POLITICO Playbook Daily Briefing



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

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1278 episodes

April 1, 2024: Johnson’s mission to keep his gavel

In an interview with Trey Gowdy of Fox News on the evening of Easter Sunday, Mike Johnson called Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s effort to oust him a distraction from the mission. Attempting to impart a dose of reality on Republican viewers, the House Speaker told his former colleague that his job is particularly difficult right now, but said he does have plans for resolving the Ukraine aid debacle. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade talks through it all.

Apr 01
March 29, 2024: The case for Biden to court never-Trump Republicans

The smattering of prominent Republicans who have refused to commit to supporting Donald Trump in the general election differ in their ideological beliefs, their geography, their offices and their profiles. But they all share one thing in common: None have heard a peep from Joe Biden. Senior political columnist Jonathan Martin knows that because he reached out to every single one of them. Today, he joins Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza to talk about why this is political malpractice for Biden. Plus, the continuing fallout from the internal revolt at NBC over former RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel’s hiring and firing, and the one-year anniversary of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich’s arrest in Russia.

Mar 29
March 28, 2024: The RFK Jr. wild card

Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential run has been a spectacle from the start. Despite being born into Democratic royalty, the independent candidate holds a hodgepodge of policy views that sometimes veer into conspiracy theories — but which also give him a strange appeal to an array of voters scattered across the political spectrum. Could his choice of running mate change that? Politics reporter Brittany Gibson joins Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels to discuss RFK Jr., his role in the broader 2024 race and how his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, might play into Democrats’ hands with her views on in vitro fertilization. Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels interviews Politics reporter Brittany Gibson.

Mar 28
March 27, 2024: Just the beginning of the mifepristone story

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the nation should significantly limit the use of mifepristone, a pill that terminates early pregnancy. A number of justices on the majority-conservative court appeared to take issue with the idea of a sweeping, national pronouncement. But, this story is really just getting started. Anti-abortion activists and elected officials have several backup plans if the Supreme Court reject their arguments for nationwide restrictions on the drug. Health care reporter Alice Miranda Ollstein walks Playbook co-author Rachael Bade through the story.

Mar 27
March 26, 2024: Inside the evolving relationship between the U.S. and Israel

In the last 24 hours, the diplomatic dynamic between the U.S. and Israel took on another layer of complexity when the U.S. abstained in voting for a UN Gaza ceasefire resolution, allowing it to pass. The action resulted in officials from Israel cancelling a trip to Washington. National security reporter Alex Ward joins Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels to discuss how things got here, and what lies ahead. All that, and the rest of the news you need to know today.

Mar 26
March 25, 2024: Trump’s trifecta

There are three important things on Donald Trump’s agenda today, and they're all connected. First, the former president has a half-billion dollar bond due stemming from the New York civil fraud case. He has said he is struggling to procure the funds to fulfill this, so it is particularly timely that Trump Media and Technology Group is going public today. Trump is estimated to have about a $3 billion stake in the company, but he can’t use that money to pay for his bond thanks to lockup provisions. Finally, Trump will get a date from the Manhattan DA in the hush money trial that was delayed due to a last-minute documents dump. Legal editor James Romoser joins Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza to talk this all through. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza interviews Legal editor James Romoser.

Mar 25
March 22, 2024: A Biden campaign vibe check

Most polls show a tight race between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. But ever since Biden’s notably energetic State of the Union address, his campaign has been feeling a strange new optimism. He’s outpacing Trump on fundraising, his campaign schedule is purposefully packed and his team is already going up with TV ads in an effort to define the race early — while Trump is still struggling to catch up. National politics reporter Elena Schneider tells joins Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza to talk it all through. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza interviews National politics reporter Elena Schneider

Mar 22
March 21, 2024: Are Dems Speaker Mike Johnson’s saving grace?

Time and again, Speaker Mike Johnson has relied on an unexpected source to propel legislation to success: House Democrats. We’ve already seen Dems help Johnson pass a $78 billion tax bill, the proposed de facto ban on TikTok and multiple stopgap spending proposals. (Up next: another federal funding deal!) But is the approach an unexpected stroke of bipartisan unity, or a risky tactic that will blow up in the speaker’s face? Congress reporter Nick Wu joins Playbook co-author Rachael Bade to discuss. Plus, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell throws water on the idea of turning Ukraine aid into a loan, and the rest of the news you need to know today.

Mar 21
March 20, 2024: Trump-endorsed Moreno wins big in Ohio

Bernie Moreno, the car dealer-turned Trump-endorsed Senate candidate, won the Ohio GOP primary quickly and handily yesterday. It is obviously good news for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, but it is also the outcome many Democrats were hoping for as well. Will longtime incumbent Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown be able to keep his seat out of the hands of another MAGA Republican? Politics bureau chief and senior political columnist Jonathan Martin joins Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza to break down the election results, and what they may mean for November. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza interviews Politics bureau chief and senior political columnist Jonathan Martin.

Mar 20
March 19, 2024: What we’re watching in Ohio (and elsewhere) today

Five states — Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, and Ohio — are holding primary elections today. Though President Joe Biden and Donald Trump clinched the presumptive nominations for their respective parties last week, some of the House and Senate contests around the country could have enormous implications. Plus, in one swing state, we will get another look at how big of an impact the Democratic voters displeased with Biden could have in November. Senior campaign and elections editor Steve Shepard joins Playbook co-author Rachael Bade to break it all down.Plus, some much-needed movement on Congress’ struggle to fund the government before the end of the week, and new developments in how they will tackle their next big funding fight: Ukraine.

Mar 19
March 18, 2024: Another week, another government funding deadline

Six massive bills that make up roughly 70% of discretionary federal spending  — including the military — need to be passed by Friday in order to keep the government open. It is a predicament Congress has found itself in over and over again the past few months, but, as appropriations reporter Caitlin Emma tells Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza, the challenge is different this time: These are some of the biggest and hardest bills to fund, and a final showdown is looming.  Plus, a new Ipsos-POLITICO poll reveals a conviction may not doom Donald Trump’s presidential hopes, but it could do real political damage. That, plus the rest of the news you need to know today. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza interviews appropriations reporter Caitlin Emma.

Mar 18
March 15, 2024: Another Trump trial delay?

A theme has emerged in the recent developments surrounding former president — and presumptive GOP nominee — Donald Trump’s criminal trials: They keep being delayed. In the New York hush money case, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg conceded that he would be OK with as much as month's delay. Federal judge Aileen Cannon is also expected to delay Trump’s May 20 trial date in Florida but is otherwise remaining tight-lipped. And news on whether Georgia DA Fani Willis will remain on Trump’s case in Atlanta might also emerge this week. Legal editor James Romoser joins Playbook coauthor Ryan Lizza to discuss. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza interviews legal editor James Romoser.

Mar 15
March 14, 2024: Biden takes aim at the housing crisis

It’s one of the biggest economic trends shaping American life — and it happens to be something of an obsession of the president’s: The high cost of housing. Sources tell POLITICO that for months, Biden has used his debriefs to press senior staff on affordability, quizzing them on mortgage rates and rental costs. Now, the White House is making a fresh push to show it shares Americans’ frustrations and elevating housing to a top priority as the general election begins in earnest. White House reporter Adam Cancryn joins Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels to discuss. Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels interviews White House reporter Adam Cancryn.

Mar 14
March 13, 2024: Absent a smoking gun, Republicans consider impeachment offramps

Republicans on the Hill were hoping that Special Counsel Robert Hur’s testimony Tuesday would kickstart their stalled impeachment campaign, but that isn’t how things shook out. Without the smoking gun Republicans were hoping for from Hur, they now must face the reality that an impeachment of President Joe Biden is increasingly unlikely. Congress reporter Jordain Carney joins Playbook co-author Rachael Bade to discuss. Plus, Biden and former president Donald Trump clinch their respective party nominations, and TikTok may be on the chopping block. All that, plus the rest of the news you need to know today. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade interviews Congress reporter Jordain Carney.

Mar 13
March 12, 2024: Robert Hur’s big moment on the Hill

Special Counsel Robert Hur is set to appear before the House Judiciary Committee today to talk about his explosive report on Biden's handling of classified documents. Ankush Khardori, a senior writer for POLITICO Magazine and a former federal prosecutor — joins Playbook co-author Rachael Bade to talk about what Democrats should take heed of as Hur takes the stand.Plus, the House is inching toward what could be a bipartisan vote to effectively ban TikTok in the U.S. That, plus the rest of the news you need to know today. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade interviews senior writer for POLITICO Magazine Ankush Khardori.

Mar 12
March 11, 2024: What Biden’s budget tells us about his priorities

The budget President Biden is releasing today is through fiscal year 2025, potentially leading into Biden’s second term if he is reelected. As economics reporter Victoria Guida tells Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels, it’ll be an interesting look into what his policy priorities are going to be. Also today, the deteriorating relationship between Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Plus, the race for Senate Republican Conference Chair appears to have a new challenger. Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels interviews economics reporter Victoria Guida.

Mar 11
March 8, 2024: Biden’s strident SOTU speech jolts the political world

It was the speech Joe Biden’s supporters were aching to hear: A 66-minute stemwinder that torched Donald Trump and the GOP on issues from abortion rights and IVF to taxes on the wealthy to Ukraine and Russia. Along the way, Biden bore his teeth and set to bed — for the moment, at least — concerns about his mental acuity. The big questions after: Did the SOTU speech just reset the 2024 campaign? And where does Biden take his message from here? Playbook co-authors Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels and Ryan Lizza discuss.

Mar 08
March 7, 2024: Why tonight’s SOTU speech is *actually* important

The importance of State of the Union speeches is vastly overrated. Except this year.When President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress this evening, the vast viewing audience won’t simply by listening to the usual laundry list of accomplishments; they’ll be looking for reliable proof of his stamina and mental acuity, for his narrative frame that justifies his reelection campaign, and for a sense of vision that will provide his presidency with badly needed momentum. How’s the Biden team handling all this? White House Correspondent Adam Cancryn joins Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels to discuss that and what else to look at tonight’s big speech. Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels interviews White House Correspondent Adam Cancryn.

Mar 07
March 6, 2024: Super Tuesday shaped the November election — but not how you think

On the campaign trail, Super Tuesday was a romp for Joe Biden and Donald Trump — though both men stopped short of a clean sweep in their parties’ respective contests. Down the ticket, we now have a clear view of what the November general election will look like in some of the nation’s most pivotal House and Senate contests. And yet, for all of that, Tuesday’s most consequential news might be about someone who isn’t going to be on the ballot this fall: Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. The colorful Arizona independent announced that she will not seek reelection this year — a move with significant implications not just for November, but for the future of the Senate. Politico Deputy Managing Editor for Congress Elana Schor sits down with Playbook Deputy Editor Zack Stanton to discuss what it all means on the micro level — and the larger trend it hints at on a macro level.

Mar 06
March 5, 2024: The real Super Tuesday action is in these two states

Though it is one of the most significant dates of the U.S. election cycle, this year’s Super Tuesday looks like it won’t come with many surprises. President Joe Biden has won every early Democratic competition, and former president Donald Trump has won all but one. But in some parts of the country, like Texas, things are getting exciting on a state level. The implications of the drama stretch all the way to the White House. Senior columnist and politics bureau chief Jonathan Martin walks Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza through the situation. Plus, SCOUTS rules Trump can appear on state ballots, and the rest of the news you need to know today.

Mar 05
March 4, 2024: Pete Buttigieg knows Biden's message isn't translating

Ahead of the State of the Union on Thursday, members of President Joe Biden’s cabinet are scattering about the country to tout Biden's accomplishments to voters. Included in that group is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who spoke with national politics correspondent Adam Wren over the weekend. Adam joins Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels to reflect on the takeaways from that interview. Plus, House and Senate negotiators released a $459 billion spending package Sunday afternoon that would keep the government open — for now. All that, and the rest of the news you need to know today.

Mar 04
March 1, 2024: Trump vs. the courtroom clock

Donald Trump’s week has been a mixed bag. There was a victory of sorts as the Supreme Court agreed to hear his argument that he is immune from charges related to allegedly subverting the 2020 election — effectively granting him a bit of a delay in the trial. Then there was a humbling filing in which the former president and self-proclaimed billionaire admitted to not having the cash on hand he needs to pay the hundreds of millions of dollars he’s on the hook for in two civil suits — judgments he’s appealing and trying to postpone. And, finally, today, he faces vital hearing in his federal criminal trial over allegedly mishandling classified documents — one that could affect how long the trial date will be delayed. Legal editor James Romoser joins Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels to break it down for us.

Mar 01
February 29, 2024: MAGA delights in its ‘Bye, Mitch!’ moment

The MAGA makeover of Senate GOP leadership is coming. At least, that’s what allies of Donald Trump are hoping now that longtime Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he’s stepping down from his leadership post at the year’s end. It’s a seismic shift on Capitol Hill — one with major implications on everything from the GOP’s policy outlook to President Biden’s relationship with the Hill. Playbook co-author Rachael Bade walks through the situation.   Plus, a government shutdown looks to be narrowly avoided by yet another CR, and SCOTUS takes up the question of Trump’s potential immunity for his alleged attempts to subvert the 2020 election. All that, and the rest of the news you need to know today.

Feb 29
February 28, 2024: It’s Hunter Biden’s deposition day. Here’s what to watch for.

Hunter Biden will appear for a closed-door Congressional deposition today, where he will answer questions about alleged involvement with his father’s business dealings. Republicans hope any revelations within the meeting will justify proceeding with impeaching President Joe Biden. But the case is already on wobbly footing. Congress reporter Jordain Carney walks Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels through what to watch, and just how vital this is to the potential impeachment. Playbook co-author Eugene Daniels interviews Congress reporter Jordain Carney.

Feb 28
February 27, 2024: Biden’s first real reckoning with Michigan's naysayers

In must-win Michigan, Joe Biden is expected to handily win the primary election today. But the numbers — specifically the number of Democrats who vote “undeclared”— could provide some insight into one of the president’s weak spots come November. Playbook deputy editor Zack Stanton, freshly returned from a reporting trip in the Wolverine state, offers some insight into the importance of the race, and what the locals are saying about 2024. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza interviews Playbook deputy editor Zack Stanton.

Feb 27
February 26, 2024: Hill fighting ahead of the March funding deadline

Once again, Congress has found itself up against a deadline for a partial government shutdown, and once again, things on Capitol Hill appear to be cracking under pressure. Late last week, congressional leaders had hoped they would be able to unveil a small government funding package today to buy time to negotiate the rest of the bills that need resolutions before the deadline. But now the situation has “devolved into full blown finger-pointing and fighting,” according to budget and appropriations reporter Caitlin Emma, who sat down with Playbook co-author Rachael Bade to walk through the situation.  Plus, Donald Trump unsurprisingly beat Nikki Haley in the primary in her home state. What’s next for the former governor’s campaign?

Feb 26
February 23, 2024: What’s the matter with South Carolina?

South Carolina’s Republican presidential primary has long had a reputation as something like a knife fight in a phone booth. But this year, it feels different. It’s a conventional campaign despite having the most unconventional candidate of modern times in the lead. It even risks being — gasp! — a bit boring. At least, that’s according to Jonathan Martin, our politics bureau chief and columnist, who joins Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza to talk all things Trump, Haley and Palmetto State. Playbook co-author Ryan Lizza  interviews politics bureau chief and columnist Jonathan Martin.

Feb 23
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.

Feb 22
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.

Feb 21
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.

Feb 20