Background Briefing: March 13, 2019


Trump Appears Poised to Pardon Manafort

We begin with today’s sentencing of Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort who, after being sentenced to 47 months last week, is now facing seven and a half years in prison unless he is pardoned which is increasingly likely given Trump’s rhetoric of late. Jack Blum, a Washington lawyer who is an expert on white-collar financial crime and international tax evasion who spent fourteen years as a staff attorney with the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joins us to discuss how President Trump has been laying the groundwork for pardoning Manafort by talking like a mob boss calling Michael Cohen, his former fixer who testified against him, a “rat” while praising Manafort as a good stand-up guy who has been treated unfairly. The fact that Manafort did not pay taxes on $55 million he hid offshore from the IRS does not appear to bother Trump or the judge who sentenced Manafort last week, claiming he “had led an otherwise blameless life”. But more details of Manafort’s corruption and treachery are likely to come out soon in the Mueller report and the question then arises how much of the report will the public see after surviving the heavy redactions from the Intelligence Community, since the evidence will largely come from the counterintelligence investigation of Trump and his Russian connections launched in 2016 which continues to this day.


Why the US is Losing Out to China on 5G and High Speed Internet

Then we speak with Susan Crawford, the John A. Reilly Clinical Professor at Harvard Law School and author of the new book just out Fiber: The Coming Tech Revolution―and Why America Might Miss It. She joins us to discuss what is behind the battle between the U.S. government and Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant which is on the cutting edge of building a global infrastructure for the next fifth generation or 5G communications network. We will look into whether threatening allies to not go with Huawei rather than providing a better and cheaper alternative American product is going to work. And since 5 G cannot work without high speed internet service, again we find the U.S. with a 26 megabit average Internet speed, lags behind in one gigabit service because of the short-term profiteering of cable and Telecom monopolies and the failure of the federal government to invest in infrastructure.


The College Admission Scandal

Then finally Angus Johnston, a Professor of History at the City University of New York where he researches student activism and student government joins us. We discuss the scandalous revelations following the indictments of wealthy and connected parents who used shady college counselling businesses to get their kids into prestigious colleges and universities. Since Jared Kushner’s dad pledged $2.5 million to get him into Harvard, one wonders why Rick Singer in Newport Beach was paid as much as $6.5 million to place a rich kid rather that have the parents donate the money to Harvard.