Background Briefing: February 17, 2019


How to Thwart Trump’s Unconstitutional Power Grab

We begin with the bizarre, rambling Rose Garden press conference on Friday at which President Trump acknowledged he would sign the bi-partisan funding bill to keep the government open but then announced his declaration of a national emergency to get extra funding for his wallCaroline Fredrickson, President of the American Constitution Society who previously served as the director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office, joins us to discuss what tools the Congress has to thwart Trump’s usurpation of executive authority with his raid on the congressional purse strings. We will assess the likelihood that there will be a split among Republicans in the Senate over going along with this unconstitutional act but probably not enough to override a presidential veto which the White House promised today, and how the battle in the courts will play out as the ACLU and a number of states sue the Trump Administration. We will also look into the validity of comparisons made by conservative pundits justifying Trump’s action to the Obama Administration’s executive actions on the Affordable Care Act and the “Dreamers”, even though it is clear that Obama did not make use of a national emergency declaration to get his way.

A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Trump Trainwreck in the Rose Garden

Then we examine further the unsettling display of the leader of the free world addressing the press and the nation from the White House in a disjointed, freewheeling, fact-free display of alternative reality in a 50 minute verbal, political and psychological train wreck. Dr. Allen Frances, a Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Duke University and author of “Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump”, joins us to discuss the sad display of our leader as a weak strongman clearly out of his depth and desperately in need of an intervention. We will also look into the broader question of how could the citizens of our country have elected someone so manifestly unqualified and unsuited for the job.


The Pathetic Pence Pompeo Diplomatic Roadshow

Then finally we get an assessment of the White House’s embarrassing roadshow in Europe having dispatched the Vice President and the Secretary of State first to Warsaw then Munich to discuss freedom and democracy in a country Poland which is in the midst of turning away from democracy towards authoritarianism, then at the security conference in Munich at which our NATO allies were disparaged by the Trump team unable to explain its Middle East and nuclear arms control policies, let alone its affection for autocrats like Putin. R Daniel Kelemen, Director of the Center for European studies at Rutgers University joins us to review America’s latest pratfall on the world stage.