Background Briefing: August 13, 2018


The Embarrassing Amateurism of the Trump White House

We begin with the unprecedented amateurism at the Trump White House which allowed the reality TV star Omorosa, the executive branch’s most highly paid staffer, to record her firing by Chief of Staff Kelly inside the most top secret and secure room in the country, the White House situation room. In what a former National Security Council spokesman calls the most serious breach of protocol he’d ever heard of, not only did Omorosa’s recording of Kelly end up airing on Meet the Press, her subsequent recording of her phone conversation with the president in which Trump pretends to be surprised by her firing, has also been aired widely on the media. Chris Whipple, the author of “The Gatekeepers: How the White House chiefs of staff define every presidency”, joins us to offer the historical perspective of the 18 former chiefs of staff he has interviewed.  Their experience and professionalism makes it clear that the current White House is more than an anomaly, but rather it is a  ship of fools without a rudder and a qualified captain at the helm, not the mention an experienced chief mate, in this case General Kelly, who like his sidekick Stephen Miller is an ideologue dealing with real-world problems that do not lend themselves to rigid right-wing dogma.


Firing Strzok Unlikely to Placate Freedom Caucus

Then we look into the firing of Peter Strzok, the latest senior FBI official after Comey and Andrew McCabe who Trump has campaigned against with Twitter abuse and wild charges. A former special agent with the FBI, Michael German, a fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, joins us to discuss whether making a sacrificial lamb out of Strzok will placate the Tea Partiers in Congress who appear to be determined to find a way to impeach Rod Rosenstein to try and shut down the Mueller investigation.


Our Election Systems Remain an Invitation for Russia to Attack

Then finally Andrew Gumbel, the author of “Down for the Count: Dirty Elections and the Rotten History of Democracy in America”, joins us to discuss his article at The Guardian “Why U.S. elections remain ‘dangerously vulnerable’ to cyber-attacks”. With Attorney General Sessions shifting the DOJ’s focus from making it easier to vote to using the bogus excuse of “voter fraud” to make it harder for Democrats to vote, we will examine why Trump and the Republicans are not doing anything meaningful to protect the nation’s electoral system the Russians attacked in 2018 and are poised to do so again in November.