Day: May 29, 2019

Background Briefing: May 29, 2019


Mueller: A DOJ Rule Places Trump Above the Law

We begin with the ten minute statement today by Robert Mueller as he wrapped up his tenure as special counsel at the Department of Justice in which he said that “If we had confidence that the president had clearly not committed a crime, we would have said so”. And he also said that “Charging the President with a crime was, therefore, not an option we could consider”.  In other words because of a Department of Justice rule, President Trump is above the law. Harry Litman, a former United States attorney and deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department who is the co-host and Executive Producer of the Talking Feds podcast, joins us to discuss how true to form Mueller chose his words carefully to the point nobody is likely to be satisfied. But since Mueller did not say there was no obstruction by the president and he did not say but for the DOJ rule, he wouldn’t have charged Trump. So now that the ball is in the Congresses court, how do the Democrats undo the damage that Barr has already done from the way the Attorney General shaped the public narrative in Trump’s favor by framing Mueller’s findings as exonerating Trump? At this point we are left with the awkward compromise that Trump is not not a criminal, so we will assess the challenges ahead for the Democrats in educating the public about the report’s real findings and when and if such clarity will emerge as Barr, Trump, Fox News and the Republicans continue to muddy the waters.


Impeachment Makes Trump’s Re-Election Less Likely

Then we speak with the American University historian Allan Lichtman who has accurately predicted the election of the past nine presidents including, against all odds, Donald Trump’s upset victory in the Electoral College. He joins us to discuss how, at this juncture, his prediction system would have Donald Trump re-elected in 2020 according to the 13 criteria he lists in his book “The Keys to the White House: A Surefire Way of Predicting the Next President”. However if the Democrats were to impeach Trump, that process would open up the possibility of many other criteria coming into play so that six key factors could turn against him. Currently Trump is down to three


Assange Indictment an Escalation in Trump’s War on the Press

Then finally we will examine the Justice Department’s 17-count indictment against Wikileaks’ co-founder Julian Assange under the 1917 Espionage Act and speak with Alexander Urbelis, a lawyer and self-described hacker who has an article at CNN, “New Assange indictment is legally idiotic but politically shrewd”. We discuss how the US-UK Extradition Treaty forbids extraditions for political offenses and the likelihood that Trump does not want a trial of Assange during the 2020 election season. But Trump would like to prevent leaks and criminalize contacts with journalists so we should be concerned that this indictment is an escalation in Trump’s ongoing assault on the freedom of the press.