Background Briefing: December 12, 2018



A Signatory of the Letter to the Senate by 44 Former Senators

We begin with the letter by 44 former U.S. Senators to their Senate colleagues currently serving published in the Washington Post and speak with one of the signatories of the letter, Senator Gary Hart. We discuss this unprecedented appeal from a bi-partisan group of senators to today’s office-holders urging them “to be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy by ensuring that partisanship or self-interest not replace national interest”. We will discuss the unmistakable alarm that these former lawmakers have about looming crises as they warn about “challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security”. There is also the obvious concern expressed about what could be a constitutional crisis on the horizon when they write “We are on the eve of the conclusion of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and the House’s commencement of investigations of the president and his administration”. And they express a clear concern about the nature of the leadership in the White House and the Senate’s need to exercise its constitutional role of being a check and balance against the executive branch when they point out, “We are at an inflection point in which the foundational principles of our democracy and our national security interests are at stake, and the rule of law and the ability of our institutions to function freely and independently must be upheld.”


The Consequences of the Government Shutdown Trump Promised

Then we examine the consequences of a government shutdown which yesterday President Trump said he would be proud to take responsibility for. Sam Berger, the senior adviser at the Center for American Progress who served as a senior policy adviser at the White House Domestic Policy Council and worked at the Office of Management and Budget on legal and policy issues involving government shutdown and sequestration joins us. We will discuss the impact on government employees of shutting down the government on December 21st just days before Christmas and whether the Secret Service agents guarding Trump at his luxury holiday retreat Mar A Largo will be getting a pay check.


Matt Taibbi on His New Book “Hate Inc.”

Then finally we speak with Matt Taibbi, a contributing editor to Rolling Stone and the author of a number of bestsellers including “Insane Clown President” and his latest book just out, “Hate Inc.: Your Campaign 2020 Guide to Media Deception”. We explore the country’s deepening polarization in part driven by the press and the difficulty of covering the manipulator-in-chief who skillfully distracts the press and the American people with daily stunts and manufactured reality TV drama.