Day: December 9, 2018

Background Briefing: December 9, 2018


Why Did Manafort Risk Decades in Prison by Lying to Mueller?

We begin with last Friday’s explosive court filings by Robert Mueller and focus on the special counsel’s memo to a federal judge revealing that Paul Manafort had told “multiple discernable lies” to investigators in the special counsel’s office about his contacts with Trump Administration officials, his interactions with his deputy a suspected Russian Military Intelligence officer Konstantin Kilimnik, and an unnamed top Russian official offering “synergy” between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Anders Aslund, a professor at the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University who was a former Swedish diplomat in Moscow and served as an economic advisor to the governments of Russia and Ukraine, joins us. We will discuss the heavily redacted court filing on Manafort and who the unnamed  Kremlin official offering “synergy” mentioned in the Cohen court filing is, as well as the increasing likelihood that in spite of President Trump’s ritual insistence that there was no collusion between him and his campaign and the Russians, it appears that Mueller has put together the broader mosaic of conspiratorial ties between Trump and the Kremlin which Manafort recklessly and brazenly lied about. We will speculate why Manafort risked decades in prison to break his agreement with Mueller and why he lied to cover up the involvement of his deputy Kilimnik and contacts with someone who was probably either Putin’s spokesman Dimitry Peskov or Putin’s former Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov.


France on Fire

Then we will speak with an expert on the French Socialist Party, European Social Democracy and French politics, Phillippe Marlière, a professor of French and European Politics at University College, London, about the weeks- long riots in France led by the “yellow vests” movement which have devastated the French economy and paralyzed the government of Emmanuel Macron who has had to back down on a fuel tax which sparked the riots and the repeal of a tax on the super-rich. We will assess whether, at the end of the day with the political center collapsing and the left more irrelevant than ever, the far right will be the beneficiary of this grassroots non-partisan uprising.


The Global Cost of the Saudi Double Game

Then finally, with Saudi Arabia, along with the U.S. and Russia blocking the release of the latest global report on global warming and revelations that Jared Kushner secretly advised MBS the Saudi Crown Prince on how to deal with the fallout from the assassination of the Washington Post journalist who the whole world with the exception of Donald Trump believes was murdered and dismembered on orders from MBS, we investigate the role of the Saudi monarchy in exporting political violence around the world. Terence Ward, an author and documentary filmmaker who grew up in Saudi Arabia and is the author of a new book just out, “The Wahhabi Code: How the Saudis Spread Extremism Globally”, joins us.