Background Briefing: August 30, 2022


In Declaring Himself President Today, Has Trump Lost it?

We begin with Trump declaring himself president today, or short of that, demanding a do-over election based on the latest MAGA Republican talking point, Hunter Biden’s laptop. Joining us is Dr. Allen Frances, a Professor Emeritus and former Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Duke University. He is the author of the award-winning international bestseller “Saving Normal” and the reference work “Essentials of Psychiatric Diagnosis” and his latest book is “Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump”, now out in an updated  paperback version. We discuss whether Trump has lost it or his message on his Truth Social platform is Trump’s latest ploy to manipulate his followers with a distraction from his criminal exposure over the misuse of classified documents or another appeal in the ongoing fleecing of the MAGA flock for donations. 


The Origins of MAGA Republican Radicalism

Then we look into the origins of the current MAGA Republican radicalism with its rejection of democratic norms and embrace of violence and speak with Nicole Hemmer, an associate research scholar with the Obama Presidency Oral History project at Columbia University. A political historian specializing in media, conservatism, and the far-right, she is author of Messengers of the Right: Conservative Media and the Transformation of American Politics and is also co-founder and co-editor of Made by History, the historical analysis section of the Washington Post. She also co-hosts the weekly podcast Past Present and her latest book, out today, is Partisans: The Conservative Revolutionaries Who Remade American Politics in the 1990s.


An Assessment of Ukraine’s Offensive in the South and the State of US Intelligence

Then finally we assess the Ukrainian offensive underway in the south to liberate Russian-occupied Kherson and speak with Douglas London, a retired Senior CIA Operations Officer and Professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies. Over the course of his 34 years in the CIA’s Clandestine Service, almost 17 of which were in the foreign field as a recruiter and agent handler, he served in the Middle East, South and Central Asia, and Africa, including three assignments as a Chief of Station, the President’s senior intelligence officer at post, and Chief of Base in a South Asia conflict zone. He is the author of The Recruiter: Spying and the Lost Art of American Intelligence and we discuss the unprecedented situation in which questions loom over a former President of the United States about the apparent hold Putin has over him and for what purpose did he steal classified documents.