Background Briefing: June 19, 2019


Far-Right Cults on Display at Trump’s 2020 Reelection Rally

We begin with the campaign rally last night in Orlando, Florida at which President Trump launched his 2020 reelection campaign by largely replaying his best-of 2016 trashing Hillary Clinton hits which had the crowd chanting “lock her up, lock her up”. Will Sommer a reporter for the Daily Beast where his latest article is “Police Stop Far-Right Proud Boys From Reaching Anti-Trump Protest in Orlando”, joins us to discuss the prominent display of members of far-right cults like QAnon, the Proud Boys and followers of Alex Jones’ Infowars both inside the Amway Center and outside where a confrontation with anti-Trump protesters and the Proud Boys shouting out support for Roger Stone and the Chilean dictator Pinochet was prevented by a cordon of police bicycles. With Trump and Vice President Pence’s family present, together with Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz and Senator Rubio in attendance along with Senator Lindsey Graham, the question arises whether the sometimes reasonable and rational Rubio and Graham are aware of what has become of the GOP. Surely they could not help noticing who Trump is attracting to the Party since they were surrounded by angry members of white supremacist cults proudly displaying their bizarre brands and expressing their unhinged beliefs, while threatening the press who their Fuhrer was ritually demonizing.


The Damning UN Report on the Murder and Dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi

Then we examine the just-released U.N. report on the murder and dismemberment of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi which documents in considerable detail what happened to the victim after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last October who a Saudi intelligence officer waiting to ambush Khashoggi called, the “sacrificial animal”. And while only 45 minutes of the seven hours of recordings made by Turkish intelligence around the time of Khashoggi’s murder were made available to the U.N. special rapporteur, the evidence is as damning as it is disgusting. Dr. Ben Freeman, the Director and founder of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy and author of “The Foreign Policy Auction”, joins us to discuss whether the report will in any way influence Trump and Jared Kushner’s unwavering support for the Saudi Crown Prince MBS who is likely to reward the Trump Organization and the Kushner real estate company mightily after Trump leaves office if Saudi money is not already pouring in now in secret. We will assess whether the enormous influence Saudi Arabia buys in Washington will be sufficient for MBS to weather the storm of protest this report will generate after its findings are presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva next week.


Dutch Investigators Hold Russian Intelligence Officers Responsible for Shooting Down a Malaysian Airliner

Then finally we go to Kiev, Ukraine to get a reaction to today’s report from the Dutch Joint investigation Team who are issuing arrest warrants for three Russian intelligence officers and one Ukrainian pro-Russian separatist who caused the crash of a Malaysian airliner shot down by a Russian Buk missile five years ago over Eastern Ukraine killing all 298 people aboard. Anders Aslund a former Swedish diplomat who worked in Moscow and was an economic adviser to the governments of Russia and Ukraine and is the author of the new book “Russia’s Crony Capitalism: The Path from Market Economy to Kleptocracy”, joins us.