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Robert Costa’s Notebook: ‘What a Year’

By Robert Costa

“What a week.” That’s the phrase that comes to my mind most weeks at the end of “Washington Week.” Ever since I became moderator in April, it’s been a rollercoaster ride of breaking news, along with vigorous discussion of important policy debates.

As a turbulent 2017 comes to an end, I’ve had another thought: “What a year.” I’ve gone back through the archives to remember just how much ground we’ve covered on Friday nights and how much has happened in politics. Below are five shows that stand out and are worth watching again.

And in this holiday season, I’d like to extend my personal thanks to you for joining us each Friday and online. Your support is truly appreciated and our team promises to keep working hard to provide you with a broadcast that brings together the best reporters on the big issues that affect your life.

1. June 30: Health care policy, politics, and consequences

The Republican push on health care dominated the early months of President Trump’s first year in office. In fact, the president called me on March 24, a few hours before “Washington Week,” to let me know he had pulled the initial version of the bill. But it’s this June 30 show that really holds up over time. With guests such as Vox’s Sarah Kliff, we dove into the details of the current law, the GOP proposal, and the state of health care across the United States.

2.  August 18: Steve Bannon's out at the White House, aftermath of white national protests at Charlottesville 

“Steve Bannon, he has been relieved of his duties as the president’s chief strategist.” That’s how I began the show on August 18. Bannon’s departure from the White House, following weeks of frayed tensions and West Wing infighting, was major news and so was his influence on Trump’s first year. With regulars such as Geoff Bennett and Molly Ball, we talked through Bannon’s role and how his his incendiary brand of hard-line populism and conservatism shaped not only Trump’s agenda but the Republican Party and country, days after a protest by white nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent.

3. September 8: President Donald Trump strikes a deal with Democrats

Will President Trump govern in a more bipartisan fashion in 2018? That’s a question that hovers over Congress, now that Democrat Doug Jones has won a Senate seat in Alabama. In early September, we fleshed out aspects of that question after Trump stunned Washington when he bypassed Republicans and struck a deal with Democrats to raise the debt limit and fund the government. Understanding Trump’s relationship with “Chuck and Nancy” — Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California — could be critical to deciphering the coming months.

4. May 19: New bombshells in Russia investigation hit Trump administration

Bombshells on the Russia story dominated so many Friday nights this year. From the firing of then FBI director James Comey to the indictments of former Trump campaign advisers, questions over Russian interference in last year’s election gripped us — and Washington. This show looks at how Trump handled the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel and the expanding investigation. The discussions we had in May about Mueller’s credibility remain relevant as some supporters of the president try to discredit his ongoing probe.

5. November 24: Assessing President Donald Trump's first year in office

One of the joys of moderating “Washington Week” is hearing from veteran reporters who have covered politics and policy for decades. They bring such knowledge and wisdom to the table. This show, from late November, brought some of my favorites together: Peter Baker, Andrea Mitchell, Michael Duffy, and Ann Compton. They are students of history as much as they are first-rate reporters. It’s worth listening again to what they have to say about the Trump presidency.