Background Briefing: April 30, 2019
Venezuela in the Midst of an Uncertain Coup
We begin with the coup attempt underway in Venezuela against the Maduro government led by the head of the National Assembly Juan Guaido together with the opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez who has been jailed by Maduro but apparently was freed by rebel military units or possibly by members of SEBIN, the intelligence service, the head of which has denounced Maduro. David Smilde, a Senior Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America who has studied Venezuela for 30 years and curates the blog “Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights”, joins us to discuss Guaido’s move a day ahead on the planned May first countrywide demonstrations against Maduro. We assess whether this bold attempt to prod the military into joining in a coup against Maduro and his ruinous regime will backfire and fizzle in spite of Secretary of State Pompeo’s claim that Maduro tried to flee to Cuba but was stopped by the Russians. And although enlisted men and junior officers who are suffering from food and medicine shortages, hyperinflation and power blackouts along with average Venezuelans, and would like to free the country from Maduro’s misrule, the military’s top brass backed by the Cubans and Russians are unlikely to break with the regime. Most of all Trump is not seen as a liberator even though the country is circling the drain and in desperate need of regime change.
Trump Sues Banks to Stop House Investigations of His Family’s Finances
Then we speak with William K. Black, distinguished scholar in research for financial regulation at the University of Minnesota who investigated the Savings and Loan disaster of the 1980’s and is the co-founder of Bank Whistleblowers United. He joins us to discuss efforts by Trump and his family to stop the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees from investigating the Trump Organization’s finances by suing Deutsche Bank and Capitol One. We will assess whether the banks will decide their long-term interests lie with the congress or seek short-term protection from Trump.
Rosenstein’s Unctuous, Grovelling Letter to Trump
Then finally we get an analysis of the craven and unctuous letter Rod Rosenstein wrote to Trump as he departed the Justice Department and assess why so many people thought Rosenstein was on the side of justice as opposed to being a lackey and servant of the criminal-in-chief in the Oval Office. David Halperin, the founding executive director of the American Constitution Society and former counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee joins us to discuss how the man who was going to wear a wire into the White House became Trump’s loyal enabler, and ended his groveling letter with “We keep the faith, we follow the rules, and we always put America first”.