‘Jack’ in the Flesh: 135 Witnesses Admitted to Podcast Recording Recapping Trump’s Travails

Two women and two men sit in black chairs on a stage in front of an audience with a large banner between them.
‘Jack,’ live! The long-running ‘all Trump, all the time’ podcast was taped at Mason Square as a Hayden Center live event on May 7. From left, moderator and Lawfare correspondent Anna Bower, podcast cohost Allison Gill, podcast cohost and Schar School Distinguished Visiting Professor Andrew McCabe, and former CIA attorney Brian Greer. Photos by J.W. Remington/J.W. Remington Photographics
A woman with bright red hair in a cream-colored pantsuit sits in front of an American flag.
Anna Bower moderates the ‘Jack’ podcast.

After providing in-depth analysis of the ongoing litigation between defendant Donald J. Trump and adult film star Stormy Daniels for the past month, Lawfare’s legal fellow and courts correspondent Anna Bower missed much of the highly anticipated cross-examination of Daniels by Trump’s attorneys on May 7.

And, to hear her say it, she was happy to do so, rushing by train from New York City to Mason Square in Arlington, Virginia, where she served as moderator to a first-ever live taping of “Jack: A Special Counsel Podcast” at George Mason University’s Van Metre Hall auditorium. The “Jack” of the title being special counsel Jack Smith, the federal prosecutor who brought the charges. The change in venues did not disappoint Bower.

Some 135 audience members were joined by another 260 witnesses watching on livestream as “Jack” cohosts Allison Gill, an award-winning podcaster, and Andrew McCabe, Schar School of Policy and Government Distinguished Visiting Professor and former deputy director of the FBI, took the stage with special guest Brian Greer, a former attorney for the CIA and chief of staff for the agency’s general counsel.

The event, hosted by the Schar School’s Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security, was recorded as the 76th “Jack” episode. Listen to the podcast at the MSW Media platform here or watch the event at this Hayden Center page. Read more about the podcast and its origins at the Schar School news page.

There was a lot to talk about. The 90-minute event could have gone much longer, given the former president’s plethora of federal charges in judicial systems around the country, but the panelists wisely focused on the alleged mishandling of 38 boxes of classified material in unsecured locations at the Mar-a-Lago property.

Of particular concern—which elicited an eyeroll when she said it—are the decisions handed down by the judge in the Florida case, Aileen Cannon, who seems to fall prey to the Trump legal team’s tactics to stall a trial until after the November presidential election. Should Trump become president again, the charges are moot. Cannon, it should be pointed out, was appointed to the bench by Trump.

A man in a black jacket, blue shirt, and wearing eyeglasses sits in a black chair.
Andrew McCabe

“Here we are,” McCabe sighed. “Seventy-five weeks in, and we’re not close to a trial yet.”

As it happened, on the very day of the Hayden Center event, news broke that Cannon indefinitely postponed the trial.

“She did that when she took the case,” said Gill.

As for Trump pleading to the Supreme Court for presidential immunity for actions taken while serving as president, the podcasters had a response.

“It’s so fascinating to me that the argument Trump made to the Supreme Court was that if you don’t give me immunity, future presidents will have to deal with rogue prosecutors,” Gill said, adding the laugh line, “We have layers and layers of protection from rogue prosecutors, and I think Judge Cannon is a perfect example of that.”

For his part, McCabe did not find that necessarily funny.

“If you start giving immunity to presidents who break the law, it’s over,” he said. “There is no democracy after this.”

Greer made the point that by avoiding being on the Capitol stage with Biden during the inauguration, Trump may have an “out” on the documents case.

“Trump’s petulance has usually gotten him in a lot of trouble,” he said. “The one time it hasn’t was him not going to Joe Biden’s inauguration and instead going to Florida with the documents. He will say it was a presidential action—he was still president.”

New episodes of “Jack” drop each Sunday on all major podcast platforms.

Six people stand against a floor to ceiling window and smile for the camera.
The ‘Jack’ podcast cast: From left, Hayden Center Executive Director Larry Pfeiffer, cohost Andrew McCabe, Schar School founding dean Mark J. Rozell, cohost Allison Gill, panel guest Brian Greet, moderator Anna Bower.