Background Briefing: February 5, 2020


Why Republican Senators Rolled Over for Trump

We begin with the expected acquittal of the president by the Republican-controlled Senate where on the first article of impeachment, abuse of power, there was a 52 to 48 vote and on the second, obstruction of Congress, the vote was 53 to 47. Mitt Romney was the only Republican Senator to vote guilty on Article 1, making an impassioned and very personal speech to the Senate citing his deep religious conviction requiring him to take his oath before God seriously. A veteran of many Senate investigations, Jack Blum, who spent 14 years as a staff attorney with the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has been a consultant to the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations and the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention, joins us. We will discuss how over the decades since Republican Senators like Howard Baker could vote against a president of their party, money has now taken over our politics. And since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, money now totally determines the fate of politicians, especially if they do not go along with Trump because they will face a vengeful primary challenge with unlimited funds spent to defeat them. We also assess remarks made by James Carville on MSNBC expressing alarm at the state of the party that doesn’t seem to know the difference between winning arguments and winning elections but has to save the country from 4 more years of Trump. Carville was particularly critical of Joe Biden whose candidacy appears dead on arrival but has already foreclosed better candidates from running like Sherrod Brown, and has hurt the chances of Governor Bullock and Cory Booker.


The Pulitzer Prize-Winning Authors of “A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America”

Then we speak with the Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post journalists Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker who joined us in the studio last Friday as the Senate voted against witnesses and in doing so assured Trump’s acquittal today. The authors of the new number one national best-seller A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America, we discuss how with their unique high-level access to the White House, a portrait of a leader who has become entirely unconstrained and unafraid to wield the vast powers of his office in pursuit of his personal and political goals has emerged. Rich with dialogue among key White House players and based on hundreds of hours of interviews with more than 200 administration officials, the book exposes jaw-dropping examples of Trump’s lack of knowledge of American history, the law, and world geography, as well as his refusal to take information from his own government experts.  And now this president feels exonerated and is poised to exact vengeance and wield unchecked power.

A Very Stable Genius by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig