Background Briefing: January 17, 2019


Trump Should Deliver the SOTU From His White House Bunker

We begin with the deepening standoff between the White House and House Democrats as the nation’s longest government shutdown grinds on with Speaker Nancy Pelosi remarking today that she is surprised Trump has been so silent since she sent him a letter asking him not to deliver his State Of The Union address before the House until he has opened up the government and that adequate security can be provided by Homeland Security and Secret Service agents who are not working without pay. Paul Waldman, who blogs at The Washington Post’s Plum Line and is a columnist for The Week and a senior writer at The American Prospect, joins us to discuss his article at The Washington Post “Pelosi is right to say no to Trump’s speech. Because things are not normal” and what might break the impasse now that Trump is experiencing the unfamiliar brunt of the separation of powers from a previously derelict branch of the legislature which is now doing its constitutional duty. We assess whether the weak strongman in the Oval Office can handle this assault on his ego and manhood from the woman now running the House, as the shrinking circle of unqualified sycophants who advise Trump urge this insecure narcissist to hold the line on his wall while pressure builds on Senator Mitch McConnell who is counting the numbers as more and more of his caucus defect to the Democrats.


Democrats Vow to Reject Corporate PAC Money

Then we examine the first order of business of the new House, HR 1, the hefty 571 page “For the People Act” with Tiffany Muller, the President of End Citizens United. She joins us to discuss the bill that covers restoring voting rights, strengthening of government ethics and campaign finance reform. End Citizens United recently organized a forum at which newly elected House Democrats vowed to reject corporate PAC donations while urging Democratic candidates running in 2020 to do the same, following the example of Senator Elizabeth Warren who issued a call to disavow super PACs and self-finding.


Will the Next Census Count “The Whole Number of Persons” the Constitution Requires?

Then finally we speak with Caroline Fredrickson, President of the American Constitution Society where she focuses on civil and human rights, judicial nominations and the importance of the Courts in America. She joins us to discuss the recent ruling by a federal district judge tossing out the citizenship question from the next census that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had included at the urging of Stephen Bannon. We assess the likelihood this is heading to the Supreme Court where even the most conservative justices might balk at violating the 14thAmendment’s requirement the census count “the whole number of persons in each state”.