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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 23, 2017
No First or Second Amendment Right to Armed White Supremacist Protests
After Charlottesville, the ACLU changed its position on the right to armed protest -- and for good reason, argues Ernest Canning...
Bush's War Became Obama's War Becomes Trump's War: 'BradCast' 8/22/17
Guest: Historian, Middle East expert Juan Cole on Trump's Afghanistan 'flip-flop', why the hell we're there & if we'll ever be able to get out...
'Green News Report' 8/22/17
  w/ Brad & Desi
Monsanto pesticide decimating crops; Federal climate advisors not going away easily; Court lets Exxon off hook (again); PLUS: Trump's Nat'l Park Service ends plastic bottle ban...
Previous GNRs: 8/17/17 - 8/15/17 - Archives...
Democrats. Remember Them?: 'BradCast' 8/21/17
Guest: Author, journalist David Dayen on the Democratic Party's 'quietly radical' 'Better Deal' plan and much more; Plus: The eclipse!...
Why I Anonymously Wrote an Election Integrity Novel in 2008, and Why I'm 'Anonymous' No More
Guest blogged by the no-longer anonymous author of Cassandra, Chanting...
Sunday Toons of the 'Many Sides' Moment
This week, PDiddie's collection of political toons mark what could be a seminal point in the Trump Presidency, examining the issue 'on many sides, many sides'...
The 25th for 45?:
'BradCast' 8/18/17
Guest: Political scientist, author David Faris; Plus: BANNON IS OUT and more than 1.5M Chicago voter registration records exposed (again), by nation's largest e-voting vendor...
Fighting for Free Speech For and Against Nazis, Trump, and Israel: 'BradCast' 8/17/17
Guest: Inst. for Policy Studies' Aniqa Raihan; Also: Bannon interview's revelation on North Korea; Fox 'News' buckling under stress...
'Green News Report' 8/17/17
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump revokes infrastructure protection; July 2017 hottest month ever; Solar eclipse to challenge power grid; PLUS: Nat'l monuments on chopping block in unprecedented review...
Previous GNRs: 8/15/17 - 8/10/17 - Archives...
After C'Ville, Trump's Presser: Is Something Happening Here?: 'BradCast' 8/16/17
Also: Attorney Ernest Canning on IN vote suppression suits; Callers on Trump's support for White Supremacists...
Federal Lawsuits Challenge Indiana's Wildly Disparate Voting Site Laws
Legal analyst Ernie Canning on suits filed against years-long, blatant voter suppression in Mike Pence's Indiana...
Path to Peace w/ NK? Also: CBO Undercuts Trump Threat: 'BradCast' 8/15/2017
And Trump keeps digging deeper on C'Ville, despite newly revealed FBI, DHS warning of violent RW extremism...
'Green News Report' 8/15/17
Deadly Sierra Leone mudslide; Largest Gulf 'dead zone' ever; 'Super heat waves' on rise; Fossil fuel ind's $5T in subsidies/yr; PLUS: Sea rising faster in Southeast...
Making America Hate Again: From C'Ville to OK to White House: 'BradCast' 8/14/17
Guest: Former neo-Nazi Tony McAleer; Also: U.S., N. Korea remain on edge of World War...
Sunday Toons of the 'Superior Race/Arms Race' Moment
At this rate, between N. Korea, C'ville and climate crisis, it's unclear if America can survive more "greatness", as the cartoonists in PDiddie's latest weekly collection illustrate...
More Trump Admin Sabotage of ObamaCare Revealed: 'BradCast' 8/11/17
Guest: TPM's Alice Ollstein; Also: Trump continues NK threats, experts worry, diplomatic solutions remain...
'Fire and Fury': Overblown Bluster or Time for Real Alarm?: 'BradCast' 8/10/17
Guest: VOA's WH House Bureau Chief, 26-yr Asia journo Steve Herman; Also: DoJ flips in voting rights case; Trump still ignoring MN mosque attack...
'Green News Report' 8/10/17
Fed scientists leak climate report; Admin wants to stay in Paris accord?; EPA finds regs don't hurt economy; PLUS: Obama climate policies save billions...
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...


Guest: VOA White House Bureau Chief and 26-year East Asia correspondent Steve Herman; Also: DoJ flips in key voting rights case; Trump continues to ignore terror attack on MN mosque...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2017 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the fire, fury, and potentially deadly bluster continues. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Donald Trump re-upped and doubled-down on his recent threats to bring "fire and fury like the world has never seen before" against North Korea, telling reporters at his golf club in New Jersey on Thursday that "maybe that statement wasn't tough enough."

His original threat earlier this week was in response to North Korea's threats against the U.S., after the United Nation's security council voted unanimously for new sanctions against the isolated nation. And, in response, North Korea's military offered an unusually detailed plan to fire a salvo of missiles at Guam, a U.S. territory and home to several U.S. military bases.

We're joined to discuss the still-increasing tensions between the two nuclear powers by VOA's White House Bureau Chief STEVE HERMAN, who returned to report stateside earlier this year after serving as a correspondent and bureau chief in east Asia for more than 25 years.

When he last joined us in April, during the last round of threats between NK and the U.S., the always-remarkably level-headed Herman offered a tip, as a veteran journalist in the region, as to how to assess whether or not NK was bluffing with their public statements. We find out whether the new round of threats from NK's military is now finally cause for legitimate concern, and whether Trump's own bellicose threats --- and the potential for a preemptive U.S. strike --- pose an even greater threat to stability in the region.

Herman also offers some criticism of the U.S. commercial broadcast coverage on this issue, details the divides over the matter within the Trump Administration itself, discusses what North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may actually be seeking here, how big the stakes are for all sides in "this ultimate poker game", and confirms that, despite the increasingly heated rhetoric from both sides, back-channel diplomacy is still ongoing and may ultimately help to avoid what otherwise appears to be a deadly collision course.

He also offers a thought or two on which has been more difficult to cover, the whole of East Asia during his time overseas, or the Trump Administration now that he's reporting from the White House.

Also today: Political appointees (not career civil rights officials) file legal documents to flip the DoJ's previous position in a crucial voting rights case scheduled to be heard this fall by the U.S. Supreme Court. And, nearly a week has gone by without Donald Trump saying or tweeting a word about last weekend's terror bombing of a mosque in Minnesota...

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

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Guest: Bob Kincaid of H.O.R.N. and Coal River Mountain Watch | Also: GOP Senators move away from Trump, as his approval ratings plummet...
By Brad Friedman on 8/4/2017 5:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, there's at least one place in the country where time seems to have stopped and Donald Trump remains wildly popular. But that place isn't Washington D.C. right now. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Some Republicans in the U.S. Senate are finally beginning to separate themselves from the historically unpopular President Trump and his similarly unpopular agenda. They've even taken steps to try and keep Trump from removing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and hiring someone willing to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller over the August Senate recess and thereafter.

With Trump's approval ratings plummeting, even in Rightwing polls that Trump used to favorably cite (as recently as June), GOPers like Arizona's Senator Jeff Flake, whose own approval rating is now even lower than Trump's, are now hoping to distance themselves from the President, in Flake's case, even after recently voting with him to take health care away from tens of million of Americans.

But not everyone is cutting ties with Trump. In fact, West Virginia's wealthiest man --- and, not coincidentally, its newly-elected Governor and longtime coal baron --- Jim Justice, changed his party affiliation this week from Democratic to Republican. And he announced it at a Donald Trump campaign rally on Thursday night.

We're joined today by 9th generation West Virginian BOB KINCAID, host of Head-On Radio and President of Coal River Mountain Watch, to explain Justice's flip and why so many in the state still believe in Trump.

"Jim Justice earned his money the old fashioned way --- he inherited it," quips the always-colorful Kincaid, noting many more of the Governor's very Trump-like characteristics. Kincaid warned Democrats long ago about Justice, whose flip, he tells me, is "almost a killing stroke for the now-moribund West Virgina Democratic Party."

"Trump's approval ratings may be in the toilet in the rest of the country, but they're not in the toilet here --- this is still the Trumpiest place in the world."

We also discuss the surprising votes by both of WV's U.S. Senators (Republican Shelly Moore-Capito and Democrat Joe Manchin) during the Senate's recent attempt to repeal ObamaCare. ("Joe Manchin getting something right can be filed under 'even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then,'" the progressive Kincaid says. As to unseating him next year in a primary, he handicaps the odds, and details what would occur if it did, beginning with the phrase: "If pigs grew wings, and sheep were perched in trees, and leprechauns rode across the open plain on three-legged unicorns, and a progressive actually beat Joe Manchin in the primary...")

Tune in for the always-delightful visit from our old friend and longtime Coal Country hero on all of that, and more, including an update from the front lines now that the pretend "War on Coal" is finally over and, as Trump will tell you lie to you, tens of thousands of coal jobs have finally returned!

Lastly today, Desi Doyen joins us for a shocking amount of encouraging news in our 799th(!) Green News Report, including several setbacks for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and a major oil company CEO who's now buying an electric car as he sees the world moving to renewable energy and the end quickly nearing for Big Oil...

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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Intra-party Republican disarray over health care repeal, Trump's trans ban, threats to replace AG, more | GUEST: Former Acting CBO Director Donald Marron on why GOP plan to gut the agency is 'a terrible idea'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/27/2017 6:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Trump's White House and the GOP Senate devolve into utter chaos. And a former CBO director joins us to explain why the Congressional Budget Office is so important. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Both Congress and the White House are, figuratively, exploding today, with unprecedented, intra-party, public food fights and disarray among Republicans that now seems to be breaking out in virtually every direction --- inside the U.S. Senate, inside the Trump Administration, not to mention between Congress and a number of Executive Branch agencies.

The U.S. Senate is in disarray as they try to pass a "skinny repeal" to the Affordable Care Act, a last gasp effort to pass something, anything, to call a "win" in the 7-year effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare. But a number of Senators are concerned that the effort which guts the requirement for individuals to buy health insurance, could be adopted as is in the U.S. House, sending premiums skyrocketing and the insurance market into a death spiral.

The White House is in disarray as Administration officials face down bipartisan outrage over Trump's surprise military transgender ban. Turns out, as we've since learned, he was actually trying to save funding for his border wall with Mexico (and other priorities) in exchange for spiking medical funding for trans members of the military, when he shocked lawmakers by announcing a complete ban, which is much more than those Rightwing Congressmembers had actually been lobbying for.

And, of course, there's the disarray that spans between a number of Executive agencies, the White House and Congress, as Senators hope to avert a full-blown Constitutional crisis by attempting to block Trump from firing his own Attorney General and appointing a replacement without Senate confirmation during the upcoming recess. And the Secretary of the Department of Interior threatens members of the Senate on behalf of the President, for not voting as the White House wishes on repealing health care for millions of Americans. Yes, the Secretary is actually threatening to protect the environment if the Senators don't play ball!

All of that without even delving into the wildly bizarre intra-White House disarray between Trump's new Communications Director and his own Chief of Staff!

Then we're joined by a former Acting Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) DONALD MARRON, now a Fellow with the Urban Institute, to discuss the recent attacks by Republicans on the office responsible for scoring legislation like health care reform. Such analyses by the CBO help to let both Congress and the American public know how much such schemes will cost in both tax-payer dollars and Americans losing access to health care.

Marron, who also served as Chief Economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush, says the recent attempts by the Congressional Freedom Caucus to gut the CBO and have the office's work replaced by outside private research institutions is "a terrible idea". He explains why, what the CBO actually does for Congress and the American people --- such as scoring some 600 pieces of legislation a year and privately advising members as they develop bills --- that most are not familiar with, and how the office was formed out of the budget battles during the Nixon years.

"The folks at CBO are accustomed to some background level of being beaten up on --- just as umpires and referees are used to it," Marron tells me, but "the level of enmity towards CBO by some circles today is quite extreme." He goes on to detail why outside groups --- his own Urban Institute was cited by the Freedom Caucus as one of those which could help replace the CBO --- cannot take the place of the Congressional agency. "If you're going to run an intelligent Congressional budget process, Congress really ought to have its own agency, producing its own numbers, that works directly for Congress, is part of Congress, and responds to the needs of Congress in ways that outside groups simply can't," he explains.

He also responds to critiques that CBO analyses have been inaccurate in the past and that the office, currently headed up by a conservative Republican appointed by a Republican Congress, is biased against Republican proposals. "From my point of view, the Congressional Budget Office is a real jewel in our government. It is a wonderful agency, filled with non-partisan professional staff whose job it is to give their best read to members of Congress about what the budget and economic implications will be of proposed policy."

Finally, as today's show closes, the U.S. Senate adopts a new sanctions package against Russia, Iran and North Korea, which now heads to the White House for the President's signature...or veto. And Kris Kobach, the GOP "voter fraud" fraudster heading up Trump's so-called "Election Integrity" Commission has court sanctions upheld against him, and receives another smack-down from another federal judge for having 'demonstrat[ed] a pattern' of 'deceptive conduct' and 'patently misleading representations' in the ACLU's lawsuit against his proof-of-citizenship voter registration restrictions as Kansas Sec. of State...

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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Trump's transgender military ban, GOP's still failing health care repeal, the bullying of Jeff Sessions and listeners call in on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 7/26/2017 5:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open the phones up for listeners to discuss all that has been going on in D.C. in recent days in these "slow news days of summer". [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, among the stories covered on today's show, which callers also ring in on...Donald Trump's new Twitter-announced policy to bar transgender people from the U.S. military catches his own military staff by surprise and otherwise goes over like a lead balloon with. not only the LGBTQ community, but with veterans and even conservative Republican members of Congress.

Then, speaking of lead balloons, Republican Senate schemes for repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), or just repealing it without a replacement, continue to be voted down (bigly) by Republicans in the U.S. Senate. Their options for killing the GOP great white whale of ObamaCare are dwindling, but don't count them out yet.

At the same time, Trump continues to berate his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in hopes of convincing him to quit so he doesn't have to fire him (so, presumably, Trump can then appoint someone who will fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller). Republican Senators, however, are defending their old colleague Sessions, and some are even charging that Trump is showing "weakness" with his bullying of his own Attorney General and long-time ally.

Lots of fodder for calls today before Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report as a sweltering summer reveals the "new normal" and Trump names a Rightwing talk radio host to a top science job at the USDA...

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: Health reform advocate Jacki Schechner | Also: Trump continues attacks on his own Attorney General; White House plans purge...
By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2017 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we try and figure out WTF Republicans in the U.S. Senate are doing, and why, since even they don't seem to have a clue --- and many of them don't seem to care. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Without even knowing what bill they were actually voting on, fifty Republican Senators on Tuesday voted to proceed to debate some scheme or another to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), or just repeal it, or even just kick the can down the road to worry about it later in conference with the U.S. House.

They had help from Sen. John McCain, who flew back from Arizona after surgery and a diagnosis of brain cancer, and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. Just two GOP Senators (Collins of Maine and Murkowski of Alaska) had the courage to join all of the Democrats and vote 'no', though McCain, just after his 'yes' vote, offered remarks excoriating Republican Senate leadership for their secretive process in creating unworkable legislation without committee processes or input from Democrats.

We're joined by journalist and health care reformer JACKI SCHECHNER to help us try and make sense of what is being characterized as one of "the most chaotic, rudderless, un-Senate-like" moments in modern American history. She explains how today's process differs from the one that resulted in ObamaCare in 2009 and 2010, when she served as Communications Director for one of the nation's largest health care reform organizations.

"There is this myth that things happened behind closed doors [in 2009], but that's not in fact the case. There was plenty of public disclosure when it came to what was up for consideration, and it took a long time," Schechner tells me. "We worked from the outside pushing the President to do what he campaigned on. The myth that Republicans were excluded is just that --- a myth."

She charges that the various GOP plans, if adopted, will result not only in tens of millions of Americans losing health care coverage, but that, in many cases, "people will die" in the bargain. She explains why that is, and how it'ss going to "throw our system into a spiral that's going to jack up premiums for the people who are still paying private health insurance costs."

"It's really dangerous when partisanship overtakes policy, and that's what happening here. This is about Trump getting a win. He has no idea what health care is, how the health care system works. Twice now he's confused it with life insurance. He has no clue," she tells me before declaring she's "over mincing words" and really unloads on the President. (You'll have to tune in for that part.)

"People who worked on health care reform [during Obama's Presidency] actually care if people live or die," Schechner continues. "I don't understand how you stand up and vote for a bill that's going to strip millions and millions of Americans of their access to quality, affordable health care."

She also explains how related moves from both Congress and the White House suggest the U.S. is rapidly devolving into an authoritarian nation, before offering a number of critical words for Democratic Party leadership in the bargain.

Also today, speaking of authoritarianism, Trump continues his extraordinary attacks on his own Attorney General (we discuss why), and the President's new Communications Director moves to purge White House staffers who leak to the media and aren't sufficiently loyal to the President...according to a number of leaking White House staffers...

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: Constitutional expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Senate vows ObamaCare repeal vote; Dems unveil 2018 plan, put 'single-payer on the table'; Healthcare fight moves U.S. to the left; Impeachment getting popular...
By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2017 6:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the turmoil continues in the Senate over the GOP undead attempt to repeal health care for millions, and in the White House where Team Trump faces the ongoing investigations of the Dept. of Justice's Special Counsel. [Audio link to complete show follows at end of article.]

A new analysis out late Friday from the U.S. Senate Parliamentarian suggests that a number of provisions in the GOP's scheme to repeal and replace ObamaCare may not pass muster under Senate rules for passage under 'budget reconciliation' with just a 51 vote majority. Instead, 60 votes may be needed, in which case, the scheme may be in even more trouble than it already appears. Or, Senate Republicans could simply try to kill the legislative filibuster instead. Either way, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising a vote to proceed on Tuesday, even though it remains unclear exactly what Senators will be voting on.

At the same time, Democrats are unveiling their own scheme ("A Better Deal") to try and win back voters in 2018. Comments over the weekend from Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer suggest that the passionate advocacy from progressives for a "Medicare-for-all" style system (single payer) or, at least a public option for health care insurance, may finally be moving the party establishment.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues publicly attacking his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions and talking about Presidential pardon powers for some reason. But some of those powers, contrary to conventional wisdom, may not be as absolute as he and others have argued, including the power to pardon himself. We're joined by author and Constitutional law expert IAN MILLHISER, Senior Editor of ThinkProgress Justice, to discuss legal assessments from the Nixon era though the Clinton era through now, in regards the power of the Presidential pardon, and the dangers that power could present for Donald Trump himself if he chooses to exercise it for some of his close aides and family members.

Among the man related questions and "myths" discussed: What dangers lurk for the President from those he may pardon? Can the President really pardon himself? Can a sitting President be criminally indicted?

But, of course, much remains unknown when it comes to the various extraordinary ways we are discussing the power of the Presidential pardon, of late, because the U.S. Supreme Court has not rung in on most of it. That's because, as Millhiser notes, "most Presidents don't commit federal offenses when they're in office."

"Here's what this really comes down to: Everyone has assumed that the President would be capable of shame. I'm dead serious about that. Why did Nixon resign? He resigned because he was capable of shame," Millhiser argues. "Everyone assumes that if the President somehow was not capable of shame, then the Congress would be capable of shaming him. When you go back and you read James Madison or Alexander Hamilton, they did not understand the inevitability of political parties," Millhiser argues. "So the Constitution was written on this assumption that you've got all these ambitious people in Congress...and so if you've got a rogue President, they'll all band together to throw that President out because it's good for their careers. They did not understand that, in 2017, we would have the kind of extraordinary partisanship we have right now, where you have a President who is incapable of shame, and you have Congress controlled by the President's party, which is unwilling to do anything to undermine its party's President. Our Constitution is not fit for this set of circumstances."

Finally today, in related matters, the public is much more in favor of impeachment now than they were at the start of the Watergate scandal, four years and six months into Richard Nixon's term as President. And, speaking of public interests, it appears the GOP attempt to undermine ObamaCare has resulted in many more Americans believing the federal government has a responsibility to ensure health care coverage for all...

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...

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Plus: On the Espionage Act's 100th Anniversary, it's now being used against whistleblowers and journalists rather than spies...
By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2017 6:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast, take your pick. Either the Trump Administration (and its cronies in Congress) are liars or completely incompetent. There is plenty of evidence for both. [Audio link for show follows below.]

For a start today, the number of people now reported to have been at that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian attorney said to have dirt on Hillary Clinton has now risen to eight. And, not single day has gone by since the revelation of that meeting one week ago, without the Team Trump explanations for it --- including from the President himself --- changing. Why?

But those aren't the stories today to suggest they are either liars or buffoons (and can't do math either.). Among the many additional stories placed into appropriate context today:

  • Trump's own Sec. of State takes a withering shot at Trump's government;
  • A congressional GOPer laments Republicans "simply don't know how to govern";
  • The non-partisan CBO finds Trump's budget doesn't actually balance (it's only off by $3.4 trillion);
  • Senate Republicans newest health care repeal plan doesn't either;
  • Some GOPers are willing to shut down the government if Trump's wall isn't funded (by tax-payers, not by Mexico, as promised);
  • Trump's border "wall" is beginning to sound exactly like Dubya and Obama's border fence (And his plans for immigration reform are beginning to sound a lot like Obama's as well.)

Given a new Pew survey finding a huge majority of Republican voters now believe higher education at universities and colleges has a "negative effect" on the country, perhaps none of today's stories should come as much of a surprise.

Finally, on the 100th Anniversary of the Espionage Act, the Committee to Protect Journalists offers a report on how, since Nixon first did so in the 70's, the Act has been misused to prosecute whistleblowers rather than spies, particularly under Obama, and how Trump may well begin using it against journalists in the bargain...

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Guest: Pastor Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck of Lancaster Against Pipelines | Plus: GOP tries again on health care, and what is Team Trump hiding?...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2017 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Republicans in the U.S. Senate gets desperate, Team Trump keeps getting caught in lies, and an order of Catholic nuns in rural Pennsylvania takes action to block a pipeline from being built on their own land. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: The Senate GOP today released the newest version of their attempted scheme to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and it's as bad as we'd warned it would be on our previous shows this week. The new version removes some of the tax cuts for the wealthy, but leaves in the massive Medicaid cuts that will remove health care for millions, and adds a new provision by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) that would allow private insurers to sell largely worthless health care plans to suckers in order to claim they have "lowered premiums!"

The newest proposal will also likely continue to have a very difficult time finding the 50 GOP votes needed for passage in the Senate, but it would be a huge mistake to count them out and let your guard down. As that is moving forward, with a vote said to be scheduled for next week, two House Democrats have now officially filed an Article of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump for Obstruction of Justice, and more evidence of Team Trump having lied about contacts with various Russians and other foreign agents continues to emerge. What, if anything, are they trying to hide? And why?

Then, an order of Catholic nuns in central Pennsylvania dedicated a new outdoor chapel last Sunday at the edge of a cornfield and smack-dab in the path of a planned $3 billion natural gas pipeline. PASTOR MALINDA HARNISH CLATTERBUCK of Lancaster Against Pipelines and the Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster joins us to explain the defiant action by the nuns of The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, in the ongoing attempt to block the huge "Atlantic Sunrise" pipeline from being built by a private, Oklahoma-based company. The Williams Partners company has received federal Eminent Domain orders from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that would allow them to steal the use of the land from the sisters and other residents along the 300-mile path of the massive pipeline path in rural Lancaster County, PA.

Clatterbuck scoffed at the "irreparable harm" argument being made in U.S. District Court by the company in their emergency motion, to be heard next week, against the sisters' open-air chapel . "It's really ironic that they would use that language when the harm that they are proposing to do, not just to Lancaster County, but to the whole extension of Central Pennsylvania with this pipeline, would be violating the waterways --- 380-some waterways --- this pipeline would be crossing. And it would be going through more than 250 wetlands. And permanently fragmenting over 44 deep forests. I feel like that's irreparable harm that we're really pushing back against," she tells me.

"The audacity of an industry to feel as though they have an entitlement to put a pipeline wherever they want to is unfathomable to me," the pastor and longtime community organizer says, while responding to Williams' statement that they have no problem with peaceful protest by the nuns, as long as they move their chapel to a different location on the land they have owned for almost 100 years. "Isn't that amazing, how arrogant they are? It's not their property. This is the nuns' property. And the nuns have a right to do on their property what they want, right? Isn't this America?"

Paging Sean Hannity! (Who used to pretend to be infuriated by eminent domain...at least when it was done by Democratic Administrations.) And, paging Republicans and Donald Trump! (Who still pretend to be infuriated by encroachments on "religious freedoms," such as when other Catholic nuns, like the Little Sisters of the Poor, challenged the contraceptives mandate of ObamaCare.)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the Delaware-sized iceberg that has just broken off of Antarctica, Tesla's plan to build the world's largest battery in just 100 days (or it's free!), and much more, including a Phoenix weatherman who has been lying to his viewers --- over our public airwaves --- about global warming...in the middle of yet another record heat wave...

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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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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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Guest: Craig Holman of Public Citizen...
By Brad Friedman on 6/2/2017 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The political price of becoming the world's pariah, and new documents finally released by the Trump Administration prove yet again that they are doing anything but "draining the swamp" as promised.

The brutal fallout, including both nationwide and worldwide condemnation for President Trump's regrettable decision to pull the US out of the historic Paris Climate Agreement, continues as the Administration tries and lies to explain the wildly irresponsible and seemingly senseless move, while also working hard to avoid answering whether or not the President of the United States still believes that climate change is a "hoax", as he's previously asserted.

As that story unfolded this week, the Administration was finally forced to release the ethics waivers they say were granted to dozens of White House and executive agency officials allowing them to avoid ethics requirements set out in Trump's Executive Order issued, purportedly, to keep corporate lobbyists out of the government and ensure those working for the Administration did not work with companies whose employ they had just left.

But getting the waivers released at all was "like pulling teeth," according to my guest today, Craig Holman, the long time Government Affairs lobbyist, specializing in campaign finance and government ethics at Public Citizen. He joins us to discuss what is revealed by the waivers released by the White House so far, and why Trump's approach to ethics guidelines cannot even be compared to previous Administrations. "There is a sea-change of difference between the Obama system and the Trump system," he says, describing how even though Obama issued some waivers himself, he did so only in line with "a very tough legal standard" and only after it was "demonstrated that no one else could do the appointee's job."

Trump, on the other hand, "eliminated any criteria for issuing waivers" and even went a step further by failing to disclose them until group's like Holman's and the aggressive current head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), Walter Shaub, required White House Counsel Don McGahn (who also apparently waivered himself!) to do so.

In addition to top White House officials like Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Reince Priebus receiving waivers, Holman explains, "We saw people like Shahira Knight, who was a lobbyist for Fidelity on retirement issues, stepping in to the White House and being the special adviser for retirement issues, which would appear to be a violation of the ethics Executive Order. But was she issued a waiver? We didn't know. So we're banging at the door of the White House wondering what was going on." (As it turns out, yes, she got one too.)

Holman is more troubled still by the fact that almost all of the waivers seem only to have been created this past Wednesday, in order to meet a disclosure deadline on Thursday. "I've gone through each and every waiver, and almost all of them are undated, and unsigned," he says. If it's true that they were issued retroactively, Walter Shaub, the Director of the OGE told the New York Times, "There is no such thing as a retroactive waiver...You have violated a rule." Richard Painter, George W. Bush's White House ethics lawyer told the Times,"The only retroactive waiver I have ever heard of is called a pardon."

But what punishment exists for violating Executive Orders and ethics rules, even though both supposedly carry "the force of law"? And who, exactly, would enforce such violations, anyway? White House Counsel Don McGahn? Attorney General Jeff Sessions? Can groups like Public Citizen sue for enforcement? We discuss all of that and much more with Holman today.

Finally today, an iceberg the size of Delaware is on the brink of falling off of an Antarctic ice shelf; the Special Counsel's investigation of the Trump Administration may reportedly be widening to include a probe of AG Jeff Sessions himself; and what is likely the real (and disturbing) reason that Trump ultimately decided to pull out of the Paris Accord? All of that and much more on today's BradCast!...

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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...

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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!...

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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...

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