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Elizabeth Drew

Elizabeth Drew

Contributor to New Republic, Daily Beast, Project Syndicate, Nation (book reviews). Fifteen books, including reissue of Washington Journal, Nixon & Watergate.

Articles by Elizabeth Drew

The Fabulist

19 days ago

Since assuming the US presidency in 2017, Donald Trump has established his bona fides as not just a liar, but as someone seemingly unconcerned with whether his fictions will be exposed. Is his latest invention a bridge too far?

WASHINGTON, DC – In April 2011, Donald Trump, then considering a run for the presidency the following year, said that he had sent investigators to Hawaii to check out rumors that President Barack Obama wasn’t born there, but in Kenya, which would disqualify him for the presidency. His investigators, Trump declared, “cannot believe what they’re finding.”

What AIDS Taught Us About Fighting Pandemics

PS OnPoint

Mariette Pathy

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Trump’s Cruelest Month

April 28, 2020

With the US economy spinning out of control and expected to sink to depths not seen since the 1930s, US President Donald Trump’s presidency is self-destructing. This was clear throughout April, when two opposing forces, Trump’s compulsive lying and the coronavirus, collided daily.

WASHINGTON, DC – T.S. Eliot famously called April “the cruelest month.” If US President Donald Trump, not known as a fan of poetry, were honest with himself (another unknown), he would likely agree that this month has turned his tenure into a wasteland.

What the Stock Market Is Really Saying

PS OnPoint

Xinhua/Michael Nagle via Getty Images

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The Trump Presidency Turns Deadly

April 2, 2020

Harry Truman famously had a sign on his White House desk that read, “The buck stops here”: ultimate responsibility for the country’s welfare rests with the president. Now contrast that with how the current occupant of the Oval Office has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

WASHINGTON, DC – For the first three years of his administration, US President Donald Trump focused on consolidating power. And yet, as the United States approached its greatest domestic peril in a century, he refused to use that power. Instead, as a deadly coronavirus was poised to invade the country, the president opted for denial and delay.
The Trump Presidency Turns Deadly

Jim Watson/Pool/Getty Images

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Why Biden?

March 18, 2020

Former US Vice President Joe Biden is almost certain to be the Democratic Party’s nominee to challenge President Donald Trump in November. Biden’s emergence at the front of a once-crowded field caps what may be the most significant and unusual US presidential primary ever.

WASHINGTON, DC – The most significant and unusual contest – possibly ever – to nominate the challenger to a sitting United States president is effectively over. Former Vice President Joe Biden – written off by most observers until his triumph in South Carolina last month and victories in other Southern states turned the race around – now has such a commanding lead in delegates over his rival, US Senator Bernie Sanders, that it’s virtually

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Who Can Beat Trump?

February 17, 2020

Although purchasing political office, as Mike Bloomberg is attempting to do, may be unfair or wrong, President Donald Trump is such an alarming figure that many voters so far appear willing to overlook in Bloomberg what they would never forgive otherwise. And that, perhaps, is the clearest sign yet that American democracy is in crisis.

WASHINGTON, DC – The US presidential election in November is the most consequential in modern history. Whether the increasingly authoritarian, vindictive, and dangerous Donald Trump wins another four years in power could define the US for a long time to come.
The White Swans of 2020

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

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US Democracy in Peril

February 6, 2020

Until Donald Trump, the United States had never had a president who maintained such a tight stranglehold on his party. Now that it does, the Constitution’s provisions for removing the president – through impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by a two-thirds majority of the Senate – have been neutered.

WASHINGTON, DC – The fateful collision over whether US President Donald Trump should be removed from office revealed the alarming fragility of the Constitution that Americans have relied on for more than 200 years to maintain their democratic system. Nothing since the Civil War had so tested its viability. And the frightening lesson is that a determined president with a tight grip on his party and contempt for

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Trump’s Near Miss with Iran

January 13, 2020

The drone strike that killed Qassem Suleimani not only brought the US and Iran to the brink of war; it exposed for all to see the disarray of US foreign policymaking under President Donald Trump. A majority of Americans think the episode has left the US less safe, and the incompetence displayed by Trump’s team suggests they may be right.

WASHINGTON, DC – The recent tense, dangerous exchanges between the United States and Iran have revealed a great deal about US President Donald Trump’s management of his foreign policy. The main conclusion is that he doesn’t have one. Weighty decisions are made on the basis of gut reactions and often-contradictory impulses – for example, simultaneously seeking agreement and threatening the use of

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A Little Impeachment for Large Abuses

December 23, 2019

By adopting narrow grounds for impeaching US President Donald Trump, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives failed to confront the true nature of Trump’s presidency. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had read her caucus, and the new members wanted simple charges that they could easily explain to their constituents.

WASHINGTON, DC – Much as he mocked the process for months, US President Donald Trump very much did not want to be impeached. No president does; it’s an ineradicable stain on their record. And Trump has just about never in his life been called to account. He was more or less in a rage for weeks as the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives moved forward, and his mood didn’t improve in the immediate

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The Impeachment Blues

November 12, 2019

Most American presidents have honored their constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Donald Trump, however, views his role differently, and for that reason is in the greatest trouble of his presidency so far.

WASHINGTON, DC – The most dismaying thing about the impeachment proceedings against US President Donald Trump is that they are falling so short of the constitutional gravamen of the issue. True, some Democrats in the House of Representatives, particularly Adam Schiff of California, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, do appear to understand the seriousness of the question before them. But most Republicans – egged on by Trump, who often complains that they are not

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Will Trump Be Removed from Office?

October 15, 2019

Assuming the US House of Representatives votes to impeach President Donald Trump, the fact remains that there are far fewer votes in the Senate than will be needed to convict him and remove him from office. But the willingness of Congress – including the Senate – to continue tolerating his dangerous conduct is now truly in question.

WASHINGTON, DC – For the first time, reasonable people in the United States have begun to speculate that President Donald Trump could be convicted by the Senate and thus removed from office. The likelihood may still seem low, but Trump’s position is weakening, and opinion polls are steadily moving against him. It is widely assumed that the House of Representatives will vote to impeach

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The Logic of Impeachment Does Not Favor Trump

October 3, 2019

The view that Donald Trump would welcome an impeachment fight is a product of White House propaganda and bravado. No US president wants to be impeached, because once the process gets underway, there is no knowing how far it might go.

WASHINGTON, DC – US President Donald Trump’s presidency is in peril. He’s likely to be impeached (the equivalent of an indictment) by the House of Representatives, and it cannot be ruled out entirely that the Senate will vote to convict him and thus remove him from office. Impeachment alone would leave an asterisk by Trump’s name in history. And even if he isn’t convicted, which requires a two-thirds vote, any Senate Republican votes against him will undermine his argument that the whole

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Trump’s New Troubles

September 11, 2019

The US Republican Party has lashed its fate to an increasingly unhinged leader. Whether that changes between now and the November 2020 presidential election may well depend on how his fragile ego withstands the coming months.

WASHINGTON, DC – As the US Congress reconvenes this week after a six-week recess, the administration is mired in controversies, almost all of them set off by President Donald Trump. Trump’s behavior has been at its most peculiar since he took office, undoubtedly partly owing to panic over the 2020 election. He has more reason than most incumbent presidents to wish for reelection, as he is still facing several lawsuits.
The Trump Narrative and the Next Recession

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What’s Behind America’s Mass Shootings?

August 13, 2019

After back-to-back mass shootings this month, even US President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have expressed support for new gun-control legislation, after years of opposing any such measures. But true reform seems unlikely, given the deep and complex roots of this uniquely American problem.

WASHINGTON, DC – After every mass shooting in the United States, Americans and others around the world are confronted with the question of what lies behind this distinctly American horror. Though total gun deaths in the US have actually declined over time, mass shootings (those with at least four victims) have become deadlier and more frequent. Some have had an especially strong emotional impact on the

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Sitting-Duck America

July 29, 2019

America may no longer be open to desperate refugees, but, as former US special counsel Robert Mueller’s recent congressional testimony showed, it is wide open to anyone who wants to hijack its democracy. The country’s own president has removed the guardrails.

WASHINGTON, DC – Events of the past few weeks have highlighted the current vulnerability of the United States, not militarily – that is a subject for another day – but in other dangerous ways. Unlike some commentators, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that America’s democracy is on its last legs, but it is encountering threats that few ever expected it to face.
Their Faintest Hour

Getty Images

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Could the Democrats Blow It?

July 9, 2019

A major dilemma of the Democratic nomination contest is that it is a test of two important attributes: which candidate can beat Trump, and which is offering the most appealing platform to primary voters. These are not the same thing.

WASHINGTON, DC – The unprecedentedly large number of candidates – 25 at last count – for the Democratic nomination to take on US President Donald Trump in 2020 has led to an awkward opening to the contest. The number of contenders will drop as the qualifications for participating in party debates tighten (especially in September) and some run out of money. Some know they have no real chance at winning, but hope that becoming better known might land them a cabinet post, more

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To Impeach, or Not to Impeach

June 4, 2019

To discourage her Democratic colleagues from advocating the impeachment of US President Donald Trump, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi warns that Trump wants to be impeached, because he thinks it would play to his political advantage. But it’s not clear that this is so – or that it’s relevant.

WASHINGTON, DC – As the US Congress returns from a ten-day break, the question of whether the House of Representatives (controlled by the Democrats) should formally commence the process of impeaching President Donald Trump for misdeeds committed during his tenure – and perhaps before – has split the party. Theoretically, impeachment by the House would be followed by a trial in the

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Trump Is Now Above the Law

May 7, 2019

Since the release of the Mueller report, it has become increasingly clear that US Attorney General William Barr and congressional Republicans will do whatever it takes to protect President Donald Trump from legal or political accountability. If there is one safe prediction about what comes next, it is that it will be very ugly.

WASHINGTON, DC – Things have gotten ugly in Washington, DC, since the release last month of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and they’re about to get uglier. It’s now clear that the United States has an attorney general who believes his job is to protect the president, facts be damned. During his testimony before the Senate

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Trump Is Guilty as Not Charged

April 22, 2019

The report by US special counsel Robert Mueller shows that a criminal approach to links between President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign and Russian interference on his behalf never made much sense. An independent commission would have conducted a more realistic and comprehensive investigation.

WASHINGTON, DC – The political situation in the United States is more unsettled now than at any time since I began covering it, including the Watergate era. President Donald Trump is a desperate, wounded, and unstable figure – a bloated, increasingly red-faced presence railing against the indignities to which he feels subjected by “haters” with nefarious motives.
Capitalism’s Great Reckoning

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The Mueller Bait and Switch

March 27, 2019

Thanks to US Attorney General William Barr’s "summary" of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, President Donald Trump and most of the Republican Party can implant the idea in the mind of much of the public that Trump did nothing wrong. The truth will have a hard time catching up.

WASHINGTON, DC – The American people should have known that something was awry when President Donald Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, announced on Friday, March 22, that he had received special counsel Robert Mueller’s report and would provide a summary of its findings to certain congressional leaders over the weekend.

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

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Will Trump Win a Second Term?

March 7, 2019

Logic would suggest that US President Donald Trump can’t make it through a reelection fight: his base is too small, and he’s done next to nothing to expand it. But Trump’s success at solidifying his base could be his salvation in 2020.

WASHINGTON, DC – It seems that every time I write about Donald Trump’s presidency, I pronounce it to be in more trouble than ever. This time is no different: he and his presidency are indeed in more trouble than ever. And yet that may not prevent him from winning again in 2020.

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Getty Images

Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images


I used to think Trump might not even finish

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Nancy Pelosi’s Great Wall of Resistance

January 28, 2019

US President Donald Trump has clearly met his match in the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, who clearly flummoxes him. Trump has never had to deal with a woman as smart, dignified, and tough as Nancy Pelosi.

WASHINGTON, DC – Whoever explained to then-President-elect Donald Trump what it meant to be president – if anyone did – neglected to tell him that on occasion a president loses a policy fight. That person also forgot to explain to the US president-in-waiting that making a big promise he might be unable to keep required him to figure out how to prevent his most ardent followers from turning against him when he failed to fulfill it. 

Fred Dufour – Pool/Getty Images


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Apocalypse Trump

December 24, 2018

With no compromise in sight to end the federal government shutdown, and no one left in President DonaldTrump’s cabinet who can restrain him, Americans and their allies are staring into the abyss that has been looming since the 2016 election.

WASHINGTON, DC – For those who hadn’t yet figured it out, the price of having a US president who disdains expert opinion and who is impulsive, mendacious, not very smart, disturbed, uninformed, incurious, incompetent, intemperate, corrupt, and a poor negotiator became irrefutably clear in recent days. Three large developments from last Wednesday through Saturday unnerved even some of Donald Trump’s Republican protectors, who had rationalized that, after all, he had cut taxes (mainly on the

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The Strengthening Case Against Trump

December 11, 2018

It is already clear that the 2016 US election was contorted by extraordinary events. The House of Representatives’ incoming Democratic committee chairs insist that they have no interest in impeaching President Donald Trump, but as they continue to investigate his administration’s wrongdoings, that outcome may become inevitable.

WASHINGTON, DC – Though he rarely admits even the slightest discontent with the job he schemed for in unprecedented ways and somewhat accidentally fell into (thanks to the vagaries of the Electoral College), Donald Trump’s presidency hasn’t been what Americans would call a bowl of cherries. Yet no other week of his presidency so far has been filled with such problems and so many dark omens for him.

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America’s Midterm Elections Turn Menacing

October 29, 2018

With the approach of crucial congressional and state elections, no one should be surprised that domestic terrorism has emerged from the ranks of President Donald Trump’s hyper-partisan supporters. In fact, given Trump’s pattern of incitement, many have warned that some of his followers would resort to violence.

WASHINGTON, DC – With the approach of this year’s midterm elections in the United States, domestic terrorism is starting to dominate the political landscape. First, barely two weeks before Election Day, an angry supporter of US President Donald Trump began sending 14 bombs to prominent Democrats and others whom Trump has frequently attacked. (None of the bombs exploded.) Then things became much worse, with the murder, on a Saturday,

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America’s Midterm Mess

October 23, 2018

When Americans vote on November 6, Donald Trump will not be on the ballot, but the future of his presidency will be. Veteran Washington journalist Elizabeth Drew explains why this midterm election will be so consequential. Listen to all episodes from your favorite podcast app, and subscribe via Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, or RSS Feed.

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Trump’s Darkest Days

September 25, 2018

Donald Trump’s presidency is beset by crises, with the discrediting of his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, just the latest in a long string of disasters. Now, the likelihood that the Republicans will lose control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate is growing by the day.

WASHINGTON, DC – This isn’t a good time to be Donald J. Trump. Granted, it’s been a while since it was, but this is the grimmest period of his presidency thus far.

Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images


And Trump is showing it. Aides have been struggling to muzzle him – not physically, but everything short of that. And, as could have been predicted, they have not been fully

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Trump’s Manafort Problem

August 6, 2018

Under normal circumstances, an American politician would be in trouble for having employed a figure as compromised as Paul Manafort, whose role in US President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign ranks with some of the country’s most famous scandals. But these are not normal circumstances.

WASHINGTON, DC – As the first criminal trial of a major figure in US President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign got under way in Virginia last week, observers have wondered to what extent not only Paul Manafort, his campaign manager for a crucial period, but also Trump himself is in the dock.

AFP/Getty Images

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Andia/UIG via Getty Images

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Trump’s Child Hostages

June 27, 2018

US President Donald Trump thinks that anti-immigrant rhetoric, with which he began his presidential campaign in June 2015, is what brought him victory, and that it will work again in November’s midterm congressional elections and when runs again in 2020. He might be right.

WASHINGTON, DC – Suddenly, without much thought or planning, which is essentially how he operates, US President Donald Trump lit a match to his administration by approving a policy of separating migrant children from their parents as they arrived – many fleeing violence in Central America – at the southern border with Mexico. And then, by doing what he is intent on never doing – backing down – Trump created more problems for himself.


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The Divine Right of Donald

June 11, 2018

While the US presidency has grown stronger over the years, during the Trump administration Congress has been especially timid and subordinate. Will Trump’s recent claims to quasi-royal authority change that?

WASHINGTON, DC – US President Donald Trump may not seem to have much in common with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, but Trump’s autocratic tendencies are becoming more apparent by the day. Propositions regarding the extent of presidential power that once would have been considered preposterous – both constitutionally and according to longtime practice – are now being discussed as if they were normal ideas.

 South Korean Presidential Blue House via Getty Images

GraphicaArtis/Getty Images

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Fifty Shades of Trump

April 16, 2018

For all of his many other legal and political problems, is it possible that Donald Trump could be brought down by a porn star? His lawyer’s payment to her to buy her silence about a one-time liaison with the US president may not be the only issue at stake.
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week was a most unusual one for President Donald Trump’s administration. There was no high-level firing: the only dismissal of any note was that of the White House aide in charge of homeland security, who was forced out at the behest of John Bolton, who had just taken over as Trump’s third national security adviser in 15 months. Nonetheless, it may well have been the most turbulent week yet of Trump’s presidency.

Exclusive insights. Every week.

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