Background Briefing: January 22, 2020


An Assessment of the Democrats’ Impeachment Case

We begin on this second day of the so-called impeachment trial in the Senate in which the House Managers made their abuse of power and obstruction of Congress cases to remove the president from office emphasizing Trump’s undermining of U.S. national security by withholding vital military aid for Ukraine to pressure it’s new leader to interfere in the 2020 election to help Trump and hurt Biden in a replay of what happened in 2016 when Putin interfered in our election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Joining us to assess what is shaping up as the day-long into the next morning battle of the lawyers, with the House prosecutors followed by the White House defenders, is Steven Harper, a professor at Northwestern University and a regular contributor to The American Lawyer. He joins us to discuss his article at The New York Times “Why Did Alan Dershowitz Say Yes to Trump?” and while serious constitutional scholars do not accept Dershowitz’s defense of the president in the Senate impeachment trial, we will assess whether these marathon series of pro and con legal arguments reach a point where guilt or innocence becomes blurred due to viewer fatigue on the part of the public and listener fatigue on the part of the 100 U.S. senators locked in their chamber who have to sit in silence without their cellphones under pain of imprisonment.


Has Trump Cowed the Intelligence Community Into Silence?

Then we look into the extent to which Trump has cowered the Intelligence Community into silence now that it appears the annual World-wide Threat Assessment will not be made public since the last one contradicted Trump on his claims against Iran and in favor of North Korea. With the House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff accusing the National Security Agency of withholding “potentially relevant documents” from Congress about Ukraine, we will assess whether there is anybody left in the White House who can speak truth to power. Mark Lowenthal, President Emeritus of the Intelligence and Security Academy who was Assistant Director of Intelligence for Analysis and Production and Vice Chairman for Evaluation on the National Intelligence Council, joins us.


The Saudi Crown Prince Personally Inserted Malware Into Jeff Bezos’ iPhone

Then finally we examine an explosive breaking story which indicates the Saudi Crown Prince MBS personally inserted malware into Jeff Bezos’s iPhone during a conversation over WhatsApp in May of 2018 months before the killing of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi who was a critic of MBS. David Hearst, the Editor of Middle East Eye, joins us to discuss calls by U.N. experts to investigate apparent efforts by MBS to influence and silence the Washington Post’s reporting on Saudi Arabia and the extortion and blackmailing Bezos accused the Trump-friendly publishers of the National Enquirer of conducting in exposing Bezos’s affair which led to his multi-billion dollar divorce settlement.