Background Briefing: March 19, 2019


What the Search Warrants in the Cohen Raid Reveal

We begin with the release today of the search warrants for the FBI raids on Michael Cohen’s home, office and hotel room which, although heavily redacted, make it clear that Robert Mueller had his eye on Cohen much earlier than previously known and had probable cause to justify the raid on the grounds of bank fraud, money laundering, acting as a foreign agent and violations of FARA, the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Adam Klasfeld, a reporter for Courthouse News Service joins us to discuss his latest article “FBI Suspected Cohen as Foreign Agent Nearly a Year Before Raids” and examine Cohen’s shell company Essential Consultants which is supposed to be involved in real estate consulting work but ended up as a conduit for hush money to pay off the porn star Stormy Daniels a week before the election to keep her quiet about her affair with Donald Trump. The other revelation, among more than 4 million electronic and paper files, more than 12 mobile devices and iPads, 20 external hard drives, flash drives and laptops, is the payments totaling $583,332.98 Michael Cohen received from companies owned by Victor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch close to Putin.


The Growing Threat of White Nationalist Terrorism

Then we explore the disparity between press coverage and U.S. government priorities when it comes to terrorism by white nationalists who are invariably described as deranged individuals and loners while Muslim terrorists are reflective of a whole group of people. And they remain the principal focus of Homeland Security and counterterrorism activities and funding while white Christian terrorism is a growing threat that get insufficient attention and resources. David Schanzer, Professor of the Practice and Director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University joins us to discuss how statements by President Trump and Congressman Steve King embolden and empower white nationalists and their violent racist ideology.


The Rose Garden Love Fest Between Trump and Bolsonaro

Then finally we look into the love fest in the White House Rose Garden today between President Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro who called for “traditional family lifestyles with respect to God…and against politically correct attitudes and fake news”. This had Trump swooning as he gushed, “I’m very proud to hear the president use the term “fake news”. Alexander Main, the Senior Associate for International Policy at the Center for Economic and Policy Research who focuses on U.S. policy towards Latin America, joins us to discuss the growing scandal in Brazil tying the Bolsonaro family to the assassination of a councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro.