Background Briefing: January 9, 2024

Trump’s Immunity Claim is Met With Deep Skepticism From the DC Appeals Court Judges

We begin with the hearing today before a three judge panel on the DC Appeals Court on Trump’s immunity claim that, if granted, would kill all the cases against him except the Florida documents case. With Trump in the courtroom today, we will assess whether this is another example of Trump’s delaying tactic to run out the clock until after the election so that he could bury the cases or pardon himself. Joining us is Laurie Levenson, who holds the David W. Burcham Chair in Ethical Advocacy at the Loyola University School of Law. Prior to joining Loyola Law School, she served for eight years as an Assistant US Attorney. She has written widely on criminal law, focusing both on criminal procedure and on the relationship between the law and the media.


A Billionaire’s War Against Harvard Now Shifts to the Media as His Wife’s Plagiarism is Revealed by Business Insider

Then we examine the billionaire Bill Ackman’s war against the media who, after targeting the heads of Penn and Harvard, now finds him going after MIT and the Business Insider for revealing his wife’s plagiarism, which Ackman accused Harvard’s former president Claudine Gay of even though there was scant evidence, as opposed to the mounting evidence against his wife. Joining us is William Cohan, a former senior Wall Street investment banker for 17 years at Lazard Frères & Co., Merrill Lynch and JPMorganChase, as well as a New York Times best-selling author whose books include Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World, House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street, and, most recently, Power Failure: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon. A founding partner at Puck News, we discuss his latest article at Puck, “Ackman’s Revenge.”


With Evangelicals at Over 50% of the Vote For Trump in Iowa, the Heathen is Promoting a Video “God Made Trump”

Then finally with a video Trump is promoting titled “God Made Trump” inspiring the evangelical community while alarming secular America, we will look into how Trump is getting over 50% of the vote in Iowa from evangelicals as Christian nationalists flock to his banner. Joining us is Anne Nelson, an author and lecturer in the fields of international affairs, media and human rights. As a journalist she covered the conflicts in El Salvador and Guatemala, and won the Livingston Award for best international reporting from the Philippines. She served as the director of the Committee to Protect Journalists and was the director of the international program at the Columbia School of Journalism where she created the first curriculum in human rights reporting. Her books include Red Orchestra: The Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler and Suzanne’s Children: A Daring Rescue in Nazi Paris. Her latest book is Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right, now out in an updated paperback version. And she will be speaking at the Palm Springs International Film Festival this Wednesday about the new film “BAD FAITH: Christian Nationalism’s War on Democracy” based on her book Shadow Network.