Background Briefing: March 28, 2019


Is America’s Justice System Incapable of Challenging Real Power?

We begin with questions arising out of the paucity of Attorney General Barr’s summary of the Mueller report and the special counsel’s apparent punting on whether Trump obstructed justice when he did so in plain view and on many occasions which has left many wondering whether the fix was in.  And the larger question following so little resulting from so much effort, so many indictments and such a mountain of evidence in the press and public arena, appears to be whether America’s justice system is incapable of challenging real power. David Dayen, the Executive Editor of The American Prospect joins us to discuss his article at VICE “Trump Never Had Anything to Fear from an Insider Like Robert Mueller” and whether white collar crime and public corruption have effectively been written out of the U.S. Criminal Code. With no consequences for those who brought about the Wall Street crash of 2008 when Robert Mueller was the FBI Director at the time, now we are witnessing no apparent consequences for the White House, where in fact a victory celebration is going on, for having a head of the President’s National Security Council plead guilty, Trump’s first campaign manager sentenced to over 7 years in prison, a number of aides indicted, and his personal lawyer on his way to jail. This leads David Dayen to conclude that the issue of equal justice for all should be a major campaign focus in 2020 or we haven’t learnt anything.


Trump’s Cruel Cuts in Aid to Puerto Rico

Then with the Governor of Puerto Rico Ricardo Rossello remarking today in a CNN interview that “If the bully gets close. I’ll punch the bully in the mouth”, we will examine the strained relations between the Trump White House and the beleaguered island of Puerto Rico now facing cuts in food stamps and a diversion of aid for needed reconstruction following the devastating hurricanes to be used to build Trump’s wall. Charles Venator Santiago, Professor of Latino Politics with the Department of Political Science and the Institute of Puerto Rican Studies at the University of Connecticut and author of the forthcoming book, “Less Than Equal: A History of the Extension of U.S. Citizenship to Puerto Rico”, joins us.


Jared Kushner Questioned About Secret Deals with Russia and Saudi Arabia

Then finally we speak with an expert on Saudi Arabia and the ruling al-Saud family, Ali Al-Ahmed, the founder and director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs. He joins us to discuss Jared Kushner’s appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee today and the demand by the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for a briefing from Secretary of State Pompeo on what went on in Jared Kushner’s recent secret meetings with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from which other top U.S. officials were excluded.