Background Briefing: May 8, 2019


One of the 730 Former Federal Prosecutors Who Believes Trump is a Criminal

We begin with more than 730 former federal prosecutors and DOJ officials who worked in Democratic and Republican administrations who have signed on to a statement that Mueller’s report would have resulted in obstruction of justice charges against President Trump had he not been in office. This powerful professional rebuttal of Attorney General Barr’s determination that the president did not commit a crime comes as the House is weighing a decision to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for lying to the Senate. We are joined by one of the signatories of the statement Bill Yeomans, a Professor of Law at Columbia Law School who previously taught constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law and also served for 26 years in the Department of Justice where he was Acting Assistant Attorney General. We discuss the effectiveness of Barr’s obfuscation and how successful Barr and the Republicans have been in confusing the public about what’s really in the report: and that is, simply put, our president is a criminal.


The Difference Between Real and Politically-Motivated Investigations

Then with the Trump administration repeatedly ignoring subpoenas and Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin following the president’s orders refusing to turn over Trump’s tax returns, we discuss the Trump administration’s blatant disregard for constitutional law and precedent as they and their Republican enablers provoke a constitutional crisis in the hope that the administrations can buy time through court litigation while the public develops investigation fatigue and wants an end to House investigations. Paul Light, Professor of Public Service at New York University and the founding principle investigator of the Global Center for Public Service, joins us to discuss his latest book, Government By Investigation: Presidents, Congress and the Search for Answers, 1945-2012, in which he argues that we’re entering a new phase of government by investigation. He points out that investigations, real and politically-motivated, are becoming more and more frequent to the point that the public will lose sight of what they need to know and who they should hold to account.


A New Poll on Americans Concerns About Trumps Foreign Policy

Then finally, with new national poll that finds 57 percent of Americans disapprove of Trump’s foreign policy and 62 percent believe the US is losing respect in the world, we speak with an author of the report, Peter Juul, a senior foreign policy analyst at the Center for American Progress where he specializes in Middle East military affairs and national security policy. With defense spending now higher than it was at the height of the Cold War, we look into what policies should be adopted since 68 percent of Americans believe the US must invest more at home to remain competitive in the world.