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POLITICO Playbook Daily Briefing


POLITICO Playbook's must-listen briefing on what's driving the day in Washington.


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POLITICO Playbook's must-listen briefing on what's driving the day in Washington.




December 8, 2023: Hunter Biden’s newest legal headache

Hunter Biden’s legal jeopardy reached dramatic new heights late Thursday night, when he was charged with nine criminal counts stemming from allegations that he failed to pay taxes. National correspondent Betsy Woodruff Swann tells Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels that the severity of the new charges may be cause for concern for both Hunter and for his father — who is less than a year out from running for reelection. Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels interviews National correspondent Betsy Woodruff Swann.


December 7, 2023: What the final debate of 2023 told us

It was the last scheduled GOP debate before primary ballots start being cast. But did it change anything? Last night in Tuscaloosa, Chris Christie, Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy traded barbs, unspooled occasionally outlandish talking points and did their best to recapture the narrative in the final month of the primary race. Yet it was the candidate not in attendance — Donald Trump — who once again loomed large, defining the stage even while absent. And what we saw seems unlikely to disrupt the fundamentals of the campaign. National politics correspondent Adam Wren joins Playbook deputy editor Zack Stanton to unpack it all.


December 6, 2023: Colorado's Supreme Court weighs Trump's eligibility

The Colorado Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today on whether Trump should be disqualified from the ballot in 2024 based on alleged violations of the 14th amendment. The case, which legal reporter Kyle Cheney explains is almost bound to end up being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, has implications both for the 2024 election and legal precedent for years to come. Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels interviews legal reporter Kyle Cheney.


December 5, 2023: Ukraine aid hangs in the balance

The future of the $106 billion budget supplemental funding package hangs in limbo as negotiations between Democrats and Republicans failed to resolve over the weekend. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will bring a clean supplemental to the floor this week, but Republicans have vowed to filibuster, White House reporter Jen Haberkorn tells Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza. With the clock ticking down and the need for aid becoming more and more dire, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will virtually address the chambers on an invitation from the Biden administration. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza interviews White House reporter Jen Haberkorn.


December 4, 2023: Introducing MAGAnomics

The agenda this week includes the White House making a final plea to Congress for Ukraine aid, a likely vote on the $106 billion supplemental funding package, and a potential re-gagging of former president Trump. Topping it all off is a new focus for Democrats as election season nears: so-called MAGAnomics, the GOP’s policy plans.


December 1, 2023: What we learned from the DeSantis-Newsom debate

GOP presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis met with California Gov. Gavin Newsom for chaotic debate Thursday night. The two—and moderator Sean Hannity— set out to contrast the Republican and Democratic ways of governing during the 90 minute spectacle billed as the red vs. blue debate. A gamut of topics were covered and slews of fiery buzzwords were hurled at one another, but did the audience actually learn anything? California bureau chief Christopher Cadelago joins Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels to unpack the event. Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels interviews California bureau chief Christopher Cadelago,


November 30, 2023: “The complicated realities of Washington to creep in for lawmakers”

There is a lot going on on Capitol Hill, and not much time left in the year to get it all done. First, House freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Scott Perry has suggested conservatives may consider compromising on demands for steep spending cuts and accept the funding deal that contributed to the demise of Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s speakership. Sen.Tommy Tuberville, on the other hand, is looking for a way out of his extensive holdup of military promotions. Finally, members of both parties are still figuring our how to tackle the White House’s $100 billion supplemental funding request.


November 29, 2023: Congress and the White House butt heads on immigration

The White House and Congress are trying to find common ground on immigration, an issue President Biden has significantly struggled to gain popularity on in the past. Right now, as White House reporter Myah Ward explains, there are three areas of focus at the center of the debates. Asylum reform, safe third country restrictions, and changes to the country’s parole system are what is causing conflict, and one issue, she tells Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza, is nowhere near resolution. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza interviews White House reporter Myah Ward.


November 28, 2023: Inside Hunter Biden's new strategy

The complicated life of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter has been capturing the attention of the media and the public for years. But it reached a new level during summer 2023 when the younger Biden rejected a plea deal in a case related to his business dealings. As the 2024 election nears, national correspondent Betsy Woodruff Swan and Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels discuss how Hunter Biden’s team has been reevaluating both his legal approach and public image. Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels interviews national correspondent Betsy Woodruff Swan.


November 27, 2023: Will Congress act on Israel and Ukraine aid?

After the Thanksgiving break, lawmakers return to Capitol Hill today to tackle the White House’s $100 billion supplemental funding request. The funds would be designated for aid to Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan and the U.S.-Mexico border, but finding the common ground between parties needed to move the package as one will be a difficult feat. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade walks through how party leaders are handling the pressure.


November 22, 2023: Inside the Israel-Hamas hostage deal

Qatari officials announced late Tuesday that Hamas plans to release 50 hostages in exchange for a multi-day pause in fighting between Hamas and Israel after a deal was struck between the two powers. The extensive agreement will lead to the first reprieve after six weeks of nearly nonstop aggression. National security reporter Alex Ward tells Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels that the sensitive deal was written to encourage the release of even more hostages down the road and send more aid into Gaza. Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels interviews national security reporter Alex Ward.


November 21, 2023: Breaking down Trump’s legal battles

On Monday, a panel of three judges with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals signaled they may loosed a gag order imposed on former President Donald Trump originally imposed by the judge during his Washington, D.C. criminal trial. Senior legal affairs reporter Josh Gerstein was in the courtroom and walks Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza through what lies ahead for Trump in this case and the others with which he is currently dealing. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza interviews Senior legal affairs reporter Josh Gerstein.


November 20, 2023: Incumbent Democratic senators focus on 2024

During a slow Thanksgiving week on the Hill, attention is largely focused on the new year, when Democratic incumbents in the Senate will go full speed into campaign mode in an attempt to hang on to their seats. Few seats are more important to Senate Democrats next year than those occupied by Montana’s Jon Tester and Ohio’s Sherrod Brown, who have proven they can emerge victorious even as their states go red. Republicans are also dipping their toes in the water; the NRSC is launching a new digital ad targeting Arizonans with the goal of driving them back to independent incumbent Kyrsten Sinema’s camp instead of Democratic challenger Ruben Gallego’s. But could it backfire? Playbook co-author Rachael Bade walks us through. All of this, plus President Biden pardons a turkey on the South Lawn today.


November 17, 2023: The George Santos show enters its final act

A blistering report on Thursday from the House Ethics Committee poured jet fuel onto the efforts to oust Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) from Congress. Among the many damning details: Santos allegedly spent campaign funds on Sephora, OnlyFans and cosmetic procedures like Botox. What comes next? Congress reporter Anthony Adragna talks Playbook deputy editor Zack Stanton through the coming expulsion vote Santos faces — which may be the final nail in the proverbial coffin for the congressman’s brief political career. Playbook deputy editor Zack Stanton interviews Congress reporter Anthony Adragna .


November 16, 2023: Everyone wants to know the truth about UFOs

The truth about UFOs is out there. But what exactly do we know, and how? Unidentified flying objects — or, as they are now called, UAPs (unidentified anomalous phenomena) — have long captivated curious minds. But where the topic was once taboo, recent years have seen more and more mainstream discussion on the topic in Washington. That transition — and the underlying questions beneath it — is the topic of Garrett Graff’s new book, “UFO: The Inside Story of the U.S. Government’s Search for Alien Life Here ― and Out There.” Garrett joins Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza to talk about that veil of secrecy, and the very real explanations that exist for at least some of the cosmic unexplained. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza interviews Garrett Graff.


November 15, 2023: What to watch at Biden and Xi's meeting

President Biden is in San Francisco for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, where he will meet with President Xi Jinping of China. There is a lot riding on the meeting, Phelim Kine tells Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels, and not just because Biden will be on the campaign trail for the next year. Issues as varied as artificial intelligence, espionage, and fentanyl are expected to come up. And last night the House passed a funding bill to avert a government shutdown. All that, and everything else you need to know today.


November 14, 2023: The problem with Bidenomics

We’re less than a year from the election and the Biden campaign has to reckon with some troubling new voter insights. Extensive data conducted by the organizations Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Data for Progress found those surveyed generally lacked confidence in President Biden’s handling of the economy. But, as White House reporter Adam Cancryn tells Playbook co-author Rachael Bade, there is some nuance to these results. All that, and the rest of the news you need to know today. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade interviews White House reporter Adam Cancryn.


November 13, 2023: Speaker Johnson’s plan to avert government shutdown

Congress has until the end of the work week to determine, once again, how to keep the government funded. New House Speaker Mike Johnson wants to pass a continuing resolution that is going to delay funding for some government agencies until January and the rest of until the deadline in early February. The CR is clean enough that it’ll be hard for Democrats to reject the plan, Playbook co-author Rachael Bade explains. But, even some hardline Republicans are already vowing they won’t vote for it.Plus, the GOP Primary pool is down another candidate, new exclusive polling shows a comfortable win for Donald Trump in 2024, and the rest of the news you need to know today. Playbook editor Mike DeBonis interviews Playbook co-author Rachael Bade.


November 10, 2023: Country roads, take him home: Joe Manchin retires

Sen. Joe Manchin announced yesterday that he will not seek reelection in 2024 — news with wide-reaching 2024 implications. His seat is almost certain to flip into Republican hands, drastically complicating Democrats’ hopes of holding a majority in the chamber. But rumors abound that Manchin himself may not be done with politics just yet. Political reporter Ally Mutnick joins Rachael Bade to break down just how big a blow it is, and what role Donald Trump himself may have had in Manchin’s decision. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade interviews political reporter Ally Mutnik.


November 9, 2023: What mattered (and didn’t) at the GOP debate

Last night, five Republican presidential candidates took the stage in Miami for a policy-heavy debate where they clashed about everything from TikTok to Trump to taking on Hamas. National political correspondent Brakkton Booker joined Playbook co-author Rachael Bade to talk through the highs, the lows, and whether or not it all will make a difference in the long run. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade interviews National political correspondent Brakkton Booker.