A conversation with Brian Klaas



be great if we get start off just with with the first book if he goes just a really quick overview of your argument sure so the despots accomplice is about how US foreign policy and Western foreign policy is undermining democracy abroad in particularly for the last decade it takes a sweeping look at how the US during the Cold War deliberately undermined democracies at times and including being involved in Coos and civil wars abroad but now there's a much more subtle effect where the u.s. is cozying up to despots for security or economic reasons and entrenching are legitimizing their rule now that argument which I wrote before the rise of Donald Trump just got a serious kick of steroids because now Trump is explicitly cozying up to dictators and despots and in his trip around Asia conspicuously absent part of the trip was any focus on democracy any focus on human rights okay so then moving on to the second book as you mentioned and in what forms does or has has Trump's I guess administration given it those they steroids user sure so the second book the despots apprentice which is a play on words cuz Trump was the host of the reality show The Apprentice it's showing how he's mimicking authoritarian strongmen around the world and some of his tactics while also cheerleading their politics abroad so in the domestic sphere I have several different ways that he's behaving like a despot calling the press fake news calling to lock up his political opponent politicizing rule of law politicizing basic institutions and also things like cronyism and nepotism where he's filled the White House with family members cronies generals etc something you'd expect out of banana republics and authoritarian regimes abroad not the United States but on the foreign stage Trump has also taken a diplomatic bear-hug to absolutely a truss this resilient regimes abroad including most recently in the Philippines Werth Duterte his regime which is killing thousands of people packages as a drug war Trump explicitly praised those actually judicial killings an elite transcript from a phone call and said that he would be delighted to have to turn to in the White House so all of this sends a very clear signal to regimes around the world the United States is no longer worried about democracy and human rights but there's a much bigger picture here that I think is happening with the global shifts of power so to put it as simply as possible there's basically four forces that can shake the world there's the u.s. there's the EU in the UK there's Russia and as China and the first two tended to worry about human rights and democracy but they're now bogged down with internal problems so the UK UK and EU they're worrying about rec said the weighing about the rise of far-right populism and Hungary and Poland they're worried about Turkey and the relationship within NATO and the u.s. is viewing diplomacy a short-term transactional prospects as opposed to a long-term investment in democracy and human rights that means that the the two bulwarks of democracy and human rights are taking themselves out of the equation which is a massive gift to China and to Russia and that's why I'm very fearful that the next decade and potentially many more decades to come will be significantly more shaped by China and Russia than by the West so boy you talk to about they're about 200 Russia and don't focus relationship with president madam everything that's been something that's been under Mike check a lot especially within the last week what are your opinions of that relationship well I think that you know the most obvious explanation is probably the right one here that there is some sort of aspect of Trump that is either compromised or that is beholden in some way to Russia's regime I could be wrong about that so I should say I mean though this is one possible interpretation but if that were true this is exactly how that regime that administration would behave in other words Trump has an insulted and attacked almost anyone in American politics he's belittled allies and yet he's never said anything negative about Vladimir Putin now this is the person who's in charge of a despotic regime that murders journalists jails dissidents sometimes kills them assassinates people and absolutely works around the clock to undermine Western foreign policy interests that is the person who should give the ire of an American president and yet is the only person I can think of who Donald Trump will not insult and there's a reason for that probably so this really undermines American foreign policy minds and credibility that there is a very real and I think accurate perception that Donald Trump has been harsher on his own allies special relationship with the UK and especially people in America getting taken to task over NATO payments or potentially Trump not talking about enforcing article 5 which is the pact of mutual defense for NATO members that happen at the same time that he can't say a bad word about Vladimir Putin it undermines all of the hard work that American presidents have have made over the years to create these important and enduring alliances by calling into question whether the u.s. is a credible partner and beyond this obviously the Russian investigation is overshadowing Trump's presidency and it could still end it because there is something there this is not fake news it is a very real investigation and the amount of effort put into at least attempted collusion is clear when the Russian government offered dirt on Hillary Clinton to Trump's campaign manager Trump's son-in-law Trump's son the response was I love it when it should have been we're going to the FBI immediately and we're not taking this meeting so there's a clear appetite during the campaign at least to work with Russian government the Russian government against Hillary Clinton and that does not bode well for the future in the sense that this blueprint of election meddling an election interference is not going to go away it was extremely effective there have been no consequences and as a result I would expect fully that Russia and other foreign enemies in the United States will likely try to interfere in the 2018 elections and probably the 2020 elections that's when I really like to come back to Japan especially this when th the election stir um but with regard to Saudi security you say that it's something that you expect to continue in what forms can can agencies like the FBI in this area Google Forms can they police that it was very difficult there was very different threats right so the threats to things like misinformation spreading genuinely fake news right I had to add that caveat because Trump has co-opted the term to mean reporting he doesn't like when in fact there is a fake news problem where people for example teenagers in Macedonia right clickbait stories that then as perceptions to change now that is a problem that is innate to democracy because democracy is based on informed consent of the governed and therefore if the information people get is bad or wrong they may make poor choices and and you'll see this as in a really long term problem that democratic states face in the era of the internet and social media right so policing that is going to be difficult but it is something that social media sites need to be more aggressive at policing to make sure that genuinely think fabricated stories do not go viral and that they're flagged much sooner right as being thing the second aspect of cybersecurity and that has two parts to it too so one of them is hacks and violations of cybersecurity based on personal documents or servers right so you have the DNC for example in John Podesta were both hacked during the 2016 campaign that's going to be difficult to stop because cyber security is not impenetrable it is very often a cat-and-mouse game so politicians and those the political sphere have to be cognizant that some of the information they have in their accounts may become public right that's especially problematic when only one side is targeted because then it becomes a way to weaponize a foreign policy preference for an individual candidate while not attacking and exposing the dirty laundry so to speak of the other candidate that you favor the third the third part of this though is the actual elections themselves and this is a vulnerability that I think is not getting enough attention which is that elections are increasingly digitized in two ways one is election management systems which is the voter role the other is the actual voting machines when you cast a ballot is it accurately recording right there is evidence that the Russian government infiltrated state government election systems in 21 states during the 2016 election they did not as far as we know change any results but there are many states that have absolutely no record beyond what is stored as the final outcome in terms of a paper trail or any sort of indication that those were meddled with so we might not know right if this were to happen in the future there was actually a cyber security experts that expose this flood a comical in 2014 when they tried to come and see us government this is a problem the US government initially resisted said no it's not a big deal and these researchers from University of Michigan hacked into the machine so they're from the University of Michigan every time that a vote was cast it played the University of Michigan's fight song the theme song from the University they turned another voting machine into a pac-man game yeah just to illustrate how vulnerable this is so you know one of the real problems is that if there if there is a compromised aspect either it's the voting machine or to the voter roll you can certainly imagine an election being stolen by a foreign government and that's why I think a very simple and very obvious but long overdue reform is to make sure that every single election has a paper trail and ideally that every election is done via paper because at this point the marginal gains you get in speed of returns from a digitized election are significantly outweighed by the risks that the will of the voters will be undermined so there's serious serious problems with the cybersecurity of democracy and it is going to be one of the main problems in the 21st century so it's one of the different changing aspects of post eight circuits in this new world and another one that I would suggest to you would be the use of social media something that present don't rub has been really big yeah well it's a problem on a multitude of levels one that I think doesn't get enough attention is polarization so social media if you think about the media landscape there was a much shorter menu of media options even 10 or 15 years ago right and what that meant is that there was a sort of shared consciousness in democracy where people believed in the same type of facts because if you're in Britain you're mostly giving your information from the BBC maybe Sky News but a sort of small list of possible options right and ironically the democratization of media has posed a threat to democracy itself because with the much longer list people now self-select into partisan echo chambers where their opinions are thrown back at them effectively right they just picked the media that we affirms their existing biases it's a vicious circle now that means that there is now a splintering of opinion in the sense that it's not just about policy preference it's about which reality do you and democracy cannot function when compromise which is based on a shared set of facts and then compromising on the best solution right people don't even believe there's a problem sometimes when there is and some other people believe there is a problem when there isn't so if you have basic facts being shared on social media that are actually wrong and then people shaping their political preferences based on incorrect facts it poses a threat to the foundation of democracy which as I said before is about informed consent to the govern so you know this is one of the massive perils is not just how quickly and how unverified sources spread like wildfire going viral on the internet but also how the exposure to only one side of the political spectrum makes it so democratic debate and consensus is much harder to forge in the 21st century and that's not a problem that's going to go away but every single study of polarization the US Britain has shown the electorate that used to be sort of two peaks towards the middle now spreading out much more and that's the challenge of 21st century democracy and on the flip side of social media and I ask you from the other side of the electric is the government's aspect and do you think social media will have a big role to play there as I received on from abuse other world leaders on Twitter and announced the Fed Chairman on Instagram into anyway and do you think that's something that will go in what with the repercussions of that be I think it has increased the risks of miscalculation and diplomacy dramatically so you know Trump's tweets which are obviously intended to rile up his political base in domestic policy they're obviously going to have effects on foreign policy too right and so when you have him goading the leader of North Korea on Twitter now that may just be amusing tweets to some people but what happens if a nuclear weapon goes off right we will have a trail of tweets where this was an avoidable problem and it is possible still I mean I I think people are under estimating the degree to which miscalculation can occur in diplomacy in the early 1990s when the first Gulf War happened when Iraq invaded Kuwait there were two different diplomatic signals that the United States government said one of them was more permissive and said you know this is sort of your region do it you want the other one clearly signaled that the US would not stand for an invasion of Kuwait Saddam Hussein picked from the two signals he thought that the correct signal was the more tepid one the one that said this is your area so he invaded Kuwait and it caused a massive war right it is very easy to imagine that a foreign government could look and cherry-pick one of trumps tweets to believe that the position of the US government is one thing but in fact it's something completely different and this is especially true in a hundred and forty or now two hundred eighty characters on Twitter where nuance is certainly stripped and any sort of actual Fetty but the tweets is not happening and that is terrifying to me because when you see the typos the grammatical mistakes the randomly capitalized letters sure it's embarrassing but it's much more a signal of the fact that these are unvetted presidential statements meant to influence world behavior in a way that nobody else is looking at and given how Trump is ignorant it's frankly you have world affairs that is a very very dangerous thing because even though some people say let's ignore the tweets you can't they're from the person who controls America's nuclear arsenal if you directs American diplomacy so you know this is not going to go away there are going to be many other leaders who try to use Twitter as a political tool other social media outlets as well and it increases risk while not really increasing the quality of debate and that's what I think it's you know it's certainly a nice thing to be able to have instantaneous communication from political leaders or them accountable etc but it needs to be managed very carefully in these in a very volatile world so in all those interactions with with Pyongyang and kinderman what do you see is a likely set of events in the future well the most likely scenario is more on the same honestly the the stated goal of the United States government is DD nuclear is D nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula which is extremely unlikely because Kim jong-un has rightly acknowledged and figured out that nuclear weapons are effectively the only thing that makes it so the US has no military option in Korea North Korea and that regime change by force would likely provoke a catastrophic amount of death that America and the world is not willing to accept right so the the nuclear weapons are to use a bad part of his trump card and as a result of that I don't see them giving them up right the best possible scenario is containment of North Korea in the nuclear program by a not making sure they don't have more weapons and be making sure they stop testing them because the tests themselves are provocations not only in the sense that there are a sort of you know thumbing their nose the world and say we have these weapons but also in the sense that again miscalculation which often causes war is more likely when you shoot a missile over Japan right I mean the scenario that I find extremely disturbing I think is more realistic again that the people acknowledge is North Korea could easily hit Guam with a nuclear weapon right the Guam is American territory and it is totally possible that they could shoot a missile at Guam as a provocation to Washington to say take a seriously if that happens there is somewhat of intelligence analysts who say they already had the capability to miniaturize a warhead on a missile so imagine that'll Trump gets woken up in the middle of the night 2:00 in the morning and there's a missile flying at Guam it's gonna take 10 minutes to get there it's already been 5 minutes to get to wake him up and he has to decide in that split-second do you in nuclear North Korea because we don't know whether the missile is launched and it is armed missile test missile or is it a genuine attack and that era of miscalculation that sort of five-minute window that's what we're dealing with these days and that's why I think you know this is where cooler heads really have to prevail twitter diplomacy needs to be pulled back and we actually have to take very seriously the threat that comes from having a president who has no understanding of what world politics no background in the region and doesn't listen to advisers who are experts so yeah and those extremely bleak but these these absolute risks I mean if they happen it's going to be so clear how they could have been avoided and no steps have been taken to do so so the only on a kind of different or different something that constant is Iran and with the with Donald Trump's thing the joint comprehensive plan of action of Iran nuclear deal he's he's had that safety denuclearization focus their basic stance has been somewhat different it's been slightly more diplomatic and less Twitter focused and how do you see that play out well the Iran deal is clear that Iran is abiding by the deal right so there's there's people who do not like the deal which is a fairly fair enough interpretation of Israel is very opposed to it for example and a lot of hawks in the United States are opposed to the deal too they believe it's too soft in the regime fair enough what I think should be a bipartisan agreement though is that when the United States enters into a deal and the other party agrees to it and then abides by the terms of the deal you can't just tear up the deal because it creates a credibility problem for American diplomacy if the deal gets destroyed then the next president or this president trying to make commitments in treaties whatever it is were for example a nuclear deal with North Korea doesn't get seen as a credible partner and who could blame them if the deal only lasts for such a short time so what I think is most likely at this point is there is a a process by which Trump could decertify the deal he has started down this path there are serious indications that he is trying to politicize intelligence to fit his own narrative in other words pressuring intelligence agencies to tell him Iran has not abided by the deal which they have not said and as a result of that there's a clear path forward where this may be decertified and kicked to Congress the really unfortunate part of this is that if that happens it will almost certainly happen in an election year when Republicans are vulnerable from primary challenges especially from the Trump base for not being hard enough on countries like Iran and it will create a political incentive to scrap a deal that by all accounts is working at containing Iran's nuclear program not only that but it would also alien at key US allies because American allies who are part of the deal believe that it is functioning exactly as intended and that is where I think you know Donald Trump's recklessness by trying to score political points or rile up his bases away ends up creating unattended consequences that could have ripple effects in American diplomacy for years or decades ago and he's he's kind of often his own diplomatic support during this trip over the last week – anyone that wishes to offset China's so-called aggressiveness in the South China Sea but like you said so far it seems as though his diplomatic ability is lacking yeah well this trip the Asia trip I think is a really clear blueprint of how world leaders will deal with the United States under Trump and diminish its power well embellishing his own ego so President Xi give a master class in China this where he effectively rolled out the red carpet did everything he possibly could to puff up Trump's ego and then Trump has backed away a lot of the aggressiveness that we sought towards China from Trump during the campaign I just got back from Thailand myself a couple days ago in the when I talked to leaders there they said that effectively the same thing as long as we flatter his ego and work with him on whatever transactional myopic deals he wants so in this case of me working to isolate North Korea we have a long leash to do whatever we like in any other area right now Thailand is a long-term US ally but it is gravitating towards Beijing's orbit much more and there's not much pushback on that the same thing is being true is becoming true with trade right so Trump did fulfill his campaign promise to scrap the TPP the trans-pacific partnership trade deal but the world is moving on without Trump right so this framework of this deal is emerging with the other countries that were involved and I think increasingly this america-first rhetoric is going to end up with America alone isolated and weakened as a result of Trump's ideas on diplomacy or his lack of engagement with it now I think you know the the Asia trip as a whole shows that Trump is not a savvy operator when it comes to diplomacy he is a very very single-minded and very much trying to save face right he wants to get something that he can point to and then claim a victory and they move on but the world doesn't work like that and the thing that is really troubling is the 21st century is a era of challenges that require multilateral approaches right the era of being able to have two countries work out a deal and solve a problem and era of globalization that's gone but Trump strongly prefers bilateralism to multilateralism the world is not so what happens when America is trying to sell something a bilateral approach and the world the rest of the world wants to buy a multilateral approach what it means is that China will become the seller of the multilateral approach they'll become the new defender of the world order and the balance of power will tip away from Washington which is why I'm extremely worried that the 21st century will increasingly be shaped by an authoritarian regime as opposed to by Western democracy and do you think that um that his inability to secure any virtual partnership from from this whole well from the last 13 days do you think it's out that pattern will continue for the next three years of his presidency yes and I think that the bilateral approaches are going to be extremely inconsequential because Thailand for example it's a military who came to power in 2014 coup they were isolated from America for the wake of that coup in other words Barack Obama said you can't come to the White House you're not a democracy and we won't recognize and legitimize your regime Trump invited them and the who does leader general praise came to the White House already in return he offered to buy a tiny amount of American coal literally like point zero two percent of America's coal output make no difference to anything but Trump can claim a victory that he helped support the coal industry right it'll be completely inconsequential way but the headline will be Oh Trump signs cold deal with Thailand Thailand has now put on another show how you deal with the Trump administration make them look good and then get away with anything else you want to and then return he got us legitimization in fact we got a White House visit and can claim to be part of the legitimate Club of Nations even though it's a coup government at the came to power as a military coups so you know this is this is I think the future of bilateralism under Trump is not one that will be of consequential deals but much more of saving face and trying to make the headlines look good it sounds as though he's still kind of running a campaign trail yeah well a campaign or a reality show in a way I mean this is one of the problems again it goes back to our previous point about social media is that the pace of change in the pace of attention in the news cycle is so short that as long as you have the good headline the deal turns out to be absolutely no consequence doesn't matter the headlight something we've done and that's why you see this happening in the Trump era things like an investment deal is announced and then you go back to the fine print of the deal and you realize the deal was actually secured three years ago but it's been reinstate the headline in the business papers that show the year this mover and shaker under the Trump administration that's really the problem is you have as long as you get the flashy headline the substance is much less important and then the new cycle moves on so I think you know the pace of Trump news has been so unbelievably rapid that it's very difficult to not only keep up with it but also to check the validity and the sort of enduring importance of some of the announcements that Trump tries to claim his victories so a great example of this is Trump's announcements on creating jobs right so he trumpeted and there was a huge amount of fanfare when the millionth job of the Trump era had been created but if you look at the numbers it was the slowest rate of job creation over that comparable period in seven years now that headline is harder to write and harder to consume than a million jobs created of Trump and that's where I think we you know there's a responsibility of citizens to take advantage of this absolute explosion of information that's available to them to become informed so that people who are not operating in good faith and are trying to mislead the public are not able to get away with false claims the same would be true by the way of the the brexit claim about 350 million pounds a week which if you actually looked into it you could have very quickly seen that it was completely bogus and never was going to happen yeah so there's that Foom of headline cropping is the way you see opposed its continuing in the future well especially in the era of the new media because you have you know you you you can as long as you get the good headline the story will move on by the time it's corrected and you see this with viral tweets and viral stories is that even the corrections when they come don't garner nearly as much attention so you know it's a real problem of how quickly and how how much of a Wild West quality there is to the spread of information these days in a system of where information is the currency by which citizens make decisions yeah so then looking forward towards 2018 this time next year we'll have the limit terms third of the Senate's up for grabs and the whole of the House of Representatives is and some of those Senate seats that are up for grabs aren't quite key key states who they've got states like Pennsylvania like a higher like Michigan I believe that that went chops way in the electoral college but that had Democratic chances at the moment so how do you feel that that will play out well if I were predicting I mean I take this with a grain of salt cuz we're over a year away or a little less than a year away but I think the house will probably go for the Democrats there's a huge amount of backlash against Republicans in a generic ballot which is the sort of generic question asking who would you rather have a Democrat or a Republican representing you the gap by which Republicans are losing that is enormous right now and the elections that happen this past week in across the u.s. were a start for PDA ssin of Trump especially in swing states where Democrats won by considerable margin for the Democrats to take the Senate it would have to be an absolute political earthquake and it's not because there's not a repudiation of Trump brewing in those states as well I think there is but it's because since only a third of the Senate is up it just happens that the third that's up is mostly Democrats who are defending their seats so the Democrats would have to pick up some extremely unlikely seats so even though they may gain a few they would have to gain three outright to to take control and it seems unlikely but you never know if politics and one of the hard rules that tends to be followed in political Maxim's of American politics is that the president's first midterm elections his party usually loses many many seats and this has happened almost every time so I would expect a bit of a landslide against Republicans but probably not enough for them to take the Senate probably right or not enough for the Democrats to said it probably enough for the Democrats to take the house that will substantially change the political dynamics and Trump's because he will then need democrats to win anything right currently they control everything and even though they have narrow margins they can technically pass things with just republicans as soon as that becomes democrats his calculation has to shift markedly and he has to actually start reaching out to blue state representatives and democrats more generally to get anything done so his presidency may be dead in the water less than a year from now and there may also be an impeachment attempt that gets actual serious credibility on the grounds of emotional allegation yes I think article I would expect that articles of impeachment would be filed if the Democrats were to win the house whether he could be removed from that as a totally different question because it depends on what them all our investigation finds okay um and then looking forward towards 2020 it so be quite a while away but there's been a lot of noise from Joe Biden some some compelling is how do you think that well from a Democrat perspective well I think the Democrats are gonna have a very competitive primary I think the Republicans may actually have a competitive primary too there may be a challenger to Donald Trump from sort of the more centrist or sane side of the party somebody like John Kasich Governor of Ohio I think the Democrats there is even the outside chance that there is a unity ticket still unlikely but the possibility of a Democratic Republican banding together to defeat Trump because he is so outside the mainstream of political norms and democratic norms so I think there are possibilities that are all over the map you know there is still a possibility that burning it and Joe Biden both Rudd having the octogenarian candidates of some seriously old people who are running for one of the most stamina driven jobs in the world but there's also a lot of fresh blood in the party and many people will be positioning so you know when you look back to 2008 when Barack Obama was elected to a lot of people even in 2006 he was a no-name person right he emerged very quickly and rose to stardom so I think at this point trying to suss out exactly who will be the ballot is a bit of a guessing game that's you know very very difficult and I think there will be rising stars that we don't expect okay but you think we're heading towards kind of a new paradigm both politics in the u.s. well we'll see I mean it depends on how the reaction is to Trump right because I think that if Trump is not repeated at the ballot box in 2018 where the Democrats fail to take the house and the Senate I would expect that a lot more Trump 2.0 is emerging and I think that American politics could succumb to a much more violent strand of authoritarian populism which is my opinion very damaging to not just democratic norms but also serious policymaking and I think there's some very very important trends that are fueling that things like inequality backlash from rural America etc that are not going to go away so whatever the antidotes Trump or the legacy of Trump is it's going to have to deal with these massive trends that are fueling the rise of people like Trump and also fueling a lot of the rise of discontentment with the status quo but I would hope that the responsible politicians would deal with those trends in a much more proactive and pragmatic way rather than playing on fears and division it's simply to elect someone who is clearly unqualified to be President another kind of flipside to that argument is the financial markets that responded extremely well to peasant shops where you want the onion mechanisms tapped on so with the big three indices up over 20% each since they take at the election so what would you expect to be the response from them over the next year and then to those to those midterms well I mean what goes up must come down at some point and I think that the the clear there was a lot of enthusiasm for Trump's policies in the business community that was built into I think this surge in the stock market I think a lot of people in the business community assumed okay we've got a Republican House Republican Senate and President Trump will have a slam-dunk victory on health care reform that's more favorable to business possibly less favorable to citizens and a slam dunk on massive tax reform right the health care reform is not going to have the tax reform may happen still but it's a drastically pared down version of it that may be a boon to corporate America but it's not going to be a sweeping reform of the tax code in the way that a lot of people in the business community wanted so the question is have those markets sort of overcooks themselves in anticipation of policy changes that may not actually occur if that's the case then I expect that there will be a slide in the stock market I mean the other aspect of this is that you know Trump's Trump is riding a wave that is a long-term trend so this is where I think again there's the risk of a stock market bubble emerging is that if you draw a straight line I mean I think people should should try doing this if you draw a straight line from 2010 in the markets to now there are very few aberrations from it it is effectively a perfect line and what that means is that okay sure the the since Trump was elected there has been a spike in the stock market but it is part of a long-term recovery of the stock market after the financial collapse so the idea that this is some miracle that Trump has brought in I think it's also a bit of a myth it is that there is a fundamentally strong American economy that was operating people are happy with that and there's the possible of some some marginal changes with tax reform and I guess the funnel has paid off the Trump presidency is this is pretty cool how do you anticipate his nomination I know if when he gets the face of well we'll see if he gets any more he may very well there's many old Supreme Court justices who you know hopefully will not die but may may die and also you know Bank may choose to retire I think a lot of the justices on the court are worried about Trump picking their successor even the conservative justices may be worried that Gorsuch who he's already put on the court was a more mainstream candidate but who knows if Trump would try to put somebody else who's more extreme or unqualified on the bench we just had a confirmation in the u.s. of a judge who has been a lawyer for three years who was deemed by the American Bar Association to be not qualified unanimously and who had never tried a case so there there are troubling rumblings how the Trump administration is dealing with these vacancies and how little pushback the supposedly advisory role of the Senate is and confirming them and so I think there's reason to be concerned that he may choose to put a unqualified ideologue on the court this is something that is you know furthered by the fact that many of his key advisors are unqualified family members generals and and even cronies so the the long-term effect of the Trump administration is going to be felt in American democracy for a very long time and and some of the changes that he's assuring in will not end with him leaving the White House in 2020 is the other name they'll be able to advise us president pence what role does he has to play in all of this well Pence is supposed to be sort of the the steadying hand on Trump though I don't think he's if he has studied him we should be shocked to think what it would look like without pets there I think Pence is a more ideologically driven version of Trump who's a more in the mold of a standard politician but as a result of that he has slightly better relationships with people on Capitol Hill he's been as somebody who's a liaison to the Senate and the house I don't think Pence's ambitions post Trump will necessarily be divorced from Trump's trajectory in other words Pence is so tied to Trump at this point that it will be hard to imagine him emerging from Trump shadow unscathed if Trump goes down and the Russian investigation or if Trump is repudiated at the ballot box in 2020 or before that maybe in 2018 with a repeat from the midterm elections you have to keep in mind you know even though Trump and pence are you know still beloved by their political base their polling numbers the worst for any American president since pulling me in at this stage of the presidency aside even close they are despised by a significant portion of the American electorate and so you know they would have to run against an equally unpopular candidate from the Democrat to have any sort of chance of reelection that's not implausible it's still possible to Democrats we come up with someone who could lose the race but at this stage it is hard to imagine that somebody whose approval rating is in the mid 30s would be reelected and that will linger on for Pence's reputation as well because he is gone in hook line and sinker and has not tried to distance himself in any meaningful way from from Trump and I guess the funds what we haven't covered is well most guys to him is working with and you you active and about you the moderated for a mentality of the tart hotel and what we made of all progressed since then well it seems like things have gone very well you have gotten a lot of high-profile names and it seems like the organization is growing you have how many students now and I think it's over 85 Wow okay great so yeah I mean it's great to see the engagement that you guys have come up with and I think it's a really wonderful program and I wish you all the best of it thank you very much your time thank you you

2 thoughts on “A conversation with Brian Klaas

  1. another liberal hypocrite, no mention of any undermining of the Obama administration in foreign governments like when the Obama admin spent money to undermine the Netenyahu campaign effort or that billions of dollars in U.S. arms sales to Qatar could be enabling the Arab country’s support for leading terrorist organizations

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