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Chapo Trap House

740 - Crank About Creeping feat. Ben Terris (6/12/23)

Tue Jun 13 2023

"The Big Break" and Trump's Legal Troubles

  • Ben Terrace discusses his book, "The Big Break."
  • Donald Trump and his lawyer have been indicted for mishandling classified documents.
  • The severity of the charges surprises the hosts, who speculate that Trump may not be able to escape this time.
  • Trump has been indicted twice, which is 200% more than any other president.
  • Trump gets in trouble for Eastern Europe-related issues and criminal behavior related to being president.

American Actions Towards Ukraine and Russia

  • American actions towards Ukraine and Russia can go unnoticed.
  • Prosecuting a president for illegal actions can limit their ability to make deals in the future.
  • Trump's behavior regarding Ukraine was buffoonish and less subtle than other presidents.
  • The boxes incident is reminiscent of drug testing in MMA, it's an intelligence test.
  • Defenders of Trump are making different moves, such as pointing out that Hillary did similar things or questioning what the law is.
  • The DC media is focused on this scandal because it's hilarious and hard to ignore.

Mar-a-Lago Bathrooms and Conservative Media

  • The podcast discusses various aspects of the bathrooms at Mar-a-Lago, including a low toilet and shower curtains from 1985.
  • There is mention of Trump's alleged golden toilet and his lawyer being included in an indictment.
  • The hosts speculate on how conservative media and potential 2024 presidential candidates are handling Trump's legal troubles.
  • They also discuss a statement made by Trump on his social media platform, Truth Social.

Indictment Against Trump, GOP Field, and Ron DeSantis

  • Donald Trump claims to have been indicted by the corrupt Biden administration over the boxes hoax.
  • The podcast hosts discuss the Chinatown boxes and university papers found in Biden's garage.
  • They criticize the GOP field for trying to take advantage of the situation, with some candidates making principled stands while others support leaking national security secrets.
  • Ron DeSantis' supporters defend him sweating through his shirt during a speech in Oklahoma.

Reactions to Ron DeSantis and Differentiation Between Norms and Laws

  • Discussion about people's reactions to Ron DeSantis, including his sweaty appearance and odd behavior on a flight to Tel Aviv.
  • Comparison of DeSantis' relatability to Bernie Sanders' sweatiness on the campaign trail.
  • Mention of an indictment against Donald Trump and his lawyer regarding classified documents.
  • Speculation that legal proceedings may have more consequences than previous scandals during Trump's presidency.
  • Differentiation between breaking norms and breaking the law in regards to political actions.

The Impeachment Trial and Sideshow Characters

  • The impeachment trial is a depoliticized process that even Republicans in Washington would like to see happen.
  • Normal Republicans can make hay about the trial and use it as an opportunity to fight back against the system.
  • Speculations about making a deal with Trump to drop charges in exchange for him dropping out of the presidential race are unlikely and not a great deal for him.
  • The boxes in the bathroom during the Capitol riot are a perfect manifestation of America's government, culture, and people in charge.
  • Ben's book, The Big Break, focuses on the sideshow characters who now become the big story.

Washington's Social Scene and Backroom Deals

  • Side show characters have become the big story in politics, as seen with Trump and his inner circle.
  • Washington is like a big college campus where everyone has the same gossip and information.
  • Many people pretend to hate DC but secretly love it because it's a game that can lead to more money and influence.
  • The Schlapp Christmas party is an example of the backroom deals that happen in DC.
  • Despite its flaws, there are parts of Washington that are enjoyable to live in, such as music venues and restaurants.

DC Social Scene and Leah Hunt Hendrix

  • The podcast discusses the DC social scene and how it provides a more telling portrait of the contemporary Democrat and Republican party.
  • The book being discussed in the podcast begins with portraits of two competing parties, one of which is represented by Leah Hunt Hendrix, a progressive fundraiser who hosts fundraisers and parties to bring in money for progressive causes and candidates.
  • Leah Hunt Hendrix is the granddaughter of H.L. Hunt, an oil tycoon from Texas who was reported to be the richest man in the world when he died. He was a right-wing populist type who helped fund the John Birch Society and loved Joseph McCarthy.
  • H.L. Hunt had three families in total, two of which were secret.
  • Leah Hunt Hendrix is from one of H.L. Hunt's secret families that became not so secret after his first wife died.

Parties, Masks, and Matt Schlapp

  • The speakers discuss two parties, the Schlap party and the Lea Hunt party, that occurred around the same time.
  • At the Lea Hunt party, there was a lot of discussion about whether it was okay to be indoors without masks due to the recent outbreak of Omicron.
  • The speakers joke about how DC liberals are incapable of having fun and how they feel superior for attending exclusive events.
  • They discuss a scene from a book involving a restaurant incident with Matt Schlapp where he had an argument with a waiter over his food order and did not want broccolini on his plate.

Matt Schlapp's Behavior and Frank Luntz's House

  • The podcast discusses Matt Schlapp's behavior and quirks, including his lack of knowledge about non-steak items on menus.
  • The hosts mention a trend among DC residents to order steak well-done with ketchup as a way to appear more relatable.
  • Details are shared about Schlapp's appreciation for creature comforts, such as his preference for a specific brand of dishwasher and his serious approach to party planning.
  • A contrast is drawn between Schlapp's home and Frank Luntz's house.

Frank Luntz's House and Relationship with Trump

  • The contrast between the Schlap residence and Frank Luntz's house is a funny detail in the book.
  • Frank Luntz's home is decorated with the zeal of a child who had lucked into a large sum of money.
  • He filled his kitchen cabinets with shoeboxes full of baseball cards, installed a Riverboat gambler pinball machine in the basement, placed a life-size mannequin of the Terminator by his back door, and had Ronald McDonald and Big Boy restaurant mascots on display.
  • Frank Luntz seems like a character who doesn't recognize or vocalize how big of a part he played in paving the way for Donald Trump's presidency.
  • He worked with Newt Gingrich on the contract for America and helped Rudy Giuliani get elected, which are steps that led to Trump's presidency.
  • Despite claiming that Donald Trump is the worst thing that ever happened to the world and caused him to have a stroke, he tried to work with him and even wrote on Air Force One.

Frank Luntz's Living Arrangements and Kevin McCarthy

  • Frank Luntz claims to be moving out of his Virginia house, but he has a penthouse in D.C. that he lives in.
  • He knocked down four penthouse units to make one giant penthouse unit and sometimes lives there with Kevin McCarthy.
  • Frank Luntz says he's so sick from Trump that he needs medicine, but he's afraid to inject himself, so Kevin McCarthy sometimes injects him.
  • The hosts joke about Kevin McCarthy and Frank Luntz being like the mere universe version of Sean McElwee and David Chor's Hot Boy Summer.
  • Tim Scott claimed to be abstinent when he was a 30-year-old town councilman in Charleston, South Carolina, but when asked if he had gotten laid yet as a presidential candidate, his official answer was yes.

Politician's Response to Sex Life Question and Disclosure of Sexual History

  • The podcast discusses a politician's response to a question about his sex life and abortion policy.
  • The politician gave a strange answer and abruptly left the room to go to the bathroom.
  • He later returned and admitted he hasn't been as good about abstinence as he would have liked, but wouldn't discuss his own story in schools.
  • The hosts suggest that candidates for president should be required to disclose their sexual history under oath.
  • They also joke about politicians going to the bathroom in front of them and the possibility of writing a book titled "Can the Senator's Penis Be Off the Record?"

Sean McElwee and His Bets

  • The speakers did not see Sean do anything well.
  • Sean invited the speaker to his happy hours and poker nights while knowing that the speaker was writing a book about him.
  • Sean bragged about his bets at the table, wanting the speaker to write it all down as proof of his skills.
  • Sean lost most of his bets, including those related to Democrats losing seats and Federman losing.
  • Sean had over $20,000 put into predicted and was making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year consulting for Gabe Bankman-Free's organization guarding against pandemic.
  • Despite having insider information, Sean still lost money on betting.
  • Sean admitted to betting on his own games and bragged about betting against Nina Turner's congressional campaign.
  • The Federman team did not like when Sean said he thinks they are "fucked."
  • The speaker found Sean to be the most interesting and amusing character in DC.

Sean McElwee's Rise and Reviled Status

  • Sean McElwee has become a national figure in the past two years, but he is also reviled.
  • He had climber characteristics and was always at a bar where he worked his way up.
  • His motivation was unclear, but he built an organization that used data for progress.
  • Sean's ex-girlfriend said that she could never tell if he did things to do good or for personal gain.
  • People in Washington come to do good, but they get caught up in the bullshit of it all.

Moral Implications of Politics and Trauma of Losing

  • The podcast discusses the moral implications of politics and how it can affect individuals differently.
  • Losing in politics can be traumatic for some people, causing them to become disillusioned with the system.
  • Those who work in politics must decide whether to prioritize their own well-being or try to make a difference despite the grind and potential loss of self.
  • The hosts admire a Republican candidate named Scott Pressler for his positivity and enthusiasm despite repeated failures.
  • Charlie Kirk is mentioned as someone who seems miserable all the time, possibly due to legal restrictions on smiling.


  • The episode ends with thanks to guest Ben Terris for his book and programming contributions.