In the third episode, hosts Chris and Ken speak to Tim Rieser, Democratic Clerk of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on state and foreign operations, about congress’ role in shaping U.S. foreign policy, the policy shift with Cuba under the Trump administration, and more.
An institution down in Capitol Hill, Tim Rieser is a Senior Foreign Policy aid to Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, and the Democratic Clerk of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee within the Senate’s Committee on Appropriations. Rieser began working for Senator Leahy in 1985. First as a member of the senator’s judiciary staff, then as a member of his appropriations committee staff, and now as both a senior foreign policy aid and democratic clerk.
Rieser played a significant role in opening U.S. policy toward Cuba. For two years, Rieser quietly served as liaison for the back-channel prisoner exchange that led to the release of Alan Gross, a USAID contractor, from prison in Cuba. This exchange led to the broader detenté between the Obama administration and the Cuban government.
Prior to his work at Senator Leahy’s office, Reiser worked at Harvard Law School’s Harvard negotiation project. He also worked as a Public defender in Vermont. In 1985, Reiser volunteered with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Ethiopia. Rieser graduated from Dartmouth College in 1976.