Background Briefing: December 10, 2019


The Senate Impeachment Trial May Not Be the Circus Trump Wants

We begin with the two articles of impeachment announced today, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress which will be debated Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee then debated next week in the full House of Representatives with a vote to impeach President Trump concluded before the holiday recess. Scott Horton, a professor at Columbia Law School and a contributing editor at Harper’s in legal affairs and national security joins us to discuss what appears to be a growing division between Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell who wants a dignified trial in the senate while Trump wants to turn it into the circus that he and his attack dogs in the House have made the deliberations so far. Clearly Trump wants the senate trial to be about Hunter Biden to distract from the glaring fact that the impeachment is all about the president’s abuse of power. But there is a possibility that since the obstruction of Congress by Trump is so obvious as he prevents key witnesses from testifying, when it comes to voting in the senate on subpoenas to compel testimony from Bolton, Pompeo, Mulvaney and Perry, vulnerable Republicans like Senator Susan Collins might vote with the Democrats, highlighting McConnell’s dilemma whether to protect his majority or protect Trump.


The Republicans Throw the Kitchen Sink

Then, with the impeachment hearings so far sidetracked by frenzied attacks from interrogators like the minority chair of the House Judiciary Committee Congressman Collins who was as rabid as a bit bull defending a drug dealers stash, we speak with Adam Klasfeld, a reporter for Courthouse New Service where his latest article is Trump Charged in House With Abuse of Power, Cover-up”. He joins us to discuss how Trump is ignoring House subpoenas and preventing any testimony from top Administration officials in an apparent Republican strategy of throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Democrats in the absence of any defense or exculpatory evidence from a witness who might defend the president. We assess the Republican strategy of making the public so weary and disgusted by the partisan bickering they will dismiss the whole exercise as a partisan squabble and lose sight of Trump’s abuse of power.


How Trump Jumped Off the Cereal Box to the Highest Political Office

Then finally we speak with James Poniewozik, the chief television critic of The New York Times about his latest book, just out, “Audience of One: Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America”. He joins us to discuss the history of TV and mass media in politics from Reagan to Trump with brand Trump jumping off the cereal box to enter the political world at the highest possible level. We analyze how a Reality TV star knocked his rivals off the island with a freak show mating of American politics and American pop culture that created his base.


Audience of One