Background Briefing: July 19, 2018
The Man Trump Was Prepared to Hand Over to Putin to Be Silenced Permanently
We begin with the person who Vladimir Putin desperately wants to murder, Bill Browder,the chief executive and founder of Hermitage Capital Markets whose lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was tortured and killed in a Russian prison after uncovering a $230 million fraud by government officials. Bill campaigned to have the Magnitsky Act signed into U.S. law in 2012 and Putin, who personally received some of the stolen money, is obsessed with getting the act repealed. Apparently Putin got Trump to agree to what our president said was “an incredible offer” to turn over Browder and U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul to Putin in exchange for U.S. access to the 12 Russian military intelligence officers recently indicted by Mueller. With today’s Senate vote of 98 to 0 on a resolution urging Trump not to honor Putin’s request, we will discuss how Browder has been trying to avoid getting killed by Putin’s regime for the last 10 years and how Putin is terrified that the Magnitsky Act could be applied to his offshore fortune estimated to be between $50 and $200 billion.
Trump Accuses the Tiny Country of Montenegro of Being So Aggressive It Would Start World War III
Then we speak with Daniel Serwer, Professor of Conflict Management at the John’s Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies who served as a special envoy and mediator between Croats and Muslims at the Dayton peace talks and facilitated dialogue between Serbs and Albanians in the Balkans. He joins us to discuss how Trump, in a softball interview on Fox News, cavalierly dismissed NATO’s newest member Montenegro as being unworthy of NATO’s defense under article 5 of the treaty and even accused the tiny Balkan country of being so aggressive that it could start World War III.
A Gullible Trump Believes Russia’s Promise to Rein in Iran
Then finally we analyze what appears to be the only possible agreement to emerge from the secret talks between Putin and Trump and that is some kind of promise by Russia to make sure that when Russia’s client Assad is restored to power in Syria, the Israelis will not be threatened by Iran as Trump abandons the U.S. position in Syria, selling out the Kurds and giving ISIS a reprieve. A specialist on Greater Syria, James Gelvin, a Professor of History at UCLA, joins us to discuss Trump’s gullibility is believing the absurd Russian promise to reign in the Iranians in Syria to help Israel.