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Can He Do That?

Can He Do That?

?Can He Do That?? is The Washington Post?s politics podcast, exploring presidential power in the face of weakened institutions, a divided electorate and changing political norms. Led by host Allison Michaels, each episode asks a new question about this extraordinary moment in American history and answers with insight into how our government works, how to understand ongoing events, and the implications when so much about the current state of American life and the country?s politics is unlike anything we?ve seen before.


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The Biden era begins

President Biden campaigned on a promise to fix what?s broken, to repair divisions, to pull the country out of sickness, and to restore norms and institutions that were pillars of the Washington in which he built his career. Can he do that? 
Related reading and episodesWhat?s next for Trump?The 46th presidentBiden pledges to defeat extremism and culture of lies
If you enjoy this podcast and you?d like to support the reporting that goes into it, the best way to do so is through a subscription to The Post. A subscription gets you unlimited access to everything we publish, from breaking news to baking tips. For a limited time, listeners can get two years of access for just $59. That?s less than one dollar a week. Learn more and subscribe at
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What?s next for Trump?

President Trump's businesses are taking a hit, he's been impeached a second time and he might face legal challenges after he leaves office. Reporter David Fahrenthold answers questions about what?s next for Trump.
Related reading and episodesOne impeachment is rare. Two is unprecedented.Trump incited a mob. American Democracy suffered.Does Trump?s refusal to concede put national security at risk?
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One impeachment is rare. Two is unprecedented.

Why impeach a president who is on his way out? When would a Senate trial start? Can President Trump be convicted after he leaves office? What does this mean for the GOP? Author of The Post?s Power Up newsletter, Jacqueline Alemany, answers key questions.
Related reading and episodesTrump incited a mob. American Democracy suffered.Does Trump?s refusal to concede put national security at risk?What happens if Trump refuses to accept a loss?
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Trump incited a mob. American Democracy suffered.

The breach of the U.S. Capitol was a remarkable moment in American history. Professor Sarah Binder explains how the usually uneventful vote was expected to unfold, and reporter Philip Bump lays out the challenges a divided GOP faces in the aftermath.
Related reading and episodesDoes Trump?s refusal to concede put national security at risk?What happens if Trump refuses to accept a loss?Two different stories of American unrest
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How can the Supreme Court maintain impartiality in America's modern political climate?

Over the holiday break, we're bringing back an old episode that has resonance today. What happens to the public's perceived independence of the Supreme Court when confirmation processes devolve into partisan battles? Original air date: October 5, 2018
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The problems with pardon power

We?re looking back at an episode that sheds light on President Trump?s actions as his term ends. Reporter Toluse Olorunippa explores the principles and controversy around presidential pardons after Trump?s clemencies. Original air date: February 20, 2020.
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Trump and the economy: The administration?s biggest victories also exacerbated our divides

The final episode in the reprisal of our series on President Trump?s legacy focuses on uneven gains in the Trump era. The stock market and the wealthiest Americans have done better, but at the cost of growing inequality. Original air date: Oct. 29, 2020.
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Trump and science: An erosion of our institutions, in public and behind the scenes

We're revisiting our series on the legacy of Trump's administration. Through weakening agencies and shuttering scientific programs, the administration has increased divisions in our trust of science-based guidance. Original air date: Oct. 28, 2020.
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Trump and race: How the president?s rhetoric and policies divided us

Over the holiday break, we're bringing back our series on President Trump's legacy. Trump has been surrounded by race-related controversies. Some hoped he would moderate his tone, but instead, he has inflamed tensions. Original air date: Oct. 27, 2020
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Trump?s last chance

President Trump only has one last way to challenge the results of the election-- and he'll need Congress. How long can he hold onto his influence on GOP leaders and voters in his base? And how might his influence affect Georgia's Senate races?
Related reading and episodesDoes Trump?s refusal to concede put national security at risk?What do Trump?s legal threats actually accomplish?In challenging election defeat, Trump cements his control over the Republican Party
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Trump takes credit for the vaccine. Does he deserve it?

How much did Trump?s efforts effect vaccine development? Has Operation Warp Speed done more to help than our government?s pre-existing pandemic response system? Dr. Nicole Lurie of The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations answers questions.
Related reading and episodesWhat you need to know about the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccinesVirus cases are surging in the U.S. Is our government better prepared now?A president?s push for an unproven cure
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Pardon me? And my family? And maybe my lawyer?

President Trump is reportedly considering pardoning himself and his family for potential future Justice Department charges. Can he do that? And where does recent news of a?bribery-for-pardon? scheme fit into a president's limitations on pardon power?
Related reading and episodesThe problems with pardon powerTrump?s view of a unilaterally powerful president goes unchallengedGiuliani? Manafort? Himself? Here?s whom a lame-duck Trump could pardon.
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Trump?s lame-duck agenda: Lessons from history and warnings for coronavirus

Are Trump's major moves during a lame-duck period unprecedented? Professor Jeremi Suri offers an example from history with lessons for today. Plus, reporter Yasmeen Abutaleb on the implications of Trump's approach to the virus for Biden's incoming team.
Related reading and episodesWhat do Trump?s legal threats actually accomplish?Does Trump?s refusal to concede put national security at risk?
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Does Trump?s refusal to concede put national security at risk?

Experts are concerned that the president's unwillingness to start a transition threatens our country?s safety by denying President-elect Joe Biden resources and intelligence. Shane Harris explains the risks when a president blocks a smooth transition. 
Related reading and episodesWhat do Trump?s legal threats actually accomplish?Amid Pentagon upheaval, military officers face a fraught few monthsPressure mounts on state Republicans as lawsuits challenging election results flop
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What do Trump?s legal threats actually accomplish?

Election Day 2020 is behind us, but the presidential election is far from over.
Because of increased vote-by-mail and early voting, vote counts are taking longer than usual this year.
The race is very tight. The winner of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency is coming down to vote counts with very thin margins in a handful of battleground states.
While counts are still trickling in, President Trump has repeatedly made false claims of election fraud, declared victory in states where votes are still being counted, falsely tweeted that any ballots coming in after Election Day won?t be counted and pledged to get the courts to determine the election outcome.
The Trump campaign?s legal team has indeed launched efforts in the courts. His team has started a legal blitz ? filing suits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia and requested a recount in Wisconsin.
So what do each of these legal moves actually do? Will these suits stop ongoing vote counts? Can they overturn a state?s results? Are they likely to ultimately affect the outcome of this presidential race?
And what other potential ways to contest the race does the president have as the rest of this election unfolds?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, election law expert Edward Foley explains how the Trump team?s fight in the courts could shape the final outcome.
Related reading and episodesWith millions of ballots yet to be counted, here?s where votes are still outElection reveals deeper divides between red and blue AmericaHow an extraordinary election season affects Trump?s reelection chances
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Trump and the economy: The administration?s biggest victories also exacerbated our divides

As a businessman, candidate Donald Trump said that he was the only person who could deliver major gains for U.S. workers. The stock market and the wealthiest Americans have seen gains during his administration, but at a cost ? ever-growing wealth inequalities.
Related reading and listening:
Will Trump get Americans off of welfare?Jobless claims increase to 898,000, a sign the recovery could be stallingTrump?s Carrier deal fades as economic reality intervenes
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Trump and science: An erosion of our institutions, in public and behind the scenes

Through his administration?s efforts to weaken agencies, control the flow of information coming out of government and shutter scientific programs, we explore how President Trump has increased divisions in our willingness to accept science-based guidance.
Related reading and listening:
Does the president have much power to control a viral outbreak?CDC feels pressure from Trump as rift grows over coronavirus responseScience ranks grow thin in Trump administration
Subscribe to The Washington Post:
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Trump and race: How the president?s rhetoric and policies divided us

President Trump has been surrounded by controversies over his rhetoric when it comes to race. Some hoped he would moderate his tone in office, but four years later, the president has inflamed racial tensions more ? through both rhetoric and policy.
Related reading and listening
Will courts let the Trump administration put a citizenship question on the Census?All four living ex-presidents draw a sharp contrast with Trump on systemic racismAllegations of racism have marked Trump?s presidency and become key issue as election nears
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How 2020 races across the country lay the groundwork for a president?s influence

In the upcoming 2020 election, 35 U.S. Senate seats and 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for grabs. Plus, 44 states with seats in their state legislative chambers are also on the ballot.
Many of these races have an impact on the agenda of the next president and the future of the American political landscape.
Yes, the makeup of Congress will, of course, affect the way the next president can govern. Parties in control of each house of Congress can help a president carry out his agenda. They can also impede a president from legislative accomplishments.
But it?s not just the national-level races that lay the groundwork for a president?s influence. And it?s not just the national-level races that can be influenced by a sitting president or a party?s presidential candidate.
The reality is, the outcome of state house races across the country will also end up carrying significant meaning for the future of our electoral landscape. And they might carry more weight for the power of the next president than you?d expect.
On this episode of?Can He Do That?? national political correspondent Dave Weigel delves into the details of how 2020 races across the country might influence power inside and outside of Washington.
Related reading and episodesHow to vote in your stateHow turnout and swing voters could get Trump or Biden to 270How an extraordinary election season affects Trump?s reelection chances
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The 2020 election is facing big challenges. Which ones matter most?

The 2020 election and its lead-up have not exactly been your run-of-the-mill election season. American elections often face various challenges, but this year that list of challenges is quite long.
First, the world is still in the middle of a pandemic. That?s meant that many states have ramped up mail-in voting, added ballot drop boxes or laid out plans for safety measures around in-person voting. But those pivots and new plans have meant some errors and mix-ups. And some of these voting changes have faced legal challenges.
Plus, this week, as early voting has gotten underway around the country, voters have endured long lines, hours and hours of waiting and even some technical delays.
Keeping track of all of these voting issues, all the stories from around the country about the challenges our electoral system faces this time around, can seem pretty impossible. And understanding which of these pieces matter most to the outcomes of the election can be even harder.
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, national political reporter Amy Gardner covers the election-related legal battles likely to have the biggest impacts, efforts to mislead voters and the ballot errors that we?ve seen around the country. We also take a look at new voting issues that could come up as Election Day gets closer.
And, as the Senate moves to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice, one appointed in the final weeks before Election Day by a candidate on the ballot, we lay out what scenarios could lead the Supreme Court to be involved in the outcome of the 2020 election.
Related reading and episodesHow to vote in your stateHow turnout and swing voters could get Trump or Biden to 270What happens if Trump refuses to accept a loss?
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A week after we learned of Trump?s covid-19 diagnosis, why don?t we know more?

For months, President Trump avoided the novel coronavirus. He did this even without taking basic steps to prevent the virus?s spread, like wearing masks and staying away from large indoor crowds.
But, last week, that changed. 
Trump told the American people via tweet very early Friday morning, that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. Later that day, he was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
On Monday, after he?d been administered a cocktail of steroids and therapeutic drugs, Trump left the hospital and returned to the White House.
Yet questions about the severity of the president?s condition remain.
Although Trump has tried to project the image of a president hard at work ? posting videos and photos of himself clad in a full suit, repeatedly tweeting that he?s feeling great, declaring himself recovering ? it?s hard for reporters and the public to know exactly where Trump?s health stands.
But how much should the public know when it comes to the health and the fitness of our commander in chief? What are the responsibilities of the president ? and his doctors ? to be transparent about his health information? And how does that transparency factor into potential moves to transfer power when a president is incapacitated?
Since Trump?s diagnosis, even as the president was hospitalized, Trump administration officials made it clear that there were no plans for Vice President Pence to assume even temporary authority as president.
Yet the events of the past week have raised questions about how that process works ? who decides? What happens if a president can?t consent to a transfer of power? What if his ability to govern is in question?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, White House reporter David Nakamura discusses practices around the president?s health and safety and law professor and author of?Unable: The Law, Politics, and Limits of Section 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment? Brian Kalt explains how the 25th Amendment works.
Related reading and episodesCovid-19 survivors see callousness, not compassion, in Trump?s bout with the virusVirus cases are surging in the U.S. Is our government better prepared now?What happens if Trump refuses to accept a loss?
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What happens if Trump refuses to accept a loss?

President Trump is not exactly known for his adherence to Washington norms.
And his ongoing rhetoric around perhaps the most significant norm of American democracy ? the peaceful transition of power ? brushes against centuries-old precedent.
Though we?ve faced several electoral challenges in our country?s short history, presidential power has always passed peacefully from one commander in chief to the next.
This year, though, Trump has declined to agree to accept the results of the 2020 election, whatever they may be.
He?s relentlessly tried to sow doubt in the electoral process, baselessly attacked the security of mail-in balloting and suggested the outcome will be rigged.
And again, on Tuesday, in an incredibly heated and contentious debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, during a major nationally televised event, Trump again questioned the legitimacy of the upcoming election and refused to agree to accept its results.
We?ve asked quite a few ?Can He Do That?? questions on this show over the past nearly four years, but this one is perhaps the most consequential: Can a sitting president of the United States refuse to concede? Can he refuse to leave office? And what happens if he discredits our elections, the foundation of our democracy, in the process?
Trump?s persistence on this issue has really forced the question of what happens if he refuses to accept a loss, though it?s worth noting that most legal experts say it?s hard to envision Trump trying to stay in office in the case of a clear loss to Biden.
But any lack of clarity around the results is likely to have consequences: perhaps litigation, perhaps false claims of victory, perhaps state level battles over electors.
On this episode of the ?Can He Do That?? podcast, Lawrence Douglas, a law professor at Amherst College and author of?Will He Go?: Trump and the Looming Election Meltdown in 2020? explores the potential for constitutional chaos after Election Day and lays out what legal and institutional mechanisms can stop American presidents from wrongfully holding on to power.
Related reading and episodesTrump?s assault on election integrity forces question: What would happen if he refused to accept a loss?Two different stories of American unrestTrump suggested sending law enforcement to the polls. Can he do that?
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How the Supreme Court became the most trusted branch, and how electoral politics might undo that

The passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week, has created a vacancy on the bench. President Trump and the Republicans have since taken steps toward quickly confirming a conservative replacement for Ginsburg, who was a liberal icon.
Trump is expected to announce a nominee late this week, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has suggested confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee could begin mid-October.
Republicans hope the Supreme Court fight will inject a last-minute boost into both Trump?s reelection bid and the battle for the Senate majority.
Meanwhile, Democrats have vowed to fight in the hearings and on the Senate floor, citing precedent set by Senate Republicans who refused to consider President Barack Obama?s Supreme Court nominee during an election year. But beyond procedural tactics to slow the process, there may not be much that Democrats can do to stop Trump?s pick for a conservative justice from filling the seat on the court.
Is such a speedy nomination and confirmation process unusual when it comes to new Supreme Court Justices? How much power does a president have to push through a confirmation?And as questions arise about how the Democrats might retaliate, including court packing, is changing the number of justices really possible? How much does the Constitution actually dictate?
Plus, increasingly political confirmation hearings and the prominence of Supreme Court as an issue on the campaign trail have really added to a sense of a politicized judiciary. Taken together, does all of this compromise the independence of the highest court in the land?
On this episode of the ?Can He Do That?? podcast, we capture the evolution of our Supreme Court and how that history informs what?s happening in Congress and on the campaign trail today, in conversation with senior congressional correspondent Paul Kane and Lisa Holmes, associate professor of political science at the University of Vermont.
Related reading and episodesRepublicans hope Supreme Court fight boosts Trump?s reelection bid, helps GOP hold Senate majority How can the Supreme Court maintain impartiality in America's modern political climate?The problems with pardon power
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Is the federal government to blame for wildfires gone out of control?

Reporter Seung Min Kim on how Trump?s refusal to acknowledge human-caused climate change affects the country?s wildfire management and response plans. Plus, environmental analysis professor Char Miller on who's really responsible for fire mitigation.
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The Justice Dept. intervenes on behalf of Trump in defamation case. What happens next?

The Justice Department on Tuesday intervened in the defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says President Trump raped her years ago, moving the matter to federal court and signaling it wants to make the U.S. government ? rather than Trump himself ? the defendant in the case. In this segment from "Post Reports," Matt Zapatosky talks about the unusual move, and where it fits into the larger story of Trump's Justice Department.
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Two different stories of American unrest

Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha, Wis., police officer in late August.
Since that shooting, Kenosha has been the site of unrest, protests, vandalism and violence.
Days after the protests and unrest began, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse traveled a short trip from his home to Kenosha where self-declared militia members and armed counterprotesters had been appearing. Rittenhouse was armed with a rifle. 
Later, authorities say Rittenhouse shot three protesters, killing two of them.President Trump has condemned the violence from those he calls?rioters? and?looters,? yet Trump suggested Rittenhouse acted in self-defense.
Trump has emphasized what he calls his message of?law and order,? defending law enforcement, condemning protesters and insisting Democratic leaders, and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, are responsible for the country?s turmoil.
Biden, meanwhile, has focused on a message of unity. He?s sought to strike a difficult balance between condemning violence on all sides of the political spectrum and acknowledging systemic racism in the country and in policing.The two candidates are painting very different pictures about the state of our country and the causes of unrest.
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, White House reporter Ashley Parker answers key questions: As we head toward the November election, how much are these two starkly different narratives a reflection of the divisions in our country? How much are they responsible for stoking those divisions? And are there any checks on what the U.S. president can say?

Related reading and episodesTrump?s illuminating defense of Kyle RittenhouseHow an extraordinary election season affects Trump?s reelection chancesTrump?s response to unrest raises concerns among those trained to detect democratic regression
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Trump suggested sending law enforcement to the polls. Can he do that?

Faith in the U.S. electoral system is one of the most important fundamentals of this country?s democracy.
And this year, it?s being tested in unprecedented ways.
Some of those challenges are emerging from the rhetoric of the president himself. President Trump has discredited mail-in voting, suggested rampant voter fraud and said he might not accept the results of the election.
Most recently, Trump has threatened to use law enforcement officers to patrol polling places.In an interview last week with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump said,?We?re going to have everything. We?re going to have sheriffs, and we?re going to have law enforcement, and we?re going to hopefully have U.S. attorneys and we?re going to have everybody, and attorney generals. But it?s very hard."
The suggestion raised concerns about voter intimidation and voter suppression.
And while reporting suggests the president isn?t actively making plans to send federal law enforcement to polls, it raised significant questions about whether he could, and the other ways his words could have implications for what Americans can expect at polling places in November.
So can Trump actually do this? Can Trump send law enforcement to the polls on Election Day? And if not, are there consequences for our voting system when the president even threatens to do so?
On this episode of?Can He Do That? podcast, election law expert Rick Hasen and reporter Rosalind Helderman explain what the RNC is planning for Election Day and how today?s laws apply.
Related reading and episodesTrump?s suggestion of deploying law enforcement officials to monitor polls raises specter of voting intimidationPostal problems persist.(But your mail-in ballot is probably safe.)How an extraordinary election season affects Trump?s reelection chances
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Postal problems persist. (But your mail-in ballot is probably safe.)

President Trump?s rhetoric about the Postal Service has grown bolder. He?s said that if he stops the Democrats from providing emergency funding to the Postal Service, it?s harder for them to process a surge in mail-in ballots. And according to Trump himself, he wants less mail-in voting, because he thinks too much vote by mail may cost him the election.
Meanwhile, a new postmaster general has taken over the agency. Louis DeJoy, previously a logistics executive, was named to head the Postal Service in May, He?s also a major Republican donor.
In his short time in the new role, DeJoy has upended the mail system. He has shaken up USPS leadership, ordered the removal of hundreds of high-speed mail-sorting machines, eliminated overtime hours for delivery workers and banned them from making extra trips for on-time delivery.
The cumulative effect of Trump?s words and mail delivery slowdowns caused by DeJoy?s changes left many Americans uneasy about the ability of the Postal Service to deliver mail-in ballots effectively this fall.
Eventually, public pressure and support for the Postal Service led DeJoy on Tuesday to announce the agency will not continue the controversial changes that had already been underway at the organization until after the November election.
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, reporter Jacob Bogage answers key questions: Are Postal Service operations are no longer in jeopardy? Can the agency ensure all mail-in ballots can get where they need to go? And, most critically, has irreparable damage been done to America?s faith in our electoral system?

Related reading and episodesDemocrats, election watchdogs see?glaring hole? in Postal Service pledge to roll back recent changesThe Postal Service is in dire need. Trump wants to block the loan that could save them.How Trump was able to shape the Postal Service board to enact a new agenda
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How an extraordinary election season affects Trump?s reelection chances

Usually, in presidential election years of the past, August marks a new phase in election season. Conventions wrap up, rallies and events pick up on the campaign trail and candidates debate in front of large audiences, all leading up to the moment voters go to the polls.
But this year, pretty much none of those things will happen in the way that we?re used to. The novel coronavirus fundamentally changed this election year. Many of the traditional events still populate the calendar between now and Election Day, but they will look a lot different: less door knocking, no mega rallies, an increase in mail-in voting, among lots of other tweaks.
But the pandemic isn?t the only thing that makes this election unique. President Trump has disrupted political norms since his first run at the presidency. No president in modern times, perhaps ever, has been as dominant a figure on the national stage as Trump. He creates conversations and controversy.
He?s also the incumbent. Historically, being the incumbent has been a major asset for presidential campaigns. But this year, with an election playing out against the backdrop of a pandemic, a major recession and a racial reckoning, that might not be the case.
Can presidential election history really be a guide to understanding the 2020 election season? Trump beat the odds once before, might he do it again? And as we spend the next few months watching presidential campaign politics ? assessing winning messages and losing strategies ? how many lessons can we really draw from the past in these highly unusual times?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, chief political correspondent Dan Balz explains how the pandemic has reshaped the 2020 election and what those changes mean for Trump?s prospects for winning the presidency again.
Related reading and episodesThe pandemic has reshaped Election 2020 ? and Trump?s prospects for reelectionConventions vs. covid-19: Trump?s push for a spectacle while the virus surgesHow America votes is inherently unpredictable. So why do polling?
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TikTok flip-flop: What?s the president?s power over foreign companies?

If you?d never heard of TikTok before the coronavirus pandemic sent us all into our homes for months, you?ve probably heard of it now. With little to do at home, millions of Americans turned to TikTok to create and watch short, fun videos of mostly teenagers mostly dancing, lip syncing or pranking their parents.
While this social video app may seem harmless when you?re somehow mindlessly scrolling through hours of 30-second antics, the Trump administration insists it might not be so harmless after all.
See, TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance. For months, the Trump administration has worried that the Chinese government could gain access to to the user data of Americans who use the app. The United States has also raised concerns over the potential for Chinese censorship on TikTok.
Late last week, in response to all of this, President Trump said that he planned to ban TikTok altogether ? that he would outright ban a very popular social media app used by 100 million Americans. So, naturally, many of our listeners asked,?Can he do that??It turns out, that answer might be moot. Because, in typical Trump fashion, pretty soon after he threatened the ban, the president changed his mind.
On Sunday, Trump backtracked and said he might not ban the app altogether. Instead, he might force ByteDance to sell its U.S. portion of TikTok. Microsoft confirmed that it is in talks with ByteDance to buy those U.S. assets, and the president says the two companies have 45 days to come to a deal.
So, how does the president have the power to force a foreign company to sell a portion of itself? And TikTok is a social media tool ? a speech tool ? used by individual Americans ? how does that complicate the president?s power over it? Plus, and perhaps most critically, is TikTok a serious national security threat to the United States?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, technology reporter Rachel Lerman explains why the president wants to block TikTok and James Lewis, senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explains how he can take steps to change things for the Chinese-owned app.
Related episodesTrump?s latest trade war escalation: Ordering businesses out of China. Can he do that?Trump threatened to"take a look" at Google for"rigged" results. Can he do that?Does Trump?s urging China to investigate the Bidens complicate the impeachment inquiry?
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How America votes is inherently unpredictable. So why do polling?

In the run-up to any modern presidential election, assessing a candidate?s successes and failures has served as fodder for political pundits, analysts and campaign advisers. And in part, those assessments of who is winning and which messages are working are drawn from a whole sprawling effort designed to take the pulse of the American voter: political polling.
These days, there are public polls, private polls and polling shops out of news organizations, universities and research centers. There?s also internal polling specifically conducted for candidates with a stake in a given race. Each kind of poll serves a different purpose and often a different audience. But they have in common an effort to learn more about how Americans make choices about what issues to value, what causes to believe in and about which candidates to support.
Reporting shows that President Trump has been watching polls closely as the November election nears. And, at this point, things are not looking great for Trump, who trails Joe Biden in most national polls. Trump?s team has argued that many polls that show a Biden lead are skewed, that a?silent majority? of voters will turn out for him in the fall, and that 2020 polling is just a repeat of 2016 polling, which showed Hillary Clinton leading nationally.
Of course, as 2016 showed, polls aren?t perfect. And the ways they are interpreted can also present problems. But they remain critical to the American electoral process.
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, The Post?s polling team, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin, delve into conducting and interpreting polls during an election season. How exactly can polls be representative of the electorate? And are polls predictive of how a country will eventually vote?
Related episodesWill the Court?s decision on electors prevent(at least some) election mayhem?U.S. elections are being tested like never before. What comes next?How Trump is leveraging the presidency to campaign against Biden
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A double down on federal force, a do-over on coronavirus

The United States is in search of leadership on many significant challenges we face at this difficult moment in our country.
And on two major issues ? the handling of the coronavirus pandemic and protests against racism and police brutality ? most Americans are dissatisfied with the leadership they?ve seen thus far.As cases rise across the country and fears persist, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 60 percent of Americans disapprove of President Trump?s handling of the virus.
Meanwhile, polls also show that a majority of Americans disapprove of Trump?s handling of protesters and race relations. In fact, a Post-Schar School poll last month showed that a large margin of voters said it was more important to have a president who could heal racial divisions than one who could restore security by enforcing law.
Trump started off this week seemingly with hopes of turning polls around. But his strategy has been somewhat perplexing.
On the coronavirus, Trump is seemingly attempting to reset, almost start over. He has reintroduced coronavirus-focused press briefings, he?s even put on a mask a few times and tweeted pictures of himself wearing one.
But on protests, it seems like the president is doubling down. Trump has sent federal law enforcement officials into Portland, Ore., escalating clashes on the city?s streets between protesters and authorities. And he?s threatening to send more federal agents into Democratic-led cities experiencing spates of crime across the country.
So why is Trump taking such different approaches to these two issues, both where he?s met with public disapproval? Can his attempts at a coronavirus do-over help contain the virus? And, on the other hand, how much power does the president have to send federal forces into American cities? As Trump casts himself as a law-and-order strongman, what are the consequences?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, White House reporter Ashley Parker explains Trump?s latest messaging on the coronavirus and national security reporter Matt Zapotosky discusses where Trump?s power is limited when it comes to federal force.
Want to share your feedback on this show and other Washington Post podcasts? Go to
Related reading and episodesFacing unrest on American streets, Trump turns Homeland Security powers inwardVirus cases are surging in the U.S. Is our government better prepared now?Public sentiment on police reform has shifted dramatically. Will it matter?
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Conventions vs. covid-19: Trump?s push for a spectacle while the virus surges

The 2020 presidential nominating conventions will look little like the political mega-events we?ve seen in this country for the past few decades.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has made the notion of huge stadiums full of cheering supporters plus countless meetings, rallies and after parties, unadvisable under U.S. public health guidelines.
Now, for both parties, rejiggering their conventions has been a significant challenge.Democrats have decided to take a largely virtual approach to their party?s event after initially pushing it from July into August.
Republicans, led by urging from President Trump, hoped to hold as close to a normal convention as possible. So much so that they changed the location of the Republican National Convention celebrations from Charlotte, N.C., to Jacksonville, Fla. The original site in Charlotte refused to go along with Trump?s demands for a crowded large-scale event. So Republicans searched for a city that would disregard health guidance and let thousands of people from all over the country gather in one place. They ultimately chose Jacksonville largely because the city?s political leadership aligns with Trump.
But that was all back in mid-June. When the RNC chose Florida, coronavirus cases in the state were much lower. Since then, Florida?s case numbers have surged, setting record highs and complicating things for those planning the event.
After many iterations, Republicans announced this week that they?ll hold some sort of scaled-back convention in Jacksonville, with a mix of indoor and outdoor events.
The whole saga has been a tug of war between the Trump team?s desire to get Trump in front of a large crowd of supporters, where he politically thrives, and the public health restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, reporter Michael Scherer helps tackle some big questions around this year?s conventions: Why has Trump been so adamant about holding a convention that?s at least partially in person, amid a pandemic? Why might his campaign team view the convention moment as so critical this election cycle? Plus, if significantly pared down or virtual versions of conventions can work just fine, what might the parties learn for the future of these events?
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Will the Court?s decision on electors prevent (at least some) election mayhem?

Much of American democracy runs on precedent. How things have worked in the past helps us understand how they ought to work now. Many parts of our democracy function because years of established norms guide them.
But sometimes that precedent and those standards face the courts ? a chance to take long-standing norms and codify them into law. We saw one of those moments at the Supreme Court this week with a vote on the role of electors in our presidential elections.
Presidential electors cast a vote in the electoral college that ultimately determines the presidency. These electors usually, almost always, vote for the winner of their state?s popular vote. So if Donald Trump wins the popular vote in Oklahoma, for example, all of Oklahoma?s electors vote for Trump in the electoral college.
But in many states, it?s just an assumption that electors will vote as they?ve pledged. And that leaves open a question: What happens if an elector decides to go rogue ? to cast a vote in the electoral college for someone else? And furthermore, what happens if those votes go against the people?s votes and alter the outcome of a presidential election?
The Supreme Court on Monday weighed in to quash some of these questions before they arise.
The court ruled unanimously that states can require presidential electors to support the winner of its popular vote and may punish or replace those who don?t.
This decision carries weight for our upcoming presidential election in November, but what exactly are its implications? Who are the winners and losers in this case? And what does it mean for the future of our electoral college system?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, election law expert Paul Smith of the Campaign Legal Center unpacks the Supreme Court decision and what it means for November?s election.
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July 4 special: 'The Framers would not recognize the modern presidency.?

Over the past few years making the?Can He Do That?? podcast, a few episodes have stuck with us. In particular, the episodes that keenly capture the role of the U.S. president that offer particular insight into the ways the presidency was designed to work in our country and how that design is incredible and also flawed.
Now, we are bringing back one of those episodes.
This show, which originally aired on July 4 last year, is a deep look at what the Founding Fathers wanted the American presidency to be. Jeffrey Rosen, president of the National Constitution Center, offers explanations for why there aren?t more limitations on what the president can do, and how the role has evolved over time.
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Virus cases are surging in the U.S. Is our government better prepared now?

In the United States, novel coronavirus infections set a single-day national record Wednesday. For now it seems like deaths are not growing at the same pace as cases, but it?s clear that this virus is not contained and this pandemic is far from over.
Yet momentum behind a federal response seems to be fading. The task force is convening less often, federal funding to some test sites has been depleted, and President Trump has said that the country will not shut down again, even as some states have paused their reopening plans.
On Tuesday, at a hearing on Capitol Hill, top federal health officials including Anthony S. Fauci warned that coronavirus spikes in more than a dozen states could worsen without new restrictions.
So now, months into this virus outbreak, where does the federal response stand? What steps are ongoing and are they working? Plus, how does the U.S. response compare with the virus response globally? What can we learn from countries who are seeing smaller-scale spikes and have plans to contain them?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, The Post?s health policy reporter Yasmeen Abutaleb discusses what the U.S. response looks like today, several months in and with surging cases in many parts of the country. The Post?s foreign affairs reporter Rick Noack talks about the response in Europe and around the world, and how public health leaders in those countries view the United States? response.
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An ?erratic? and ?stunningly uninformed? commander in chief: Inside Bolton?s book

John Bolton, former national security adviser to President Trump, wrote a book,?The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.? The book offers a portrait of President Trump as an erratic and ignorant leader who often places his own personal whims above the national interest.
But whether Americans will get to read the book is the subject of an escalating legal battle between Bolton and the Justice Department. The White House says the book contains classified material. Bolton?s attorney says the book doesn?t and that the material underwent a rigorous government review process.
First, on Tuesday, the administration filed a civil lawsuit against Bolton, a conservative who has worked in Republican administrations for decades and was a longtime contributor to Fox News. 
Then late Wednesday, things escalated when the Justice Department sought an emergency order from a judge to block the book?s publication altogether.
The Washington Post, meanwhile, obtained a copy of Bolton?s memoir. On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, White House reporter Josh Dawsey explains what?s in the book, what the fallout has looked like thus far, and whether it will have much political influence as we get closer to the 2020 presidential election.
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Public sentiment on police reform has shifted dramatically. Will it matter?

Public outcry and calls for police reform have erupted across the country, with movements taking aim at not just policing tactics, but also broader racial inequities embedded in American life.
Many of our nation?s leaders are responding to those calls for reform.
House and Senate Democrats on Tuesday united behind federal legislation, the Justice in Policing of 2020 Act. The act bans certain tactics such as like chokeholds and would make it easier to hold officers accountable for misconduct.
Just a day later, Senate Republicans began drafting their own police reform legislation. That package is expected to include a national police commission that would help determine best practices for law enforcement agencies.
But, even with similar goals, there are no guarantees that the Democratic-led House and the Republican-led Senate could agree on the specifics of a police reform bill. There?s also no assurance from the White House that President Trump would sign it.
Trump has struggled in his response to policing and protests. He?s tweeted false conspiracies about protesters, and he?s defended law enforcement, while also acknowledging some mistakes. He is now considering an executive order on police reform for actions he can take without Congress.
Meanwhile, change is happening at a local level too, with some states, like such as Minnesota, announcing their own police reform legislation.
These various efforts across the country, at a federal and local level, raise questions about what?s most effective. Can federal police reform efforts help locally? How much can Congress do to change the culture and practices of local police departments? And what are the president?s goals as the country approaches a third weekend of expected unrest?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, White House reporter Seung Min Kim explains the details of the federal police reform efforts we?re seeing out of Congress and the White House. Plus, Lisa Cylar Barrett, policy director at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, discusses whether current efforts reflect the hopes of reform activists.
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Trump?s response to unrest raises concerns among those trained to detect democratic regression

Earlier this week, the country watched as the U.S. president walked across Lafayette Square outside the White House to stand in front of St. John?s Episcopal Church, hold a Bible and take a photo. In a speech from the Rose Garden moments earlier, President Trump threatened to deploy troops to control protests if state and local authorities did not immediately regain control of their streets.
For Trump to make that trek to the church, flanked by the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, among others, law enforcement officials forcibly and aggressively cleared peaceful protesters from the area.
That moment, which we brought you an episode about on Tuesday, has not faded from the public?s mind as the week has gone on. The president has reiterated his assertion that he has the power to deploy active duty military in the United States, a suggestion that has been met with an increasing chorus of rebukes from former military and public officials. Meanwhile, protests have continued across the country, and while they?ve been largely peaceful, protests in the capital have been met with a significant federal law enforcement response.
Taken together, the events of the past week and a half, including the response from our federal government, have painted a picture that raises flags for intelligence officials who?ve been trained to detect countries showing signs of decline or democratic regression.
Former intelligence officials told The Washington Post that the unrest and the administration?s militaristic response are among many measures of decay they would flag if writing assessments about the United States for another country?s intelligence service. Historically, the United States has urged restraint or denounced crackdowns against protesters or vulnerable groups in other countries.
So the federal response to civil unrest, Trump?s threat to deploy the military inside the United States, aggressive law enforcement tactics to quash protests, all of this presents serious questions about the president?s approach to power. Can Trump use tactics at home that the United States condemns abroad? What are the risks of politicizing the U.S. military? And what insight can we gain from how other countries have emerged from crisis?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, national security reporter Greg Miller describes concerns raised by intelligence officials about this moment in the United States and its potential implications.
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Trump threatened military action to quell protests. Can he do that?

Protests across the United States have intensified since last week over the death of George Floyd, a black man whose final gasps of?I can?t breathe? while in police custody, were caught on video in Minneapolis.
Many protests have been peaceful, but in several cities, tensions have escalated and violence has erupted.
With unrest growing, President Trump decided to address the nation from the White House?s Rose Garden on Monday in a televised speech.
Moments before he spoke, though, police started to forcibly push out a crowd of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, just outside the White House. Police fired flash-bang shells, gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.
Nearby, in his speech, Trump said,?Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled. If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.?
The president of the United States threatened to deploy active-duty military personnel to states to help quell violent protests across the country ? against the will of state leaders.
So, can he do that? Does the president have the power to deploy the military inside the U.S.?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, national security reporter Matt Zapotosky answers critical questions about the president?s power to use the military on American soil.
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Public health partisanship confronts a new reality: The virus is surging in rural America

This week, the United States reached a grim milestone: Covid-19 deaths surpassed 100,000 in this country. In recent weeks, the geographic areas and the communities this deadly virus touches, have begun to shift.
The Washington Post analyzed case data and interviews with public health professionals in several states to find that the pandemic, which first struck in major cities, is now increasingly moving into the country?s rural areas.
Rural America faces unique and significant challenges that make an outbreak there likely to be particularly deadly. What?s more, the virus seems to have taken hold in many of the counties where residents are more likely to flout social distancing guidelines or believe the pandemic to be exaggerated by President Trump?s political foes and a liberal media.
The virus?s effect on rural America may make things more politically complicated for the president, who has at times raised doubt around key public health measures like masks, business closures and social distancing.
So in our current political climate, where health guidance seems to have become a heated partisan issue, how might a shift in which parts of the country are touched by the pandemic alter the actions of Trump or his supporters? Might the Trump campaign?s political calculations change? And how might partisan divisiveness over public health measures evolve, as the virus moves to previously unaffected parts of the country?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, national reporter Abigail Hauslohner discusses the tragic vulnerabilities many counties in rural America face, as the coronavirus surges across many parts of the country that were originally spared from it. Plus, senior political reporter Aaron Blake offers insight into the relationship between the president, partisanship and public health guidelines.
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How Trump is leveraging the presidency to campaign against Biden

This presidential campaign season is unlike any other in history. I know, that sounds like something people in world of politics say a lot. But this time, in 2020, during a global pandemic, the campaign trail looks dramatically different ? and for now, mostly empty.
Former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has spent the past few months holding virtual events, largely from his basement. President Trump, meanwhile, has resumed some travel, though in an official capacity as president and not as part of the campaign.
That distinction though, has been muddled as Trump?s travel schedule shows trips to the battleground states that are crucial to his reelection chances. And what?s more, these events have taken on clear campaign overtones: Supporters have lined the streets to greet his motorcade, and Trump?s campaign soundtrack even played inside a facility while he toured.
Is Trump leveraging unfair advantages with an election just six months away? What powers does he have to ensure he can safely resume the kinds of large campaign events that are among his most powerful political tools?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, political reporters Sean Sullivan and Toluse Olorunnipa discuss how the two campaigns are handling these unprecedented circumstances, and how the president?s power in crisis can affect his ability to reach voters.
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Politics, pressure and pleas: The twisting case of Michael Flynn and the Justice Department

Last week, the Justice Department, led by Attorney General William P. Barr, moved to drop charges against President Trump?s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn has also been seeking to undo his guilty plea since January, and newly released documents have given him the chance, according to his lawyers. 
As a refresher, Flynn, back in 2017, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The new documents show the FBI preparing for Flynn?s interview and debating whether their goal was to?get him to lie.? Flynn?s lawyers call these documents?stunning? new evidence, while other legal experts say these documents merely show standard procedure for law enforcement officials preparing for an interview.
Trump fired Flynn shortly after that FBI interview, for lying to Vice President Pence about Flynn?s conversations with Kislyak. Regardless, Trump has recently suggested he might pardon Flynn. A pardon that, of course, wouldn?t be necessary if the Justice Department is able to drop the case against Flynn altogether.
It turns out, as it often does in our complicated legal system, dropping the charges against Flynn might not be so easy. A U.S. district judge earlier this week put the move on hold, making room for independent groups and legal experts to come in and argue against exonerating Flynn. That judge even asked a retired judge to oppose the Justice Department in all of this.
These legal battles bring our Justice Department into uncharted territory, with boundaries between the department and the president repeatedly tested. And, as these matter tend to go, this isn?t the only news to emerge recently that shines a light on the relationship between federal law enforcement agencies and the president of the United States. This episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast unpacks the latest news developments in this twisting and turning story, with the help of national security reporter Devlin Barrett.

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The president?s desperate push to reopen America

After weeks of stay-at-home orders and business closures, some parts of the United States are beginning to reopen. Since late March, President Trump has grappled with the White House?s guidance for when and how the reopening process should work.
At the end of March, Trump agreed to extend strict social distancing guidelines for another month, despite his early hopes that the country could reopen by Easter. These days, though, Trump is celebrating the reopening of some states and is increasingly desperate for quick economic revival.
Still, covid-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in the United States.
Over the past several weeks, we?ve spent time on the?Can He Do That?? podcast talking about specific decisions the administration has made during the novel coronavirus pandemic. On this episode, The Post?s White House Bureau Chief Philip Rucker takes us through the bigger picture. 
We take a look inside the dramatic past month inside the Trump administration ? a month that included swerves in approach, pivots in messaging, and deliberations that at times left science and politics at odds. We explore how the president went from a decision to extend social distancing guidelines in late March to a White House push for expedient economic revival and the reopening of the country.
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The Postal Service is in dire need. Trump wants to block the loan that could save them.

The coronavirus pandemic has left a tremendous number of businesses across the country without the revenue they?re used to. For the U.S. Postal Service, its losses in revenue ? both from the pandemic and long predating it ? present a different kind of challenge. The Postal Service isn?t a private company, it?s a federal agency, so the ways to solve its financial problems are murkier.
While Congress has stepped in to include a $10 billion loan to the Postal Service in the Cares Act relief package, the service has not yet seen that money.
Last week, President Trump threatened to block that $10 billion loan unless the Postal Service dramatically raised shipping costs for online retailers. Trump has urged the Postal Service to increase prices long before the coronavirus crisis began. His latest move though, the threat to block the agency?s loan, reflects an unprecedented attempt to seize control of this agency ? notably America?s most popular government agency, according to the Pew Research Center.
Meanwhile, time is running out. The Postal Service projects it could lose $23 billion over the next 18 months.
So, can the president withhold money from a federal agency until it complies with his requests? And how are things different for the Postal Service that is tasked with operating from its own revenue and not federal dollars? Plus, as we head toward the November election in an era of social distancing, what might financial strain at the Postal Service mean for Americans? access to mail-in ballots?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, reporter Jacob Bogage details Trump?s desire to withhold a loan from the Postal Service, and elections administration expert Amber McReynolds discusses the challenges of an election likely to rely more than ever on vote by mail.
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The U.S. is spending trillions to save the economy. Where does all that money come from?

Trillions of dollars have been injected into the U.S. economy since March. Late last month, Congress passed a $2 trillion relief bill, the Cares Act, designed to help the country cope with the economic devastation it has faced since the novel coronavirus outbreak began.
But those trillions weren?t enough.
New legislation expected to pass in Congress on Thursday adds $484 billion to that total. These funds are allocated for small-business recovery, hospitals and coronavirus testing.
As our country faces incredibly trying circumstances, emergency money from the federal government is intended to help us recover, to help businesses weather the storm and to keep our economy stable. So, is it working?
As the federal government injects more and more money, where does it all come from? What are the short-term and long-term consequences of these economic decisions? And as we head toward the election in November, how does this all effect President Trump?s economic message ? once a key pillar of his reelection efforts?
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, Washington Post congressional reporter Erica Werner and economics editor Damian Paletta explain the economic levers that Congress and the Federal Reserve can control, and what it all means for pumping money into the economy, accruing national debt, and the potential for rising inflation.
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Freezing funding, adjourning Congress, reopening states. What are the limits on Trump?s power?

Each week, our country?s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic presents new questions. Some of those questions are about the role of the president in a crisis, or the role of governors and local leaders, or the role of international organizations, or even the role of Congress. This particular week raised questions about all of those things.
President Trump early in the week said that he has?total authority? to order the reopening of state?s economies. Though, on a call with governors Thursday, Trump told them,?You?re going to call your own shots? and later released new guidance that didn?t lay out a specific timeline for relaxing social distancing restrictions.
Also this week, the administration announced plans to freeze funding to the World Health Organization pending an investigation into their handling of the coronavirus crisis.
Finally, at a news conference midweek, Trump threatened to force Congress to adjourn so he could fill some vacant positions in his administration without Senate approval.
Together, these three moments illustrate a president suggesting ways to exercise increased power and limit the checks on his authority.
On this episode of?Can He Do That?? we answer key questions about where the president?s power begins and ends in a time of crisis, with reporting from Post foreign affairs reporter Emily Rauhala and insight from Claire Finkelstein, law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School and director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law.
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A president?s push for an unproven cure

As the country continues to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus, many are desperately in search of answers, solutions and treatment options.
In search himself, for something of a cure, President Trump has repeatedly touted one particular drug as the likely savior for covid-19 patients: hydroxychloroquine.
At this point, hydroxychloroquine is an unproven treatment for covid-19. It?s still in the testing stages as a treatment for the virus, it can have dangerous side effects for some, and medical professionals are divided on its likelihood of success.
Yet none of those factors have stopped the president from advocating that people infected with the novel coronavirus consider taking this drug, in consultation with their doctors.
Many doctors and scientists advising Trump have advocated that he exercise more caution in talking about the drug?s potential promise. But others inside the White House ? and on Fox News ? have been influencing Trump, offering him anecdotal evidence of the drug?s success.
Meanwhile, clinical trials for this particular use of hydroxychloroquine and clinical trials for other potential treatments for covid-19 are being expedited in a time of crises. These trials would usually take quite a long time, years even.
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, Mark Gladwin of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center explains the risks when clinical trials move quickly ? and whether they outweigh the potential benefits. Plus, national political reporter Robert Costa offers insight into the president?s actions as Americans are desperate for a cure.
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States are competing for life-saving medical equipment. Who decides where it goes?

As the spread of the novel coronavirus grows in the United States, many states finds themselves in need of medical equipment like ventilators and protective equipment for health care workers.
Yet, for most states getting said equipment has not been easy. Requests have begun to outweigh supply and many states complain there?s a lack of guidance about how they can secure life-saving supplies.
Governors are making increasingly frantic requests to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for materials. State and congressional leaders are flooding FEMA with calls seeking clarity about how resources will be allocated. Several calls have been made straight to the president himself, and some governors seem to have better luck in those calls than others. 
While states like Oklahoma and Kentucky have received more of some equipment than they requested, others like Illinois, Massachusetts and Maine have secured only a fraction of their requests.
This disparity has led many state officials to raise the question of whether Republican states are receiving more favorable treatment from the federal government during this crisis.  
And while there?s no direct evidence that?s the case, President Trump has contributed to the sense that politics could be a factor. Specifically, Trump has publicly attacked Democratic governors who criticize his handling of the public health crisis.
So, is there political bias in who gets resources right now? Who, exactly, controls the way resources are allocated in an emergency? And what happens when state health departments and hospitals are left without the supplies they so desperately need? 
On this episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast,  Dr. Paul Biddinger, the chief of the emergency preparedness division at Massachusetts General Hospital offers insight on what resources hospitals need right now and White House reporter Toluse Olurinippa discusses president?s inconsistent process for deciding how to distribute resources across the country.
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Rugged individualism vs. social distancing enforcement: Who can keep us home and how?

Much of life as we know it in the United States has drastically changed over recent weeks. Local and state authorities have closed many businesses and mandated that residents stay at home or limit the size of gatherings.
Yet how these restrictions are implemented across the country varies widely. Furthermore, even in areas where restrictions can carry legal penalties, enforcement is rare.
The United States is, of course, set up this way: States have the power to work independently, in coordination with the federal government. But it means our country?s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic is much more patchyc and localized than in other countries responding around the world.
The variations across state and local guidance have caused quite a bit of confusion about what exactly is allowed during this time ? and where. It has also raised questions about the federal government?s role in instituting social-distancing measures nationwide.
How likely are we to see greater enforcement against breaking social-distancing rules? Can the president order the entire country to shelter in place? On the other hand, if President Trump wants the country to resume normal life soon ? as he has both suggested publicly and offered guidelines for in a recent letter to governors ? can he force local or state governments to make that happen?
On this week?s episode of the?Can He Do That?? podcast, we?ve answered these questions with national correspondent Griff Witte and Lindsay Wiley, director of the health law and policy program at American University?s Washington College of Law.
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