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VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
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We have a very serious warning for voters about elections and American democracy and the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court on today's BradCast. Please tune in and listen! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
To quickly summarize my half-hour or so long rant at the top of today show...On Thursday, as discussed on our previous show with legal expert Mark Joseph Stern, the corrupt, radical, illegitimate, not-conservative-in-the-least U.S. Supreme Court used a made-up, phony legal doctrine --- the "Major Questions" doctrine --- to justify gutting the Environmental Protection Agency's statutory mandate to protect the environment by regulating climate warming carbon emissions. The so-called doctrine, not found anywhere in the Constitution or historic case law, was made up for use by the Court's rightwing extremists. They are now about to do something very similar in order to gut federal elections and American democracy as we know it in advance of the 2024 Presidential election.
In their last order of business, before the end of this past year's term on Thursday, the Court announced that next term they would take up the North Carolina case of Moore v. Harper. The case involves a voter challenge to the state GOP's newly-drawn U.S. House maps. The NC state Supreme Court agreed the map was an unlawful gerrymander under the state constitution and drew up a fairer map. But North Carolina Republicans sued, charging that state Supreme Court was not allowed, according to the U.S. Constitution, to nix the GOP gerrymander due to the so-called "Independent State Legislature" theory. In short, it's a made up "doctrine" --- not unlike the "Major Questions" doctrine used to justify gutting the EPA --- that has been pushed for a number of years by fringe Republicans.
The ISL doctrine cites some lines from the U.S. Constitution to argue that state legislatures and only state legislatures --- not Boards of Elections or Secretaries of State or Governors or even state courts or Constitutions or popular ballot initiatives adopted by voters --- may dictate how federal elections are run. That is a job solely granted to state legislatures, according to this previously-fringe theory.
It was one of the failed arguments under which Donald Trump supporters tried to claim that emergency pandemic voting rules adopted by state officials (other than the state legislature) were unlawful in 2020. It was also one of the arguments pushed by rightwingers that state legislatures could have simply voted to name Trump electors in states where the voters actually chose Joe Biden's electors.
The "Independent State Legislature" doctrine has never been granted legitimacy by a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court. But, earlier this year, four of the Court's six radical Republicans --- Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh --- called for the Court to examine the issue more closely. They now need just one more vote to recognize this controversial Constitutional claim as "legitimate", which is why so many in the election law world are freaking out today after SCOTUS announced yesterday that they will hear 'Moore v. Harper' next term.
Usually, quite staid UC Irvine law professor Rick Hasen's argues "It's hard to overstate the danger" of this case. Vox's Ian Millhiser describes the "grave threat to US democracy" it presents. You --- and elected Democrats(!) --- should be freaking out at this point as well. Or, at least, understanding what is about to happen to what is left of our representative "democracy" if this switch gets thrown by the newly emboldened and radicalized Court.
Given the many radical, not-conservative-in-least rulings over the past several weeks by the six far-right extremists on this stolen and packed Court --- overturning Roe v. Wade, blocking the ability for states to well-regulate firearms, eroding the separation of church and state, all but gutting Miranda rights, further gutting the Voting Rights Act, and torching the EPA's ability to regulate deadly carbon pollution --- we should all be very concerned about what this Court is likely to do regarding Moore in 2023...in advance of the 2024 Presidential election.
We put the case in full context on today's BradCast, and detail why its so important to elect enough Democrats this November --- love them or hate them --- to hold the majority in the House and add enough Democrats to the Senate to finally reform or end the filibuster in order to codify Roe and respond to many of the other matters mentioned above, as well as finally expand SCOTUS to re-legitimize the de-legitimized Trump/McConnell/Roberts Court before they unleash every manner of electoral chaos --- and outright "legalized" stolen elections --- in advance of 2024.
PLEASE. PAY. ATTENTION. TO. THIS. CASE!
Beyond that red flag warning at the top of today's show, and before standing down for a few much-needed days off next week, we also catch up on several other news items of note that we've had to put off over the past week or so due to Congressional hearings, primary elections, and wholly corrupt Supreme Court opinions. Among them...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast: It was the grand finale at the end of a U.S. Supreme Court term like no other. Now that its packed with rightwing extremists, the unleashed activists on the GOP's illegitimate 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court pretended on Thursday that the text of the written law doesn't say what it actually says, in order to offer a parting gift for the year to the fossil fuel industry --- as the nation and globe burn.
The Clean Air Act, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote [PDF] on behalf of the three dissenters, "directs the EPA to regulate stationary sources of any substance that 'causes, or contributes significantly to, air pollution' and that 'may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.'" She made clear that, as the Court has determined on multiple occasions, the Environmental Protection Agency "serves as the Nation's 'primary regulator of greenhouse gas emissions.'"
But, never mind all of that. On Thursday, writing for the Court's far-right majority in West Virginia v. EPA --- and ignoring its own precedents --- Chief Justice John Roberts pretended none of those mandates existed in the law adopted by Congress in 1963 and amended a number of times over the years. Despite any actual existing Administrative rule to regulate carbon emissions by coal and gas-fired power plants --- Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan was put on hold by the Court years ago, and Donald Trump's scheme to restrict the EPA's power to do so was rejected by lower courts --- SCOTUS took up this coal-industry sponsored law suit and gave them pretty much everything they sought, text of the written law be damned.
As they did when striking down the Administration's vaccine-or-test mandate, the Court once again invoked their newly invented "Major Questions" doctrine in order to declare that any issue that may be controversial in any way may not be decided by the scientists and experts at the federal agencies created to handle such things. Instead, they must be specifically directed, by Congress, to do so. Because the Clean Air Act, which tasks the EPA with regulating dangerous pollutants --- such as carbon released by coal-fired power plants, currently exacerbating our deadly climate crisis --- doesn't actually cite "carbon" specifically, the Trump/McConnell/Roberts Court has now declared the federal agency may take no action to help reduce it. Never mind their own previous findings and, of course, the number of Americans who will die because of this ruling.
The opinion was as predictable as it is corrupt. We're joined today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist and Constitutional law expert at Slate, to discuss the opinion that will not only limit the EPA from doing the job it has already been tasked with by Congress, but prevent many other federal agencies from carrying out their mandates as well. It's all part of the corporate rightwing's long "war on the Administrative State". And it's a war they are now winning --- and we are all losing.
"Massachusetts v. EPA held that the federal government must --- not can, but must --- regulate and limit carbon emissions in the United States because carbon is a pollutant under the Clean Air Act, and thus the EPA has a legal obligation to institute guidelines that reduce the level of greenhouse gases the US is emitting," Stern emphasizes, noting that today's opinion in West Virginia v. EPA "involves a regulation that does not exist."
Nonetheless, "the Supreme Court decided to take it up just to stop Joe Biden from trying" to regulate the greenhouse emissions now warming our planet at an alarming rate. "The Supreme Court," Stern adds, "decided to simply slap limitations on [the Clean Air Act] that do not exist in the text because they do not like it as a matter of policy."
As to the so-called "Major Questions" doctrine, argues Stern, "It's hard to define, because it is made up." It's not in the Constitution and, as far as he can tell, "it comes from Brett Kavanaugh's brain. This was his idea when he was on the lower court, to try to smuggle in a kind of anti-regulatory agenda into what looks like statutory interpretation."
"The basic idea is that if an agency tries to take some kind of very consequential action, that has a serious and vast impact on the people, or the economy, or private industry, then that is a 'major question', and the Congress has to give the Agency an extremely granular and explicit permission slip to do what it wants to do, otherwise the courts will block it. The problem with this test that should be clear, is that it is totally subjective. What looks like a major question to you may look like a frivolous question to me, and it really shifts policy-making over to unelected judges from experts in federal agencies."
Of course, this is just one of the many reasons I don't refer to these people as "conservatives". They don't merely interpret the law and the Constitution, as they claim. They make shit up to justify their politics. They are the "activists legislating from the bench" that Republicans pretend to oppose --- when they are trying to block Democratic appointees from positions on the bench.
There is much more today from the wise and colorful Mr. Stern, on this matter; on a separate (largely good news) ruling from the Court today on immigration policy; on the Court's opinion last week that begins to gut the famous Miranda Rights (the right to remain silent, to an attorney, etc.) for people who are detained by law enforcement (a "sleeper case" overlooked because it came on the same day that the Court overturned Roe v. Wade); on what will or can happen once the illegitimacy of this Court becomes clear to all; and on Justice Stephen Breyer's last day on the Court today before Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as its first-ever black female jurist.
As if that's not enough, a ruling this week by SCOTUS overturned a lower federal court that found Louisiana's newly gerrymandered Congressional District map to be an unconstitutional violation of the Voting Rights Act. The lower court ordered another black majority District to be created, as state Republicans had only one among six, in a state where one-third of population is black. The ruling was similar to another in Alabama, which SCOTUS also struck down recently, ordering both states to use the gerrymandered and unconstitutional House maps drawn by Republicans for this year's critical 2022 midterm elections.
Does this signal the Court intends to overturn the entirety of the landmark Voting Rights Act, as they did with Roe? "Yes," Stern answers, before explaining how "really, they've already done it."
And then there's the new case that SCOTUS announced today they will take up in their next term, as their destruction continues. It's an election case out of North Carolina to allow the Court to create another pretend legal notion that the Right calls the "Independent State Legislature" Doctrine.
"I am terrified about this case," Stern says, as it will almost certainly be decided to allow "state legislatures to appoint electors in the Electoral College to the losing candidate in a Presidential race. Which is exactly what Donald Trump wanted them to do in 2020, and what Ginni Thomas was urging legislators to do while her husband was trying to institute this theory."
"The American people are in deep, deep, DEEP trouble," he warns.
Please "enjoy" today's program!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Rightwing U.S. Supreme Court strikes major blow to EPA's ability to regulate carbon emissions; Residential natural gas stoves leak carcinogens, even when off, study finds; PLUS: Clean energy jobs are booming! Fossil fuel jobs not so much... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Supreme Court limits historic McGirt ruling; John Oliver on water, drought in the West; Utilities eye electric transition; Environmental groups sue Biden Administration for resuming oil and gas lease sales; Coca-Cola among brands greenwashing over plastic packaging; Shrimp aquaculture is causing a huge problem; Biden aims at China in new illegal fishing policy framework; Court kills Flint water charges against ex-governor, others; EU countries reach climate-crisis deal; NATO moves to tackle military greenhouse gas emissions even while girding against Russia... PLUS: The Green Revolution sweeping Sweden... and much, MUCH more! ...
Please pardon the whiplash on today's BradCast, from our special coverage of the blockbuster J6 hearing in the U.S. House yesterday to coverage of election results in eight states today, and what they both may mean for November. But that's our world right now. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary below.]
Critical midterm primary elections (and runoffs), and one Special Election for the U.S. House were held on Tuesday in Illinois, Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah, New York, Mississippi, South Carolina and Nebraska.
We've learned of a few reported problems for voters at the poll yesterday in several of those states (IL, MS, UT, NY) which we cover first today. Thankfully, they were fairly limited --- at least so far --- and not terribly egregious.
Then it's on to our curated and wholly incomplete coverage of noteworthy races in a number of those states, some of which may be quite telling regarding November and the so-called "Conventional Wisdom" that Democrats are due for a drubbing. That's what history tells us, of course, about the party in power for midterm elections during the first term of an unpopular President. But, given these exceedingly unconventional times, it'd be a sucker's bet and political malpractice --- for Democrats and democracy itself --- to simply presume history will repeat itself this fall.
Among the many results of note covered today: losses for 2020 election deniers and alleged criminals (like Tina Peters, the indicted County Clerk in Mesa County who lost her GOP primary for Sec. of State bigly, even in her own home county) in CO; losses for corrupt climate change deniers and disgraced former Trump officials (like his scandal-plagued EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt who came in fifth in a GOP primary for the U.S. Senate) in OK; both wins and losses for loyalist Trumpers and anti-choice zealots in IL and CO (with Dems hoping they'd win their GOP nominations, because they'd be easier to defeat in November); a crushing, if satisfying loss for Rudy Giuliani's son in NY; victories and losses for progressive candidates in several states; And, perhaps most notably today, some telling results from the one D vs. R race on Tuesday, a U.S. House Special Election in NE.
As expected, the Democrat lost that special U.S. House race in NE in an exceedingly Republican district in which the GOP candidate won by 22 points in 2020. But on Tuesday, the Republican won by just over 5 points. More interestingly, in the one Democratic-leaning County in the District held by Republicans since 1964, support for the Democrat spiked from +1 in 2020 to +13 on Tuesday, in the first head-to-head election between the two parties since 'Roe v. Wade' was struck down by the radical rightwing U.S. Supreme Court on Friday. Hopefully, Democrats have taken notice.
There are many mitigating factors that could result in this year's midterms defying history and expert predictions. That doesn't mean they will, but they certainly could, particularly if Democrats figure out how to appropriately activate both their base and those who are furious about SCOTUS stripping away a Constitutionally-protected individual right for the first time in our nation's history.
Initial polling in the wake of Roe's demise find the SCOTUS opinion to be exceedingly unpopular with Democrats, of course, but also with independent voters and even a fairly large chunk of Republicans. We take a look at some of those very interesting tea leaves on today's program and what they could mean for November.
Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, in advance of what is probably very bad news indeed for both the climate and the EPA coming from our corrupt Supreme Court tomorrow! But, for today, we've got news about what sparked New Mexico's largest-ever wildfire; Japan's electric grid facing stress under historic record heat; a new leftist climate hawk President for Colombia; and much more....
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
There was one bombshell after another during Tuesday's "surprise" Day 6 hearing by the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating Donald Trump's January 6, 2021 insurrection and his many attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election. We cover as many of those bombshells as possible on today's BradCast Special Coverage. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
From the then President of the United States trying to commandeer the steering wheel of the Presidential limo ("The Beast") to force the driver to take him to the Capitol on 1/6, to his attempt to choke the top member of his Secret Service detail in the car, to smashing ketchup-drenched china plates against the wall of the Oval Office dining room when his Attorney General told AP there was no evidence of fraud in the 2020 election, to Rudy Giuliani and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows seeking pardons for their failed roles in helping Trump prevent the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in U.S. history.
Those were just some of the bombshells delivered during Tuesday's remarkable testimony by 25-year old White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as Meadow's top deputy before, during and after the January 6 insurrection. She, apparently, was everywhere that he was. Her office was just feet from the Oval Office. She was even next to Trump just moments before he gave his infamous "fight like hell" speech on the Ellipse in front of the White House on Insurrection Day, as his supporters bearing AR-15s were climbing trees and scaring the hell out of the Secret Service.
There was more from both Hutchinson and the House Committee today, including evidence that Trump and Meadows seemed to be hoping for violence that day and did nothing to stop it as the deadly insurrection unfolded and as his Cabinet members were considering invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
And then there were the teasers...for future hearings...regarding mafioso-like messages delivered to witnesses testifying before the House Select Committee...
From one witness: "What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I'm on the team, I'm doing the right thing, I'm protecting who I need to protect, you know, I'll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World. And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just to keep that in mind as I proceeded through my depositions and interviews with the committee."
A message to a witness: "[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he's thinking about you. He knows you're loyal, and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition."
Who were the witnesses in question? Who was the goon attempting to tamper and intimidate them? Both matters would be federal crimes. Those questions will, presumably, be revealed in future hearings.
Lots to cover in today's special coverage, whether you saw the mind-blowing Day 6 hearing or not, which seem to be freaking out Trump World now. I hope you'll tune in for smart insight and analysis from our guests today, Salon and Hullaballoo's HEATHER DIGBY PARTON and Crooks and Liars' JOHN AMATO. (And some, even from me who, as Parton vouches, explained to her the likelihood of Hutchinson becoming a superstar witness in these hearings weeks ago, before the public hearings even began. Just sayin'.)
Notes Amato, who monitors Fox "News" closely for coverage at his blog: "Today was the first day of testimony that broke through their veil." He quotes Fox anchor Brett Baier observing, "I've been around politics a long time, and this was, first-hand, the most riveting, powerful testimony from anything I've ever seen since Watergate."
"I think she was incredible," Parton says regarding Hutchinson. "This testimony shook up the complacency that these hearings were really not going to end up doing much of anything. All you have to do is look up Trump's reaction. He's having a complete and total hissy fit over this, so you can tell he's concerned. What she ended up doing was giving this inside view that everyone's been waiting to get. Not just what he was doing, not just on January 6th, but in the days ahead. And Mark Meadows and what he was doing."
"That is super-important to proving the case. In my view, I think we're coming to is a case of seditious conspiracy, involving not just the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, but also Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani and ultimately Donald Trump," she tells us...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: New Mexico's largest-ever wildfire was caused by a prescribed burn; Japan's electric grid strains under historic extreme heat wave; Colombia's new president is a leftist climate hawk; PLUS: Extreme weather disasters have affected most Americans, and many suffer long-term financial problems... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Simultaneous heat waves around the world push people and nations 'to the edge'; Germany, Italy push G7 into watering down pledge to end overseas gas finance; U.N. chief declares 'ocean emergency'; LNG explosion shines light on 42-year-old gas rules; Historic wildfires rage across Alaska; Energy security brings conservatives to renewables... PLUS: Tesla partners with California utility on virtual power plant... and much, MUCH more! ...
Before we get to a bunch of callers on today's BradCast, responding to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey by our corrupt, extremist, activist, rightwing Republican Supreme Court majority, a few news items. [Audio link to full show follows this summary...]
And with that and a few other points of related note, we open the phones to listeners on what comes next, how the nation must respond, and which long-established Constitutional rights this illegitimate Court is likely to strike down next.
While callers may offer some other notes, I'm happy to offer the reminder that the solution still remains voting and organizing, along with the reminder that had Hillary Clinton received 2 votes that otherwise went to Donald Trump in 2016 in each precinct in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, we'd not be in the authoritarian mess we're facing now. Moreover, as political scientist Rachel Bitcofer observed following the Court's ruling on Friday, a Supreme Court with Clinton's nominees on board, rather than the three Trump nominees packed onto the Court by Republicans, likely means that gerrymandering would have been blocked by now, and Citizens United might have been overturned...just two name a couple things we missed out on because too many decided to stay home or vote for Trump in 2016. "We can't continue to hurt ourselves by not voting," she correctly concludes.
Enjoy our lively callers today on all of that and much more...
On a dark and historic day in America (and, apparently, on The BradCast), I offer a few thoughts on how unelected, radical, extremist, activists Justices (who are not "conservative" by any stretch of the imagination, please stop calling them that), who have been packed onto a stolen U.S. Supreme Court majority have only just begun the corrupt work for which their lifetime seats on the High Court were purchased. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
On Thursday, the illegitimate Republican majority simply ignored the written text of the 2nd Amendment's mandate to "well regulate" the right to bear arms by cancelling [PDF] New York's century-old law limiting the concealed carrying of weapons in public, robbing elected state officials of their right to protect their citizenry from gun violence.
Then, on Friday, after declaring in their gun ruling that officials elected by the voters have no right to well regulate firearms, the same corrupt Justices cancelled [PDF] a half century of well-established Constitutional rights to personal privacy and reproductive freedom. The rightwing Court extremists declared that states and, indeed, the federal government, do have the right to force women to bear the child of their rapist --- even as the product of incest or sex trafficking.
In overturning 1973's Roe v. Wade (the landmark 7 to 2 majority opinion written by a non-corrupt Republican-appointed Justice), Sam Alito echoed Clarence Thomas' gun ruling one day earlier by pretending that any specific rights not in existence 233 years ago, when the Bill of Rights was written, lacks the "historical tradition" to be considered a Constitutionally-protected right. (Never mind that whole "well regulated" mandate of the 2nd Amendment which is, as it turns out, literally in the Bill of Rights.)
Neither Thomas' newly divined "historical tradition" requirement for Constitutional rights or Alito's "historical understanding of ordered liberty", are made up out of whole cloth. The concept appears nowhere in the Constitution, which actual, if uncorrupted, conservative legal experts know very well.
As horrible as all of this is, it will only get worse until the corrupt Court is unpacked and expanded to reflect the actual will of the American electorate. The Court's rulings on abortion and on gun safety are opposed by huge, bipartisan majorities.
In a separate opinion on Roe, Thomas --- arguably the Court's most corrupt Justice --- called for the Court to cancel other long-standing Constitutional rights established under the same 14th Amendment privacy rights which the Court has now dismantled in cancelling Roe. "We have a duty to 'correct the error'" by reversing the landmark opinions that established Constitutional rights to contraception, same-sex intimacy and marriage...though not inter-racial marriage for reasons that the inter-racially married Thomas failed to explain.
We share both President Biden and House Speaker Pelosi's responses to today's historically corrupt ruling, as they vow that the fight for Constitutional freedoms is not over and call on Americans to make their voices heard in response this November.
"Today the Supreme Court of the United States expressly took away a Constitutional right from the American people that it had already recognized," the President said. "They didn't limit it, they simply took it away. That's never been done to a right so important to so many Americans. But they did it."
"This fall," he later emphasized, "Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality --- they're all on the ballot."
They are indeed.
After plenty more on all of the above, we conclude today with our latest Green News Report, most topics of which are also on the ballot this November. Please prepare your voting plans now...
Yes, we heard him correctly! Rep. Bennie Thompson, Chair of the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection, opened today's 5th day of public hearings by noting that Donald Trump tried to "steal" the 2020 election! Finally, as noted on today's BradCast Special Coverage, we're getting somewhere! Let's see if the rest of the media is still as allergic to using the correct word for the crime that Trump and his supporters hoped to pull off! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Before we get to our Special Coverage today, we've got a few too-brief words on today's unelected, rogue, corrupt, stolen and packed 6 to 3 Republican US Supreme Court majority undermining states' rights to "well-regulate" the carrying of firearms in public in their own states, and undercutting Miranda rights for those detained by law enforcement.
Then, it's on to another harrowing day of the House J6 Committee's gripping hearings, detailing Trump's unrelenting and virtually psychotic attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election from the American people. Today's hearing focused on his failed attempt to decapitate the remaining leadership at the U.S. Department of Justice after his own Attorney General Bill Barr resigned in response to the loser Trump's repeated and knowingly false claims that Joe Biden only defeated him thanks to massive, if apparently evidence-free, fraud.
The DoJ scheme involved replacing Trump's Acting Attorney General with a low-level apparatchik named Jeffrey Clark who agreed to do Trump's bidding. The plot came within a hair's breadth of overthrowing the entire American government. It was only the promise of hundreds of top DoJ officials resigning en masse that ultimately forced Trump to relent.
Three of those top officials, former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, his acting Deputy AG Richard Donoghue, and former Asst. AG in charge of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), Steve Engel, testified live on Thursday under questioning by Illinois' Republican Rep. Adam Kinziger, who detailed just "how close we came to losing it all."
The panel laid out in detail how the DoJ (as well as DHS and DoD) were relentlessly directed by Trump, over and again, to investigate every absurd, easily-debunked conspiracy theory dredged up by rightwing MAGA Internet clowns. From false claims about Dominion voting systems to false claims about truckloads of shredded ballots to false claims about Italian military satellites and Chinese-made smart thermostats flipping votes from Trump to Biden.
Nevertheless, Trump's apparatchik Clark was willing to do Trump's bidding. He drafted a letter to send to swing-state legislatures falsely instructing them that the Department had found massive fraud that would change the results of the elections, directing their state legislatures to reconvene to choose electors for Trump instead of Biden. Rosen and Donoghue, to their credit, testified that they refused to sign the bogus letter, and then detailed how Trump schemed to fire Rosen and replace him with Clark, who had never even tried a criminal case, as the DoJ's chief. It all culminated in the infamous, hours-long, January 3rd, 2021, Celebrity Apprentice-style Oval Office showdown where both Rosen and Clark made their cases. Rosen's was backed up by the entire leadership at DoJ (as well as White House Counsel), who vowed to leave if Trump pulled the trigger and fired Rosen. That would have resulted in an unprecedented Constitutional crisis just days before the joint session of Congress to confirm Biden's victory.
And, after all of that, Kinzinger noted at the end of today's hearing, Trump still went out to his rally on the Ellipse on January 6th and repeated all of the long-ago debunked claims of fraud, inciting the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Today's hearing began just moments after CNN reported that Clark's home had been raided by the FBI before dawn on Wednesday. So, it would seem, the current Dept. of Justice is actually on the case.
We're delighted to be joined today by two fantastic guests, one of whom is a former DoJ Attorney with a great deal of insight into DoJ procedures and the harrowing testimony offered today. LISA GRAVES, who is now Executive Director of the research firm True North Research, served as Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Dept during the Clinton Administration and into the peaceful transition to George W Bush's Administration. She then became Chief Counsel for nominations in the U.S. Senate and a Deputy Chief for the US Court system. HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, our anchor guest during all of the hearings to date, is the beloved proprietor of her long-running Hullabaloo blog and an award-winning contributor at Salon.
Graves is a font of insight regarding the way the DoJ is supposed to work and just how wildly dysfunctional, inappropriate --- and most likely criminal --- the actions of both Trump and Clark were during the disgraced former President's final days attempting to cling to power.
Clark, she argues, "is a man who was willing to bend any law in order to serve the political agenda of this President, and is exactly the type of person who should never be entrusted with any position of power or public trust. He clearly is someone who is more than willing to set aside facts and law. What we see is this man at the center of a criminal conspiracy, in my view, and the [former] President is at the helm of that conspiracy."
As Parton notes today, the "the Constitutional crisis that everyone was hinting at [was] in retrospect, a very close thing," as Trump was trying to "overthrow the government" just three weeks before the inauguration. But Trump's ultimate, begrudging decision to not fire Rosen and replace him with Clark means that "Trump was not irrational. He did know what he was doing." And that, she observes, is "a new and interesting data point" to come out of today's hearings.
Also coming out of today's hearings, a list of six Republican members of Congress who apparently recognized that their involvement in this criminal conspiracy could land them in prison. So much so that they unsuccessfully sought pardons from Trump before he left office. Among those named by former White House officials as seeking pardons: Reps. Mo Brooks (AL), Matt Gaetz (FL), Scott Perry (PA), Louie Gohmert (TX), Andy Biggs (AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA).
We've got much more smart insight and analysis in today's Special Coverage. Please tune in!...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: President Biden calls on Congress to suspend federal gas tax to lower prices at the pump; Parts of the Arctic warming five times faster than the rest of the planet; Native American tribes to co-manage Bears Ears National Monument; Offshore wind project pipeline doubles in one year; PLUS: IEA warns Europe Russia could shut down gas exports this winter... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): America's incoherent approach to fighting high gas prices; Climate change, extreme weather disasters damage victims' long term finances; Germany pushes back against EU 2035 fossil fuel car ban; Hot today? This interactive map can tell you how much the climate crisis is to blame; Innovative companies working on cleaning up solar industry's supply chain; Solar bees: solar panel fields help increase honey production in beehives; Costly Vogtle Nuclear Plant forcing investors to hard choices; How fast fashion became faster , and worse for the Earth... PLUS: Why Spain's renewable energy boom is so controversial... and much, MUCH more! ...
He didn't help steal the 2020 Presidential election for Donald Trump, but that doesn't make Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger a hero. As discussed on today's BradCast, he did the right thing, sort of, but, as our guest explains today, but for the wrong reasons. Worse, he now appears to be involved in an outright cover-up of wrong-doing by Trump supporters and GOP election officials in the Peach State.
First up today, on the heels of the gripping series of hearings by the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating Trump's January 6, 2021 insurrection and his multiple attempts to steal the 2020 election, the Dept. of Justice is reportedly broadening their ongoing criminal investigation. Washington Post reports tonight on new subpoenas dropped in a number of states on Wednesday to several of the fake Trump electors who tried to join the disgraced former President in his efforts to rob the American people.
Meanwhile, Tuesday's hearing, as discussed during yesterday's special coverage, was gripping and emotional at times, as it focused on state officials and local election workers who refused to go along with Trump's election theft schemes and were targeted and terrorized in the bargain by the former President and his mob of MAGA thugs.
While there were a number of folks who testified on Tuesday that reacted heroically in the moment, two of them, Raffensperger and his Deputy Sec. of State Gabe Sterling (who served as Georgia's Voting Systems Manager in 2020), should not necessarily be included among them.
The three separate tallies of Presidential election results in the state that both men testified about on Tuesday --- the original machine count, a second statewide hand-count "audit", and a third tally by machine, as requested by the Trump Campaign --- are not quite as pristine as they would have the nation believe. Moreover, Raffensperger's office appears to be carrying out a months long cover-up of a serious breach of the state's voting system by Trump supporters and GOP election officials in GA's rural, right-leaning Coffee County.
As promised on yesterday, we're joined today by MARILYN MARKS of the non-partisan, nonprofit Coalition for Good Governance for a bit of a rebuttal to Raffensperger and Sterling's testimony before the House J6 panel, and an update to a stunning and troubling story of corruption we initially reported here last month, which could have very serious ramifications for elections in both 2022 and 2024.
Marks, who's Coalition has two long-running federal lawsuits against Georgia and Raffensperger --- one, filed in 2017 to block the use of his 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Dominion, and the other challenging the state's SB 202 voter suppression bill (I am a named plaintiff, representing media) --- has been analyzing the state's 2020 election results with a fine-toothed comb as part of her group's voting machine case. She explains today that the numbers reported by Raffensperger's hand-counted "audit" and machine-tallied recount, are nowhere near as aligned with the original tally --- and each other --- as Raffensperger and Sterling represented to the Congressional panel.
In fact, hand-counted numbers were tallied in secret and "fudged" by the state to match the original tally from Raffensperger's hand-chosen touchscreen voting systems, she charges.
That still doesn't mean that Trump won the state, as he pretends that he did. The mountain of errors discovered in the tallies, she takes pains to note, went randomly both ways. But they did not match up as perfectly with the original count as the two state officials claimed on Tuesday.
"We have found nothing that would suggest that Biden should not have been declared the winner. However, there are massive problems with the audit, the recount, and probably the original count, as well," Marks describes. "What really happened here, it appears, is that the audit, as well as the machine recount, were fudged, if you will. That may be a strong word for me to be using right now, but I will just say that the numbers are not straightforward at all, that there are many adjustments that they needed to make to try to arrive at claiming that the numbers matched the original count. They do not."
Why didn't the numbers match up? "It's hard to know," she tells me. When he was asked about it during his deposition in CGG's federal lawsuit, Sterling "just shrugged it all off as 'human error.' He did not try to tell us the same thing he tried to tell the Congress yesterday. He did not try to say it's only off by a little bit. We took him through the numbers and he said, 'It's all human error.'" He was certain that the machine results must have been correct and any count that differed "had to be human error. How many years have we heard, across the nation, about how the machines have to be right?"
While Raffensperger's hand-count audit was ostensibly carried out in public view, the public couldn't actually oversee it or follow along. All of the numbers throughout the process were kept secret and sent back to the SoS' office. By contrast with, say, the fully transparent statewide recount of the 2008 Al Franken/Norm Coleman U.S. Senate race in Minnesota, when the public and media were allowed to follow along and track every step and the tally of every ballot, there is no way to know if Georgia's 2020 numbers were right or wrong. Shamefully, as Marks observes, the media didn't raise a peep about it.
She offers much more on that during today's program before we turn to the related topic of the disturbing matter in Coffee County. There, as we reported last month --- along with exceptional investigative coverage from Washington Post and Daily Beast (but not, curiously enough, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, which hasn't covered it at all) --- Trump supporters, in cahoots with Republicans on the Coffee County Board of Elections, made illicit and illegal copies of the sensitive Dominion voting system software used across the entire state the day after the January 6 insurrection.
You may have heard of similar breaches by Trumpers that occurred in Michigan and Colorado (where the Republican County Clerk in Mesa County, Tina Peters, is now facing criminal charges for having done so.) The breach in GA occurred in January, as one of the apparent ring leaders actually confessed to Marks during a phone call, which she was smart enough to record. (We play part of that phone call confession on today's show.)
Though none of this was publicly known, Raffensperger's office, several months after the breach, seized and exchanged the voting server in Coffee, claiming that someone had changed the password so that the system could no longer be accessed. But it wasn't until late last year, when Sterling was asked about all of this during his deposition in Marks' lawsuit that any of it was confirmed. He claimed, at the time, that the matter was being investigated by his office. But, as Marks details today (and in a recent post at Medium), there is absolutely no record of any investigation over the past year and a half by Raffensperger's office. In fact, as Marks suggests today, it appears the Sec. of State is involved in a straight up cover-up of the entire matter.
"This is awfully hard to put together," she concedes when I ask why the SoS, who helped block Trump's efforts to steal the election, would now work to protect those very same people. "It doesn't make much sense at all. So why would Raffensperger do that? Again, we go back to he needs to defend the system more than he wants to defend democracy." He's also running for re-election this November.
Making things worse, as she points out, serious vulnerabilities were discovered and documented in Georgia's Dominion touchscreen systems (which her suit hopes to ban) by one of her lawsuit's expert witnesses. The vulnerabilities were then reviewed and confirmed by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Administration (CISA), which issued a warning to states about it late last month.
But the SoS office has responded in the lawsuit to say that those vulnerabilities are not of concern, since someone would have to spend a lot of times with the system software to know how to exploit them. Well...guess what happened over a year and a half ago in Coffee County?
Raffensperger's "defense is not that the system doesn't have any vulnerabilities," Marks notes. "His defense is, 'Look, you can't get to those vulnerabilities because the software is entrusted in insider election officials' hands.' Not anymore."
It's a big show today, concluding with our latest Green News Report. Please tune in for the full, stunning story...
On today's BradCast: Special Coverage of gripping Day 4 public testimony in the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee's investigation of the January 6th insurrection and Donald Trump's repeatedly failed attempts to steal the 2020 election from the American people. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) led the bulk of the questioning of witnesses on Tuesday, observing at one point that "the system held, but barely", thanks to "people of courage, Republicans and Democrats, who put their oath to the country and Constitution above any other consideration."
We may take some issue with part of that on tomorrow's BradCast, with a guest who may rebut at least some of the testimony offered by the two Republican state officials from Georgia who testified on Tuesday, Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger and Deputy Sec. of State (who served as the voting system manager in 2020) Gabriel Sterling. But there should be no question of the selflessness of the two other live witnesses, Arizona's Republican state House Speaker Rusty Bowers and now-former Fulton County, GA election worker Wandrea "Shaye" Moss.
All four of them endured unrelenting and unforgivable attacks and threats and lies from Trump --- and from his attorney Rudy Giuliani and their mobs of thuggish supporters --- in his criminal attempts to fraudulently flip the results of the 2020 election in both of the swing-states focused on today. In the case of Moss in Atlanta, as one of our guests suggests today, she and her mother, Ruby Freeman (and eventually even her grandmother), were targets of nothing less than "a form of terrorism" by the President of the United States. All for the crime, as Moss explained, of "doing my job." It was a job that she loved. For ten years. Because she was able to help people vote. Now, as she testified this afternoon, she's barely able to leave the house, is constantly forced to look over her shoulder more than a year and a half since the election, is afraid to go out with her mother (for fear she might mention her name out loud), has gained 60 pounds, and has left her job for Fulton County that she loved so much. The terror visited on her and her mother was too much to bear.
Moss and Freeman were the targets of the oft-repeated Trump/Giuliani lie that they had hidden ballots in a "suitcase" under a table at the State Farm Arena counting room in Atlanta on Election Night, before "physically" forcing observers and the media to leave the room, and then counting those fraudulent ballots ("all for Joe Biden," as Trump lied) multiple times. All of those claims were easily rebutted lies. All of them. As Raffensperger and Sterling (who both voted for Trump) and even Trump's own advisors told him repeatedly. Trump knew they were lies, even before he continued to repeat them over and over, mentioning Ruby Freeman's name 18 times during his infamous recorded phone call with Raffensperger, threatening him with potential criminal penalties if he didn't "find" 11,780 votes --- one more than Trump needed --- to steal the election from Biden in the Peach State.
Bowers, also a Trump voter in Arizona, faced similar lies --- about hundreds of thousands of votes cast by undocumented immigrants and thousands of dead voters --- as he refused Trump's entreaties to convene a special session of the state legislature in order to select Electors for the disgraced President instead of the ones for Biden that the state's voters actually voted for. Bowers, elected to the state legislature in 1993, refused to violate the law and his sacred oath to both the state and U.S. constitutions.
It was an emotional --- and, at times, harrowing --- day in the hearing room, as the House panel laid out the pathetic story of the loser Trump's relentless attempts to force local officials to do his unlawful bidding, to trick several swing-state Republicans into signing up as fraudulent Electors, and as he threatened those who wouldn't play ball with the violence of his mobs.
We're joined today for our special coverage with smart analysis of the entire hearing by old-school progressive bloggers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and "DRIFTGLASS" of the Professional Left Podcast.
"What we're seeing over and over again [is that] Donald Trump was deeply, deeply immersed in this. He was calling these legislators and basically trying to order them to overturn the election on his behalf," Parton observers. "But there is also this undercurrent here that we're seeing through all of this, that this was always leading to violence. The violence was building from the time of the election. What [the Committee] did today, in particular, was talking about the threats of violence to all of these people. [Trump and his supporters] were inciting a form of terrorism against these people."
As Driftglass characterizes the case being laid bare by the Committee to date: "Donald Trump was the ringleader of this. He's the 'don'. He's the man calling the shots, dispatching his men into the field to threaten everybody. This is an army of raptors testing the fence --- 'Where can we find a break?' --- with the intention in mind at all times to retain power by any means necessary. And it was very clear that behind this was a mob of Brownshirts. He made it clear how deeply he was enjoying the idea scaring the crap out of people and ruining their lives for daring to stand in his way of holding onto power."
"Today was heartbreaking," he argues. "How could you be a citizen, love democracy, and watch these two very different people --- this old, bald, white guy, and these lovely African-American mother and daughter --- who go to very different churches, I'm sure, but have the same reverence for the Constitution and fidelity to duty, and believe this is a holy, sacred thing they're doing, and how completely they were undercut by that."
There is, of course, much much more in our coverage today. I hope you'll tune in...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Extreme heat in Europe smashes records, sparks wildfires and water rationing; Severe U.S. heat wave killed thousands of cattle; Catastrophic flooding in India, Bangladesh; AMA calls climate change 'a public health crisis'; PLUS: Rightwing U.S. Supreme Court majority poised to hand down the most consequential --- and corrupt --- environmental ruling in decades... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Hundreds of homeless die in extreme heat; Climate change: the force multiplier of extreme weather; Avian flu also felling wild animals; Emperor penguin extinction a 'done deal' without global action; 'Heat kills pollen,' posing a looming challenge for global agriculture; Staggering 'off the scale' temperatures in the vast expanse of the Barents Sea region; Emissions from new US natural gas projects will equal 18 million cars; California considers 'carbon farming' as potential climate solution; Native American tribes to co-manage national monument for first time... PLUS: The Dust Bowl: How a natural disaster that happened 90 years ago prophesied our climate-ravaged future... and much, MUCH more! ...
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