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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, January 21, 2019
Sunday 'Hamberder Helper' Toons
Have it your way, with a heaping helping in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
WI Lame Duck GOP Election Power-Grab Blocked: 'BradCast' 1/18/19
Guest: One Wisconsin Now's Analiese Eicher; Also: New MI SoS to settle gerrymander case; Explosive BuzzFeed report says Trump told Cohen to lie about Moscow project...
'Collusion' Confusion, Shutdown Woes, Tax Truth: 'BradCast' 1/17/19
Trump paid Cohen to rig online polls; Giuliani moves Russia goal posts (again); Prez throws Pelosi tantrum; Shutdown taking toll; And why Ocasio-Cortez is freaking out the GOP...
'Green News Report' 1/17/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Dems grill Trump EPA chief nom; Federal criminal action against polluters hit 30-year low; Historic heat grips Australia; PLUS: Biz world finally waking up to climate impacts...
Previous GNRs: 1/15/19 - 1/10/19 - Archives...
'Low Barr' for AG Nom, and a 'Symphony of Lawlessness': 'BradCast' 1/16/19
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Surprisingly good court news; SOTU cancelled?; ISIS not defeated...
Power to the People?: CA Could Buy State's Largest Private Utility at 'Fire Sale' Price: 'BradCast' 1/15/19
Guest: LATimes' Michael Hiltzik; Also: Court blocks Census question; Barr testifies...
'Green News Report' 1/15/19
Intense winter storms from coast to coast; Govt shutdown threatens public health, safety; 2018 was hottest year on record for world's oceans, putting planet in hot water...
'Unauditable' Barcoded 'Paper Ballot' Systems for GA, L.A. County: 'BradCast' 1/14/19
Guest: Marilyn Marks; Also: Crippling weather; Trump shutdown, probe news; PG&E to seek bankruptcy protection; L.A. teachers on strike...
Sunday 'Hitting the Wall' Toons
All in all it's just a...'nother episode of PDiddie's weekly toon collection. And another brick in the 2019 American wall...
Shutdown or Shakedown?: 'BradCast' 1/11/19
Guest: TX Civil Rights Project's Ricky Garza on Trump's Rio Grande land grab; Also: An impossible (but real!) 60-year old warning about 'Trump' & his 'wall'...
Shutdown Threatening Safety of Nation's Food Supply: 'BradCast' 1/10/19
Guest: Food/ag coorespondent Tom Philpott; Also: 'Nat'l emergency' coming as shutdown polls plummet for Trump and Senate Repubs?...
'Green News Report' 1/10/19
Fiat-Chrysler's big fines; Trump threatens to cut off CA FEMA funds; U.S. emissions spiked in 2018; PLUS: Dems push back, and ahead, on climate action...
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: Analiese Eicher of One Wisconsin Now; Also: MI's new Dem SoS looks to settle gerrymander case; Buzzfeed charges Trump told Cohen to lie to feds about Moscow Trump Tower project...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2019 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, good news for voters in Wisconsin and Michigan, not nearly as good news for Donald Trump. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, the White House is desperately scrambling for new distractions from Trump's unpopular, nearly month-long federal government shutdown and, of more pressing import for the President on Friday, an explosive report published Thursday night by BuzzFeed News. The otherwise uncorroborated article alleges that Trump instructed his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators about the Trump Organization's proposed deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The story cites two unnamed sources as "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter" and claims that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office learned about the directive "through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

Cohen has admitted to lying to Congress and federal investigators about a number of matters and was sentenced last November to three years in prison after cooperating with Mueller's probe. If the story proves true that Trump instructed him to lie about the project --- which was reportedly still being worked on by Trump through June of 2016, much later than he had initially admitted --- it would, according to Democrats today, amount to evidence of the subornation of perjury as well as obstruction of justice, both impeachable offenses.

We also share the reaction today from Trump and the White House, neither of which denied the reporting initially, choosing to attack Cohen and BuzzFeed instead. Later, Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani asserted that "Any suggestion --- from any source --- that the President counseled Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false." [POST-SHOW UPDATE: In a rare and carefully worded statement issued late Friday evening by Mueller's office, after we got off air, they disputed BuzzFeed's "description of specific statements...and characterization of documents and testimony obtained" by the Special Counsel.]

In other news today, a federal judge in Wisconsin on Thursday made short order of a challenge to new limits on Early Voting and allowable polling place IDs in the state after Republicans rammed through new restrictions during an extraordinary lame-duck session of the legislature last December, following Governor Scott Walker's re-election loss in the November midterm election. Thanks to heavy turnout, including record Early Voting numbers, Democrats won every statewide contest on the ballot and 54% of the votes for the State Assembly. But, thanks to partisan gerrymandering by state Republicans, they won only one third of its seats.

In a terse, 5-page ruling [PDF] on Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Peterson ruled it was "not a close question" that the GOP's newly enacted voting restrictions were an unconstitutional violation of voting rights, just as he had found nearly identical provisions to be, as passed by GOP lawmakers in 2016.

We're joined today by ANALIESE EICHER, one of the named plaintiffs from One Wisconsin Now's lawsuit challenging both the 2016 law and the late 2018 lame-duck version which Walker signed just days before leaving office. In addition to that court victory on Thursday, the non-partisan group had another on Friday, when a different court ruled that Republican lawmakers were in violation of the First Amendment by blocking the organization and others on Twitter. (Heads up, Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill!)

In neighboring Michigan, the new Democratic Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson announced she was seeking a settlement with Democratic challengers to the legislative and Congressional districts drawn by Republicans in that state. The previous Sec. of State, a Republican, was preparing to defend what Dems describe, with very good evidence, to be an extreme and unconstitutional partisan gerrymander after the 2010 Census. (One such piece of evidence are emails from GOP lawmakers discussing districts mean to "give the finger" to a former Democrat Congressman, and to "cram ALL the Dem garbage" into four districts so Republicans could control more seats across the state.)

A settlement with the newly seated SoS could result in new district maps drawn before the 2020 election. Last November, MI voters approved a ballot initiative that would put an independent redistricting commission in charge of drawing maps following the 2020 Census.

Finally today, we're sent off into the weekend with a pretty hilarious song about Donald Trump's wall, courtesy of satirist Randy Rainbow...

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Surprisingly good news from the courts; SOTU cancelled?; ISIS not defeated...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2019 6:42pm PT  

We start off today's BradCast with two encouraging legal rulings from the courts with our guest today, Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN. [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

First up, the damning opinion issued on Tuesday by a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan finding Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross repeatedly violated the law --- and lied about his reasons for doing so --- in adding a controversial question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. Stern joins the federal judge in calling out Ross' lies about adding the question supposedly at the request of the the Dept. of Justice to help enforce the Voting Rights Act (rather than as a blatant attempt to rig the Census in hopes of boosting GOP political power during the next round of redistricting).

"By my count, Judge Furman held that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated the law by adding the citizenship question in at least six different ways," Stern observes. "When you add them all together, it is a sort of symphony of lawlessness that cannot be ignored by the courts."

"Ross just lied. He lied to Congress. He lied in court filings about why he added this citizenship question. It is very clear, black letter law, that when a federal agency like the Commerce Department wants to take some kind of formal action, it has to give the real and truthful grounds for its decision, it has to justify it truthfully. Ross just didn't do that here." He goes on to explain, however, that, despite the encouraging ruling yesterday, the Republicans' stolen Supreme Court will ultimately enjoy the final say on the matter. He also shares his thoughts on whether Ross should be and/or will be criminally prosecuted for lying to Congress and the courts about the issue, as made clear by the federal court ruling.

Then, Stern offers some surprisingly good news from SCOTUS today regarding a unanimous(!) opinion from the Court supporting the right of some workers to bypass costly arbitration clauses and file class action lawsuits against employers when they are ripped off by them --- though only in certain circumstances. Still, given the unanimous opinion in this case, authored by Neil Gorsuch of all Justices, we'll take it!

Next, we review Tuesday's confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee for Donald Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr. Stern warns that his troubling record alone --- "Barr takes a wildly expansive view of executive power and authority" --- might have been enough to derail his nomination in any other time, but for the fact that so many Democrats and Republicans alike are now desperate to replace Trump's wildly unqualified (and, arguably, unlawfully appointed) Acting AG Matthew Whitaker.

Barr, who served briefly as AG in 1991 during the George H.W. Bush Administration (where he successfully pushed for Presidential pardons for a number of top officials involved in the Iran-Contra scandal), promised independence from the White House and that he would allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller to complete his probe into Team Trump's alleged involvement with Russia and obstruction meant to cover it up. However, Barr equivocated on a number of points related to the probe, such as whether he'd recuse himself from overseeing it if DoJ ethics officials advised him to do so, and whether he would release Mueller's report at all to the public.

Stern shares insight and response to a number of other troubling moments from Tuesday's hearings, such as when Barr responded to a question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) about whether a sitting President could be indicted and when he was asked directly by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) about whether the Justice Department, under his command, would "jail reporters for doing their jobs". Barr's response on the former was questionable, at best, and downright chilling on the latter, from the man tapped to be the nation's top law enforcement official. "There's just a right and wrong answer here," Stern quips, "and he gave the wrong one."

Finally today, the State of the Union Address to a joint session of Congress previously scheduled for later this month may now be cancelled amid the ongoing historic federal government shutdown, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rescinded her invitation to Trump today. And, in Syria today, four Americans --- two U.S. troops and two civilians --- were killed and three others wounded after a bombing claimed by ISIS in a crowded area. The attack in the northern city of Manbij comes on the heels of Trump's claim to have ordered the withdraw of all U.S. troops in country, based on his assertion that "we have defeated ISIS in Syria." The President's claim --- which helped lead to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis before Christmas --- was, remarkably, repeated by Vice President Mike Pence today during an address at the State Department several hours after the news of the deadly attack on Americans and others in the war torn nation had become public...

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: LA Times' Michael Hiltzik on PG&E's bankruptcy; Also: Federal court blocks Admin citizenship question on Census; AG-nom Bill Barr testifies; Trump's record shutdown grinds on...
By Brad Friedman on 1/15/2019 6:26pm PT  

Good news and not-terrible news on today's BradCast, along with an interesting proposition for the state of California in a climate changed world. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We start off with the good news today, courtesy of a federal court in Manhattan, where a U.S. District Court Judge blocked the Trump Administration's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. Judge Jesse Furman's 277-page ruling [PDF] slammed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for violating the federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and for offering "pretextual" reasons for adding the question against the wishes of career Census Bureau administrators. Ross had falsely claimed the question was "well tested" and needed by the Dept. of Justice to better enforce the federal Voting Rights Act.

In fact, Republicans have long sought to add the rig the census by adding the question in hopes that it would decrease responses from immigrant communities to help shift the balance of power during decennial redistricting from Democratic-leaning urban areas to more Republican-leaning rural areas. Furman's ruling called out Ross for lying and even responded to an earlier statement on the case from Supreme Court Justice Neal Gorsuch. Several other legal challenges await, however, including a separate case on the same matter that will be heard by the Supreme Court in February.

Meanwhile, William Barr, Trump's nominee for Attorney General, testified at his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. He claimed he wanted to allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who he cited as a friend, to complete his investigation into Trump/Russia, though would not fully commit either to publicly releasing Mueller's full report, nor to recusing himself from oversight of the probe, even if DoJ ethics officials recommended that he should. Barr, a former AG under George H.W. Bush, wrote and helped circualate a lengthy memo [PDF] last year undercutting the validity of Mueller's investigation.

All of that, as Trump's record-length federal government shutdown continues today, with so-called moderate Democrats in Congress declining invitations to the White House in response to Trump's latest effort to drive a wedge between them and Speaker Nancy Pelosi on funding for his southern border wall. The shutdown grinds on as hundreds of thousands of federal employees are furloughed or forced to work without pay, with travelers now facing long lines at TSA checkpoints at major airports, and as some federal employees are being forced to turn to charity food banks to help feed their families.

Next, with California's largest privately run utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announcing plans to seek bankruptcy protection this week, after facing some $30 billion in potential liabilities for massive, deadly wildfires across the state over the past two years, some have suggested the state should simply buy up the company, which was found to have been responsible for sparking many of the recent record fires by failing to adequately maintain its equipment and power lines.

Los Angeles Times' Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and business columnist MICHAEL HILTZIK joins me today to discuss the issue, as PG&E seeks state protection from liability in hopes of passing costs on to rate-payers. The company, which serves some 16 million customers in Northern California, was once valued at more than $30 billion, but with its stock price now gutted after the bankruptcy announcement and previous criminal convictions it is currently valued at just about $3.5 billion. California could end years of repeated company mismanagement, Hiltzik explains, by purchasing the company or its most valuable assets, at --- pardon the pun --- fire sale prices.

"I wrote a column a year ago saying, 'it's time to take the franchise away from PG&E and put it out for bid.' Let somebody else come in and show that they can operate all of these functions much better, more efficiently, cheaper, and without these constant [failures]. PG&E is like the Wells Fargo of the utility business. It can't seem to do anything right, and scandals continue to crop up," Hiltzik tells me. "My case against PG&E goes way back to the proposition they tried to sneak across through the voters many, many years ago to basically eliminate competition from public power consortiums. So PG&E has just been a bad actor. They have been absolutely atrocious operators."

Hiltzik discusses the pros and cons of what would be a radical, if potentially profitable, investment by the state of California, and how the company's failures and need for public bailout portend similar threats to other fossil fuel-reliant firms, insurance companies and states as the increasingly brutal impacts and costs of climate change undercut profitability.

"We really need to have a debate --- and a debate in the near term --- about who should own these utilities and how they should be operated," he argues. "California has probably done more than most other states in starting to come to grips with [climate change], because at least we've been developing information about what those impacts will be. But nobody has done enough planning up to this point."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with, as usual, no shortage of disturbing news...

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: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Crippling winter weather, Trump shutdown and probe news, CA's PG&E to file for bankruptcy protection, L.A. teachers on strike...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2019 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's another one of those impossible Mondays catching up with a weekend full of news in the Trump Era, and the seemingly impossible fight on behalf of voters who seek actually verifiable election results (which require HAND-MARKED paper ballots, according to a new letter from two dozen computer science, security and voting system experts.) [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

Before we get to our guest today on that crucial issue which threatens elections oversight from Georgia to Los Angeles, a bunch of news and quick headlines from across the country. Among those headlines...

Winter weather crippled much of nation over the weekend and into the beginning of this week, from heavy rains and flash floods in recently fire-ravaged California, to monster snowfall in the Midwest, to icy conditions in the East. The latter succeeded in shutting down even parts of the federal government in D.C. that weren't already closed due to Donald Trump's continuing partial federal government shutdown --- now the longest in U.S. history --- to demand $5.7 billion for his promised, pointless and ill-considered southern border wall.

Decidedly not shutdown in D.C. this week are disturbing new revelations, as reported by New York Times late Friday, that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence probe of the President of the United States in 2017, to determine whether Trump was either a witting or unwitting agent of Russia. That, as Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr, on Monday, released his prepared opening remarks in advance of his confirmation hearings this week in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite his previous criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe and his argument that Presidents cannot be investigated for certain things, Barr now says the Special Counsel investigation should be allowed to finish and its report should be made public.

In California, the state's largest private utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), announced their intention to seek bankruptcy protection in light of tens of billions of dollars in potential legal liability for maintenance failures that helped spark a number of the historic and deadly fires that crippled the state during last year's record wildfire season. And, in Los Angeles, some 35,000 teachers at the nation's second-largest school district walked out, striking to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes.

Next, we turn to some election news, with New York state, one of the most restrictive in the nation when it comes to voting access, finally moving to update its system with a package of bills this week that include early voting, vote-by-mail, same-day voter registration and other long-overdue reforms.

In Georgia, meanwhile, two dozen of the nation's top Computer Security and Voting Systems experts issued a critical landmark letter [PDF] last week to the state's Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, essentially begging the panel, convened by former Republican Sec. of State and incoming Governor Brian Kemp, to not move the state's voting system from 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen Direct Record Electronic (DRE) systems to similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMD), which print out a computer-marked and barcoded summary of voters' ballots. They call instead for hand-marked paper ballots, which they describe as "the best method for recording votes in public elections."

The letter notes that BMD systems are more expensive than hand-marked paper ballot systems but, more importantly, cannot be audited after an election to determine whether the results reflect the actual intent of voters. Despite the scientists crucial recommendation last week, and every comment --- other than from election officials and private voting system vendor lobbyists --- made by the public at last week's SAFE Commission hearing, Kemp's panel shamefully voted to recommend BMDs to state lawmakers.

But, while that virtually inexplicable action moves ahead in the Peach State under Republican rule, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, under Democratic rule, has already decided to move to a pricey and similarly unverifiable touchscreen BMD system before the 2020 Presidential election!

We're joined today by MARILYN MARKS, a national leader in the fight for HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems. She heads up the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance --- which filed several landmark lawsuits last year against Georgia's current unverifiable voting systems and in hopes of preventing their new ones.

"The point is a very, very simple point that the SAFE Commission --- and apparently L.A. --- pretends that they are missing," argues Marks. "They all talk about how they want elections that can be audited. Well, when you use these Ballot Marking Devices, the election cannot be audited, because the source document [the computer-marked, barcoded ballot] is not an original transaction. It cannot be audited. Therefore you cannot audit the results."

Making matters worse, even if every single voter manages to correctly verify the computer-printed, human-readable summary of voter selections, "what's actually cast and the actual official vote is a barcode. Now, none of us can read barcodes. I don't know what vote I'm actually casting. I am casting a barcode, but what in the world does that barcode actually say? That, to me, is a Constitutional violation."

We discuss that and the many other dangers of BMD systems being implement across the country --- with little or no pushback in places like L.A. --- as well as the differences between the proposed new systems from private vendors in GA and the publicly-owned one already coming to L.A. County. In short, despite a number of explanations offered to us by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan (shared on today's program) Marks argues there is little, if any, difference in the lack of verifiability and auditablity of such voting systems.

Finally, we take just a few listener calls on all of the above on our way out today...

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: Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project on Trump's Rio Grande land grab; Also: Historic shutdown fallout across the nation, and an impossible (but real!) 60-year old warning about 'Trump' and his 'wall'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2019 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's federal government shutdown is the now the longest in U.S. history and landowners in Texas are fighting to keep the federal government from stealing their land even before Trump shakes down the U.S. Treasury somehow for $5.7. Also, we might have avoided all of these messes had we only paid attention to a remarkably prescient warning from a 1958 episode of an obscure television show on CBS. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, some 800,000 furloughed federal workers missed their paychecks, after hundreds of them protested the shutdown, lockout, "shakedown" outside the White House as they are having trouble paying rents, mortgages and for food and medical needs. Nonetheless, Trump continues to threaten a "national emergency" declaration to force the funding of his long-promised southern border wall with money the Administration is considering taking from U.S. military disaster relief funding earmarked for hurricane and fire-ravaged states like Florida, Texas, California and dozens of others.

House Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) continue to vote to reopen the government --- or, at least, some of its various agencies which have nothing to do with immigration or a wall --- while Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to allow a vote on same in the upper chamber, even for identical bills to the those passed virtually unanimously there last year. Airports are being forced to enact closures for lack of TSA personnel, the nation's foods supply is going untested by the FDA for contamination, FBI agents are sending letters to the White House and Congress describing the furlough of thousands of special agents as a national security threat, and federally subsidized HUD housing for the elderly and poor is being forced to do without.

Meanwhile, down in Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, even before Trump receives the $5.7 billion he is demanding for hundreds of miles of new border wall/fencing, property owners are receiving letters from the federal government to begin the process of eminent domain. Families who have lived on the banks of the Rio Grande for generations are being threatened with having their homes taken away to pave the way for the construction of Trump's wall. Even an historic, 150-year old Catholic mission chapel on the banks of the river --- and on the city seal of Mission, TX --- finds itself in a legal battle with the federal government to remain in place.

We're joined today by RICKY GARZA, Rio Grande Valley native and staff attorney for the non-profit Texas Civil Rights Project. As Trump came to the area for another photo-op on Thursday, Garza is working to help hundreds of local property owners in the valley understand their legal rights to fend off a government takeover of their land and homes.

Garza scoffs at the President's claims of "crisis" conditions in what he describes as a "diverse region of over a million people that lives and dies by the water that comes from the river," but which may soon be cut off from it entirely. "The only crisis that exists now is artificially created by this administration," he tells me. "The only time I heard any talk about a crisis along the border was when I turned on cable news."

"Polling consistently shows that an overwhelming majority of people that actually live and work on the border oppose the border wall, and oppose the militarization of our communities," he says.

"What we're seeing on the ground is that people are having their lives interrupted by this intrusion into the borderlands by the federal government and border militarization. We've seen a decrease in apprehensions along the border, yet an increase in Border Patrol hiring, staffing and construction of things like the border wall, erections of things like security towers along the areas close to the river, and aerostat blimps that were formerly used in Iraq now deployed in some neighborhoods to surveil the border, and implicitly, all of us," Garza laments. "It's just another sad example of the federal government failing to understand the realities of life on the border, and what it's really like for us, just trying to live our lives in peace."

Finally today, a few minutes from a gob-smacking episode of the 1958 CBS Television series called Trackdown in which --- and this is for real --- a colorful con-man named "Trump" (seriously!) comes to town and tries to tell its gullible, terrified residents that only he can save them...by selling them on a "wall" to protect them from total destruction!!!...

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

* * *
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-host Angie Coiro on the shutdown, the wall, Election 2020, and the legacy of Harry Reid --- with help from Dave Johnson and Sarah Kendzior...
By Angie Coiro on 1/2/2019 7:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad and Desi; they're on a well-deserved break til next week; I'm on my own holiday hiatus from In Deep with Angie Coiro, so doesn't that work out nicely?

It's early days in D.C., where Reps and Sens are shuffling back into their offices preparing for various swearings-in. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi --- retaking the leadership gavel Thursday --- is wasting absolutely no time letting Donald Trump know she plans to lead, not follow. He's wiped Mike Pence's offer to drop the border fund demand by some three billion bucks; Donny's back to demanding $5 billion, dismissing "someone" (um, Pence) who floated that lower figure. In both an appearance on the Today show and outside the White House following a border security meeting with Trump, Pelosi made it clear that taking the federal budget hostage cuts no ice --- he's getting no money for a wall.

Meanwhile, Apple is the latest company singed by Trump's tariffs. The company revised (lowered) its quarterly earnings estimate by 7.6%. Once that news went public, its stock dropped by nearly the same percentage. Apple CEO Tim Cook says it's not entirely a matter of the Trump/China trade war, but that was no small factor.

DAVE JOHNSON joins me to talk about how the 2020 presidential race is shaping up, starting with the news that Elizabeth Warren has officially gotten serious about running. Then, the tension between the Sanders and O'Rourke camps, and Beto's less-than-stellar track record with fossil fuel legislation. Has he just changed his tune because the record's gone public, or has he truly shifted his priorities?

By the way, Dave's a partner in the launch of what could be a very important site: We Can Have Nice Things, explaining modern economic theory in plain language, including how infrastructure and citizens' health and welfare get paid for in sane economic systems.

The New York Times Magazine has published Mark Leibovitch's profile of Harry Reid, who, as it turns out, is expecting to die soon. SARAH KENDZIOR says something critical is missing from that article: how Reid tried to get Comey to take Trump's Russian connections seriously, and how he pushed the media to pay attention to Trump's corruption --- both for naught.

Sarah's podcast, Gaslit Nation, has just moved from monthly to weekly production.

Finally, a few minutes deflecting attention from Mitt Romney's self-serving yabber in his anti-Trump op-ed to Lamar Alexander's much more productive, thoughtful exercise in how a willing Congress and a sane, savvy president can triumph over impasse together. Feels more like a fairy tale than a possibility in today's circumstances, but still - it's a worthy read.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro on the Russia/Britain media feud; Big Ag strangling family dairies; and James Hatch on recovery...
By Angie Coiro on 12/27/2018 6:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad and Desi --- popping in here from my own show, In Deep with Angie Coiro.

So much for a budget compromise - although we really didn't expect one, did we? Ah well. The Dems are counting noses for January 3rd.

Hey, about that "discredited" dossier: not so fast. McClatchy has the tip that Michael Cohen was too in Prague, and that Robert Mueller knows it. Over at the Washington Post, Philip Bump explains exactly how heavy a domino this is - if it's true.

A bit more of the news roundup, then MARK KASTEL of Cornucopia explains a terrible trend --- why America's organic farmers are not only fleeing the business, but in some cases taking their own lives (more on that latter herefrom the Guardian).

Our conversation grew out of this column by his friend and colleague Jim Goodman, who's owned a family dairy farm for forty years. He knew the name of every one of his 45 cows. The reason he quit --- the reason so many are throwing in the towel --- is a complex tale of inadequate labeling, Big Ag masquerading as small producers of genuinely organic products, and the resulting glut of milk and produce that strangles the little guy.

Hang on to these handy-dandy scorecards, telling you which producers of eggs, dairy, grains, and more are truly organic and responsibly produced.

Finally --- in light of the White House occupant preening and playing the hero on his campaign swing through Iraq --- I bring you a genuine hero telling his own tale: JAMES HATCH, author of "Touching the Dragon" --- a heartily-recommended read...

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Mattis quits! Troops out of Syria! Whitaker's reversal! Government shut-down?! Food stamps cut! NK nuke deal collapse?!; Also: Dems announce 2020 Primary debate plan; NC-9 GOP election fraud since at least 2016...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2018 6:28pm PT  

Every great Reality TV show needs a dramatic and gripping season finale. So too, apparently, does does every horrible Reality TV Presidency! [Audio link is posted below]

Today is our last new BradCast before Christmas (Angie Coiro will be filling in for us, along with a few "evergreens" over the next week or two), but, as has become clear today, Trump! The Presidency! has certainly delivered in the shocking and suspenseful season finale department! Including...

TWISTS AND TURNS! Acting AG Matthew Whitaker did not, as misreported earlier today, get approval from a DoJ ethics review to oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. In fact, the ethics review determined he should recuse himself. But, apparently, he plans to ignore that finding;

SURPRISES! Trump defies his military advisers, not to mention stuns and infuriates members of Congress on both sides of the aisle along with experts in the region, by declaring "victory" on Twitter over ISIS and that he plans to now pull U.S. troops out of Syria! But when? Nobody seems to know. Is Afghanistan next? (Apparently so!);

MAIN CHARACTERS 'KILLED OFF'! Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis, the last of Trump's "My Generals", and none too happy about the Syria decision, submits his surprise resignation, charging the President is anything but "clear-eyed" about the need for U.S. alliances and the threats faced from its adversaries;

SUSPENSE! Will Trump shut down the federal government over Christmas? Last week he said he would. Earlier this week he indicated he wouldn't. But, today, it looks like he will! And all over $5 billion in funding for a southern border wall (now "steel slats") he promised that Mexico, not tax-payers, would be paying for;

CHRISTMAS VILLAINY! Trump's USDA, in defiance of Congress's newly passed farm bill, announces they will now make it more difficult for the poor to receive food stamps. That'll show 'em!;

NUCLEAR CLIFF-HANGER! North Korea bluntly declares that "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" actually means what it sounds like, and what those of us in the reality-based world (as opposed to the Reality TV world) already knew. They will not denuclearize unless the U.S. removes its own troops and nuclear weapons at the same time. Will Trump return to his threats for "fire and fury like the world has never seen"?! Stay tuned for the thrilling 2019 season!

Also today: The DNC announces its planned schedule for a dozen 2020 Presidential primary debates beginning in 2019, even though we're not yet even done with the 2018 election around here yet!

As we await the scheduled January 11th evidentiary hearing over the GOP's 2018 Absentee Ballot Election Fraud Scandal that has prevented Republican Mark Harris' 905-vote U.S. House "victory" over Democrat Dan McCready from being certified in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, the state Board of Election's stunning 279-page 2016 investigative report [PDF] on apparent absentee ballot fraud by McCrae Dowless, the same GOP contractor hired in 2018 by Harris, is released. And it includes some jaw-dropping evidence begging the question: How can it be that Dowless not already prosecuted after 2016, but allowed instead to carry out the same unlawful election fraud scams in 2018?!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with a number of climate crisis Christmas gifts from states around the country and hardly any lumps of coal at all!...

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

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton on Trump, Flynn, Russia, Mueller and what Dems must do about the 'criminal and con man in the White House'
Also: Admin's cruel asylum policy ruled unlawful; KS GOP lawmakers flip to Dem Party...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2018 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Trump Presidency feels as if it is now in free-fall. Is it? [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a federal judge in Washington D.C. (the same judge involved in Tuesday's dramatic sentencing hearing of Donald Trump's disgraced former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn) declared the Trump Administration's new policy of rejecting asylum claims made on the basis of domestic abuse and gang violence to be a violation of the law. We discussed then Attorney General Jeff Sessions' cruel new policy guidance on this matter after it was announced back in June with Karen Musalo, a longtime immigration rights attorney who told us, at the time, that the Admin's new policy was in violation of the law. Turns out she was right, according to today's federal court ruling, which is just the latest legal and/or political blow to Donald Trump's efforts to harden immigration policy in the U.S.

His failed policies on that and much more --- all eagerly supported by his Republican Party over the past two years --- resulted in last month's midterm elections "blue wave", when Democrats picked up an historic net gain of at least 40 seats in the U.S. House to take majority control in January. But the GOP losses were also felt at the state level around the country, including in formerly "deep red" Kansas, where voters elected a Democratic Governor and rejected a number of Republican state lawmakers. This week, things are getting worse for Kansas Republicans as a new wave of party defectors has resulted, so far (more may be on the way), in three elected Republicans in the state legislature (all women, by the way) flipping their allegiance to the Democratic Party in advance of next month's new legislative session.

Given the revelations and dramatic sentencing hearings related to various state and federal investigations into the unprecedented corruption of Donald Trump, his campaign, his businesses, his family and his Administration over the past week, things are likely to get much worse for Republicans before getting better any time soon.

On that matter and more, we're joined today by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to discuss what is now beginning to feel like a Presidency that is falling apart by the day, if not the hour, particularly following Tuesday's dramatic sentencing hearing of Flynn and last week's sentencing of Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen, who implicated the President as "directing" a felony hush-money payoff conspiracy carried out just before the 2016 election, in clear violation of campaign finance laws.

All of that, as Trump and his associates and family are now facing criminal investigations and/or prosecutions at both the pardon-proofed state level and in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of the Trump Campaign's alleged coordination with Russia and his own obstruction of justice. As usual, Parton offers her keen observations as the investigations continue to quickly close in on the President, describing all of this as "the most serious political crisis we have ever had," outside of wars, while adding the understated obvious: "It's not good to have a criminal and a con man in the White House."

We discuss, among many other things, Tuesday's astonishing Flynn hearing which went off the rails, and the judge's curious references to "treason"; whether or not there is a "grand conspiracy" at the heart of the Russia matter resulting in the seemingly inexplicable number of lies being told by Trump and his associates about their various contacts with Russians; whether Trump will be able to withstand the ever-increasing pressure of the probes; how his wingnut fans and media supporters are (often hilariously) still trying to justify it all as a partisan "hoax"; and what Democrats will (or, at least, should) do in response once they take over the House majority next month...

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Trump 'charity' shuttered; Admin backs off shutdown threat; Flynn sentencing fiasco; McSally appointed in AZ; NC-9 fraud hearing delayed...
By Brad Friedman on 12/18/2018 6:31pm PT  

Today was the first day that it really began to feel like things are finally falling completely apart for Donald Trump and his administration. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the mountain of stories covered on today's BradCast amid an astonishing day of news on several fronts...

  • The New York state Attorney General entered an agreement with the Trump Foundation to permanently shut down the supposed charitable organization. Her investigation and prosecution of alleged fraud, campaign violations and self-dealing via the organization by Trump, his three adult children and his 2016 campaign will continue, despite the Foundation's dissolution;
  • The Trump Administration blinked on Tuesday, at least a bit, following Trump's previous televised threats to shut down the federal government this Friday over funding for his border wall with Mexico (which, we were repeatedly told during the campaign, they, not tax-payers, would pay for.) Last week, Trump said on camera he would be "proud" to shut down the federal government before Christmas if Democrats didn't agree to $5 billion for wall funding in a budget agreement that must pass by this Friday. Today, Trump's Press Secretary suggested they'd find the money elsewhere, even as Congress remained at a standstill with Republicans not having enough votes to pass a bill that meets Trump's demands;
  • At the same time, in a federal court room in D.C., Trump's disgraced former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators last year, had been expected to walk away from his sentencing hearing a free man today following his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team. They had requested no jail time for Flynn after his help in several known and unknown probes. But, thanks to Flynn's attorneys falsely suggesting in a sentencing memorandum last week that he had been duped, tricked and entrapped by FBI investigators into lying about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, the sentencing was mercifully postponed until March. In a remarkable colloquy with U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Ronald Reagan appointee, Flynn quickly backed off his attorneys claims. In blistering remarks from the bench, Sullivan railed that he could not "hide my disgust, my disdain" for Flynn's behavior, and upbraided the former top Trump official and retired Lt. General for having "arguably sold out your country". A reportedly shaken Flynn then asked for his sentencing to be delayed, so that the could further cooperate with the Special Counsel in hopes of being credited to avoid jail time. All of that, after Trump had wished Flynn "good luck" via Twitter prior to today's hearing;
  • In Arizona, the loser of November's U.S. Senate contest, Republican Rep. Martha McSally, was appointed by the state's GOP Governor to take the seat of Sen. Jon Kyle, who had temporarily replaced the late Sen. John McCain earlier this year. McSally narrowly lost her Senate bid in November to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who she had described as a "traitor" during the campaign. McSally also tried to make amends with McCain's family after insulting the ailing Senator before his death;
  • In the North Carolina GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal, state Republicans reversed their position for a second time regarding the certification of Republican Mark Harris. State Republican leaders demanded that he be certified in the state's 9th Congressional District House race, despite an ongoing fraud investigation. The current results show that Harris defeated Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes in November. The State Board of Elections, however, has refused to certify the race due to the allegations of absentee ballot fraud and has postponed it's planned evidentiary hearing from December 21 to January 11, thanks to what the Board describes as delayed document production by subpoenaed parties. Harris has now admitted that he hired the GOP contractor accused of altering or withholding perhaps thousands of absentee ballots in the race;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with a surprising amount of actually encouraging news for a change.

Yes, it really is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

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

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Legal scholars find DoJ opinion fails to consider Constitutional measure for Executive Branch continuity during a President's criminal trial...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/17/2018 9:35am PT  

So long as there is a prospect for the issuance of a pardon by a Vice President once he/she becomes President, or the expiration of the statute of limitations while a President remains in office, the indictment of a sitting President may be the "only" constitutional means for ensuring "Equal Justice Under Law".

That conclusion, of course, is at odds with the official U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) position that a sitting President cannot be indicted until after he/she leaves office. The DoJ's position is based upon the December 10, 2000 Opinion issued by the DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), citing an earlier OLC opinion that "the institution of criminal proceedings 'would interfere with the President's unique official duties, most of which cannot be performed by anyone else.'"

But that position is flawed and is being challenged by a number of legal scholars, including Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, a preeminent constitutional expert, whose famous former students include Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and President Barack Obama.

In a December 10 Boston Globe op-ed and during a subsequent appearance on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell (see video below), Tribe noted that the long-controversial OLC opinion lacks the force of a judicial precedent and is at odds with the legal accountability required of all federal officers, including the President...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: WI's Walker signs power grab bills; MI's Snyder undermines voters; NC's GOP Election Fraud scandal spreads to new district; ME's RCV hand-count ends early...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2018 6:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Lock him up! Plus a whole bunch of November 6 midterm fallout, follow-up and fraud. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Yes, despite his many desperate and ever-shifting attempts to explain (lie) his way out of it, all evidence demonstrates that Donald Trump quite clearly committed a major, indictable, campaign finance felony in his hush-money payoffs before the 2016 election to women with whom he had had sexual affairs. We're joined today by longtime campaign finance expert CRAIG HOLMAN of Public Citizen for a very sober, clear, point-by-point explanation of Trump's apparent crime in this matter and what can (or, at least should) be done about it.

Holman methodically debunks each of Trump's various claims --- offered via both Fox "News" and on Twitter --- in the wake of the criminal sentencing in federal court on Wednesday, of his longtime personal attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded guilty for, among other things, facilitating the illicit, covert payoff scheme "directed" by Trump to cover up the trysts so they wouldn't adversely effect his 2016 election chances. Holman elaborates on how any other elected federal official would "absolutely" be indicted for the exact same unlawful scheme.

"Every other government official is subject to the laws of the nation, just like you and I. And we have seen many members of Congress, for instance, and other Executive Branch officials face indictment, prosecution and even imprisonment for this type of felony behavior," he tells me.

The only thing preventing similar accountability for Trump, Holman argues, is the controversial opinion from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) which states that a sitting President may not be indicted on criminal charges. But, Holman says, citing recent arguments from Richard Nixon's former counsel John Dean, that's precisely what the U.S. Constitution's 25th Amendment was already designed to handle.

"The entire rationale behind [the OLC opinion] it is that indicting a President would incapacitate the Executive Branch, and therefore you just can't indict a sitting President," he says. But "we've got the 25th Amendment in the Constitution, and that sets up an entire transition period if the President becomes incapacitated. So there is no incapacitation. We know the transition. So the president should be subject to indictment."

Beyond the protection of the OLC opinion, Holman notes one very narrow potential argument that Trump might otherwise be able to use to avoid try and avoid legal accountability. But, he concludes, "The evidence is overwhelming that our President committed a felony."

In other news today, Wisconsin's rejected Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a sweeping host of bills --- adopted with lightning speed by the gerrymandered GOP state legislature in an extraordinary lame duck session --- designed to undermine the Executive powers of incoming Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers, and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, as well as the state's voters. At least one lawsuit in response has already been announced to challenge the new provision that restricts Early Voting in the state. A similar provision was ruled unconstitutional by the federal courts in 2016 (as we discussed recently with the plaintiff in that case.)

In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, also soon to be replaced by a Democrat, signed several bills on Friday that similarly undermine voters.

In North Carolina -- where Republicans invented these very types of unprecedented lame duck power grabs back in 2016 --- the GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal that has, so far, prevented the certification of Republican Mark Harris' reported 905-vote "victory" over Democrat Dan McCready in the state's 9th Congressional District, may be spreading to a completely different U.S. House District. In Columbus County, in the state's 7th CD, there was reportedly an even larger percentage of mysteriously unreturned absentee ballots from Democratic voters than that which originally sparked the 9th CD's ongoing election fraud probe. In Columbus, a Republican candidate for Sheriff is said to have unseated the Democrat Sheriff by by just 37 votes after hiring the same GOP contractor at the center of the NC9 absentee ballot fraud allegations. As we've been reporting, evidence revealed during the ongoing investigation in NC9 will, almost certainly at this point, result in a new U.S. House election there.

Finally today, in Maine, incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin saw his Constitutional challenge to the state's new Ranked Choice Voting system rejected by a Trump-appointed federal judge on Thursday. On Friday, he called off the ongoing hand-count he had requested in his 2nd Congressional District race. Poliquin, after winning the most votes in the first computer tally by more than 2,200 votes, failed to win a majority. In the next round of counting, after voters' second place choices were redistributed to other candidates according to the computerized RCV algorithm now used to tally ballots in the state, Democrat Jared Golden was declared the winner of the November 6th contest. The complicated RCV hand-count began last week and, until ended by Poliquin today, was otherwise expected to continue for several more weeks. The outgoing Republicans says he is still mulling an appeal to the federal court ruling.

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Trump in trouble; Shutdown looms; Bevin brays in KY; NC9 primary do-over?; MI GOP power grab; Arctic collapsing...
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2018 6:45pm PT  

Among the many messes covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to full show is posted below]...

  • Trump can't seem to find anyone who wants to be his new Chief of Staff. So, his son-in-law Jared Kushner now appears to be in the running;
  • Trump finally responded (on Fox "News", naturally) to Wednesday's news that his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen received a three year prison sentence after cooperating with federal investigators and pleading guilty to a number of felonies. The charges include an illegal 2016 hush-money payout scheme to women said to have had sexual affairs with Trump, which Cohen and the prosecutors describe as having been "directed" by Trump in violation of campaign finance laws. Trump now says it wasn't unlawful, but if it was, it was only a civil, not criminal violation --- and that he didn't do it in any case, but if he did, it was all Cohen's fault --- and that Cohen only pleaded guilty to it as a favor to federal prosecutors in order to "embarrass" Trump. Or something. Got it?;
  • Meanwhile, a federal government shutdown next week before Christmas is looking increasingly likely. After Trump's televised Oval Office tantrum with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer earlier this week over funding for his Border Wall, it's become apparent that Republicans in Congress currently have no plan to avoid a shutdown next week after Trump declared during the meeting that he would happily take the blame for such a shutdown. Even in the House, where Republicans still hold a large majority until January, they seem unable to pass a version of a spending bill that includes funding for the wall that Trump repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for;
  • In Kentucky, taking a page from Trump, Tea Party Republican Governor Matt Bevin released a bizarre video on Twitter Wednesday night, attacking the Louisville Courier-Journal for their new partnership with independent, non-profit investigative reporting outlet ProPublica. Bevin charges ProPublica is a "far-left" organization secretly funded by "George 'I Hate America' Soros" and, therefore, everyone should "disregard" the reporting from the Courier-Journal. ProPublica responded to the charges, and suggests a recent damning exposé by the paper finding Bevin hired an old friend for a top IT job in the state and gave him a $215,000 raise after less than a year, is just one of the reasons Bevin may be hoping Kentuckians stop reading the paper;
  • In North Carolina, the mess created by the GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal in the state's 9th Congressional District continues. Republican lawmakers, on Wednesday, passed legislation that would allow the State Board of Elections to call not just a new general election for the U.S. House in NC9, but for a new primary as well, following evidence of absentee fraud in both elections this year by a GOP contractor hired by Mark Harris, the Republican candidate. Harris is said to have defeated incumbent Congressman Robert Pittenger by just over 800 votes in the May GOP primary and his Democratic opponent Dan McCready by just over 900 votes in the November midterm. State Republicans seem to now be conceding that both races were tainted with fraud by their candidate and will now require a do-over;
  • In Michigan, GOP lawmakers are scrambling to pass a measure in the lame duck session that would make it much harder for voters to place statewide initiatives on the ballot. That's just one of several ongoing efforts by Republicans in the state to strip power from voters and the Executive Branch before Democrats can be sworn in as Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State next month.
  • And finally, in The Arctic....well, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report to detail that frightening and worsening mess, along with several others...

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

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: New revelations in NC-9 GOP election fraud scandal all but guarantee a new election will be coming...
By Brad Friedman on 12/12/2018 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trump appears now to be in very big trouble. So do Republicans in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District. But President Obama's Affordable Care Act soldiers on, even as signups are down as the open enrollment period for 2019 on the federal HealthCare.gov exchange quietly nears its close on Saturday, December 15th.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and 'fixer' Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and some $2 million in fines after cooperating with federal prosecutors following guilty pleas to several felonies in August. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team noted that Cohen has been helpful in their probe of Trump's still-unexplained relationship with Russia, but it was the charges brought by federal prosecutors against Cohen in New York's Southern District related to hush-money payoffs to women with whom Trump was said to have had sexual affairs that most immediately appears to cook Trump's goose.

Both Cohen and the federal government now allege that Trump, in the waning days of the 2016 campaign, "directed" a conspiracy to pay off the women in order to buy their silence in an illicit scheme to "influence the election". Those payoffs of $130,000 to porn actress Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal (via National Enquirer publisher AMI) are considered illegal campaign contributions.

Also on Wednesday, prosecutors announced a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, run by longtime Trump pal David Pecker, in exchange for their cooperation in the case. As discussed on today's show, Trump now appears to be in very VERY big trouble, at this point. If the man who helped make the payoffs at Trump's "direction" --- who had also cooperated with investigators --- received three years in prison for his crimes, imagine what may happen to the man who actually directed the conspiracy.

While there are still a number of potential escape hatches such as the Presidential pardon power for Trump, his associates, his family members and his businesses, a new interview with incoming New York state Attorney General-elect Letitia James suggests she has that base covered as well. James says she intends to "use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well" at the state level, including "anyone" in his circle who may have violated state law. Trump's businesses and campaign are based in New York. James tells NBC she intends to bring state charges in an attempt to ensure Trump, his associates, his family and his various organizations are unable to evade accountability with Presidential pardons at the federal level.

In North Carolina, meanwhile, fresh revelations continue to emerge regarding the 9th Congressional District election which is at the center of an ongoing GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal. New details in that matter today include the state Republican Party's admission that a new election will most likely be needed, following news this week that Early Voting results in Bladen County were reportedly leaked, illegally, in advance of the November 6th election.

Moreover, a new affidavit from a Republican now charges that McCrae Dowless, the GOP contractor hired by Republican Mark Harris to run his absentee ballot campaign in Bladen, where the fraud scheme appears centered, told him that he (unlawfully) had as many as 800 absentee ballots in his possession prior to the election. What came of those ballots we don't yet know, but Harris is said to have defeated Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes in the 9th District last month. At this point, I see no way that a new election in the district can be avoided, other than simply naming McCready the winner.

Also today, we're joined by ALICE OLLSTEIN, formerly of Talking Points Memo, now a congressional reporter at Politico, to discuss the nearly 10 percent drop off in signups this year for the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), as the federal open enrollment period comes to a close this weekend. "It's not high prices that are deterring people," Ollstein argues, citing a key piece of data to back that up, before explaining the several different reasons why signups are down this year so far, and how that may affect the future stability of the federal exchanges.

With Democrats set to take the majority in the U.S. House in January, Ollstein also details their dilemma in how to best defend against a federal lawsuit brought by several Republican-controlled states (and now supported by the Trump Administration) hoping to kill the landmark ACA and its vital protections for those with preexisting conditions...

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

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Guest: Investigative journalist Dave Lindorff; Also: U.S. House contests in NC-9, FL-15, ME-2; Schiff says Trump may face prison time...
By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2018 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The boondoggles continue --- from the Pentagon to the U.S. House and American elections --- as we can't look ahead to the new year without the continuing unresolved muck from this year. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

When Democrats take the majority in the new Congress after the first of the year, one of their first orders of business will be determining who actually is allowed to be seated following the November 2018 midterm elections. There could be as many as three (and possibly more) seats challenged in the 116th Congress, thanks to the burgeoning GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal in North Carolina, an admission by a newly-elected Florida Republican that he "may have" violated federal campaign finance laws, and a lengthy hand-count process in Maine's first-ever Ranked Choice Voting election for a U.S. House seat.

In NC's 9th Congressional District, Mark Harris --- the GOP candidate whose uncertified 905-vote "victory" is now being probed by state and federal officials after the emergence of evidence of absentee ballot fraud by a GOP contractor Harris hired in both the primary and general elections --- has said he'd agree to a new election, but only if evidence surfaces that the fraud in question would have changed the final results. That's a much higher bar than called for by state law, which allows the State Board of Election to take any necessary actions to "assure that an election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption."

In FL, Ross Spano, the Republican who is said to have won the race in the state's 15th Congressional District, now admits he received nearly $200,000 in personal loans for his campaign from two friends, in violation of the $2,700 per person federal contribution limit. One of those friends, despite having no official government role, is today reported to be helping to select Spano's Congressional hires. In both the NC and FL cases, it's not just Democrats crying foul. Tthe Republicans who were defeated in the primaries by Harris and Spano are also joining the public outcries.

In ME, a "recount" request by ousted Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the 2nd Congressional District could result in a vacant seat for a while, as a hand-count of the complicated RCV counting process --- initially carried out after the election by a computer algorithm --- is a lengthy and onerous one that could stretch beyond January 3, when the new Congress is sworn in.

In non-election related news today, Donald Trump will reportedly call for an unprecedented $750 billion budget next year for the Pentagon after his previous increases to military spending. That, despite his description of Defense Department spending last week as "crazy" and previous vows to cut DoD's budget by 5 percent. The Administration's proposal for $750 billion is reported to be a "negotiating tactic" to ensure the $733 billion requested by the Pentagon, which is a far cry from the $700 billion Trump had called for previously and a substantial bump from the "crazy" $716 billion allocated for the current fiscal year.

We're joined today by investigative journalist DAVE LINDORFF to discuss the decades-long "accounting fraud" being carried out by the Pentagon, as detailed in his new exclusive exposé for The Nation. Citing whistleblowers, Inspector General's reports and a recent admission by the private accounting firm Ernst & Young that the Pentagon's books were so poorly documented that they simply cannot be audited, Lindorff explains how the DoD continues to seek --- and receive --- more tax-payer dollars year-after-year, even without needing or spending all they received in previous years. Rather than returning unpsent funds to the federal Treasury, DoD accounting gimmicks ("nippering" and "plugs") ensure endlessly increasing budgets and payments to Defense Contractors. The unchecked spending --- which amounts to trillions of dollars --- also helps to ensures that services Americans may actually need and want --- like healthcare, education and maintenance for infrastructure --- continue to be on the chopping block every fiscal year, even as Defense spending now accounts for 54 cents out of every federal tax-payer dollar collected.

"What the Pentagon does is they ask for more money than they need. They don't spend it all, and then they tuck away what isn't spent in ways that it won't be found --- violating the Constitution, by the way --- then that unspent money becomes a slush fund that's available to use however they want," Lindorff tells me.

"They've known about this stonewalling by the Pentagon for 26 years, which includes a lot of Democratic Congresses. Nobody has ever called them to the carpet on this," he charges. Despite Inspector General reports detailing the gimmicks and unaccounted for budget holes, "Nobody has been prosecuted for this. Nobody has been fired for this....If it's signed off on by the proper authority in the chain of command then it's 'supported' whether or not there's evidentiary material to back it."

Lindorff also argues that, with one recent exception, Democrats --- including progressives from Bernie Sanders to Beto O'Rourke --- have been largely silent on what he describes as a massive account fraud.

Finally today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who will chair the U.S. House Intelligence Committee after Dems take over Congress next year, argued over the weekend that new filings from federal prosecutors on Friday suggest "There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him" and "that he may be the first President in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time." Schiff was referencing, among other things, details from a sentencing memo filed by federal prosecutors in New York on Friday charging that Trump "directed" a criminal conspiracy with his former attorney Michael Cohen to pay hush money to two women with whom Trump had affairs, in order to effect election results in violation of federal campaign finance laws...

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

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