The Axe Files with David Axelrod-logo

The Axe Files with David Axelrod


David Axelrod, the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, and CNN bring you The Axe Files, a series of revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. Go beyond the soundbites and get to know some of the most interesting players in politics.

David Axelrod, the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, and CNN bring you The Axe Files, a series of revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. Go beyond the soundbites and get to know some of the most interesting players in politics.


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David Axelrod, the founder and director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics, and CNN bring you The Axe Files, a series of revealing interviews with key figures in the political world. Go beyond the soundbites and get to know some of the most interesting players in politics.




Ep. 519 — Sec. Antony Blinken

Secretary of State Antony Blinken had a circuitous path to government, working in journalism, law, and the movies before landing a job in the Clinton administration. He still has varied interests; while he spends his days meeting with world leaders, guitar fans can also find him on Spotify. Secretary Blinken joined David before a live audience at the University of Chicago to talk about Russia’s war on Ukraine, America’s relationship with China, Afghanistan, the state of the world, and the...


Ep. 518 — Amanda Gorman

When poet Amanda Gorman was 5 years old, she was already in the habit of waking up before dawn to write; her mother paid her a quarter each morning she stayed in bed past 6 a.m. Poetry became Amanda’s outlet for exploring history and her own experiences. Her talents have taken her from serving as the first National Youth Poet Laureate to reciting her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Amanda joined David to talk about her mother’s influence, working through her...


Ep. 517 — Gov. Chris Sununu

Although New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has said that he was a shy child, he has no problem with the spotlight now; there is widespread speculation that he will run for president in 2024. As a popular Republican governor in a purple state, some say Gov. Sununu has the right playbook for putting a Republican back in the White House, while his detractors say he doesn’t stand a chance against former President Donald Trump’s base. Sununu joined David to talk about the power of local...


Ep. 516 — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

In 2022, Democrats in Michigan made history when they took control of state government for the first time in 40 years. At the top of the ticket was Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who won reelection by nearly 11 percentage points. Governor Whitmer joined David to discuss the role reproductive rights played in her campaign, the dangers facing public servants today and the sacrifices her family has made, governing through the COVID-19 pandemic, and the priorities for her second term in office. To...


The Axe Files presents The Assignment with Audie Cornish

This week The Axe Files team is sharing an episode of CNN’s The Assignment with Audie Cornish. Each week Audie pulls listeners out of their digital echo chambers to hear from the people who actually live the headlines. From the sex work economy to the battle over what’s taught in classrooms, no topic is off the table. For this episode, Audie talks to two parent activists turned elected school board officials about what motivated them to run for office and the changes they hope to make while...


Ep. 515 — Dr. Anthony Fauci

After 54 years at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Anthony Fauci will step down from his role at the end of 2022. While he has worked on a spectrum of infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, he rose to national prominence recently for his work on the Covid-19 pandemic. Considered at times to be a hero to the left and a villain to the right, Dr. Fauci talked to David about his career at NIH, what he sees as social media’s deleterious impact on science, fighting conspiracy...


Ep. 514 — Wes Moore

When Maryland Governor-elect Wes Moore was 3 years old, he watched his father collapse in front of him. Losing his father at a young age greatly impacted Moore’s life. He acted out at school, was sent to a military academy by his mother, and later confronted what he called the inequitable policies influencing his life, including his father’s inability to receive adequate medical care. Governor-elect Moore talked with David about his path to public service and gubernatorial victory, his time...


Ep. 513 — Mike Pence

Former Vice President Mike Pence has centered his career around his Christian faith and conservative beliefs. Most recently, he spent four years serving alongside former President Donald Trump, who has been criticized for his brash and confrontational demeanor. While the two have different political styles, Pence remained steadfastly loyal to Trump until January 6, 2021, when Pence refused to reject the results of the 2020 election. Pence spoke to David about the role of his faith in his...


Best of The Axe Files: Anderson Cooper

This Thanksgiving, we're revisiting a conversation with Anderson Cooper from October 2021. Anderson is now a well-known CNN anchor and host of the new podcast, All There Is with Anderson Cooper, but he got his start in journalism armed with just a camcorder and a fake press pass. Anderson is also part of the storied Vanderbilt family, which he wrote about in the book Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty. He joined David to talk about the corrosive power of money and how its...


Ep. 512 — Sen. Alex Padilla

Just months after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in engineering, California Senator Alex Padilla was drawn to politics, outraged by a state ballot initiative regarding undocumented immigrants. He soon became the youngest Los Angeles City Council president and is now the first Latino senator from California. Sen. Padilla joined David to talk about the 2022 midterms, election deniers and voter suppression, policing and public safety, his relationship...


Ep. 511 — Speaker Rusty Bowers

Rusty Bowers, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, is a Mormon and conservative Republican. He is also a sculptor and painter with a love of the outdoors who likes to sketch satirical drawings of his fellow legislators. After years in the state legislature, Speaker Bowers rose to national prominence when, as he said, he chose his oath to the Constitution over pressure from Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Arizona's results in the 2020 presidential election. Speaker Bowers...


Ep. 510 — Major Garrett

Journalist Major Garrett caught the journalism bug early, chasing fire trucks down the street in search of a story as a kid. He has since spent his career as a Congressional and White House correspondent, most recently at CBS. Major joined David to talk about the upcoming midterm elections, what he believes is hurting Biden and Democratic candidates, the state of democracy, and his new book written with David Becker debunking the myth that the 2020 election was stolen, “The Big Truth:...


509 — Rep. Liz Cheney

In the span of 15 months, Rep. Liz Cheney went from House GOP conference chair to losing her primary by more than 30 points. Her fall within the Republican Party began with her vote to impeach President Donald Trump after the January 6 attack on the Capitol and accelerated when she joined the House committee investigating the events of that day. Rep. Cheney joined David to talk about Trump and his supporters in Congress, her work on the Jan. 6 committee, how the threats to American democracy...


Ep. 508 — Maggie Haberman

Journalist Maggie Haberman began covering Donald Trump as a reporter for the New York tabloids in the early 2000s. Now at The New York Times, Maggie rose to national prominence churning out scoops on the Trump White House. Maggie joined David to talk about her complex relationship with Trump, what she believes is Trump’s legacy, what a second Trump administration would look like, and her new book, “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America.” To learn more about...


Ep. 507 — Cody Keenan

In high school, Cody Keenan wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon. But a challenging college chemistry course led him to pursue a degree in political science instead. He got his start working in the mailroom for Sen. Ted Kennedy, eventually becoming chief speech writer for President Barack Obama. Cody joined David to talk about the challenges of speech writing, battling imposter syndrome, the joys and frustrations of working in politics, and a whirlwind 10 days chronicled in his new book,...


Ep. 506 — Doug Jones

While in law school, former Alabama Senator Doug Jones skipped class to watch the trial of Robert Chambliss, convicted in 1977 for his role in the deadly 1963 Birmingham church bombing, which killed four Black girls. Decades later, as a US attorney, Jones successfully prosecuted two others involved in the attack. Doug joined David to talk about the state of the Democratic Party and why Alabama voters have turned their backs on Democrats, why curriculum that teaches America’s flaws...

Ep. 505 — Beth Macy

When journalist and author Beth Macy first pitched a book about the opioid crisis in 2014, her publisher and editor rejected the idea. But Beth kept following the story, publishing “Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors and the Drug Company that Addicted America” in 2018. The book has since been adapted into an Emmy Award-winning Hulu miniseries. Beth joined David to talk about her upbringing in Urbana, Ohio, how the loss of manufacturing jobs and opioid use intersect, the stigmatization of addiction,...


Ep. 504 — Chris Wallace

Chris Wallace spent 18 years at the helm of Fox News Sunday, surprising viewers when he announced his resignation on-air in December 2021. Now at CNN with a new show streaming on HBO Max, Wallace has admitted that the lies about the 2020 election and anti-media rhetoric at Fox influenced his decision to leave. He joined David to talk about interviewing Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine, how the media shifted under Trump, the state of the news business, how raising his kids led him to...


Ep. 503 — Rep. Adam Kinzinger

Rep. Adam Kinzinger was one of just 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump following the January 6 insurrection. After deciding to not seek reelection in 2022, Rep. Kinzinger has spent his last months in office as a member of the January 6 Committee, investigating the events of that day. He joined David to talk about his work on the Committee, tribalism in politics and its negative effect on leaders, why he thinks the Mar-a-Lago search could spell trouble for...


The Axe Files presents Offline with Jon Favreau

This week we’re sharing a conversation between Jon Favreau, host of Offline, a podcast from Crooked Media, and Ev Williams, co-founder and former CEO of Twitter. The two discuss Twitter’s early years, including the design decisions behind some of the app’s most important features. They dive into the promise of Twitter and attempt to make sense of what’s changed. Ev also talks about Twitter’s newest board member and largest shareholder, Elon Musk, and if Donald Trump should be allowed back...