One of the more mysterious parts of the Mercer family’s political orbit is Cambridge Analytica. The data firm claims it has psychological profiles of over 200 million American voters. The firm was hired by the Trump campaign to help it target its message to potential voters. The Mercers have bankrolled the company and placed Steve Bannon on its board. We speak to The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer.
Years before backing Donald Trump, the Mercers helped support the congressional campaign of Arthur Robinson, who attempted to oust Rep. Peter DeFazio. Robinson made for an unusual candidate. He is a climate change denier who speaks about the positive effects of nuclear radiation. Robinson runs the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, which stores some 14,000 samples of human urine. Robinson has said he is trying to find new ways of extending the human lifespan. The Mercers funded Robinson’s campaign and institute. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer reports the Mercers also pushed to have Trump name Robinson as his science adviser. Jane Mayer writes about Robinson in her new piece, "The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer exploited America’s populist insurgency."
We look at Robert Mercer, the man who is said to have out-Koched the Koch brothers in the 2016 election. The secretive billionaire hedge-fund tycoon, along with his daughter Rebekah, is credited by many with playing an instrumental role in Donald Trump’s election. "The Mercers laid the groundwork for the Trump revolution," Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon said. "Irrefutably, when you look at donors during the past four years, they have had the single biggest impact of anybody, including the Kochs." Before Bannon and Kellyanne Conway joined the Trump campaign, both worked closely with the Mercers. The Mercers bankrolled Bannon’s Breitbart News, as well as some of Bannon’s film projects. Conway ran a super PAC created by the Mercers to initially back the candidacy of Ted Cruz. While the Mercers have helped reshape the American political landscape, their work has all been done from the shadows. To talk more about the Mercers, we speak with Jane Mayer, staff writer at The New Yorker. Her latest piece is headlined "The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency: How Robert Mercer exploited America’s populist insurgency." She is also author of "Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right," which just came out in paperback.
A growing number of U.S. citizens are sharing accounts of having been detained at airports across the country since the start of the Trump administration. Boston-based civil rights attorney Iván Espinoza-Madrigal says he was returning home on March 12 from a vacation in Portugal when he was detained at Boston’s Logan Airport. A day later, the former police chief of Greenville, North Carolina, Hassan Aden, says he was detained for over an hour by Customs and Border Protection agents when he was flying into New York City’s JFK International Airport after returning from visiting his mother in Paris. The two join other U.S. citizens, including a U.S. Olympic medalist, a NASA scientist and the son of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who have all been detained at airports across the country since the start of the Trump administration. For more, we’re speak with Iván Espinoza-Madrigal and Hassan Aden.
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch was tapped by President Trump to fill the seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia’s death over a year ago. President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Scalia nearly a year ago, but Republicans refused even to hold hearings, fearing that Garland would tip the ideological balance of the court to the left. Now Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on Democratic lawmakers to refuse to vote on Gorsuch’s confirmation while the Trump administration is under FBI investigation. For more, we speak with Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and with Elliot Mincberg, former chief counsel for oversight and investigations of the House Judiciary Committee.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch faced questions about his views on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and the $10 million dark money campaign supporting his nomination. A recent New York Times investigation reveals Gorsuch has close ties to Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz. For more, we speak with Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and with Elliot Mincberg, former chief counsel for oversight and investigations of the House Judiciary Committee.
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is heading to Capitol Hill today for his third day of confirmation hearings. On Tuesday, he was questioned for over 10 hours by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He faced particularly intense scrutiny over his decision to rule against a truck driver whose employer fired him for deserting a trailer so he wouldn’t freeze to death. For more on this case and the rest of Gorsuch’s record, we speak with Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. We also speak with Elliot Mincberg, former chief counsel for oversight and investigations of the House Judiciary Committee.
FBI Director James Comey has confirmed the FBI is investigating whether President Trump’s campaign collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election. Comey also said the FBI has "no information" that supports Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that President Obama tapped Trump’s phones in Trump Tower during the election. The director of the National Security Agency, Michael Rogers, also refuted President Trump’s claims that President Obama asked the British intelligence agency GCHQ to carry out the wiretap on Trump Tower. For more, we speak with journalist Marcy Wheeler, who runs the website EmptyWheel.net. We also speak with Eric Lipton, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter at The New York Times.
All eyes are on the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch, who is facing his second day of confirmation hearings. But Trump has 123 other federal judgeships to fill, because Senate Republicans blocked many of Obama’s nominees. We take a look at how a top official at the Federalist Society, named Leonard Leo, is playing a key role in helping Trump reshape the nation’s judicial landscape from behind the scenes. We speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eric Lipton of The New York Times. He recently co-wrote a piece headlined "In Gorsuch, Conservative Activist Sees Test Case for Reshaping the Judiciary."
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is heading back to Capitol Hill today for a second day of confirmation hearings. During Monday’s hearing, Democratic senators repeatedly criticized Gorsuch’s record, as well as their Republican counterparts for refusing to take up the nomination of President Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Neil Gorsuch has a long history of ruling against employees in cases involving federal race, sex, age, disability and political discrimination and retaliation claims. For more, we speak with Ian Millhiser, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and editor of ThinkProgress Justice. His recent piece is headlined "The Judge Gorsuch who spoke in the Senate today is nothing like the man who wrote his opinions."
In Burlington, Vermont, at least three prominent immigrant rights activists have been arrested in recent days. All three—Cesar Alex Carrillo, Enrique Balcazar and Zully Palacios—are leaders or members of the group Migrant Justice. Balcazar, who is known as Kike, serves on Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan’s immigration task force, which was created to respond to the Trump administration’s immigration policies. For more, we speak with Will Lambek, organizer with Migrant Justice.
On Thursday, a U.S. Reaper drone struck a gathering in a rebel-held village in Aleppo province, killing as many as 49 people. Monitoring groups say most of the dead were civilians who had gathered at a mosque to pray, while the Pentagon claims the gathering was a meeting of al-Qaeda members. The next day, 42 Somali refugees were gunned down by a helicopter gunship near the Yemen coast. Somalia accused Saudi Arabia of carrying out the strike. Eyewitness accounts suggest a U.S.-made Apache helicopter was used to carry out the deadly strike. For more, we speak with Samuel Oakford, investigative reporter for the journalistic project Airwars, who reports that the number of civilian casualties in U.S. airstrikes has been escalating since Donald Trump took office two months ago.
As Neil Gorsuch begins his Supreme Court confirmation hearings, we look at his extreme right-wing political positions as a student at Columbia in the 1980s and speak with his former classmate, Jordan Kushner. While on campus, Gorsuch co-founded the right-wing campus newspaper the Federalist Paper. The Associated Press reports that in Gorsuch’s writing both for the Federalist Paper and the Columbia Daily Spectator, he criticized anti-apartheid protests, saying divestment could hurt the university’s endowment. He also criticized racial justice protests and black-led movements on campus, while he defended the Reagan administration during the Iran-Contra scandal.
As confirmation hearings begin for Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, we look at his record on voting rights and speak with Ari Berman, senior contributing writer for The Nation. His recent piece is headlined "In E-mails, Neil Gorsuch Praised a Leading Republican Activist Behind Voter Suppression Efforts."
Confirmation hearings begin today for Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. If confirmed by the Senate, Gorsuch would give conservatives a narrow 5-4 majority on the court. When he was first nominated, Gorsuch praised Antonin Scalia. As a judge on the 10th Circuit, Neil Gorsuch ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in the case deciding whether the company could refuse to provide birth control coverage to employees as required by Obamacare. Judge Gorsuch also has a long history of ruling against employees in cases involving federal race, sex, age, disability and political discrimination and retaliation claims. For more, we speak with Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout. She recently ran for a congressional seat in upstate New York. Her recent piece for The Washington Post is headlined "Neil Gorsuch sides with big business, big donors and big bosses."
Is President Donald Trump’s top counterterrorism adviser, Sebastian Gorka, a member of a Hungarian far-right, Nazi-allied group? We speak with reporter Larry Cohler-Esses, who first reported the allegations in The Forward, a leading Jewish American newspaper. The outlet reports members of the Vitézi Rend elite order confirmed Gorka took a lifelong oath of loyalty to the Hungarian far-right group, which is listed by the U.S. State Department as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II. Questions first emerged about Gorka’s ties to the group after the website LobeLog published photographs of Gorka wearing a Vitézi Rend medal on his lapel at a presidential inauguration ball on January 20. Gorka has denied reports of his involvement with the group, but if he is found to have failed to disclose this in his immigration application, it could make him inadmissible to the country under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The revelation comes as Jewish community centers and synagogues around the U.S. reported another wave of bomb threats over the weekend.
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