Background Briefing with Ian Masters Russia Files

September 26, 2018

Weaponizing Women’s Rage
A Third Accuser of Kavanaugh’s Sworn Statement
Trump’s Stunning Charge Against China

Program Notes

We begin with a third accuser of Judge Kavanaugh who provided a declaration under penalty of perjury which not just supports the evidence so far from the first two accusers, but goes beyond what is inferred in the books by Kavanaugh’s best friend Mark Judge. She shows a pattern and a purpose to the heavy drinking at house parties involving the spiking of drinks so that the young women would lose inhibitions and be so drunk that they could be gang raped by a train of boys including Kavanaugh and Judge, lined up outside rooms waiting to take their turn. Soraya Chemaly, an award-winning writer and activist who is the Director of the Women’s Media Center Speech Project and author of the new book “Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger”, joins us to discuss how women’s rage at being overworked and underpaid, called sluts or prudes and when harassed, told they asked for it, is being transformed in the 21st century into one of the most important resources women have. With the #MeToo movement sweeping the country, the Kavanaugh hearing now seems like a watershed moment in which women as victims who have held in anger and humiliation for decades often having it turn into depression, are now bravely speaking out and challenging a ruthless patriarchy intent of ignoring them while placing a misogynist cloaked in piety on the highest court in the land who will roll back women’s rights and criminalize their right to choose.

Then we  speak with Michele Gilman, a Professor of Law and the Co-Director of the Center on Applied Feminism at the University of Baltimore about the legal ramifications of the sworn statement by the third accuser Julie Swetnick now that the lawyer for Brett Kavanaugh is accusing her lawyer Michael Avenatti of malpractice for not contacting the police about the charges made against Kavanaugh and Mark Judge in her declaration. Even though Avenatti has contacted the Senate Judiciary Committee hoping to get a hearing on Swetnick’s charges.

Then finally we look into the stunning charge President Trump made today before the UN Security Council where he accused China of interfering in the upcoming November election to hurt him because he is so tough on trade with China. Michael Fuchs, who served as deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and has an article at The Guardian “Trump is a laughing stock. But if we weren’t laughing, we’d be crying”, joins us. We will discuss how Trump embarrassed the U.S. before the world yesterday, then today charged China for something he has never charged Russia with, even though Russia has been and still is, meddling in our elections.

Soraya Chemaly | Michele Gilman | Michael Fuchs


September 25, 2018

Plowing Kavanaugh Through in Spite of Mounting Evidence Against Him
Trump Embarrasses America Before the World
John Bolton’s Overheated Threats Against Iran

Program Notes

We begin with a posse of angry old white men in the  White House and the Republican Senate determined to “plow through” with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court regardless of Thursday’s testimony by Dr. Blasey Ford and have a vote of the full senate on his confirmation as early as next Monday or Tuesday. Bob Schiff, an attorney who served as Chief Counsel for former Senator Russ Feingold for 12 years and is the co-author of an article at Time Magazine“Brett Kavanaugh Can’t be Trusted. We Know Because We Worked as Counsel to Senators When He Was in the Bush White House”, joins us. We will discuss the contrast between the growing evidence against Kavanaugh and the increasing resolve of the Republicans to ram his confirmation through the senate, in stark contrast to the 8 months Mitch McConnell held up Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court who never even got a hearing. We will assess whether Kavanaugh’s third accuser who her lawyer Michael Avenatti is scheduled to unveil on Wednesday, could be sufficient for Senators Collins and Murkowski to break from the lockstep of GOP determination not to have an FBI investigation into these new and perhaps even more damning charges. Apparently she is accusing both Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge who the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are preventing from testifying.

Then we speak with the founder of PassBlue, Dulcie Leimbach, who has covered the United Nations for decades and was an editor of The New York Times for more than 20 years. She joins us to discuss President Trump’s address to the United Nations General Assembly at which his absurd boasts about being the greatest president ever who has achieved a miraculous turnaround having made America great again in just two years, was greeted with mocking laughter from the leaders of the world gathered in the chamber. We assess whether the two thirds of Americans who are embarrassed by Trump’s pandering to the ignorant isolationist delusions of the one third minority of the country who believe a global bureaucracy is about to destroy America’s sovereignty, will stand up and be counted in November.

Then finally with President Trump chairing tomorrow’s UN Security Council meeting at which he is expected to single out Iran as enemy number one, we will speak with revolutionary Iran’s first Ambassador to the United Nations, Mansour Farhang, a professor emeritus of international relations at Bennington College. He joins us to discuss the overheated belligerent threats today from Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton warning Iran “If you cross us, our allies, or our partners; if you harm our citizens; if you continue to lie, cheat and deceive, yes, there will indeed be HELL TO PAY’

Bob Schiff | Dulcie Leimbach | Mansour Farhang


September 24, 2018

Congressman Lieu’s Call for the House Judiciary Committee to Investigate Kavanaugh
A Veteran of the DOJ on the Chaos Trump is Causing at the Top of the Department
The Republicans Are Stacking the Decks Against Dr. Ford’s Testimony

Program Notes

We begin with Congressman Ted Lieu who serves on the House Judiciary Committee and today called upon the House Judiciary Committee to open an investigation into the allegations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and a second accuser Deborah Ramirez, whose story of graphic and naked sexual harassment allegedly by Brett Kavanaugh at a drunken party of undergraduates at Yale, was just published by The New Yorker. In addition a third accuser has come forward who is represented by Michael Avenatti and she has made similar accusations which Congressman Lieu feels are sufficiently serious that together they raise the question of whether Judge Kavanaugh should keep his current job on the Federal Appeals Court, let alone the Supreme Court, and whether there are grounds for his impeachment. We also look into how much the White House is leaking reports that the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein who oversees the Mueller investigation is about to resign, and is it a distraction from the chaos and uncertainty now facing the nomination of President Trump’s second pick for the Supreme Court. He is expected to testify on Thursday amid growing calls by Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee for an FBI investigation into the accusations from an increasing number of women coming forward who are questioning Kavanaugh’s honesty and fitness to serve on the highest courts in the land.

Then with more chaos gripping the leadership of the Department of Justice, with an increasingly tenuous Attorney General Trump claims he does not have, and a Deputy Attorney General Trump is threatening to fire while pressuring him to resign, we will speak with a veteran of the Department of Justice who served for 26 years, assuming a series of management positions, including Acting Assistant Attorney General of the United States. Bill Yeomansa Senior Fellow for Justice at the Alliance for Justice who is now a lecturer at Columbia Law School, joins us to discuss the repercussions of the recent New York Times story which alleged Rod Rosenstein considered wearing a wire to record Trump and that he questioned whether the 25th Amendment should be invoked to remove Trump from office. We assess whether Trump is trying to force Rod Rosenstein to resign at their upcoming showdown meeting on Thursday so that he can replace him under the Vacancy Act and thereby neuter the Mueller investigation, as opposed to firing him which would mean Trump would need Senate confirmation for a replacement for Rosenstein.

Then finally we speak with Lena Zwarensteyn, the fair courts campaign director at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights who previously served as the director of strategic engagement at the American Constitution Society where she oversaw judicial nominations. She joins us to discuss the apparent determination by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to “plow through” with Thursday’s hearing in spite of growing calls for an FBI investigation into the increasing number of accusers coming forward raising the likelihood that Kavanaugh is guilty of perjury. With Dr. Ford having been denied her request to speak after Kavanaugh and be questioned by the Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee and have Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge testify, we assess the extent to which the Republicans are stacking the decks against her.

Rep. Ted Lieu | Bill Yeomans | Lena Zwarensteyn


September 23, 2018

Is the US Being Dragged Into a War Against Iran?
The Political Power of Women’s Anger
The “Boys Will be Boys’ Defense of Kavanaugh

Program Notes

We begin with the attack on an Iranian military parade in the south-western city of Ahvaz which Iran's President Rouhani blames on the “bully” the U.S. and its Gulf state allies for backing and enabling. Dr. Trita Parsi, a Professor of International Relations at Georgetown University, who has an article at Middle East Eye “Is the Ahvaz terror attack aimed at dragging the U.S. into a larger war?” joins us. We discuss the competing pressures on Trump who promised his base he would not dig the hole deeper for the U.S. in the Middle East and get into more wars while at the same time, being susceptible to Saudi money and the wishes of his biggest financial backer Sheldon Adelson who along with Adelson’s hero Netanyahu and the Saudi Crown Prince, would, as former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates warned, like to fight the Iranians to the last American. And while the Iranian economy is in freefall and the country is ripe for another people-power revolution against the corrupt ruling theocracy, military threats by hawks in the White House only play into the mullah’s hands. Furthermore with Putin now having buyer’s remorse that his puppet in the White House is unstable enough to launch a war to distract the American people from the Mueller investigation, Russia’s leader is privately warning the White House not to go to war against Iran and if they do, Russia would back Iran.

Then we examine the increasing political power of women’s anger and the revolutionary rage galvanized around the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings as the all-male Republican Senate Judiciary Committee “plough’s through” the confirmation of an anti-choice corporatist judge who will move the Supreme Court to the far right for generations. Joining us is Christine Fair, a Professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service who has been singled out by Fox News and The Daily Caller for her profane tirade against Kavanaugh and the GOP, resulting in her address being published on white supremacist websites and wanted posters of her distributed on cars and tacked on trees in her neighborhood.

Then finally we look into how this sordid Washington drama is highlighting another ugly side of the thinking of many men about women in which the “boys will be boys” defense of Kavanaugh sends the message that pushing women and teenage girls to have sex is a normal part of being a real man. Andrew Yarrowa Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute whose latest book is “Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life”, joins us to discuss his article at The New York Daily News “Kavanaugh, Sex and Modern Masculinity: What the Standoff Reveals about Men in Our Culture.”

Trita Parsi | Christine Fair | Andrew Yarrow


September 20, 2018

Michael Cohen has Been Telling Mueller A Lot About Trump’s Dealings With Russia
The Flimsy and Fatuous Excuses Trump and the GOP Offer for Why the FBI Can’t Investigate Kavanaugh
Leftists Can Be Both Idealists on Domestic Issues and Realists on Foreign Policy

Program Notes

We begin with the breaking news from ABC News that the special counsel Robert Mueller has been questioning Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen extensively in interviews in Washington D.C. and New York and that Mueller has primarily been focusing on Trump’s dealings with Russia. Scott Horton, a Professor at Columbia Law School and a contributing editor at Harper’s in legal affairs and national security, joins us to discuss how Mueller has been wary of dealing with Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis since Davis represents prominent Russian oligarchs and organized crime figures. But apparently Cohen’s alleged visit to Prague to pay off Russian hackers involved in meddling in the 2016 campaign, which was first noted in the Steele dossier, has been part of the discussions. And since Cohen himself has ties to Russian and Ukrainian gangsters that preceded Trump’s ties to the Russian and Ukrainian mob, and Cohen first met Trump when he bought condos in Trump properties for his Russian and Ukrainian criminal clients, the combination of what Cohen knows about who funded the Trump Organization together with what the Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization knows and is telling Mueller, could prove fatal to Trump.

Then with today’s email from the lawyers for Kavanaugh’s accuser to the Senate Judiciary Committee stating that Christine Blasey Ford “would be prepared to testify next week” if the senators offered her “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety”, we speak with Mike Zubrensky, Chief Counsel at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. He was Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Obama Administration working on judicial nominations for the Department of Justice and joins us to discuss his article at Medium“Judicial Nominee Background Investigations – Fact vs. Fiction” and how flimsy and fatuous Trump’s and the Republican’s excuses are for why the FBI can’t do a quick investigation of Dr. Ford’s charges against Kavanaugh.

Then finally we speak with Daniel Bessner, a Professor in American Foreign Policy at the University of Washington’s Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies who has an article at The New York Times “What Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Think About the South China Sea? The rising left needs more foreign policy. Here’s how it can start”. We discuss the sweet spot in American politics the left has yet to discover in which you can be an idealist on domestic issues while being a realist on foreign policy.

Scott Horton | Mike Zubrensky | Daniel Bessner



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