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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, June 23, 2018
Death and Taxes at SCOTUS:
'BradCast' 6/21/2018
Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Abuse reported at child immigrant detention centers; Trump's trade war dangers; Much more...
'Green News Report' 6/21/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Blocked study released, reveals contamination; More CO2 reduces food nutrition; Trump rescinds BP spill protections; PLUS: 30 years since Congress warned about climate change...
Previous GNRs: 6/19/18 - 6/14/18 - Archives...
Trump's Lie Collapses, Family Separation Policy Reversed (Sort Of): 'BradCast' 6/20/18
Also: DC, AR election results; Why 'both sides are the same' argument from progressives is pathetic; Canada legalizes recreational pot...
Judge Nixes KS 'Proof of Citizenship' Voting Law, Slaps Humiliating Sanction on Kobach: 'BradCast' 6/19/18
Guest: ACLU trial atty Sophia Lin Lakin; Also: Trump's border 'crisis' worsens for Repubs...
'Green News Report' 6/19/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hurricanes moving slower; New EPA rules could kill thousands; China tariffs to hit US energy; McDonald's phasing out plastic straws; PLUS: Climate change eroding home values...
Previous GNRs: 6/14/18 - 6/12/18 - Archives...
Sunday 'Giving Peace a Chance' Toons
Just a glimpse of what happened over the past week via the eyes of the world's political cartoonists, as one of them lost his job this week for being too critical of Donald J. Trump...
Sessions 'Can't Do That': Immigration Atty on Admin Denial of Domestic Abuse Asylum: 'BradCast' 6/15/18
Guest: Law Prof Karen Musalo; Also: 1000s ripped from parents, warehoused by US Govt...
'Green News Report' 6/14/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
GOPers turning on Pruitt; Antarctica's ice melting 3x times faster; DNC bans fossil fuel donations; Flooding doubled over last 30 yrs; PLUS: Energy Dept: E-cars cheapest to drive...
Previous GNRs: 6/12/18 - 6/7/18 - Archives...
Ranked Choice Voting is a Terrible Idea; Election Results/Fails, Trump's GOP Cult: 'BradCast' 6/13/18
NV's new voting systems fail; WI seat flipped; Scheme to break CA up on 2018 ballot...
'It Doesn't Matter, We're Starting from Scratch': 'BradCast' 6/12/18
Guest: Former Dep. Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs on Singapore agreement, 'denuclearization', NK atrocities...
'Green News Report' 6/12/18
Trump's G7 debacle over climate; CA electric co. faulted for deadly fires; EPA overhauls cost-benefit analyses; PLUS: Growing movement to ban single-use plastics...
Trump's Bonkers Turn Against G7 Allies Before NK Summit: 'BradCast' 6/11/18
Also: SCOTUS approves radical OH vote purge scheme; L.A. won't rule out hacking in 'print error' that left 118k off rolls; Callers ring in...
Sunday Toons Not Censored by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
'PDiddie' features several recent toons by award-winning staff cartoonist Rob Rogers which were, remarkably enough, spiked by the paper's new RW editor...
HUD Scheme Raises Rent by 26% per Year on Low Income Familes: 'BradCast' 6/8/18
Guest: Former HUD official Diane Yentel; Also: DoJ spied on NYT journo, refuses to defend 'ObamaCare' in suit...
Election Failure, Fallout in CA, AL, SD: 'BradCast' 6/7/18
Several massive Election Day failures in L.A. and noteworthy results in CA and elsewhere; Also: The jaw-dropping kleptocracy of Trump's EPA chief Scott Pruitt...
'Green News Report' 6/7/18
CA voters choose climate action; Yet another ethics scandal for Pruitt; Judge orders denial evidence from EPA; PLUS: Trump withdrawal from Paris pact to cost trillions...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Abuse reported at child immigrant detention centers; Trump's trade war dangers; More...
By Brad Friedman on 6/21/2018 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we have not one, but two important and separate warnings for Donald Trump and the Republican Party, as pulled from the deep audio archives of 1988. Both of which --- on two separate topics from two separate people --- they seem to be completely ignoring, even as one of those warnings comes from their supposed idol Ronald Reagan. [Audio link to show posted below.]

First up today, the Trump-caused child immigration crisis continues to unfold with several disturbing new reports of unspeakable abuse at two separate federally-contracted facilities, based on filings in new federal court cases. One from Associated Press on beatings and more at a youth facility in Virginia and the other from the Center for Investigative Reporting on the forced injection of psychotropic drugs at a facility near Houston. That, as an Executive Order signed by the President on Wednesday, reversing part of his Administration's policy, fails to speak to family reunification for more than 2,300 children separated from their parents in recent weeks under Trump's "zero tolerance" border policy, and an Administration request to the Pentagon for space to house some 20,000 migrant children.

While all of those American nightmares have been unfolding over the past week, the effects of Trump's growing trade war have been quietly playing out in the background, as the Dow has dropped some 600 points over the past four days, with China and friendly allies like Canada, Mexico and the EU vowing massive and swift retaliation for ill-considered tariff's on foreign imports instituted by Trump. Among the hardest-hit victims of his new trade wars: farmers who were among some of biggest supporters of Trump's candidacy in 2016.

Perhaps that explains why, as share in an audio clip from 1988 today, Ronald Reagan warned: "We should beware of the demagogues who are ready to declare a trade war...all while cynically waving the American flag."

Next, we're joined by MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter at Slate, and our "Supreme Correspondent" this month, as the U.S. Supreme Court slowly releases a bevy of decisions in advance of their planned Summer recess, on a number of major cases heard at the high court over the past term. Among the cases we discuss today:

  • On Thursday, SCOTUS released a 5 to 4 decision allowing states to impose sales taxes on all online purchases. The ruling found some very strange bedfellows in both its majority and minority opinions, but both Stern and I agree, the decision makes sense, and will be good for local retailers, jobs, the economy and state budgets where, particularly in "red" states, tax cuts in recent years have lead to the gutting of education, infrastructure and other important social services. The 1967 SCOTUS ruling struck down today, was "a totally capricious standard that the Court created itself," Stern argues. "This was the Court fixing a problem that it made."
  • Stern also details an exceedingly troubling --- if little reported --- case out of South Dakota, where a man was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, according to jury members themselves, they feared, as a gay man, he might enjoy life in prison too much. Seriously. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this matter: the Court declined to hear the case at all. Even the liberal Justices failed to offer a written dissent to the Court's decision.
  • We also discuss the SCOTUS' regrettable punts this week on two partisan gerrymandering cases in Wisconsin and Maryland. (More on those cases earlier this week, with author David Daley on Monday's BradCast.)
  • And the seemingly unprecedented federal court smack down of Kris Kobach, notorious GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and Kansas Secretary of State. His "Proof of Citizenship" voter registration law was struck down by a George W. Bush-appointed federal judge, and he was slapped for his contemptible performance in the courtroom --- where he represented both himself and the state of KS --- with more humiliating sanctions that include an order to attend six hours of legal classes. Moreover, as Stern reports, Kobach appears to be in still more violation of court orders, as he has yet to remove the requirement for citizenship documentation for voter registration from the KS Sec. of State website, as the judge ordered him to do "immediately" in her ruling on Monday.

    "I think that there is a decent chance that we could see even more sanctions for Kobach after this," Stern tells me. "Kobach is such a clown that this judge is going to finally have to bring down the hammer and I think it's going to be a glorious sight." (More on that case, with Sophia Lakin, one of the ACLU trial attorneys on the case, from Tuesday's BradCast.)

  • Previewing the cases still to come before the end of the month, Sterns warns: "I think the Supreme Court is going to hobble public sector unions by preventing them from collecting dues from no-union members. I worry the Supreme Court is going to uphold the [Muslim] travel ban. I do think the Court may put real limits on the government's ability to collect information about where your cell phone has been from your provider. That's going to be a bright spot, I hope. But I also think the court's going to end up striking down California's disclosure requirements for crisis pregnancy centers. So, this is s not going to be a good term for progressives. I think everyone needs to just buckle in and focus on November."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on a number of important issues that the Trump Administration did quietly this week as the rest of the nation and media were consumed with the child immigration story, and the 30th anniversary of Dr. James Hansen's first dire warning to Congress --- also in 1988 --- about the then-looming menace of global warming due to the unprecedented release of greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide from the manmade burning of fossil fuels, into the atmosphere...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Trial attorney Sophia Lin Lakin of ACLU's Voting Rights Project; Also: Trump's border 'crisis' worsens for Republicans...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: GOPers in D.C. try to overcome Trump's wildly unpopular new border policy and Kansas' Secretary of State loses again in court and faces what may be his most humiliating moment to date. But that's very good news for voters! [Audio link to program is posted below.]

First up, the panic for Republicans on Capitol Hill continued to mount on Tuesday as GOP lawmakers scrambled to find a legislative way out of the family separation crisis created by Donald Trump at the southern border, where more than 2,300 children have now been separated from their parents since his "zero tolerance" policy was first implemented just two months ago. Also today, the Administration announced their intention to pull the U.S. out of the U.N. Human Rights Council the day after its outgoing head blasted the United State's new border policy as "unconscionable" for "inflicting such abuse on children". We discuss the latest on all of the above.

Then, after a quick recap of the 8-year ignominious history of Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach's inglorious tenure as the nation's top elected GOP "voter fraud" fraudster, we're joined by attorney SOPHIA LIN LAKIN of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, to discuss Kobach's latest brutal humiliation. In a victory for the state's voters on Monday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson (a George W. Bush appointee), struck down Kobach's extreme "Proof of Citizenship" voter registration law, finding it in violation of the National Voter Registration Act and the Constitution.

The KS Sec. of State has repeatedly defended the law in court, and has been defeated in virtually every battle over it for years, since persuading the state legislature to adopt the measure. But Robinson's ruling on Monday permanently enjoins the law, which had kept tens of thousands of legitimate state registrants in various forms of electoral limbo as Kobach continued to insist their was a massive (if, apparently invisible) epidemic of non-citizen voters jeopardizing the integrity of KS elections.

Kobach, who originally ran for office in 2010 almost solely on the false and misleading promise to "STOP VOTER FRAUD" in Kansas, has failed to find virtually any such fraud during his eight years in office. As Lakin, a member of the ACLU's trial team explains today, during the trial earlier this year, wherein Kobach chose to represented himself and his state, he was unable to show evidence of almost any non-citizen registrations or votes cast in Kansas, despite millions of legal ballots cast during the same period.

"From 1999 to 2013," she tells me, "Kobach was able to present just 39 confirmed non-citizens who were able to successfully get on the rolls, and of those 39, only 11 voted." Most of the registrations, she explains --- as did the judge in her 118-page ruling [PDF] --- were due to administrative errors.

"The judge pretty much agreed that Kris Kobach has been peddling a xenophobic lie that non-citizens are engaging in rampant election fraud. And this was his chance. This court battle that we just had was his chance to put on the record his evidence that this is what was happening. The judge saw that evidence, and she agreed that there was very little evidence of non-citizen voting in Kansas --- certainly not enough to justify the tens of thousands of individuals that have been disenfranchised by that requirement."

"The judge very much wanted Kris Kobach to have his day in court, to put his evidence of non-citizen voting to the test, to see what he was able to actually muster," Lakin tells me. "We even re-opened discovery for the very purpose of him doing that. So, the proof is in the pudding here. He utterly failed."

Of course, Kobach has vowed to appeal the ruling, as he does. But, aside from the verdict's very good news for voters, there was another extraordinary aspect to Robinson's ruling on Monday. In what amounted to a third set of judicial sanctions against him during the long course of the 2016 case and this year's full bench trial, Judge Robinson admonished Kobach in a newly humiliating way. After previously sanctioning him to pay some $50,000 in ACLU legal bills, due to his contempt in having misled the court, Robinson ordered Kobach to attend 6 hours of law school to study up on federal and state courtroom procedures!

Lakin details how, during the trial, the judge repeatedly --- and embarrassingly --- was forced to explain basic rules of evidence and other standard courtroom procedures to Kobach.

"Judge Robinson essentially ordered Kobach to go back to school" in her ruling, she says, explaining that Kobach's performance in the courtroom and repeated reprimands from the judge were likely even worse than the clownshow that the media reported them as, at the time. When I asked how unusual these type of sanctions are against a trial lawyer, she says: "To be honest, I don't think I've ever seen so many sanction rulings against an attorney at all," much less one where they were ordered to attend legal classes.

And, as if that wasn't enough, the ACLU launched yet another lawsuit today against Kris Kobach, this time over his so-called "Crosscheck" system to help (inaccurately) purge voting rolls in some 26 states.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Trump's tariffs against China blow back on the U.S. energy industry, his EPA's gutting of regulations threatens tens of thousands of lives, global warming is making hurricane damage far worse and housing prices fall, and as McDonald's finally plans to do away with single-use plastic straws...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Author David Daley of FairVote; Plus callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2018 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More disappointing (if not deadly) rulings on voting rights were released on Monday from the U.S. Supreme Court, and callers ring in on the growing outrage of the last few days, thanks to the parent/child separation of Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy at the border.

First up today, two long-awaited rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court on partisan gerrymandering were finally handed down on Monday. In both cases, as our guest today, FairVote's DAVID DALEY details, the Court decided to essentially punt the cases back down to lower courts.

Daley, author of RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, which details the GOP scheme to implement extreme partisan redistricting following the 2010 census, explains that Wisconsin Republicans will be allowed to keep their wildly unfair state assembly districts for yet another election, and that, in Maryland, where Democrats admit to having gerrymandered a U.S. House district to their own advantage, that gerrymandered district will also stay in place, almost a full decade after being implemented. That, despite lower courts finding those districts to be unlawful and unconstitutional, and other pending cases --- such as the federal court which found all of the U.S. House districts in North Carolina to have been unlawfully gerrymandered by Republicans --- still on hold and awaiting a hearing at SCOTUS.

"That's what's so frustrating and sad about today," Daley tells me. "They had a buffet of statistical standards and evidence that all pointed in the same direction and that revealed exactly what had happened here, and, instead, they ducked." He explains the basis on which the Court punted in both cases and how "Republicans have essentially been able to run out the clock to steal, in some ways, the entire decade of power, especially in state legislatures around the country."

While the "silver lining" on this today is that the Court did not declare, as some had feared, that it was up to legislatures, not courts, to fix the problem that legislatures themselves created, Daley argues that this was a missed opportunity. The Court's swing-vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, has long suggested he'd be open to finding partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional once and for all. But, once again, in both of today's cases, he ducked. That means --- should the 81-year old Justice (or any of the others) leave the Court before another case comes up to offer a definitive ruling --- things could become much worse, for generations, if Trump is allowed to appoint a replacement.

Then, as even some Republicans (a precious few) begin to finally turn against the Trump Administration's grotesque and inhumane new policy which separates children from their parents after they are detained crossing the southern border with Mexico --- resulting in thousands of kids being locked away in detention centers in just the past few weeks --- how long can Trump continue to falsely blame the Democrats for his own Dept. of Justice's new "zero tolerance" policy?

Trump and his department chiefs continue to double down on his false claim, despite the growing outrage from Americans after disturbing stories, pictures, and sounds of abuse continue to be reported out of these detention centers around the country, with media finally gaining very limited access to them.

We open the phone lines today to callers on all of those issues, as the chilling rise of Trump's GOP-approved authoritarianism in the U.S. continues to stun the nation and the world...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Karen Musalo of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies; Also: Thousands of children ripped from parents, warehoused in detention centers by U.S. Government for months...
By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2018 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The immigration horror stories of children being ripped from their parents and of asylum seekers fleeing domestic abuse in their home countries are beginning to pour in. We speak today to a longtime immigration attorney at the center of a number of landmark rulings, who is now representing the woman from El Salvador whose grant of asylum was unilaterally overturned this week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. [Link to audio of the show is posted below.]

There are now more than 11,000 children who have been separated from their parents at the southern border being held in detention centers across the country by the U.S. Government. It's unclear whether that number includes the 2,000 kids taken from their parents over a recent six week period, as reported by AP today, under the Trump Administration's new "zero tolerance" policy, which requires criminal, rather than civil, prosecution against those who cross the border unlawfully.

This week, some members of the media finally received a limited first look inside one of the largest such detention centers --- a converted Walmart superstore in Brownsville, TX --- where some 1,500 boys, aged 10 to 17, are being warehoused. They are living five in each room built for four people, are forced to stay inside for 22 hours a day, and are being held, on average, for about 50 days each in the facility, before they are either sent to foster care or reunited with their parents (if those parents can find them within the government system.)

Media reports this week include horrific stories of babies being ripped from their mothers' arms while breastfeeding and parents being told that officials are simply taking their children to bathe them, before they are shipped away to a detention facility. Somehow, Donald Trump and his White House are managing to blame all of this on Democrats, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions is justifying these new Dept. of Justice policies by quoting the bible. We cover some of those nightmarish stories, reports that an outdoor tent city, in sweltering southwest TX near El Paso, is being planned to store more than 400 more children --- who are now being separated from their parents at an alarming rate --- and a confrontation between reporters and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders over these matters during a briefing on Thursday.

In a separate, if related issue earlier in the week, Sessions issued a decision, attempting to change decades of U.S. immigration policy regarding asylum claims by immigrants fleeing their home countries on the basis of domestic abuse and gang violence.

We're joined today by KAREN MUSALO, Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings College of Law to discuss the Administration's new policy. Musalo represents "A.B.", the El Salvadoran woman whose grant of asylum by the U.S. Immigration Board of Appeals was unilaterally overturned by Sessions on Monday, along with his announcement of the Administration's cruel new policy which declares that domestic abuse will no longer be an allowable basis for asylum seekers.

The longtime immigration rights attorney pushes back today, detailing the disturbing circumstances under which her client, Ms. A.B., fled her home country, explaining several poorly understood aspects of the U.S. Immigration Court system (which is part of the Dept. of Justice, not the federal Judicial branch --- so, judges work for Sessions), and stressing that the Attorney General is misinforming the public by claiming that asylum seekers fleeing domestic violence will no longer be allowed in the country.

"Clearly what the Attorney General is trying to do with issuing this decision is to send a strong message that cases of women fleeing domestic violence or people fleeing gang violence are not legitimate asylum claims," Musalo tells me. "But for those of us who are experts and understand the law, and read his decision closely --- he may want to send that message, and he did in fact reverse a 2014 precedent that clearly stated that survivors of domestic violence were eligible for asylum --- but there's a whole framework of law that has developed in the 38 years since the 1980 Refugee Act was enacted."

She says: "The reason I'm underscoring that point is that I think he's going to try to bully judges and asylum officers into thinking this is the law, there's no way around it, they should deny these cases --- and also, making lawyers think they shouldn't bring cases on behalf of their clients. So I feel it's very important to point out this is what he's trying to do, but that's not how the law is properly interpreted."

Musalo also stresses that, despite reports of an increase in those seeking asylum from Central America due to domestic abuse since the 2014 change in policy, "The number of claims have not skyrocketed as a result of the Obama Administration recognizing domestic violence as a basis of protection. That's simply not true."

"This has really made people rise up and say, "How can it be in the year 2018 that we have an Attorney General who says that you can send a woman to her death, back to a country where the police and the courts just sit by?," Musalo notes, citing Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras with the "highest homicide rates in the world [and] the highest femicide rates in the world, denoting gender-motivated killings."

There is a lot of important and enlightening information that Musalo imparts today --- more than I can adequately share in a short description here --- so I urge you to listen to the full conversation on today's program.

Finally today, Stephen Colbert, just before Father's Day, had a few thoughts of his own on CBS' Late Show in response to Sessions' use of a bible passage to justify the Administration's cruel and alarming new policy of separating children from their parents at the border. It also should be considered a must-listen...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern of Slate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Happy birthday, Mr. President! To celebrate today, the New York Attorney general filed a civil lawsuit [PDF] against Donald J. Trump, his so-called "charitable foundation", and his children Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka, charging that his foundation was used as little more than a personal and business slush fund, and to benefit his 2016 Presidential campaign. [Audio link to show follows below.]

All of that, NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleges in her suit, is in violation of both state and federal law. Many of the allegations against Trump's unlawful use of his foundation were reported in the run-up to the election, though much more self-dealing was discovered in the course of the AG's 2-year investigation, including that the Trump Foundation's board of directors had not met since 1999, that some board members had no idea they were even on the board, and that Trump's then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski personally directed checks to be written from the foundation for campaign purposes.

Underwood's petition seeks nearly $3 million in reparations and to bar both Trump and his children from sitting on the boards of other nonprofit charitable organizations. She also refers the matter [PDF] to the Federal Elections Commission and the Internal Revenue Service for further investigation.

In other important news today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7 to 2 opinion finding that Minnesota's polling place ban on t-shirts and buttons with political slogans, such as those worn by 'Tea Party' members at the polls in 2010, is overly broad and violates Constitutional First Amendment free speech protections. Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain the Court's opinion, as well as the far more disturbing ruling from the GOP's stolen SCOTUS earlier this week, when the Court found 5 to 4 in favor of Ohio's voter roll purge scheme by Republican Sec. of State Jon Husted.

That scheme begins the process for removing voters from the rolls after a voter fails to vote in one single federal election. Stern discusses the troubling opinion which overturns the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's 2016 finding that the Buckeye State's scheme directly violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act's restriction against removing a voter from the rolls "by reason of the person's failure to vote."

On today's ruling, I am somewhat less sanguine about what the Court ruled than Stern is, but it's a close call. On the Ohio case, I think we're both in agreement. As he notes: "First, you are identified for a purge because you didn't vote just one single time, and second, you are purged because you failed to cast a ballot. Again, that would seem to go against not just the text but the express purpose of both [the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Law]. So for Alito to claim that he's just following the text of the law, and dissenters are trying to enact their own policy --- that rings absolutely false to me."

Sterns explains the largely semantic trick that Justice Samuel Alito used to, essentially, flip the provision written by Congress onto its head on behalf of the court's five Republican appointees; how the state's massive purges have disproportionately affected minority and low-income voters; and how Trump and Jeff Session's Dept. of Justice has reversed an unprecedented number of positions on federal laws since taking office.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as even some Republicans appear to finally be turning against wildly corrupt fossil fuel industry "swamp monster" and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt...

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Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs on Singapore statement, NK/US 'denuclearization' history, Trump dismissal of Kim atrocities...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2018 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: After turning on our closest allies at the G7 summit over the weekend, Donald Trump made history on Tuesday by shaking hands, meeting with, and praising brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un at a much-anticipated, on-again off-again, made for Reality TV summit in Singapore. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The two signed and released a thin, one-page joint statement at the meeting's end, calling for the vaguely referenced "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", with the U.S. offering security guarantees to the isolated nation for what appears to be precious little in return. Trump also announced, to the apparent surprise and dismay of both our allies in South Korea and even the U.S. military, that he intends to end joint military exercises with the South, which he described (just as the North does), as "provocative".

Trump later went on to dismiss the long-documented history of murderous and brutal human rights violations in NK, which our guest today, former Deputy Asst. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs MICHAEL FUCHS, describes as "the most brutal dictatorship on the face of the planet." Trump's response today, when asked about the country's horrifying human rights abuses: "It doesn't matter. We're starting from scratch. We're starting right now."

Indeed, as Fuchs notes, the joint document signed by the pair does not speak to Kim's atrocities in any way, nor does it reference his ballistic missile program. Trump has repeatedly cited the failure to deal with Iran's missile program as central to his reason for pulling out and violating the comprehensive, seven-nation pact struck during the Obama Administration with Iran, which ended that country's ability to even build nuclear weapons.

Fuchs, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, offers key insight and analysis as a former diplomat who worked closely on these issues with the previous administration, including the history of similar (if much more comprehensive) agreements during several previous administrations, all of which were ultimately violated by Kim's father, the previous leader. "This is a repeat of what we've seen before," he tells me. "We have had numerous agreements, numerous joint statements, dating back more than 25 years. This statement resembles, to be fair, the least-detailed statements that North Korea and the United States have ever put out."

He argues that the current turn to diplomacy, while welcome, is only due to a "false choice between war, which [Trump] was advocating for, or diplomacy. We should be engaged in diplomacy with North Korea, but we should be engaged in it at the right level, with the experts negotiating things, to see if we can get North Korea to commit to verifiable steps to reduce the threat to the United States. Instead of, frankly and unfortunately, the sort of 'pomp and circumstance' show that we got."

Noting that the agreement doesn't even define what is meant by "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," for which NK has a wildly different definition than that of the U.S., Fuchs explains: "This is the crux of the entire matter. What do both sides mean by 'denuclearization' and what is North Korea willing to do? And it's clear to me that the vague language in this statement is the result of not getting agreement from the two parties on what they mean."

"We didn't get any specifics, any agreements for [North Korea] to do anything when it comes to stopping or halting their nuclear or missile programs right now. They didn't even reiterate in the agreement that North Korea would continue what has been a months-long freeze on its testing of nuclear weapons and missiles," Fuchs charges, describing what he characterized at the Guardian today as "the latest episode in the TV series starring the US president, Donald Trump, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and a stockpile of nuclear weapons" in "one of the world’s most intractable and dangerous conflicts."

(And, yes, the summit even included a schlocky fake movie trailer that Trump played for Kim on an iPad at the beginning of their conversation.)

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with details on how climate change was at the center of Trump's turn against the United State's closes allies at this past weekend's G7 summit in Canada, and much more...

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Also: Stolen SCOTUS approves OH's radical vote purge scheme; L.A. County won't rule out hacking in primary election 'print error' that left 118k off Election Day rolls; Callers ring in on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2018 6:10pm PT  

The crazy train continues. And gets crazier. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]...

  • The stolen Republican 5 to 4 majority [PDF] on the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday found in favor of Ohio's radical voter purge scheme that begins to remove voters from the rolls for failing to vote in one single federal election, in what voting rights advocates (and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) found to be a direct violation of the National Voter Registration Act. According to a 2016 Reuters analysis, the scheme resulted in 144,000 voters being removed from the rolls in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus alone, and affected voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods. Other GOP-controlled states are now believed likely to adopt similar voter purge schemes;
  • The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters says he cannot yet rule out hacking as the cause for 118,000 voters being left off the printed rosters at the polls during last week's midterm primaries in California. Registrar Dean Logan has announced that an independent analyst will be hired to try and determine why it happened and how to prevent an even worse disaster this November;
  • Seemingly bowing to public pressure, The Trump Administration's Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has now said he plans to back off his proposed scheme to increase rents by more than 20% per year on more than 8 million low-income Americans --- including millions of children, elderly and the disabled --- who live in federally subsidized housing for the working poor; (Our guest on this topic last week, former Obama HUD official Diane Yentel, warns that pieces of this proposal may find its way into other legislation being moved by Congressional Republicans to gut the social safety net for the poor.);
  • Then, on to the crazy train: Trump arrived late and left early from the Group of Seven (G7) summit with our top allies on Saturday, pulled the U.S. off of the G7's traditional summit-ending communiqué, which he'd previously agreed to, and then turned against mild-mannered Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for daring to keep his promise to respond (as he'd previously announced) to Trump's trade tariffs imposed on imported steel and aluminum from Canada and other close allies last week. In turn, Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, took to the Sunday news shows to describe Canada's response as a "betrayal" and his top trade adviser, Peter Navarro went on to charge there was a "special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad diplomacy with president Donald J. Trump.";
  • All of which served as a precursor for Trump's historic summit set for Tuesday in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. On Monday, Trump announced he planned to leave that summit --- with the potential denuclearization of North Korea and an end to the 70-year old conflict between the North and the South on the table --- early as well. What could possibly go wrong? And how bad does this all get before it gets better?

Callers ring in on all of the above on today's busy BradCast, focusing on the election failure last week in Los Angeles, and how Trump is likely to try and use the results from Singapore, whatever they may be, to his political advantage...accurately, dishonestly, or otherwise...

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Guest: Former HUD official Diane Yentel; Also: DoJ spied on journalist in leak probe, refuses to defend 'ObamaCare' in new lawsuit...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2018 6:45pm PT  

It was another very difficult day, with a fire hose of incoming news, figuring out what most needs to be covered, underscored, highlighted and given context to on today's BradCast. Here are some of the stories that made the difficult cut. [Audio link to show follows below.]...

First up: The Department of Justice appears to have ignored its own guidelines for dealing with journalists and their Constitutional First Amendment protections. James A. Wolfe, a 30-year veteran of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in charge of security, has now been charged with three counts of lying to federal investigators as part of an aggressive leak investigation. It should be noted that he has not (at least yet) been charged with leaking classified information, just of lying to investigators.

Related to that indictment, we have now learned that New York Times journalist Ali Watkins, said to have been in a romantic relationship with Wolfe at one time, had at least a year's worth of her phone and email records secretly seized by Trump's DoJ without her knowledge. That means the confidential sources and whistleblowers (above and beyond Wolfe, who, she says, was never a source of classified information for her) have presumably now all been exposed to the DoJ. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that his DoJ has tripled the number of leak investigations carried out by Obama's DoJ, which had already prosecuted more government leakers than all previous Administrations combined.

The turn of events has, justifiably, gravely alarmed journalists and First Amendment advocates, such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation which has decried both the indictments of Wolfe and, in particular, the spying on Atkins, who was given no opportunity to challenge the matter in court. "Having her private records scrutinized and spied on by the government for doing her job as a journalist, and the Justice Department's move should be loudly condemned by everyone no matter your political preference," said Trevor Timm, the Foundation's Executive Director.

Next: In another alarming break with both precedent and tradition, Trump's DoJ announced they would not defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") against a lawsuit filed by some 20 Republican state Attorneys General. The DoJ traditionally defends federal laws duly adopted by Congress and signed by the President in all but the most extreme circumstances. According to experts, however, this is an otherwise very weak case against the law which has ensured affordable health care for tens of millions of Americans since its passage in 2010.

We explain the basis for the suit, and how, if successful, it would gut two of the most popular provisions of the ACA, it's restriction on charging the elderly more for health insurance, and on insurance companies denying covering to those with pre-existing conditions.

Three career attorneys at DoJ were removed from the case on Thursday so that a Trump political appointee could take it over and flip the Department's previous position defending ACA and opposing the lawsuit. Nonetheless, some 17 state Attorneys General from Democratic leaning states have interceded to oppose the suit and defend the federal law.

Finally today: As if all of that isn't disturbing enough. A new bill introduced in Congress, supported by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, would see rent for low-income tenants in federally-subsidized housing increased by an average of 26% --- year after year, according to a new analysis! The "Make Affordable Housing Work Act" introduced in April, would affect roughly four million American households, many of them families with children who could be forced into homelessness by this extraordinary cruel measure which Carson recently described on Fox "News" as "our attempt to give poor people a way out of poverty."

Our guest today, former director of the Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division at the HUD under Barack Obama, DIANE YENTEL, charges that Carson's statement is "as absurd as it sounds. Clearly, increasing rents on people isn't the way out of poverty, it's the way deeper into poverty. And potentially homelessness."

Yentel, now President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, explains the extraordinary measure, noting that "by design, the greatest burden falls on seniors, people with disabilities, and families with young kids." In fact, the measure would, according to AP, "increase the percentage of income poor tenants are required to pay from 30 percent to 35 percent [of their income, and] would eliminate deductions, for medical care and child care, and for each child in a home."

Moreover, while Carson's HUD claims the elderly and disabled would be exempt from the change, Yentel charges that "is just not true", and explains how an estimated 314,000 households stand to lose their elderly or disabled status and will see their rents increased as well.

She goes on to argue that we already face a massive housing crisis for low and middle-income Americans, and that this measure would only make things far worse. "The housing crisis that we're in right now has reached historic heights. It's most negatively impacting the lowest income people. The National Low Income Housing Coalition's research [shows] we currently have a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available for the lowest income people. Nationwide, for every 100 of the lowest-income people who need housing assistance, there's only 35 homes that are affordable and available to them."

Yentel goes on to tell me that most of those who would be effected are already working families, and that while raising the federal minimum wage is a necessary part of making housing affordable for millions of these Americans, it would have to be raised to more than $21 per hour for most to be able to afford a modest, two bedroom apartment. That, even as the wealth disparity between rich and poor in the U.S. continues to grow in the wake of the Trump/GOP tax cuts last year, gifting some $1.5 trillion to the wealthiest of Americans who need it the least and now "by cutting the programs that give the most basic resources, basic benefits, to the lowest income, most vulnerable people in our country."

"I think that's pretty shameful," says Yentel...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'having cake and eating it too'; Also: Probs for voters in CA and SD, as eight states hold primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2018 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As voters head to the polls in eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) on Tuesday, we cover a few "sorta victories" elsewhere for now, including at the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Reports of problems at the polls have already cropped up, however, in South Dakota, where electronic pollbooks failed in eight counties, and here in Los Angeles, where a "random issue with the print job" on paper rosters at polling places, according to the County Clerk, has led to some voters needing to cast provisional ballots.

As we await election results and likely reports of more problems elsewhere, a "sorta victory" for Twitter users who had sued the President after he blocked them on Twitter. Those seven plaintiffs were finally unblocked by Trump after a federal court found last month that he was violating their Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights. But, on the same day those seven were unblocked, the Dept. of Justice appealed the court's ruling anyway.

In Alabama, another "sorta victory" as the story of Sec. of State John Merrill blocking folks on Twitter for pointing out his errors as the state's top election official, has finally been picked up by the corporate media in the state. That, just hours before voters headed to the polls, with Merrill himself on the ballot. The coverage comes after we first reported on Merrill's behavior months ago (when he blocked me for being right about the state's computerized election tabulators), and again last week after he sent me a flurry of insane emails [PDF] in response to a simple query as to whether he planned to unblock followers now that a federal court has found his behavior to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Montgomery Advertiser's weak coverage, however, largely serves to offer the Sec. of State a platform to call election experts and journalists "trolls" (for being correct and polite), while still refusing to unblock them.

In Arizona, a lawsuit against the state for keeping tens of thousands of registered voters off the rolls for failing to provide "proof of citizenship" before being allowed to vote has now been settled with a consent decree that will enfranchise many voters, even if it will still result in thousands being disallowed from voting in state and local contests. So, a "sorta victory" there as well.

And, at the U.S. Supreme Court this week, a "sorta victory" for both anti-gay bigots and civil rights advocates as the long-awaited ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission, a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding reception is finally decided by a narrow 7 to 2 ruling in favor of the baker...sorta.

Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain how Justice Anthony Kennedy, with his majority opinion. tries to "have his cake and eat it too," by largely kicking the can down the road for another day, while ostensibly siding with the baker against the state Commission on rather dubious religious freedom grounds.

The decision, however, also appears to strengthen the existing right of states to bar discrimination by similar businesses on the basis of sexual orientation. So much so, that, under the ruling, the two plaintiffs, according to their ACLU attorney, should be able to walk into Jack Phillip's Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO today and purchase a cake for their wedding anniversary, if they wished. If they are blocked, that would be in violation of the Constitution. Nonetheless, a definitive opinion from SCOTUS on the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will have to wait for another day.

"If the Supreme Court applied the same standard to the [Trump] travel ban case as they have applied to Masterpiece, the Court would have no trouble striking down the travel ban as a violation of First Amendment religious freedoms," Stern tells me, when I ask whether Kennedy's weak religious liberty argument here may apply more to some religions than others. "Unfortunately, I do not think the court is going to be consistent. I think, instead, the Court's going to wind up applying a much stricter standard when it's Christians' rights on the line, than when it's Muslims' rights on the line. And we're all going to be very disappointed in this kind of inconsistent religious liberty --- 'for me, but not for thee.'"

Stern offers smart insight on the Court's opinion(s) --- which were widely misreported elsewhere on Monday --- as well as another decision this week from the Court on the Trump Administration's failed attempt to punish the ACLU for supporting a teen immigrant who sought a lawful abortion after being detained at the border. That ruling, at least, was a complete victory, he explains, not just a "sorta" one.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on two deadly volcanoes in Guatemala and Hawaii, the Administration's new scheme to bail-out the coal industry, Canada's new scheme to nationalize a controversial pipeline, and more distressing fossil fuel and climate change news...

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Guest: Fordham Univ. School of Law's legal historian Jed Shugerman...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2018 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The nation appears to be lurching ever closer to a full-blown Constitutional Crisis, as Trump and his team offer a series of extraordinary and largely unprecedented (save for Nixon) claims in support of sweeping Presidential powers, over the past few days, which would place the Executive completely above the rule of law. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Over the weekend, Team Trump was once again on the offensive in the media, following the disclosure of a 20-page letter sent by Trump's attorneys to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in January, wherein they argued, among other things, that Presidents cannot legally be subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice, since they have unfettered power over all Dept. of Justice investigations, cannot be indicted while serving, and have absolute power to pardon anybody for any crime at any time for any reason.

Moreover, on Monday, Trump took to Twitter to charge that the Mueller probe is, itself "totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL" (his caps) and that he has "the absolute right to PARDON" himself. Many constitutional law experts disagree with many of those points.

In response, author, blogger, Slate contributor and Fordham University School of Law legal historian JED SHUGERMAN joins us on today's show to offer historical, legal, and Constitutional points of clarity and precedent on the power and scope of Presidential pardons, subpoenas, indictments and the expansive interpretation of those powers that Trump and his attorneys have been proffering in recent days.

Among the historically relevant cases and precedents referenced by Shugerman today: United States v. Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton v. Paula Jones, and even the more recent case of Rod Blagojevich, who, Trump recently said, he was considering pardoning after the disgraced Illinois Governor was convicted for trying to sell off the vacant U.S. Senate seat left by Barack Obama when he became President. "It's no accident that Trump is talking about pardoning [Blagojevich]," argues Shugerman, detailing how Trump sees him as unfairly convicted for simply using his constitutional powers, "even with a bribe, because that's just politics as normal. It's an incredibly cynical move."

"Just because the Constitution gives someone the power to do something, it doesn't mean they can use it for whatever purpose they want," he tells me. "Even if you have five good reasons for doing something, but one illegal reason, that illegal reason still makes it illegal."

"The Constitution says 'the President shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed'," Shugerman notes, while explaining why many of the current arguments being made by Team Trump may work effectively for propaganda purposes, but appear to have little legal basis or precedent, particularly while describing that a President would be acting "faithlessly" by pardoning himself. But, even if that happens, he says, he is confident (more so than I) that state prosecutors who are unbound by federal pardons, will pick up the prosecutorial ball against Trump and his cohorts.

[Update 6/5/2018: Shugerman and more than a dozen other distinguished constitutional law experts outline their case against Trump's expansive pardon powers claim in a letter to Trump's Whitehouse attorneys now posted here.]

Shugerman also describes the "bombshell" disclosure from that newly revealed letter from Trump's lawyers, in their admission that the President "dictated" the false written response from Don Jr. after the disclosure of the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian nationals to receive "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

Also on today's show...

  • Republican House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy --- believed to be the front-runner to become the next Speaker of the House if the GOP maintains control of the chamber this November --- refused to respond to CNN's on-air questions over the weekend about the Trump attorneys' concession that they and the White House had lied to the public about the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting;
  • Despite his continuing lies and chaotic presidency, Trump remains wildly popular among Republicans, according to Gallup. As of his 500th day in office, he enjoys a higher "own party" approval rating than any other President since WWII, other than George W. Bush (following 9/11), at a similar point in their presidencies;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court allows a baker in Colorado to discriminate against a gay couple. (More on this tomorrow.)
  • Corporate CEOs are now admitting out loud that, despite record profits, a theoretically booming economy and huge recent tax cuts, they have no intention of raising pay for workers;

And, on the day before 2018 mid-term primary elections are held in eight states tomorrow, an Election Integrity author rings in to remind us that Russia isn't the only threat to vulnerable, easily-manipulated computerized election results in the U.S. --- not by a long shot...

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Alabama's election chief lashes out in advance of midterm primaries, after previously blocking journalists, election law experts on Twitter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just days from Alabama's mid-term primaries next week --- in which Sec. of State John Merrill (R) will be on the ballot himself --- we share a wild, and often inexplicable, string of bizarre emails sent sent to me over the past week by the state's chief election official. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The weird story begins late last year, with the contentious and closely watched December U.S. Senate special election in Alabama between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. On election night, following the state's computer-tallied results reported a narrow victory for Jones, Merrill inaccurately stated on CNN that "any candidate can ask for a recount and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount."

After UC Irvine's highly-regarded election law expert, Rick Hasen, noted on Twitter that Merrill appeared to be in error, that AL's state election code appeared to allow only candidates in NON-federal races to request and pay for a recount if the margin was larger than 0.5%, Merrill blocked him, rather than correct his own error or cite a different section of the state law to support his assertions. That pattern would be repeated as Merrill blocked other election law experts on Twitter.

Days later, the Secretary of State injected himself into a Twitter exchange I was having with others, to insist, repeatedly and inaccurately that Alabama's computerized paper ballot scanners "do not capture or preserve digital ballot images." In fact, they do, as made clear during a successful state court action just before the election. (My interview at the time with one of the organizers of the lawsuit is here). Merrill, however, was able to have the ruling stayed by the AL Supreme Court the night before the election. (My election day interview, with one of the plaintiff attorneys is here.)

Rather than cite evidence during the, extremely bizarre Twitter conversation [PDF], Merrill ended up blocking me there as well.

All of which brings us to last week, when a federal court in New York determined that public officials --- in that case, the President of the United States --- was in violation of the Constitution's First Amendment for blocking perceived "political opponents" on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs in that case is here.)

Before we covered the ruling on a BradCast last week with University of Kentucky College of Law constitutional expert Joshua A. Douglas, who had also been blocked by Merrill (my interview with him on that earlier last year is here), I sought comment from the Secretary as to whether he intended to restore those he'd blocked, given the federal court ruling.

The subsequent string of bizarre emails [PDF] and phone calls I then received from the state's top election official is remarkable, and we share those on today's show, in the interest of Alabama voters who head to the polls next week.

In addition to steadfastly refusing to unblock the election law experts and journalists he's blocked on Twitter, Merrill unleashes a number of unhinged and often inexplicable rants in response to polite queries about both the Twitter blocks and whether Merrill has asked county election officials to set their vote tabulation computers to preserve scanned ballot images in the upcoming primary, in order to make public oversight of results somewhat easier.

At several points, Merrill's Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director John Bennett attempted to intercede via both email and phone. As I explain on the show today, the call from Bennett was very pleasant and he seemed to me, in truth, somewhat embarrassed by his boss' behavior. But he promised to get back to me after looking into both the Twitter ruling and the issue of Alabama's ES&S computer tabulation systems capturing digital ballot images. A note he sent shortly thereafter confirmed that they do. (See the PDF linked above for details.)

But, then Merrill blew things up again, with another string of emailed rants. Among the odd attacks from the emails in which the first term Sec. of State describes himself as "a nationally recognized expert in the field of elections", Merrill charges that I have a "problem...bigger than one that I have the ability to solve" (but refuses to specify what that "problem" might be), that I live with my mother (I don't), "has absolutely no idea what [I'm] talking about" (despite some 15 years of covering elections and voting systems as a journalist), and should try to "get a job with an elections program system" so I can "contribute to the discussion as an expert in the field". That's just a taste.

As noted today, I didn't even want to cover this at all, in truth, because it's largely just embarrassing for Merrill. But when I realized he was actually on the ballot next week, it seemed this was information that voters in Alabama deserved to know before making their decision. For the record, Merrill is being challenged in the Republican primary by Michael Johnson. On the Democratic side, two candidates, Heather Milam and Lula Albert-Kaigler. (She ran unsuccessfully against Merrill in 2014, though I can't find an official campaign website for her now.)

Also today: A new book by a longtime senior adviser to President Obama reportedly reveals that he feared sanctions against Russia before the 2016 election might have resulted in hacked computer tabulation systems (despite public assertions by the Administration before and after that Presidential results could not be easily manipulated by foreign attack), and election officials in a number of states are now reportedly very concerned about hacking --- or the perception that results were tampered with --- in advance of the crucial 2018 midterm elections (just as we've been warning, non-stop, for more than a decade.)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as climate change wreaks havoc with a number of deadly storms over the Memorial Day weekend...

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The Young Turks' founder talks media failure, political dysfunction, Roseanne and Democratic 'chaos' in CA's upcoming mid-term primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 5/30/2018 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're joined by our old friend CENK UYGUR, host and founder of the wildly popular online news outlet, The Young Turks and the entire TYTNetwork. [Audio link follows below.]

We have a wide-ranging conversation on a host of important topics, beginning with the chaotic mid-term primaries coming up next Tuesday in California, where, for example, 32 candidates, from all parties, are vying in the same race for the top two slots to go on to the November general election in the fight for longtime Democratic U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein's seat.

Of even greater concern to Democrats hoping to win back one or both chambers of Congress, are seven Republican U.S. House seats thought to be flippable in the Golden State this year. However, thanks to the state's "Top Two" primary system and a glut of Democrats on the ballot, the progressive vote could be split in a number of those races, resulting in no Democrats qualifying for the November ballot at all in several of those contests next week.

Uygur discusses the pros and cons of California's strange primary system and much more, including how both corporate and independent media ought to be covering the "insanity" of Donald Trump, who he describes as "the monster in office...on fascism's doorstep".

The corporate media, he argues, "are afraid of offending Republican viewers. Their business imperative to not lose a certain percentage of their audience is coloring how they cover the truth of the matter. In reality, they should go out there and do what we do, and say: 'If you believe this, you are nuts. It's not remotely true.' But they're afraid they are going to turn off 30% of the country, and lose advertising dollars."

"We are a news outlet that is proudly activist," he tells me when I ask whether TYT is a political organization. "The rest of mainstream news and corporate news say 'Hey, relax, don't do anything. Do the news, but don't care about it, don't try to fix anything! Fixing anything is bad!' And we don't agree with that. We think that you can present the news and say, 'Now here's what you can do to fix it.'"

As to independent outlets, he charges, "we're not emphasizing enough that the President of the United States is a combination of mentally unhealthy, certainly unstable, incredibly dumb and, most importantly, fascist."

We also talk about the continuing internecine battle between the progressive and establishment wings of the Democratic Party, whether they can and will and should come together this November, and we even chat a bit about the sad story of Roseanne Barr who, Ugyur believes, "similar to Kanye West, similar to Glenn Beck, similar to Alex Jones...all have mental health problems."

Uygur, who is also a founder of Wolf-PAC (fighting to get all money out of politics), and a former founding member of Justice Democrats (fighting to put progressive Democrats into office), also makes the case for a number of progressive U.S. House and Senate candidates in California endorsed by one or both of those groups.

Also on today's show: While the economy is supposedly doing great, according to Donald Trump and the GOP, wages are failing to rise commensurately, even after the massive tax cuts passed last year, largely for the wealthy and corporations. Now why would that be? And, some encouraging news today out of Virginia, which is poised to finally expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") to some 400,000 residents, thanks to voters who turned out last November to flip enough seats in the state legislature from "red" to "blue" to finally assure health care to hundreds of thousands in the state. And, finally today, a bit more good news for Democrats, as new polling finds a majority of young voters plan to turn out to vote in this year's mid-terms, and they are far less Republicans than the population at large...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: ACLU Ohio legal director Freda Levenson: Also: Hurricane Maria 70x more deadly than believed and 2018 storm season already deadly...
By Brad Friedman on 5/29/2018 6:19pm PT  

Among the stories covered on today's post-Memorial Day weekend BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below]...

First up, some accountability news. Missouri Governor Eric Greitens (R) finally announces his resignation, after two separate indictments (one related to allegedly blackmailing a woman he has admitted to having had an affair with, and the other for unlawfully using a veterans charity contact list during his 2016 run for Governor) and after the GOP-majority legislature convened an historic special session to consider his impeachment.

Also, hit ABC sitcom reboot Roseanne is cancelled just hours after its titular star tweeted a racist comment about a longtime friend and adviser to former President Obama.

Then, why at least some of Trump's obnoxious, inaccurate, and sometimes dangerous tweets actually matter (as much as we try to avoid them). A new poll finds alarming numbers of Republicans (and, yes, Democrats!) actually buy the President's evidence-free claims that as many as 5 million fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 Presidential election, as his new --- and similarly evidence-free --- tweets targeting Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe now claim the investigation is "rigged" and is meant for "MEDDLING with the mid-term elections now that Republicans...are taking the lead in Polls".

In fact, while there is no evidence that Mueller's probe is "rigged" or that he is "meddling" in the mid-terms, Republicans are now said to be nearly tied or even taking the lead in some generic U.S. House polling on the heels of Trump's increasingly strident and inaccurate Twitter torrent. (Here, however, is a more skeptical look at those numbers.)

Nonetheless, many Democrats still seem very confident that a "blue wave" is in the making to flip one or both chambers of Congress from GOP control this November in response to Trump, as suggested by a surge in Democratic turnout during the 2018 primaries. It should be noted, however, that there are also signs that GOP turnout is increasing as well.

All of that is before the usual GOP voter suppression kicks into high gear. To that end today, the lawsuits have begun already. Last week, a suit was filed by the League of Women Voters and others against Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott and his hand-picked Sec. of State Ken Detzner's refusal to allow early voting centers at public universities.

And, in Ohio, the ACLU has now filed suit against the state's Republican drawn U.S. House districts, charging that the maps, drawn up in secret by the national GOP after the 2010 Census, violate the U.S. Constitution as an extreme partisan gerrymander.

We're joined by ACLU Ohio's Legal Director FREDA LEVENSON, who explains the case, why it's taken so long to be filed after resulting in 12 GOP U.S. House members to the Democrats' 4 over each of the last three elections in the swing-state, and how related cases from other states, now pending decisions at the U.S. Supreme Court, may effect this one.

Levenson also updates us on another case awaiting a decision any day from SCOTUS, regarding Ohio Sec. of State Jon Husted (R)'s attempt to purge voters from the roles after failing to vote in two consecutive federal elections. She explains why the ACLU sees that as a violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NRVA) and how SCOTUS' ultimate decision in this case could result in similar mass voter purges being carried out in states across the country.

Finally today, a new scientific study finds that some 5,000 Puerto Ricans may have been killed by Hurricane Maria, rather than the 64 officially attributed to it, and Desi Doyen joins us with troubling details on deadly storms and flooding in Maryland and North Carolina over the holiday weekend, as subtropical storm Alberto, the first named storm of the new Atlantic hurricane season, rolls ashore days before the new season even officially begins...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Univ. of Kentucky law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: 'Dotard' President nixes NK summit (for now): Plus: ZOMBIE ALERT!...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our last show before a long holiday weekend packs a wallop and finds not just the President of the United States in violation of the Constitution, but also Alabama's Secretary of State. Also: zombies! [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, President Trump found an excuse today to bail out of the planned June 12th nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, stunning allies in South Korea with a letter to Kim that sounded not unlike a bad breakup letter from a "needy" boyfriend, meant to keep his girlfriend from breaking up with him first --- while begging her to come back. We share the bizarre letter in full, along with both reactions to it and reasons behind it.

Then, it's been an interesting week for the First Amendment and those who claim to be "Constitutional conservatives", as Scott Pruitt's EPA locked out mainstream media outlets, such as AP and CNN, from a major water contamination forum, and as a federal judge in New York ruled that Trump was personally violating the Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights of seven plaintiffs who sued after he blocked them on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs earlier this year, legal journalist Rebecca Showalter-Poza, is here.) The Dept. of Justice is said to be reviewing the court's ruling and may appeal.

While those plaintiffs were purportedly blocked from seeing or responding to Trump's Twitter feed, because he disagreed with their political points of view, the case echoes a similar matter that we discussed some months ago, after I was blocked on Twitter by Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill (R) in the midst of a bizarre conversation [PDF] in which I politely corrected the Secretary for erroneous public statements made about his state's computerized vote tabulation systems.

We're joined today to discuss both of those free speech matters and more by University of Kentucky College of Law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, who was also blocked by Merrill on Twitter last year after mentioning to him that "blocking people on Twitter, blocking his own constituents on Twitter, could violate the First Amendment".

Douglas, whose assertion was bared out by the federal judge in New York this week, explains the ruling and what may happen next in the case (will Trump end up pushing the case and violating a federal court order and then attempt to pardon himself as a test run for the future?), and I share an emailed response to my query from Merrill this morning in full, as the blocks continue on Twitter in apparent violation of the Constitution.

The central part of Merrill's response to me today [emphasis added]:

I will continue to use my social media forums the way that I have in the past. They will not be utilized by other users to express their political views or promote their agendas.

While I don't think Merrill actually owns Twitter quite as much as he seems to think he does, there was actually no political view or agenda expressed in my conversation with him that resulted in the block. More importantly, as Douglas notes in response to Merrill's remarks today: "Once someone like Donald Trump or John Merrill begins to use his Twitter account in a governmental capacity, then he can't pick and choose and block someone because he thinks, in his own view, that that person is promoting some sort of political agenda. That's really what the core of the First Amendment is all about, and that's what this court said."

Douglas, a Constitutional law and elections expert in Kentucky, also offers his thoughts on this week's upset victory by political newcomer Amy McGrath over DCCC-recruited Lexington Mayor Jim Gray in the primary contest for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Andy Barr (R) this November in Douglas' own district. His take, particularly on the "conservative" bent of the two Democratic candidates, is somewhat different than the one offered by BlueAmericaPAC's Howie Klein on yesterday's program.

Then, we're joined by Desi Doyen for an incredibly news-chocked and, at times, quite troubling Green News Report. And, finally, to lighten things up just a bit before a long holiday weekend, an actual story about a "ZOMBIE ALERT!" issued in south Florida this past week. No, really!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: EPA blocks mainstream media outlets, forcibly removes reporter, from water contamination event...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2018 6:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A host of important and troubling news items that you're probably not hearing much about as the corporate media continue their seemingly non-stop focus on investigations into massive Trump corruption. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, a disturbing move by the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday suggests a very dark moment for American democracy as reporters from AP, CNN and elsewhere were blocked from attending a water contamination event held EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. One AP journalist is said to have been "forcibly removed" from the building. That, just about one week after reports that the Trump Administration is blocking the publication of a major new report finding widespread water contamination across the country. That study is reportedly being withheld because the Administration believes it would be a "public relations nightmare" for the chemical companies involved, if it was released.

Meanwhile, a federal court on Monday found Texas in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) for refusing to allow residents who update their drivers license online to register to vote at the same time, as required by the 1993 law. The Republican-controlled state appealed the ruling to the rightwing U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals just minutes after it was issued by the U.S. District Court judge, all but assuring the case, originally filed in 2016, will continue beyond this November's mid-terms.

And, speaking of Republicans who don't want certain people to vote, in Florida, John Ward, a GOP candidate for the U.S. House, was caught on videotape arguing that U.S. citizens from Puerto Rico who moved to the Sunshine State following the devastation of Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year, should not be allowed to register to vote in Florida and should go back "where they belong".

Next, we're joined by Slate's fantastic legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to offer clarity on two disturbing, and very important cases this week.

The first is the story of a 24-year old DACA recipient from Seattle who was brought here by his father when he was five years old and detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency last year just after Trump took office. Daniel Ramirez Medina, a "Dreamer" with no criminal record, legally working in the U.S. after twice receiving protected status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, was arrested by ICE in February of 2017 when they went to his house to detain his father. ICE subsequently booked Ramirez, lied about him --- blatantly doctoring a document to make it appear Ramirez admitted to being a member of a non-existent gang (he never was) --- in order to remove his protection and begin deportation proceedings.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez, a George W. Bush appointee, found that ICE repeatedly lied about Ramirez and to the court about their evidence against him. "Judge Martinez is no flaming liberal, but he looked at the evidence before him, and he was clearly disgusted and incensed by what the agency had done," says Stern.

He describes how Ramirez was saved, for now, only due to his protected status under the Obama-era DACA program, which Trump continues to try to kill. "The only reason that this story rose to the top, and that it actually got before a federal judge who could rule on it, is because this guy is lucky enough to have DACA status. So he had this extra layer of protection that most undocumented immigrants don't have." Unfortunately, the dishonest tactics ICE attempted to use against Ramirez are usually successful, Stern says, explaining, "ICE agents do this all the time".

Then, we turn to an outrageous 5 to 4 decision by the stolen, rightwing U.S. Supreme Court this week that demolished the clear, statutory right established by decades-old New Deal-era labor reforms, allowing employees to file collective class-action lawsuits against their employers for wage theft.

As Stern explains, Monday's hypocritical and legally erroneous majority opinion in Epic Systems v. Lewis [PDF], written by the corrupt, self-proclaimed "textualist" Justice Neil Gorsuch (who occupies the seat stolen for him by the GOP Senate after Antonin Scalia's death in early 2016), was blasted by a furious Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her minority opinion, as the ruling, according to Stern, "effectively legalizes low-level wage theft" and is "nothing less than catastrophic for workers across the country."

It's really even worse than you may have heard --- if you even heard anything about it. But, Sterns adds with a glimmer of hope, the law in question that was blatantly misinterpreted by Gorsuch's judicial activism could very easily be amended for clarity in order to reverse this SCOTUS decision. The fix, however, would likely require a Democratic Congress and a cooperative President.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some insane new climate denialism by Republicans on the U.S. House Science Committee, and some much more encouraging news on several other related fronts from Britain to San Francisco to China...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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