Background Briefing: March 25, 2019


Barr Contains the Potential Damage of the Mueller Report

We  begin with what looks like a successful effort by the Attorney General William Barr to contain the potential damage of the Mueller report by writing his own summary which frames the results to the public in a way that exonerates Trump even if that was not Mueller’s intention. Caroline Fredrickson, President of the American Constitution Society where she has an article “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over: What’s Next for the Mueller Report”, joins us to discuss the extent to which Barr has rescued the Republican brand which could have been severely damaged by an indictment of the GOP’s leader ahead of the 2020 elections. We will assess how difficult it has been for prosecutors to show ill intent on the president’s behalf in terms of obstruction of justice when Trump is so public with his outbursts and attacks in claiming he could shoot someone in broad daylight and get away with it and with his call out to Russia to help him by hacking Hillary Clinton’s emails. We will also explore what strategies the Democratic Chairs of House Committees investigating Trump can employ to get around Republican charges that the Democrats are petty and vindictive pursuing witch hunts even though Trump has been exonerated.


What Didn’t Kill Trump’s Presidency Won’t Necessarily Make it Stronger in 2020

Then we  speak with Eric Levitz, who writes for New York Magazine’s Daily Intelligencer where his latest article is “What Mueller’s (Apparent) Dud Means for Democrats”. He joins us to discuss Trump’s continuing attacks on the Mueller probe even though the so-called witch hunt and illegal coup failed to materialize at the hands of the much-maligned Mueller who was portrayed as the poster boy of the “deep state”. With Republicans buoyed and Democrats on the defensive, Eric argues that nevertheless what didn’t kill Trump’s presidency won’t necessarily make it stronger in 2020.


Will Trump’s Popularity in Israel Rub Off on Netanyahu?

Then finally Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor of Peace and Development at the University of Maryland joins us to discuss his article at Foreign Policy “Trump is Too Pro-Netanyahu for his Own Base”. Following a photo-op in the White House today with Donald Trump, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s had to hurry back home to deal with rocket attacks from Gaza by Hamas, we will assess how much Trump’s widespread popularity in Israel will rub off on the legally-embattled Netanyahu ahead of the close election in two weeks in which the Prime Minister faces the centrist Blue-White Coalition of former army chiefs of staff.