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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, October 21, 2017
Real News from the Land of Reality: 'BradCast' 10/20/17
And a thought or two on the toxic poison injected this week into our body politic by the President of the United States...
Trump's Reckless Disregard for Puerto Rican Lives is an Impeachable Offense
Ernest Canning makes the case for adding the President's woeful, deadly response in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria to the list...
Trump's Schizophrenia, Congress' Fresh 'Health Care Hell': 'BradCast' 10/19/17
Guest: TPM's Alice Ollstein from Capitol Hill; Also: Trump meets with P.R. Guv, gives himself a '10' on Maria response!...
'Green News Report' 10/17/17
  w/ Brad & Desi
Alaska's ANWR on chopping block, again; Toxic ash from CA wildfires; US Virgin Islands w/o power, clean water; PLUS: Shell opens e-car charging network at gas stations -- in Britain...
Previous GNRs: 10/12/17 - 10/10/17 - Archives...
DHS Misled on 2016 'Russian Hacks'
(Will They Get It Right in 2018?):
'BradCast' 10/18/17
Guest: Orange Cnty, CA Registrar Neal Kelley on new DHS 'Election Infrastructure' Council...
Impeachable Offenses: Trump's 'ObamaCare' Lie: 'BradCast' 10/17/17
Also, Guest: Pastor Michael McBride on the 'Cost for Peace vs. Death' and programs that stop gun violence...
'Green News Report' 10/17/17
Hurricane slams Ireland; Deadliest fire week in CA history; Puerto Ricans drinking water from toxic Superfund sites; Coal plants closed in TX; PLUS: Oil rig explodes in LA...
Something's Happening Here (Maybe): 'BradCast' 10/16/17
Guest: Heather Digby Parton on Trump rage, GOP 'cowardice'; Also: Deadly hurricane in Ireland(?!), fires in CA, war between US-armed allies in Iraq...
Sunday 'Just Undo It' Toons
'PDiddie' rounds up another week in American politics where words fail, but the political cartoonists do not...
'Chaos': 'BradCast' 10/13/2017
In less than 24 hours, Trump aggressively unleashes fresh havoc on the American health care system and foreign policy with Iran...
'Green News Report' 10/12/17
Historic, deadly firestorms grow in CA; Water-borne diseases in Puerto Rico; PLUS: Trump EPA makes way for controversial mine in world's most valuable fishery...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
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...


And Trump keeps digging himself deeper on Charlottesville, despite newly revealed warnings from FBI and DHS of violent Rightwing extremism...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2017 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Digging deeper and/or trying to catch up with the runaway news on North Korea, Charlottesville and Trump's continuing threats to radically undermine the Affordable Care Act. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the (many) stories covered on today's show:

  • A faint glimmer of hope for peace --- or at least diplomacy --- breaks out in the U.S./North Korea nuclear standoff, as all sides (including South Korea) suggest options that could help to avert disaster;
  • Trump digs himself deeper by using a somewhat insane press conference on Tuesday at Trump Tower to equate the "alt-left" (his words) with White Nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville over the weekend, even while claiming (over and over again) that his previously criticized remarks were only due to the fact that he insists on getting his facts straight before speaking. "Unlike you," he said to the assembled press, over and over, without irony, "before I make a statement, I like to know the facts." (Insert your own joke here);
  • New reporting reveals an FBI and DHS intelligence report warned the Trump Administration in May about the threat of violent Rightwing domestic terrorism far out-pacing that of Islamic (or any other form of) terrorism in the U.S., at the same time the Administration was deciding to block a previously announced grant to a group that helps people escape the grip of White Nationalist groups. (Following up our conversation on yesterday's show with former neo-Nazi Tony McAleer of Life After Hate, the group whose grant was withdrawn);
  • More CEO's remove themselves and their companies from the President's Manufacturing Council in protest of his response to the tragic violence in Charlottesville over the weekend. (By the end of the show today, the number went from four to six);
  • The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office issues a report [PDF] today finding that Trump's threats of withholding funding to insurance companies meant to cover costs for low-income consumers under the Affordable Care Act ('ObamaCare'), could spike all individual premium rates by 20 percent in 2018, force companies to stop selling insurance at all in certain regions, and raise the federal deficit by nearly $200 billion over the next decade.

All of that (and more) may explain why Trump's approval ratings hit new, all-time lows this week. Enjoy!...

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

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Guest: Former neo-Nazi Tony McAleer on the new rise of white nationalism | Also: U.S., North Korea remain on the knife's edge of World War...
By Brad Friedman on 8/14/2017 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the disturbing and tragic weekend events in Charlottesville, how they came about, the failure by Donald Trump to single out white nationalism in their wake, and what some former domestic extremists are trying to do about it all. And, the world remains on edge of war as the Trump Administration continues its aggressive threats in response to North Korea's. [Audio link to show follows below.]

With the weekend's tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the leaders of North Korea and the United States are still promising annihilation at one another and, as discussed today, should the U.S. shoot first, China has a longstanding treaty obligation to side with its ally North Korea. So, yes, we remain on the brink of what could quickly become another World War under the deft leadership of President Donald Trump today.

Also today, an alleged anti-government militant in Oklahoma attempted to set off what he believed was a 1,000 pound bomb at a Federal Reserve bank, in the fashion of Timothy McVeigh's 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, according to the FBI. The domestic terrorist was charged over the weekend.

And, speaking of aggrieved white men, we get caught up with the White Supremacist march which led to violence and death on Saturday in Charlottesville, Trump's refusal to declare any of it a terrorist incident or single out the armed and dangerous white nationalist neo-Nazi groups, as well as the condemnation of both him and Rightwing hate groups by other officials, including top Republicans. All of that before Trump's "mulligan" remarks today in which he finally condemned the hate movement by name...sort of.

Then, for insight and perspective on all of this, we're joined by TONY MCALEER, co-founder and board chair at LifeAfterHate.org, a non-profit group formed by former members of violent American far-right extremist movements, with the goal of "countering the seeds of hate" they once planted. Life After Hate was promised federal grant funding by the Obama Administration, as part of their anti-extremist efforts targeting both domestic extremism and Islamic terror. But, funding for the domestic Rightwing extremist groups was pulled by the Trump Administration's DHS in June, despite the mountain of evidence revealing that such homegrown terrorists pose a greater immediate threat to Americans.

McAleer, a former skinhead and organizer for the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), explains what the rather well-to-do white nationalists parading in Charlottesville --- and those in the White House and elsewhere who seem to support them --- are actually angry about (it doesn't have much to do with Confederate statues), and why it is that their message is so appealing to some.

"The removal of the statues, I think, is deemed as a battle line that has been drawn, and their perceived threat of political correctness," McAleer tells me. "I think they perceive it as erasing white history. The memory of the Confederacy is being erased. I think that's a philosophical and political battle line that they've drawn. [But,] I think most of the people that were there [in Charlotte] aren't even from the South, so it doesn't make sense from that perspective."

"Their message doesn't thrive unless people are in a place of pain, looking for someone to blame," he explains. "When things aren't going so well, they start looking for someone to blame. And you've got a large group of people looking for answers, and then you've got demagogues stepping forward and offering simplistic solutions and answers that aren't correct and people are buying into them."

McAleer goes on to discuss his own journey into the dark world of neo-Nazism and how he was eventually able to both pull out of it and co-found his organization to help others do the same.

"I actually believe the level to which we're willing to dehumanize another human being is a reflection of how internally disconnected and dehumanized we are within ourselves. Who joins extremist groups?," he asks rhetorically, citing research on terrorism and its causes. "The number one correlated factor in the history of somebody joining a violent extremist group is childhood trauma. Because nobody comes into the world a neo-Nazi."

Finally today, Trump had no problem quickly condemning, by name, an African-America CEO today, after his withdrawal from the President's Manufacturing Council in response to Trump's failure to condemn the racists groups on Saturday. And then, today's show wraps up where it began, with more breaking news on still more dangerous saber-rattling between the US and North Korea...

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: Zina Merritt, Govt. Accountability Office Director on 'a systematic breakdown in the controls at every level' | Also: Keystone XL may be dead after all; EPA loses in court; Kobach's 'bizarre' appeal motion; more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2017 5:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a stunning story of remarkably lax Department of Defense oversight of lethal weaponry given away for free to state and local law enforcement agencies, and the government office which discovered the horrifying failure. [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

But, before and after that story, a few more sordid tales of government dysfunction, including: The U.S. Senate confirmation of a new FBI Director; Keystone XL pipeline may never get built after all; EPA loses in court attempting to roll back methane regulation; Earth is in very very big trouble (or, at least those of us who live on it are); GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and federal court scofflaw Kris Kobach's latest "bizarre" court appeal to avoid an under-oath deposition; and fired White House Comms Director Anthony Scaramucci's terrible week gets even worse.

As to our main story today: The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently set up a phony law enforcement agency website and was able to use it to obtain over one million dollars worth of military-grade equipment and weaponry via the Pentagon's so-called 1033 program. The Department of Defense program offers everything from surplus mine-resistant armored vehicles, to high-powered assault weaponry and even helicopters and airplanes to state and local law enforcement agencies --- for free. The program, as of 2014, had doled out more than $5 billion in such equipment.

We're joined today by ZINA MERRITT, who, as Director of Defense Capabilities and Management at the GAO, helped create the disturbingly successful sting operation and the accompanying report on what happened, including recommendations to keep it from happening again. She also testified before Congress about all of this last week. The DoD's controversial 1033 program gained notoriety in 2014, during the protests in Ferguson, MO, when St. Louis County's police force rolled out tactical military gear and weaponry in response.

Merritt explains how the sting --- which netted "over 100 controlled items with an estimated value of $1.2 million, including night-vision goggles, simulated rifles, and simulated pipe bombs" --- was carried out, and what she describes as the "systematic breakdown in the controls at every level." The GAO had been tasked by Congress, during reforms to the program instituted under Obama, to probe the DoD unit where fake law enforcement officials were able to obtain real gear with a fake website and fake IDs (which weren't even checked at several of the warehouses when they picked up what could have been lethal equipment. Good thing they weren't attempting to vote!)

"We submitted [the application] online, and all you had to have, in order to do that, was a website as well as a point of contact, a physical location, and actual names --- points of contact --- within the agency. Also, you had to identify how many particular sworn officials that you have as a part of your agency. So we created all of that and submitted it," Merritt tells me, explaining that apparently none of it was actually verified by the DoD. "The actual physical location that we provided was an empty lot," she says.

Merritt also explains the recent reforms that have been made to the program, via Executive Order by Obama in 2016 (grenade launchers, for example, are no longer available, even though the Los Angeles Unified School District had obtained several prior to those reforms!), the several recommendations the GAO has now made to correct the startling security gaps in the program revealed by the sting operation, and whether "bad guys" may have already pulled off what the GAO has now discovered was easily done.

We also discuss how the 1033 program could be changed again by Trump, and whether the GAO --- an agency controlled by the U.S. Congress --- is facing changes under the new Administration...

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: Legal analyst Ernest A. Canning...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2017 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We may be quickly heading towards a very troubling Constitutional crisis and what will it take for voters (and corporate media!) to appreciate the dangers posed by our absurd voting systems in the U.S.? [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

President Donald Trump offers some astounding revelations regarding his thoughts about firing the nation's top law enforcement officials (the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, the Acting FBI Director and the Special Counsel investigating Team Trump) during a rare interview with the New York Times. He also suggests he believes he can restructure the Dept. of Justice so that the FBI Director reports directly to the President, rather than the Dept. of Justice. The breathtaking admissions in the interview leads at least one former top Justice Department official under Obama to predict that "we are headed for a massive clash....I don't see how we get past this without him firing either [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller or other people at the Justice Department and a massive, massive crisis."

As disturbing and important as Trump's revelations are, the Times' reporters, Peter Baker, Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, utterly failed to ask any substantive questions about the President's positions on and understanding of the various ongoing Republican schemes to repeal ObamaCare. That, despite each of the GOP's proposed plans for doing so predicted by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office to result in anywhere from 22 million to 32 million Americans losing access to health care coverage.

Instead, the reporters focused only on process questions surrounding the political difficulty of enacting health care repeal, rather than the untold suffering and damage it will cause and Trump's own wildly conflicting advocacy for such proposals. They even ignored the fact that the transcript of the interview appears to suggest he does not even know the difference between health insurance and life insurance!

All of that, as former Presidential candidate and Vietnam War torture victim, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer and Senate GOP leadership is reported to be desperately promising to spend some $200 billion in hopes of buying votes for their health care repeal schemes from so-called moderate Republicans in the U.S. Senate.

Then, we're joined by BRAD BLOG legal analyst ERNIE CANNING, to discuss his analysis of the multi-partisan lawsuit recently filed in Georgia contesting the surprising and 100% unverifiable results of the June 20 U.S. House Special Election in the 6th Congressional District and his rather gob-smacking article on the massive security breaches before the election and the more-than-a-decade of disturbing revelations from computer scientists and whistleblowers alike about the Diebold touch-screen voting systems still forced on voters in the Peach State.

Moreover, he tells me about an Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter who recently dismissed his concerns about her reporting on GA Sec. of State Brian Kemp's comments that there was no evidence to suggest any election results in the state, including the recent GA-06 race, were inaccurate, or that any manipulation, hacking or programming error occurred. "Well, that's true," says Canning, "but you can't prove that the actual count is valid, either. There's no scientific way to do it. The only one that would really know if it was rigged would be somebody who actually took part in the rigging of the vote."

"You have all this coverage everyday with MSNBC about potential Russian hacks," he continues, "and yet nobody there bothers to talk about the fact that these systems are vulnerable to anybody, whether it be Russia or anybody else, and that there's no way to know whether the votes have been altered."

So, what will it take for Americans --- Republicans and Democrats alike --- to understand the on-going threat to democracy posed by both 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems and by paper ballot systems that are tallied by easily-manipulated, oft-failed computer tabulators? What will it take, for that matter, for the corporate media (including Georgia's largest newspaper!) to understand it as well?

We discuss all of that and much more today, including the Texas County that is finally returning to paper ballots after a disaster in November, and the decision by Israel to stick with hand-counted paper ballots in light of recent election hacks around 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: BuzzFeed News Journalist, 'FOIA Terrorist' Jason Leopold; Also: Trump says he was bluffing about audio tapes...but was he?...
By Brad Friedman on 6/22/2017 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Republicans in the U.S. Senate finally released a draft of their secret plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or 'ObamaCare', and the Dept. of Defense finally releases a redacted version of a damage assessment from 2011, examining the fallout to national security from the Bradley/Chelsea Manning leaks of 2010. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: The secret working group of white, male Republicans in the Senate finally revealed their new scheme, dubbed the "Better Care Reconciliation Act", to rewrite 1/5th of the U.S. economy by replacing ObamaCare with what Donald Trump has promised would be a healthcare plan "with heart" that was less "mean" than the version he celebrated after its narrow passage by Republicans in the U.S. House several weeks ago.

The release of the new Senate plan did not go well. Democrats, independents, and healthcare advocates alike --- not to mention elderly protesters in wheelchairs dragged away from outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell --- slammed the legislation for its massive tax cuts to the wealthy in exchange for deeply cruel cuts to federal Medicaid funding, and the promise of stingier premium subsidies for less generous health care policies.

A number of Republicans in the Senate also currently oppose the plan as written, because it doesn't repeal ObamaCare enough, but we'll see if they change their tune before the bill comes up for a vote next week, as promised by McConnell, before Congress leaves for the July 4th recess. The GOP can only afford to lose the support of two Republicans among their 52-seat caucus.

Then, we're joined by BuzzFeed News journalist and "FOIA terrorist" JASON LEOPOLD, to discuss the newly unearthed Dept. of Defense damage assessment of the hundreds of thousands of documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, as well as diplomatic cables, leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010.

During her trial, Government officials charged that the disclosures caused massive damage to national security and endangered counts lives of both U.S. personnel and our allies, but is that what the DoD's own secret 2011 assessment --- finally released this week in heavily redacted form in response to Leopold's Freedom of Information Act request --- actually found? We discuss that and the "passionate responses" he has received since publishing the assessment.

We also discuss the new White House ban on cameras during press briefings and how the Trump Administration compares to previous administrations on matters of government secrecy and document classification.

"In the overall picture, you have an administration that operates under intense secrecy that wants to limit access --- 'access' being the key word there --- that journalists depend upon. Access is really important, and it's really important to be able to confront government officials," Leopold tells me, while placing the news about the ban in context with the Trump Administration's secrecy and on-going battle with journalists elsewhere. "This type of behavior trickles down to various levels within the federal government and, I've seen, it also goes into local and state governments, as well. This intense secrecy, where elected officials who are accountable to the people are simply not interested in speaking --- and then try and set up some new rules that basically bars the press from confronting them."

Leopold goes on to cite the increased difficulty he is beginning to have prying documents loose via FOIA requests under the Administration, while noting that "some of these agencies are having trouble trying to figure out how to respond to requests, largely because you have a President now who is tweeting, who is arguably declassifying --- instantly declassifying --- information that would otherwise remain secret."

Speaking of which, finally today, Trump tweeted that, despite his previous suggestions, he has no audio tapes of his one-on-one conversations with now-fired FBI Director James Comey. But is he telling the truth, or bluffing yet again?...

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, attorney Seth Abramson | Plus: Senate GOP plans to pass 'secret' health care bill; Energy Sec. Rick Perry is still dumb; much more...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2017 5:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, given the reports that Donald Trump is now personally being investigated for obstruction of justice, we unpack the chaos that may soon come about if the Deputy Attorney General is forced to recuse himself (or is fired) from overseeing the Special Counsel's probe of Team Trump. [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

But, while all the madness of the DoJ's Trump investigations are going on, Senate Republicans indicated today that they will call for a vote on their secret Obamacare replacement bill before the July 4th recess next week. They also announced they will have the votes needed for passage. If they are right, the results are likely be devastating for millions of Americans, and not only the poor. One of out three elderly Americans in nursing homes, for example, rely on Medicaid to cover the costs, and the GOP is about to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the program in exchange for massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

We discuss that and, as record heat blasts the Western US, the unbelievably stupid explanation for climate change just offered by Energy Secretary Rick Perry (it's not CO2, he says, it's "the ocean waters and this environment that we live in"!) We also offer a very quick preview of the U.S. House Special Elections being held today on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machines in BOTH Georgia and South Carolina. (We'll have full results, whatever they are reported to be, on tomorrow's show).

Then we're joined by attorney, author, columnist and UNH asst. professor SETH ABRAMSON to step through his recent 50 tweet(!) tweetstorm detailing the 'bedlam' that is likely to ensue when and if (he insists "when") Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein is forced to recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Team Trump and, reportedly, obstruction of justice by the President himself in his firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The chain of events that could come about as the result of Rosenstein's recusal, as Abramson details on the show today, are amazing and could lead to a very real Constitutional Crisis and even completely separate obstruction of justice charges against Trump based on an entirely different investigation related to his February mass firing of all of the US Attorneys.

Lots of somewhat jaw-dropping 'bedlam' unpacked and explained and to be absorbed in detail on this front on today's show, including whether or not Rosenstein himself could come under investigation; who the next officials in line are to take his place (first, a friend of Ted Cruz' named Rachel Brand, then a man named Dana Boente) and what their conflicts are; how Trump could personally come to appoint the person overseeing the Special Counsel's investigation after we go through Brand and Boente; and why, if sitting Presidents cannot be indicted, as many argue, Mueller would be carrying out a criminal obstruction of justice investigation of Trump in the first place.

"Honestly, If I were to lay out the full complexity of the situation right now at the DoJ, which goes well beyond the question of Rachel Brand possibly becoming the Acting AG in the very near term, it would take --- and I am not exaggerating --- probably about 500 tweets," Abramson tells me. "We are in so many unprecedented situations and sub-situations at the DoJ, it is bewildering even for attorneys," he says, adding later: "This is the most complex and public litigation of probably the last 100 years in American political history."

Finally today, another heartbreaking story of yet another immigrant victim of Trump's, now facing deportation and separation from his family despite spending months in the clean-up efforts at Ground Zero after 9/11...

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: Journalist David Dayen | Also: How to win young voters and the House Democratic caucus rift over impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2017 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the latest testimony you probably already know about, and the Republican/Trump schemes on banking regulations, infrastructure and healthcare that aren't receiving nearly as much media attention. [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in case you hadn't heard, testified before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee in open session on Tuesday, and pushed back strongly against what he described as the "secret innuendo" to smear him with the "appalling and detestable lie" that he colluded with Russia on behalf of Team Trump in any way. He said he did not violate his official recusal from the FBI's Trump/Russia investigation when he recommended that the President fire FBI Director James Comey, but then went on to refuse to answer a number of questions concerning his conversations with Trump, despite the fact that Trump has not invoked Executive Privilege for the conversations in question.

There were a number of heated exchanges with Democratic Senators on the Committee, including with one who accused Sessions of "obstructing" the Congressional investigation with his refusal to answer questions or provide a valid legal reason as to why. He also says that he is not aware whether there is a White House taping system that may have recorded Trump's one-on-one conversations with Comey, and that he has received no briefings as Attorney General on the allegations that Russian intelligence used cyberattacks to try and interfere in the 2016 elections.

We cover those hearings today, just completed before air time, before turning to a number of matters that have received far less attention by the media, with our guest DAVID DAYEN, author and prolific financial journalist for The Nation, New Republic, the Fiscal Times, The Intercept and elsewhere.

Among the topics we discuss: The stunning results of last week's UK elections and what it means for the UK, the US, and a what it may portend for a more progressive future for young voters in both countries ("The lesson is that you run on things that people can tangibly experience," says Dayen); The CHOICE Act ("A big ball of deregulation") passed by Republicans in the House last week to gut the modest banking regulations enacted in response to the 2007 global economic collapse (can it possibly pass in the Senate? And does the White House even want it to, given that they are already rolling back those same regulations on their own?); Trump's new scheme to invest in infrastructure, and how it's actually a very thinly veiled plan to privatize public assets, like the federal Air Traffic Control system ("Trump's plans for infrastructure are indistinguishable with privatization").

And finally today, more infighting among Democrats in Congress, as some members are the caucus move forward with a plan to impeach Donald Trump, as Dem leadership pushes back to kill, or at least slow down the process...

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And other things you've been distracted from by the Trump Circus...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2017 6:39pm PT  

We'll not be distracted by the Trump Circus (well, mostly), despite what he said in the Rose Garden and on Twitter today! On today's BradCast, just a little bit of Trump, but a whole lot of failed 'conservatism' from the American Heartland to Great Britain. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Thursday's elections in the UK resulted in disaster for Prime Minister Theresa May. Her Conservative Party took an absolute drubbing as young voters turned out to reject the conservative austerity agenda by casting a for change with the Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn.

Back here in the U.S., hard evidence of the utter failure of "conservative" policies is very much on display if you bother (or know where) to look. Republican-run states like Kansas and Oklahoma are facing desperate budget shortfalls following years of tax cuts that neither boosted the economy nor increased government revenues, as promised. Cuts to essential services like health care and public education have been implemented in hopes of making up for failed GOP economics. Yes, the young, the sick, the poor and the elderly pay the price in the bargain, as usual.

But voters last November and legislators this week in Kansas, at least, are striking back at Gov. Sam Brownback by reversing his failed GOP austerity policies. Given what school kids in Oklahoma are now facing after years of budget shortfalls due to tax cuts and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry by the state's GOP legislature and aptly-named Governor Mary Fallin, voters in the Sooner State will --- hopefully sooner rather than later --- reject similarly failed hard-right policies and elected officials just as Kansas has finally begun to do.

Later this month, at least in one part of Georgia, voters may also send a similar message in the upcoming U.S. House Special Election in a very "red" district, where the young, first-time Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is now said to be leading by 7 points, at least in one new poll, over Karen Handel, his "conservative" GOP establishment opponent. (She made the case against "conservatism" very nicely this week, when she said, during a debate, that she does "not believe in a livable wage", citing that as "the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative".)

Meanwhile, millionaire Greg Gianforte, the Trump "conservative" who managed to eke out a win in the U.S. House special election in Montana last week after body slamming a reporter the night before the election, will now plead guilty to misdemeanor assault in the matter after buying his way out of a civil suit.

Back at the D.C. White House Circus today, the day after his fired FBI Director James Comey's sworn testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Donald Trump accused him of lying and suggested again that the White House may have tapes to prove it. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have finally asked for copies of those tapes...if they exist. And, as you were distracted, Republicans in the House were quietly passing a bill to roll back the Dodd-Frank big banking reforms enacted after the 2007 global economic collapse and, in the Senate, quietly paving the way to repeal Obamacare, no matter how many millions of Americans will lose their healthcare in the bargain.

Finally, with more news of failed "conservative" policies in both practice and at the polling place, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report, before we close with yet another U.S. Supreme Court rejection this past week of a massive racial gerrymandering scam in yet another "red" state...

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Guest: Author, journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel.net...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2017 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it was a day many have been anticipating for some time. Fired FBI Director James Comey testified in open session before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday about his one-on-one meetings with President Trump, during which, he claims, Trump asked for "loyalty" during one meeting and asked Comey to help end the FBI's investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn in the other. Comey was fired by Trump shortly thereafter. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

During his written and opening statements, and subsequent Q&A with members of the Committee, Comey charged the Trump Administration with having "defamed" both him and the FBI, and lying about the reason for his firing, which he characterizes as an attempt to scuttle the Bureau's counter-intelligence probe into alleged Team Trump coordination with Russia both before and after last year's election.

Following today's testimony, Trump's personal attorney Marc Kasowitz claimed, once again, that Comey's testimony "completely vindicated" his client, and he otherwise vehemently rejected the assertion that Trump either demanded Comey's "loyalty" or sought to shut down the Flynn investigation.

Joining us for full analysis today is journalist and author Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel.net. She offers a comparison to the breadth of this widening scandal and others she's covered in the past, such as the deliberate outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame during the George W. Bush Administration. "Dick Cheney was just so much more effective at coverup and abuse of power than Trump is," Wheeler quips.

Among many other points in our discussion today, Wheeler responds to Kasowitz' charge that Comey made "unauthorized disclosures of privileged communications" (he didn't, she explains); details the new revelations from Comey's testimony regarding his various meetings with the President and his contemporaneous documentation of those meetings; potential legal exposure for Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Vice President Mike Pence in this matter; whether we should have confidence in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's oversight of the still-widening probe; whether Trump himself is now being investigated for obstruction of justice (she says it's "clear" that he now is); whether any of it amounts to impeachable offenses; and the possibility --- raised several times during today's hearing --- that White House audio tapes of the Trump/Comey meetings may exist. "Lordy, I hope there are tapes," Comey declared today.

She also breaks down the bizarre testimony before the same U.S. Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, when the heads of the NSA and DNI, without any apparent legal basis or precedent, refused to answer questions about whether Trump had asked them to intercede into the FBI probe. "Just because Donald Trump is President," Wheeler tells me, "it has not changed the rule that you have Congressional overseers and you answer their questions."

Finally, near the end of today's show, news breaks out of the UK regarding Exit Poll results from Britain's parliamentary election, suggesting a stunning surprise loss of majority power for Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and what is likely to be regarded as a huge victory for the Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn, sometimes regarded as "Britain's Bernie Sanders"...

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By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2017 5:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's great to be back live at our flagship Los Angeles affiliate station, KPFK on the Pacifica Radio Network in Los Angeles after their recent fund drive. So we throw open the phones to listeners in celebration after several insanely busy news weeks! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first, former FBI Director James Comey released his prepared statement [PDF] in advance of his much-anticipated testimony on Thursday before the U.S. Senate Intelligence committee. In the remarks, Comey details a number of his one-on-one meetings with and phone calls from Donald Trump, including the infamous "loyalty dinner" at the White House in late January and the similarly-infamous early-February meeting in the Oval Office, the day after National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign, where Comey charges that he was asked by the President to end the FBI's investigation of Flynn.

We review the details of that prepared testimony, including Comey's confirmation that he did, in fact, indicate to Trump on three different occasions that he was not personally being investigated by the Bureau at the time. Trump's personal attorney cites that testimony to claim the President is "completely and totally vindicated" by it. Others, however, regard the testimony as "explosive" and as confirmation that Trump attempted to obstruct justice.

Also today, more on the leaked NSA analysis charging that Russian intelligence attempted to access the computers of election officials around the country after successfully sending spear-phishing emails to employees at a private voter registration firm. That rather rudimentary hacking effort just before last year's election, no matter who did it (as explained in much more detail on yesterday's show), may have allowed access for the intruders to the computers that program voting machines, results tabulators and voter registration systems around the country. Also, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's offers a response to the arrest of the alleged leaker, Reality Leigh Winner, and the charges filed against her under the 1917 Espionage Act.

Then, as just-retired Dir. of National Intelligence James Clapper charges "Watergate pales...compared to what we're confronting now," we take calls on all of the above and whether listeners believe Democrats should begin impeachment proceedings against Trump (as The Nation's John Nichols argued earlier this week on the show) or at least promise such proceedings if they are elected to the majority in Congress in 2018. We received some rather surprising answers to that question from callers, as well as in regard to the charges filed against Winner!

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report on the swift and global fallout following Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the historic Paris Climate Agreement...

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

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Also: Trump travel ban blocked by full Appeals Court; UK furious at Admin over intel leaks; Trump praises Philippines extrajudicial murders; More...
By Brad Friedman on 5/25/2017 5:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of the most amazing candidate meltdowns ever seen (or, in this case, heard) and how the Speaker of the House hopes to look the other way in the event that he wins anyway. But that's just the tip of today's news iceberg(s). [Audio link to show posted below.]

In one of the most remarkable Election Eve unravelings ever by a U.S. candidate for...pretty much anything, Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte melted down on the eve of what should have been an easy victory in his statewide Special Election for Montana's only U.S. House seat against Democratic candidate Rob Quist. Instead, in an incident caught on stunning audio tape and witnessed by Fox "News" reporters, Gianforte "body slammed" a Guardian reporter, has been charged with assault, and saw his newspaper endorsements rescinded on the night before voters went to the polls on Thursday.

But many voters already cast their vote by absentee ballot by time of the Wednesday incident, and House Speaker Paul Ryan suggests he'll accept whatever results are reported from the election. That, as I explain today, conveniently ignores Congress's Article 1, Section 5 Constitutional right (and duty) to determine who is actually seated in the House of Representatives. It's a right they have exercised on a number of other controversial elections in the past, so surely Ryan is familiar with that. But, of course, we'll soon see (hopefully) who voters in Montana have decided they want for their only Representative in the U.S. House.

At the same time, it was another enormous news day in which Donald Trump's second attempted travel ban Executive Order was blocked, yet again, this time by the full U.S. 4th Circuit of Appeals. His Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced he will appeal the case to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court.

Also today, yet another embarrassment for the Trump Administration, which was publicly taken to task by British Prime Minister Theresa May for leaking British intelligence to media regarding the UK's Manchester Bombing investigation. The leaks not only invoked the wrath of (and temporarily stopped intelligence sharing from) the United States' closest ally, but it was hardly the only highly sensitive information recently and inappropriately disclosed to friend and foe alike by Trump and/or his Administration in recent days.

And, in a (related) news item we didn't get to yesterday, after disclosing the whereabouts of two U.S. nuclear submarines, it appears Trump actually praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte during a recent phone call for the "unbelievable...great job" he has done on that nation's drug epidemic --- in which thousands of people have been murdered in a brutal extrajudicial campaign carried out by Duterte's police force.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with a jam-packed Green News Report, before still more news breaks at the buzzer, reportedly finding Trump's top adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner 'under FBI scrutiny' in the Bureau's ongoing Trump/Russia probe...

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

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Guest: Former White House economic adviser Seth Hanlon | Also: Latest on Manchester Bombing, FBI Trump investigation, more...
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2017 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Trump Administration introduces what economists --- on both the Right and Left --- are describing as a massive 2 trillion dollar accounting error (or, less generously, 'fraudulent' numbers) in their new budget proposal introduced today. And we get caught up on the latest late updates on yesterday's Manchester Bombing and the FBI's ongoing investigation of Team Trump. [Audio link follows below.]

As Trump continues his overseas trip, the White House released his Budget Policy plan in full, including some $1 trillion in cuts to social programs, billions of dollars of increases in defense spending and what they describe as deficit reduction measures over the next 10 years. The plan, if enacted, would deeply slash programs from Medicaid to Social Security Disability Insurance to food stamps to financial student aid to agricultural subsidies relied upon by an enormous number of Trump voters.

But, aside from those cruel cuts, as our guest today, former Obama Administration tax policy adviser Seth Hanlon explains, the budget includes a huge, $2 trillion accounting error. Actually, Hanlon described it last night in a Twitter rant as '[Bernie] Madoff-level accounting fraud...designed to fleece vulnerable people'. Others today, including conservative budget experts, also describe the gimmick Team Trump uses to hide the decline in revenue as fraudulent --- or "impossible magic math" --- in that it counts the same (questionable) claims for increased revenues from massive tax cuts twice! Once to pay for the $5.5 trillion in tax cuts themselves, and then again to pay for $2 trillion in revenue in the Trump budget.

As Hanlon details, it's quite a trick! An impossible one, in fact, which he doesn't believe to be an accident, describing it as a "$7.5 trillion lie."

"In their budget," he explains, "they just pretend that this $5.5 trillion in tax cuts does not exist. And then at the same time...they say that the economy is going to grow by a full percentage point every year, so the economy is going to grow by 3% a year...And because of that extra economic growth --- and there's not much basis to think there would be that growth --- that brings in an additional $2 trillion of revenue. So they include that extra $2 trillion of revenue in their budget, while at the same time not including...the tax cuts that are supposedly producing that magic growth that results in the $2 trillion."

Hanlon, now a Senior Fellow at Center for American Progress, previously served as special assistant to President Obama for economic policy at the White House National Economic Council, coordinating the Obama administration's tax policy. He calls the Trump scheme "a deliberate decision simply to wave a wand and take the entire $5.5 trillion cost of the tax cuts out of the budget," adding that he "can't find anybody who actually defends it," including so-called conservative deficit hawks. We also discuss the cruel nature of many of the cuts, despite its unlikeliness to get very far as written, even in the Republican controlled Congress.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with details on the "slash and burn" environmental aspects of the budget plan and for some good news out of Switzerland. (We'll take it!)

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

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Two important election-related SCOTUS decisions and this week's U.S. House Special Election in MT...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2017 6:35pm PT  

The new Twin Peaks (which is excellent, by the way!) may be less surreal than the latest goings on inside our current White House. On today's BradCast, the latest news on the ever unfolding investigations into Team Trump and on his overseas trip (stories Trump already managed to conflate today), along with big election-related news from the U.S. Supreme Court and a quick preview of this week's upcoming U.S. House special election in the state of Montana. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Today, before we get to the latest in the David Lynchian tales of President Trump, two new and important election-related rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. One, being described by UC Irvine Election professor Rick Hasen as a very "big deal" and "a major victory for voting rights plaintiffs" deals with racial and partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina, with ramifications for a number of other similar Republican gerrymanders in several states. The other is a victory for campaign finance restrictions. Both cases feature surprising alliances between Republican and Democratic-appointed Justices following last month's confirmation of Neal Gorsich to fill the vacant seat stolen by Republicans after the death of Justice Anton Scalia.

And, speaking of elections, we also preview the U.S. House Special Election set to take place in Montana this Thursday, as populist first-time candidate and popular folk singer Rob Quist barnstormed the state over the weekend with Bernie Sanders. Republican establishment candidate Greg Gianforte is said to have a small lead in pre-election polls, despite being recently caught on tape supporting the GOP health care bill while seeking money from wealthy lobbyists, even while telling voters on the stump he hadn't made up his mind about it yet. In addition to providing a bellwether for the 2018 elections, it may also serve to shake up the current, very serious divide within the Democratic Party itself, depending on how the results shake out this week. That divide has been somewhat obscured by the madness of the Trump White House, but the bitter split between Bernie and Hillary partisans is still very much creating a rift among progressives and Democrats.

Then, we're joined by the great Heather Digby Parton of Salon.com and the Hullabaloo blog to try and make sense of ALL of the latest in the increasingly surreal Trump Administration investigations, and the ongoing troubles Trump ("the clear and present danger"), his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn ("something wrong with him"), his Vice President Mike Pence ("Involved up to his eyeballs"), and many others. In addition to all of that and whether or not it may be heading towards impeachment, Parton also shares thoughts on Trump's overlooked recently reported threat to lock up journalists (reminding us that AG Jeff Sessions is "by far the most dangerous, malevolent person in the Administration") and offers insight on a number of late-breaking stories related to all of the above, including: Flynn, reportedly, now taking the 5th to avoid self-incrimination in response to Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenas; Trump digging himself deeper in Tel Aviv during his 9-day jaunt overseas; and now he may have even have lost a few of his own supporters following his speech on Islam in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

If you watched the new Twin Peaks over the weekend, as I did (the first two hours all year that I haven't thought about Trump, frankly!), what's going on in this Administration is even more difficult to make sense of right now, believe it or not. So, enjoy!...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 5/22/2017 9:35am PT  

Faced with his own inept inability to control the antics of his American prisoners, the only defense for bumbling Luftwaffe POW camp guard Sergeant Schultz was to pretend he had no knowledge of events. Confronted with what he saw and was told in this classic Hogan's Heroes clip, Schultz proclaims: "I see nothing! I was not here! I did not even get up this morning!"

Last Thursday, we witnessed a version of the Sergeant Schultz defense. But it wasn't for laughs. It came from a source said to be "close to the [Trump] administration". According to an NBC News report (later echoed by a number of other outlets), the source claimed that "Vice President Mike Pence has been kept in the dark about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn's alleged wrongdoing"...

Earlier this year, Pence said he was not made aware of Flynn's discussions with Russian officials until 15 days after Trump and the White House were notified.

The source close to the administration, who requested anonymity as the White House denies the story, is now saying that Pence and his team were not made aware of any investigation relating to Flynn's work as a foreign agent for Turkey.

"It's also a fact that if [Flynn] told [Trump Transition attorney, now White House Chief Counsel, Don] McGahn that during the transition, it's also a fact that not only was Pence not made aware of that, no one around Pence was as well," the source said. "And that's an egregious error — and it has to be intentional. It's either malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable."

The source's claims are offered despite the fact that Flynn himself also served as one of Pence's vice-chairs on the Presidential transition.

The NBC report offers a plausible sounding explanation for Pence's seeming ability to be everywhere, yet know absolutely nothing about what happened, particularly given the number of occasions where Trump has swiftly thrown those defending his actions under the bus: e.g., when, one day after Pence said the President had simply complied with Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein's "recommendation" when he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Trump acknowledged he'd made the decision to fire Comey before Rosenstein wrote the memo.

But there are a multitude of reasons why the "I know nothing!" defense doesn't really wash, particularly given Pence's penchant to quietly lie with a straight face, even when directly confronted by contradictory information and instances in which Pence has denied all knowledge of otherwise broadly publicized information...

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




Guest: Former Asst. DA Ames Grawert of Brennan Center...
By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2017 6:38pm PT  

So who is the "nut job" here? On today's BradCast, Trump appears to have dug himself even deeper into the Obstruction of Justice mire and, speaking of "justice", Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolls back bi-partisan gains on criminal justice reform made during the Obama Era. [Audio link for show follows below.]

A new report today from the New York Times alleges that, during his Oval Office meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador last week, the day after he'd fired James Comey, President Trump described the former FBI Director as "crazy" and a "real nut job". He reportedly explained that he'd been under "great pressure because of Russia," but that pressure had been lifted due to his firing. If accurate, the new report, said to have been based on documentation of the meeting from the White House itself, could serve as more evidence of Obstruction of Justice by the President, who has now departed for a nine day overseas trip.

Foreign diplomats are reportedly making special preparations to deal with Trump in the Middle East and Europe, including plans to compliment him on his Electoral College win, and by keeping presentations short enough for his, um, limited attention span.

But lost among the sturm und drang over the Comey firing and related dramas over the past week or more is the fact that Trump's executive agencies, such as the EPA, the Department of Interior and Department of Justice, are all moving ahead with some pretty troubling policies. Among them, Attorney General Jeff Sessions' harsh new guidelines requiring federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the "most serious" crimes possible in order to, among other things, force judges to impose mandatory minimum sentencing. This comes even while the U.S. has less than 5% of the world's population, but nearly one quarter of its prisoners.

The new Trump Administration policies, rolling back progressive Obama Era reforms, are being enacted despite decades of plummeting crime rates and broad bi-partisan efforts for criminal justice reform, both at the state and federal levels, according to my guest today, former New York Asst. District Attorney Ames Grawert, now counsel at the Justice Program for NYU's Brennan Center.

Grawert, co-author of the new report, A Federal Agenda to Reduce Mass Incarceration, speaks to the Trump/Sessions claims that crime is rampant and ravaging the nation, despite all evidence to the contrary. "Fear sells," he tells me. "He [Trump] and Sessions need something to convince people that there's a need to embrace these draconian blast-from-the-past policies on mandatory minimums."

About those policies, Grawert laments, "Whether you come to it as a conservative from a moral angle, a religious angle, or simply a budgetary common sense angle, there's a lot of Republicans who are willing to say that criminal justice reform is an imperative for the country. It's shocking that Sessions [when he served as U.S. Senator, blocking a bi-partisan reform bill] was not one of them."

Obama's Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates (yes, that Sally Yates), had issued a memorandum last year instructing federal prisons to end contracts with private prison corporations for a number of reasons supported by both Republicans and Democrats. "Sessions rescinded that very early in his tenure," Grawert notes, "with an ominous declaration that it was needed to meet the quote 'future needs of the federal correctional system.'"

"The problem is that when you have mandatory minimums like these, and when you have an order like the one Sessions just put out last week preventing prosecutors from deciding how they are going to charge a case, it takes a lot of the discretion out of the hands of prosecutors. So, rather than making sure that they, who know the case best of all, are able to help the judge fit the punishment to the crime, you have prosecutors with their hands tied, required to seek a draconian sentence that they, themselves, and that judges also may not feel is actually called for."

"The one thing we learned from the last thirty years or so, is that the federal government's power of the purse, and the tone set in Washington, they carry a lot of weight at the state level," he tells me. "So if you have an attorney general saying, look, we need to send more people to jail for longer, you shouldn't think for a minute that people in states, people running for D.A., people running for governor's house, won't listen to that and take their cues from that."

Please listen to the full show with much more on all of the above right here...

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

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