Listen in on revealing and thoughtful conversations with fascinating men and women who took an oath to support and defend our Constitution and our nation – leaders in law enforcement, the military, the intelligence community, and many more. What inspired these people? What drew them to this work? How did they overcome adversity and failure? And what are the lessons for our country and our democracy as we move forward? These captivating stories exemplify what is best about our nation: integrity, civility, service, humility, and collective responsibility.
Robert S. Mueller III: The Director (Part 1)
Robert S. Mueller III – Bob Mueller – is an American hero. Though best known as the sixth Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and as the Special Counsel that led the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the story of Bob’s public service starts half a century earlier.
Bob was born in Manhattan and raised in Princeton, New Jersey. The oldest of five children, and the only boy, he was a star three sport athlete in high school and excelled in the classroom and on the lacrosse fields of Princeton, where he went to college. Following the death of a Princeton teammate in Vietnam, Bob volunteered for service there.
In 1968, after officer training, including graduation from the rigorous Army Ranger School, the Marines deployed Bob to Vietnam. There, as a young second lieutenant, he led a rifle platoon along the Demilitarized Zone. Bob did not fear death in Vietnam – though death was all around him. He feared failure, which meant he had to do all he could to ensure that the young Marines under his command survived the war and made it home.
A recipient of the Bronze Star (with valor) and the Purple Heart, Bob returned to the United States after his service in Vietnam and graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law. He became a federal prosecutor in San Francisco, and embarked on a career that would take him to the heights of federal law enforcement in this country, and to the helm of the FBI.
My interview with Bob Mueller is in two parts. The first part covers his childhood through his selection as the FBI Director. The second part, which we will publish later this season, picks up where the first interview leaves off – and covers his tenure as Director, guiding the FBI through a difficult and challenging post 9/11 world.
I should add a word about what is not in either episode – any detailed discussion of Bob’s work as Special Counsel leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Bob was clear when he testified before Congress about this work and his report, and that the report spoke for itself. He did not opine about his findings and does not do so here, either. One of the things I learned while working for Bob Mueller at the FBI is that you take this decent, honorable, and courageous man at his word. Because he is a man of few words, each word matters a lot and so it is worth listening carefully.
Bob shares with host Chuck Rosenberg in this first part (of a two-part interview) the story of his service in Vietnam, his time as a new federal prosecutor, and his ascent through the Justice Department to become the FBI Director. This interview with Bob Mueller is the only full one he has given since leaving public life, and it may be the only full one he gives.
If you have thoughtful feedback on this episode or others, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find the transcript and all our previous episodes at MSNBC.com/TheOath and read The Mueller Report at https://www.justice.gov/storage/report.pdf
Introducing: Season 4
In the Fourth Season of The Oath, Chuck Rosenberg speaks with thoughtful and inspirational men and women from the highest levels of public service – men and women who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. At a time when our most cherished institutions are being tested, these selfless leaders light the way. This season: FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush, and Heather “Lucky” Penney, one of the first women to fly an F-16, and many more. Listen to Season Four of The Oath with Chuck Rosenberg – smart, civil, apolitical conversations – starting on December 2.
Captain "Sully" Sullenberger: My Aircraft
Captain Chesley Burnett Sullenberger, III (Sully) was born in Denison – a small North Texas town on the Oklahoma border. There, as a teenager, he learned to fly a single engine prop plane off a grass strip. A serious and talented - but shy and introverted - high school student, Sully was admitted to the highly competitive United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. When he graduated in 1973, he received the Academy’s prestigious Airmanship award as its top flyer.
Sully flew the F-4 Phantom jet fighter in the Air Force, acquiring thousands of hours of flight time, always honing his airmanship. That ability, that skill to perceive his environment, to be situationally aware, to anticipate issues, and to solve problems – that airmanship – enabled him as a commercial airline pilot, to safely navigate a crippled passenger jet to a dramatic water landing in the Hudson River on a frigid January day in 2009.
That flight - US Airways flight 1549 – lost thrust in both engines shortly after takeoff from New York’s LaGuardia airport when it struck a flock of Canada geese. Thanks to the remarkable skills of Sully and his co-pilot, Jeff Skiles, everyone aboard that plane survived the harrowing landing.
Sully’s story is moving – humble beginnings, exceptional hard work, exacting dedication to his craft, and a lifetime of experience and knowledge that enabled him – in a moment of unprecedented crisis – to solve one problem after another, step by step, in 208 seconds, to navigate his crippled plane to the river, and to save the lives of its 155 passengers and crew.
Sully shares with host Chuck Rosenberg fascinating insights about his childhood, his education at the United States Air Force Academy, his passion for flight, and his dedication to his craft.
Sully is also the author of two books:
Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, with Jeffrey Zaslow (2010), and
Making a Difference: Stories of Vision and Courage from America's Leaders, with Douglas Century (2013)
If you have thoughtful feedback or questions, please email us at email@example.com
Mike Leiter: Intelligence
Mike Leiter grew up in Englewood, New Jersey, where his extraordinary public service career began early – in high school – when he worked as an Emergency Medical Technician. After graduating from Columbia University, Mike served as a Naval Flight Officer before attending Harvard Law School, where he was one of only four military veterans in his class of more than 500 students. At Harvard, Mike was elected President of the prestigious Harvard Law Review – a job once held by Barack Obama.
After clerking on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit for Judge Michael Boudin and then on the United States Supreme Court for Justice Stephen Breyer, Mike worked as a federal prosecutor. He left that job to become a key staffer on the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Commission - which examined substantial US Intelligence Community failures in the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Ultimately, Mike directed the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) under Presidents Bush and Obama – the organization responsible for analyzing terrorism threats against the United States and its interests, at home and abroad.
Mike shares with host Chuck Rosenberg fascinating insights on the US intelligence community, as someone who studied it on the WMD commission and as someone who ran a vital part of it at NCTC. You can find a link to the final report of the WMD Commission here:
And you can read Mike's Washington Post Op Ed here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/07/06/weve-briefed-many-presidents-uncertainty-comes-with-job/
If you have thoughtful feedback on this episode or others, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Hess: Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity
Amy Hess dreamed – as a child – of being an astronaut. A star student and athlete in high school, she studied aeronautical and astronautical engineering at Purdue – though poor eyesight dashed her NASA dreams. Instead, Amy got her start in the FBI as a special agent in Kansas City, working violent crime. She rose quickly through FBI ranks to run the Memphis and Louisville field offices, and to run two large FBI divisions at headquarters, where she oversaw FBI technology in one job and the FBI’s criminal and cyber work, in another. Those jobs made her the highest-ranking woman in FBI history. Today, Amy is back home as the Chief of Public Safety for Louisville, Kentucky – across the Ohio River from the small Indiana town in which she grew up.
Following the tragic March 13 shooting of Breonna Taylor in Louisville this year, and after we recorded this episode, Amy was named to lead police reform efforts in that city – to reduce use of force incidents, to review police policies and training, and to make recommendations on police disciplinary matters by establishing an Independent Civilian Review Board.
Amy shares with host Chuck Rosenberg fascinating stories of her work as an FBI special agent, including at the site of the horrific 1995 domestic terrorism attack at the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. If you have thoughtful feedback on this episode or others, please email us at email@example.com.
Fiona Hill: Fortitude
Fiona Hill is the former Senior Director for Russia and Eurasia on the National Security Council. A highly respected scholar on Russian history and culture, Fiona was born and raised in the industrial northeast of England. She comes from a long line of coal miners – uncles, cousins – families, like hers, that persistently struggled with poverty. Fiona’s father, Alfred, joined his own brother in the coal mines at the age of 14. Her mother, June, who still lives in Bishop Auckland – was a midwife. And though money was always tight, Fiona grew up in a loving and supportive family that strongly embraced both her desire to go to college and, ultimately, to emigrate to the United States – a place her father loved and admired and always hoped one day might be his own home.
Guided by a series of dedicated mentors and teachers, Fiona graduated from the University of Saint Andrew’s in Scotland, and then earned her Ph.D. at Harvard. Along the way, she studied Russian history and culture and became fluent in its language.
Fiona became a naturalized American citizen in 2002 – a country that gave her opportunities that she would not have enjoyed in the UK, where the fact that she grew up poor and with a distinct working-class accent, she believes, would likely have held her back.
She served at the highest levels within the US government, on both the National Intelligence Council under Presidents Bush and Obama and, ultimately, on the National Security Council under President Trump. Fiona is deeply respected for her expertise on Russia and Eurasia and widely admired for her honesty, courage, intellect, and fortitude.
Fiona testified in the 2019 House impeachment hearings of President Trump, and you can find a link to her written testimony here.
Fiona is also the author or co-author of three books about Russia and Vladimir Putin:
· The Siberian Curse: How Communist Planners Left Russia Out in the Cold, with Clifford Gaddy (2003)
· Energy Empire: Oil, Gas and Russia's Revival (2004)
· Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin, with Clifford Gaddy (2015).
Fiona shares with host Chuck Rosenberg reflections on her extraordinary public service career and her work at the highest levels of the National Security Council. If you have thoughtful feedback on this episode or others, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.