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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, November 29, 2022
Fun Times in MAGA Land!:
Sedition! Collusion! Denial!:
'BradCast' 11/29/22
Oath Keepers chief 'guilty'; GOP money launderer 'guilty'; AZ Dem SoS/Guv-elect fights to keep Repubs from disenfranchising selves...
'Green News Report' 11/29/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
While we were out... Breakthrough at U.N. climate conference; Americans at risk of power blackouts; Buffalo, NY buried by blizzard; PLUS: Houston, TX under boil water notice...
Recent GNRs: 11/17/22 - 11/15/22 - Archives...
We're Back! But Election and Accountability Season Never Left: 'BradCast' 11/28/22
Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdiddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Constitution disqualify insurrectionist Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
Now Back to the Quest for Trump Accountability, Still in Progress: 'BradCast' 11/17/22
Guest: Allison Gill of 'Mueller, She Wrote'; Also: Pelosi leaves Dem leadership; GOP secures House majority; Bass wins L.A. Mayor...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announcement climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
Recent GNRs: 11/15/22 - 11/10/22 - Archives...
2022 GOP Political Fallout, Blame, Circus Begins: 'BradCast' 11/16/22
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Trump's running again; House, Senate GOP leadership chaos; MS moves to hand-marked paper ballots...
'Green News Report' 11/15/22
Biden pledges leadership, funding at U.N. climate summit; U.S. and China resume climate talks; Costly Nicole; PLUS: Dems Sen. majority to hold line on climate policy...
Sunday 'Red Wave' Toons
Surf the wave! It's Pdiddie's first post-midterms collection of the week's best political toons!...
The Guy Whose Data Analysis Was Right on the Election on Why Media Got It So Wrong (Again): 'BradCast' 11/11/22
Guest: TargetSmart's Tom Bonier; 'Red wave' buffoonery; Latest results from AZ, NV...
It's the Gerrymandering (and Corrupted Courts), Stupid: 'BradCast' 11/10/22
Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: How Fox 'News' dupes followers via smartphone; Latest Sen, House, Guv results...
'Green News Report' 11/10/22
Failed 'red wave' is good news for the climate; New reports warn of skyrocketing methane levels; PLUS: Mixed results for state environmental ballot propositions...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: David Dayen of The American Prospect; Also: Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2020 6:47pm PT  

It was an action-packed BradCast today, though not in a good way, unfortunately, thanks to Republicans and their state Supreme Court majority in Wisconsin. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, as we've been telling you for weeks, there is absolutely no plan at the federal level for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic --- on either a medical level or an economic level --- even months after the Trump Administration first learned about it. The $2.2 trillion so-called Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, hastily adopted by Congress and signed by the President just over a week ago is a mess.

Individual checks for $1,200 may take months to get to many Americans (if they get them at all) and the process for doling out $350 billion allocated by the measure towards immediate relief for small businesses via forgivable loans is even more of a disaster out of the gate. Banks, serving as middlemen, are not set up for the onslaught of applications that began on Friday, with many applicants being turned away entirely by the largest banks, and with nowhere near enough money included in the pool to serve the 30 million companies considered eligible small businesses. Our guest today suggests that no more than 5% of businesses who need help under the CARES Act's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) are likely to receive the immediately needed loans before the funding runs out.

Moreover, there is still no nationalized plan by the Trump Administration to ensure that states have all of the basic equipment they need --- from masks, gloves and gowns to ventilators and test kits --- as supply chains have become an all out "Wild West show, with middlemen and drop points and plane rescues," according to our guest DAVID DAYEN, financial investigative journalist and Executive Editor of The American Prospect. He is now producing his indispensable "Unsanitized: Covid-19 Daily Report" column and newsletter at The Prospect.

He reports that it is not only states competing with other states and the federal government for critical life-saving equipment, but that the federal government (FEMA) is also competing with the federal government (the Strategic National Stockpile or SNS), bidding up the same gear! All of this as U.S. deaths officially attributed to COVID-19 blew past the 10,000 mark on Monday, with a week ahead that could include a "9/11 attack worth of Americans" dying, day after day, for 10 days in a row beginning in the next few days, according to one of the more conservative data projections.

Dayen offers detail on much of the above and the problem that many Americans are also now facing in their attempts to file for bankruptcy protection --- at a time that many desperately need to do so --- with courthouses shutdown around the country, and only those lucky enough to be able to afford an attorney able to file electronically.

As CNN's Jake Tapper made clear on Sunday: there is no plan for any of this. It is a disaster that is likely to continue for months (at least) with no competent officials leading the way at the federal level, and absolutely no ultimate plan to help us get out, eventually, from under what is likely to be as bad or worse than the Great Depression. That, despite the "irrational exuberance" exhibited today by a Wall Street that seems to be in utter denial.

Then, where we had hoped when today's show began to bring you the long overdue good news that Wisconsin's Democratic Governor Tony Evers finally did the right thing on Monday morning by issuing an Executive Order to postpone tomorrow's Presidential Primary, state Supreme Court election and municipal races until June 9, we were forced to change course mid-show after the state's Rightwing Supremes blocked Evers' order along a 4 to 2 party line vote.

Therefore, unless something changes, where Badger State voters can find an open polling place tomorrow (scores of municipalities found zero poll workers willing to face death to man the polls, and Milwaukee's usual 180 polling sites are being reduced to just 5!), voters will have to risk their lives to cast a vote in person on Tuesday. After Republicans had their way with the state Supremes, they have also filed with the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an order by a federal judge last week that allowed 6 extra days for voters to turn in absentee ballots, many of which have not yet even arrived to voters on the day before the Election (when they would otherwise be due.) After air time, it appears that the stolen Republican Majority on SCOTUS has also decided with their GOP brethren in WI, and voted along party lines to overturn the federal judge's extension of the deadline for absentee ballots. Tens of thousands will be disenfranchised in the bargain.

It is a chaotic mess and electoral disaster. But, more to the point, it is a DEADLY disaster in the making, with Republicans in the state all too happy to condemn voters to potential death because they think more Democrats will be affected and possibly killed, and they hope that their incumbent Republican state Supreme Court Justice, who is on the ballot on Tuesday, will prevail under these conditions. It is appalling and Americans should get ready for much more of this in the months ahead, with more than 20 states still to cast their postponed primary votes, and all 50 states preparing to figure out how to run an election during a deadly pandemic this November. One of the two major parties has made clear that they are more than happy to place their retention of political power over the lives of actual American citizens.

Finally, today, we open up the phones to allow a few callers from the coronaverse to ring in....

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Filmmakers Simon Ardizonne and Russell Michaels...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2020 6:50pm PT  

Today, we devote the bulk of The BradCast to HBO's new documentary film, released just last week and considered important enough that the premium cable channel is now making it available, for free, through May 25th on their YouTube channel right here. (You can also watch a number of clips, teasers and extras from the film here.) [Audio link to today's full program is posted below.]

The new film is called Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America's Elections and it comes from the team who created the landmark, Emmy-nominated 2006 HBO doc Hacking Democracy.

The climax of that earlier film (you can watch just that key scene right here) featured the first known on camera hack of a Diebold optical-scan vote tabulation system, which changed the results of a mock election in which one question was asked on the ballot: "Can Diebold's optical-scan vote tabulators be hacked?" The votes, as we see them cast in the film on hand-marked paper ballots by Election Integrity advocates including Bev Harris of Black Box Voting in the office of then Leon County, Florida Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho, are clearly 6 'NO' and 2 'YES'. But when the paper ballots are run through the tabulator, the results reported back by the computer are 1 'NO' and 7 'YES'. The tabulator had been hacked and only a hand-count of the hand-marked paper ballots would ever have revealed that it was, had it happened in an actual election. (Needless to say, almost no paper ballots are hand-counted by humans after elections in the U.S., including the 2016 Presidential election, to assure the computers are reported accurate results.)

The manipulation of the system at the time was carried out by legendary Finish cybersecurity and voting system expert Harri Hursti, who is the central character in this new follow-up film. It follows Hursti as he uncovers new and persistent revelations proving that U.S. elections remain far more vulnerable than many realize, and arguably no safer or more secure from manipulation --- by foreign or domestic actors --- than they were during the making of the 2006 film or even since the 2016 Presidential election. (Yes, the same optical-scanners hacked in the 2006 film are still in use in states around the country in 2020!) All of that, despite assurances from the U.S. Intelligence Community and bipartisan U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia attempted to access elections systems in all 50 states in 2016 --- when Donald Trump is said to have won by a razor thin margin in three states that hadn't voted for a Republican candidate in decades. Those same institutions continue to warn us that Russia plans to do the same in 2020, though as the film shows, it does not take a nation-state in order to do so.

We're joined for today's special edition of The BradCast by SIMON ARDIZZONE and RUSSELL MICHAELS, the British directors of both 2006's Hacking Democracy as well as, with Sarah Teale, the follow-up Kill Chain out this week from HBO. We share a number of clips from the new film, which features at its climax a chilling interview with a foreign hacker, shot in silhouette, who explains that, before the 2016 election, he was able to take complete control of Alaska's entire election system --- from its online voter registration database to its vote tabulation system. The hacker, who goes by the name 'CyberZeist', claims he was able to gain access to every user name and password on the system and obtain root access to change anything he might have wanted to. "I could have made any changes in the system, like deleting the candidates. I could kick anyone out. I could alter any date, any vote." he claims. "It was such a rush that, at that particular moment, I felt like I was the God."

Ardizzone and Michaels offer insight on CyberZeist and why they believe his allegations to be very credible. But there are many other disturbing allegations and evidence to support them presented before that point in the movie, including Ion Sancho's reflections and continuing concerns 16 years after the first film, as he reports on the mandatory secret meeting that all Florida election supervisors were summoned to after the 2016 election, regarding a hack of VR Systems, the contractor which runs the voter registration system in the Sunshine State and others as well. That is the company --- and the spearfishing operation --- described in documents leaked to media in 2017 by DHS whistleblower Reality Winner, who is still serving 5 years in federal prison for having done so.

We also witness disturbing evidence of chicanery in the 2018 Gubernatorial election in Georgia, which was overseen by its eventual "winner" Brian Kemp. He served as Secretary of State at the time, responsible for programming the state's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems and creating the electronic access cards needed to vote on it. The filmmakers were there and had their cameras rolling on Election Day in 2018 when those voter access cards failed, leading to hours-long lines to vote in one of the state's most Democratic-leaning counties. Kemp would eventually be named the winner of the election by little more than 1% over popular Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Longtime BRAD BLOG readers and BradCast listeners are likely to recognize a number of the featured players in the film, as many of them have been repeated guests on the program over the years. Ardizonne and Michaels share a number of insights on the making of the film today, such as why it took 14 years to follow-up the previous one and the mysteriously huge interest in the original online just before the 2016 election; they offer additional details on several disturbing discoveries made by hackers at DefCon's Voting Village in Las Vegas; they discuss how the private voting system vendors responded to invitations from the filmmakers to tell their sides of the story in the movie; what the reaction has been from law enforcement officials to CyberZeist's revelations since the film's premier last week; whether they believe the 2016 election results were legitimate; whether a move to Vote-by-Mail during the coronavirus crisis will help avoid any of these problems in 2020; and why the film is titled Kill Chain.

"We, actually, in a way, didn't want to make [Kill Chain," Ardizzone tells me. "The reason we made it was because we noticed a really sudden uptick in the number of people who were watching Hacking Democracy online. And a lot of our contacts started to get back in touch with us, saying, 'You know, even though you made that film, the problems are still there, and they're kind of worse now.' And this was before the elections in November 2016."

"I believe, to this day, no individual voting machines [from 2016] have been subpoenaed, sequestered and cyber-investigated by the Department of Homeland Security," Michaels says. "The scientists are screaming out, saying this is completely insecure, you must stop doing it. As far as I'm aware, no one is going to stop doing it in 2020. It's still going full steam ahead."

Of course, there is much much more. I believe you'll want to tune in for this conversation today.

Finally, we close today with a bit of listener mail regarding the ongoing and upcoming election disaster now underway in Wisconsin which is still set to hold its Presidential Primary this Tuesday. That, despite the global coronavirus pandemic, a statewide stay-at-home order issued by the Governor, a lack of poll workers willing to risk death by working the polls, and a flood of absentee ballot requests and incoming mail ballots that officials are finding impossible to keep up with given their current lack of resources.

If any bad guys out there were hoping to cause havoc and chaos in the American electoral system, well mission accomplished! Hopefully it won't result in too many people actually dying in Wisconsin, where the state's Republican-controlled legislature has repeatedly refused the Democratic Governor's pleas to postpone the election or change it to an all Vote-by-Mail election...

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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Now that Repubs have rigged Impeachment, the 2020 election stands as America's last defense against full-on authoritarianism...
By Brad Friedman on 2/3/2020 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Following Friday's shameful vote in the U.S. Senate, where just two Republican Senators were able to muster up the courage to vote against completely blocking all witnesses and documents in the Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump, we now have just one firewall left against our slide into full authoritarianism: This November's election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

If a President can't be indicted, as the Dept. of Justice falsely claims, and a Republican Senate is more than happy to blatantly rig an impeachment "trial" against a Republican President, the only American firewall left against the collapse of representative democracy as we've known it in this nation is your vote --- and those of every eligible citizen you know --- cast this year and counted as intended. That, as we have warned for many years, is now more difficult than ever in many jurisdictions. Nonetheless, that fight begins tonight in Iowa. (We'll have full coverage of Iowa results on Tuesday's BradCast.)

On today's program, related to all of the above, and before we open up the phones to callers on all of it...

  • We are "flying blind" as we head into the Iowa Caucuses after the weekend cancellation of the final "gold standard" Des Moines Register poll, due to a procedural error. Though Bernie Sanders, according to other last-minute polling, is believed to be the front-runner on the Democratic side as caucusing begins. That said, the Iowa Caucuses are complicated and notoriously difficult to predict, for some of the reasons we explain on today's program;
  • Millions of Vote-by-Mail ballots are, as of today, according to a media statement from the California Sec. of State, now on their way to Golden State voters for the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, when more than a dozen states will be voting in their 2020 primaries all at once. We, again today, endeavor to explain the complicated procedures that are (sadly) necessary in the Golden State to make sure you are able to vote in the party primary of your choosing, as well as the steps you need to take to make sure you do so on a hand-marked paper ballot in order to maximize the odds of your vote actually being counted as cast.

    To avoid having to cast a 100% unverifiable touchscreen vote if you live in Los Angeles County (where that will be forced upon you at our new "voting centers") or anywhere else where touchscreens are your only choice at the polling place, PLEASE contact your County and ask for a hand-marked paper Vote-by-Mail ballot. Then, PLEASE deliver it IN PERSON to your polling place or County headquarters on Election Day or as close to it as possible. (Check your local jurisdiction to make certain they will accept hand-delivered vote-by-mail ballots!) To check your voter status --- how and if you are registered, and whether you are signed up for Vote-by-Mail --- please see the CA Sec. of State website's Voter Status page here. To request a Vote-by-Mail ballot in L.A. or request a specific party's primary ballot, go to LAVote.net;

  • Everyone must be on board and educated about all of this, this year. With the stakes we are now facing, there is ZERO room for error. Please share good information far and wide, and help your friends and neighbors to register, to vote, and to help spread the word to others about how to do the same thing;
  • Yet another reason for voting on hand-marked paper: I am terrified, for good reason, about the possibility of a ransomware attack that could prevent voters in jurisdictions that now (foolishly and dangerously) rely on computers at the polls for voters to be able to vote at all. One of the latest such attacks/reminders is currently crippling services in Tillamook County, Oregon, where all County computer servers were shut down as of last week due to such an attack. Tillamook is just the latest of dozens of jurisdictions --- states, counties, large and small metropolitan areas --- to be hit by ransomware attacks over the past year. If one occurs on or before Election Day in a county (like L.A.) that now relies on computer pollbooks and voting systems, we will have a disaster on our hands in the upcoming elections;
  • Of course, such a disaster is exactly what Donald Trump is hoping for, given his unpopularity and his repeated attempts to rig both the 2016 and now 2020 elections in his favor through any means necessary. He is now being aided in that effort not only by Republicans in the Senate, but by the Dept. of Justice itself, which is unlawfully withholding documents that prove, yet again, that Trump directed Administration officials to freeze hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine in a pressure campaign to force them to help him cheat in the 2020 election;
  • All of this, as investigative journalist Kurt Eichenwald warned in a chilling Twitter thread on Friday after the vote to block all witnesses and documents in Trump's Impeachment Trial, is why "we are in an extremely terrifying moment in American history." Eichenwald cautions that, because Presidential "emergency powers" have never been defined ("because no one ever imagined a situation like this"), Trump could even attempt to cancel this year's election if he wanted and, like Hitler, could even imprison political opponents such as Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders "if he further advances his argument that he [has] absolute unquestionable control of government."

Far fetched? Please tune in to today's show and then let us know, as callers did in the second half of today's program...

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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Trump team wraps up, Bolton reverberates, GOP lacks votes to block him; Smartphone app at Iowa Caucus; Internet election underway in Seattle...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The President's defense team wrapped up their Opening (and, they hope, Closing) Argument in the Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump on Tuesday, even as we are now less than one week away from the official start of the 2020 Election season with worries about the integrity of the Iowa Caucuses, set for Monday night, February 3rd, now looming. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We break away momentarily, for the first half of today's program, from our ongoing coverage of the Impeachment Trial to cover some issues of concern for some, regarding the Iowa Caucuses and an arguably more troubling development regarding an election that is now underway in Washington state. First to Iowa, where Bernie Sanders is now said to have taken a slight lead, according to most of the recent polling in the Hawkeye State, over his nearest competitors, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. At the same time, a number of listeners have written to express concerns about a smartphone app developed by the state Democratic Party to help report results quickly to Party headquarters on Caucus night.

We discuss the way Democrats caucus in Iowa, what this app --- developed by the state Party in secret --- is supposedly designed to do to assist in the otherwise-open Democratic caucus process, and the worries that some have about the possibility of this new app being hacked to report inaccurate caucus results on Monday night. (Misreporting of Caucus night results has caused problems in the past, at least for Republicans.)

Of far greater concern, however, is an election underway right now in the Seattle area where more than a million voters are eligible to cast their vote via the Internet for the first time on either a computer or smart phone. The first-of-its-kind online election will fill a vacancy on the board of the obscure King Conservation District, responsible for managing natural resources in King County, Washington. The online voting is being carried out in partnership between the County's Board of Elections and a nonprofit named Tusk Philanthropies, headed up by a venture capitalist and Democratic political strategist by the name of Bradley Tusk.

The landmark pilot election comes despite a years-long, nearly-unanimous consensus from cybsersecurity experts (we've interviewed tons of them over the years on The BradCast) that the Internet is nowhere near secure enough for public elections. It also comes in the wake of last Summer's bipartisan U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's report finding all 50 states were targeted by Russia during the 2016 election, and the panel's recommendation that "States should resist pushes for online voting".

While she has no oversight of this particular election, Washington's top election official, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, opposes the King County effort and hopes to roll back the use of electronic ballots in the state, charging (correctly!) that the Internet is "too risky for voting". Nonetheless, Tusk, King County Elections Director Julie Wise, and a Seattle company named Democracy Live are barreling ahead with this disturbing experiment that is set to further poison the all-too-quickly disappearing idea of publicly overseeable elections in the U.S.

You have been warned. Again.

Then, its back to impeachment today, at the end of Tuesday's brief, two-hour wrap up of the President's case in the Senate. Trump's attorneys argued largely that the President did nothing wrong, and even if he did, it's not impeachable, because the dispute boils down to little more than a "policy disagreement" between Democrats and the White House. Impeachment over such matters, Trump's bombastic TV/radio lawyer Jay Sekulow and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone argued, sets a dangerous precedent by lowering the bar on future Presidential impeachments.

But the biggest looming question over the U.S. Senate at the moment is whether four or more Republican Senators will agree to call for witnesses when they vote again on the matter later in the week, following two days of written questions for the attorneys on both side. The issue that has turned the Republicans' previous plans for a quick acquittal on its head is the reported bombshell claims by Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton, in the manuscript of his still-unpublished new book, that Trump did exactly what he is being accused of in the first of the two Articles of Impeachment. That Article charges Abuse of Power by Trump for withholding nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine in order to force them to help Trump in his reelection bid by announcing an investigation of Joe Biden and other Democrats.

Bolton's explosive disclosure, first reported on Sunday night by the New York Times, has reverberated ever since, with Trump's former Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, asserting on Monday night that he believes Bolton and agrees he should be called in as a witness for the trial against his old boss. The shake-up also comes as a new national poll out on Tuesday afternoon from Quinnipiac finds that registered voters by an astounding margin of 75 to 20 percent, agree that witnesses should be allowed to testify. The tally includes nearly half of Republicans and an astonishing 75 percent of Independent voters. According to the new survey, more than half of those polled believe Trump "is not telling the truth about his actions involving Ukraine"; should "provide more details" about it; has "abused his power" in the matter; has "obstructed Congress" in the bargain; and that the "withholding of U.S. aid to Ukraine was not justified". All of which has left Republicans reeling in a panic to find the votes needed to block witnesses in the trial. But they're still trying, and will likely have until Friday to pull it off.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, filled with several ongoing plagues, catastrophes and warnings of nearly biblical proportion...

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Repubs called out for blocking subpoenas for key documents, witnesses; Dershowitz, Graham cited for flipping 1998 positions on impeachment; Fox 'News' bags out of coverage; 'Doomsday Clock' nears 'midnight'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2020 5:57pm PT  

Our special BradCast coverage of the Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump continues on Day 2 of the Democratic House Managers' opening argument --- which could well be their closing argument as well, if Republicans continue to block subpoenas for contemporaneous documentation and first-hand eye-witnesses like Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton and Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

Before we get to our impeachment coverage today, however, some less-than-fantastic news from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, who have, for the first time in the more than 70 year history of their infamous "Doomsday Clock", moved its minute hand inside the two-minute mark (where it was set in 2018 and at the height of the Cold War) before "midnight." We are now, according to the Bulletin's board of advisers, just 100 symbolic seconds from "midnight", thanks to growing threats of nuclear weapons following the dissolution of landmark arms control pacts and the ever-increasing acceleration of our climate crisis. "We are now expressing how close the world is to catastrophe in seconds --- not hours, or even minutes," according to Rachel Bronson, the Bulletin's president and CEO. "We now face a true emergency --- an absolutely unacceptable state of world affairs that has eliminated any margin for error or further delay." The Bulletin also cited the increasing threat of cyberattacks in their explanation as one of "multiple existential threats."

Meanwhile, one of world's greatest threats, Donald Trump, stands trial for removal from office in the U.S. Senate. Not that many who watch Fox "News" would understand exactly why, given that the pretend "news" outlet has, unlike CNN and MSNBC, been cutting away from their exceedingly truncated live coverage of the proceedings to carry their regular programming, on which they are lying about what is happening in the actual trial. What their viewers have not heard was the detailed, granular evidence revealing how Trump abused the power of his office to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance from Ukraine in hopes of extorting the war-torn nation to agree to announce an investigation of Joe Biden and an evidence-free, Russia-generated claim that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton. It was done in hopes of cheating in the 2020 election.

The chronology of those events was expertly detailed by lead House Manager Adam Schiff on Wednesday, along with the other House Managers. At key moments in their presentations, each pointed out how existing documentation and eye-witness testimony is currently unavailable to the trial, being withheld at the orders of the President, and how that information should and could be made available now, if Republican Senators agree to do so. If not, Schiff warned, "the truth will come out" eventually anyway.

But GOP Senators have clearly calculated that, for most of them, it will be better to have that damning information come out later, after they have voted to acquit, rather than before they cast such a vote. All of this, ironically (or hypocritically) enough, as a number of Republican Senators have been complaining to Fox "News" (where viewers have no clue what's actually going on) and elsewhere, that they have not learned anything new from the Democrats' presentation.

On Thursday, Democrats detailed the legal and Constitutional underpinnings of the first Article of Impeachment against Trump for Abuse of Power, with House Manager Jerrold Nadler describing the allegations as "overwhelmingly supported by the evidenced amassed by the House" and "among the most serious charges ever brought against a President." The Chair of the Judiciary Committee went on to detail how the President's conduct in attempting to pressure a foreign nation to help him cheat in an American election is without precedent since the nation's founding and is "wrong, dangerous and captures the worst fears of our founders and the Constitution." Nadler characterized Trump's extortion scheme as one that "puts even President Nixon to shame," as the President and his defenders offer the "terrifying" argument that they see "no limits on his power or on his ability to use his public office for private gain."

He also played clips of Trump's own impeachment attorney, Alan Dershowitz, from before the Bill Clinton impeachment in 1998, when he argued that a violation of a statutory crime is not necessary before bringing charges of High Crimes and Misdemeanors and then-Representative, now-Senator Lindsey Graham making a similar case during his own presentation against Clinton while serving as a House Manager during that 1999 Impeachment Trial.

That's just some of our special coverage --- and debunkery --- in today's packed program, which ends with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report as Big Oil tries to rebrand itself as an opponent of climate change (hold your laughter); Trump beclowns himself again at Davos; a new study finds far worse drinking water contamination in the U.S. than previously estimated; and teen climate action superstar Greta Thunberg dresses down the elites at the World Economic Conference in Davos by telling them to end their investments in fossil fuels and start behaving as if they actually love their own children...

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Could be approved for 2020 anyway. Public comment period ends soon! Hand-marked paper ballots needed in nation's largest jurisdiction!
Also: Booker out; Trump still lying about Iran; NBC covers huge e-vote security prob...
By Brad Friedman on 1/13/2020 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after a necessarily quick news round-up today (on Cory Booker dropping out of the Democratic Presidential nominating contest and the Trump Administration's continuing attempt to lie about about Donald Trump's unlawful assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani), we get on to the most important business of the day --- at least for voters in the state of California, though all across the country as well.

Brand-new, 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems, which all voters at the polls will be forced to use for the first-time in the 2020 Presidential election in Los Angeles County, beginning with the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, are currently undergoing the CA state certification process. The $300 million system is failing state security and certification testing miserably, according to documents buried at the CA Sec. of State website, and reported on today's program for the first time.

In addition to producing a computer-marked ballot that can never be verified as reflecting any voters' intent after an election, documentation of state certification tests of the new "Voting Solutions for All People" system (or VSAP), reveal a myriad of incredibly serious security failures and violations of state law, according to experts we've consulted.

As we detail on today's program, the testers have discovered, among other very serious concerns, more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards, including findings that reveal:

  • The VSAP system can be booted from a USB drive that would bypass all security and logging protections and that access to the master account is needed for too many things, meaning that "too many people have access to the root password," according to state testers. That means "The excessive root access and the ability to boot the system from a USB port give access to the system by unauthorized individuals. Either scenario can result in undetected changes to files and data...Both scenarios can allow functions to be executed in non-intended ways. The unrestricted access to, and the ability to boot from, the USB port allows access to voting data";
  • Many problems were discovered with security regarding encryption and cryptography in the new system;
  • The testers discovered "It is possible to insert or remove ballots from both the BMD and ballot transfer boxes without detection";
  • "The printer cover allows access to the ballot box and can be opened without detection";
  • "Seals, locks, labels and sensors can all be bypassed" without detection.

Those are just some of the many findings that led one national voting system and cybersecurity expert to wryly describe the results to us as "not good" and another to describe the system as "a security fail".

Nonetheless, CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla could still certify the systems for use in the 2020 primaries and general election anyway, following the passage of a law he championed in 2013 as a State Senator that gives the SoS the ability to approve the use of new voting systems, even if they fail both federal and state testing, for actual elections.

The very quiet Public Comment period regarding certification of the unverifiable, unsecure VSAP touchscreen computer voting system ends next Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 at 5pm Pacific Time. We are urging those concerned to contact the state at VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov immediately to ask them to not certify this dangerous, unverifiable system, and to require a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for all voters at the polling place in this year's crucial primary and general elections.

We offer much more frightening detail on all of this on today's program regarding the dangers of this type of voting system as they are proliferating not just in Los Angeles County, but also in key battleground states such as Georgia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and many others before the critical 2020 elections begin in just weeks time!

We appear to be the only media outlet, to our knowledge, reporting this important information on the failed VSAP tests out of California, so please share widely! We cannot afford to wait until corporate media bother to notice (such as NBC News, which just noticed on Friday a very serious concern about modems in voting systems in several battleground states that we had covered on The BradCast more than six months ago!)...

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Dems and Reps charge Admin has no evidence of 'imminent threat' before Soleimani assassination; Ukrainian passenger plane believe downed by Iranian missile; New study confirms new computer BMD voting systems should not be used in 2020; Trump guts landmark environmental rule...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2020 4:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a whole lot of evidence as to why Desi Doyen calls us "your early warning system". [Audio link to show posted beneath summary below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • The deadly and dangerous fallout continues from Donald Trump's assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, with Democratic and Republican members of Congress from both the House and Senate, blasting the Administration for failing to provide evidence of an "imminent attack" which might have legally justified Trump's targeted killing of the second most powerful public official in Iran. Members who attended classified briefings by top Administration officials on Wednesday were outraged by the failure of those officials to provide the information they claimed they had regarding the killing. Without that information, Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's top military general was very possibly in violation of both domestic and international law. But are Democrats enraged enough to bring another article of impeachment over it?;
  • Not all Congressional members were upset by the classified briefing. Some, like Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL), charged that members such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who claimed after the briefing that Trump "recklessly assassinated" Soleimani with "no evidence of an imminent threat or attack", was actually an "Ayatollah sympathizer" who was "divid[ing] our country" (Seriously. That's what he said. Rutherford's challengers this year are Donna Deegan and Christopher Eagle on the Democratic side, and 20-year Navy vet Dr. Erick Aguilar in the August Republican primary in the state.);
  • In related matters, as we surmised based on available evidence during yesterday's BradCast, U.S. officials today are now confirming their belief that the Ukrainian Airlines passenger jet that crashed minutes after takeoff from the airport in Tehran on Wednesday was, in fact, shot down by an Iranian missile. The crash killed all 176 on board just hours after Iran's non-lethal ballistic missile revenge attack on Wednesday in response to Trump's killing of Soleimani last week. Officials in the U.S., Ukraine and Canada (which lost 63 residents in the tragic disaster) believe Iran might have mistaken the passenger flight for a military response from the U.S. that night. Along with the 56 killed during a stampede amidst the massive funeral processions for Soleimani, the death toll of Trump's action has been extraordinary. How any of this has made Americans safer is anybody's guess;
  • In election news, a new, landmark study [PDF] was released this week by computer scientists, cybersecurity and voting systems experts at the University of Michigan. It finds that new, touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) --- which we have long been warning about, and which are now proliferating the country in advance of the critical 2020 Presidential election --- are "extremely unsafe" and vulnerable to undetectable hacking.

    Most alarming (at least to those who haven't heard the same loud warnings from BradBlog.com and The BradCast for many years now) is that the researchers found that in a mock election, where they had rigged the new voting systems to misprint a voter selection on the computer-marked paper ballot printouts, more than 93% of voters failed to notice that their vote had been changed by the computer! 93%!

    And yet, these all-new, vulnerable, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems are now being deployed to battleground states like Pennsylvania and Georgia and North Carolina, and even to the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, in advance of this year's elections! We explain the study's disturbing findings and what you can do to try and avoid having your vote lost to a touchscreen Ballot Marking Device in your home jurisdiction;

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some good news (coal plant shutdowns have save some 26,000 American lives!), scary news (new findings that Trump's EPA and FEMA are not prepared for disasters) and terrible news (the Trump Administration is announcing a new rule that would do away with most environmental impact studies before construction of major federal projects, such as roads, bridges and even oil pipelines!)...

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Guest: National security law expert Karen J. Greenberg; Also: McConnell says has votes to begin fixed impeachment trial; 'GNR' returns for 2020!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2020 5:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the world remains on edge in the wake of Donald Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's top military general Qassem Soleimani. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of summary.]

At least 56 mourners reportedly died during a stampede at funeral processions for the revered figured in Iran, were millions turned out to show their respects and to vow revenge against the U.S. Meanwhile, U.S. customs and border officials were reportedly detaining Iranian-American citizens for extended questioning as they re-entered the country; Trump's Secretaries of Defense and State each tried to walk back Trump's twice-threatened war crimes against Iran, should they dare to retaliate; And both Secretaries along with the White House continued to claim, without evidence, that an "imminent attack" that would have killed "hundreds" of Americans was prevented by the killing and served to justify the targeted drone strike against Soleimani and several Iraqi officials; Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell claimed to have the votes necessary to move Donald Trump's impeachment trial forward in the U.S. Senate (which Trump had clearly hoped to distract from with his attack on Iran) without allowing for either first-hand witnesses or subpoenaed White House documents to be presented as evidence; and the Foreign Minister of Iran described the assassination of Soleimani as "state terrorism" and President Trump as "lawless".

On that last point, and many related, we are joined today by KAREN J. GREENBERG, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law and the author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. Professor Greenberg, an expert on national security, terrorism, and civil liberties, detailed in a New York Times op-ed today headlined "Killing Qassim Suleimani Was Illegal. And Predictable.," how American Presidents have been expanding their own executive authority for "targeted killings" and assassination since the post-Watergate Church Committee in the Senate called for reforms to ban such activity by the Executive Branch in 1975. President Gerald Ford, in 1976, issued an Executive Order to ban all political assassinations by the U.S.

Over the years since, however, as Greenberg documents, Presidents from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama have each stretched the definitions of what amounts to an allowable "targeted killing" under certain restricted circumstances in order to prevent an "imminent attack". And while such killings eventually numbered in the hundreds under Obama (and included at least one U.S. citizen, albeit in a different country), Greenberg explains that no President, until Donald Trump, has broadened the definitions to include an out-and-out assassination of a state official, much less one as highly revered as Soleimani in Iran.

"President Obama attempted to expand the authority for targeted killing, excepting it from the category 'assassination', and giving many reasons --- including international law reasons --- for why this would be lawful. And tying it, however, to the War on Terror, which in a way, puts it in a different scenario than what we're now seeing. Because what we've seen this week is a successful attempt to attack a leading member of a sovereign state," Greenberg tells me. "It distinguishes in many ways from what the Obama Administration had done. But what the Obama Administration did was to open the window for that. They did it because they wanted to expand the targeted killing program of George [W.] Bush. Obama said it would cause less trouble, less reprisal on the ground, and therefore less violence against American troops. And they thought it would work in cases where they couldn't capture somebody who they thought was being tremendously detrimental to the United States."

The authority he and other Presidents granted to themselves, however, "essentially bypasses the idea of laws that restrain" and "comes down to 'trust me' government", in that the public must rely on classified evidence by the Intelligence Community --- and, hopefully, its review by members of Congress --- as legal justification for the actions. But Trump, she explains, while previously dismissing the assessments of the intelligence community as dishonest "Deep State" actors, is now citing what he claims to be their evidence and asking us to trust it.

The result of all of this is what Greenberg describes as "a lack of foresight to put in place policies, by any President or any administration that, should it get into the wrong hands, can prove truly dangerous. We've now crossed that threshold." She goes on to note that "The basic bottom line is this is not something that the United States has supported or allowed since the Church Committee" in 1975.

We discuss how Ford's Executive Order, the War Powers Act of 1973 (meant to constrain Presidents from acts of war without approval by Congress), and the Authorizations for Use of Military Force adopted by Congress after 9/11 and again before our invasion of Iraq, have all now been stretched to the point of near meaningless. At the same time, the U.S. has also pushed the boundaries of Geneva Convention restrictions against war crimes to fit its defensive/aggressive needs of the moment, with as little enforcement by international agencies as Congress has brought against U.S. Presidents from both major parties at home for violations of domestic laws and Constitutional mandates.

There is quite a bit in this conversation that can't adequately be summarized here, so I hope you'll tune in for much more.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, which, sadly, picks up with the continuing, record, devastating Australian wildfires which also led our last GNR of the year in 2019, some two and a half weeks ago...

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Debunking the 'impeachment is a disaster for Democrats!' lie with actual, independently verifiable facts for your use over the holiday...
By Brad Friedman on 11/27/2019 5:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A few holiday morsels that we hope may come in handy over your Thanksgiving weekend with friends and family. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Donald Trump, along with his cowardly Republican apparatchik and dishonest rightwing media machine, have all been busy pretending over the past several days that the first two weeks of public impeachment hearings in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee were somehow "a disaster for Democrats." Even mainstream corporate media have been helpful in spreading that fake news.

Polling, however (among other things), suggests the opposite --- unless 50% majority support for impeachment and removal of the President of the United State from office, according to CNN [PDF], and steadily increasing support for impeachment over each week of public hearings, according to Reuters/Ipsos, is somehow "a disaster for Democrats".

By way of comparison, at the height of Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998, support for the GOP effort among Americans was never higher than 29%. And yet, 50% want Trump out already, after just two weeks of public testimony. (It took nearly a year of impeachment inquiry before the worst evidence against Richard Nixon even became apparent, by the way.)

At the same time, even since the first round of hearings concluded last week, there has been a constant drip, drip, drip of increasingly damning information against the President, shoring up an already overwhelming amount of evidence that Trump directed a quid pro quo bribery scheme against Ukraine by withholding a White House meeting and hundreds of millions in military aid in exchange for the announcement of a Ukraine investigation into his 2020 political rival Joe Biden and a debunked, nonsensical theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton, not Trump.

In just the few hours since our previous BradCast, newly released testimony from a top official in the White House Office of Management and Budget reveals that two OMB officials quietly resigned over the summer due, at least in part, to their concerns about the legality of Trump's order to withhold Congressionally-allocated military aid to Ukraine for personal political purposes.

Also, the New York Times has reported that Trump had been briefed about the complaint from the whistleblower that kicked off this impeachment inquiry before he finally unfroze military aid for Ukraine in September. Moreover, that report helps to explain Trump's strange insistence to his EU Ambassador that "there is no quid pro quo!" long before the phrase had even made it into the public discussion of the matter.

So, as things get worse for the President, somehow it's "a disaster for DEMOCRATS"?

As many Americans today are heading home for the holidays and may have to discuss all of this with their Trump-lovin' relatives over the holiday table, we thought it'd be helpful to supply a bit of (non-lethal) ammunition. While various blockbuster revelations from witnesses received most of the attention over the first two weeks of lengthy public hearings in the House, the closing summations each day and at the end of the series of hearings by Intelligence Chair Rep. Adam Schiff received far less attention. That's a pity, as the Congressman --- a former prosecutor who served as Asst. U.S. Attorney in the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's office before being elected to Congress --- gives one helluva closing summation.

Today, we share two of those closing arguments, as they nicely wrap up both what this impeachment is about, how damning the evidence already is against the President, and what the stakes are for the country.

Our mission, as journalists, is to help educate and inform the electorate. That's not easy these days in a post-truth world full of fake news, a lying President, and still far too much corporate media hackery. We hope today's program might help you to help ALL of us find our way out of this otherwise very dark hour in American history. We ALL must play a part in that, right now, if our republic is to survive this unprecedented attack.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving. Somehow...

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Special coverage of both with David Bender and Jackie Schechner...
By Brad Friedman on 11/21/2019 5:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we impossibly offer special coverage of both Wednesday night's Democratic 2020 Presidential Debate in Atlanta and Wednesday night and Thursday morning's blockbuster public impeachment hearings in the U.S. House. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today: Wednesday's second session in the House Intelligence Committee featuring Laura Cooper, Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense for Russia and David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, in which Cooper revealed that Ukrainian officials were aware of the Trump Administration's freeze on nearly $400 million in military assistance at least a month earlier than previously known. The claim undercuts GOP claims that the pressure campaign on Ukraine couldn't have been a quid pro quo because Ukraine didn't know their military assistance had been withheld. Both officials says they had no idea why the White House had frozen the funds. Their testimony also backs up the bombshell testimony earlier in the day from Gordon Sondland, Donald Trump's EU Ambassador, who charged that the scheme amounted to a clear quid pro quo by the President, as Sondland was assigned to take the lead in Trump's pressure campaign to force the Ukrainian President into announcing investigations of the 2016 election and Joe Biden in exchange for a White House meeting and millions of dollars in military aid approved by a bipartisan Congress.

And, on Thursday, David Holmes, political adviser at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine and Dr. Fiona Hill, who served as Trump's top Russia and Ukraine expert on the National Security Council under John Bolton, offered riveting testimony in the last of the Committee's scheduled impeachment hearings, for now. Holmes detailed the unsecured cell-phone conversation he overheard between Trump and Sondland at a cafe in Kiev, in which the President was eager to hear about the investigations into his political rivals on the day after his infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Holmes said Sondland told him Trump didn't care about Ukraine, other than as it pertained to the President's personal reelection interests. Hill, a longtime non-partisan foreign service officer, shared gripping details on the Russia/Ukraine conflict, describing the Trump/Rudy Giuliani/GOP claim that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 election as a "fictional narrative" propagated by Russia. She detailed Bolton's description of Rudy Giuliani as "a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up," adding, "I think that’s where we are today." Hill also went on to explain Trump's pursuit of what she described as a "domestic political errand" that came at the expense of official American foreign policy.

Then, we move on to Wednesday evening's 2020 Presidential Debate featuring ten candidates --- Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Harris, Klobuchar, Steyer, and Yang --- in the 5th such forum of the year, this one sponsored and moderated by hosts from MSNBC and Washington Post. We're joined for insight and analysis on BOTH of our special coverage topics today by longtime political activist, reporter, author, broadcaster and documentarian DAVID BENDER, Political Director of Progressive Voices Network and journalist, producer and communications expert JACKI SCHECHNER, formerly of CNN and CurrentTV.

Among the many debate-related matters we discuss today: How Wednesday's forum, lead by four female journalists, differed from previous debates this year; whether Democrats are focusing too much or not enough on the dangers posed to the nation and the world by Donald Trump; whether the Democratic Party is adequately reaching out to the anti-war left (some of whom abandoned them for Trump in 2016); Joe Biden's frailty and Tulsi Gabbard's politics; and what if any effect Michael Bloomberg may have on the race if and when he finally enters --- as he continues to threaten...

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Special impeachment hearing coverage with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2019 4:06pm PT  

We go to air, on today's BradCast, midway between the two sets of witnesses on Day 3 of public hearings in the U.S. House impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump, with testimony from Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine and Tim Morrison, the National Security Council's former chief Russia and Ukraine adviser --- both of whom have since resigned in the wake of the Ukraine scandal --- scheduled for the afternoon session. So we focus today on the testimony from Tuesday's morning session featuring Lt. Col Alexander Vindman, the Ukraine expert on Donald Trump's NSC and Jennifer Williams, Vice President Mike Pence's Ukraine expert. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Both of those witnesses have served for years as government officials. Williams was hired as a political appointee by the George W. Bush Administration after working on his Presidential campaign. Vindman, who immigrated here from Soviet-era Ukraine with his family when he was three, is a 20-year, decorated military man and Purple Heart recipient after being wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2014. Both officials were listening in during Donald Trump's infamous July 25 call to Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelensky when Trump asked him for the "favor" of investigations into Joe Biden and his son's involvement with Ukrainian gas company Burisma, and into the Russia-supported theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. President election.

Williams described the President's phone call with Zelensky as "inappropriate", as did Vindman, who was so "shocked" by the attempt at strong-arming Ukraine for Trump's personal political purposes that he brought his concerns to the NSC's top legal counsel on two separate occasions. The first time was after a July 10 White House meeting with Ukrainian officials, after then National Security Advisor John Bolton objected strongly to Trump-donor turned EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland (who testifies on Wednesday) informing the foreign emissaries that they would need to carry out those investigations in order to receive a White House meeting for President Zelensky, and again after the July 25 phone call when nearly $400 million in military aid was held up by the Administration in exchange for the "favor" Trump sought from the Ukrainians. Vindman testified today that he "couldn't believe what [he] was hearing".

“It was probably an element of shock — that maybe, in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out, and how this was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security,” Vindman explained.

We share portions of Vindman's testimony on both of the disturbing July events, including his concerns that the pressure campaign was a threat to U.S. national security, along with his personal response to the attacks he has received from the President and others since his role in what Democrats describe as the President's bribery scandal has come to light.

We're joined once again by our special BradCast Impeachment Correspondent Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to discuss today's proceedings, including how Vindman's testimony blew up the Trump/GOP narrative that the pressure campaign was meant to combat corruption in Ukraine; what Democrats hope Americans take away from today's testimony; how Republicans are responding in their alternate reality world; how John Bolton might actually prove to be a hero in this story (as unlikely as that seems); and, by the way, what was Donald Trump doing in his unannounced, rushed, mysterious weekend trip to Walter Reed Medical Center anyway?

Finally today, as if all of that is not enough, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, on record, climate change-fueled flooding in the historic city of Venice; Ford's new all-electric Mustang SUV, and a landmark, bipartisan legislative plan passed by New Zealand to reach net zero carbon emissions in just over a decade...

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Extended excerpts and analysis with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 11/13/2019 5:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast, our special coverage of the first day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We share extended excerpts from the opening statements at today's historic hearing in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, as chaired by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and led on the Republican side by Ranking Member Devin Nunes.

The witnesses for Wednesday's hearing were two long-serving, non-partisan, career diplomats who offered detailed and often damning testimony on Trump's unprecedented withholding of military aide to Ukraine as part of a pressure campaign to force its new President to announce investigations into Trump's political rivals and into an uncorroborated theory regarding Ukraine's interference in the 2016 election. Both men also offered background on Ukraine's struggle to break away from its corrupt past with its new administration, even while the beleaguered former Soviet-bloc nation continues its long and deadly war on its eastern border against Russian-backed separatists.

Ambassador Bill Taylor, a 30-year foreign service veteran and decorated Vietnam combat soldier, currently serves as Trump's top diplomat in Ukraine. He was assigned to the post by Trump's Sec. of State Mike Pompeo after Trump's previous Ambassador, the virulently anti-corruption Marie Yovanovitch (who will testify on Friday), was pushed out of her role by what Taylor described as an "irregular" diplomatic channel consisting of several of Trump's political allies, including his attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Taylor broke the most noteworthy new piece of information of the day as he described learning, just last week, about a late night unsecured cell phone call in July by one of the "irregulars", Ambassador to EU Gordon Sondland, to the President. The call was made in a restaurant, the day after Trump's infamous July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor's staffer (who will now also testify on Friday) is said to have overheard Trump asking Sondland about the status of "the investigations" into the Bidens and the 2016 election. After the call, Taylor testified, when the staffer asked Sondland about Trump's feelings toward Ukraine, the Trump-donor-turned-diplomat said he "cares more about the investigations of Biden" than Ukraine.

Sharing the witness table with Taylor on Wednesday was George Kent, Deputy Asst. Sec. of State overseeing policy for Ukraine. Kent, who also offered damning testimony about Trump's scheme to strong-arm Ukraine, has been a part of the State Department's foreign service since 1992, having served, like Taylor, under five different U.S. Presidents --- three Republicans and two Democrats --- during his time in government service.

We're joined today for insight and analysis on all of this by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Hullabaloo and Salon, as we discuss today's breaking news of note, the damning case being laid out against the President by Democrats, the thin and disjointed rebuttal being offered by Republicans in his defense, and how all of this may be perceived by the American public as the historic hearings continue later this week, into the next one, and likely beyond...

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Election Day 2019 voting system failures; Donald Trump failures; 2020 polling failures; And what YOU must now do about all of it...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2019 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's Election Day today, and not going well in several states. But it's also Election Day one year from today, for President, and we've got some very timely advice. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Voter are voting, or trying to, in dozens of states around the country today. And, like clockwork, voting systems --- particularly newly installed touchscreen and electronic pollbook systems --- are failing and causing long voting times in a number of states (like New York, Virginia, and Indiana --- where "about 30% of the 93 precincts in St. Joseph County" had touchscreen problems, according to its County Clerk), even in sparsely attended off-year elections. We'll have more such problems as they come to light, undoubtedly, along with noteworthy results of Tuesday's elections across the nation, on tomorrow's BradCast.

But, while we're waiting, as we are now exactly one year out from next year's critical Presidential election, there is every reason to imagine (foolishly, we'll add here) that Donald Trump will be wiped out in a landslide next year. All things being equal, on a level playing field and sane world, he would be. But we live in neither these days. Even setting aside his ongoing impeachment, his last week has been an embarrassment of failures.

  • His withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement has now resulted in Iran installing at least 60 new, modern, high-speed centrifuges to enrich uranium, which had been previously banned under the pact --- until Trump broke it.
  • An analysis of U.S. troops now both coming and going in Syria following Trump's sudden declaration that the U.S. was pulling out of the warn torn nation and his subsequent announcement that he was sending troops in to defend oil field left abandoned by our fleeing Kurdish allies, means that when all is said and done, the U.S. will have 900 troops in the country. That, versus the 1,000 that were there previously. And with all of that, "the United States has deserted its pivotal Kurdish ally; ceded territory the Kurds had controlled to Syria, Turkey and Russia; and opened the door for a possible Islamic State resurgence" as hundreds of ISIS prisoners were able to escape in the Trump-created confusion.
  • At the same time, back home, we've learned that Trump's "impenetrable" border wall, built with $10 billion in tax-payer dollars (not Mexican pesos), is anything but impenetrable, as smugglers are said to be breaching it with a simple power tool available for under $100 at Home Depot.
  • And while he hasn't cancelled Native American Heritage Month, as some on the Internet were reporting on Monday, he has declared November, awkwardly, for the first time, to also be National American History and Founders Month, a pet White Powery swamp project of one of his top campaign funders.

With all of that failure and ineptitude and embarrassment and corruption --- from just the past several days alone --- you'd think this guy would be heading toward a blow-out landslide loss next year to whichever candidate or ham sandwich Democratic voters nominate to run against him in 2020. Indeed, Washington Post and ABC News today published new polling showing that, among currently registered voters, all five leading Democratic candidates (Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and Harris) crush Trump in head-to-head national match-ups next year by anywhere from 17 to 9 points. While that could ultimately turn out to be true, that polling --- and a lot of similar surveys you will hear over the next year --- are of NATIONAL polling. We do not run national elections in this country. We run state-by-state electoral college elections for President.

And, on that score, the New York Times has a much more sobering --- and even chilling --- preview of where they find that things currently stand in the six battleground states (MI, PA, WI, FL, AZ and NC) that were said to have decided the election in Trump's favor in 2016. In those states, Trump is currently believed to be even with or defeating the top Democrats, according to the new polling, which may be either right or wrong.

There are many caveats on that poll as well. Either way, it should serve as a very loud, screaming, red flag, siren alarm bell for those who believe Trump couldn't possibly win re-election next year. Given the more-art-than-science nature of such polling and our incredible fragile and vulnerable electoral systems, he absolutely could win the election again next year (just as we warned, to little avail or notice, in 2016.) Thus, NOW is a great time to take action: What are YOU going to do next year to help voters vote? We discuss and offer a few ideas. It's time to take action.

Finally, speaking of still more Trump failures, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the President's ridiculous withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, yet another new oil spill on the Keystone Pipeline, and much more as we approach our 1000th episode of the GNR! (For which we humbly thank you for supporting through your donations at BradBlog.com/Donate! If you haven't done so lately, now would be a really great time to stop by with a one-time or recurring donation of any amount you like. Thank you!)

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall Eliason; Also: Army officer was so alarmed by Trump's Ukraine scheme he alerted NSC lawyers; NC court orders ungerrymandered U.S. House maps for 2020!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2019 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're at the point in the ongoing impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump when the facts against him have become so damning that he and his supporters in Congress are pretty much just tossing everything they can against the wall to see what, if anything sticks. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, some long-overdue very good news out of North Carolina, where a three-judge state court panel has determined the state's Republican-drawn Congressional maps to be an "extreme partisan gerrymander" and has ordered new maps before the 2020 elections. The court went so far as to state that no more Congressional elections may be run on the current maps, and if new ones aren't drawn in time for next year's March 3 primary election, the judges --- two Democrats and a Republican --- will postpone the primaries until they do.

The news is long-overdue, though hardly a surprise. North Carolina is the most divided of swing states, but the GOP-skewed maps have resulted in 3 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the state's Congressional delegation for the past decade. A federal appeals court already ruled the same map to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and ordered a new one drawn. But that ruling was ultimately over-ruled by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, when they declared in a 5 to 4 opinion that federal courts may not hear partisan gerrymandering cases. Only state courts may now do so, and now North Carolina's state court has done so. The same court ruled last month that the state's legislative districts were also drawn in violation of the state constitution and ordered new maps there as well.

Meanwhile, speaking of Congress, a White House national security official and decorated Iraq War vet offered startling testimony to House impeachment investigators on Tuesday, regarding Trump's scheme to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine unless the nation's President promised to investigate Joe Biden in advance of the 2020 election. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman serves as the top Ukraine expert on the White House's National Security Council (NSC) and is the first official to testify in the impeachment matter who actually listened live to Trump's infamous July 25 "I need a favor though" phone call with Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky.

According to Vindman's prepared opening statement obtained by the New York Times, the veteran Army officer and longtime civil servant was so alarmed by Trump's strong-arm tactics and withholding of military aid that, out of a "sense of duty", he alerted the top lawyer at the NSC --- twice --- in order to register internal objections about the policy, which he feared would "undermine national security."

"I am a patriot,” Vindman says in his testimony, "and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country irrespective of party or politics." Since news of his testimony broke on Monday night, rightwing media have been attacking the Purple Heart winner who was wounded by an IED in Iraq, as a traitor who must be working for Joe Biden or George Soros or Ukraine, after he fled the then Soviet-controlled country as a 3-year old with his parents in 1979.

Next, were joined by former Asst. U.S. Attorney turned George Washington University Law School professor RANDALL ELIASON to discuss the Republicans' continuing, nonsensical whining that the impeachment inquiry lacks "due process" for the President. Though each of their arguments toward that end have been dismantled by both facts and federal courts in recent days, they are still making the case which Eliason describes as "nonsense" in his latest Washington Post op-ed.

He explains why on today's program, noting the old "saying in Washington, that if you're arguing about process then you're losing," adding: "I think that's certainly the case here." Eliason, a longtime expert in white collar crime, government fraud and federal criminal law, responds to a number of different allegations being offered by Trump and his defenders, including the specious claim that there is no crime at the heart of Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine.

He also offers his thoughts on the recent news --- and "incredibly suspicious" timing behind it --- that Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr has elevated the Dept. of Justice's probe into the origins of the 2016 investigation into Russian election meddling into a criminal investigation of some sort.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on California's wind-drive wildfires, Massachusetts' new climate fraud lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, and Trump's new plan to steal Syria's oil in violation of international law. Also, as we close, late news and a few thoughts on the nation's largest private coal company, Murray Energy, declaring bankruptcy protection today. So much for Trump's promise to save the dirty coal industry. Now, what about the company's long-serving coal miners who may very well lose their pensions and health care under Trump-supporter Robert Murray's scheme to restructure his dying company?...

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U.S. bombs own base in retreat from Kurdish stronghold; Pelosi tells Trump 'all roads lead to Putin'; Elijah Cummings: Rest in Power...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2019 6:26pm PT  

I'm still out of breath from today's BradCast, even after I had to cut a whole bunch of breaking (and not so breaking) news to make room for the sad passing of a much-beloved Congressional giant.

We begin today with the devastating news of the untimely death of 68-year old Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the larger than life Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee whose extraordinary 23-year legacy in Congress and decades of civil rights work before it has left an indelible mark on the nation and our ongoing fight for democracy and equal justice for all.

Next up, as support for the impeachment and removal from office of Donald J. Trump continues to build, chaos continues to unravel in the Middle East following his recent green light for Turkey's invasion of Northern Syria. Trump's approval, given to Turkish President Erdogan on a recent phone call, stunned White House aides, the Pentagon, bi-partisan members of Congress, and our Kurdish allies in the long fight against ISIS in the region.

It also led to an incredibly bonkers threat letter sent by the U.S. President to his Turkish counterpart (which was ignored); the escape of ISIS prisoners being held by the now-endangered and fleeing Kurds; Kurdish forces choosing to ally with Russian and Iran-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as Turkish and Russian forces rolled onto bases previously occupied by the U.S. and the Kurds; the U.S. military being forced to bomb its own military outpost and ammo dump near the Turkish border; bi-partisan condemnation from Congress (including from Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a lopsided 354 to 60 resolution vote in the U.S. House against the Trump policy), Russia's emergence as the new power-broker in the Middle East, and a meeting between Democratic Congressional leaders and the President on Wednesday that ended with furious Democrats storming out after Trump reportedly insulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a "third-rate politician" and suggesting that the Democrats were communist sympathizers in what the Speaker described as a "meltdown" after she charged that "all roads lead to Putin" with this President.

And, amidst that chaos today, after Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were dispatched to Ankara to try and clean up the mess created by Trump with Turkey, a supposed "deal" was struck for a short-term cease-fire to allow the Kurds (and U.S. troops) to retreat, while all but giving Turkey everything that it had sought on the Turkish/Syrian border for years, with the U.S. promising to lift economic sanctions against its NATO ally.

It's all even more disastrous than that, according to Trump's own former Envoy in the Fight to Defeat ISIS who calls the new U.S. policy a "disaster" and "totally incoherent", and a former FBI official who warns that Trump is "spiraling down into a dangerous posture", acting in "almost total isolation" and is now "incredibly vulnerable" to foreign manipulation. But you'll have to both tune in and buckle up for the full details. They are worse than they sound.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with coverage of the lack of climate questions raised at the recent 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Ohio, California's latest plans to foil Trump's fossil fuel schemes in the Golden State and much more!...

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