Donald Trump’s foreign policy and national security team is still taking shape. He has appointed Nikki Haley as his UN ambassador and Mike Flynn as his National Security Advisor. But at the time of recording, he has not yet picked a Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense.

So how are you best able to interpret and understand the implications of those selections to American foreign policy? Thankfully, there is some is some emerging political science that speaks to the role of advisors in shaping national security policy — it’s not as obvious as you may think!

On the line with me to discuss this research is Professor Elizabeth Saunders of George Washington University. Saunders has conducted a number of studies that speak to the circumstances in which cabinet picks and top advisors can shape public opinion and decision-making on key foreign policy issues. We discuss her research and its implications for the Trump transition in this episode.

If you have 20 minutes and want a decent grounding in how to interpret the significance of these picks, no matter who they end up being, have a listen.

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