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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, July 17, 2024
Cannon's Corruption: 'BradCast' 7/16/24
Guest: Attorney Keith Barber; Also: Menendez 'guilty' on all counts...
'Green News Report' 7/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Texas grid buckles under multiple disasters; Hurricane Beryl damages now estimated at $3 billion; PLUS: Climate crisis flip-flopper J.D. Vance gets GOP Veep nod...
Previous GNRs: 7/11/24 - 7/9/24 - Archives...
Amid the Assassination Attempt Aftermath:
'BradCast' 7/15/24
Also: Trump Stolen Docs Case Dismissed; OH's J.D. Vance named as GOP Veep nom; Callers ring in on all of the nightmares...
Sunday Monday 'Google Project 2025' Toons
After a brief pause following Saturday's assassination attempt of Donald Trump, we are back with our latest collection of last week's best political toons...
Meanwhile... :
'BradCast' 7/11/24
Biden's tenuous candidacy; Trump and Orban; Inflation, prices falling; Climate liar Inhofe dies; California's stunning solar revolution...
'Green News Report' 7/11/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Flooding, power outages, sweltering heat as deadly Beryl fallout continues; New FEMA flood risk standards; PLUS: House Republicans bravely seek Freedom for Refrigerators!...
Previous GNRs: 7/9/24 - 6/25/24 - Archives...
Paging 'Johnny Unbeatable'! Dems (Actually!) in Disarray!: 'BradCast' 7/10/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
SCOTUS Immunity Ruling 'As Bad as it Sounds', And Worse: 'BradCast' 7/9/24
Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner on that and the Court's massive 'power grab'; Also: Record-breaking Beryl; U.S. heat records smashed...
'Green News Report' 7/9/24
Beryl breaks records, slams TX; 140m in U.S. under heat advisories; Big SCOTUS gifts for polluters; PLUS: Biden unveils first-ever extreme heat protections for workers...
So, What Now?: 'BradCast' 7/8/24
Listeners have strong opinions about where we are and how to move forward to save democracy after corrupt SCOTUS rulings and disastrous Presidential Debate...
Debunking MAGA Cult Xenophobia
CANNING: Throughout U.S. history, decent, hard-working immigrants (like me) have contributed to the economy and our nation's security: CANNING
Sunday 'Courting Disaster' Toons
THIS WEEK: Kings and Things! In our special SCOTUS-sized edition of the last impossible week's best political toons!...
Sunday 'Bad Medicine' Toons
THIS WEEK: Trump's hot pants ... Biden's cool reception ... SCOTUS gone wild ... and more in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
'Green News Report' 6/27/24
China flooding; Heatwave, crop failure in India; Disaster upon disaster in NM; On edge for SCOTUS decision; PLUS: Biden climate law creates 300,000 jobs!...
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: Attorney Keith Barber; Also: Menendez 'guilty' on all counts...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2024 5:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Boy, if Joe Biden's "weaponization" of the Justice Department against Trump and Republicans keeps going like this, there won't be any Democrats left who haven't been convicted of a crime! Too bad old Joe didn't realize he should have just packed the courts with corrupt judges, like Donald Trump did. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up today --- after a kick-off by TikTok's @DanasInspired; a few thoughts on Trump's appearance at the RNC on Monday night after the weekend's failed assassination attempt and his naming of Ohio's Sen. J.D. Vance as his running mate --- we start with news about today's conviction, on all counts, of New Jersey's Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez. The three-term U.S. Senator and former chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was found guilty by a jury on Tuesday after a nine-week criminal trial on charges related to abusing his office to protect foreign associates from criminal investigations and to help funnel money to Egyptian officials. In exchange, prosecutors alleged, Menendez and his wife Nadine Menendez collected millions in gifts, cash and gold bars. She was charged as well, though her trial has been postponed for the time being as she undergoes cancer treatment.

Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and NJ's Democratic Governor Phil Murphy each called for Menendez to resign following the verdict. He had previously vowed to run for re-election as an independent this year, while Democratic Rep. Andy Kim has been nominated by state voters to run for his seat in November against Republican Curtis Bashaw in the Dem-leaning state.

But Menendez' corruption doesn't hold a candle to Donald Trump's, thanks in no small part to the corrupt jurists Trump appointed to lifetime positions on the federal bench while in office, many of whom are now returning the favor at an alarming rate in recent weeks. On Monday, it was U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon's turn, apparently, to use her position to let Trump off the hook. In this case, dismissing his 40-count federal criminal indictment brought by Special Counsel Jack Smith in South Florida for Trump's theft of thousands of pages of highly classified national security documents upon leaving office; his repeated refusal to return them to the government; and his attempts to hide them from prosecutors and enlist Mar-a-Lago employees to help cover up and/or destroy evidence of the crimes.

In a remarkable 93-page ruling [PDF] issued on Monday, Cannon dismissed the entire federal case against Trump and his co-defendants on the basis that Smith's appointment as Special Counsel was somehow in violation of the Constitution and federal statutes. The argument made by Trump's attorneys and accepted by Cannon --- who had already been slow-walking the case for months --- was similar to those repeatedly rejected for decades by judge after judge, including appellate courts and, as our guest details today, unanimously by the U.S. Supreme Court in Nixon v. U.S. But Cannon, appointed by Trump at the end of his term and seated after he lost the 2020 election, appears to know more about the law than all of those other lesser judges.

We're joined today by former lifelong Republican and attorney KEITH BARBER, who writes on the law and Constitution for Daily Kos as "KeithDB", where he detailed Cannon's ruling yesterday. He explains why both the text of the Constitution and several federal laws written to allow Attorneys General to appoint Special Counsels in cases where it is important to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, prove Cannon's ruling wrong. But, as he argues today, being right on the law doesn't actually matter. "She just wanted to dismiss the case because her buddy Trump appointed her [and] gave her that job. It's time to return the favor, and so she has," he says.

Barber published a second article yesterday listing more than half a dozen Special Counsels and Special Prosecutors appointed similarly to Smith, from Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski in the Watergate matter to Ken Starr during the Clinton Administration to Robert Mueller's probe of Russian interference on Trump's behalf in the 2016 election to the recent probe of President Biden himself by Special Counsel Robert Hur.

"A lot of people have gone to jail as a result of special counsels appointed by the Attorney General" over the years, Barber tells me. "None of them got the benefit of a rogue judge saying, 'Nope, all of that is not valid.' The Republicans and the MAGAs like to talk about this notion of two-tiered justice and how unfair it's been to Trump. No court accepted the notion that Special Counsels weren't authorized by statute and weren't something Attorneys Generals could do until it came to Trump. That is what two-tiered justice looks like."

If Cannon's ruling on Monday is correct, Barber asserts, then as part of the Mueller probe, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's three-year prison sentence would have been unconstitutional and Trump associate and convicted pedophile George Nader would need to be freed immediately from his ten-year prison sentence, among other cases convictions that would need to immediately be revisited.

Will this ruling hold up to appellate scrutiny by the conservative 11th Circuit Court of Appeal, much less Trump's corrupted, packed, stolen and activist U.S. Supreme Court majority? We discuss that and much more.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the misery and power outages continue in Houston, Texas following Hurricane Beryl, thanks in no small part to state Republicans refusal to harden infrastructure for a climate changed world, and as Trump appoints flip-flopping climate science denier J.D. Vance as his Vice-Presidential running mate...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Trump Stolen Documents Case Dismissed in FL; OH's J.D. Vance named as GOP Veep nominee; Callers ring in on all of the nightmares...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2024 5:52pm PT  

Well, it's been several slow news days since we last spoke on The BradCast. Sigh... [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On Saturday, a 20-year old registered Republican tried to kill Donald Trump during a campaign rally in Butler, Pennsylvania with the type of long-range, high-capacity, semi-automatic rifle that Republicans have spent years fighting to ensure are easily available to almost anyone in the country who wants one. Their only use is for mass shootings. Now we've had one at a Republican political rally. Thankfully, the shooter, Thomas Matthew Crooks, barely missed the former President. Though he did kill one rally goer and critically injured two others.

Democrats, from President Biden on down, have since been calling for a cooling of political rhetoric, the type of which led to the assassination attempt on Nancy Pelosi's husband, the attempted kidnapping and murder of Michigan's Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and the attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, among too many other such recent incidents.

Republicans, on the other hand, from the new Republican Vice Presidential nominee and Trump critic turned toady, U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance on down, have opportunistically used the tragic shooting to blame Democrats somehow for the attempt on Trump's life. Some have gone so far as to blame Biden himself in one for somehow personally attempting to murder Trump. Republicans have also attempted to use the incident as a way to chill factual, peaceful political speech that is appropriately and accurately critical of their standard bearer and the party's efforts to undermine America's Constitutional democracy in favor of autocracy and fascism.

No actual motive has emerged for the shooter who was killed by the Secret Service and has so far been identified as a gun enthusiast and "definitely" a "conservative" by one of his former classmates.

We discuss much more on that story today which should have been our lead and only story today. Sadly, it wasn't.

Down in federal court in Florida, the corrupt Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon imagined up a reason to dismiss the entirety of Special Counsel Jack Smith's federal indictment of Trump and two co-conspirators on 40 criminal counts related to his theft of thousands of pages of classified documents when leaving the White House and his refusal to return them, in violation of the Espionage Act and other federal statutes. Cannon's reasons [PDF] for dismissing the case --- questioning the constitutionality of the Special Counsel's appointment --- has been rejected by court after court for years in many other cases where a Special Counsel was appointed (including the Robert Mueller probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election and more recently in the case against Hunter Biden) But, following recent instructions in a solo opinion issued by corrupt Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (signed by no other Justices) in an unrelated case, Cannon dismissed the entire stolen documents case. The Dept. of Justice has said they will appeal. Hopefully, when they do, they will also finally move to have Cannon removed once and for all from this case.

Finally, we open up the phone lines again today to listeners who have many thoughts on all of the above...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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ALSO THIS WEEK: That other big story in the news prior to the shooting in PA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2024 9:30am PT  
ED NOTE: After temporarily holding off publication of our long-running Sunday Toons series following the assassination attempt on Donald Trump in Butler, PA on Saturday, we are now running those previously planned toons in full today, after Trump's announcement on Sunday that his political and travel plans would not be changed in advance of this week's Republican National Convention because he "cannot allow a 'shooter,' or potential assassin, to force change to scheduling, or anything else." With his apparent approval then, here are our Sunday Toons, a day late, as originally compiled Saturday morning. --- BF

"I know nothing about Project 2025. I have no idea who is behind it. ... I have nothing to do with them." --- Trump | Actual. Facts. Available. Here.

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2024 11:42am PT  

Given Saturday's horrific assassination attempt on Donald Trump at a political rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, I am postponing today's Sunday Toons for now. The toons I had prepared on Saturday, prior to the shooting, can wait. It does not feel appropriate to publish at this hour.

We all still very much need the occasional relief of finding humor in the god awful churn of news events this nation is facing. Perhaps now more than ever. But, for now, for this moment, that can wait. Maybe for a few hours. Maybe a few days. Or maybe until next week. We'll see.

What happened on Saturday was nothing but disgusting and shameful. I am glad --- and we are all very lucky --- the outcome was not even worse.

Though we don't yet know the full circumstances of whatever occurred, it is appalling that a would-be assassin was able to obtain what appears to have been a long-range semi-automatic rifle with which so many rounds could be fired in a matter of seconds and with such deadly precision at such a distance. (Reportedly from outside of the venue's perimeter, from about 150 yards away from where the former President was speaking.) Such a weapon is a weapon of war. It should come as little surprise then that they are now regularly being used in such a fashion. For a political war.

The political violence that has been fostered, and that we have seen play out in too many incidents in recent years, must end. The assassination attempt on Trump reveals America at its shameful worst. Despite his disgusting repeated mocking of a similarly grotesque attempt to assassinate the husband of Nancy Pelosi in October of 2022 --- repeatedly treated as a literal joke by Trump and his supporters --- there is nothing amusing about what happened on Saturday. We should all condemn such behavior, no matter who carries it out and no matter who the victim or attempted victim may be.

We must also continue to speak the truth --- always peacefully but clearly --- and not allow this incident to be used by opportunists as an attempt to chill accurate, fact-based political speech at one of the most critical moments in American history. Our toons --- and that free, peaceful, critical political speech --- will return...

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Biden's tenuous candidacy; Trump and Orban; Inflation, prices falling; Climate liar Inhofe dies; California's stunning solar revolution...
By Brad Friedman on 7/11/2024 6:27pm PT  

We went to air on today's BradCast prior to Joe Biden's several-hours-delayed post-NATO Summit press conference, allowing us to catch up on an item or two that we've otherwise been trying to get to all week. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our coverage today...

  • Yet another poll is out today, in this case from WaPo/ABC, finding President Biden and Donald Trump tied nationally. (It also shows Vice President Kamala Harris actually leading Trump by 2 points.) That said, the survey also finds some 67% of Americans, including more than half of Democrats, currently believe Biden should end his re-election bid. What should we take from that? And is there reason to believe that Biden can outlast the seemingly never-ending drip-drip-drip of former supporters calling for him to step aside? We discuss.
  • While Biden was busy completing the NATO Summit he has been hosting this week in D.C., Donald Trump was planning a previously unannounced meeting with Hungarian strongman and Christian Nationalist Victor Orban down at his Florida resort. The meeting between the autocrats comes just days after Orban's surprise meeting with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin in Moscow and Chinese strongman Xi Jingping in Beijing.
  • New Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers released on Thursday once again beat expectations and offer still more good news for the American economy and, specifically, inflation in the U.S. Among that good news, the annual inflation rate fell to just 3% as of June with consumer prices actually falling overall from May to June for the first time since May of 2020. The Biden Administration touted its anti-inflationary policies for the good news, including the easing of gas prices and items such as cars, appliances, airfare and groceries.
  • On Tuesday, Oklahoma's long-serving U.S. Senator James Mountain Inhofe died at the age of 89 following a stroke he reportedly suffered on July 4th. The five-term Senator --- who notoriously described global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels as "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" --- was instrumental in blocking critical climate reforms in Congress over decades, helping to lead the nation and world into the deadly climate crisis we are now facing. He abused his position of power to spread lies and misinformation about climate science for which our children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren (including his own) will now pay the price for decades to come.
  • After Inhofe repeatedly and falsely warned that America could not survive without fossil fuels, California has been steadily proving otherwise. The most populous state in the union has already had nearly 100 days this year when renewable energy, largely from solar and wind, has exceeded 100% of the state's entire electricity demand for at least some part of the day. In fact, CA is now producing more solar energy than it is able to use on many days, thanks largely to rooftop solar and a lack of transmission lines and battery storage. It is now producing so much clean renewable energy, in fact, that, so far this year, the state has had to waste more than enough renewable energy to power every home in San Francisco for a year. Transmission capacity and battery storage is now being furiously added. But, at the same time, the state's Public Utilities Commission has enacted wildly controversial new rules for selling back solar energy to the grid from rooftop solar installations via net-metering. We discuss.
  • Finally, as the nation is suffering from the deadly fallout of the record Hurricane Beryl, including massive power outages, flooding and record tornadoes from Texas to Michigan, and suffocates under stifling heat and humidity from the West Coast to the East, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on all of that and much more, including Republicans in the U.S. House spending their time fighting to ensure that appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers cost Americans much more than they need to...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2024 5:26pm PT  

Well, this is all going well. Though, somehow, today's BradCast made me feel moderately better about it all for the moment. (See?! He's a moderate!) Anyway, I'm hoping you'll feel somehow marginally better as well after listening to today's program. [Audio link to full show follows this brief summary.]

We begin with a few noteworthy news items for helpful, or at least interesting, context...

  • A new survey from a Democratic pollster finds that while Donald Trump is currently beating Joe Biden nationally by one point in head-to-head polling, Kamala Harris is actually ahead of Trump by a point in the same poll. A different Dem, who nobody is talking about (for good reason?) also leads Trump in the same survey.
  • Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she stands behind the President, though offered a less than full-throated endorsement for his continuing candidacy on a cable new interview this morning, though she absolutely did not say that Biden should either "Reconsider Decision to Stay in the Race" or "consider dropping out" as New York Times falsely reported before correcting their headline, without explanation, after being called out (and after more than 200 articles focused on Biden's performance in the two weeks since the debate.)

And then we're joined for some much-needed common sense --- and a few similarly much-needed belly laughs (between tears) --- by two of our favorite roundtable guests: HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, and 'DRIFTGLASS' of The Professional Left Podcast.

You'll never guess what we're discussing today! But we've got a lot of it to talk about, and both Digby and Drifty are on their game.

"I will fight like hell for whoever is the top of the Democratic ticket come November," Driftglass (occasionally known as Bill) tells us. "The threat from Donald Trump outweighs every other consideration. Thus far, for the last three and a half years, [Biden] has governed the country remarkably well, steered through many crises, and done right by me. I think it's time we buckle down and say, 'Look, whoever the Democratic nominee is, is better than Trump.' Period. Full stop."

For her part, Digby concurs with the sentiment, but notes that, although there is no indication yet he plans to do so --- even with support on Capitol Hill for him to continue being lukewarm at best --- if Biden does decide to drop out: "I think that I would really, really like him to do it on the night that Donald Trump is going to accept the nomination for his party, and just stab him as hard in the back on his way out as he can, because you know that Donald Trump would do the same to him."

Now we're talking. And there is much more both insight and snark where that came from today, including discussion of...

  • Wildly unhelpful and misleading corporate media coverage.
  • What we should learn from the election in France on Sunday.
  • Whether he can serve four more years or not, can Biden still actually win in November?
  • Would Harris have a better shot?
  • The disconnect between elected officials, media "experts" and actual Democratic voters on the ground.
  • If Biden were to step down, is there time and process for a reasonably non-chaotic way to transition to a new candidate?
  • Would Digby and Driftglass vote for George W. Bush or even Dick Cheney if one them became the Democratic candidate to take on Donald Trump?
  • And who is this "Johnny Unbeatable" guy? And where should Democrats find him?

All of that and much more on today's unbeatable BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner on that and the Court's massive 'power grab'; Also: Record-breaking Beryl; Heat records smashed across nation...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2024 6:39pm PT  

We're still catching up from last week's earth-shaking news week on today's BradCast, from the Supreme Court to our ever-worsening climate crisis. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

With understandable concerns about Joe Biden's candidacy following his debate performance almost two weeks ago, followed quickly by the July 4th holiday, I'm not sure that Americans yet fully appreciate the way in which our corrupted, extremist, radical, not-conservative-in-the-least U.S. Supreme Court has now upended the American experiment with its horrific, unjustifiable, anti-textualist, anti-originalist 6 to 3 ruling [PDF] last week on the previously unimaginable concept of "Presidential Immunity".

In short, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor detailed in her scathing, 30-page dissent and point-by-point rebuttal and evisceration of the corrupt, activist majority's ridiculous invention of a heretofore unknown "Presidential Immunity Clause" somehow hidden in the U.S. Constitution, the "decision to grant former Presidents criminal immunity reshapes the institution of the Presidency. It makes a mockery of the principle, foundational to our Constitution and system of Government, that no man is above the law."

She describes, on behalf of her fellow liberal Justices, the majority's opinion as "just as bad as it sounds," describing it as "baseless" and "nonsensical", in which "Argument by argument, the majority invests immunity through brute force.” It is "deeply wrong", "illogical" and "unprecedented," she warns, adding that it will "have disastrous consequences for the Presidency and for our democracy".

Her dissent details how the Framers of the Constitution understood the concept of "immunity" quite well when adopting our founding document. They even gave a bit of it to the Legislative Branch, while denying same to the Executive, even as several state Constitutions had, by then, granted it to their own Governors. Nonetheless, "Relying on little more than its own misguided wisdom about the need for 'bold and unhesitating action' by the President, the Court gives former President Trump all the immunity he asked for and more."

In doing so, with this decision and a number of other radical, not-conservative-in-the-least opinions at term's end, the Roberts Court, according to today's guest, has also given itself unheard of power, placing the Judicial Branch above its otherwise Constitutionally co-equal Legislative and Executive Branches.

We're joined today by CHRIS GEIDNER, veteran legal journalist of LawDork to discuss that, and to help decipher whether this ruling is really "as bad as it sounds," as Sotomayor charges.

Is a U.S. President --- be it Donald Trump or anyone else --- at this point, actually now immune from criminal prosecution should he or she orders Seal Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? ("Allowed," says Geidner, according to "the plain text of the ruling.") How about if they order the assassination of Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court? ("It is hard for me to read in the ruling where that is not allowed.") How about if they sell Presidential Pardons for $1 million a pop? Would it really be "unconstitutional" now to bring criminal charges against a former President who asked his Secretary of Defense to "bring in the troops" to "shoot protesters...in the streets of our nation's capital," as Trump's former SecDef Mark Esper alleged that Trump actually did in 2020?

The answer, it turns out --- at least according to the ruling --- is pretty much, yup, he (or she) would now be immune from criminal prosecution for all of those supposedly "official acts". According to Geidner, however, those questions would ultimately need to be answered yet again by the Supreme Court. Depending on what the make-up of that Court looked like and, crucially, which party the President in question belonged to, their decisions might be very different on a case-by-case basis. It's good to be King. But it might be even better to be a Justice in the Supreme Court majority.

"Let's assume we get through this moment in time, relatively no more scathed than we already are," Geidner posits, before predicting, "this is a ruling that is going to fall in on itself over time."

"In the meantime," as Sotomayor notes, "The relationship between the President and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the President is now a king above the law."

"Moving forward, all former Presidents will be cloaked in such immunity," she concludes. "If the occupant of that office misuses official power for personal gain, the criminal law that the rest of us must abide will not provide a backstop."

And finally, for those listeners who haven't yet jumped out of a window, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report after returning from our holiday break, with more deadly climate catastrophes and, yes, more horrific, history making opinions (Yay! More gifts for polluters!) from our fully corrupted, captured, activist and more powerful than ever rightwing SCOTUS majority...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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We're back! And our listeners have strong opinions about where the hell we are and how to move forward to save democracy after corrupt SCOTUS rulings and a disastrous Presidential Debate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2024 5:42pm PT  

So, did anything of note happen over the past week or so while we were taking a holiday break from The BradCast? [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

As I've come to learn, a few things of note did happen. In fact, it was almost like coming back to a different nation today, largely thanks to the corrupt, radical, extremist, not-conservative-in-the-least U.S. Supreme Court's rightwing majority which invented new clauses in the Constitution out of whole cloth to appall the Founders by declaring Presidents to be Kings. I have a feeling we'll be catching up with the remarkable past 10 days or so for quite a while around here.

Today, however, at the top of the show, we first touch on a few of those news items of note from the past week, including, perhaps most notably for the immediate moment in history, remarkable pushback at the polls from the left in France, UK and even Iran against rising Rightwing fascism. Stunning democratic victories in all three nations serve as a valuable lesson in this country, at this time, particularly from France, where a broad coalition on the left came together to issue a surprise, blistering electoral upset to Marine LePen's far-right nationalist party which had been expected to win on Sunday.

That, it turns out, is helpful --- and hopeful --- context as we turn our focus today to the most immediate concern here: legitimate questions about the reelection candidacy of President Biden, one of the most effective (and, yes, progressive) Presidents in U.S. history, following his disastrous debate performance just after we signed off air before our holiday break about ten days ago.

With much of his party seemingly rallying behind him in Congress a week later, even as a number of noteworthy elected Democrats are calling for him to drop out --- and polling that is offering mixed messages --- we open the phones to our listeners today to learn where they are on this matter.

Should Biden stay in or drop out? And, if he drops out, who should replace him and how? All questions of great import given that, no matter who runs against Donald Trump this year, it is far more than a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is now very clearly a battle between Fascism and Democracy, particularly after the corrupted Court has now horrified the Founders to decree that Presidents are above the law in virtually any action they choose to take while in office.

The Democratic National Convention begins in just over a month. Early voting begins for the November 5 election in about 90 days.

Needless to say, our phone lines lit up. To my surprise --- especially among our mostly progressive, live Southern California listeners --- they were almost all of a very similar mind. Truly. I would not have predicted the response.

You can listen to it in today's very lively BradCast linked below...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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THIS WEEK: Kings and Things! (Special SCOTUS-sized edition!)...
By Brad Friedman on 7/7/2024 6:35am PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2024 6:05am PT  

I mentioned it a few times last week on both The BradCast and Green News Report, but we are gonna be off this week for travel over the Independence Day holiday and I'm gonna try to stay offline as much as possible. For those who may have missed the heads-ups last week, however, and might be wondering where we are this week, that's where!

We're back next week and, of course, always greatly appreciate anything you can leave in the tip jar to help us fill up what is usually our old Prius tank. This time, unfortunately, it's an SUV tank(!), since someone side-swiped us a few days ago and we had to scramble to get the Prius into the body shop and pick up a last minute rental car before hitting the road. Prius temporarily sidelined by full gas guzzler! :-( Because it's just been that sort of a week, I guess. So, onward, and thanks for any help in advance!

I hope everyone here, nonetheless, has a safe, healthy and somehow peaceful 4th of July holiday! --- Brad

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THIS WEEK: Trump's hot pants ... Biden's cool reception ... SCOTUS gone wild ...
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2024 6:35am PT  

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An orderly transition to save the nation...if Biden himself agrees...
By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2024 8:25pm PT  

It is well above my paygrade or knowledge base to determine if Joe Biden is fully unfit to run for a second term, whether his debate night performance was an unfortunate one-off bad night or, if as seems more likely, his age is outrunning him.

But if those who know him best and work most closely with him (Congressional leaders, family members) believe it is time for him to step aside for the good of the nation, in service of ensuring the threat that Donald Trump represents and promises does not come to pass --- and, crucially, if Joe Biden himself agrees --- there is a reasonably simple, orderly, largely drama-free path for him to do so in the short time now left before both the Democratic Convention and general election...

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Guest: Randall D. Eliason, former DOJ Chief of Fraud and Public Corruption Section; Also: On edge for landmark 'Chevron Deference' ruling; SCOTUS nixes EPA 'Good Neighbor' pollution rule, for now...
By Brad Friedman on 6/27/2024 4:58pm PT  

It's our last BradCast before time off for travel over the holiday next week. Unlike years past, it looks like SCOTUS will be late in releasing all of their opinions for this term before its normal end this week, so we won't be here to comment immediately on some of the biggest decisions (or on tonight's Presidential Debate) until after our return. But we've got plenty to cover from the corrupted rightwing Court already this week, including with a guest today who suggests the analysis by many legal experts on yesterday's ruling striking down yet another part of federal public corruption law has been somewhat misleading. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the big SCOTUS decisions still to come, is a case regarding the "Chevron Doctrine" which, for decades, has given legal deference to federal agency experts over judges or corporate challengers, when it comes to the interpretation of federal laws through rules and regulations promulgated by those federal agencies. That could all be about to change, with enormous consequences first for the EPA, but also across the entirety of the federal government --- or, the so-called "Administrative State" as rightwingers have taken to deriding it. We explain the doctrine and some remarkable ironies behind the Court's upcoming ruling, whatever it may be, today.

But the corrupted, stolen and packed rightwing Supreme Court did manage to issue several rulings today. Among them....

  • The Court rejected a multi-billion dollar nationwide opioid settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sackler family.
  • In a clear win for corporate interests, they gutted the SEC's ability to carry out in-house proceedings on civil fraud complaints, requiring federal jury trials instead in an opinion likely to have far-reaching effects on other regulatory agencies as well.
  • SCOTUS also kicked a Presidential election year hot potato down the road for another day by allowing Idaho hospitals, for now, to perform emergency abortions under federal law, even though the procedure is barred under state law.
  • And, as we also discuss with Desi, the High Court blocked, for now, to the EPA's "Good Neighbor" rule which limited air pollution from power plants and other facilities that pollute downwind states. While the regulation has already substantially lowered pollution --- and saved lives --- in the states where it is in place, the Court prevented the EPA from enforcing it until after lower court challenges by largely Republican-controlled states and several industries are completed.

NEXT... On yesterday's show we critically covered the Wednesday SCOTUS ruling in Snyder v. U.S. [PDF], an opinion which overturned the conviction and 21-month prison sentence of an Indiana Mayor who received a $13,000 check from a company just two weeks after his city had granted them a contract worth more than a million dollars. The Court's rightwingers determined that the federal statute in question only applies to out-and-out bribery cases, where a quid pro quo was agreed upon before a public action. After-the-fact "gratuities", the Court's six Republican-appointees ruled, are apparently just fine. Or, at least, not unlawful under their reading of the federal statute in question.

While many legal analysts and experts have derided the ruling since it was issued on Wednesday, our guest today, RANDALL D. ELIASON, former chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section at the U.S. Attorney's Office in D.C., now a white-collar criminal law professor at George Washington University Law School, had a different take that he posted to Twitter yesterday: "I have no problem with the Snyder decision, that 18 USC §666 covers only bribes and not gratuities. I think that makes sense."

Really? Why? Today Eliason joins us to explain why the law --- which, as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson notes in her dissent with the Court's other liberals, "imposes federal criminal penalties on agents of those entities who 'corruptly' solicit, accept, or agree to accept payments 'intending to be influenced or rewarded'" --- can arguably be interpreted as applying onlyto before-the-fact bribes, as opposed to after-the-fact "gratuities", as they are described by the Court's majority.

"I'm not happy about the outcome," Eliason concedes today. "You're right that there's been a pattern of decisions over the last more than a decade narrowing public corruption laws, and I've been critical of a lot of them. And I've been on your program being critical of a number of them in the past."

"So I'm not happy about the outcome. But I don't think the majority is being unreasonable in this particular decision. Because what this decision is about is not whether the conduct of the Mayor is a good thing, or whether it should be prohibited. It's just about the language in this particular criminal statute that Congress drafted. And it's really a badly drafted statute. It's poorly written. It's confusing. And even though the lower court in this case had upheld his conviction, several other federal courts of appeals had said the same thing, that this law does not apply to gratuities, and agreed with Snyder."

He explains that there is "a real legal distinction between a bribery and a gratuity", and that other federal statutes prohibit them both. But in this case, §666 is less than perfectly clear. And, when there is a "tie" in legal interpretation, the tie is supposed to go to the defendant who, the Court noted, can still be held accountable for accepting a gratuity under state and local laws.

"You see a lot of headlines in the wake of this decision: 'Supreme Court says bribery is okay.' No, the whole point was it wasn't bribery. It was a gratuity, which is something far less serious. And the issue was does this particular statute cover this kind of gratuity? The answer is no. I think, based on the way that statute is written, it's a reasonable outcome."

While I'm not sure I fully agree --- and even he notes that Justice Jackson makes several good arguments in her dissent --- Eliason's expertise and insight into the laws in question shed welcome light on this otherwise seemingly corrupt ruling.

On a related note, we also discuss how all of this might apply to the arguable millions of dollars in "gratuities" that members of SCOTUS, like Clarence Thomas, have accepted over the years and whether that might play into the Court majority's opinion. And how Congress, had they not become completely dysfunctional in recent years, could easily clarify this issue through simple legislation.

On one other matter before we finish our conversation with Eliason today, he offers his thoughts on SCOTUS' upcoming Fischer decision regarding whether the statute used to charge hundreds of January 6 defendants --- including Donald Trump --- with "obstruction of an official proceeding" may be struck down by the Court. Eliason is "pessimistic" about what is likely to happen, though believes that even if the Court strikes it down for use against many of those charged for the J6 insurrection, that "there's a good chance that the charges against Trump would still survive."

FINALLY... Before we disappear for the next week, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest 'Green News Report', with more thoughts on the imperiled Chevron Deference Doctrine; Climate disaster upon climate disaster this week for a New Mexico town; and some very good news indeed for President Biden's job-creating climate law...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Noteworthy election results from NY, CO, UT, SC; SCOTUS opinions on public corruption, social media; More long-overdue pardons by Biden...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2024 6:56pm PT  

Stand by for news --- some good-ish, some not-ish --- on today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up today, some noteworthy results from yesterday's primary elections. Among a bunch of races covered today from four different states...

  • Progressive New York "Squad" member Rep. Jamaal Bowman was soundly defeated in his 16th District U.S. House primary race by longtime local Democratic official George Latimer in what was, notoriously, the most expensive House primary ever run. The cost of the contest was largely due to the American Israeli Political Affairs Conference (AIPAC)'s investment of millions of dollars to defeat Bowman, who, among other sins, described Israel's war in Gaza as a genocide. That said, as many pointed out before Tuesday and as we detail today, Bowman, as a movement progressive, was likely to have lost this race anyway in a very diverse "normie Dem" district, even without the flood of AIPAC money.
  • Far-right Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert's carpetbagging jump from her right-leaning, but swingy-ish 3rd District to the farther right 4th district --- after barely winning in the 3rd in 2022 by just a few hundred votes --- paid off as she managed to beat off three other Republicans to win the GOP nomination in the new district on Tuesday and, with it, most likely, another term in Congress this November.
  • U.S. Rep. John Curtis, a not-insane, Mitt Romney-like, pro-climate action Republican from Utah, defeated a Trump-endorsed opponent to win the GOP nomination to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Romney in the very red, but not completely Trumpy state this November.
  • Another Trump-endorsed Republican lost, if narrowly, on Tuesday to Republican Sheri Biggs in South Carolina's primary runoff election for the U.S. House in the state's solidly red 3rd Congressional District.

And, some noteworthy news today from the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court, where a number of still-outstanding decisions remain, suggesting they may still be releasing opinions after the usual end of term in June, after we'll be on break over the Independence Day holiday week. Among the still-unreleased opinions are two that relate to criminal accountability for Donald Trump. It's up to you if you want to check out the (seemingly encouraging) abortion-related opinion that the Court appears to have accidentally released prematurely on their website for a few minutes on Wednesday morning. Beyond that, the two they meant to release today include...

  • A seemingly absurd finding that federal law does not prevent payoffs by private parties to public officials after an official has done something --- such as award a multimillionaire contract --- to the private party. The case overturns a conviction against an Indiana Mayor who received $13,000 after fixing the bidding process to award a million-dollar contract to a local trucking company. A payoff, or an agreement for one before such the contract was awarded, in a direct quid pro quo, would be considered unlawful bribery. But a payoff after the action in question, no matter how much, is considered a "gratuity" that, the Court ruled [PDF] in a 6 to 3 partisan decision today, is not barred by federal law. State and local jurisdictions may still prosecute such payoffs under their own laws, however, if they wish.
  • In a slightly more encouraging 6 to 3 ruling [PDF] today --- with three Republican-appointed Justices joining all three Liberals in the majority opinion --- the Court sided with the Biden Administration to reject claims by several Republican states and private plaintiffs that federal officials were unconstitutionally forcing social media sites to remove posts by so-called conservatives. The Court ruled that Plaintiffs had no standing here, since they all failed to demonstrate they faced any Constitutional harms by actions taken by federal officials --- in both the Trump and Biden Administrations --- to advise social media companies like Twitter and Facebook about potentially dangerous or misleading posts regarding COVID-19, election integrity and more.

And finally, on his HBO show last week, Bill Maher lauded Maryland's Democratic Governor Wes Moore for recently announced pardons to tens of thousands convicted over the years under state marijuana laws that have since been lifted. Maher then lamented how sad it was that Joe Biden wasn't smart enough to do the same thing at the federal level...even though Biden did exactly that two years ago when he also encouraged state Governors like Moore to do the same, as most marijuana convictions are at the state level. Of course, we covered both Biden and Moore's pardons as they happened. But, since Maher apparently never heard about it, I also want to make sure that at least you know about the new set of pardons issued today by the Biden White House...

  • As the military news outlet Task & Purpose reports: "U.S. troops who were convicted under a now-defunct military law that targeted gay service members will receive formal pardons, the White House announced Wednesday." The pardons will apply to thousands of LGBTQI+ troops who were discharged, going back to 1951, for military rules that have since been removed and/or found unconstitutional. Said President Biden in a statement: "Today, I am righting an historic wrong by using my clemency authority to pardon many former service members who were convicted simply for being themselves." I hope someone tells Bill Maher before he misinforms millions yet again...

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Guest: Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: VA's far-right Rep. Good vows to block certification of apparent narrow primary loss...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2024 6:36pm PT  

Quite literally, as I signed off at the end of yesterday's show, a ton of alerts popped up on my iPhone with some pretty big and surprising news. News that turns out to be far more complex and/or nuanced than many seem to appreciate. So, that's where we pick things up on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST... As voters headed to the polls today in New York, Colorado, Utah and South Carolina for the last group of Congressional Primary Elections before next month's Republican National Convention, we're still keeping our eyes on a primary election from last week in Virginia.

Far-right Republican Rep. Bob Good, Chair of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, is currently just about 375 votes, out of more than 62,500 tallied, behind the even farther-right Republican state Sen. John McGuire in the GOP primary contest in VA's 16th Congressional District. With a margin that slim --- less than 1% --- whoever is certified next week as the winner of the currently "too close to call" race has every right to seek a recount. But Good --- who was opposed in the race by both Donald Trump and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy for various offenses against them --- is already on the offensive, charging that "this race cannot and must not be certified." He is claiming (without evidence, to date) "inappropriate activity" related to drop box voting in Lynchburg City, the largest in the district, that should prevent all votes in the city from being certified. That, even before a recount, apparently.

Good's own colleagues (all largely 2020 election deniers themselves!) appear to be laughing at him. Or worse. "No one is buying it," one House Republican told Axios. "What a loser," said another. "F**k Bob Good," said still another. But a Republican-turned-independent who lost to Good in 2020 may have best summed things up: "I don't find it surprising that an election between an election denier and an election denier would end with one of them denying the election was fair based on conspiracy theories."

In any event, we'll be watching and doing our best to ensure a fair, transparent recount, hopefully by hand and overseen by the public. We'll also be popping a fair amount of popcorn as it all plays out.

THEN... News broke last night that WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange had, at long last, struck a plea deal with the U.S. Dept. of Justice after years in a British maximum security prison fighting extradition to the U.S. and, before that, seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange was facing charges filed in 2019 by Donald Trump's DoJ related to the release, beginning in 2010, of a trove of stolen classified documents, many of which related to alleged war crimes carried out by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. But many of the documents were related to other things that were less than criminal or even newsworthy. And some, in fact, put a number of people in grave danger.

Moreover, as our guest --- a journalist who wrote a number of articles based on WikiLeaks documents herself --- details today, many of the documents were obtained via unlawful hacking that Assange himself appears to have participated in. Other documents published by WikiLeaks, such as a trove of emails from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's Campaign Chair, are believed to have been hacked by Russia and given to WikiLeaks for publication before the 2016 Presidential election with dubious or no news value whatsoever.

Still, Assange and his supporters have maintained that WikiLeaks is a journalism outfit and, as a journalist, he can't be held to account under U.S. law for simply publishing documents in the public's interest, even classified or stolen ones --- at least if he was not involved in the theft.

But there is far more to the story, as detailed on today's program by longtime, independent national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of EmptyWheel.net. As of airtime, the plea agreement detailing the single charge he agreed to plead guilty to --- reportedly related to the Espionage Act --- had not been released. But Wheeler attempts to clear up some of what she characterizes as propaganda that has long been circulated by Assange's supporters.

"His hacking into other countries started before he reached out to Chelsea Manning," the military intelligence analyst who turned over reams of documents to WikiLeaks, Wheeler tells me. Among the documents from Manning was the famous "Collateral Murder" video, revealing U.S. helicopter pilots gunning down 11 people in Iraq, including 2 Reuters journalists. Wheeler charges that Assange "tried to help Chelsea Manning break a password. Then the hacking conspiracy continued through 2016. In other words, the attempt to get other people to hack things. It was a larger hacking conspiracy that other people pled guilty to and went to jail for." All decidedly not the behavior of an actual journalist, she says.

She details the "very, very deliberate effort on the part of Wikileaks to hide the fact that the hacking conspiracy started before, and continued long after, the Chelsea Manning stuff," and notes, by way of another example, that, "in 2015, WikiLeaks helped Edward Snowden [a national security whistleblower] flee to Russia."

"That's not something journalists do," Wheeler asserts. "You might think it's honorable or heroic, but that's not something journalists ever do."

Of course, if the charge against Assange relates only to journalistic activity, but not hacking, then, Wheeler believes, it would be a serious threat to press freedoms, "this precedent of somebody being prosecuted for publishing something, especially if they've taken the hacking part away entirely."

Wheeler was "reasonably comfortable" if hacking was tied to the charges against Assange, "but once you take the hacking away, yeah, it is a terrible precedent we should all be worried about."

"Regardless of how much you hate Julian Assange, or regardless of whether you think what he did was newsworthy, just the precedent is a worrying precedent," she warns. "That may be what we're left with going forward."

UPDATE 6/26/2024: With the plea agreement [PDF] now released, Wheeler has a detailed article on the "Damaging Precedent of the Julian Assange Espionage Guilty Plea" that, as she explains, fails to focus "on the alleged hacking, which always distinguished Assange from journalists". She notes, "This plea could have been written in a way that limited the damage of the precedent. For reasons we have yet to discover (but which may have been dictated by Assange’s side, not DOJ’s), it was not.":

It's over. Both sides lost. Chelsea Manning especially lost, given the additional time she spent in jail resisting a subpoena for testimony that would never be used at trial.

The question remains how much damage this loss for both sides will do in the future.

FINALLY... Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with Climate Change Gone Wild as summer begins, with disastrous record flooding in the Upper Midwest compounding record heat and wildfires already over much of the country. And, with hurricane season heating up, FEMA warns of a shortfall in disaster funding if Congress doesn't act quickly...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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