Background Briefing: September 19, 2018


The Kavanaugh-Ford Standoff

We begin with the standoff between Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser Professor Christine Ford who wants an FBI investigation before testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee which President Trump is denying her offering the most flimsy of excuses. Eric Segall, a Professor of Law at Georgia State University and author of “Supreme Myths: Why the Supreme Court is not a Court and its Justices are not Judges” joins us to discuss whether Professor Ford’s lawyers are overplaying their hand in making demands on the U.S. Senate whose members are notorious for guarding their privileges and protocols. With Senator Graham warning bluntly that if Professor Ford does not show to testify on Monday, the Committee will go ahead and vote on Wednesday, we assess the chances of a compromise since the excuses for not having a quick investigation by the FBI then a hearing don’t add up. But in the meantime Professor Ford has had to go into hiding due to death threats, hacking and impersonation online, and with the senile patriarch Senator Hatch already calling her “mixed up”, a repeat of the treatment Anita Hill got might not play too well in the #MeToo era and further erode the chances of Republican women remaining loyal to Donald Trump’s GOP at the polls in November.


Will the FBI Director and the DNI Have to Resign?

Then we examine the looming collision if not a constitutional crisis resulting from President Trump’s order to declassify secret work product of on on-going investigation in which the president himself might be a target. Andy Wrighta Senior Fellow and Founding Editor of Just Security who served in the White House as Associate Counsel to President Barack Obama and also worked in Congress conducting oversight of U.S. national security matters, joins us. We will discuss the possibility that both the Director of the FBI and the Director of National Intelligence will be forced to resign to protect intelligence sources and methods from a cynical attempt by Trump to bolster a conspiracy theory cooked up by Fox News and the so-called Freedom Caucus in the House.


Is the Putin-Erdogan Plan for a Buffer Zone on the Syria-Turkey Border Workable?

Then finally we look into the deal Russia’s President Putin has made with Turkey’s President Erdogan to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe by setting up a buffer zone on Turkey’s southern border for three million Syrian citizens trapped with the remnants of the jihadist opposition to the Assad regime. An expert on U.S.-Turkey relations, Aaron Stein, a Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Hariri Center for the Middle East, joins us to assess whether the plan is workable and how much the U.S. has been sidelined in the region by Russia’s diplomatic initiatives.