Neera Tanden: “Trump acts like a traitor”

In today’s UnPresidented podcast episode, our guest is Neera Tanden, the president and CEO of the liberal think-tank Center for American Progress (CAP). You can listen below.

Neera talked to us for almost a full hour about Sean Hannity, James Comey, the 2016 election debacle, the Resistance, Democrats’ chances for winning the House in 2018 and the White House in 2020, impeaching Trump, working with Never-Trump conservatives, CAPs work against Trump, and much more.

Here’s a 13-minute excerpt, below — you can find the full hour-long interview here — and below that are some quotes I pulled from the interview:

Among the highlights:

On Fox News
“They are a propaganda arm of the Republican party.”

On James Comey
“He was fired because Trump was trying to limit the Russia investigation. My view of this is had he just said, ‘Look I made a mistake, I’m sorry,’ and moved on, it would have been fine. His own mistake was he rationalized his own decision, and there’s really no defense… He screwed up, he didn’t follow Department of Justice guidelines, he made his own unilateral decisions because of how he perceived politics at the time. It turns out he’s a terrible reader of politics and he shouldn’t have played pundit.”

“Comey was incredibly concerned about the political perceptions his actions would have. And how people would perceive what he’s doing. But the truth is, when you really unpack it, he only cared about the perceptions of the right…. He was shaped by the impact of the right-wing noise machine.”

On the Resistance
“We should remember who the resistance is, the new activists are really a lot college-educated women. It’s not just millennials, it’s not just ideologically hard-left. It’s a lot of, essentially, moms who are scared for the future of the country, for their children, and they’re getting involved in politics to take their country back.”

On how Liberals need to fight like Conservatives
“I think this is the asymmetric warfare that liberals and conservatives are engaged in every day. Conservatives are willing to use every tactic at their disposal to reach their political ends. And liberals are trying to be fair-minded in political discourse. This has some benefits too. We believe in good-government so that when we’re in government we’re actually competent. If this administration were more competent it would be far more damaging to the American people…. I think progressives need to recognize that we are in a street-fight for the soul of the country. We are not in an arm-chair chess match. We are in a street-fight. And we have to fight as hard as they do, and we have to use every tool that we can. We shouldn’t be evil, but we have to be really a lot tougher.”

On Trump being a traitor
“He acts like a traitor. My view of it is, I think it is beyond odd. I think it is very suspicious…. and evidence of some kind of Kompromat at play that on every issue Trump is an ‘America First’ person until it comes to Russia. It’s astounding on how every issue related to Russia he tries to be as weak as he can.”

On Impeachment
“[Trump] definitely colluded… If we find that Trump knowingly colluded to impact the election, he knew about Wikileaks or any other of the various strands in play, and then came into power. And then these actions to limit the impact of the government’s ability to effect Russia is because of this collusion, that would make him a traitor in my view.”

“I think that people [on the left arguing against impeachment] are making a huge mistake. This is really a legal question in front us. If Donald Trump has broken the law, I think he should be impeached. I think the Founders thought that if we have a president breaking the law they should be impeached.”

“If the special prosecutor makes a clear case that Donald Trump has broken the law, a lot of Republicans will recognize, just like eventually they did with Nixon, that they were in a fever-dream with a criminal. And I think that can also be a cathartic moment for a lot of people.”

On Mitch McConnell
“One of the many things that gave rise to Trump was the actions of Mitch McConnell…. I think what really gave rise to Trump is, a lot of people looking around saying ‘you know, I’m not doing so well, and Washington isn’t doing anything to solve it.’”

On being called a Corporate Democrat
“I went from being attacked as a communist and a socialist to a neoliberal corporate shill.”

On the importance of embracing Never-Trump conservatives
“Jennifer Ruben, David Frum, Bill Kristol. I have had knock-down drag-down fights with those folks during the Obama years. I had major battles on health care, and taxes, and the whole range of issues. But look, at the end of the day, if I’m going to argue to my friends on the left that we have an existential threat in front of us, and we could stop taking our pitchforks and sticking them into each other … I don’t need to agree with every one of David Frum’s views on the world to say that it’s important to have republicans make the critique of Trump…. Let’s eliminate the assault on democracy, and the impact of a possible traitor, and then I’m happy to argue tax policy with any of these people.”

Neera also discusses CAP’s role in the upcoming elections and the resistance overall, and CAP’s upcoming Ideas conference. It’s a really interesting interview, hope you enjoy.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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