Background Briefing: November 20, 2019


Sondland Implicates Trump, Pence, Pompeo, Perry and Mulvaney

We begin with today’s testimony by E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland who implicated Trump, Pence, Pompeo, Perry and Mulvaney as all being “in the loop” in pressuring Ukraine to announce investigations into the Bidens in exchange for releasing military aid. Heather Hurlburt, the Director of the New Models of Policy Change at the New America Foundation who served as a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning staff who has an article at New York Magazine “Ambassador Yovanovitch Led by Example”, joins us. We discuss the future of Secretary of State Pompeo who has tried to prevent top State Department officials including Sondland from testifying but nevertheless is reported to be under attack from President Trump who is mad at him for not preventing the public airing of damaging testimony. Although they are the witnesses against Trump, it is not the job of diplomats and civil servants to assess the criminal intent of their boss, nor is it the job of the military to maintain civic decency when political leaders can’t bring themselves to value country over party. And we will also assess whether the Democrats have made the case that President Trump has abused his power in bribing or committing a “high crime and misdemeanor” in spite of the Republican questioners who are intent on obfuscating and nit-picking to drive the deliberations into the weeds and turn off the public so they will tune out the hearings.


Republican Conspiracies Have Hillary Clinton Hacking Into Her Own Emails?

Then we speak with James Lamond, a senior policy advisor at the Center for American Progress who focuses on U.S. – Russia relations who was previously director of research and policy at the National Security Network. He joins us to discuss how the hearings are playing in Ukraine since Ukrainians are continually being referred to in the context of corruption with America’s president dismissing the entire country as irredeemably corrupt. Furthermore the Republicans keep trying to make the absurd case that Hillary Clinton somehow had a server in Ukraine used to hack into her own emails and her campaign manager John Podesta’s emails which were then passed on to Wikileaks.


The Republican Onslaught of Inane Babble and Shrieking Stupidities

Then finally we speak with Virginia Tilley, a Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University who teaches courses in ethnic and racial politics as well as international relations. She joins us to discuss whether the Republicans are deliberately trying to make the impeachment hearings unwatchable through a relentless onslaught of inane babble and shrieking stupidities in the hope that the drumbeat of lies will create BS fatigue.