Background Briefing: July 1, 2018


How to Stop Trump From Appointing a Supreme Court Justice Who Could Exonerate Him

We begin with the battle shaping up over Trump’s selection for the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice Kennedy to be announced on July 9. Paul Schiff Berman, a professor at George Washington University Law School joins us to discuss his article at The New York Times “A Better Reason to Delay Kennedy’s Replacement” and how expecting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to be shamed into adhering to the precedent he established with Merrick Garland by not allowing a Supreme Court replacement in an election year, is a futile argument. Whereas not permitting President Trump to appoint a new Supreme Court justice until after the special counsel investigation into him and his campaign is over is an essential stand to take if the Supreme Court in the Trump era is to be an effective bulwark against autocratic lawless rule. With Senator Susan Collins calling for Trump to put forth a nominee who will not overturn precedent as in Roe v. Wade, the chances of the Roberts court which broke precedent with Citizens United do not look good, so we assess what can be done to make sure a president under investigation will not be able to choose judges who will decide whether he can be indicted, can be compelled to testify before a grand jury, or can pardon himself.


Mattis Holds the Line Against Going to War With Iran and Weakening NATO

Then we speak with Mark Perry, an author and historian who specializes in military, foreign affairs and intelligence analysis. He joins us to discuss his article at Foreign Policy “Mattis’s Last Stand in Iran” and examine the growing distance between Trump and the only senior advisor left in the White House who is able to speak truth to power as Trump surrounds himself with sycophants and yes-men. Along with General Mattis’s behind-the-scenes efforts to prevent Trump from blundering into a war with Iran, we also look into what Trump is likely to do at the upcoming NATO summit where there are concerns that he will be even more boorish and disruptive than he was at the G-7 and could unilaterally decide to limit the U.S.’s key role in NATO, undermining the alliance before his summit meeting with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16.


A Report From Mexico on Today’s Watershed Elections

Then finally we go to Mexico to speak with Laura Carlsen, the Director of the Mexico-based Americas Program at the Center for International Policy. She is currently with a group of international election monitors visiting polling places in today’s watershed elections in Mexico from which a leftist candidate, Manuel Lopez Obrador, is likely to emerge as Mexico’s next president. We discuss what is happening on the ground today given the outrageous number of candidates killed in a spree of violence that has marred this election so far, and whether the frontrunner who is propelled by the Mexican electorate’s disgust with unchecked violence and rampant corruption can deliver on his promises to clean up the country.