Background Briefing: May 2, 2019


How Do the American People Learn What Is Actually in the Mueller Report?

We begin with Nancy Pelosi’s remark that yesterday Attorney General Barr committed a crime lying to congress and today Barr did not show up before the House Judiciary Committee prompting another likely subpoena for contempt after he missed the deadline on a previous subpoena to hand over the full un-redacted Mueller report to congress. Lawrence Douglas, a Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought at Amherst College, joins us to discuss the difficult path ahead for the Democrats to get the public to understand what is actually in the Mueller report and how much it calls into question Trump’s legitimacy and fitness to be president. Barr and the Republicans have apparently succeeded in muddying the waters to the point that a lot of Americans think the report was no big deal and there should be no more investigations of Trump. But had Mueller been able to get his report to the congress without it being intercepted and distorted by Barr, we would be in a very different situation today with the public demanding further investigation into the report’s findings. And although Barr’s reputation may be tarnished in the eyes of many, he might well be rewarded for his service to Trump with a nomination to the Supreme Court if a vacancy arises. And like Kavanaugh, in spite of objections from Democrats, be confirmed by the Republican majority in the Senate.


The Embarrassing Amateurism of Trump’s Foreign Policy Team

Then we examine the embarrassing amateurism of the Trump foreign policy team as they blindly bluster their way into making the crisis in Venezuela worse and a transition to economic revival and democratic rule less likely. Michael Shifter, the president for policy and director of the Andean program at the Inter-American Dialogue and co-editor of “Constructing Democratic Governance in Latin America” joins us to discuss how the Trump, Pence, Pompeo, Bolton and Abrams militaristic approach, mixed with wishful thinking, is making Maduro look good and the U.S. look like a blundering bully.


Will Japan Soon Join the Nuclear Club?

Then finally with the abdication of Japan’s Emperor Akihito and the ascension of his son Emperor Naruhito to the throne, we assess how much Japan is drifting away from America’s nuclear umbrella as the U.S’s. post-war alliances fray under Trump and China continues its rise as a regional and global power. Graham Fuller, the former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA joins us to discuss the growing possibility that in the not-too-distant future, Japan will join the nuclear club.