Day: November 7, 2018

Background Briefing: November 7, 2018


Trump Moves to Muzzle Mueller

We begin with the forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his replacement with a Trump loyalist and assess the growing possibility that the Mueller probe will be shut down or have its scope and independence curtailed if not neutered. Joshua Geltzer, the founding Executive Director of the Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection who served as Senior Director for Counterterrorism on the National Security Council staff and as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Justice Department, joins us. We will discuss the significance of the next in line Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein being skipped over with Trump installing Session’s chief of staff Matthew Whitaker who has been critical of the Mueller investigation. Adding to concerns that we may be on the cusp of a constitutional crisis, at today’s combative press conference Trump remarked that he has the power to fire Mueller if he wanted to. And following an election in which Republicans won key races by a razor-thin margin, we also discuss Joshua Geltzer’s article at Just Security, “Don’t Be Fooled: There Was Election Interference in 2018”.


Trump’s Propagandist-in-Chief

Then following an election in which Fox News made no pretense at being a journalistic outlet with Sean Hannity appearing on stage at a rally with Trump and Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt telling the press to report the news the way Trump wants it, we speak with Yochai Benkler, Professor of Law and co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. He joins us to discuss his new book “Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics” and Trump’s enabler in propaganda Rupert Murdoch and the phony war with the press on display today in the White House with Trump casting the press as the enemy of the people to distract from the obvious fact that the truth is the enemy of Donald Trump.


American Democracy is Becoming Less Competitive and More Unrepresentative

Then finally with the Democrats getting a much-needed win to take over the House while the Republicans extended their control over the Senate, we will examine how we are moving into a new normal in which the Democrats routinely will get a majority of the vote but still end up unable to gain meaningful political power. Sanford Levinson, who holds the Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Texas Law School and is the co-author of “Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today” joins us to discuss this daunting prospect facing the Democrats in the long-term as American democracy become less competitive and more unrepresentative.