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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Hypocritical 'Conservatives' on Stolen SCOTUS Appear Set to Allow Rigged Census: 'BradCast' 4/24/19
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Impeachment panic, coming Const'l crises...
To Impeach or Not to Impeach? That is the (Democrats') Question: 'BradCast' 4/23/19
But it may be Republicans who provide them with the courage to oust a scofflaw President...
'Green News Report' 4/23/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Gas prices spike, will get worse as Trump vows new Iran sanctions; Mueller finds Russia stoked 2016 coal fights; EU curbs plastic pollution; PLUS: NYC goes big with Green New Deal...
Previous GNRs: 4/18/19 - 4/16/19 - Archives...
Mueller Report Reveals 2016 Vote Systems, Results Never Examined for Manipulation: 'BradCast' 4/22/19
Also: News avalanche; AOC 'looks back' from future; Callers ring in on impeachment...
Easter Sunday Toons!
'PDiddie' has been busy gathering a festive basket of colorful surprises for you in his latest weekly toon collection...
MUELLER REPORT DETAILS TRUMP'S REPEATED OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE: 'BradCast' 4/18/19
Guests: Zero Hour's Richard Eskow, Comm. to Investigate Russia's Jacki Schechner...
'Green News Report' 4/18/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Arrests at London climate protests; March 2019 third hottest ever; Bank of England's stark warning about climate risks; PLUS: Teen climate activist addresses EU Parliament...
Previous GNRs: 4/16/19 - 4/11/19 - Archives...
Another Cruel New Border Policy, More Impeachable Chaos: 'BradCast' 4/17/19
Guest: Sarah Pierce of Migration Policy Inst.; Also: Trump vetoes Congress ban on support for Saudi war in Yemen; Media (and Dems) can't handle Trump lawlessness...
The Billionaire Opportunists of Notre Dame:
'BradCast' 4/16/19
Also: WA adopts 'public option'; Fox town hall goes wild for Bernie; Warren to end drilling; Unspeakable cruelty of Trump immigration policies and a hero stands up to them...
'Green News Report' 4/16/19
Deadly tornadoes from TX to DE; Int. IG probing new Int. Sec.; WA's 100% clean electricity target; PLUS: 2020 Dems to expand renewables, combat climate change...
Institutions Burning (And How YOU Can Help Fight to Save One!): 'BradCast' 4/15/19
Guest: Author Josh Douglas; Also: Notre Dame burns; Trump flouts law, endangers Congresswoman; Buttigieg is in; GOPers in AR, TN move to game elections...
Sunday 'Black Hole' Toons
'PDiddie' fills a bunch of endless holes, voids and vacuums in his latest weekly toon collection...
'Beyond Background Checks':
'BradCast' 4/12/19
Dems need bold, progressive action for a safe, prosperous, just future, w/ guest Igor Volsky; Also: Lawless Trump; Regulatory capture; Freshmen Dems step up...
'Green News Report' 4/11/19
Trump authorizes self to authorize pipelines, strip states rights; New 'bomb cyclone'; Earth CO2 levels highest in 3M yrs; PLUS: Glaciers melting faster than predicted...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Trump panics over impeachment, sets course for Constitutional crisis by blocking lawful subpoenas...
By Brad Friedman on 4/24/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's Administration is now barreling the nation towards one or more unprecedented Constitutional crises as he panics about the possibility of impeachment. But the fruits of the GOP's labor in violating Constitutional norms to steal a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court may now finally be set to pay off for them for at least the next decade. [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

First up today, however, some quick election results following a few contests around the country on Tuesday. In a Special Election for a vacated state Senate seat in Tennessee, Republican Bill Powers reportedly defeated Democrat Juanita Charles. The result wasn't a surprise in a state where the GOP now enjoys a supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly. But Powers is said to have won by just under 10 points. That's a 13-point swing towards the Democrats in a very Republican district from what would normally be expected.

In Tampa, Florida former police Chief Jane Castor was elected by a 73% landslide to become the city's first openly gay Mayor, the first to lead a major city in the U.S. Southeast. The victory comes less than one month after the openly gay Lori Lightfoot was elected Mayor in Chicago. Castor was outspent 2 to 1 by her opponent, David Straz, a 76-year old banker who wasted $5 million of his own money on the race and also outspent the other seven candidates combined in last month's primary.

Back in D.C., the U.S. House General Counsel filed a motion in federal court seeking to block Trump's re-appropriation of some $6 billion from the Defense Department to build his wall on the Southern border. The House --- which voted, along with the Senate, to block Trump's "national emergency" declaration and his re-allocated spending, only to be vetoed by the President --- argues that Trump's actions are unconstitutional as contracts are being awarded and money spent to build and repair border barriers with funding that "Congress did not appropriate for that purpose."

But federal judges who actually believe in following the Constitution may be in shorter supply these days, as Trump and the GOP have packed the courts with "conservatives" of convenience --- jurists who claim to believe in one set of principles but follow a radically different path when it suits their political whims. Trump is counting on such activist judges as he announces his Administration is now blocking all White House and other executive agency officials from responding to lawful document demands and subpoenas issued by Congress. In just the past 24 hours, the Administration has directed several current and former officials to not respond to lawful Congressional subpoenas for testimony and has denied statutory requests for financial documents of Trump and a number of his companies. Trump also, on another Twitter tear today, vowed to seek help from his stolen SCOTUS in the event that he is impeached.

Our guest today, MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter for Slate, offers insight on all of the above, before we focus on the even more disturbing news regarding Tuesday's oral arguments at the Supreme Court regarding the Commerce Department's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census.

Stern, who was present at the Court for argument on Tuesday, suggests the outlook is not encouraging. He tells me he counted five rightwing Justices who appear eager to overturn three lower court rulings which found Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied about his reasons for unlawfully directing the Census Bureau to add the question despite objections from career Census professionals who advise that the question would result in a massive under-count of Hispanic and immigrant populations.

The decennial count of all "persons" in the U.S., (as the Constitution requires), may be off by as many 6.5 million people if the question is added, largely in areas that tend to vote Democratic, according to the experts. The result would be felt for the next decade --- particularly in Democratic-leaning cities and states --- as the Census is used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending, as well as how Congressional and state legislative districts are mapped and residents represented, and even how electoral votes are to be allocated.

"This was just a real bloodbath for the plaintiffs here," Stern tells me about Tuesday's oral argument. "This case should have been so simple. Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce lied about his reason for including a citizenship question on the Census. He lied, and he got found out. He is the one who asked the Justice Department to create some pretext for the citizenship question. And beyond that, Ross busted through a bunch of statutory roadblocks that are supposed to prevent the inclusion of gratuitous questions on the Census."

"The lower court in this case said, 'I count Wilbur Ross violating the law in at least six separate ways.' The Supreme Court only has to find one of those ways to be compelling to stop the citizenship question and say no," Stern laments. "But I don't think a majority of the court is willing to step in and stand up for the law. And I fear the reason is because they know exactly why the Trump Administration wants the citizenship question on the Census."

Stern details what he describes as hypocrisy displayed by the Court's five Republican Justices during argument, as they cited everything from the Voting Rights Act (which they voted to gut) to international law (which they have dismissed as having no basis in U.S. law) to deference to federal agencies (which they have famously undermined in recent years when it comes to environmental regulations and other disputes where courts had traditionally deferred to executive agency expertise) in posing questions that indicate they plan to approve the new question meant to rig the Census. "It was a very bad day for truth at the Supreme Court," Stern reports.

"Hypocrisy doesn't even begin to capture what this is," he argues. "I can only hope that Kavanaugh and Gorsuch begin to apply international law in death penalty cases, as well. But something tells me this is a ticket good for one ride only."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report (after we ran out of time for it yesterday) with another troubling mix of both good news and bad for the nation and the planet...

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

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Finds Russians implanted malware, but didn't check if results affected
Also: News avalanche; AOC 'looks back' from future; Callers ring in on impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, new details from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report supporting the argument we've been trying to make for the last two years: Nobody ever checked the results of the 2016 election to make sure they were correct! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first, we open with an avalanche of important news headlines breaking today and over the weekend, including the deadly Easter bombings in Sri Lanka; A TV comedian becoming the next President of Ukraine by a landslide; Trump's latest vow to impose sanctions on allies who purchase oil from Iran; Woefully unqualified Federal Reserve Board candidate and alleged sexual harasser Herman Cain withdrawing his name from Trump's consideration; The GOP's stolen Supreme Court announcing plans to take up cases to determine whether LGBTQ people may be covered by anti-discrimination civil rights employment laws this Fall; and Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton jumping into the crowded Democratic Presidential nomination contest.

Then we move to our all too brief commemoration of Earth Day's 49th Anniversary on Monday, wherein our own Desi Doyen details how and why the annual celebration first came about beginning in 1970. Of course, as we like to say on our Green News Report, every day is Earth Day for us! Nonetheless, sticking with that theme today --- for those who only notice it once a year --- we share "A Message from the Future from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez" in which the freshman NY Democratic Congresswoman, from a couple of decades in the future, looks "back" on the world-changing successes of her Green New Deal program, as recently introduced with veteran Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). The charming animated video, with illustrations by Molly Crabtree, is a thought experiment of sorts worth watching and/or listening to, as it helps explain how the GND would work to curb many of the worst effects of climate change, while providing millions of jobs and healthcare for all, as climate scientists have repeatedly warned the world must do within the next decade or face unstoppable consequences that threaten the entirety of human civilization.

Then, we move on to the revelation from the redacted Mueller Report [PDF] which has caused my Twitter feed to go somewhat bonkers since I cited it over the weekend. As the Special Counsel's report reveals (Vol. 1, pages 51-52, in the section entitled "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), Russian intelligence operatives at the GRU targeted and infiltrated "individuals and entities involved in the administration of the [2016] elections. U.S. state and local entities, such as state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and county governments, as well as individuals who worked for those entities. The GRU also targeted private technology firms responsible for manufacturing and administering election-related software and hardware, such as voter registration software and electronic polling stations."

In other words, voter registration databases AND voting systems, such as voting machines and tabulators. Mueller's report goes on to concede that though the GRU was successful in implanting malware on a number of the targeted computers, "the [Special Counsel's] Office did not investigate further [and] did not, for instance, obtain or examine servers or other relevant items belonging to these victims." Instead, as Mueller writes, "The Office understands that the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the states have separately investigated that activity".

Only problem with that? As we have reported repeatedly over the past two years, Jeanette Manfra, the top DHS official in charge of overseeing cyber-intrusions of critical infrastructure such as voting and tabulation systems, conceded during a June 2017 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) that her department had not, in fact, conducted any forensic analyses of computer voting and tabulation systems or servers following the 2016 Presidential election. We play a clip from her Senate testimony to that end.

As far as we can tell, this means that nobody has ever conducted such an analysis, despite the stunning results of the 2016 Presidential election. That remains very troubling, considering that Trump reportedly won, very narrowly, by less than 80,000 votes total in the key swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, none of which had voted GOP in a Presidential election for decades until 2016. The margins --- as reported by computers, but never verified by humans --- were close enough in each of those states that, had an average of just two votes in each precinct in each of those states been recorded for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump, she, not he, would be President now.

Moreover, as the Mueller Report also documents, Trump's then Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort offered briefings and internal polling data to his business associate Konstanin Klimnik, a Ukrainian national tied to Russian intelligence, "on the state of the Trump Campaign and Manafort's plan to win the election," including what Manafort's partner Rick Gates described to the Special Counsel as "discussion of 'battleground' states, which Manafort identified as Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota."

So, at this point, that means nobody still knows whether Donald Trump was actually the legitimate choice of the voters who comprise the Electoral College. (We already know he lost the popular vote by some 3 million votes.) Most of those very same computer systems will be used once again in the 2020 Presidential election, though some --- for example in Philadelphia, the entire state of Georgia, Los Angeles County and elsewhere --- are being replaced with newer systems that are even more difficult for the public to oversee to ensure reported results reflect actual voter intent.

And, with all of that today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for thoughts on whether --- given the findings of the Mueller Report, including Trump's well-documented and repeated attempts to unlawfully obstruct the investigation itself --- Democrats in Congress should begin impeachment hearings or not. So far, Democrats are somewhat split on the issue, with a number of freshmen in the House calling for impeachment proceedings to begin and, so far, only Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) among the current Presidential candidates offering a clarion call for members of Congress to meet their Constitutional duties by officially investigating Trump's alleged high crimes and misdemeanors via an impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House and a vote on whether to convict and remove Trump from office in the U.S. Senate. Our callers offer somewhat mixed feelings as well, as you'll hear on today's very busy and fast-moving BradCast!...

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

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo...
By Brad Friedman on 4/19/2019 6:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It looks like Trump Attorney General William Barr's willingness to beclown himself to the level of Donald Trump didn't help much in protecting the President against his own clearly criminal and impeachable behavior as detailed by even the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report. And Democrats in both the House and even the Senate are finally beginning to use the "i"-word they should have invoked long ago. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Barr's willingness to offer Trumpian lies to the American people about what the report actually says and doesn't was swell until the American people were actually allowed to read it. Trump's repeated and now well-documented attempts at criminal obstruction of justice by trying to shutdown or otherwise derail the Special Counsel's probe is now detailed for all to see, as of Thursday public release of the redacted 448-page report [PDF].

They are also now able to read Mueller's clarion call, also detailed in the report, for Congress to take up the matter as per their Constitutional duty to serve as the only real check on a lawless President. House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) has now subpoenaed the Dept. of Justice for the full, unredacted version of the report and its underlying evidence, and has called for both Barr and Mueller himself to testify to Congress in the coming weeks. At the same time, more House members are now calling for impeachment to get under way after, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) notes: "Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the President" and "squarely puts this on our doorstep."

"While I understand the political reality of the Senate + election considerations," she Tweeted, "upon reading this DoJ report, which explicitly names Congress in determining obstruction, I cannot see a reason for us to abdicate from our constitutionally mandated responsibility to investigate."

For his part, after falsely hailing the report as a "total and complete exoneration" before it was publicly released, Donald Trump (who probably, ya know, should have bothered to read it first) returned to angry form as of Friday morning, railing profanely and incoherently against the report, the respected federal prosecutors and Republican former FBI Director who wrote it after a meticulous two-year process, and against his own top level staffers who are revealed in the report as the best witnesses to Trump's various impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors.

We're joined today by award-winning opinion and analysis journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo for her insight into the report itself --- which she describes as a "roadmap for impeachment" --- and its fallout today as even several Presidential candidates are now joining the growing calls for impeachment proceedings to begin in the U.S. House.

Among the many topics of our lively discussion: Bill Barr's BS; Mueller's reasoning for choosing to not prosecute while passing the ball firmly to Congress to pick up instead; Why Don Jr. wasn't charged (but should have been); Whether the long-standing DoJ guidance prohibiting sitting Presidents from being indicted makes any sense, either legally, Constitutionally or politically; and whether Democrats in the House and Senate (not to mention Republicans there) will find the backbone to do the right thing and hold Trump accountable as per their Constitutional responsibilities, or whether they'll continue to pull punches as they have for so many years. That, as we also discuss, is precisely what has allowed dangerously criminal and unfit clowns like Donald Trump to ascend to the Presidency in the first place.

"If we care about the Constitution, and we care about the democracy, you can't just let this kind of stuff go." Parton argues. "Even if they can't get the Republicans [in the Senate] to convict, I think that they have to do it anyway. It's the right thing to do. They have to lay out the case."

"Most Americans are not going to read that report like I just did. They're just going to hear snippets of it. But if they do impeachment hearings, in which they establish this narrative out there for all Americans to see, and to hear it in their own words --- from Robert Mueller to Don McGahn, to Hope Hicks, to everyone of them --- and hear what they have to say, to describe what happened, I think that's important for the record. It's important for the voters to have that as they go to the voting booth, whether Trump is convicted or not."

In case you're wondering, the phone number to reach your member of Congress is 202-224-3121. I bet they'd like to hear from you...

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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Guests: Zero Hour's Richard Eskow, Comm. to Investigate Russia's Jacki Schechner...
By Brad Friedman on 4/18/2019 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It should come as little surprise that Donald Trump's newly-appointed Attorney General William Bar has gone out of his way to obstruct justice in his attempt to misdirect from the repeated obstruction of justice painstakingly detailed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's 448-page report [PDF]. Still, it's remarkable to see in action, as the nation did first thing this morning at his bizarre press conference before the report was even released. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, even in the redacted version, as Barr finally allowed the public to see it today, Trump's many attempts to shut down or obstruct the Special Counsel probe are more than clear. That, after Barr delayed the report's release to the public for nearly a month and offered an astonishing --- if dishonest and ham-fisted --- bit of sleight-of-hand at his morning presser an hour before anyone was allowed to see the two-volume report on Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and the President's attempts to frustrate the FBI's investigation of it, as well as the Special Counsel's probe that began after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for the corrupt intent cited in the report.

We're joined for special coverage analysis today as we all slog through Mueller's findings, by journalists RICHARD ESKOW, columnist and host of the weekly The Zero Hour radio and TV program, and JACKI SCHECHNER, Editor-in-Chief of the Committee to Investigate Russia.

There is lots to try and make sense of as we finally get a first look at the culmination of Mueller's two-year effort, detailing various coordination --- knowing and otherwise --- with Russia's efforts to manipulate the 2016 campaign and the President of the United States' repeated attempts to, yes, obstruct the probe into his own obstruction of justice in the wake of firing Comey and the naming of Special Counsel Mueller.

"He is a total hack," Schechner says about Barr and his repeated references to "no collusion" (which Mueller never argues in his report), while he ignored the serious obstruction evidence detailed by Mueller. "This was not an impartial Attorney General who stood up for the rule of law, to work for the American public. This was a man who is operating in a spokesperson capacity for the President of the United States. It's an embarrassment to the office."

Eskow agreed. "It should have been clear to people, as soon as the timing of these relative events was announced, that we were going to get a pre-release spin rather than a serious talk from the nation's chief law enforcement officer," he argues. "It's classic misdirection."

On the substance of the actual report, there is much more to say. The report cites DoJ guidelines finding that sitting Presidents cannot be indicted, as to why the Special Counsel avoided making judgments about whether Trump obstructed justice. As Mueller notes, however, "if we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, however, we are unable to reach that judgment."

"The obstruction of justice case is extraordinarily compelling," says Eskow, who has been responsibly skeptical about many claims in the Trump/Russia saga over the past two years. "They say it's not the crime, it's the coverup. The big change for me to today was seeing, in one place, the unimpeachability, seemingly, of the evidence pointing to obstruction of justice. [It] suggests to me that Congress should act immediately to do something about it."

We go on to discuss what may happen next, as House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) announces plans to subpoena the Department of Justice for the full, unredacted report and its underlying evidence, and as calls for the impeachment of Donald J. Trump should be ramping up, given the remarkable revelations of Trump's corruption detailed by Mueller.

As Trump himself reportedly said after learning that Mueller had been named as special counsel, according to the report: "Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I'm fucked."

Finally, if you need a break from all of this today, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, because the existential threat of our growing climate crisis always lightens things up!...

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: Suzanne Almeida of Common Cause; Also: Lack of campaign finance charges against Don Jr., Manafort threaten 2020 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2019 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Something seemingly very interesting may have occurred at Tuesday's oral arguments on two separate, if related, partisan redistricting cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. The results, believe it or not, could change the outcome from what many voting rights advocates had previously predicted following the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the subsequent seating of his far-right replacement Justice Brett Kavanaugh. [Audio link to complete show is posted at end of article.]

The scourge of state legislative and Congressional maps drawn for partisan advantage by the party in power after a decennial Census has crippled democracy and the voting power of citizens for decades in the U.S. But the GOP dramatically upped the stakes following the 2010 Census when they employed highly sophisticated computer mapping techniques to ensure themselves huge electoral advantages over the ensuing ten years by drawing extremely partisan maps that "packed" Democrats into a small number of districts or "cracked" them among several in order to dilute the voting power of non-Republicans.

It's a practice that Democrats have carried out as well, if not to the same extreme as Republicans who took over many statehouses in the 2010 "red wave" election. A new analysis from AP finds that 2018's "blue tsunami" election, for example, would have been much larger for Congressional Democrats, were it not for many extremely partisan GOP-drawn maps in a number of key states, including North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas. The AP study finds "Republicans won about 16 more U.S. House seats" than they would have under fair maps. Similarly, "Republicans' structural advantage might have helped them hold on to as many as seven [state legislative] chambers that otherwise could have flipped to Democrats."

While the U.S. Supreme Court has long found gerrymanders on a racial basis to be unconstitutional, they've yet to affirm the many lower court rulings finding partisan gerrymanders to be similarly unconstitutional. Last term, when many believed SCOTUS was prepared to do so, the Court punted instead on several cases of extreme partisan maps in Wisconsin, North Carolina and elsewhere, before Justice Kennedy --- thought to have been the likely swing-vote in favor of ending the odious practice --- announced his retirement.

On Tuesday, one of those cases, Common Cause v. Rucho --- where a federal appeals court determined (twice!) that North Carolina's Congressional maps were unlawfully skewed for Republicans (they've held a 10 to 3 advantage in their Congressional delegation for the past decade, despite the state being almost evenly divided between Republican and Democratic voters) --- was heard again at SCOTUS. Another case, Benesik v. Lamone, in which a single Congressional district in Maryland was drawn by Democrats specifically to remove an incumbent Republican, was heard as well.

And while many voting rights advocates have not had high hopes for either case, given the even farther-right leaning majority on the court following Kennedy's retirement, there were some surprises during oral argument, particularly from Justice Kavanaugh whose decision in one or both of the cases could change history by delivering a major win for voting rights.

We're joined today to discuss these potentially encouraging developments with SUZANNE ALMEIDA, Redistricting and Representation Counsel for Common Cause, the lead plaintiff in the NC case. She was in the Court on Tuesday for both hearings and explains what seems to have happened, offers insight on what could now occur, decries why these cases are so important, and what may happen when SCOTUS finally delivers it's crucial opinion in June in advance of both the crucial 2020 elections and the subsequent redistricting of all 50 states that will follow the 2020 Census.

"The North Carolina case is a particularly egregious case, for a couple of reasons," Almeida tells me. "One is that we have an admission. On the floor of the General Assembly, Representative Lewis leaned into a microphone and said, 'This is a partisan gerrymander. I wanted to this map to be 10-3 because it couldn't be 11-2.' That's not the way that map-drawing should work, and that's not the way representation should work in America." She also discusses, for example, how one district line drawn by the GOP in North Carolina actually splits an historically African-American college in two, so that its voters are diluted into two separate Republican-leaning districts.

As to the matter concerning Kavanaugh, who was reportedly disturbed by his own district in Maryland, where he lives, being gerrymandered by Democrats to prevent Republican representation, Almeida confirms that he seemed to want to find a standard that could be used by courts to determine if districts were unlawfully gerrymandered on a partisan basis. She says she shares "the characterization that Justice Kavanaugh has a personal interest in the Maryland case ... And he was pushing back quite strongly against the advocate for the state."

Almeida also pushed back at the notion from Justices on the right that Courts should simply stay out of these matters, and leave them to voters and the legislators who drew the maps to keep themselves in power in the first place, she tells me: "This idea that the Court has that somehow this is self-correcting, or will fix itself through the magic of the political process, just doesn't work. And that's because gerrymandering is about power, and people in power staying in power. And when the people in power have that power to make the rules and draw the lines, that's what they're going to keep doing."

She adds that comments from Kavanaugh and even Chief Justice Roberts during the proceedings on Tuesday are "reason to be optimistic". But I'll wait until the opinions come out in June before popping any champagne bottles on what could be, according to Mark Joseph Stern at Slate the "most important voting rights victory of the century so far."

Also on today's program: Speaking of 2020, some curious questions about why nobody from Team Trump --- particularly Donald Trump Jr. or campaign chair Paul Manafort --- has yet been charged with campaign finance violations regarding "soliciting" and/or "accepting" a "thing of value" from a foreign government, as clearly occurred in relation to the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a number of Russian nationals. Election law expert Rick Hasen argues that the lack of indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in this matter does not bode well for the Dept. of Justice's plans to enforce election laws that bar "foreign governments from sharing information --- even information obtained from illegal hacking --- with campaigns, for the purposes of influencing the 2020 election...and beyond"...

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Trump border 'emergency' survives override vote; DoJ moves to kill ACA; Senate holds 'sham' vote on GND...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2019 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The coverage by the corporate media --- and response by many Democrats --- to Attorney General William Barr's terse, misleading 4-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report after two years has, by and large, been atrocious in innumerable ways. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We're joined today by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, who has been covering the corrupt Trump Presidency for years now, including its various Russia-related storylines and other criminal probes at Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. Among our several related topics of discussion today: Shameful failures by the media and others to demand independently verifiable evidence of speculative allegations both before the confidential Mueller Report was finally delivered to Barr and the subsequent failure by many of the same organizations and individuals in their credulous reporting of Barr's bare-bones, "very, very clever political document" summarizing the sprawling, two-year probe.

Rather than learning from mistakes, many in the media seem to be repeating them all over again in the wake of Barr's memo, which some justifiably regard as a "whitewash" or "cover-up" by a man who was selected by Trump, in no small part, for his previously stated opposition to the probe and to the very notion that any President can legally be charged with Obstruction of Justice. There's much more related conversation here today --- including on the substance of Barr's letter, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein's curious complicity, and the GOP's premature victory laps --- but you'll have to tune in to listen.

Also on today's program: Though Democrats led a decisive 248 to 181 vote today (with 14 Republicans) in hopes of overriding Trump's veto of the resolution blocking his phony "national emergency" declaration, the effort fell 38 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed. In the Senate, where 12 Republicans previously voted with Democrats, 59 to 41, to block the President previously, no override vote will now be held since a two-thirds majority vote is required in both chambers. AP described Trump's overwhelming loss in both chambers as a "victory" for the President today, and it will now be left to challenges in court to block Trump's order diverting billions appropriated by Congress to the military to instead build his border wall. Mexico is still not paying for it.

Then, in a major reversal of their previous legal position, Trump's Dept. of Justice filed documents in an appeals court Monday to support striking down the entire Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") as unconstitutional. While Jeff Sessions served as Attorney General, DoJ had "only" supported gutting provisions that limited premium prices insurers could charge for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Under Barr, however, the Administration now seeks to kill the entire landmark healthcare law. If successful, as many as 30 million Americans would lose their access to affordable healthcare coverage;

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest very busy Green News Report, as fossil fuel-related climate related disasters continue in the U.S. and around the world, while the Trump Administration plows billions of tax-payer dollars into troubled nuclear plants and the Senate GOP carries out a "sham" vote on the Green New Deal, in hopes of mocking the initiative...

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But Trump and the White House couldn't be happier to lie about how his conflicted Attorney General helped get him off the hook (for now)...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2019 6:12pm PT  

So what did you think we'd be talking about on today's BradCast? [Audio link to full program is posted below.]

On Sunday, Donald Trump's new Attorney General William Barr issued a four-page letter [PDF] summarizing the long-awaited, nearly two-year Special Counsel investigation by Robert Mueller into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 Presidential election, Team Trump's cooperation in that effort, and Donald Trump's attempts to obstruct the probe. Mueller's effort resulted in some 35 indictments, including more than 20 Russian individuals and entities, as well as indictments, convictions or guilty pleas from six top Trump associates and staffers. It has also spawned a number of other probes and indictments, including what Barr describes as "several matters" referred "to other offices for further action."

Nonetheless, based on Barr's summary report, issued less than 48 hours after receiving what is likely to have been tens of thousands of pages from the Special Counsel, the White House, the President and his fellow GOPers are falsely characterizing the terse summary as reflecting Mueller's "complete and total vindication" of Trump. That, despite Mueller's express and specific finding (according to one of the very few passages directly quoted by Barr) that the Special Counsel's report "does not exonerate" Trump of obstruction of justice crimes. That did not prevent the White House from falsely describing Mueller's findings as "a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States." That is the opposite of what little we know the report to have found.

If fact, while Barr claims Mueller's "investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities" (the matter which media, Democrats and Trump alike have long described as "collusion"), Mueller left the decision on whether to prosecute Trump on obstruction up to the Attorney General, according to Barr, for reasons that still remain unknown and will likely stay unknown until and if Mueller's report is actually publicly released. Congressional Democrats are justifiably demanding as much.

While we've shared no small measure of healthy skepticism over the years about what Russia did or didn't do during the 2016 election, along with what Team Trump's involvement with it may or may not have been, there is no legitimate question about Trump's attempt to obstruct Mueller's investigation of it, beyond whether or not the obstruction rose to something that was prosecutable or impeachable and whether a sitting President can be indicted under the DoJ's dubious guidelines which say he or she may not.

Of course, just about everyone seems to have an opinion about Barr's report on Mueller's report. But it should be made clear that everything we currently know is based only on Barr's own summary, compiled in less than 48 hours. It should also be made clear that Barr is wildly conflicted in this matter, as he "auditioned" for the job as Trump's new AG by sending an unsolicited 19-page memo [PDF] to DoJ last year explaining why he believed Mueller's probe was "fatally misconceived" and that, essentially, a President cannot be held criminally accountable for any "exercise of core discretionary powers within the executive branch." (That would include, for example, Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey due to "the Russia thing," as he admitted out loud.)

That Barr and similarly-conflicted Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein were left to determine Trump's fate on this point --- and did so in less than 48 hours after a two year investigation --- is anything but what any American should consider to be "justice". But, as Mark Joseph Stern argues today at Slate, "William Barr Did What Donald Trump Hired Him to Do".

Today, we focus on the very few FACTS revealed by Barr's memo and open up our phone lines for listeners to offer a bunch of interesting takes on the events of the past 24 hours...and, as you might have guessed...even of the past three years...

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Guest: NatSec, cybersecurity and voting system journalist Kim Zetter; AND BREAKING: MUELLER GIVES REPORT TO ATTORNEY GENERAL...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2019 6:54pm PT  

Today's BradCast kicks of with the breaking news of the announcement, just minutes before air, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally wrapped up his two year investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, cooperation in the effort by Team Trump and any obstruction of that probe by the President of the United States. Though that may be the least troubling news on today's show. [Audio link to complete shows is posted below article.]

Mueller's confidential report has now been delivered to Attorney General William Barr, as per statute, and Trump's new AG promptly notified Congress [PDF] to say he plans to release a summary of the report as soon as possible, potentially as early as this weekend. We share what we know (and don't) from that freshly breaking news at the top of today's program. Then it's back to, at least some of, our previously scheduled program...

On the day that Jimmy Carter officially becomes the longest living President in U.S. history, we're reminded of a warning he issued while serving as co-Chair, with Bush Family consigliere James Baker, of the so-called "Commission on National Election Reform" formed by a group of Republican operatives after the highly disputed 2004 Presidential election in Ohio. The Blue Ribbon panel was, ostensibly, formed to make recommendations on how to improve elections after the second disastrous Presidential election in a row, following the 2000 debacle in Florida. But while the Republicans who created the private commission had hoped for a recommendation for photo ID voting restrictions at the polling place, the one we've cited most often over the years is the Commission's unambiguous finding that the greatest threat posed to elections comes from insiders, such as election officials and private voting system vendors. "There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries," the Carter/Baker panel warned in their final report.

That warning is particularly trenchant today, with, as we recently reported, the Democratic National Committee now calling for some form of remote or online voting during their 2020 Presidential nominating caucuses next year and what has just happened with the online voting system that Switzerland has used for some time in parts of the country.

The Swiss had planned to roll out their system nationally this year, but as longtime cybersecurity and voting system journalist KIM ZETTER of MotherBoard and the New York Times reports, things did not go as well as planned.

Zetter joins us to discuss the alarming story of what happened when Switzerland, last month, opened up a month-long public hack challenge for the system which, they previously boasted, had easily passed many regular internal security checks and even several they had contracted from KPMG, an international auditing giant.

But, as Zetter recently detailed at MotherBoard, the Swiss system, designed by Barcelona-based Scytl --- "a leader in developing various internet and other voting solutions for national or regional elections in 42 countries, including at least 1,400 counties in the US" --- was almost immediately found by independent researchers to feature "a critical flaw in the code that would allow someone to alter votes without detection ... in a part of the system that is supposed to verify that all of the ballots and votes counted in an election are the same ones that voters cast." That flaw, Zetter details, "could allow someone to swap out all of the legitimate ballots and replace them with fraudulent ones, all without detection."

As she tells me today, the failure is even more troubling than that, as it allows for a single insider to exploit a "back door in the cryptography scheme, that would allow someone to alter votes but make it look like the votes haven't been altered at all." In other words, "the system is supposed to have a check in it that's designed to ensure that the ballots that go into that encryption process and come out of that de-cryption process are the exact same ballots. But there's a flaw in that proof that verifies that those ballots are the same. Therefore, that would allow someone to swap out the votes and ballots while the proof still seemed to show that the ballots were the same."

Swiss Post, which runs the system, and Scytl who sells it, claim the exploit could "only" be carried out by an insider, so why worry?

So how are those plans coming for remote voting in the DNC's 2020 Presidential caucuses next year? And how can it be that we keep attempting these same unworkable electronic and online voting schemes from private vendors and election officials who swear by the "certified" security of their systems, only to find they are anything but secure once independent experts are allowed to test them in any way?

"We should have a voting system where we're not required to trust anyone --- we're not required to trust election officials, we're not required to trust the vendors, we're not required to trust the voting machine itself," Zetter, who has been covering electronic voting and tabulation systems on her national cybersecurity beat for more than a decade, tells me. "We should have a system that can be audited independently of all of those parties in order to verify the election results. That's really in the best interests of everyone." What such a system should be, of course, is another matter, which we also discuss, and even debate a bit, on today's important program...

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Also: 'Potentially historic' U.S. flooding; New Zealand bans 'weapons of war'; Trump sparks new arms race with Russia...
By Brad Friedman on 3/21/2019 6:44pm PT  

All of the news you need to know today, and nothing you don't. Among the many important stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to complete show is posted below]...

  • New Zealand bans military-style assault weapons less than one week after a white supremacist terrorist massacred 50 worshiping Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch. That was easy. Must be nice to not be enthralled to decades of NRA propaganda and the tens of millions of dollars they are allowed to use to bribe politicians in the U.S., where even a Congressional vote on background checks has been verboten by Republicans;
  • Record flooding continues to swamp the upper Midwest, as the National Weather Service warns the catastrophic floods will be moving south and inundating states as water makes it way toward the Mississippi Delta where some areas have already been fighting with rising waters since last month;
  • All of that before we even get to the spring rainy season, about which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned on Thursday could bring widespread "unprecedented flooding" to most of the nation amid climate change-accelerated storms;
  • But there is much better news out of a court in Wisconsin where a state judge today blocked the GOP-controlled state legislature's unprecedented lame duck power-grab passed during an "extraordinary session" called last December to take power from the incoming Democratic Governor and Attorney General following the defeat of Republican Gov. Scott Walker by state voters in November. The judge ruled the session itself, called by just eight Republicans in the state House and Senate, unconstituionally declared and therefore, the three sweeping power-grab bills and last-minute confirmation of 82 Walker appointees before Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul could take over, are all now struck down. The victory for state voters and democracy lovers also means the Badger State may now withdraw from a multi-state lawsuit joined by the previous GOP administration challenging the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare"). GOPers in the state legislature have promised to appeal the ruling;
  • The Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps issued blistering memos this week warning that Donald Trump's deployment of troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and his "emergency" declaration has undermined troop readiness, national security and placed the well-being of the Corps at an "unacceptable risk". Gen. Robert Neller charges, according to the documents obtained and published today by the L.A. Times, that "unplanned/unbudgeted" deployment to the border last year and the shift of funding to border security efforts has resulted in cancellation of military exercises across the globe and has compromised "combat readiness and solvency". The unusually strong comments, according to military experts, critically cite the delay of urgent repairs needed at bases damaged by hurricanes last year in North Carolina and Georgia, with the new hurricane season just months away for "Marines, Sailors, and civilians working in compromised structures". All of that as Trump touted his support for the military on Wednesday night at a plant in Lima, Ohio which manufacturers tanks that the Pentagon has said they neither need nor want;
  • All of this also follows on Trump's announcement last month that he is pulling the U.S. out of the 30-year old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty struck between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987, leading to the destruction of thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles on both sides after the landmark Cold War era pact was signed. Russia has said they will now follow Trump's lead in abandoning the treaty and, according to Pentagon officials, the U.S. is now preparing flight tests this summer for two types of non-INF compliant missiles that would have been long-banned under the treaty. Let the arms race begin again!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the staggering cost to date of the deadly flooding in the upper Midwest, the toxic chemical inferno this week in Houston, Trump's new EPA chief blowing off concerns of global warming, 2020 Dems demanding action on same, and a very encouraging ruling on oil and gas drilling in Wyoming from a federal judge who has ordered that the government reconsider its environmental assessment of drilling on public lands to account for the cumulative threat of fossil fueled climate change due to man-made greenhouse gas emissions...

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Guest: Susan Harley of Public Citizen; Also: CA Guv halts death penalty; Manafort sentenced to 7 years, charged in NY; GND already paying off...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats propose a new tax on Wall Street traders that could both put the brakes on market volatility that threatens the investments of average Americans, while raising billions of much needed dollars for the federal government. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, some good news for the nation out of California. Newly elected Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has now signed an executive order placing a moratorium on the state-sanctioned killing of some 737 individuals on the state's death row. Describing the death penalty as "discriminatory" and a "failure" that has resulted in the deaths of "wrongly convicted" people proven innocent, while costing the state billions of dollars, the Governor has now blocked the barbaric planned executions of about one quarter of those slated to be killed by governments across the nation.

"It’s a very emotional place that I stand," Newsom said at a presser today, "This is about who I am as a human being, this is about what I can or cannot do. To me this is the right thing to do." As we discuss, it's not the first time that Newsom, as a public official, has placed doing the right moral thing over what may or may not be politically popular, at the moment, among the electorate.

Back in Washington D.C., Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to an additional 73 months for criminal conspiracy fraud and witness tampering on Wednesday. Some of those months will be served concurrently with the 47 months he was sentenced to last week in a Virginia federal court related to undisclosed lobbying for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. With the partially concurrent sentencing, the 69-year old Manafort now faces nearly seven years in prison.

While none of the 20 or so federal counts in two different courts that Manafort was found guilty of had charged "collusion" with Russia for interference in the 2016 election, his attorney and Donald Trump used the occasion once again to lie about that fact to the American public today. But just minutes after today's new sentencing, Manhattan's District Attorney announced 16 new indictments against Manafort in state court related to mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other crimes for which, if found guilty, the President would be unable to pardon him. Trump's pardon power extends only to federal, not state crimes.

As the madness surrounding our criminal Presidency continues, Democrats in Congress are pushing ahead with a number of progressive policy proposals in advance of 2020 to hopefully help pull the nation out of its current self-imposed morass and rebalance some of the worsening inequities between the wealthy, the poor and the middle class. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Congressman Pete DeFazio (D-OR) have now introduced new legislation that would create a very small, 0.1%, Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) on every stock market transaction. The bill [PDF] --- which already has a number of Democratic cosponsors in the House and Senate, including among Presidential hopefuls --- is estimated to raise as much as $800 billion in much-needed revenue for federal coffers over ten years. As importantly, the measure is designed to ease market volatility by curbing the legalized skimming that takes place by high volume computer traders who purchase trades from normal investors and sell them back to the investors at a higher rate, all within a fraction of a second.

The legislation is supported by some 60 non-partisan good government organizations, including Public Citizen. Attorney SUSAN HARLEY, Deputy Director of the group's Congress Watch division, joins us today to explain this new move toward an FTT that would cost traders one-tenth of a cent per dollar traded. That's $1 for every thousand invested or, as Harley explains, "Ten cents out of every 100 dollars traded. That's why we like to talk about it as rebuilding Main Street on Wall Street's dime."

"We do pay taxes on all of our purchases," she tells me. "so Wall Street should be doing the same as far as these stocks trades, bond trades, and derivative trades. It absolutely is about fairness, about making sure Wall Street is paying back the US because we did bail them out for the financial crash."

She details how the proposal is ultimately a very progressive tax, even as it's very small, because it would largely fall on the wealthy. "We've really got to re-balance our tax code, and unrigging our economy starts with making Wall Street pay its fair share. The top 1% of society owns two thirds of all financial securities."

"We did research on existing fees --- things like commission, overhead costs, broker fees. The Financial Transactions Tax would be only about $80 for the average 401k or retirement saver, versus more than $1000 in existing fees. That's just the average. Some funds have existing fees of more than $2500 dollars. So, it really is a drop in the bucket as compared to the existing commissions and other types of ways that Wall Street is taking it out of the pocket of average investors."

Harley discusses both the legislation's challenges and growing political support on Capitol Hill, where the Trump/GOP 2017 $1.5 trillion tax cut, largely for corporations and the wealthy, has resulted in record trillion dollar annual deficits and a recent budget proposal by Trump to cut more than a trillion dollars from social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. (He had vowed to not cut those programs during his 2016 campaign, while suggesting that Democrats would do so.)

Finally, speaking of progressive policy proposals, the recently introduced Green New Deal is already paying off. Rightwingers have been freaking out about it, and lying about it, but they are also scrambling to respond after realizing its huge popularity among the electorate and how silly they look. Several longtime climate science deniers, including Trump acolyte and accomplice Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), are now taking baby steps by conceding that "climate change is real" and "humans contribute". Soon they may even notice that, according to climate scientists, human activity is actually responsible for 100% of the warming we've seen to date. But, hey, it's a start...

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton on today's House Oversight hearing, revealing evidence from the President's former lawyer, and his damning description of Trump as 'a racist, conman and cheat'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2019 6:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As you may have heard, Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen publicly testified under oath for some 7 hours in the U.S. House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. We're all over it today with special coverage. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the "highlights" were Cohen's detailed allegations --- along with supporting documentation --- revealing that Trump committed felony crimes both before his election and since taking office, including secretly writing checks while President to reimburse Cohen for illicit hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to felony charges related to participating in that felony campaign finance conspiracy, which he says was "directed" by Trump to affect the election by keeping Daniels quiet about the affair she allegedly had with Trump.

Cohen also testified that Trump's son Don, Jr. participated in the conspiracy scheme in the months following the 2017 inauguration. Moreover, Cohen charged that Trump was told in advance by Roger Stone during the campaign that WikiLeaks' planned to release DNC emails said to have been hacked by Russia. He also offered evidence to suggest that Trump was well aware of the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton before it took place. Trump has previously denied both matters.

Cohen is set to soon begin a three-year federal prison sentence for his part in the hush-money conspiracy and for lying to Congress previously about Trump's plans to build a condominium project in Moscow.

In his damning and masterful opening statement [PDF], some of which we share at length today (and which you should read in full if you missed it), Cohen explains how he is seeking redemption and describes the man for whom he worked for ten years, in no uncertain terms, as a "racist, conman and cheat".

We're joined today by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo to discuss what we now know (and still don't), as well and how both Republican and Democratic lawmakers handled the day's astonishing and historic proceedings.

She describes Cohen's testimony as revealing how he "joined Trump's cult of personality and it destroyed him. The rottenness at the center of this cult of personality around Donald Trump was laid out, exposed. And [Cohen] looked in the eye of the Republicans sitting there on that panel who were defending Trump, saying to all these people, 'This will happen to you too. This is what happens if you follow this man.' It was almost a warning to the country [that] there's a rottenness surrounding this man on every level."

Indeed. Our full special coverage follows below...

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Guest: Stephen Schwartz of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists; Also: Criminal charges coming in NC-9's GOP election fraud scandal?; Trump injects himself into the Oscars that tried to ignore him...
By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2019 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, experts are worried about Donald Trump's summit this week with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un. But, given the overall menace to the world that our President represents, are those experts too worried about a deal that could, at least, keep Trump believing that he is "winning"? [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, the (non-nuclear) fallout continues in North Carolina, after the state Board of Elections last week voted unanimously for a new election in the state's 9th Congressional District following a Republican absentee ballot election fraud scandal tainted last November's never-certified 905-vote "victory" margin of Trump-endorsed Republican candidate and preacher Mark Harris over Democrat Dan McCready. State prosecutors on Friday disclosed their intentions to bring the matter --- along with evidence of similar GOP fraud allegedly carried out in the same district back in 2016 --- before a grand jury. It's still unclear who might be charged and for which crimes, given that GOP contractor McCrae Dowless is said to have carried out the scheme paid for by Harris, who also appears to have lied about it all under oath last week on the witness stand during the Board's week-long public hearings on the matter.

After last week's decision to hold a new election, McCready quickly announced his plans to run again, but the disgraced Harris has remained mum. During a press avail at the White House on Friday, after months of not mentioning it, Trump was finally forced to comment on the unprecedented election fraud scandal engulfing the candidate he campaigned for in NC last year. In world salad remarks, he offered a bunch of false, disproved, or otherwise evidence-free claims about supposed "voter fraud" in California, Texas, and Florida last year.

Meanwhile, on Monday morning, the President took off to Vietnam for his second nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Diplomatic, military and atomic experts --- and even senior Administration officials --- have reportedly been expressing concern for what Trump may give away during the upcoming meeting, as the North has only increased its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities following the pair's first meeting last June in Singapore, after which Trump falsely declared: "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea."

Given Trump's 2017 "fire and fury" threats against Kim, however, are experts overly worried about whatever "deal" Trump may try to make with Kim in order to walk away with something he can pretend to be a "win"? In exchange for promises of eventual "denuclearization" or less, they worry Trump, could "give away", among other things, a permanent end to U.S. military exercises in the region; a peace treaty to once and for all end the Armistice struck between the North and South at the end of the Korean War in 1953; or even a promise to bring U.S. troops home from South Korea, where they have been stationed for decades during the long, if tenuous truce in Northeast Asia.

But are those things bad, in and of themselves? And, more to the point, with a U.S. President as wildly unbalanced and unqualified as our current one --- along with the need for "nuclear security triage", given that fact --- should we all just be happy that at least he now believes Kim is his best buddy?

Analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, former publisher and executive director, now Senior Fellow at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists --- keepers of the so-called "Doomsday Clock" --- joins us to offer his insight and perspective on all of this in advance of this week's summit where, as I argue a bit today, a bad deal for the U.S. may be better than no deal, given the greater danger that Trump, with his finger on the nuclear button, presents to the world.

"In general, it's almost always a good thing when world leaders who are not seeing eye-to-eye on issues are talking rather than not talking, or arguing with each over Twitter, or setting up military confrontations up to and including war," Schwartz, who is also former editor of the Nonproliferation Review at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, tells me. "With Donald Trump, however, you can't really be sure, because he's very much a captive of the last person that he spoke with and tends to take their perspective. He's also pretty mercurial. He can turn on a dime and he's desperate for attention, desperate for a win, and therefore that makes it more likely he will try to strike some sort of deal that allows him, at least on the face, to come out of this looking like he accomplished something. And that could be problematic."

He goes on to explain why he believes "Kim Jong Un has Trump right where he wants him;" charges that Trump "in this instance, is both the arsonist and the fireman," having "inflamed an already tense situation with North Korea and made it much worse;" but seems to agree with my general theory that a placated Trump results in an ultimately safer world --- at least during the short term while he's still in office.

Schwartz also responds to Trump's repeated insistence that the U.S. would be at war with North Korea by now, had Hillary Clinton been elected in 2016 ("No, in a word," he tells me), and also comments on Trump's "very foolish and counter-productive" recent decision to withdraw from the otherwise successful, decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, struck by Ronald Reagan with Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s, and much more.

Finally, before leaving for Hanoi, Trump found time to tweet in response to Sunday night's Academy Awards Ceremony in Hollywood, where director Spike Lee won his long-overdue first Oscar for the screenplay of the remarkably timely BlacKkKlansman. Even though Lee never mentioned him by name during his acceptance speech citing 400 years since slavery began in America, our racist President found a way to inject himself into the proceedings by tweeting out today that Lee, a descent of slaves, was actually "racist". We close by discussing both that and a few of the must-see films that got robbed by the Academy this year...

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Guest: Former Dep. Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs; Also: Trump fails SOTU 'unity' vow; Inaugural Comm. slapped with federal subpoena...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2019 5:49pm PT  

So, a 30-year old, landmark nuclear arms agreement between the U.S. and Russia is now history. Just like that. And, beyond a few short hours of media coverage, it now seems all but forgotten. No big deal at all. Our guest on today's BradCast, however, strongly disagrees. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary.]

But first, a few quick items to kick off the show, including...

  • The Trump Administration vows that Tuesday night's State of the Union address will be a call for unity and bipartisan cooperation, before the Second Stupidest Man on the Internet (yes, Trump) attacks Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for not winning enough seats in last year's midterm elections;
  • And federal prosecutors in New York file a subpoena seeking a massive amount of documents from Trump's 2017 Inauguration Committee, looking at virtually every aspect of the record $107 million raised, whether any of it unlawfully came from foreign sources, whether anything was unlawfully offered in exchange for donations, whether even more more was unlawfully paid directly by donors to vendors (and thus, unlawfully undisclosed to the FEC), and where all of that money (legalized bribes, in fact, a disgrace for all modern Presidents) actually went. It all amounts to more seemingly criminal chaos from anything Trump touches, from his inaugural committee, to the Trump Organization (his main private company), to the Trump Foundation (his phony, self-dealing slush-fund and "charity"), to Trump University (his fraudulent scam that settled several cases for $25 million just before he took office), to the Trump Campaign (facing myriad criminal probes and several convictions, guilty pleas and indictments), to the Trump Administration and everyone involved in it --- all being investigated by multiple state and federal probes at this point, at the very same time.

Then, we're joined by former Deputy Assistant Sec. of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs under President Obama, MICHAEL FUCHS, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, to discuss the Trump Administration's announced withdrawal over the weekend from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement struck between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The historic pact had been the first to ban an entire class of nuclear weapons, ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles.

With the Administration charging that Russia was in violation of the accord (which Fuchs confirms), Trump simply announced the U.S. pull-out, which was answered almost immediately by Russian President Vladimir Putin's own declaration in response that his country would now do the same. In the bargain, Fuchs explains, the U.S. has lost its ability under the agreement to inspect hundreds of nuclear missile sites and other weapons facilities.

What did we gain in return? Well, pretty much nothing, says Fuchs, who calls this "a very big deal", joining me in astonishment that coverage of this historic move to end such an important anti-nuclear proliferation treaty has all but disappeared from the corporate media within hours amidst continuing Trump-induced chaos. "In the age of Trump, nuclear weapons, climate change, things that could potentially end life on earth as we know it only merit fifteen minutes in the news cycle," Fuchs notes.

He goes on to detail what has been lost with the dissolution of "perhaps one of the biggest agreements ever reached as far as reducing the potential threat of nuclear weapons destroying us" and whether Trump's claims that this is all necessary to stand up against a supposedly growing military menace from China is actually true. We also discuss the real reasons that this "gift to Vladimir Putin" seems to have come about, how Trump's dangerous National Security Advisor John Bolton appears to oppose any and all international accords that tie the hands of the U.S. in any way, shape or form, and whether Trump's planned second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can possibly bear any realistic denuclearization fruit --- particularly on the heels of Trump again sending the message to the world that treaties between the U.S. and other nations are meant to be broken at the whim of an angry, brain-addled, and clueless President of the United States.

"The major problem here with throwing out this treaty is that, it is equivalent to basically throwing the baby out with the bathwater," Fuchs tells me. "Right now Russia is violating this treaty in a specific way, but a lot of the benefits of the treaty are still intact. Which includes the ability of the United States to actually conduct inspections and do verification of a number of different aspects of Russia's compliance with the treaty. By taking ourselves out of treaty, we are taking away our ability to inspect the other things that the Russians are doing here. And not only does that allow Russia to potentially start violating it even more, posing more danger to the United States, but it's giving a giant gift to Vladimir Putin."

Finally, Desi Doyen returns to "cheer us all up" with the latest Green News Report on hellish global warming-related nightmares from Australia to the U.S. to Antarctica; the oil lobbyist now nominated to be the next Interior Secretary; and the Administration's imminent plans to bulldoze the National Butterfly Center wildlife refuge to make way for a new border wall on the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas...

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Guest: Meteorologist Guy Walton on the polar vortex and the 'sinking fossil-fuel Titanic'; Also: Trump's own intel chiefs say he's wrong...about pretty much everything; And a new, game-changing e-cig study...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2019 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Baby, it's COLD outside in much of the Midwest and Northeast. Record cold, in fact, with wind chills dipping near an unfathomable 60 degrees below zero in some parts of the country, as discussed with --- and explained by --- our guest today. [Audio link to full show posted below.]

But, first up: Donald Trump's own top intelligence chiefs --- the FBI and CIA Directors as well as his Director of National Intelligence and others --- all directly contradicted the Commander-in-Chief on matters of foreign affairs this week, from the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, to the continuing threat from ISIS in Syria and Iraq, to the cybersecurity threat to elections posted by China and Russia, and to the lack of nuclear threat from Iran or at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Testifying before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, the intel heads --- appointed by Trump himself (not so-called "Deep State Obama Democrats") --- expanded on their newly published annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" [PDF]. As it turns out, neither the new report nor the officials themselves cite border concerns as any sort of danger to the nation, despite Trump's persistent and unsupported claims to the contrary and his threat to declare a "National Emergency" if he's not given $5.7 billion for his southern border wall before the Continuing Resolution for government funding runs out, once again, on February 15. Today, in response, Trump mocked his own intel staff as "naive".

The testimony from Trump's own intel chiefs is likely to be used against the President in court, should he declare that "emergency", according to U.S. House Intel Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA). But, as Democratic Committee member Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), points out, House Republicans have yet to actually appoint their members to either that Committee or three others (on Climate Change, Ethics or House Administration, which handles election challenges, such as the one in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, where the House seat is still empty due to a GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal.) Those committees may not proceed with virtually any business until House Republicans appoint their members and end the purposeful slow-walking.

After that warm up, it's on to the sub-freezing temps that have kept even the U.S. Post Office from completing their appointed rounds in a number of states. Of course, the big chill has led the Fox "News" clowns and climate change Denier-in-Chief to have a grand old time avoiding the actual scientific explanation for the bone-numbing depression in the Polar Vortex which, yes, is tied to global warming.

We're joined today by "Climate Guy" GUY WALTON, a 30-year Weather Channel veteran meteorologist, for some actual science on what's going on. Walton pens a daily "Extreme Temperature Diary" and is co-author, with Nick Walker, of the new (joyfully snarky) children's book and climate primer World of Thermo: Thermometer Rising.

Walton explains why and how global weather patterns have changed in recent years to bring bitter cold snaps like the one experienced this week in parts of the U.S., even as the rest of the globe --- like Australia, where temps have neared 120 degrees Fahrenheit and touched off record bush fires in recent days --- continues to suffer from record heat, thanks to anthropomorphic Global Warming. This "Age of Weather Extremes" is precisely in line with what climate scientists have long predicted.

"Right now, as far as global warming goes, we're having a lot of warmth from the sub-tropics moving northward over the polar areas, where, prior to, say, the 1970s, we hadn't been seeing that as much," he tells me. "What we had in the past, when we had Arctic outbreaks in the 70s and 80s, we had a larger, colder Polar Vortex encompassing the Northern Hemisphere. Now we have a warmer Polar Vortex which is not quite as large, and it's having a tendency to pinch off pieces...when they do pinch off, they're quite cold, and you can get cold air, colder than what you have right now at the North Pole, sitting right over say, Chicago or Detroit."

As to Trump's recent tweet making light of "Global Waming [sic]" amidst the Arctic blast, Walton argues: "A lot of this is out of greed, and to perhaps make more money through the fossil fuel industry. And to some extent, it's just denial, in that they know deep down the Titanic is sinking, they're just not wanting to admit that the ship's going to go under the water, so to speak."

Finally, some encouraging news today from the world of science, which we could have told you about (and, in fact, did!) years ago. A new "seminal study" finds that e-cigs or vaping is more than twice as likely to lead smokers to kick the habit than the use of Big Pharma-approved nicotine delivery systems such as patches and gums. While that may be bad news for Big Pharma's billion dollar nicotine industry, it's good news for the world which sees more than 6 million die annually thanks to tobacco, including nearly half a million alone here in the U.S. Now, if someone would just inform the Democrats in Congress and around the U.S. who are working to make it harder, not easier, for people to quit smoking and dying by moving to vaping, it would be VERY much appreciated...

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Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler: Also: SCOTUS allows Trump's cruel trans ban to proceed, makes no moves (yet) on DACA...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2019 6:29pm PT  

We pick up on today's BradCast, somewhat near where we left off on Friday, following BuzzFeed News' blockbuster report charging that Donald Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators in order to obscure their work on a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow even as Americans were voting during the 2016 Presidential election. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

The explosive reported allegations that the President of the United States had suborned perjury led to calls on Friday for Trump's impeachment, only to be dampened by a very rare --- and very carefully worded --- response from Robert Mueller's office, disputing "Buzzfeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's office" and the "characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office."

My guest today, legal and national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel, says those words were carefully selected by Mueller's office and for a very specific reason. Given all the confusion following both the report and Mueller's unusual statement late last week --- not to mention conflicting remarks from Trump's TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the weekend --- Wheeler helps us try to make sense of what is now known and unknown on all of this, why Mueller's office chose to speak out in response to it, and whether or not he was encouraged to do so directly by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, the White House or someone else on Trump's legal team.

"Buzzfeed offered some particular details that match exactly with details that Mueller has offered," Wheeler explains, while noting that the news outlet "made a news claim that Trump had ordered this lie. What Mueller is pushing back against is a legal claim." She tells me how the two interests are different, even as they may be describing much of the same events and documentation.

Moreover, she argues, "there's abundant evidence that Trump has ordered people to lie, and that subsequent to his orders to tell lies, his people have continued to tell those lies...and that's illegal. That should be a no-brainer and the press needs to start telling that story."

Wheeler, who has long been covering all things related to the Trump/Russia probe as close --- or closer --- than virtually anybody in the nation, offers much insight today on all of the above, including details on Buzzfeed's sourcing for their report (which they continue to stand by "100%"), based on information from two unnamed "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter," as well as "multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

Also today, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 vote, allows Trump's ban on transgender members of the military to move forward, even as ongoing cases in several lower courts have blocked his cruel directive, and even as at least one legal obstacle remains.

In slightly more encouraging --- and certainly less cruel --- news from SCOTUS today, despite pleas from the Administration the Court made no announcement of plans to hear argument on any of the many ongoing lower court cases challenging Trump's reversal of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Obama's DACA order was meant to help prevent the deportation of more than a million undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents as children many years ago. Should the Court decide to hear one of the cases, it would now most likely not happen until the session that begins in October, with an opinion coming months later. Temporary protection under DACA for so-called "Dreamers" was used over the weekend as an attempted bargaining chip by Trump, as part of an offer to Democrats in exchange for the $5.7 billion he has demanded for a border wall, leading to the longest (and still ongoing) federal government shutdown in U.S. history.

And, finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the tragic pipeline explosion in Mexico over the weekend, toxic coal ash groundwater contamination discovered in 22 states, and how the government shutdown is setting the table for a dangerous wildfire season, even as its temporarily protecting aquatic wildlife from seismic testing during offshore drilling exploration in the Atlantic...

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

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