May 2, 2018

The Escalating War Between Trump and Mueller
Pompeo Promises to Get the State Department’s Swagger Back
The Symbiosis Between the White House and Its Press Corps
Program Notes

We begin with the escalating war between the White House and the Special Counsel with Trump tweeting a warning today that “At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the presidency and get involved”, this following news of an apparent threat by Robert Mueller to subpoena President Trump and force him to testify before a grand jury. Since Trump’s former lawyer John Dowd had tried to avoid his client testifying and quit last month, now the White House Special Counsel Ty Cobb who has been urging the president to cooperate with Mueller, is also quitting, indicating a less conciliatory and more aggressive approach is underway. A former prosecutor with the International Criminal Court and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, Alex Whiting, a Professor at Harvard Law School who is Editor of Just Security where he has an article “What Mueller’s Questions to Trump Reveal About the Future of the Russia Investigation”, joins us. We discuss the latest shake-up of Trump’s legal team and whether, now that Mueller’s questions have been made public, it would be worse for Trump to contest having to testify before Mueller all the way to the Supreme Court and in doing so, appear even to his supporters to be hiding something.

Then we assess Mike Pompeo’s first trip abroad as Secretary of State and Trump’s visit to the State Department today to show his support for Pompeo who told the department’s dispirited employees that he wants the State Department to get its “swagger’ back. Stephen Walt, a Professor of International Relations at Harvard University and author of “Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy” and “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”, joins us to discuss the extent to which Trump and Israel’s Netanyahu appear to be laying the groundwork for the U.S. to pull out of the P5+1 deal with Iran on May 12.

Then finally we speak with Ryan Cooper, a national correspondent for The Week where he has an article “The worthless Washington media”. He joins us to discuss how the indignant reactions to Michelle Wolf’s biting comedy at the White House Correspondent’s dinner by the elite of the Washington Press corps represents the reversal of the muckraking tradition of “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable”. With the latest revelation of Mueller’s questions to Trump emerging as a deliberate leak by the White House, we will examine the symbiosis between those in power and those covering them.

Alex Whiting | Stephen Walt | Ryan Cooper