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.
After a decades-long career in public service spanning three presidential administrations, Susan Rice left her post as President Biden’s domestic policy advisor in May 2023. Rice joined David to talk about the differences between working on domestic policy and national security, Biden taking office in the throes of the Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of mental health care, the challenges of immigration policy, gun violence's impacts on generations of young people, the stakes of the war in Ukraine, and the threat of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Sep 21, 2023
After decades in public office and a 2019 run for president focused on fighting climate change, Washington Governor Jay Inslee recently announced he would not seek reelection in 2024. Gov. Inlsee joined David to talk about where we are in tackling the climate crisis, moving away from a fossil fuel economy, the problems with social media, what he views as a lack of leadership in the Republican Party, and why he is optimistic about the climate future.
Sep 14, 2023
Born in California to immigrant parents, Scott Galloway says that he’s the product of an America willing to invest in unremarkable people. While Scott has made a name for himself as an entrepreneur, author, professor, and outspoken podcast host, he’s endeared himself to audiences through his candor and vulnerability. Scott joined David to talk about what makes America unique, higher education and its moral short fallings, the benefits of immigration, the dangers of social media, problems with the tax code, and his belief that Donald Trump will drop out of the presidential race and make a plea deal.
Sep 7, 2023
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