A deep dive into Washington politics

  • May 1, 2020

By Mike Gaisser 

In December, I started an internship with Michael D’Antonio, along with four other Stony Brook students. D’Antonio is a political commentator who has authored over a dozen books, including “Never Enough,” a 2015 biography of Donald Trump, and “A Consequential President,” a 2017 book on the presidency of Barack Obama.

I, along with Kimberly Brown, Maya Brown, Sherin Samuel and Cecilia (CeCe) Fuentes Cruz, helped Mr. D’Antonio write his book on the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump over the Ukraine scandal. 

At first, I worked with CeCe in gathering background information on Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer. We researched how he was connected to the Ukraine scandal, in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to use the help of Attorney General William Barr in opening an investigation into the business dealings thatJoe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden had had with a Ukrainian company, as well as allegations that Joe Biden was corruptly working to shield his son from prosecution. We also researched Guiliani’s connections to the disinformation campaign against Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine. 

I also gathered information on Giuliani’s record as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the 1980s as a way of demonstrating how he desires to remain relevant in the political world. 

After we concluded our research on Giuliani, Cecilia and I worked independently of each other and moved on to other topics. I researched the arguments presented by the House impeachment managers in Trump’s trial in order to prosecute the president and the arguments of Trump’s defense team. 

I was also interested in the decision by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney to convict the president of abuse of power andSen. Susan Collins’ decision to acquit the president. I researched their past relationships with, praise and criticisms of Trump. 

I was disappointed when the Senate chose not to allow witnesses and documents for the impeachment trial after opening arguments and instead went right to a vote. I was concerned about lacking material to research and write about for this internship and thus receiving the credits. 

However, I learned many things throughout the course of this internship. Even though I am heavily interested in politics, I probably would have been less educated on the topics I researched if it weren’t for this internship,  which Professor Selvin brought to my attention. 

I do wish I had received more direction. After concluding research on Giuliani, it felt like it was up to me to decide what I wanted to research. I wish Mr. D’Antonio had given me more guidance and feedback on my research, such as what was missing and what I could have  expanded on. 

Much of my research involved looking over news articles and summarizations of events relevant to my topic. Wikipedia did help (for knowing what happened and when), but I always read the news articles cited, as well as ones I found on my own. Within the news articles themselves, I double-checked the dates of said events and the publication date to make sure I was being accurate. This method allowed me to include a lot more information and details than Wikipedia provided. 

A SOJ student considering an internship of a similar nature should be prepared to read news articles and make any possible connections, which could include fact checking or analyzing.