Background Briefing: July 16, 2019


Whose Intelligence Service Was Running Epstein?

We begin with the tantalizing remarks Alex Acosta made in defending his indefensible sweetheart deal with Jeffrey Epstein during interviews for his job as Labor Secretary in the Trump Administration’s transition period in which Acosta said he’d “been told” to back off that Epstein was above his pay grade. “I was told Epstein belonged to intelligence and to leave it alone”. Scott Horton,a professor at Columbia University’s School of Law and a contributing editor at Harper’s in legal affairs and national security joins us to discuss whether Epstein was an asset of Russian Intelligence and a goldmine of “kompromat” for them, or more likely the Israelis given his close ties to former Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the mysterious forged Saudi passport found in Epstein’s safe with Epstein’s photo on it but an address in Saudi Arabia as his residence. We will also assess whether the extraordinary details in documents and photos in a trove of evidence provided to the Ecuadoran government by the Spanish Security Company guarding the Ecuadoran embassy in London obtained by CNN, which reveal many meetings Julian Assange had with Russian intelligence officers inside the embassy at critical times exchanging documents and receiving powerful computing and network hardware, will put to rest the fiction Assange is a fearless independent champion of press freedom now that the fact the Wikileaks co-founder is a willing tool of Russian intelligence has been exposed.


 Trump Plays the Israel Card in Attacking “The Squad”

Then we look into the vote in the House today to condemn President Trump’s racism which while it makes the Democrats feel good, may well be playing into Trump’s hands since the Democrats are giving Trump exactly the fight he wants which he will use as proof that the so-called “squad” of four freshmen congresswomen are the tail that wags the dog of the Democratic Party poised to bring socialism, anti-Semitism and Sharia Law to the United States of America. Halie Soifer, the Executive Director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America joins us to discuss her article at CNN “American Jews don’t want to be Trump’s political pawns” and how Trump and his wingman Senator Lindsey Graham are beating the drum that the four minority congresswomen are “communists” and anti-Semites who hate Israel, as opposed to targets of vicious slurs by the racist-in-chief. With 71% of Jewish/American voters disapproving of the job Trump’s doing with only 16% identifying as Republicans, we discuss the Summit on Combating Anti-Semitism held Monday at the Justice Department and the extent to which Trump is using his powerful platform to espouse hate while pointing the finger elsewhere when criticized instead of owning the dangerous divisiveness of his own words. Meanwhile his fellow Republicans remain conspicuously silent perhaps because they too see the strategy of riling up white racism as their best path to reelection.


AG Barr Decides Not to Prosecute the Police Officer Responsible for Eric Garner’s Death

Then finally we speak with Ekow Yankah, a Professor of Law at the Cardoza School of Law at Yeshiva University about the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice not to bring federal charges against the New York City police officer in the 2014 death of Eric Garner seen on video choking out his last words “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”. We will examine the apparent role Attorney General William Barr played in making the final decision not to prosecute Officer Pantaleo.