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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, May 5, 2021
FL's New Anti-Voting Bill Also Threatens Officials with $25K Fines: 'BradCast' 5/4/21
Guest: Former FL voting chief Ion Sancho; Also: L.A. County has zero COVID deaths two days in row as CA numbers plummet...
'Green News Report' 5/4/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden makes history with climate-focused Congressional address; New report finds reduction of methane crucial for climate; PLUS: WA State adopts landmark cap and trade law...
Previous GNRs: 4/27/21 - 4/22/21 - Archives...
How Cyber Ninjas' Own Docs Reveal Their Steal in AZ: 'BradCast' 5/3/21
And some truth about 2nd COVID shots; Also: Special election goes poorly for Ds in TX; Musical Marsh family brightens our pandemic; Callers ring in on 2nd shots...
Sunday 'Whopper, Side of Lies' Toons
There's plenty to choose from on the menu, in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Strong Women Rule!: 'BradCast' 4/30/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Ruth Bader Ginsberg's co-author Amanda L. Tyler...
With Reaganesque Optimism, Biden's Address Signals End of Reagan Era: 'BradCast' 4/29/21
Special coverage with Salon's Heather Digby Parton, Pro Left Podcast's 'Driftglass'...
Inside the GOP/Cyber Ninja's Maricopa, AZ Audit/Recount: 'BradCast' 4/28/21
Guests: John Brakey of AUDIT USA, Ray Lutz of COPs from inside the 'secret' RW tally and forensic probe of 2.1M 2020 ballots, why so little transparency, and why it all matters...
Dems Must Use Progressive Policies to Shift Political Power: 'BradCast' 4/27/21
Guest: CUNY's Deepak Bhargava; Also: Biden ups fed contractor min. wage to $15/hr; Fox's new 'red meat' lies...
'Green News Report' 4/27/21
New climate targets not enough; GOP's tiny infra-structure proposal; EPA revokes Trump attack on CA emissions rules; PLUS: Fox admits no Biden burger ban...
Grading Joe at 100 Days:
'BradCast' 4/27/21
Also: Biden declares Armenian 'genocide'; SCOTUS takes up guns; DoJ probes KY police; Admin's hunger program; AZ's non-transparent 'recount'; Callers assess Biden...
Sunday 'A Stone of Hope' Toons
PDiddie's latest -- and almost, partially, kind of optimistic (a little) -- collection of the week's best toons...
'Barbaric' SCOTUS Decision Blows Away Precedent on Juvenile Justice, Offers Dark Warning: 'BradCast' 4/23/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Biden polling; Young voters hopeful again on future...
'Green News Report' 4/22/21
Biden doubles US emissions targets; EU and Britain accelerate emissions cuts under the Paris Agreement; PLUS: Rep. AOC, Sen. Markey re-introduce the GND...
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...


Also: Special election goes poorly for Dems in TX; The musical Marsh Family brighten our pandemic; Callers ring in on second shots...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2021 6:54pm PT  

After getting our second COVID vaccine shots on Friday, we return for today's BradCast. For Desi, it was mostly a breeze. For me, just a few hours after taking the photo at right, as discussed on today's show, it was a bit of a nightmare (if a worthwhile one) --- as explained today along with some special election news out of Texas and some disturbing exclusive information out of the 2020 election "audit" theater being carried out by Trump supporters in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

First up, news out of the Saturday special election in Texas' 6th Congressional District for a U.S. House seat left vacant by Republican Congressman Ron Wright, who died from COVID last December. His widow, Susan Wright, was the top vote-getter in the 23-person, all-parties race. And another Republican, GOP fundraiser and state Rep. Jake Ellzey reportedly came in second, narrowly edging out Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez by less than half a percentage point. Sanchez conceded on Sunday in the contest where most votes were cast at polling places on 100 percent unverifiable touchscreens and none of the candidates came close to the 50 percent mark that they'd need to beat to avoid an upcoming runoff election for the seat. Dems hopes of expanding their narrow majority in the U.S. House were dashed with the loss in the mostly rural, reliably Republican district south of Dallas.

While there were no challenges to the unverifiable results in Texas with two Republicans winning, Trump supporters in Arizona continue their tax-payer funded [PDF], but privately-run "audit" of 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots in Maricopa County, as we discussed last week in detail on the show with two experienced election auditors who had rare access inside the secret counting at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, while media were locked out. Late last week, in response to a state judge's order, the Florida tech firm --- a group named Cyber Ninjas, with no experience in either elections or voting systems, who were retained by the GOP-majority state Senate to carry out this unprecedented "audit" --- revealed a 191-page document [PDF] supposedly detailing their recount and forensic audit procedures. (Though in fact, as we also report, these procedures have been changed many times since the "audit" began over a week ago.)

Many questions, such as why they are running ballots through a UV light, are not answered by the documents, which the far-right group, whose leader has claimed last year's Presidential election was stolen (without offering actual evidence to support the claim), attempted to keep concealed as "trade secrets".

Other information was revealed, however, such as the group's process for tallying ballots which, as I explain today, would actually allow the group to add (yes, steal) a minimum of 42,000 votes for Trump, without ever raising any alarms or red flags in the group's internal procedures. That, in race that was decided statewide for Joe Biden by just over 10,000 votes.

Worse, because the Ninjas are keeping all of their daily counts and tally sheets secret from the public, there will be no way to know at the end of the process (if they even finish before they must leave their rented venue on May 14), how they actually derived their numbers or if they, in any way, match up with what the paid counters actually tallied.

In short, we support any citizens being allowed to examine ballots to determine if elections are accurately tabulated --- even extreme partisans. But their are rules that need to be minded to assure integrity of that process as well. The process currently under way in AZ is a joke. It is election "audit" theater. That's because there is zero real oversight by the public in place. And the state GOP Senate has forced the County Board of Supervisors (4 Rs and 1 D, who all opposed this privatized, tax-payer funded charade) to give up secure control of the actual ballots to the Ninjas, who could now do anything they want to them.

And while the documents are short on details on the group's actual tallying procedures, they are long on concerns about how "Antifa" might use extreme violence to attack the venue with firebombs and chemical weapons. Seriously. That's who these people are and how they think.

Finally, it was a looong weekend for me, after suffering from a couple of days of seemingly endless chills, fever and pounding headaches after receiving my second Moderna shot on Friday. For Desi, beyond a few mild aches and pains, it was a breeze. Still, it was in those horrible, fever dream moments that I came to appreciate how important it was for everyone to get their shots anyway. I knew I was lucky enough that whatever I was going through would not, in fact, be "endless", as it has been for so many unfortunate people who contracted the actual virus. So, I tell some truths about both what I went through (which media too often downplay), and why that made me happy --- not upset --- to have gone through it...and why you should too.

Also today, we share one of the great "parody" songs by the Marsh Family in Great Britain, who have become a bit of a sensation during the pandemic in the UK. Today's song is a beautiful, moving yet amusing take off on Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, directed toward vaccine skeptics, called Have the New Jab. I liken this adorable family to the Family Von Trapp of Sound of Music fame!

And then we open up the phone lines to listeners who have recently had their 2nd jabs, to hear how things went for them, and if it was more like my experience or Desi's...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: John Brakey of AUDIT USA and Ray Lutz of Citizens Oversight from inside the 'secret' rightwing tally and forensic probe of 2.1M ballots from 2020, why there's so little transparency, and why it all matters..
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2021 4:44pm PT  

Okay. Buckle up for today's BradCast special coverage. Seriously. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

As you've almost certainly heard by now, the Republicans in the Arizona state Senate have contracted [PDF] a rightwing tech outfit with no experience in elections or voting systems --- calling themselves Cyber Ninjas --- to oversee an unusual, controversial hand-count audit of the 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona's 2020 Presidential and Senatorial elections. Apparently, the only elections the Senate GOP believe may have been stolen by Dominion Voting Systems tabulation computers or by stuffing ballot boxes were the two statewide elections each won by Democrats for the first time in decades.

The Florida-based Cyber Ninjas are being paid $150,000 tax-payer dollars for this post-election investigation, while collecting an unknown amount of dark money from unknown sources. They have, to date, kept the entire process pretty much a secret, locking out the public and media alike from overseeing the (at least partially) tax-payer funded process inside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. The only window into the process for the public, by and large, up until now, have been from 9 video cameras streaming wide shots from different angles of whatever is going on on the main floor of the arena.

The Cyber Ninjas' leader, a guy by the name of Doug Logan, had promoted false, often ludicrous and evidence-free claims of fraud following the 2020 election, asserting that the election must have been stolen from Donald Trump. So, of course, the Arizona GOP Senate hired him to run this effort. In this case, the results in question in Maricopa --- a state which Biden reportedly won by just over 10,000 computer-scanned votes (less than half of a percentage point) --- were certified by the five-person GOP-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (4 Rs and 1 D), the state's Democratic Sec. of State and Arizona's Republican Governor. It's only the state's far-right GOP Senate --- and millions of Trump supporters --- who believe the election must have been stolen for Joe Biden.

Still, some GOPers have their doubts. And we're always in favor of the public being able to check the results of hand-counted paper ballots for themselves whenever there are any questions --- justified or not --- regarding the results of any election, so that all voters can have confidence in the reported results. That is critical to the survival of American democracy. That said, such processes, particularly when they are tax-payer funded, must be open, transparent, overseeable and completely public processes. This process being carried out in Maricopa has decidedly not been that. With the Cyber Ninjas firm even arguing in court that their forensic processes must be kept a trade secret, just like the computer voting machine companies they (and we, for many years!) have complained about.

With no media allowed in (until a court order seems to have finally loosened that up a bit as of last night), there has been little if any information available to the public as far as what the hell is going on. The only reporter who seems to have gained access had signed up as an observer to work a 6-hour shift on Day 1 and discovered the counters were using blue pens --- which can be used to mark or spoil ballots. Following her complaints, they have been swapped out for red and green pens which cannot be read by the optical scanners. Beyond that, we've received little or no information on the process or progress of the count from public observers or media.

But we've had an inside track since the start of the count. And on today's show, we've got two long-time election integrity advocates who have been inside the Coliseum to observe over the last several days, one of them has been there since Day 1.

JOHN BRAKEY, Director of AUDIT USA, is actually working along side AZ's former Republican Sec. of State Ken Bennett --- as of now anyway, as Bennett serves as the Senate GOP's liaison to the count. Brakey, a longtime election integrity champion and transparency activist, is largely the only one involved in the effort who has experience with post-election audits and recounts. He's a Tucson-based Democrat, but has long fought for public oversight in elections across the country and joins us on the show today.

We're also joined by RAY LUTZ, Founder and Exec. Director of San Diego-based Citizens' Oversight Projects, which has helped organize and oversee many post-election audits over the years --- particular of electronic digital ballot images created by scanners when ballots are initially tallied. He spent the last several days inside the Coliseum, observing the count, by invitation of Brakey, until he'd decided he'd "seen enough" and headed back home to California last night.

Both explain what they have seen, what the secret process actually is (as far as they have been able to understand it); some of the positive elements that may come out of this exercise; and a number of very serious concerns they each share about the process, particularly when it comes to the lack of transparency for how the operation works, the lock out of media and the public, the lack of publicly disclosed running totals of the count (as in actual recounts) or comparisons to the initial tallies, and more.

In Brakey's case, he's taking action to try and improve the process. He tells us he filed a Public Records Request today with the Maricopa Board of Supervisors (which has long opposed this exercise) for the original counted vote records of the batches of ballots now being examined in the 15,000 seat arena. His hope is that the Cyber Ninja group, for their part, will publish their own daily results at the same time, so that there can be at least some public oversight of the process. That remains a work in progress, he explains. But Brakey --- who is receiving no money for the work (unlike pretty much everyone else involved in it) and has refused to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (as the Ninjas had initially asked) --- asserts that he is happy to talk about everything that he has seen and is prepared to walk away from the project if transparency is not quickly improved.

"That's what I'm doing here. I'm criticizing. I'm on them," he explains, after pushing to allow media in for several days. "I want you to know they have media in there right now. They have two people, they have a pool camera. They were nervous and I said, 'Don't be. This is the media. Give them what they need.' I want them to have the same access that they would get in [a public Maricopa County recount], and I'm fighting for that, and I'm winning."

For his part, Lutz says he had already grown somewhat frustrated with the lack of transparency, and decided to leave after observing for about two days. He details the complicated, incredibly slow, table-by-table, ballot-by-ballot effort that is being carried out. After he initially estimated the process they were using would take about 15 months to complete, Lutz explains that changes made to simplify the process have brought the task down to one that could be carried out in about a month, unless additional counting shifts are added. That, even though the group is supposed to have completed the entire effort just over two weeks from now, on May 14th.

"This group came in with no experience at all," Lutz says today, "with a lot of new-fangled ideas about how it would work. Apparently no one did any basic math to work out how long it would take. Now they're sitting here with a real big problem on their hands."

"I have to say, it looked like more of a big show than anything else when I first saw it," he says, referring to the color-coded tables and t-shirts being worn by workers, before explaining some of the efficiencies that have been implemented since the counting began. "Now, I have to say that a lot of what I see there is appropriate and pretty good in terms of their fencing off the ballots and how they keep them under control." Still, he is worried about what happens to the tally sheets being created at each individual table, because those are not being shared publicly and are being handed to someone who enters the numbers into a computer --- correctly or otherwise. "What we normally want to have --- and Citizens Oversight has watched many, many of these audits --- we want those sheets to be scanned immediately and published so they can't be altered, because those tally sheets now become just like ballots, but even more so, because they're the accumulation of all the ballot tallying."

He's also critical of the particular hand-count process being used which, he believes, may have an error rate of 1 to 2%, in order to somehow confirm the accurate tabulation of an election that was decided by less than one half of one percent. And we all discuss the unusual efforts by workers to do things like examine ballots under microscopes and with a UV light (apparently to look for bamboo fibers, suggesting the paper came from China, or to find a lack of creases in mailed-in ballots, suggesting the ballot box was somehow stuffed). Lutz also details the effort to take meticulous measurements of the size and thickness, as well as high-def photos, of each ballot, as part of some unclear process to determine whether they are real or fraudulent.

Yes, it's somewhat as nuts as it sounds. But voters are allowed to be nuts, if they like. Locking out the public from the process, however, remains a very serious concern, and leads to some heated exchanges, to say the least, on today's special BradCast coverage...offering a unique and exclusive look inside the Maricopa County, AZ "audit/recount".

"Somebody's going to throw the gauntlet down, and I'm throwing the gauntlet down," Brakey asserts under my questioning about oversight concerns. "And I guess if they don't want to do that, then I guess there's going to be a separation, and all of a sudden I'm going to be on the outside. And maybe that's what has to happen. Because I know that transparency is the solution. We're going to keep improving this process, or I'm outta here," he vows.

As noted, buckle up for this one. You've been warned...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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OH AG looks $5.5B federal gift-horse in mouth; AZ GOP sanctioned for 'groundless' lawsuit after well-run 2020 election; Repub attacks on democracy seek to send voters to 'Back of the Line'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2021 7:17pm PT  

It's a bit of a grab bag on today's BradCast, but one that will hopefully keep you well prepared for your next conversation with any of your still brain-poisoned wingnut friends, family and coworkers.[Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Included in our grab bag of coverage today...

  • Ohio's Republican Attorney General Dave Yost is suing the Biden Administration because the $350 billion that the Democratic COVID relief bill (the American Rescue Plan) allocates to help all 50 states overcome a revenue cash crunch includes a provision that prevents states from using that free federal money to finance state tax cuts.
  • Of course, Ohio could also just refuse to take the $5.5 billion earmarked for them in the federal legislation, which not a single Republican voted for in the U.S. House or Senate, often describing it as a "blue state bailout". But, because we believe in facts around here...As detailed in a new report this week from the financial website WalletHub, Ohio's Republican-majority state government ranks 16th among those most dependent on the federal Government. In fact, the site's latest annual analysis finds that 11 of the top 12 states most dependent on D.C. are all controlled by Republicans, while 12 of the 14 least dependent are run by Democrats. In other words, "blue" state taxpayer dollars continue to be a perpetual "red" state bailout.
  • With the election of Joe Biden and two Democratic U.S. Senators in Arizona (the 7th most dependent on federal dollars), the state is finally trending "blue", even as Republicans still hold control of the state legislature and governor's mansion. But turning "purple" is only leading the state Republican Party to lurch farther and farther to the right under the embarrassing --- and now costly --- leadership of AZ GOP Chair Kelli Ward. This week, a state judge ordered the Party to pay $18,000 in costs and attorneys fees to the state's Democratic Secretary of State after a frivolous lawsuit sought to force another post-2020 election audit in Maricopa County (Phoenix). The "bad faith" and "groundless" GOP suit, as the judge noticed in his sanctions order describing the effort as "gaslighting," failed to recognize that the County had already run a post-election hand-counted ballot audit, finding no fraud or inaccuracies in its Dominion Voting System tabulators.
  • For good measure, in late January, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors commissioned another audit, this one examining voting system equipment and source code, searching for malicious software or hardware on the systems used in November, checking for evidence of inappropriate network or Internet connectivity issues and rechecking the accuracy of the tabulation system itself against millions of actual votes cast last year. In all cases, according to the two separate, independent, federally accredited voting system test labs commissioned to carry out the audit, "No Issues" were discovered across the board.
  • Despite the clean bill of health from those post-election audits and the failed, evidence-free lawsuits to try and overturn Biden's win in the Grand Canyon State, Republican lawmakers in the state legislature continue to move dozens of voter suppression bills forward in hopes of, at the very least, undercutting the state's very popular mail voting system, as used by 80 percent of voters (Republican and Democratic alike) even before the COVID pandemic. One such measure would both add onerous ID requirements to mail-in ballots and require that absentee ballots be postmarked by the Thursday before Election Day!
  • The efforts in Arizona are, of course, being echoed by Republicans in statehouses all across the country of late, with more than 250 voter suppression bills introduced in more than 40 states so far this year. All of which share the hope of making it harder for (certain) voters to cast ballots at all. The GOP has been hard at work at this sort of suppression for some time, though they are doubling and tripling down since the 2020 contest. All of which has echoes for folk singer/song writer MATT SIRCELY, whose new Back of the Line tune harkens back to the voting lines in Ohio in 2004, the lines of protesters marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama in 1965, and the bread lines of the Great Depression. If Matt thought that thanking me for inspiration on this song would lead us to play it on the show...he is correct!
  • Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as extreme weather slams the North, South and West; as corporate media coverage of climate change fell over a cliff with the COVID pandemic last year; and as a top Texas utility regulator gets fired after being caught on tape helping to rig the system for corporate investors over Lone Star State rate-payers...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: 30-year veteran Leon County, FL elections chief Ion Sancho; Also: Callers ring in on that and Biden's progressive American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2021 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Republican assault on voting rights is not only happening in states where the GOP lost, for the first time in many years, at the Presidential level in 2020, like Georgia. It's also happening in states that Donald Trump won in 2020, but by a smaller margin than in 2016, like Texas. And, yes, it's also happening in the few states where Trump won in 2020 and actually increased his winning margin over 2016, like Florida. But in Florida, state elections officials, including Republicans, are furious about it. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While GOP state lawmakers are, right now, pushing hundreds of vote suppression bills in more than 40 states, based on Trump's Big Lie that he won the 2020 election (he didn't), a very small handful of Republicans are pushing back. In Georgia, on Sunday, the state's Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan appeared to decry at least some of the GOP efforts to curb voting rights in the Peach State. Last week, he walked out of the state Senate while presiding over a debate over passage of a new GOP bill that would disallow no-excuse absentee voting and implement many other restrictions. Over the weekend on NBC's 'Meet the Press', Duncan argued "Republicans don’t need election reforms to win, we need leadership."

Meanwhile, in Florida, where even Trump didn't forward phony claims about absentee fraud --- where he actually lauded their absentee vote system (in no small part because he voted illegally by absentee there) --- GOPers are, nonetheless, instituting new restrictions that would ban drop-boxes and remove the state's system that allows voters to sign up to be on the mail-in voting list for four years at a time. That, and other new restrictions on voting rights in the Sunshine State, are all included in an omnibus bill introduced by state Sen. Dennis Baxley called SB90. But, at least in Florida, state elections officials --- Democratic and Republican alike --- are pushing back.

Why, after the 2020 election, when even Republicans in the state like Gov. Ron DeSantis declared it to be one of the best and most secure elections in state history are GOPers now moving to restrict the franchise?

We're joined for some answers today by 30-year veteran Leon County (Tallahassee), FL Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO. The longtime, legendary champion of voting rights finally retired in 2016, after becoming so well respected by his fellow county elections officials, from all parties, that he was tapped to oversee the contentious and eventually aborted 2000 statewide recount between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

But now, the longtime Election Integrity champion says, he is furious at what Republicans are doing, and says that it's all about DeSantis' 2022 re-election hopes. "What's being overlooked by the national press," Sancho tells us today, "is that this issue, while framed nationally by the disgraced ex-President, is really being pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who in 2018 won by a scant 30,000 votes out of 8 million cast. He's scared to death because the Democrats right now have an over-half-a-million vote margin for individuals signed up to get that vote-by-mail ballot."

All of that plays into Republican fears of mail-in ballot drop-boxes, even though, as Sancho notes, they are far more secure than the U.S. mail, particularly after Republicans in the state's General Assembly previously adopted rules to ensure secure, manned drop-boxes in every county.

"Of the millions of Democratic voters that voted by mail, 1.5 million of them dropped them off in those vote-by-mail ballot drop-boxes before Trump laid out his plot to try to steal the election by damning vote-by-mail ballots," Sancho explains. "The Republican legislature, whose Republican base had always outvoted the Democrats from 2000 to 2020, required by law that each vote-by-mail ballot establishment have a drop -box."

"Then the bottom dropped out. COVID hit and the Democratic Party in the State of Florida said we don't want to subject our voters to go door to door, so they embarked on a phone program to enroll people in vote-by-mail . That was overwhelmingly successful, and vote-by-mail dramatically increased on the Democratic Party side to the point now that today, if Gov. DeSantis doesn't get rid of that list [of voters signed up for long-term absentee voting], he's facing a half a million vote margin to begin with. That's what's driving this particular bill this year." The new bill would wipe out the existing list and mandate that all voters re-sign up for it now, and then every two years thereafter.

"This is deja vu all over again," rails Sancho who charges "this slander" that "has caused people to doubt the veracity of elections" has made him "very angry." He draws a bead on Republican state Senator Baxley, the sponsor of SB90, charging this is not his "first drive-by shooting on carrying the Republican voter suppression. In 2010 he was author of [a bill] which dramatically curtailed early voting, because Obama carried early voting here in Florida [in 2008] by such a large margin that an actual majority of all African-Americans in this state voted at an early voting location. This is a tried-and-true playbook with the same characters involved."

As usual, there is much more in our conversation, including Sancho's take on the evidence-free, post-2020 GOP attacks on the Dominion Voting Systems company. Sancho has been a longtime thorn in the side of private elections vendors and their computerized voting and tabulation systems. He played a starring role in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, when he oversaw what became the first known hack of a Diebold optical-scan tabulator, as depicted live, as it happened, in the film's climactic finale.

"It's been rigged here," he tells me flatly. "Again, I've been watching these 'How can we curtail this? How can we do that?', and it's been going on since 2000."

Finally, we open the phones up for a few minutes for listener feedback on all of the above (including one fun Trump-supporting caller who is hopping mad about the conversation with Sancho!), and on my contention last week that Joe Biden and the Democrats' massive, progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan, could finally signal the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Ronald Reagan Era in this country...

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Working class, poor waited decades for Dems' progressive, equitable, paradigm-shifting $1.9T COVID rescue, relief and stimulus package
Also: Rememberinig 1 year since the world locked down, 10 years since Japan's triple disaster; And Trump is in big trouble in GA...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2021 6:34pm PT  

If nothing else, the thing to remember from today's BradCast is that not one single Republican in either the House or Senate voted for Joe Biden and the Democrats' remarkably robust, progressive and equitably written American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID rescue and relief package that history may someday regard as the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Reagan Era.

The President signed the sweeping bill on Thursday, which our friend David Dayen at The American Prospect described today as "maybe the largest pure economic uplift bill in U.S. history." GOPers may come to rue the day they didn't vote for it. Especially in 2022 when some of the key provisions --- like lowered health care premiums and monthly checks amounting to up to $3,600 per child, per year --- will expire unless those provisions are made permanent.

We discuss today a number of the less reported pieces built into the ARP, most of which --- unlike previous stimulus and rescue plans over the past several decades --- are crafted to benefit the poor and working class, and actually help lift many of them out of poverty. That is, by contrast, with the Trump/Republican 2017 tax cuts which also cost about $2 trillion, but overwhelmingly benefited corporations and the already wealthy.

All Republicans in both house of Congress voted against a nearly $2 trillion measure meant to largely help the middle class and the poor. Yet all Republicans in both houses of Congress voted in favor of the nearly $2 trillion measure to help the rich and corporations, which were already enjoying record profits at the time. Got it? Please keep that in mind --- and share it with your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, in case they are lied to about all of this --- when 2022 rolls around.

This bill marks a fundamental progressive change in the way our federal government has been doing business for the past four decades since the so-called Reagan Revolution. And it comes not a moment too soon, as we discuss today.

Today also marks the one year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be an official pandemic, when I stated on the program (to the surprise of, at least, Desi Doyen) that America was "shutting down". We share a clip of that somewhat breathtaking historical moment today.

More than 2.5 million have since died around the world, but the U.S., under Donald Trump's horrifically failed leadership, saw more deaths than any other country, with more than half a million lost here and still counting. That, even as we represent only about 5 percent of the world's population.

It is also the 10th anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck Japan in 2011. We remember that still-ongoing disaster as well today, and the nearly 16,000 lives that were lost that fateful day.

In somewhat brighter news...As Republican state lawmakers around the country are moving hundreds of bills in more than 40 states to try and disenfranchise voters in a way not seen since the end of Reconstruction, according to a new analysis by Washington Post, it may be Donald Trump's attempted election fraud that could be the biggest news in coming weeks. It appears he may be in even more trouble than it previously appeared in the state of in Georgia!

A new recording of his phone call to the top Georgia state election investigator, made during a post-election audit in Cobb County prior to Christmas last year, was released Wednesday night by the Wall Street Journal. We share the full, gob-smacking conversation, in which our then President is heard buttering up the investigator and telling her, among other things, that "when the right answer comes out, you'll be praised."

The newly released 6-minute recording with the Georgia Secretary of State's chief investigator Frances Watson, can't really be heard in any other way than Trump hoping to encourage her into finding "fraud" where none existed. The recording is now undoubtedly part of the growing body of evidence being examined by Fulton County, Georgia's District Attorney, Fani Willis. The Democratic prosecutor is investigating "the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration" after the 2020 Presidential election in the Peach State.

Willis has reportedly hired a racketeering and conspiracy expert for her grand jury probe, which could ultimately rope in Trump, his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and even Sen. Lindsey Graham, who are all known to have tried to encourage state officials to change the results of Georgia's 2020 Presidential election after Trump lost. That alone is a state felony punishable by a year in jail. With added charges for racketeering and conspiracy, those convicted under those state felony statutes could face 20 years in jail!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on the 10-year anniversary of the still-ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daichii nuclear plant and several much brighter and more hopeful pieces of news...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Matt Kent on the Congressional Review Act's closing window; Also: IA, GA Repubs pass vote suppression bills; Palm Beach resident Trump votes by absentee...again...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats could roll back dozens of toxic and/or corrupt Trump-era regulations, many of which had, themselves, rolled back previous regulations. And they can do it with a simple, filibuster-proof majority vote in the U.S. Senate. But they must act quickly. So, what's the hold up? [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

First up today, however, some quick elections news. Donald Trump, who decried absentee voting for everyone but himself while he lived at the White House and voted by mail unlawfully using Mar-a-Lago as his voting address, had previous claimed it was just fine that he voted by absentee, since he was legitimately not in Palm Beach, Florida to cast his vote.  Well, Palm Beach is holding municipal elections today, and guest which current resident of the town has requested an absentee ballot to vote?

Meanwhile, the post-2020 GOP attempt to roll back access to the ballot is gaining speed in state legislatures across the country. The Brennan Center for Justice cites more than 200 such measures proposed in more than 40 states as of mid-February.  One of them, a bill in Iowa that shortens Early Voting days and polling place hours, among other restrictions, was signed into law by the state's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday.  On Tuesday, civil rights groups filed suit.

Down in Georgia, a massive number of restrictions on voting --- most notably, mail-in voting --- are being quickly passed by both chambers of the state General Assembly.  As in Iowa, it's all being done with party line votes, with furious Democrats voting in opposition. On Monday, the GA state Senate passed a bill that, among other things, ends no-excuse absentee voting for most voters, even as 1.3 million took advantage of the convenient (and, during a pandemic, safer) way to vote in last year's Presidential election. But after Democrats won that election in November and both U.S. Senate runoffs in January, Republicans are now hoping to reverse the no-excuse mail-in voting law they themselves passed with their GOP-majority back in 2005. Shamefully, that is not the only new restriction that Republican state lawmakers are trying to enact in the Peach State, with many of the new restrictions aimed at suppressing minority voters.  And, as in Iowa, despite a lack of evidence of any voter fraud in their elections, Republicans are pretending that these new suppression tactics are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

Many provisions of the restrictive bills being pushed through state legislatures would be blocked by the Democrats' major voting rights bill, H.R.1, the "For the People Act" at the federal level.  The bill has already been passed in the U.S. House (with zero GOP votes), but unless the Senate filibuster rules are reformed --- or Joe Manchin comes to his senses (or both) --- the bill will almost certainly fail to overcome Republican opposition in the upper chamber.

At the same time, however, while Democrats are forced to look forward to protect upcoming elections, there are scores of corrupt, dangerous, Trump-era federal regulations that can now be rolled back with a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress. No need to get 60 votes in the Senate! But Democrats have to act fast to overturn these Trump rules before the clock runs out on the 60 legislative days since the new Congress began which allow for rolling back a previous Administration's regulatory rules under the Clinton-era Congressional Review Act (CRA).

There is an enormous number of measures that Democrats could reverse immediately, enacted at the last minute by the Trump Administration at dozens of federal agencies such as the EPA, Dept. of Interior, Dept. of Energy, USDA, NOAA, Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Labor, HUD, HHS, the Veterans Administration, DHS and others. But, as Public Citizen has been reporting, the window to repeal parts of "Trump's deregulatory legacy" is quickly closing before an April 4th deadline to introduce simple resolutions for each specific regulatory action they wish to roll back.

We're joined today by MATT KENT, Regulatory Policy Associate at Public Citizen who, with Amit Narang, has been furiously attempting to sound the alarm about all of this (and about the regulations that the Trump Administration screwed up when issuing them, making it even easier for Biden to reverse on his own.)

"Anything completed within 60 legislative days of the end of the preceding Congress --- so, for our purposes, anything the Trump Administration finalized after August 21, 2020 --- anything after that is available to be undone by this Congress," Kent explains. "There's a real opportunity here for the Biden Administration and the Democratic Congress to more or less supercharge their efforts to use the CRA, to really expand the scope of regulations that are available to be removed --- deregulatory action is a better way to put it."

"This is a filibuster buster," he tells me. "This is something you can use to really get around a huge roadblock in the Senate. That's the way it was designed by the Republicans who created the law."

While the non-partisan government watchdog Public Citizen has long opposed the CRA, Kent argues turnabout is fair play. While the law was little used until Trump came to office, Republicans too advantage of it to overturn more than a dozen Obama-era rules. Kent advises it should be used here again, and then "pull up the ladder" to abolish it.

"The sands are moving through the hourglass here," he says, referencing the upcoming CRA deadline before offering some bewildering news: "So far, there have not been any Congressional  Review Act resolutions introduced at all. I am a little surprised that no Democrat has introduced a disapproval resolution."

He predicts "we'll probably see some in the next few weeks, but the pace has definitely been slow." What could possibly explain the hold up? We discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some more news about rollbacks to Trump-era rollbacks, specifically, in this case, at the Dept. of Interior. That good news, as usual in the GNR, is balanced by some decidedly less good news --- on another bankrupt coal company hoping to pass its toxic mess on to the tax-payers, and a sleazy (and so far, successful) effort by the natural gas industry to block any and all changes to city building codes, meant to combat climate change, around the nation...

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House passes H.R.1., so now what?; MI audits find 2020 results accurate, so now what?; AZ Senate finally gets ahold of Maricopa County's 2020 ballots, so now what?; GOP Congressman admits to three counts of felony voter fraud...so guess what?!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2021 6:31pm PT  

We've got mostly democracy-related stories to report on today's BradCast. Some good news, and some bad. But there's a whole bunch of anti-democracy GOP fraud throughout, because what democracy story in the U.S. these days doesn't include Republican fraud and/or attempted voter suppression? [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's show...

  • We start with one story that has little to do with democracy, though it should be enough to ensure these two idiot Governors are never elected to anything ever again. In case you are unclear just how idiotic the Governors of Texas and Mississippi are, after they lifted all COVID restrictions in each state this week in hopes that folks won't notice how horrifically they failed their own constituents following the winter storm there three weeks ago, Axios reports today that, while COVID infections rates are still falling in most states, the rate in Texas is up 27 percent over the past week and Mississippi's is up a nation-leading 62 percent! Luckily, both states are islands, so the idiocy of their Republican Governors won't effect everyone else's efforts to get beyond this pandemic once and for all, right?
  • House Democrats, as expected, passed H.R.1 --- the "For the People Act" --- on Wednesday night with zero Republican votes. The massive, landmark, once-in-a-generation voting rights, campaign finance reform and ethics reform bill now moves to the Senate. In that undemocratic body, however, where a simple majority is NOT enough to pass a democracy reform bill as of now, it will likely die, unless enough pressure is applied on Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to do the right thing, reform the filibuster, and allow this critical (if imperfect) measure to pass while Democrats have a brief opportunity right now to do so. The measure is long overdue and, according to new polling, wildly popular with the American people of all parties. 68% of likely voters favor the bill, and even a majority of Republicans (57%), back it as well.
  • The sad (and dangerous) Trump/GOP effort to con Americans into believing last November's election was stolen from the disgraced former President --- despite all evidence to the contrary --- continues.  And the massive evidence to the contrary continues to mount. This week, Michigan's Secretary of State announced that the results of a second statewide post-election audit once again confirms the initially reported results. "All of Michigan’s more than 250 election audits are now complete, and each and every one of them affirmed the integrity of the November election and the accuracy of the results," Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson said on Thursday. The audits were carried out by "More than 1,300 Republican, Democratic, and non-partisan election clerks...working across the aisle to review one another's procedures, ballots and machines in coordination with the state Bureau of Elections." Full hand-counts were carried out in some places, such as Antrim County, where Republicans pretended that Dominion Voting Systems machines were used to try and steal the election from Trump.  And, in heavily populated cities like Detroit, election officials determined that, of 174,000 absentee ballots tallied in the city, only 17 votes were ultimately "out of balance" (where the number of ballots cast in a precinct differed from the number of envelopes or signatures accounted for.)
  • But the most embarrassing state GOP idiocy of the week may belong to the Republican-controlled state Senate in Arizona. After months of subpoenas to elections officials, ordering them to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix) last year --- and even coming within one vote of throwing elections officials there in jail for following state law by securely retaining custody of the ballots cast in the County last November --- a state judge finally ordered Maricopa officials to obey the subpoena to deliver all ballots to the Senate, so they could count them themselves. They were all delivered, 73 pallets of them, this week. And guess what? Senate Republicans have no idea what to do with them now.  The story is even worse than it sounds, as we discuss today.
  • But at least officials in Kansas were finally able to find some voter fraud. Specifically, voter fraud by now-former Republican U.S. House Rep. Steve Watkins of Topeka. The one-term Congressman was defeated last year. But not before he lied about his residence, using the address of a UPS store on his voter registration, voted in an election he was not entitled to vote in, and then lied to state investigators about it all.  He was charged with three felonies related to voting. This week, however --- because, luckily, he is a white, male Republican from Kansas --- prosecutors are allowing him to enter a diversion agreement that delays his trial for six months, and drops the charges entirely if he's a good boy through September. We compare his treatment to that of Crystal Mason, an African-American mother of three in Texas, who, unlike the Kansas Congressman, had no idea she was violating the law when she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted in the 2016 election. She received a sentence of five years in prison for her "crime".
  • Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as climate change has resulted in the weakest Gulf Stream in about 1,000 years; carbon emissions are rising again as COVID restrictions are loosened; Joe Biden raises U.S. targets under the Paris Climate Agreement; and another major carmaker announces plans to stop selling all gas burning, internal combustion engine vehicles in their line in very very short order...

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Guest: Slate's legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Virginia is no longer for death penalty lovers...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2021 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Try as they did, Donald Trump and the Republican Party were unable to steal the 2020 Presidential election. But they've got their plans in place for how to try and do it next time. They just need their currently stolen and packed Republican U.S. Supreme Court majority to help them pull it off. This week, SCOTUS chose not to do so --- even if they may in the future. But, in a separate decision, the Court did radically help increase the odds that our disgraced former President could be headed to jail before he's even able to run for office again. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, some good news out of Virginia, where more people have been put to death by the Commonwealth's government than in any other state in the nation. Since their founding as a colony in 1608, some 1,390 people have been executed by the government there. Since SCOTUS reinstated the death penalty in 1976, Virginia has executed 113 people. That is more than any other state but Texas. This week, however, following Democrats gaining majorities in both chambers of the legislature, Virginia will now become the first Southern state --- and the 23rd in the union --- to abolish the abhorrent practice. And not a moment too soon, particularly given the systemic racism of their death penalty practices. For example, as the Death Penalty Information Center pointed out to Washington Post this week, "From 1900 to 1969...Virginia did not execute a single White person for any offense that did not result in death, while 73 Black men were executed for rape, attempted rape or robbery." So, yeah. Very good news out of Virginia this week, as Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam prepares to sign the long-overdue measures finally adopted by the state legislature.

Speaking of state legislatures, on yesterday's BradCast, we reported on this week's decision by SCOTUS to purge a bunch of held over Trump/GOP challenges to the 2020 election. Cases from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona were all dismissed as moot. But dismissal of the Pennsylvania cases found three Justices --- Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch --- in dissent [PDF]. The two nearly identical cases in question had challenged the PA state Supreme Court's decision to extend the deadline [PDF] for the return of absentee ballots by three days after Election Day, due to the pandemic, slowdowns by the U.S. Postal Service and a provision in their state constitution mandating fair elections.

With all of their many other attempts to steal the 2020 election having failed, the GOP has now latched on to a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause to argue that only state legislatures --- not Governors, not Secretaries of State, not State Elections Board or even state Supreme Courts --- may set any procedure for federal elections. Therefore, the Trumpers argued in their now-dismissed Pennsylvania challenges, the three day extension by the PA Supreme Court to enforce their state's Constitution by allowing for the arrival of late mail-in ballots cast by Election Day, was an unlawful violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Though no SCOTUS majority has ever affirmed this extreme reading of the federal Constitution, this is what many Republicans have now decided to believe to make themselves feel better after losing last November. In Pennsylvania, however, there were only 10,000 late arriving ballots and Joe Biden won the Keystone State by about 80,000. So SCOTUS decided the issue was moot and dismissed the cases. But Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch argued the case should have been heard anyway.

"A decision in these cases would not have any implications regarding the 2020 election," Alito wrote in dissent. "But a decision would provide invaluable guidance for future elections." On yesterday's program, I actually agreed with Alito and explained why.

Today, for a counter-point, we're joined by Slate's great legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN who offered a very different view from mine in his own coverage of Monday's decision by the high court. While justifiably destroying Justice Thomas' solo dissent in which he argued that mail-in ballots are bad even if there is no fraud, simply because people may think there is fraud, Stern also argued that SCOTUS was right to dismiss the case, rather than hear it. In part, he argues, that's because this Court has been packed so far to the extreme right. "We should be very afraid of what the Court would say," he tells me. "And that fear is enough for us to just hope that the Justices put off a decision on this matter for as long as humanly possible."

But I disagree with Stern and, in a very spirited debate, explain why. Who wins that one? Tune in and decide for yourself.

Stern also comments today on whether our failed former President should be concerned that his own packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, in an apparently unanimous decision on Monday, finally allowed Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to obtain Trump's financial and tax records as part of Vance's grand jury criminal probe into alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by Trump and his organization. In short, Stern asserts, "the answer is yes," Trump should be very concerned. "They're looking at felony offenses here, not just civil offenses, run-of-the-mill white collar stuff, but serious crimes. I do think there's a serious chance that we could see an indictment of Donald Trump coming down the pipeline in the near future." Though he does add a caveat or two.

Of even more immediate concern, Stern recently wrote, Trump's efforts to interfere with Georgia's election results --- for example, cajoling and threatening the state's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to declare him the winner --- could spell trouble, and even jail time, even sooner.

"You'll see some people argue that Trump can't be convicted under this law --- the ban on criminal solicitation of election fraud --- because he didn't have the requisite state of mind, because he didn't actually want the Sec. of State to falsify records because he was deluded enough to believe that there were actually 12,000 secret votes for him out there that could be found. That's a question for the jury, that's not a question for the prosecutors or the grand jury. That is something Trump could argue at a criminal trial," says Stern, before adding: "I think that any reasonable reading of that transcript proves that Trump was, in fact, looking for the Secretary of State to falsify records, to commit election fraud. It is very difficult to read those sentences in any other way."

He explains why Trump could soon be looking at anywhere from 1 to 3 years in that criminal probe by the Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney and whether he thinks it is actually possible that a former President of the United States may actually receive prison time before all of this is said and done...

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Special Coverage Day 2 with former Deputy Asst. AG Lisa Graves on the point-by-point case against Trump and how he might respond; Also: GA prosecutor opens criminal probe of Trump's attempted election theft...
By Brad Friedman on 2/10/2021 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: On the same day that news broke that Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia's newly elected prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into Donald Trump's apparent attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election in her state, the U.S. House Impeachment Managers began their not-unrelated and rather damning opening argument against the disgraced former President in his historic second U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial. And though it was not necessarily surprising, it was still stunning to see that Fox "News" didn't even bother to carry some of the most disturbing and chilling testimony and video presented on Wednesday. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]

Our special, seat-of-our-pants coverage continues today, as Democrats from the House laid out what certainly came across as a compelling, seemingly air-tight, point-by-point case against Trump. They detailed, through his own repeated tweets and media statements, all the way back to last Summer, how he cultivated and prepared his supporters for his false claim that, if he lost the election, it could only be due to massive election fraud.

While the Article of Impeachment itself, for "Incitement of Insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, focuses largely on that day's deadly attack by his MAGA Mob, Trump had laid the groundwork for the assault for months. The House Managers offered a meticulous presentation of tweets and media statements from the then-President, detailing how he used his various platforms to gin up false outrage about a "stolen election", both before and after the election itself. That, despite a lack of evidence to support his claims and his carefully orchestrated attack on the last day possible to prevent the final certification of Joe Biden's decisive Electoral College victory.

Lead Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin (MD), describing Trump as "the Inciter-in-Chief," charged that his scheme was "the greatest betrayal of the Presidential Oath in the history of the United States." The entire team of Managers spelled out exactly how Trump "praised, supported and cultivated" the eventual violence that resulted in five deaths that day, including a Capitol Police officer, two officer suicides in the days that followed, and well over 100 serious injuries to police attempting to protect the Capitol and the hundreds of lawmakers inside.

"For months," Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA) explained during his presentation, "Trump assembled the logs and the kindling" to convince his supporters that the election would be rigged, "so if he lost, his supporters would be ready to light the match."  And they were --- especially after Trump "doused the flames with kerosene" once he lost the election and eventually ran out of non-violent option to overturn it.

Unfolding, appropriately enough, like a violent crime prosecution, the Managers detailed how Trump ignored more than 60 court challenges he lost (several of which were at the hands of federal judges he himself had appointed); pressured and threatened election officials in several states to change results in his favor; attacked Senators and members of the House for failing to take action on his behalf; pressured the Dept. of Justice to bring fraudulent fraud cases; and even used his platforms to repeatedly attack his own Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to try and steal the election for him.

By the time his supporters were primed to storm the Capitol on January 6, as previously unseen video and federal charging documents reveal, many in Trump's mob were focused on the assassinations of Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others. Chilling surveillance footage of fleeing lawmakers and courageous, quick-thinking law enforcement officials also reveals how close the insurrectionist mob actually came to being able to do so. It's miraculous that there weren't even more deaths.

Underscoring the entire case, however, is the fact that none of it --- none of the violence, none of the death --- would have occurred, had not Trump incited it and then failed to stop it. All of it. On purpose. Unapologetically, even now.

We're joined today for insight on today's historic proceedings and how Trump's defense team can possibly respond to it, by LISA GRAVES of True North Research. With her experience as a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Dept., a former Chief Counsel in the U.S. Senate, and a former Deputy Chief for the U.S. Court system, she brings a broad and helpful perspective to all of this.

Among the points discussed today, in addition to her general opinion of the case to date by the House Managers: How this Impeachment Trial differs both from Trump's first one and Bill Clinton's; Whether she would like to see witnesses called during this trial and, if so, who?; How much of this matter should be seen as "Kabuki Theater" given the general belief (true or not) that there are unlikely to be 17 Republican Senators willing to vote for conviction, as needed; Whether this Impeachment Trial helps or hurts the odds of criminal charges being brought against Trump in the future for this matter; And what she might expect from Trump's defense attorneys in response.

"I think it's vital that, under our Constitution, these proceedings take place even if there are members of that body who do not have the courage -- the moral courage --- or the devotion to our Constitution to do the right thing, based on the evidence that's been presented so far, to convict Donald Trump," Graves tells me. "I think there should be accountability for members based on how they vote in this trial. And people should be held to account for whether they are willing to speak up against this unprecedented assault on our democracy, on our legislative branch of government, on the rule of law, and on the very notion of how you determine elections are valid, which is the certification process that every single state engaged in."

"So, I think it's an important thing historically," she argues. "It's important for our Constitution. It's important for the people, regardless of the outcome."

Finally, we get to our latest Green News Report, with some troubling news across the planet, but also some fun, funny and even encouraging news to end a somewhat disturbing and chilling day in D.C....

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Also: Dominion Voting Systems sues Rudy Giuliani for $1.3 billion in yet another defamation suit against a Team Trump attorney...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2021 6:22pm PT  

If you thought the news might slow down a bit with Donald Trump finally out of office, you may still have to wait a while.  On today's BradCast, we pick up where Friday's left. Moments after we got off air a ton of astonishing news broke, and it has continued right up through airtime today.  Most notably, the stunning story of just how close the nation's mercifully former President actually came to stealing the election from Joe Biden and the American people is only just now beginning to come together. [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

We start today --- (which, by the way, marks our 17th Anniversary of muck-raking and trouble-making via The BRAD BLOG! Please feel free to help us continue our reader/listener supported work into our 18th year with a much-needed donation!) --- with another $1.3 billion defamation suit filed against yet another Team Trump legal liar and defamer.  Following a similar suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems against Trump's attorney Sidney Powell just weeks ago, his lead election-theft attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has now also been slapped with a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit by the Canadian-owned firm.

The 107-page complaint [PDF] filed on Monday, as we detail at some length today, charges that Giuliani repeatedly fueled Trump's "Big Lie" about the election and the repeatedly evidence-free claims that Dominion's systems were somehow used to steal it from Trump for Biden. These are the false claims that Giuliani made over and over again in public, on rightwing media and on his snake-oil peddling YouTube show, ironically named "Common Sense". They are also, as Dominion points out in the complaint, the same claims that Giuliani failed to make in a court of law, where he could actually be punished for his egregious and repeated "voter fraud" lies.

The company charges that the false information from Trump's attorney was also retweeted and shared millions of times on social media, leading to broad distrust and millions in potentially lost business by the private voting systems vendor. Giuliani's months long assault also resulted in a number of vile and violent death threats to company employees and contractors alike.

The central false claim by Giuliani --- which we have detailed on previous programs --- is based on a wildly bastardized and re-imagined version of a deep-dive investigative exclusive from The BRAD BLOG that I published more than 10 years ago. It relates to Dominion's 2010 purchase of another voting machine company that had once been owned by still another voting machine company that was once tied to Venezuela and its now deceased President, Hugo Chavez. My decade-old, completely accurate story was so bastardized by Rudy and Team Trump that, at one point, while he was giving false testimony about Dominion "fraud" to the GOP-majority Michigan state legislature in early December, Rudy claimed that Dominion's owners were brought "down to meet Chavez just two years ago."  (Chavez has been dead for seven years.)

As also explained today, we are no fans here of private voting companies having any place in our public elections. Nonetheless, Dominion is right to sue for the libelous and dangerous falsehoods repeatedly told by Team Trump, which also fueled the violent, attempted insurrection by the enraged and disinformed MAGA Mob at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Moreover, there may well be more such suits coming in the days ahead. The firm has indicated they may even file suit against Trump himself.

All of that served as the basis --- at least in Donald Trump's addled-brain, as we learned over the weekend --- for a gob-smacking, last minute attempt by the then President of the United States earlier this month to also stage a coup at the U.S. Justice Department! He reportedly attempted to replace his Acting Attorney General with yet another lackey who was willing to use the Dept. of Justice to file suit at Trump's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the 2020 Presidential election results in one or more states, and to lie to Georgia's elected officials that the DoJ was investigating major voter fraud in the state. That, the hare-brained but wildly dangerous scheme argued, should have then led Georgia state legislators to void the results and award the state's electors to Trump. In reality, Biden won the Peach State narrowly last November. There has been no credible evidence to suggest otherwise and, in fact, there has been quite a bit of evidence to suggest the results in Georgia were accurately tabulated by the Dominion systems.

On Friday, the New York Times' Katie Benner published the shocking scoop on that attempted DoJ coup, that --- along with several other pieces of reporting in recent days and weeks --- gets us a bit closer to understanding just how close Trump was to pulling a trigger that might have resulted in the complete undermining of American democracy and the stolen election he was after. We detail the plot to remove Trump's Acting Attorney General (the one he installed when even Bill Barr was unwilling to go along with Trump's phony election fraud scheme), prevented only by a vow of top officials at DoJ to resign en masse if Trump went through with it. The details, however, are as stunning as the story itself, and help to spell out exactly what Trump was hoping for with the insurrection he (and Giuliani!) incited at the Capitol on January 6th and how close he came to actually pulling it all off!

All of which underscores how the two week delay now scheduled in the U.S. Senate before Trump's second impeachment trial begins is likely to make things far worse, rather than better, for the disgraced, now former President.

Buckle up for today's latest edition of The BradCast!...

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Guest: Democracy activist, legal scholar Paul Lehto; Also: New Congress, same old problems; Former SecDefs issue warning about Trump; Unhinged President's unhinged phone call threatening GA's Sec. of State...
By Brad Friedman on 1/4/2021 7:39pm PT  

After a not-nearly-long-enough break, The BradCast is back for the new year, when everything will be entirely better than the old year, right? Well, if the last several days of insanity that we now refer to as "news" is any indication, the answer is: "Not so much!"  It will be impossible to adequately cover all we discussed on today's program in today's summary. But, we'll give you the basics here and hope you tune in for the full story. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

While we were off, both houses of Congress overrode Donald Trump's ridiculous veto of the "must-pass", $780 billion National Defense Authorization Act to fund the military for another year. But GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was nonetheless successful in preventing Americans from receiving $2,000 pandemic checks, despite best efforts of Democrats, a tiny, uninspiring handful of Republicans, and even Trump himself. That, as the nation clocked an unfathomable 350,000 COVID deaths, which is the equivalent of blowing up about 17 sold-out NBA arenas and killing every single person in every single one of them, or 115 9/11s over the past 10 months in the U.S.

With that, the new 117th Congress convened for the first time on Sunday, with a narrow majority for Republicans in the Senate (pending Tuesday's two U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia) and with a narrow majority for Democrats in the House, where they elected Nancy Pelosi as Speaker for another two years.

Despite all of that pretty big news, it all seemed to pale in comparison to Donald Trump's ongoing electoral death rattle. With concerns about how our unstable President may react as his days in office dwindle, every living former Defense Secretary (10 of them, Republican and Democratic, including the two fired by Trump and even Dick Cheney, who was apparently concerned enough that he reportedly led this effort), published a short, sharp group op-ed, making it crystal clear that any "efforts to involve the U.S. armed forces in resolving election disputes would take us into dangerous, unlawful and unconstitutional territory," and that "civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic."

Even as that was being published on Saturday, Trump was on the phone for an unhinged hour with the Republican Secretary of State of Georgia, haranguing, threatening and cajoling him to change the state's Presidential election results to award the state's electoral college votes to Trump. We play part of that call, which may have been in violation of both state and federal laws, on today's show. We do not do it justice. The Washington Post has published the full bonkers audio and transcript, including Trump's long-ago debunked fraud claims and repeated false assertions that he won the state by about a half million votes (he lost it by about 12,000) and that he just wants "to find 11,780" votes to "win" the state.

The news of that madness came on Sunday, as Georgia will have it's last day of voting in two U.S. Senate runoffs to determine partisan control of the Senate for the next two years on Tuesday, and as the new Congress meets in a joint session on Wednesday, January 6th, to affirm (or not) the results of Biden's Electoral College victory over Trump by a seemingly comfortable 306 to 232 margin.

Over the weekend, however, more than a dozen Republican U.S. Senators led by 2024 hopefuls Josh Hawley of MO and Ted Cruz of TX, announced they intend to challenge the Electoral College results on Wednesday during what is normally a pro forma procedural affair presided over by the President of the Senate (Vice President Mike Pence, in this case).

And this bring us to crux of where we are and what could happen on Wednesday, as Republicans continue to claim --- through failed lawsuits and other protests --- that the Electoral College Act (ECA) of 1887, which has determined the procedure to be used on Wednesday for about 150 years and 33 Presidential elections without question, is somehow a violation of the Constitution's 12th Amendment.

If Republicans can figure out how to make this argument on Wednesday --- with Pence potentially holding the reins to help them --- we could find ourselves in a Constitutional quagmire leading to....lord knows what.

We're joined today to help explain all of this madness by longtime election integrity advocate, election law scholar and democracy activist, PAUL LEHTO. He argues that, despite so many claims to the contrary (by many of the same folks who said that Trump could never become President back in 2016, by the way) there is, in fact, still a "path" for Trump and his Republicans to steal the election from Biden on Wednesday.

Tune in for the details, but it has to do with how the 12th Amendment says that questions about the validity of Electoral Votes should be dealt with (via a one vote per state vote in the U.S. House), versus how the ECA handles such challenges (with a regular, up or down majority vote in both houses needed to support such a challenge.)

Why is this even a question at this point? Lehto explains in detail.

He also cites the lesson that we should learn from all of this madness: "What we should learn is that what you and election integrity activists have talked about now for decades is coming home to roost," Lehto explains. "And that is that a big, big part of this is the inherent uncertainty when votes are purely processed through computers. Nobody really knows --- until there's a hand recount --- what the result is, and partisan people can attach to that uncertainty and that doubt any theory that they wish to in order to keep hope alive."

"So we need a voting system that leaves no doubt as to that result . And in order to have that you have to have transparency," he says, adding: "Basically, this is all the chickens coming home to roost, in terms of our non-transparent voting system."

There's more. But, again, you'll need to tune in for it. Happy New Year?...

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Guest: The American Prospect's David Dayen; Also: Election chaos at White House; Barr nixes Special Counsel probe of 2020 'fraud'; Fox 'News', running scared, debunks self after legal threat from election vendor...
By Brad Friedman on 12/21/2020 7:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's days in the White House are ending, but his response to that reality (and the reality of the most devastating hack of the U.S. government ever) is becoming more manic and desperate by the day. But at least, after nine months, Republicans have seen fit to allow some much-needed, long-overdue financial relief for sick, dying and desperate Americans as both Trump and the GOP's failed response to the pandemic has killed more than 316,000 Americans and may finally be catching up to them politically.

There was reportedly shouting and chaos --- even more than usual --- at the White House over the weekend, as Trump and his clown car friends and attorneys met to propose last gasp efforts to somehow steal and/or undermine the 2020 election. Trump's disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn --- recently pardoned by Trump for lying to the FBI --- is said to have called on the President to declare martial law to allow the military to re-run the Presidential election in swing-states that Trump lost; Team Trump attorney and professional conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell sought to be appointed as a Special Counsel to investigate 2020 "fraud"; and Team Trump's other corrupt, nut-ball attorney, Rudy Giuliani, reportedly wanted DHS to impound voting machines from battleground states for some reason. Trump's very Trumpy White House staff reportedly pushed back on all of those ideas, incredibly enough, and his outgoing Attorney General, Bill Barr, whose last day at DoJ is Wednesday, said in his final presser as AG on Monday that he saw no reason to appoint a special counsel and no legal grounds for the federal government to seize voting machines.

As that played out, over in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who had refused to even negotiate with Democrats on a new COVID relief bill for the past nine months following the passage of the initial $2.2 trillion CARES Act in March, finally relented to allow another round of relief --- albeit much smaller --- to be adopted by Congress. That, following more than 16 million infections, hundreds of thousands of deaths and an economy in tatters. The $900 billion package he finally agreed to includes one time $600 payments for many Americans and extends unemployment insurance which runs out entirely by the end of the year, as tens of millions of Americans are now out of work due to the Administration's wildly mishandled pandemic. The package also includes nutrition assistance for the hungry, another round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses, money for hospitals and vaccine distribution, and even rent assistance, for the first time, among other things.

It's not nearly enough, says our guest today. But it's something, and it includes "nothing objectionable," at least for the most part. We're joined today by The American Prospect's Executive Editor, investigative financial journalist and author DAVID DAYEN, for details on the measure which he has been covering in-depth for months in his daily, indispensable "UNSANITIZED" report. Dayen explains what's in the bill and what is not, and why that is, along with why it is that McConnell even allowed the measure to come up for a vote at all after months of refusing to do so.

He argues that It's all about the January 5th U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia, which will determine control of Congress' upper chamber for the next two years. "Mitch McConnell's Senate majority was on the line if he didn't get something done," says Dayen. "If McConnell manages to win at least one of those races in Georgia, he's going to be in control again. Joe Biden will be President, and every dollar that Mitch McConnell agrees to put into the economy is a dollar that helps Joe Biden."

"The question of how 'Not Enough' this bill is entirely is predicated on how fast we can vaccinate people," Dayen explains. "If we can vaccinate everyone by April, then we're probably going to get a rickety but sufficient bridge." But, he adds, if Biden's incoming Surgeon General is right when he noted over the weekend that "we won't get widespread availability of the vaccine until early Fall, then we're in big, big trouble. Because there's no more must-pass bills. The government is now funded through September of next year." That, Dayen notes, means that there is little if any leverage for Democrats to force Republicans to act on behalf of the American people.

"Democrats had to take out grants for state and local government relief," to get this bill passed, he tells me. "So when we get into next year, cities and states that have had these tremendous budget shortfalls, they are the ones who have to figure out how to fill that shortfall when they have no help from the federal government coming. It's likely going to result in cuts to public safety, teachers, firefighters, and public employees and not filling your potholes --- all sort of things at the local level that are going to have to be foregone because there is no money available. Mitch McConnell knows this, [and] that it could have the effect of offsetting any kind of recovery efforts at the federal level. We saw that in 2009. That stunted the overall recovery of the economy, and we're walking into it again." And with McConnell's eyes on 2022, he's likely just fine with that.

All of this underscores the importance of those two U.S. Senate runoffs in Georgia in January, and that Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff ought to be reminding voters every day that if they want any real relief from the federal government for the economic disasters that are almost certain to worsen due to all of this, they must elect both of them to give Senate control to the Democrats under a Biden Administration.

Finally, we've been reporting over the past week on two voting machines companies who have been threatening defamation lawsuits against Rightwing media outlets and the Team Trump attorneys who have been offering false claims that the companies were somehow involved in stealing the election for Joe Biden by flipping votes cast for Donald Trump. Last week, Smartmatic, which has no voting systems in any of the swing-states where Trump is trying to reverse his losses to Biden, threatened rightwing propaganda channels Fox "News", Newsmax and One American News Network (OANN) with defamation suits. They were sent a letter to instruct them that they would be sued if they did not retract false claims about the company, including allegations (apparently bastardized from our original, accurate investigative reporting from 10 years ago) that Smartmatic was somehow working with Venezuela's dead President Hugo Chavez and George Soros, along with the company's competitor Dominion Voting Systems in an international conspiracy to steal the election for Biden.

A day or two after Smartmatic's letter, Dominion sent a similar defamation threat letter to Team Trump attorney Powell seeking a retraction for her outlandish, evidence-free claims about the company.

On Friday then, in a bizarre segment on Fox' Lou Dobbs Tonight' --- which looked and sounded a lot like a deposition led by a disembodied off-camera voice --- Eddie Perez of the Open Source Election Technology (OSET) institute (he most recently appeared on The BradCast just a few weeks ago) answered a whole bunch of questions basically disabusing the evidence-free claims about Smartmatic that have been forwarded for weeks on Dobbs' show and many others. Reportedly Jeanine Pirro's and Maria Bartiromo's Fox shows ran the exact same segment with Perez, using almost identical introductions. The segments then led straight to commercial without comment from the hosts.

Fox is clearly terrified, and should be. As the New York Times' Ben Smith reported over the weekend, Smartmatic has retained attorney "J. Erik Connolly, who not coincidentally won the largest settlement in the history of American media defamation in 2017, for at least $177 million."

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Smartmatic, which had nothing to do with swing-state elections, threatens RW media outlets with defamation suits; Also: Actual voter fraud criminal Trump not allowed to live at Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach neighbors warn...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2020 8:11pm PT  

So, yeah, I'm a bit grumpy on today's BradCast. When you listen, you'll get an idea why. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

For one, I'm actually forced to defend a voting machine company. That could be a first in my nearly two decades of investigative reporting on Election Integrity and the woeful private voting system vendors who have been allowed to take over our public elections with their crappy, over-priced, often-unverifiable, easily-manipulated hardware and software. In this case, however, the claims made against one such company --- based on a twisted, bastardized re-imagining of my otherwise accurate and independently verifiable deep-dive reporting from more than a decade ago --- by sore-loser Donald Trump's dishonest attorneys and media stooges, need to be pushed back against, lest they further Trump's goal of undermining the United States' Constitutional republican democracy entirely.

Lawsuits may be coming in this case, warns Smartmatic's CEO, after the firm has been falsely blamed for stealing the election for Joe Biden in states where they do not even do business. (Their only contract in the U.S. is here in Los Angeles County. But that hasn't stopped Team Trump and the MAGA Mob from conflating them with a completely separate company, a competitor named Dominion Voting Systems, which has also been falsely blamed for stealing the election in jurisdictions where they do no business either.)

The bullshit, evidence-free claims of fraud continue from the deranged President and his pathetic team of desperate sycophants nonetheless. The latest nonsense comes via a so-called "forensic audit" by a so-called "military intelligence" outfit named Allied Security Operations Groups (or ASOG) which clearly knows nothing about voting systems or even election law. At least if you believe actual independent voting system and cybersecurity experts who examined their absurd, evidence-free allegations of "ELECTION FRAUD!"

Republicans in Congress clearly do not believe such experts, as GOP Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin held a ridiculous hearing on phony 2020 election fraud conspiracy claims in the U.S. Senate Government Affairs Committee today, no matter the lack of evidence for any such fraud. That, as more than 300,000 Americans --- more than the number of those killed during combat in all of World War II --- have now died from COVID-19 over the past nine months. Johnson and the rest of his caucus continue to largely ignore the deadly scourge while Americans are out of work by the tens of millions and about to be tossed from their homes amid the worst pandemic in a century. Both myself --- and Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) --- have a word or two about all of that shamefulness as well today.

Meanwhile, actual voter fraud criminal Donald Trump, is coming under legal scrutiny again for the fact that he is unlawfully registered to vote in Florida at a non-legal voting domicile (Mar-a-Lago, a commercial club, as Trump agreed back in 1993 when the town of Palm Beach allowed him to convert the once-private residence into a business). He went on to unlawfully vote twice this past year --- one by mail and one in-person --- using that non-legal "residence" as his voting address. All three acts are felonies by the President of the United States under state law in Florida, though its corrupt Governor Ron DeSantis, a Trump sycophant himself, doesn't appear to give a damn. Laws --- including election laws --- apparently do not apply to Republicans, especially if they happen to be sore-loser Presidents offering bullshit claims about election fraud in hopes of bringing down American democracy. But, as the neighbors to Mar-a-Lago are now warning, Trump will not be welcome to take residence, lawfully or otherwise, after his Presidency mercifully ends in historic failure next month.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with the U.S. on the verge of breaking another record for billion-dollar climate-related disasters in a single year; insurance companies cancelling homeowner policies in California amid record wildfires; and as the U.N. warns yet again that the world must pick up the pace in order to slow the very worst effects of deadly global warming.

Other than that, everything is fantastic today!

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on recent cases, Bill Barr, Kris Kobach and accountability for TX' attempt to overturn the election; Also: GOP now eating its own with GA's U.S. Senate runoffs underway...
By Brad Friedman on 12/15/2020 7:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While the GOP's packed and stolen 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court did the right thing last Friday in unanimously rejecting [PDF] indicted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's attempt to steal the 2020 election (and receive a Presidential Pardon for his thanks), there remains the question of accountability for those who signed on to the frivolous and arguably "seditious" attempt to undermine democracy. Especially from the 19 wingnut state Attorneys General who should both have known better and, according to our guest today, have a legal obligation to do so. In the meantime, SCOTUS made a couple of other rulings this week that have received far less notice, but that are also surprisingly good, given the Court's radical, far-right majority. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, a few quick observations on the Republican Party that now seems to be eating itself alive in the wake of Trump's loss. On yesterday's BradCast we noted the weekend MAGA Mob rally in D.C., where angry brain-poisoned Trump supporters broke into chants of "Destroy the GOP!" before booing Georgia's incumbent Republican U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue who are facing tough runoffs against Democratic challengers Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff for contests that will determine control of the U.S. Senate on January 5.

Today, sore loser Donald Trump, who has been attacking Georgia's extremely Trumpy Republican Governor Brian Kemp and Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger for weeks in order to (absurdly) blame them, instead of himself, for losing the election in the state, upped the stakes considerably. He retweeted a message from a mentally unbalanced Georgia attorney and conspiracy theorist calling for Kemp and Raffensperger to be jailed. The post also includes Photoshopped graphics of Kemp and Raffensperger --- both of whom are Trump supporters that have faced death threats since Trump turned on them --- wearing masks with Chinese flags on them.

But, hey, at least Mitch McConnell finally recognized the election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris today, after Monday's Electoral College vote confirmed their "landslide" victory. Also, one "courageous" and very rightwing House Republican, on Monday, decided he has finally had enough of his colleagues' attacks on democracy itself and has announced he is officially becoming an "independent"...now that he'll be leaving Congress at the end of the year anyway.

Then its on to a number of not horrible things done over the past several days by the U.S. Supreme Court, as we are delighted to be joined once again by one of our very favorite legal reporters, MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate.

On Monday, SCOTUS rejected an appeal by the state of Indiana in a years-long case brought by a number of married lesbian couples regarding marriage rights. The couples all had children using artificial insemination, but Indiana law had forced the spouses of the women who gave birth to go through onerous, expensive adoption procedures in order to become a legal parent. There is no such requirement for men in opposite-sex marriages to do so in similar situations. Happily, the Court dismissed Indiana's challenge to lower courts which found the state's law unconstitutional, in what might have been the first chance to roll back marriage equality protections since Amy Coney Barrett was rammed onto the Court.

Also on Monday, SCOTUS put a merciful end, once and for all, to the voter suppression law written by disgraced former Kansas Sec. of State and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach requiring proof of citizenship papers when registering to vote in the state. The 2013 law would have disenfranchised tens of thousands of legal Kansas voters and was found unconstitutional by court after court. The SCOTUS decision to not hear the case finally makes Kobach's unnecessary law a dead letter, though Stern says he believes it's likely to pop up again in similar forms from other states, given the radical, anti-voter, anti-immigrant, anti-democracy fever running rampant right now in the GOP.

In addition to a eulogy, of sorts, for the pathetic "clownish" legacy of Kansas' failed former Sec. of State, failed gubernatorial candidate and failed Senatorial candidate, Kobach --- who is also now mixed up with an anti-immigrant "Build the Wall" group facing fraud charges with Steve Bannon --- Stern unloads with another eulogy for the legacy of another similarly disgraced rightwinger today, U.S. Attorney General and Trump fixer Bill Barr. Trump tweeted on Monday that Barr would be leaving DoJ just weeks before the one-term President leaves office, after Barr had the temerity to admit that there is no known evidence of mass voter fraud that stole the election for Biden.

Barr, Stern argues, is "more offensive, terrifying and obnoxious" than Trump himself, because he is "
a creature of the Republican Establishment, a creature of the conservative legal movement. Bill Barr is at the heart of it." He believes "Barr did immense damage to the rule of law" and "may have permanently hobbled the Justice Department's integrity and legitimacy." That's just part of Stern's invective for Barr, who he describes as "just an awful person, and I wish him nothing but bad luck for the rest of his life."

Finally, we dig into the mess surrounding the shameless attempt to win a Presidential Pardon by TX Attorney General Paxton, who, as he filed his suit last week, was also subpoenaed by the FBI in a bribery and abuse of power investigation by the FBI. His lawsuit [PDF] filed with SCOTUS on behalf of Texas, sought to nullify all of the votes --- some 20 million of them --- in four different states (Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia) in a fruitless attempt to steal the election for Trump. We've got lots to discuss on this today. The radical legal concept at the center of Paxton's case (and several others which similarly failed over the past month) would nullify all election laws, rules and regulations not expressly enacted by state legislatures and ONLY state legislatures. In addition to turning centuries of American democracy and voting rights on its head, this literal, radical, ill-considered, "textualist " or "originalist" reading of the Constitution's Elections Clause --- arguing that Governors, Secretaries of State and even state courts may have no say at all over election rules --- would have broad ramifications for all sorts of other laws. For example, as we discuss, if Governors may no longer veto State Legislatures regarding election laws, does that mean a President may not veto Congress on tax laws, given they are granted the power of taxation in the Constitution by a similarly literal reading?

While SCOTUS rejected Paxton's case on jurisdictional grounds Friday night, many of the failed cases brought by Team Trump hoping to overturn the election results over the past month similarly relied on that radical theory. They were tossed before that question could be answered by the courts, however. So, will Republicans continue to push for a SCOTUS opinion on this matter from the high court in the months and years ahead? Stern believes that, before Amy Coney Barrett was added to the Court, there were at least four Justices who had signaled willingness to support the radical theory.

Should Texas' election results also be thrown out under Paxton's theory, given that its Governor Greg Abbott, without legislative approval, limited mail-in dropboxes to just one per county for November? How about Alabama's results, where its Republican Sec. of State John Merrill decreed curbside voting to be unlawful in a case which was met with approval by SCOTUS earlier this year?

Also, what of the 18 state Attorneys General who signed on to Paxton's cuckoo complaint, who are members of the bar and officers of the court with a duty to not bringing frivolous, much less arguably "seditious" (as Pennsylvania's defendant AG described it) lawsuits. Should they be punished in some way? Can they be sanctioned for their actions? And, as one caller asked during yesterday's show, should all of these repeated attempts filed by Republicans in hopes of overturning a legitimate Presidential election be regarded as "treasonous"? (My answer yesterday was "no", but does Stern agree?)

All of that and much more on today's very lively --- and, hopefully, informative --- BradCast!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Voting system expert, federal plaintiff Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance...
By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2020 8:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some real facts on the real concerns about Dominion Voting Systems' unverifiable computerized voting machines in Georgia --- what we know (and don't) about what happened with them during the 2020 Presidential election in November; what concerns that voters of all parties should have about them before the two critical U.S. Senate runoffs in the Peach State in January which will determine partisan control of the U.S. Senate; and what all Americans can do about it. [Audio link to full show is posted beneath summary.]

But, first up today, a few quick --- and somewhat related --- news items today. On Wednesday, the U.S. tallied a heartbreaking record 3,124 COVID deaths, making it the fourth most deadly day in U.S. history after the Galveston Storm of 1900, and the Civil War battles of Antietam and Gettysburg. Wednesday saw more Americans die from COVID than those killed on September 11, 2001, which had previously been the nation's fourth most deadly day. The next most deadly single days in the U.S. thereafter are now, in order, last Thursday, last Wednesday, last Friday, last Tuesday and Pearl Harbor.

At the same time this week, Donald Trump has been throwing crowded, indoor, holiday parties at the White House, lying to guests, without a mask, that his election was stolen, and the Texas lawsuit filed this week would prove it to his stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court, somehow. It's as if the worst pandemic in more than a hundred years doesn't even exist because, after all, there's an election to be stolen and several centuries of American democracy to be undermined during the holidays.

As to that absurd Texas case filed by the criminally indicted Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, (which we explained in great detail on yesterday's BradCast), 18 GOP controlled states have now joined the Lone Star State in support of tossing out the election results in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia, despite any evidence of fraud in those states that could possible overturn Joe Biden's certified win in each of them. But, much less reported today, is the fact that more than 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have joined those four targeted states in opposing the corrupt Paxton's transparent effort to win a pardon from the corrupt Trump, before the FBI drops new federal charges for bribery and abuse of power on the Texas AG.

Yes, the Texas case is absurd and offers an unprecedented, radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution in hopes of stealing the election for Trump. As Pennsylvania's Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, has correctly argued, "The Court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process." But we also now have an unprecedented, radical bunch of Justices sitting on the bench at SCOTUS. Anyone who tells you they know how those Justices will rule on this case is simply making things up.

In the meantime, there remain very real concerns about Georgia's voting system, just not the phony ones that Team Trump and the MAGA Mob have decided to focus on (read: lie about.)

Today, for the first time since before the November 3rd election, we're joined by voting systems expert MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the nonpartisan, good government watchdog group, Coalition for Good Governance. As a plaintiff in the long-running federal lawsuit seeking to bar Dominion Voting Systems' new, unverifiable touchscreen systems from use in the state, Marks has been one of the longest and loudest critics of both the private Canadian-based voting system vendor and the state's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger who contracted them. (Her same federal suit already resulted in a federal judge, last year, banning the use of the state's 20-year old, unverifiable Diebold touchscreen systems.) Raffensperger defied both election integrity and cybersecurity experts by purchasing Dominion's unverifiable $100+ million systems instead of a hand-marked paper ballot system as recommended by the experts. And now, Team Trump is exploiting Raffensperger's ill-considered decision to make all sorts of unfounded claims about them.

That said, because these systems are unverifiable, it's next to impossible to know that they accurately recorded the intent of any of the voters who are forced to use them at polling places across the state --- something that Marks (and us) warned about long before Republicans decided to pretend they were concerned about "election integrity" and invented a ridiculous worldwide conspiracy led by Dominion to steal the election from Trump.

In addition to cribbing from and bastardizing some of The BRAD BLOG's decade-old, independently verifiable investigative reporting about Dominion to create their ridiculous conspiracy regarding Venezuela's dead President Hugo Chavez helping to steal the election from Trump, the same MAGA Mob has been stealing from and lying about Marks' long-running federal law suit to try and make their case in court.

"We have seen, in Sidney Powell's lawsuits, fabrication after fabrication," Marks tells me. "I sit there and read these documents, cringing at the lack of facts. They even take things from our documents, like experts' reports, then add craziness to them, literally change facts that were attested to by our experts and make them completely false."

In light of all of that, among the question Marks speaks to today: Is there any evidence that Dominion Voting Systems touchscreens or tabulators were, in fact, used to flip votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden in Georgia? Her answer may surprise you! If you've listened to The BradCast while we've covered this issue with Marks and others for years, it may not surprise you.

We have covered Georgia on this program and at BradBlog.com so long and in so much detail for a reason. The state, she notes "has been the poster-child for all that is wrong with US elections. It's all concentrated here. And now it's the center of the universe."

Marks also speaks to whether Americans and residents of Georgia should have confidence in the reported results from the November election, and what if anything, can be done to ensure confidence in the results of the critical January 5th U.S. Senate runoffs in the state.

For those with actual concerns about those runoff elections --- which doesn't actually seem to include many of the Republican sore losers complaining about the November results and an evidence-free "Dominion Conspiracy" --- Marks asks listeners to urgently, and politely, email both the Speaker of the GA House, David Ralston, and GA's Sec. of State Raffensperger to urge them to allow HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all voters at the polls in the upcoming runoffs. She argues that there is still time for that to happen in every county, even as Early Voting begins on Monday. "They can make a quick switch to hand-marked paper ballots. All they need are a few thousand black ballpoint pens. They just need to hear from the nation that this time we want a non-controversial election."

We also ask Marks (a now former Republican herself), whether or not there are at least a few Republicans who might end up finding legitimate interest in joining the fight for real Election Integrity after their current partisan interests in Trump's election eventually fade away. While a private company like Dominion should never have the type of control they now have over our public elections, neither should the much larger ES&S firm or the smaller Hart-Intercivic, just to mention the three largest corporations who have arguably been allowed to usurp our public elections with unsecure, poorly designed, easily manipulated, non-transparent, computerized voting and tabulation systems.

"I hope that maybe one piece of good is that the Republicans are now suddenly concerned about software, and they are concerned about transparency of other processes," she observers. "They're suddenly interested in election administration that before, they seemed to have assumed was just going to work for them. So, hopefully we will get better transparency out of this. But we're going to have to go through the crazy period first, I'm afraid."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with mostly disturbing news, as usual, on the state of our climate and environment, but some really really encouraging news at the end, that we'll use to make ourselves feel much better on another insane day like today...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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