeberger: Possibly not. Possibly not.

Gibbs Léger: Like I said, I love it. I also love fashion.

Seeberger: I still miss my AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)] “tax the rich” dress from a few years ago.

Gibbs Léger: I do, too. So, that is going to wrap it up for this week. Take care of yourselves. If you looked at me today, you would say, oh, it’s still allergy season. Yes. Yes, it is.

Seeberger: Which is shocking because it has rained literally since we got off the plane back from Italy.

Gibbs Léger: And like heavy rain, and yet this morning, my eyes will not stop. I’m not crying. It’s just allergies. So, I hope wherever you are, you are fully anti-histamined up if need be. And take care of yourselves, and we will 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 Léger and co-hosted by Colin Seeberger. Erin Phillips is our lead producer. Kelly McCoy is our supervising producer. And Sam Signorelli is our digital producer. You can find us on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you get your podcast.

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


Colin Seeberger

Senior Adviser, Communications

Erin Phillips

Broadcast Media Manager

Kelly McCoy

Senior Director of Broadcast Communications

Sam Signorelli

Policy and Outreach Associate, Government Affairs



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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