Category: Briefings

Background Briefing: July 21, 2021

 

Fixing the Senate McConnell Has Made a Graveyard of Legislation

We begin with the Republicans in the Senate blocking a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, delaying it until next week, and speak with Eli Zupnick, the spokesperson for Fix Our Senate, a group of former senate staffers dedicated to ending the Senate filibuster. Fix Our Senate issued a letter today from 30 former top Senate Democratic aides calling for change in the filibuster rules and we discuss how Senate Minority Leader McConnell is up to his usual tricks of running out the clock while denying Biden any legislative victories regardless of the needs of the American people and the urgency of addressing the many crises we face. After Democrats gave in on the Republican priority of not boosting the IRS’s ability to collect unpaid taxes, due to their obstruction it is likely the two infrastructure bills will need to be merged into an over $4 trillion budget reconciliation package which will happen later and will need all Democratic senators aboard.

 

Barrack’s Arrest and the Outsized Role of the UAE in Trump’s Administration

Then we go to London to speak with David Hearst, the Editor of Middle East Eye about the arrest yesterday of Tom Barrack, who was chairman of Trump’s 2017 inaugural fund on a seven-count indictment accusing him of obstruction of justice and making false statements to the FBI. We discuss the outsized role the UAE and its leader MBZ played in selecting important top officials in the Trump administration and how the only thing left in the Abraham Accords Kushner, Netanyahu and MBZ put together is an arms deal to sell F-35’s to the UAE.

 

The Untold Story of a Russian Atomic Spy Even Putin Didn’t Know About

Then finally we speak with Ann Hagedorn, who has been a staff writer at The Wall Street Journal and has taught journalism at Northwestern and Columbia’s Schools of Journalism. Her latest book, just out, is Sleeper Agent: The Atomic Spy in America Who Got Away which tells the story of George Koval who was born in Sioux City, Iowa but moved to Russia with his parents when he was 19 then was recruited and trained by the GRU who sent him back to the U.S. to work on the Manhattan Project. Nobody, including Vladimir Putin knew of his exploits until 2006, after which Putin posthumously gave Koval the Hero of the Russian Federation gold medal, announcing that Koval was “the only Soviet intelligence officer to penetrate the U.S. secret atomic facilities.”