Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova grew up during the downfall of the Soviet Union. She spent much of her career helping rebuild Ukraine’s economy after the country became independent, working in the private sector before joining Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance. She was appointed Ambassador to the U.S. in 2021 in part to help strengthen economic ties, but her priorities quickly shifted after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Amb. Markarova joined David to talk about her upbringing and the difficulty and hope that came with Ukrainian independence, her view of President Zelensky, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and why this war in an existential threat to all who believe in democracy.
Aug 31, 2023
Former US Deputy Attorney General and Attorney General for the Northern District of Georgia Sally Yates has been mostly quiet about the indictments facing former President Donald Trump—the man who fired her as Acting Attorney General just days after he took office. This week, Sally talked to David about the legal perils and “strong cases” against Trump, the idea of a two-tiered legal system, the importance of sticking to facts and truth, concerns over degradation of US institutions, and her recent investigation into allegations of abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in women’s soccer.
Aug 24, 2023
Arthur Brooks has held many roles in his life: professional French horn player in Barcelona, leader of the American Enterprise Institute, and now a professor of happiness at Harvard. The author and social scientist has a new book on the subject, “Build the Life You Want,” co-authored with Oprah Winfrey, coming out in September 2023. Arthur joined David to talk about the science of happiness, the relationship between new technology and waves of populism, how America’s dignity gap influences its politics, and the need to rebuild human connection.
Aug 17, 2023
John Podesta was looking forward to retirement when he got a call from the Biden administration asking him to serve as the senior adviser to the President for clean energy innovation and implementation. A long-time advocate for the environment in the nonprofit and political sectors, he decided to jump back into the fight. John talked to David about his childhood on the Northwest side of Chicago in a close knit family, how anti-Vietnam activism led to his involvement in politics, why he worries more about America today than he did in the 1960s, and his leadership role on environmental protection and climate during the Biden presidency.
Aug 10, 2023
After seven years as the host of CNN’s “Inside Politics,” John King is stepping away from the anchor desk and returning to his reporter roots, traveling the country to talk to Americans across the political spectrum ahead of the 2024 presidential election. John joined David to talk about his start in journalism at the Associated Press and his move to television, his multiple sclerosis diagnosis and his decision to speak out about the disease, and the challenges of working in the news industry during the time of Trump.
Aug 3, 2023
After graduating from Harvard Law School, Adrian Perkins decided to forgo the traditional job at a top-tier law firm, instead opting to return to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana as a candidate for mayor. After one term, punctuated by the Covid-19 pandemic, Perkins fell short in his reelection campaign, but he hasn’t lost his dedication to his hometown. On the latest Axe Files, Adrian talked about his “superhero” mother, his time in the military, his tenure as mayor of Shreveport, what motivates his service, and his mission to inspire young people.
Jul 27, 2023
As a child, Sen. Tammy Baldwin suffered a months-long illness, leaving her with a preexisting condition that made obtaining health insurance impossible. The experience inspired her to pursue public office, first locally from her home in Madison, Wisconsin, and later as a member of the U.S. Senate. Sen. Baldwin joined David to talk about healthcare, tackling the mental health and opioid abuse crises, GOP culture wars, and working across the aisle to pass the Respect for Marriage Act.
Jul 20, 2023
Historian and writer Jon Meacham’s most recent book, “And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle,” dives deep into Lincoln and the why behind the actions of America’s 16th president, from personal to political. Jon joined David to talk about Lincoln’s anti-slavery roots, what Lincoln can teach us about the current political moment, the moral decisions we face as a country, and what qualities make a great American president.
Jul 13, 2023
This week The Axe Files team is sharing an episode of CNN’s The Assignment with Audie Cornish. One year after Roe v Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, we were wondering: what is happening to people caught up in the web of changing law? It’s been a tumultuous and uncertain era for reproductive rights, so this week The Assignment checks in on the activists at the frontline defending women who are being criminally prosecuted under state laws that restrict or ban abortion. Amanda Allen, Senior Counsel and Director at the Lawyering Project, and Dana Sussman, Acting Executive Director at Pregnancy Justice, speak to Audie about their work in this post-Dobbs world.
Jul 6, 2023
Lifelong Republican Bill Gates was working as a lawyer and serving on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona’s most populous county when the 2020 election upended his life. Maricopa County became a hub of the Stop the Steal movement, and Bill, who defended the safety and legitimacy of the election, became a top target. Bill joined David to talk about navigating vicious attacks from those within his own party, the toll it took on his mental health and that of his family, and his hopes for the future of the Republican Party.
Jun 29, 2023