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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.




February 22, 2024: GOP faces IVF ruling backlash

Following a ruling in Alabama that grants legal personhood to frozen embryos, Republicans are bracing for another round of backlash — and for more punishing headlines likely to turn off swing voters, suburbanites and women ahead of the 2024 election. Why? The ruling ventures into virtually unexplored legal territory that could see IVF and other fertility treatments targeted and effectively banned in states that have embraced major restrictions on abortion, including fetal personhood laws. Yet an overwhelming majority of Americans support IVF, suggesting that Republicans may be walking on thin ice. Health care reporter Alice Miranda Ollstein talks Playbook deputy editor Zack Stanton through the situation.


February 21, 2024: What we learned from 2024's first campaign finance filings

The first Federal Election Commission reports for 2024 paint an interesting picture for the three most prominent candidates in the race. The biggest takeaways? President Joe Biden’s campaign is flush with cash; January showed strong fiscal turnout for former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s campaign; and the leadership PAC for former President Donald Trump’s campaign spent $3 million on legal fees during the first month of the year. State politics reporter Zach Montellaro walks through the highlights with Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza. All that, and the rest of the news you need to know today.


February 20, 2024: Biden pushes temporary ceasefire

With a week until the Democratic Primary in Michigan, President Joe Biden has his eyes on the state’s Muslim population that helped get him elected in 2020. The Abandon Biden movement, a coalition of Michigan progressives — including Rep. Rashida Tlaib — calling for residents to vote uncommitted next week, is growing stronger by the day. The administration, too, has shifted its message toward Israel dramatically, and the U.S. has drafted a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a temporary ceasefire and encouraging Israel to push pause on plans to attack the southern city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade walks through that and the rest of the news you need to know today.


February 16, 2024: Fani Willis gets grilled

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis took the stand on Thursday to face pointed and personal questions from from lawyers representing former President Donald Trump. They allege Willis’ past romantic involvement with fellow prosecutor Nathan Wade is a conflict of interest and ought to disqualify her from leading the criminal case against Trump for alleged election interference in Georgia. But is their real goal to disqualify her, or simply delay the proceedings? Senior legal reporter Josh Gerstein walks Playbook deputy editor Zack Stanton through what we saw, and what it all could mean. Playbook deputy editor Zack Stanton interviews Senior legal reporter Josh Gerstein.


February 15, 2024: Two-for-one Trump hearings

Two major hearings today will shape the trajectory (and timing) of the legal woes that Donald Trump faces as he attempts to return to the White House. In New York, a judge will decide whether the hush money case against the former president can move to trial in late March or whether that timeline will be pushed back — a popular Trump delay tactic honed over his many decades of lawsuits. Meanwhile in Georgia, Trump and his co-defendants aim to sideline Fulton County DA Fani Willis in her sweeping election interference case. Plus, more headaches for Speaker Mike Johnson, and urgent new concerns about Russian space nukes. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade talks with legal editor James Romoser and walks through what you need to know. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade interviews legal editor James Romoser.


February 14, 2024: No love from the House GOP for Mayorkas

On their second attempt, House Republicans managed to formally impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas by one vote. That will likely be the end of the story, though, as the impeachment proceedings are expected to come to a stop in the Senate. Plus, in Tuesday’s election, Democrats managed to flip a seat in the New York District 3 special election to fill the seat formerly occupied by Rep. George Santos. And, despite the increasingly urgent need for foreign aid, the supplemental continues to stall. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade walks through all of this and more.


February 13, 2024: Election Day for George Santos' seat

The center of the political universe today is on Long Island, where voters in Queens and Nassau County will decide whether Democrat Tom Suozzi or Republican Mazi Pilip will replace George Santos, the fabulist who was expelled from Congress. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza calls up Politico editor Steve Shepard — a fellow Long Island native — to discuss. Plus, the latest on the Senate's supplemental bill and the changes former President Donald Trump is pushing at the Republican National Committee.


February 12, 2024: Inside the possible mutiny Speaker Johnson faces over Ukraine aid

Over the weekend, former President Donald Trump captured headlines and confused many when he said he would “encourage” Russia to attack NATO members who did not pay their financial dues. Among those who were quick to condemn the comments is former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Trump’s remaining challenger for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade spoke with Haley about her reaction to the comments. Plus, House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner weighs in on Speaker Johnson's approach to Ukraine aid.


February 9, 2024: Exactly how bad is Biden’s special counsel report?

The special counsel report on Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents was about as damaging as it could possibly be while stopping short of recommending criminal charges. Over nearly 350 pages, the investigation paints a troubling picture of Biden’s behavior and cognitive abilities — one almost certain to feed voters’ existing concerns about the 81-year-old president, whom it describes as a “sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.” National correspondent Betsey Woodruff Swan walks Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza through the report and its reverberations across Washington.


February 8, 2024: What’s at stake in today’s watershed Supreme Court case

This morning, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a momentous case that could determine former President Donald Trump’s ballot eligibility — and, potentially, whether the 14th Amendment’s insurrection clause bars him from a return to the White House. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza and legal editor James Romoser break down what to expect inside the courtroom.


February 7, 2024: Speaker Johnson takes two major Ls

House Republicans dramatically failed to both impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and pass the Israel aid bill last night, delivering two major blows to the party leader. Speaker Mike Johnson has vowed to reintroduce articles of impeachment, but with yet another failure during his brief tenure, Playbook co-author Rachael Bade explains Republican members of the House are beginning to question whether he can guide the party through a very public implosion.All that, plus the rest of the news you need to know today. Playbook editor Mike DeBonis interviews Playbook co-author Rachael Bade.


February 6, 2024: The Senate border deal is on life support

It took months of negotiations to craft the bipartisan border agreement that debuted Sunday night, and only a few hours for its fate to take a grim turn. Republican senators are continuing to come out of the woodwork to voice concerns that the deal isn’t tough enough on border security. But, as congress reporter and Inside Congress author Daniella Diaz tells Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza, there is no apparent Plan B. Plus, the all signs point to an impeachment of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, but the implications of that move aren’t entirely clear.


February 5, 2024: Inside the long-awaited border deal

Senate negotiators unveiled at the text of the bipartisan border agreement Sunday night, offering a compromise that would both tighten security at the U.S.-Mexico border and send air money to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. But whether the $118 billion agreement that came to be after months of negotiations even stands a chance is another question entirely, Playbook co-author Rachael Bade explains.


February 2, 2024: Groundhog Day for the immigration bill

At this hour, virtually no one knows exactly what is or isn’t in the hotly anticipated bipartisan Senate border bill — legislative text could drop as soon as tonight. But it’s already dominating conversation in Washington and on the campaign trail. Former President Trump is eager to kill the deal and keep the border alive as a galvanizing election issue — and so far, House Republicans seem to be falling in line. But could the arrival of the actual proposal swing momentum in the other direction? Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza sits down with editor Mike DeBonis to walk through the possible paths forward.


February 1, 2024: What the new FEC reports tell us about 2024

What are the biggest takeaways from last night’s major new fundraising numbers? For starters, here are two: Democratic frontrunner President Joe Biden is in pretty good shape, and GOP frontrunner former president Donald Trump is spending an unprecedented amount on legal fees. Campaign reporter Zach Montellaro joins Playbook deputy editor Zack Stanton to walk through more key findings, and what these totals can tell us about the shape of things in the year ahead.


January 31, 2024: Your primer on today's big tech hearing

CEOs from five of the world’s biggest social media companies head to Capitol Hill today to face a grilling about the safety of children on their platforms. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg — a hearing veteran — will be joined by leaders from X, Snap, Discord, and TikTok during the appearance. Politico Tech host Steven Overly talks with Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels. Plus, the House's Homeland Security Committee is moving closer toward an impeachment of Alejandro Mayorkas, and the latest on the border deal. Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels interviews Politico Tech host Steven Overly.


January 30, 2024: What we know about the drone strike at Tower 22

President Joe Biden has vowed the U.S. will respond to the weekend drone attack of three U.S. troops in Jordan, but what will that look like exactly? And, does this mean the country is at war with Iran — or at the very least, an Iran-backed militia group? Pentagon reporter Lara Seligman walks Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza through the details. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza interviews Pentagon reporter Lara Seligman.


January 29, 2024: Washington reacts to U.S. troop deaths in Jordan

After three U.S. troops were killed and 25 more were wounded in a drone attack in Jordan, President Joe Biden vowed a response and Senators Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn echoed a call for retaliation. Plus, over the weekend, House Republicans unveiled articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Finally, Legal Editor James Romoser walks Playbook co-author Rachael through this week in Trump trial watch. An earlier version of this episode referred to the verdict in the Carroll lawsuit inconsistently. The jury awarded Carroll $83.3 million.


January 26, 2024: Will Republicans kill their border deal to placate Trump?

Republicans demanded a border deal in order to pass any Ukraine aid. And they’ve just about got one. But if Donald Trump gets his way, Republicans will abandon that effort and the bill will go down in flames. Congress reporter Ursula Perano joins Playbook co-author Rachael Bade to talk through the bizarre politics on the Hill that are leading some Republicans to ditch the deal they helped broker — and what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell really thinks about it.


January 25, 2024: What will it take to pass the new bipartisan tax bill?

When it was unveiled, the bipartisan tax deal brokered by Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) seemed like a layup — it expanded the child tax credit (a Dem priority) while offering relief to businesses (a GOP priority). But now, in the cold spotlight of simple congressional vote-counting, it faces a very real challenge: border politics. Can it actually pass? Tax policy reporter Ben Guggenheim walks Playbook co-author Rachael Bade through what has to happen to make it through the Congress.