Politics Day

Early today, a gunman open fired at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Donna Hoffman, an associate professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa says while tragic, the event is not unique. 

"It’s important to remember in times like this that America often has violent events like this," she says.

Brookings Institution / Flickr

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with analysts Hans Hassell of Cornell College and Kedron Bardwell of Simpson College about the Russia probe and upcoming testimony of fired FBI director James Comey.

They also discuss President Trump's announcement of his nominee for a new FBI Director, the latest details about Russian efforts to hack voting systems in the U.S., and how these controversies are impacting the GOP legislative agenda, including the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

WNPR - Connecticut Public Radio / Flickr

The Republican Senator Bob Corker says the Trump administration is “in a downward spiral”

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer is joined by political scientists Rachel Caufield of Drake University and Dave Andersen of Iowa State University. They give their analysis of a White House reportedly in chaos, discuss the reaction from Congressional Republicans and Democrats, and take calls from Trump supporters who see what’s going in the White House differently. They also talk about who will lead the FBI and why it matters.

John Pemble / IPR

The launching of U.S. cruise missiles at Syrian air bases drew praise from U.S. Senator Joni Ernst at a constituent meeting in Elkader. But, should President Trump want to take further action, the message was clear - he needs congressional approval. "Anything further, if there were further actions that would happen, the president needs to come to Congress and explain that," says Ernst.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

While President Trump has been touting the accomplishments of the first 90 days of his administration, two Iowa political scientists say the celebration may be premature. Hans Hassell is assistant professor of politics at Cornell College and Rachel Caufield is associate professor of political science at Drake University. Both say most action taken by Trump is in the form of executive orders.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

News that Steve Bannon, White House Chief Strategist, is being removed from the National Security Council is a signal the NSC is being transformed back to a more traditional structure, according to two Iowa political scientists.

During this hour of River to River, Jim McCormick and Wayne Moyer join host Ben Kieffer. 

"I see it as moving away from more of a populist approach to foreign policy and much more towards a traditional security approach to foreign policy," says Moyer, who is Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College.

Public Domain

President Trump's nominee to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court has faced questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Judge Neil Gorsuch has been asked about his view of the Constitution, legal precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade, and whether the president would be violating the law if he authorized torture for terrorists.

The nominee has declined to give many answers, saying he might have to rule on such matters in future cases. That has many questioning the purpose of the committee hearings.

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The White House is trying to salvage support for the Republican plan to revise the Affordable Care Act, as a growing number of lawmakers weigh in against the proposal.

On this edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer hosts a conversation on the plan with political analysts, Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College and Jim McCormick of Iowa State University.

Ted Buckner, licensed under Creative Commons / Flickr

Republicans in the U.S. House unveiled the American Health Care Act this week. The act is the GOP replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. House Speaker Paul Ryan called the plan an "act of mercy," to help those who depend on the ACA which he says is imploding. House Minority Leader, Democrat Nancy Pelosi says the plan "couldn't be worse."

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned Monday, after admitting he did not provide Vice President Mike Pence with complete information about phone conversations held with Russian intelligence during the Trump administration's transition.

During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Wayne Moyer, professor of political science at Grinnell College, and Jim McCormick, professor of political science at Iowa State University about the resignation and the likelihood of a congressional investigation.

Quidster4040 / Wikimedia Commons

 

President Trump has signed seven executive orders and 11 presidential memos since Inauguration Day, including the order that restricts travel into the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with University of Northern Iowa political scientists, Donna Hoffman and Scott Peters, who offer their analysis of the debate over Donald Trump’s slew of executive actions, including the contentious travel ban.

Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

Since he took office Friday, President Donald Trump has signed a number of executive orders. He’s also continued to make claims that widespread voter fraud cost him the popular vote.

Dennis Goldford is professor and chair of the Political Science Department at Drake University, and he says Trump’s assertions are ludicrous.

“There is absolutely no evidence of any credible, systematic or widespread voter fraud,” says Goldford.

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Jennifer Holliday has performed at the inaugurations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. When President-Elect Donald Trump's team reached out, asking her if she would perform at his inauguration Friday, she received a huge amount of backlash, including death threats. She canceled.

When asked on The View yesterday why she originally considered taking the gig, her answer was simple.

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In his first news conference since the 2016 election, President-elect Donald Trump reacted to uncorroborated allegations of the Russians having compromising information about his personal life and finances. He also offered plans to deal with potential business conflicts of interests, the future of the Affordable Care Act, and his view of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Roman Boed

Earlier this week, House Republicans went behind closed doors to gut their own ethics watchdog, and then reversed course after backlash.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts Dennis Goldford of Drake University and Jim McCormick of Iowa State University, who offer their thoughts on why House Republicans sought to curtail The Office of Congressional Ethics.

Gage Skidmore

A tumultuous year in politics is drawing to a close. In a year when the word "unprecedented" was tossed around weekly in election coverage, choosing one defining moment is difficult for political analysts Dave Andersen of Iowa State University and Donna Hoffman of the University of Northern Iowa.

"This was a really unusual election year. Very unusual. Certainly the most unusual in my lifetime, and I think going back, even unusual beyond that," says Hoffman.

Gage Skidmore

President-Elect Donald Trump has tapped Mobile Exxon’s Rex Tillerson to be the next U.S. Secretary of State. Rick Perry is to head the Energy Department he once vowed to eliminate.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer goes over the latest political news with Wayne Moyer of Grinnell College and Hans Hassell of Cornell College. They discuss Trump’s latest cabinet picks, and analyze reactions to the news of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Gage Skidmore

On this politics day edition of River to River, Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts, Tim Hagle and Justin Holmes, about President-Elect Donald Trump’s latest cabinet picks and what the current appointees may plan to do if approved by the Senate.

Trump most recently nominated Georgia Rep. Tom Price as secretary of Health and Human Services. Price has been a consistent opponent of the Affordable Care Act in Congress, and he’s developed an alternative plan to replace the ACA.

Hagle doesn't expect the popular aspects of the ACA to be abolished.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

After choosing men for four of his first appointments to his Cabinet and advisers, Donald Trump appointed two women to positions today: Republican philanthropist Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as the ambassador to the United Nations. 

Haley, in particular, came as a surprise as she was a vocal critic of Trump during the campaign. Steffen Schmidt, university professor of political science at Iowa State University, says this appointment could be seen as an olive branch.

Gage Skidmore

President Obama says countries across Europe, as well as the United States, are confronting populist movements based on a fear of encroaching global forces.

On this politics day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with political analysts who compare the fears in Europe that led to Brexit to those here in the U.S. that propelled Donald Trump into the White House. They also discuss President-Elect Donald Trump's potential cabinet picks and what that list says about how Trump may govern. 

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In a Quinnipiac Poll conducted from October 20 to 26 in Iowa, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are tied with 44% of likely voters backing each candidate. That polling took place before FBI director James Comey sent a document to Congress explaining there was additional evidence related to Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Photo by Clay Masters

In the weeks leading up to the elections, GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump has been spouting claims that the U.S. election system is rigged.

Drake University’s Dennis Goldford, professor and chair of the political science department and Flansburg Fellow for the Harkin Institute, says Trump's rhetoric is not only wrong, but it’s also “dangerously inflammatory.”  

John Pemble

"The shackles have been taken off me, and I can now fight for America the way I want to,"  Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday. In an O'Reilly Factor interview, Trump also said he doesn't need establishment support to win the election.

Ben Kieffer

Last night, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence squared off in the only vice presidential debate of the 2016 election.

On this edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with analysts Steffen Schmidt of Iowa State University and Jeff Taylor of Dordt College in Sioux Center. They discuss their view of last night’s debate, the state of the presidential race, and why they think a large majority of Evangelicals support Trump, while polls show Catholics overwhelmingly favor Clinton.

Colleen P

A new poll shows Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton tied in Iowa, with both having 38 percent support among likely voters. That’s a bit of good news for Clinton since two recent polls have shown Trump leading in Iowa by several points.

Hail Merry / Flickr

This week, controversy swirled around allegations that special access was given to Clinton Foundation donors when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State. 

Donna Hoffman, department head and associate professor of Political Science at the University of Northern Iowa, explains the emails show communication between the aides of the Clinton Foundation and Clinton as Secretary.

"There's no evidence that, 'Hey, I've given a donation so I must therefore be able to meet with Secretary Clinton,' but that's kind of the implication here, that there's the appearance of corruption."

Disney | ABC Television Group / Flickr

The ouster of Paul Manafort as campaign manager for the Trump campaign didn't come as a shock after Trump's sustained low polling numbers in the month of August. Dave Andersen, political analyst at Iowa State University, says the shakeup was necessary. 

"He's falling so far behind in the polls nationwide and on the state levels, that the campaign needs some fresh ideas and they need something to start working. I don't think the campaign has really been on the right foot since Corey Lewandowski left, and I'm kind of surprised they didn't consider bringing him back."

Michael Vadon (Trump) and Gage Skidmore (Clinton)

Donald Trump and his campaign are responding to accusations that the candidate encouraged "Second Amendment people" to commit violence against Hillary Clinton during a rally Tuesday. The Trump campaign says the notion that Trump was suggesting violence is "ridiculous" and that he was referring to voting instead. 

Photo by Clay Masters

With less than 100 days left until Election Day, Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump has flouted political conventions around religion, race, gender, and now military service. And he's refused to endorse fellow republicans John McCain and Paul Ryan. 

ABC News has been reporting that senior Republican officials are so confused by Trump’s behavior that they are exploring how they might be able to replace him.

Disney ABC Television Group / Flickr

Dianne Bystrom, an Iowa State University researcher who has been studying Hillary Clinton for more than 20-years, says the Democratic presidential candidate must walk a fine line in Thursday night’s acceptance speech.

“Certainly she must come across that she can be commander-in-chief. That she’s got that experience as Secretary of State. But I think this time around-- One of the things she avoided doing in two-thousand-eight that she seems more amenable to this year is talking about herself  as not only a mom, but a grandmother.”

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