Background Briefing: July 20, 2020


After a Trial Run in Portland, Trump Plans to Deploy his Private Federal Militia in Chicago and Across the Country

We begin with the Trump Administration expanding on their use of federal troops to arrest protestors after a trial run in Portland which provoked national outrage with plans to send what amounts to Trump’s private militia into Chicago. Joining us is Mike German, a Fellow with the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice who served for 16 years as a special agent with the FBI specializing in domestic terrorism and covert operations. The author of Disrupt, Discredit, Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy, we discuss how it used to be that the feds were called in to protect local citizens from corrupt and often brutal local police, but Trump has turned that on its head with the feds being sent in to beat up local citizens protesting police violence. Furthermore Trump has two zealots running this operation to create the appearance of civil war across the country for Fox News with Chad Wolfe as acting head of DHS and Ken Cuccinelli as deputy director of CBP, neither of whom have been confirmed by the Senate.


An Historian and Friend of John Lewis Talks About His Hero

Then we speak Sean Wilentz, Professor of American History at Princeton University whose latest book is The Politicians and the Egalitarians. He profiled John Lewis in 1996 for The New Republic and they became friends and joins us to talk about his friend who he considers his hero. We discuss how John Lewis who was an outsider fighting the forces of oppression who became an insider in the Congress, was so prescient about predicting the demise of the GOP as no longer being a conservative party as well as Trump’s election which he saw as the culmination of the degradation of the GOP started by Gingrich in 1994.


Can We Reverse the Pandemic’s Deadly Trajectory Before it is Too Late?

Then finally we get an assessment of whether we have failed as a nation to contain the coronavirus which most other countries have nipped in the bud while our pandemic is the worst in the world and is worsening by the day. Dr. Robert Bollinger, Professor of Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Clinical Global Health Education joins us to discuss why we are the world’s basket case and whether we can reverse the deadly trajectory we are on before it is too late.