Background Briefing: January 31, 2022


In Incendiary Racist Demagoguery, Trump Threatens Civil War if He is Indicted

We begin with former President Trump’s dangerous demagoguery on display at a rally in Texas on Saturday at which in a racist attack on the prosecutors in New York and Atlanta who are investigating him, he called on his followers to engage in “the biggest protests we have ever had” and also obstructed justice in plain sight promising to pardon the January 6 insurrectionists who he claimed “are being treated so unfairly.” Joining us is Jennifer Mercieca, a professor in the Department of Communications at Texas A&M University where she teaches courses on Political Communication and Presidential Rhetoric. An historian of American political discourse, she is the co-editor of The Rhetoric of Heroic Expectations: Establishing the Obama Presidency and author of Founding Fictions as well as Demagogue for President: The Rhetorical Genius of Donald Trump.


Today’s UN Security Council Deliberations on Russia’s Threats to Ukraine

Then we get an assessment of the deliberations before the UN Security Council today over Russia’s military threats against Ukraine and speak with Dulcie Leimbach, the founder and editor of PassBlue which covers the United Nations. Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA, and was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years.


How Should the US Respond if Russia Invades Ukraine

Then finally we speak with Max Bergmann, the director of the Moscow Project and a senior fellow at the Center For American Progress, where he focuses on European security and U.S.-Russia policy. From 2011 to 2017, he served in the U.S. Department of State in a number of different positions, including as a member of the secretary of state’s policy planning staff; special assistant to the undersecretary for arms control and international security; speechwriter to then-Secretary of State John Kerry; and senior adviser to the assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs. He joins us to discuss his report at The Center for American Progress, “How the United States Should Respond if Russia Invades Ukraine” and with Biden meeting today with the Emir of Qatar, a major gas exporter, we will assess what alternatives Europeans will have if Russian gas exports are shut off in the event of war.