Midday Podcast | WYPR

Midday Podcast

 

Today, a conversation about Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Maryland is home to four of the nation’s more than 100 institutions. Last month, President Trump issued an Executive Order directed at HBCUs after meeting with nearly 100 presidents and leaders of those institutions. Some HBCU students and alumni criticized the meeting, calling it a photo op. Several HBCU presidents who attended say they were given little time to discuss their concerns and talk about strategies to help their institutions succeed. 

In 2015, following the uprising sparked by the death of Freddie Gray, there was a big spike in people expressing interest in mentoring. Now two years later has that interest been sustained? Few question the fact that when young people develop a close relationship with a caring adult, those young people do better in school, and they are able to navigate the tricky waters of adolescence much more effectively than their peers who do not have an adult providing a model, and interest in their lives. Kera Ritter is the President of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake, one of several organizations in Maryland connecting young people with mentors.

The US Senate.

Barbara Mikulski has been a social worker, a community organizer, a Baltimore City Council member, a Congresswoman for 10 years, and for the last 30 years, she’s been Senator Barb.  By the time she retired in January as the longest serving woman in the history of the US Congress, Senator Mikulski had earned a reputation as a fierce advocate for families, women, children, seniors and scientists.  She’d also earned the respect of her colleagues on both sides of the aisle, mentoring and helping to pave the way for other women seeking elective office. 

Senator Barbara Mikulski, now a Homewood professor of public policy and adviser to the president at The Johns Hopkins University, is Tom's guest for the hour today.  They'll discuss her remarkable career, her take on Trump, and her prescriptions for the Democrats as they navigate the vagaries of Washington without her.

Kathleen Cahill

Today on Midday, a trip down memory lane with Gil Sandler. You know Gil for his marvelous "Baltimore Stories," heard every Friday morning on WYPR during "Morning Edition." Now he has written and narrated a new radio documentary, Baltimore in the Great Depression: Stories That Tell the Story. The hour-long documentary, produced by Luke Spicknall, and with a contribution by theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, airs for the first time tonight at 8 pm, here on WYPR.

Ken Jackson, who hosts the Big Band show In the Mood every Friday night at 9 here on WYPR, helped choose the music for tonight's program. He is also with Tom in studio, as is Fred Rasmussen of The Baltimore Sun. Rasmussen started his career at the Sun more than 40 years ago as a photo librarian. He had a column called “Back Story” for a long time; he’s a contributing writer to the “Retro Baltimore” feature in the Sun; and he’s been writing obituaries for the Sun for 25 years.

The Great Depression in Baltimore, and across the country, was a time of unemployment, uncertainty, and fear. But it was also a time of hope, Sandler says. Be sure to hear his radio documentary tonight at 8 pm. But first, listen as Gil, Ken and Fred join Tom with their reminiscences of Charm City in the 1930s. 

Monica Reinagel

Today, another installment of our semi-monthly health feature, Smart Nutrition, with our regular guest, licensed nutritionist and blogger Monica Reinagel.  On this edition, Monica assesses a popular personal-health makeover plan called The Whole30 Challenge, in which folks are encouraged to spend at least 30 days not only cutting out the usual bad-diet culprits -- junk foods and sugar -- but also giving up some stuff that’s considered pretty good for you, such as dairy, beans and whole grains.  The creators of the program say it’s not a diet but a way to jumpstart a more nutritious lifestyle. So, does it work?  And more importantly, is it healthful?

Monica Reinagel, who blogs at nutritionovereasy.com as The Nutrition Diva, weighs in on the pros and cons of The Whole30 Challenge, and takes your nutrition questions, too. 

Morgan State University

Dr. Eric Conway is director of the Morgan State University Choir as well as Chairperson of the school’s Fine Arts Department. He joins Tom to talk about Morgan State University's upcoming production of The Wiz: Super Soul Musical, which opens next Thursday.

The musical hit Broadway in 1975. R&B singer Stephanie Mills starred as Dorthy. Diana Ross and Michael Jackson starred in the 1978 film adaptation. Morgan State's production features  the talents of Morgan State students and local singers and actors. 

photo courtesy Boston Globe

In this seventh week of the Trump Administration, Republicans in the House, the Senate and the White House continued to wrangle loudly over a health care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. 

President Trump’s second try at an executive order temporarily banning travel from six Muslim majority countries and halting all refugee admissions was blocked, again, by federal court rulings in Hawaii and Maryland -- rulings the White House says it will appeal. 

Mr. Trump also unveiled his first proposed federal budget, calling for huge increases in defense spending and deep cuts across a wide swath of social programs and federal agencies, including the EPA and the State, Labor and Agriculture Departments.

And in Maryland’s General Assembly, amid partisan battles over paid sick leave and bail reform measures, the House of Delegates passed a revised version of Governor Hogan’s 43.5 billion-dollar state budget proposal, and sent it on to the Senate.

Joining guest host Nathan Sterner to sort out the week’s developments are three keen observers: Amy Goldstein, a national reporter for the Washington Post with a focus on health care policy, on the line from the Post’s newsroom in Washington, DC;  Michael Dresser, State House correspondent for the Baltimore Sun, on the line from Annapolis; and, in the studio, Richard Cross, a former press secretary and speech writer for Maryland Governor Robert Erlich and now a conservative columnist and blogger at rjc-crosspurposes.blogspot.com.  

photo courtesy washingtonwire.com

This is another installment of Living Questions, a program produced in collaboration with the Institute for Islamic, Christian and Jewish Studies that explores the role of religion in the public sphere.  On today’s edition, guest host Rob Sivak leads a discussion about "school choice" in Maryland.

Photo by Shealyn Jae

It's Thursday and that means it's time for Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck to join us with a review. This week, she joins guest host Rob Sivak to talk about "Trust," the new production now on stage at Fells Point Corner Theater in Baltimore until Sunday, March 19th.

Here's how Fells Point Corner Theatre describes this off-beat play by Steven Deitz -- one of the country's most prolific regional-theater playwrights:

"A rising star and a faded one. A radio DJ. A Bohemian. Guitar picks, pick-ups and wedding dresses waiting to be worn. In a fast-paced, grungy grind, how can anyone be trusted when temptation trumps all?  From the creative team who brought us previous year's productions of Other Desert Cities and Detroit, Director Michael Byrne Zemarel combines with the talents of Valerie Dowdle, Cassandra Dutt, Laura Malkus, Rachel Roth, David Shoemaker and Mark Scharf to bring you a play about rock'n'roll -- and the ones it leaves behind."

"Trust," by Steven Deitz,  is on stage at the Fells Point Corner Theatre in Baltimore until Sunday, March 19th.

AP Photo/Karin Laub

Kathleen Cahill sits in for Tom Hall today.  

President Donald Trump signed his first executive order on immigrants and refugees on January 26th,  less than a week after his inauguration.  It went into effect immediately, leading to chaos – and protests – at airports across the United States. That executive order was put on hold by the courts in February.  President Trump signed a revised executive order on immigrants and refugees on March 6th, set to take effect March 16th.

(Just hours after this broadcast, two federal judges -- one in Hawaii and the other in Maryland -- dealt separate blows to the revised travel ban.  As a result, its implementation has been temporarily blocked nationwide. )    

The revised order is aimed at travelers from a targeted list of majority-Muslim countries, including Libya, Sudan Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Iran. This time around, Iraq is not on that list.  No new visas will be issued to people from these countries for 90 days. Like Trump’s first travel ban, Travel Ban 2.0, as it has come to be known,  puts the U.S. refugee program on hold for 120 days. That means refugees from all countries will be barred from entering the United States.  The question is: Will President Trump's latest travel ban do anything to make the country safer from terrorist attacks?

Kathleen is joined in the studio by two guests who have focused intensely on immigrant and refugee issues: lawyer Marielena Hincapie,  Executive Director of the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) in Los Angeles, and Bill Frelick, Director of the Refugee Rights Program at Human Rights Watch in Washington, D.C.

Hincapie comes to our Baltimore studio straight from a hearing  at the federal court in Greenbelt, MD, where the ACLU and refugee rights organizations, including the NILC, have brought legal challenge to the travel ban. 

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay writes about  flawed women, women who are broken, women who won’t bow to a man’s will, women who make mistakes, women who challenge the status quo, women who are just trying to figure it all out, women women who are difficult...

Roxane Gay’s latest collection of short stories explores what it means to be a difficult woman.  Roxane Gay is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of several books including New York Times bestseller Bad Feminist, and her latest Difficult Women. She joins guest host Bridget Armstrong to talk about Difficult Women and her forthcoming memoir Hunger, which is set to be released in June. 

Simon & Schuster

*Helene Cooper will be speaking about "Madame President" on Thursday, March 16 at 6:30pm at the Maryland State Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped, 415 Park Ave., Baltimore MD 21201.For more information click here.

Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf made history in 2006 she became the first woman to lead an African nation. Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times Correspondent Helene Cooper chronicles President Johnson Sirleaf’s path to the highest office in Liberia in her new book Madame President: The Extraordinary Journey of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The book is as much about President Johnson Sirleaf’s life as it is about the culture that shaped her and the women who supported her.  President Johnson Sirleaf was born between two worlds at odds in Liberia. Educated at Harvard University, she was determined to return home to help her country--a decision that often put her in danger. When she was elected in 2005 the country had just come out of a brutal period of civil war. Now she’s nearing the end of her tenure and plans to step down peacefully, the first president of Liberia to do so in decades. Helene Cooper joins guest host Bridget Armstrong to talk about President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's legacy. Helene Cooper is the author of New York Times bestseller The House At Sugar Beach. The book is a memoir about Helene's childhood in Liberia. 

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

It’s Friday, and time for  the Midday News Wrap.

On Capitol Hill, two House committees voted Thursday to approve a Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act. Some Republicans say it doesn’t go far enough in repealing Obamacare. Other critics, including groups of doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, have called the proposed plan unworkable.

Rod Rosenstein, the current US attorney for MD, was in the hot seat on Tuesday during his confirmation hearing to become the nation’s Deputy Attorney General. If confirmed, he would lead any investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, now that A.G. Jeff Sessions has recused himself. He did that when he admitted to failing to disclose his meetings as a Trump campaign surrogate with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. 

As in other recent weeks, the news has been dominated by Donald Trump. In a Tweet early Saturday morning, Trump leveled an extraordinary claim -- accusing President Obama of ordering wiretaps at Trump Tower in New York. The White House has yet to provide any evidence to support the claim. They’ve called for a Congressional investigation. 

And in Baltimore, Police Commissioner Davis puts an end to undercover policing in the city, in the wake of last week’s indictment of seven police officers on federal racketeering charges. 

Joining Tom today for the Midday News Wrap: 

Julie Bykowicz. She’s a White House Reporter for the Associated Press. She covered politics, and the 2016 election, for AP. Before that she was a political reporter for Bloomberg and for 10 years was a reporter at the Baltimore Sun, where she covered state politics, city courts and crime, among other things. 

Fraser Smith. He's a columnist for the Daily Record. He's also a longtime observer of Baltimore, and was at The Baltimore Sun for many years. He is about to step down as WYPR’s senior news analyst. But you’ll still hear him on our airwaves as a WYPR contributor. 

Classical guitarist Junhong Kuang joins Tom live today in Studio A -- and plays some glorious music.  He is the 17-year-old winner of the 2016 Yale Gordon Concerto Competition at the Peabody Conservatory, here in Baltimore.

Kuang is a native of Chengdu, China. He began playing guitar at age 5. At 15, he was accepted into the Peabody Conservatory where he is working toward a bachelor of arts degree in guitar performance under the tutelage of guitarist Manuel Barrueco.

Already in his young career, Kuang has given nearly 100 concerts. And will give another one tomorrow afternoon, at 3 pm at the Baltimore Museum of Art as part of the Shriver Hall Concert Series.

That free concert is sold out, but you can hear Kuang's extraordinary musical talents by listening to his performance today on Midday.  Enjoy!

Photo by Jillian Edelstein

Tom's guest today is the acclaimed Pakistani novelist and essayist Mohsin Hamid.  He’s the author of insightful and quirky novels like Moth Smoke, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

In his latest work, Exit West, he explores the complexities and punishing challenges of being a refugee.  With hints of fantasy and a trenchant analysis of the human condition, Hamid writes fiction that forces us to listen and essays that compel us to question the common wisdom.

Mohsin Hamid joins Tom to talk about his work, and the uncertain fate of refugees in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile to those displaced by war, famine and political upheavals.

You can meet Mohsin Hamid on Saturday, March 11, at the Church of the Redeemer in North Baltimore.  The event will support the work of the Baltimore office of the International Rescue Committee.  It’s sponsored by the Ivy Bookshop, and it begins at 7:00pm.   For more information, click here.

Photo by Richard Anderson

Midday's theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio -- as she does most Thursdays -- with her review this week of The White Snake, on stage in the renovated Head Theater at the newly named Baltimore Center Stage.

Based on an ancient Chinese fable, The White Snake uses mystery and magic to tell a fantastical tale that's staged in grand-spectacle style, intertwining traditional and modern storytelling techniques.  

Two animal spirits -- White Snake and Green Snake, played by Aime Donna Kelly and Eileen Rivera, have taken human form as a beautiful woman and her sly servant. White Snake falls in love with a poor pharmacist’s assistant (played by Joe Ngo), but their relationship is condemned by a conservative monk (played by Peter Van Wagner), and their newfound happiness is threatened by tragedy. 

The White Snake was written-adapted by Mary Zimmerman, and directed by Natsu Onoda Power.  Nicole Wee is the costume designer,  Hana S. Kim is the scenic and projection designer, and  Jeff Song is music director.

The White Snake is at Baltimore Center Stage until March 26th.  Ticket and showtime information is available here.

Tony Juliano

 

Today a conversation about the racial wealth gap and why it persists. Nationally, Blacks have a median household income that’s 60 percent of that of Whites; in Baltimore that number is even lower at just 54 percent. That’s according to a report from the non-profit Corporation for Enterprise Development

For millions of people, home ownership is the key to building wealth. African Americans and Latinos are less likely to own their own homes. And when they do, because of years of redlining in communities of color, they’re valued a lot lower than houses in traditionally white communities.

Sheri Parks

Today, a conversation about public funding of the arts, and how federal, state and local budgets reflect the priorities of President Donald Trump, Governor Larry Hogan, and Mayor Catherine Pugh. 

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are two of 17 federal agencies that appear to be targeted by the Trump administration for elimination, as its budget inclinations lean heavily toward defense spending. The state of Maryland funded arts institutions at the highest level ever last year, and the Governor has proposed an additional $1 million this year, bringing the allocation for the arts to $21 million in Fiscal Year 2018. Ironically, Baltimore City Schools are facing drastic cuts. Principals looking to trim expenses, may have to make cuts to music and visual arts programs. 

An organization called Arts Every Day is holding a symposium this weekend that will call attention to the role that arts education plays in boosting attendance, improving test scores and making schools vibrant parts of their communities.

Cover art courtesy W. W. Norton & Co., Publisher.

Russia remains firmly in the news. Seventeen U.S. intelligence agencies have determined that the Kremlin attempted to influence voters during the Presidential campaign, by spreading disinformation and hacking emails of Clinton campaign officials, and senior leadership of the Democratic National Committee. One senior US official, Gen. Michael Flynn, was forced to resign for not being forthright about his contacts with the Russian Ambassador, and another, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is facing calls to resign for doing essentially, the same thing. America’s posture towards Russia has ebbed and flowed, through two world wars and the Cold War, to the optimism of Perestroika during the Brezhnev/Gorbachev years. Relations deteriorated significantly during the Obama administration, especially when Russian aggression in Crimea and Ukraine led to international sanctions.

President Donald Trump appears to think highly of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but skeptics think that Trump’s bromance with Putin is premised in naiveté, rather than a studied understanding of geo- politics. As Will Englund points out in his new book, it’s nothing new that an American president might not understand Russia, and be ill-equipped to predict what Russian intentions are on the world stage. Englund is an editor on the Washington Post Foreign Desk, and he oversees that paper’s Russia coverage. A Pulitzer Prize winner, he has had three tours as a Moscow correspondent for both The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun. His book is called March 1917: On the Brink of War and Revolution (published by W.W. Norton & Co.).  Englund joins Tom on the line from the newsroom of The Washington Post.

Will Englund will be talking about his book a week from Tuesday (March 14) at the Ivy Bookshop in North Baltimore, and a month from today (April 6) at the Johns Hopkins Barnes and Noble Bookstore in Baltimore's Charles Village neighborhood.

Photo by REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

It’s the Midday News Wrap, our regular Friday review of the week's top local, national and international news stories, with a rotating panel of journalists, commentators and community leaders.

President Trump gave a widely praised speech on Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress.  Various news outlets have identified more than a dozen false or misleading statements in that address.  The Washington Post is keeping track of such things.  They’ve accumulated 187 factually inaccurate statements by the President in his first 40 days in office.  Still, many people think the President quieted some skeptics with his performance in front of Congress.

KEVIN WINTER/ GETTY IMAGES

Today, it’s our monthly Movie Mayhem, and we start with a look back at last Sunday's Academy Award ceremony. That was one weird ending, on a historic night when Moonlight, a low-budget film about a young black man's coming of age and coming out, won the Best Picture Oscar – and deservedly so – but only after its statue was first mistakenly given to La La Land. And that gag with the Hollywood tour group? Did anyone vote for that?

Tom zooms in today on what won and what worked at the 2017 Oscars, plus what’s next on the big screen -- and what's good about the new Cinebistro in the Rotunda -- with regular Midday movie maven Jed Dietz of the Maryland Film Festival, and guest maven Max Weiss, a film and culture critic and managing editor of Baltimore Magazine.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio, as she does each Thursday, with a review today of  the Broadway touring company production of The Bodyguard, on stage through Sunday (March 5) at the Hippodrome Theatre in Baltimore.  

Based on the 1992 hit film of the same name starring Kevin Costner and the late Whitney Houston, the award-winning musical showcases the extraordinary talents of the Grammy-nominated R&B superstar, Deborah Cox

Most audiences will likely recall The Bodyguard storyline: former Secret Service agent-turned-bodyguard, Frank Farmer, played by Judson Mills, is hired to protect superstar Rachel Marron, played by Cox, from an unknown stalker. Each is strong-willed and used to being in control, but in spite of themselves, they fall in love.  The Bodyguard features a playlist of popular classics, including "Queen of the Night," "So Emotional," "One Moment in Time," "Saving All My Love," "Run to You," "I Have Nothing," "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and one of the biggest-selling songs of all time – "I Will Always Love You."

The Bodyguard was adapted from the Lawrence Kasdan screenplay with a book by Alexander Dinelaris.  The Broadway touring production is directed by Thea Sharrock, choreographed by Karen Bruce, with set and costume designs by Tim Hatley.  

The Bodyguard continues at the Hippodrome until Sunday, March 5th.

Baltimore City Council

Today a conversation with three new members of the Baltimore City Council. Last November, voters elected eight new members to the council. At that time, pundits predicted that these new, often younger members would shake things up. So how are the first few months going and what can we expect from the city council going forward?  

There’s a public hearing tonight on a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. On Monday, the council passed a resolution tranfer control of the  Baltimore police department from the state to the city. And, funding for the school system is front of mind. We’ll find out where these freshmen lawmakers stand on these and other issues facing them in their first weeks in office.  

cnn.com

There are an estimated 19,000 addicts who inject heroin and other opioids in the city of Baltimore.  They shoot up, in the shadows.  They even have a name for the vacant houses they sometimes use:  abandominiums.        

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say that as part of a strategy to address this growing epidemic, Baltimore should establish places where addicts can use drugs in safer environments.  These “Safe Drug Consumption Spaces” would be monitored by medical personnel, who could intercede if someone overdoses, and addicts can, at the very least, be guaranteed the use of sterile needles. 

Dr. Susan Sherman recently published a report commissioned by the Abell Foundation that makes the argument for the creation of these safe spaces in Baltimore City.  She joins me today, along with Robert Kinneberg, the director of the Phoenix Recovery Center, who works to cure addiction.  And we're joined on the line from Annapolis by Del. Dan Morhaim, a Democrat and licensed emergency-room physician who represents Baltimore County in the MD House. He's just introduced a bill authorizing the creation of safe drug injection facilities in communities across Maryland.  We also take your calls, tweets and emails.

Photo by K. Whiteford

Today an update on the Maryland General Assembly. Late last week, a bill that would require many Maryland employers to provide paid sick leave advanced out of committee. The bill calls for companies with at least 15 employees to offer up to seven days of paid sick leave to full-time workers per year. Smaller companies would have to offer unpaid sick leave.

 There’s also legislation to make Maryland a sanctuary state for undocumented immigrants. And, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh now has the authority to bypass Governor Hogan to challenge the Trump administration in court. A spokesman for the Governor says that this one of the nearly one hundred bills aimed at limited Governor's Hogan's power since he was elected three years ago.

 

The Trump administration is five weeks old today, and there’s never a dull moment. His solo press conference in week four was, depending on your political persuasion, either free-wheeling and refreshing, or out of control and terrifying. You might say that week five was calmer for President Trump than weeks 1-4. Or has this presidency, as some have suggested, become normalized, even though many people think that this White House is anything but? 

Bridget Armstrong

After a long day at work, a lot of folks just don’t feel like cooking an elaborate multi-course meal. Sometimes, it’s just easier to dump it all in a pot and start cooking. Resident foodies John Shields of Gertrude’s Restaurant and Sascha Wolhandler of Sascha’s 527 join Tom with tips on one-pot wonders.  

So, What Ya Got Cookin? Do you have a go-to lasagna dish? A favorite stew or soup?  Let’s share some recipes and tips for crock pots and dutch ovens and whatever your favorite pot is.  

 John is a chef, author and the owner of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art.  Sascha and her husband Steve Susser run Sascha’s 527 Restaurant and Catering in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Charm City.

Primary Stages

Each Thursday, we cover the regional thespian scene with Midday theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck.  Today, Judy brings us her conversation with Baltimore native Susan R. Rose.  She’s a theater and film producer whose Broadway credits include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Hurlyburly and Bloodknot. She has also produced movies for NBC, CBS, Showtime and Lifetime.

Rose's latest production, Motherhood Out Loud, is a compendium of more than 20 short pieces by more than a dozen playwrights. Motherhood Out Loud has been produced from coast to coast as well as abroad.  Tomorrow, it will make its Baltimore debut at the Vagabond Players, where it runs through March 19.

J. Wynn Rousuck spoke with Susan Rose on February 14th  from Argot Studios in New York , the city to which Rose moved when her production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat arrived there in the 1980s.

US News and World Report

Last week, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, released an outline of how House Republicans hope to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obama Care. The legislative blueprint, which offers no precise cost estimates, includes significant changes to Medicaid, grants to states, health savings accounts, and tax credits. Similar repeal-and-replace drafts are circulating as well among Republicans in the Senate, and will have to be reconciled with the House proposal.

On Wednesday, the US Conference of Mayors called for a National Day of Action to talk about the potential consequences of repealing Obama Care.  The Mayors point to  impacts on the health and safety of low income residents of their cities, and the financial strain changes may put on local hospitals.

Today on the Midday Healthwatch, Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore's  health commissioner (and first-time expectant mom!), joins Tom to talk about what the effects of an ACA repeal might be on Charm City.  We’ll take your calls, your questions and comments. 

President Trump’s alleged ties to Russia have become one of the most controversial and pressing issues of his administration.

Last week during a press conference the president denied having any ties to Russia or the country's president Vladimir Putin. Saying "I have nothing to do with Russia. To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does." Russian diplomats have suggested a different story.    

Yesterday, President Trump named Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his National Security Advisor. With Michael Flynn out, and McMaster in, what might that portend for relations between Russia and the US?  

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