Day: February 18, 2020

Background Briefing: February 18, 2020


Investigating Bloomberg’s Relationship with Wall Street

We begin with an analysis of how much Michael Bloomberg is a creature of Wall Street where he made his fortune, and whether he has evolved having been originally a Democrat who changed parties to run in the Republican mayoral primary in New York in 2001 then registering as an independent halfway through his term at City Hall before supporting Hillary Clinton’s 2016 run then officially becoming a Democrat again in 2018. William Cohan, a former senior Wall Street investment banker and New York Times bestseller of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World and House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, joins us. A bi-weekly opinion columnist at The New York Times and a special correspondent at Vanity Fair, his latest book is Why Wall Street Matters and we will discuss Bloomberg’s upcoming appearance on the Democratic presidential candidates’ debate stage on Wednesday and whether any of his Democratic rivals will thank him for promising to spend his billions on electing whoever wins the nomination. We will assess whether Bloomberg has had a political conversion in embracing liberal causes like gun control and abortion rights or that like most moderate Republicans, he feels there in no place for him in Donald Trump’s Republican Party.


The UN Warns of “The Biggest Humanitarian Horror Story of the 21st Century” In Syria

Then, following a warning from the U.N.’s Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs that “the biggest humanitarian horror story of the 21st Century” is happening in Syria’s Idlib province but could be avoided by a ceasefire, we will get an update from Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a Fellow at the Quincy Institute. He write “Syria Comment”, a daily newsletter on Syrian politics and joins us to discuss the dire fate of 900,000 mostly women and children trapped inside a shrinking territory under assault by Iranian and Assad’s forces and bombed mercilessly by the Russian Air Force while up against a closed border with Turkey whose leader will not let them escape death or find shelter as they freeze out in the open.


Trump’s Flurry of Pardons Ahead of Stone’s Sentencing On Thursday

Then finally with a flurry of pardons and commutations handed down today and yesterday by President Trump, we will examine in an historical context his use of pardon power which appears to be driven by the fact that he alone can do it, and by appearances by those pardoned on “The Apprentice” or on Fox News or because of lobbying by Kim Kardashian or relationships with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Rudy Giuliani. Brian Kalt, the Harold Norris Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at Michigan State University who has an article at Foreign Policy “Can Trump Pardon Himself?”, joins us.