Ep. 500 — John Legend
The Axe Files with David Axelrod

At 15, musician John Legend wrote an essay proclaiming he would one day become a famous singer and use his platform to advance civil rights. His words ended up being particularly prescient; he has since spent his life pursuing dual paths of artistry and social justice. For the 500th episode of The Axe Files, John talks with David about his musical roots in the church, his consulting gig at Boston Consulting Group while waiting for his big break, his focus on fighting for criminal justice reform, his disgust over the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and navigating the intersection of celebrity and political activism.

Aug 4, 2022

Best of The Axe Files: Sen. Bernie Sanders
The Axe Files with David Axelrod

As we prepare for the 500th episode of The Axe Files, we take a look back at the show’s very first episode featuring Sen. Bernie Sanders. David spoke with Sen. Sanders in September 2015, just a few months after he announced his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. In this episode, Sen. Sanders talks with David about his childhood in Brooklyn, his presidential campaign, and his stance on selfies.

Jul 28, 2022

Ep. 499 — David Chalian
The Axe Files with David Axelrod

When David Chalian was in first grade, he memorized the names of all the US presidents—in reverse chronological order. His interest in politics was second only to his love of theater. Chalian later found the intersection of his two passions as a journalist covering the larger-than-life characters and intricate storylines in politics. Now the political director at CNN, and host of the CNN Political Briefing podcast, Chalian joined David to talk about losing his father at a young age, how working Show morefor playwright and performer Anna Deavere Smith inspired his career in political journalism, the challenges of covering the 2016 Trump campaign and presidency, and the political climate today—and what it means for Biden, Trump, and the 2022 midterms.

Jul 21, 2022

Ep. 498 — Gov. Jared Polis
The Axe Files with David Axelrod

By the time Colorado Gov. Jared Polis was 16, he was already enrolled at Princeton University. At 23, he became a millionaire after selling the business he started in his college dorm, and at 25, he was elected to state-wide office in Colorado. As a Democratic politician with a libertarian streak, Gov. Polis spent 10 years in Congress before becoming governor. He joined David to talk about volunteering for campaigns before he was a teenager, the impact of the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage and his concerns about the current court, his focus on education and charter schools, how he responded to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the advice he would give President Biden.

Jul 14, 2022

Ep. 497 — Sen. Chris Murphy
The Axe Files with David Axelrod

Sen. Chris Murphy caught the political bug early; he was first elected to the Connecticut state legislature at age 25 while still in law school. He eventually served three terms as a US Congressman before being elected to the US Senate in 2012. Shortly before his term began, he became an outspoken advocate for gun reform after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at his district’s Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Sen. Murphy joined David to talk about how Sandy Hook refocused his poliShow moretical career, the new gun safety legislation he helped usher through Congress, what he sees as the politicization of the Supreme Court, why he hopes voters begin paying attention to Senate procedure, and his belief that Sen. Mitch McConnell wants to be part of the paradigm shift on preventing gun violence.

Jul 7, 2022

Ep. 496 — Kellyanne Conway
The Axe Files with David Axelrod

Kellyanne Conway made history as the first woman to run a Republican campaign for president when she helped Donald Trump win in 2016—a far cry from her days packing blueberries at a farm in New Jersey. As many advisers fell in and out of Trump’s orbit during his presidency, Kellyanne remained a constant presence before leaving the White House in August 2020. She joined David to talk about being raised by four women in blue-collar New Jersey, her relationship with Trump, her disappointment with the Trump 2020 campaign, the difficulties of being a working mother, her predictions for Trump’s 2024 plans, and her memoir, “Here’s the Deal.”

Jun 30, 2022

Ep. 495 — Rep. Fred Upton
The Axe Files with David Axelrod

After more than three decades representing his Michigan hometown in Congress, Rep. Fred Upton announced his retirement in a speech on the House floor in April 2022. He joined David to talk about his famous Michigan family, his focus on bipartisanship, why he supports gun safety legislation, voting to impeach Donald Trump following the January 6 attack on the Capitol, and his decision not to run for reelection in 2022.

Jun 23, 2022

Ep. 494 — John Dean
The Axe Files with David Axelrod

John Dean, former counsel to President Richard Nixon, was directly involved in covering up the Watergate break-in. But he has also been credited with taking down Nixon, thanks to his critical testimony before the Senate committee investigating the scandal. In recognition of Watergate’s 50th anniversary, John joined David to talk about his professional journey that landed him in the White House at just 31 years old, his involvement in Watergate, parallels between Nixon and Donald Trump, his concerns about the present day Republican Party, and his work on CNN’s “Watergate: Blueprint for a Scandal.”

Jun 16, 2022

Ep. 493 — Arne Duncan and Curtis Toler
The Axe Files with David Axelrod

Former US Secretary of Education and CEO of Chicago Public Schools Arne Duncan now spends his days focused on stopping gun violence in his hometown of Chicago through his organization, Chicago CRED. Curtis Toler, the organization’s director of outreach, grew up surrounded by violence and was a gang leader before joining CRED, where he works to stop violence throughout the city and build relationships with at-risk young people. Arne and Curtis joined David to talk about the challenges facinShow moreg many young Chicagoans and the daily trauma they experience, the lack of Congressional action on gun safety, policing in Chicago, the impact of Covid-19 and George Floyd’s murder in the communities they serve, and why Arne decided against running for mayor.

Jun 9, 2022

Ep. 492 — Gov. Pete Ricketts
The Axe Files with David Axelrod

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts tried to get out of applying to the University of Chicago, as his father wanted, by pretending to forget about the application. His ruse didn’t work, and he ended up attending the school and spending more than a decade in Chicago before making his way back to Omaha. Gov. Ricketts joined David to talk about what he learned from his father, what he believes makes the Second Amendment inalienable, his strongly held convictions on abortion and the death penalty, his views on the role of government, the benefits and challenges of working with Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, and why he thinks that these are the good old days.

Jun 2, 2022

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