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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, November 26, 2021
Sunday 'Friendsgiving' Toons
PDiddie's latest festive collection! Because that's what toons are for...
There'd Be No Trucker Short-age If Industry Took Care of Drivers: 'BradCast' 11/19/21
Guest: Nicolas Rivero of Quartz; Also: House passes BBB; VA school board unbans books; Recounts will determine control of VA House...
Digging Deeper Into the Case for Homicide Charges Against Both Trump AND Pence: 'BradCast' 11/18/21
Also: COVID rising again before holidays; OK clemency for Julius Jones...
'Green News Report' 11/18/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Deadly extreme flooding in Pacific Northwest; Admin's controversial oil and gas lease sale; F.T.C. to probe Big Oil corruption; PLUS: Biden promotes American-made EVs in Detroit...
Previous GNRs: 11/16/21 - 11/11/21 - Archives...
Deflating Inflation Panic: 'BradCast' 11/17
Guest: The Intercept's Jon Schwarz on how it's misreported, good for many workers, bad for big banks; Also: 3+ years for 'QAnon Shaman'; Gosar censured; Biden' Big Oil probe; Sanders on 'Defense'...
The Unmistakable Drumbeat of Authoritarianism: 'BradCast' 11/16/21
Ominous warnings: Gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More on the attempt to steal 2020; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
'Green News Report' 11/16/21
U.N. climate summit ends with progress, compromise; Coal 'down' but not 'out' at Glasgow; PLUS: Biden signs landmark bipartisan infrastructure deal into law...
Long Roads to Accountability, Climate Action, Infrastructure: 'BradCast' 11/15
Bannon surrenders; COP26 concludes; Biden signs landmark, roads, bridges, enviro bill...
Sunday 'Big Bird, Little Bird' Toons
Flip on over to PDiddie's toon collection this week for the latest signs of the times...
Sports, Politics, Race and Florida:
'BradCast' 11/12/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with FL Guber-natorial Candidate Annette Taddeo and The Nation's Dave Zirin; Also: BANNON FINALLY INDICTED!...
'Green News Report' 11/11/21
COP26 crunch time; Surprise US/China climate deal; Big EV agreement; Renewables rise in U.S.; PLUS: Nations under-reporting emissions, new analysis finds...
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: Author, radio host Thom Hartmann; Also: Callers ring in on Thom's argument and new calls for AG Merrick Garland's resignation...
By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2021 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It shouldn't take a couple of talk radio guys to figure this out. But that, apparently, is where we are when it comes to demands for legal accountability in this country...at least in regard to the case of mass murder by Donald Trump. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

On last Friday's BradCast we spoke with Free Speech for People (FSFP) co-founder and president John Bonifaz, a Constitutional law and accountability expert, about his nonpartisan nonprofit's new campaign calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to resign. The group is making their demand, despite respect for Garland's years of service as a prosecutor and federal judge, due to his failure to bring any accountability for anybody in the Trump Administration after eight months as President Biden's AG. That, despite a mountain of clear and well documented crimes carried out by the former President himself both before and during his term in office.

While Bonifaz detailed a litany of apparent crimes by Trump and his cronies for which no one has been held criminally accountable, there was one major crime that FSFP didn't raise, but that I mentioned quite a bit last year in the closing months of the Trump Administration during the worst of the pandemic. Namely, the need to hold Trump criminally accountable for the hundreds of thousands of unnecessary deaths in the U.S. from COVID that occurred during his Administration's attempt to pretend the pandemic away in hopes that it would somehow help him win a second term of office.

Last week, our friend, author and longtime progressive talk radio host THOM HARTMANN wrote a piece for his Hartmann Report newsletter, attempting to begin building a case against Trump for what he described as "negligent homicide at best and intentional murder at worst."

Hartmann joins us on the program today to explain his persuasive and well-documented argument that Trump and his Administration are, in fact, guilty of mass murder. He breaks down how Team Trump had taken the pandemic seriously in its first four months or so, until one day in April when an article in the New York Times reported that, other than the elderly, it was, in fact, Black and Hispanic Americans who were dying at the highest rate from the disease, and largely in "blue states" at the time. As if on a dime, as Hartmann details, the Administration seems to have made the calculation that if minorities were dying in "blue" states, it was time to move on from the COVID pandemic and demand the country re-open for business again...just months before the 2020 election. That about face happened in lockstep with rightwing outlets like Fox "News", the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Koch Network's Freedomworks, etc., all seemingly within days if not hours of each other.

We also discuss the seemingly astonishing point that, really, none of the great legal minds in this nation seem to have yet made a similar public case for this. Is there a reason for that? Has Hartmann, who concedes he is not an attorney, got something wrong in his argument? If so, nobody has explained as much since he first published his case last week.

"Why am I making this case instead of some former attorney general?," Hartmann asks today. "To the best of my knowledge, nobody has punched a hole in it. Nobody has contradicted it. It's just a matter of a lack of political will. There are so many Democrats right now who are so timid. They don't want to piss off the Proud Boys. They don't want to piss off the GOP. Forget about that! Do what's right. This guy killed a bunch of people and he did it for political purposes, and he should be held accountable."

But, if an case for mass murder was to be filed against Trump, who would be the one to do it? It's unclear whether there are federal laws for murder that would suffice and, in any event, we've learned Garland --- who Hartmann describes as "a longstanding member of the Republican Party" --- is unlikely to do so. How about prosecutors at the state level, all of which have lost countless thousands of residents due to Trump's purposeful negligence? How about another Select Committee in Congress? How about the International Court of Justice?

Hartmann suggests keeping an eye on what is happening Brazil, where a case is apparently being built in the Senate against its President, Jair Bolsonaro, for the exact same thing in the only other large nation that seems to rival the U.S. for COVID deaths under leaders who tried --- and failed --- to pretend it all away.

We also briefly discuss the newest book in Thom's "Hidden History" series, The Hidden History of American Healthcare: Why Sickness Bankrupts You and Makes Others Insanely Rich --- where history appears to offer some haunting echoes for Trump's reasons for failing to deal with COVID once he decided that only minorities, the poor (and folks who tend to vote Democratic) were most adversely affected by it.

Finally --- after a bit of breaking news on six new subpoenas for top Trump advisors, issued today by the U.S. House Select Committee examining the January 6th insurrection --- we open up the phones to some excellent callers on Hartmann's case against Trump, the calls for Garland to resign, and a bit more madness (in the form of attempted disinformation from one caller regarding DoJ's position on family separation at the border under Trump and on the rising menace of violent threats against school officials responding to COVID. It didn't go particularly well for that caller. )

It was a "fun" show. I hope you'll tune in!...

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Guest: Legal expert John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People; Also: GOP gerrymandering getting worse, Dems running out of time to stop it...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2021 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There is a long list of pretty clear crimes that Donald Trump and his cronies have committed and might have been charged with by now. So far, however, a full year since he lost the election and nearly eight months since Merrick Garland was sworn in as President Biden's Attorney General, there is little sign of accountability for the disgraced former President at the federal level. Citing what they describe as a failure to meet this critical moment for the nation, some legal and Constitutional experts are now calling for Garland to resign. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

It's not as though the U.S. Department of Justice hasn't been busy in the wake of Trump's four years of undermining both the rule of law and the DoJ itself. They have, to date, brought charges against nearly 700 rioters incited by Trump to attack the U.S. Capitol in hopes of stealing the 2020 election somehow on January 6th.

In recent days, the Department has also filed two federal lawsuits against the state of Texas for their new voter suppression law and their clearly unconstitutional new law banning most abortions in the state. They've also brought suit against the state of Georgia in recent months, challenging their new voter suppression law as well.

Meanwhile, active investigations into Trump's potential violations of law are underway by state and local prosecutors both in New York and Georgia. But, at the federal level, there seems to be nothing, at least in sight, despite a laundry list of legal transgressions by the former President and his accomplices, dating well before his term in office and continuing right up through the very end.

"Over the past thirty years, Merrick Garland served with distinction as a federal prosecutor and then as an appellate judge," a new statement [PDF] and campaign by the nonpartisan legal advocacy nonprofit Free Speech for People (FSFP) begins. "Unfortunately, as Attorney General for the past eight months, he has failed to take any meaningful action to hold accountable former president Donald Trump and his co-conspirators for attempting to overthrow the government on January 6, 2021 and a flurry of criminal acts in the months and years leading up to that date. Instead, he has adopted indefensible positions of the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) to protect Trump from accountability. Since Garland is unwilling to step up, it is time for him to step down."

Their statement this week concludes: "As long as Trump and his co-conspirators walk free, American democracy is in danger. We need an Attorney General who understands that danger and is willing to take action to protect democracy and the rule of law. Merrick Garland must resign."

In response to FSFP's campaign launched on Thursday, Laurence Tribe, Harvard Law School's renowned legal scholar and Professor Emeritus, tweeted out on Thursday night that while he was "not ready to join this movement", he believes it is "worth noting" as it comes from "serious and responsible" people. "DOJ must take note," he warned.

Joining us to discuss their call for Garland to step down is FSFP's "serious and responsible" Co-Founder and President, JOHN BONIFAZ, a longtime, well-respected Constitutional expert, author and accountability champion. Back in January, before Garland was even sworn in as Attorney General, FSFP led a campaign with nearly a dozen other good government groups and some 200,000 individuals who signed on, calling for the nation's top cop, once sworn in, to form an independent task force to investigate "any potential federal criminal or civil violations that may have been committed by President Trump, members of his administration, or his campaign, business, or other associates."

Now, months later, with no sign of any such task force OR investigation, FSFP has regrettably determined that Garland is not up to the task, with Bonifaz citing the apparent lack of charges --- at least so far --- against former Trump advisor Steve Bannon as "the last straw". Bannon was referred by the U.S. House for criminal Contempt of Congress to the DoJ two weeks ago. But as the group's statement observes, after detailing a panoply of apparent, if uncharged Trump-era crimes: "The last time that the House referred a contempt of Congress charge to DOJ, then-President Reagan’s prosecutors immediately brought the matter to a grand jury; it returned an indictment just nine days after the House vote."

In response to my questions as to whether federal probes could be ongoing at DoJ, but we simply don't know about them yet, Bonifaz cites the agency's prosecution of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for charges related to a criminal conspiracy the DoJ declared at the time was "directed" by Trump, and the ten or more instances of Obstruction of Justice by the then-sitting President, as cited by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation. While it has been DoJ's (ridiculous) policy that sitting Presidents may not be indicted while in office, that excuse is long gone, Bonifaz argues. "The fact that there's been no action whatsoever on any of these offenses, including the ones that were well-established the moment that Garland took office as Attorney General --- that is deeply concerning, and signals that they ultimately do not intend to engage in holding him accountable. We're ready to be surprised, but at this point, nine months after he has taken office, we need new leadership at the Dept. of Justice, in our view, to ensure that the rule of law is enforced."

Does Bonifaz believe that Biden's DoJ may be trying to protect the office of the President itself from charges of political bias or from the DoJ being used as --- or being seen as being used as --- a political weapon? "What is at issue is that the Donald Trump Administration and Donald Trump himself used the Dept. of Justice as his own private agency to cover up. So what's critical now is that the Justice Department establish itself as an independent agency that's not going to carry out the political agenda of the President. If anything, doing what they're doing, in this particular instance, indicates somehow that they may have political considerations at stake," he contends. "That they may not want to engage in indicting a former President because of the impact it will have on the current President and his own political agenda --- that is just as wrong as a decision by Donald Trump to misuse the Justice Department for his own political purposes."

"There is no get-out-of-jail-free card because it's hard for the nation to handle it, or because we somehow need to come up with this fiction that the President is protected in a special way than others are," he asserts. "He's a former President, and if he engaged in these federal crimes, he needs to be held accountable."

There is, of course, MUCH more from Bonifaz today on all of this, including whether he thinks folks like Harvard's Tribe and other accountability groups may sign on to FSFP's effort) they are collecting signatures on a petition at GarlandMustResign.org); the outrage of actual legal protections the DoJ has been offering on Trump's behalf in court; and whether he believes that state prosecutors in New York and Georgia, at this point, are more likely to ultimately bring at least some accountability for at least some of Trump's many crimes.

Also on today's show, more troubling evidence of outrageously extreme partisan gerrymandering being enacted as we speak by Republican-controlled states around the country, and the need --- for the survival of democracy itself --- for Democrats to step up in response, whether by partisan gerrymandering states that they control or, preferably, by passage of federal voting rights and election reform legislation in Congress, such as the Freedom to Vote Act, to ban partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states prior to the 2022 midterm elections...

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Guest: Attorney, blogger Keith Barber on where the Jan 6 probe may be heading; Also: Majority of Americans now very worried about climate crisis; Manchin nixing another climate provision from Build Back Better...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2021 4:52pm PT  

As usual, we're looking both forward and back on today's BradCast...and not a whole lot of it looks fantastic in either direction. But their could be some accountability on the horizon, which always looks good to us. [Audio link to full show is below this summary.]

First up, some climate and "sausage making" news. New polling finds that a majority of Americans --- in both major parties --- now finally see our quickly worsening climate crisis as being of "high importance" to them. We break down the new survey and what it does and doesn't mean.

In related matters, as discussed on yesterday's program, there is still a chance that the U.S. could meet President Biden's pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, even after corrupt, coal-state Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin insisted on removing the key program for clean electricity from Biden's Build Back Better reconciliation bill. That program would have paid utility companies to move quickly to clean energy sources and penalized those that stuck with dirty, dangerous fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. But those already long odds may be getting much longer if Manchin is successful in removing yet another key climate provision from the bill, fees that are to be levied against the release of methane from oil and gas wells. Desi Doyen explains why that program is so important and how killing or weakening it, as Manchin reportedly wants, could be a fatal blow to our chances of surviving our ongoing climate emergency.

Next, the Biden Administration this week has, for a second time, rejected our disgraced, twice-impeached former President's attempt to invoke Executive Privilege to prevent the release of more Trump-era White House documents regarding the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. The documents are the second tranche requested of the National Archives by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited attack.

That bad news for the former President (but good news for all democracy-loving Americans) comes on the heels of a series of reporting shedding additional light on Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, including by insurrection at the Capitol. Over the weekend, Washington Post detailed the "war room" effort carried out at the historic Willard Hotel near the White House from December through January, as Trump's activist lawyers, goons and other operatives, such as Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon, plotted various ways to overturn Joe Biden's victory.

Another report over the weekend from Rolling Stone documents the ways in which at least seven GOP U.S. House Reps participating in the planning of the rallies that led to the assault on the Capitol. Those members of Congress, according to two of the organizers who served as sources for the magazine (who are also said to be cooperating with the Jan. 6 Committee) are Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX). In the wake of the reporting, a number of Democrats in the House are now calling for the expulsion of those Republican members.

The Rolling Stone report also cites Gosar as encouraging the two unnamed organizers by telling them they could expect a "blanket pardon" from the President for a separate, unidentified matter in which they are said to have been involved. If true, Gosar's (apparently false) promise, if it was actually made, also seems to place Trump himself squarely at the center of organizing the conspiracy that eventually became a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Monday, on MSNBC, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, who detailed the Willard Hotel war room in their new book PERIL, offered more details, with Woodward reporting that the pair had "talked recently with a former Republican head of the Criminal Division in the Justice Department who said there is a 'lay down case,' just in what we know --- 18 U.S. Code, Section 371 --- a law that says it is a crime to defraud the government in any deceptive way, and that's exactly what they did here."

Last night, citing Woodward's comment, our guest today, KEITH BARBER, who blogs at Daily Kos under the name "KeithDB", broke down exactly what 18 U.S.C. § 371 actually is and how it could or should be applied here. In addition to being a regular dKos contributor on legal and constitutional matters, Barber is a former U.S. Army Captain, a longtime (now retired) attorney, and a lifelong Republican, at least "pre- Trump", according to his profile at the website.

Today, he walks us through the statute in question today, explaining how it is interpreted by the DoJ and how it appears to apply quite perfectly to both Trump and his cronies in their efforts to steal last year's Presidential election through deception and fraud.

Citing the DoJ's own explanation for its attorneys, Barber notes that he "was really surprised how stunningly broad" the statute is. "It basically can refer to impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of government, or depriving any department of government of its lawful right and duty required by law."

"Here," he continues, "we have counting of the Electoral College votes, very much required by law. That has to be done. A duty of Congress by law. And, arguably, the efforts going on in that 'war room', even setting aside the violence question --- the efforts to, through legalese and bogus Constitutional means, overturn the election --- constituted an effort, through deception and dishonesty, to overturn the election." Barber argues that Trump's criminal conspiracy seems to perfectly meets the DoJ's definition of the law, exactly as Woodward and Costa's former DoJ source posited.

Then, of course, the question is: Will the House Select Committee on January 6 cite that section of federal law and, more importantly, will the DoJ take action to enforce it against Trump and/or his cronies? As we also discuss, the DoJ has been less than aggressive in upholding the conspiracy law against Trump in other matters, such as the criminal conspiracy that both federal prosecutors and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, allege that Trump "directed" in the hush-money payoffs to adult film actress Stormy Daniels --- for which his co-conspirator Cohen served time in prison.

There's much more in our conversation, including what to make of Gosar's alleged promise of "blanket pardons" and whether the attempts by Trump attorneys, such as John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, to avoid testimony to the January 6 Committee by claiming attorney/client privilege, will legally hold up. (Spoiler: It won't, explains Barber.)

Finally, we're joined again by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report on one of the busiest weeks in climate news in our 12 years of producing the GNR. So, I won't even try to summarize it here. But, please do tune in for that and much more on today's BradCast!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Adam Green of Progressive Change Campaign Committee; Also: Gaetz' ex-girlfriend flipping on him, Trump's finance chief may flip on Trump, Trump may flip on everyone, including his own family...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2021 7:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Everyone in Trump World is now either flipping on everyone else in Trump World, or appears on their way to doing so. Including Trump himself Fun! Less fun: Democrats in Congress wasting their time in negotiations on Biden's bold Build Back Better agenda with Republicans who are decidedly not negotiating in good faith, as they made clear to everyone once again this week. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first, the flippin' fun part of the show! Just before airtime, CNN reported that Rep. Matt Gaetz' ex-girlfriend is now said to be cooperating with federal investigators believed to be looking into the Republican Congressman from Florida's many alleged payments for sex and illicit sex trafficking of a minor.

And while Gaetz, Donald Trump's number one fan in Congress, is facing a world of trouble (and years in prison), so, of course, is Trump, as it appears to be getting hotter by the hour inside the Trump Organization. This week, we learned that the New York state Attorney General, Letitia James, who had been looking at civil violations of bank and tax fraud laws by Trump and his company, joined the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's criminal investigation of many of the same matters.

The next day, we learned that Allen Weisselberg, the long time Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization --- beginning all the way back to when Trump's dad Fred was in charge --- is now facing his own criminal tax-related probe by the NY AG's office as well. That, as our guest earlier in the week, former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall Eliason explained at the time, is a likely precursor to getting him to flip on his boss, the disgraced former President.

And the next day after that, Weisselberg's former daughter-in-law Jennifer --- who has announced that she's been cooperating with prosecutors for some time, after explaining that her former husband Barry (also a Trump employee) was often paid with free rent in expensive luxury apartments and some $500,000 worth of private school tuition for their kids --- believes that her former father-in-law, Allen, will absolutely flip on Trump to save himself.

That revelation came as Trump's own former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen --- who flipped on Trump long ago, as he earned federal prison time by pleading guilty to participating in a campaign finance hush-money conspiracy "directed" by Trump --- believes that Trump will eventually flip on everyone, including Allen Weisselberg, and even his own kids(!) if necessary, to save himself! "I think Donald Trump is going to flip on all of them, including his children," Cohen told MSNBC, adding: "I really believe that Donald Trump cares for only himself and he realizes that his goose is cooked."

It's all flippin' hilarious, in truth. We'll see if things continue to come crashing down on the former Criminal-in-Chief --- as they sure seem set to do, at this point --- in the coming days and weeks. Fun!

Less fun, unfortunately, is the continuing obstruction campaign being waged by Congressional Republicans, who laid bare their bad faith yet again this week, after spending months negotiating with Democrats on an evenly balanced January 6th Commission, only for GOP leadership in both chambers to then whip their members against it after the bipartisan deal was finally struck in the House Homeland Security Committee.

A similar pageant of bad faith negotiations have been underway for several weeks now with Republicans pretending they are interested in working with Democrats on Biden's $2.25 trillion infrastructure proposal, the American Jobs Plan, and his $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, to support "human infrastructure", such as child care, paid family leave and free daycare and community college.

We've seen this bad movie before. Just look back at the months that Dems spent "negotiating" with Republicans in 2009 and 2010 over the Affordable Care Act, when the GOP failed to offer a single vote in favor of the landmark healthcare law, even after winning all kinds of concessions from Dems to water down the plan.

Now, Democrats are finally saying enough is enough. At least some of them, who, Politico reports, are speaking up and calling for the Jobs Plan and Families Plan to be combined into a megabill and passed in one fell swoop under the Senate's Budget Reconciliation rules allowing passage of almost all of it with a simple majority vote. The only problem: Not all Dems are ready to do so, especially West Virginia's Joe Manchin, who is also not yet onboard with the Dems' sweeping proposal for election and campaign finance reform --- the For the People Act (or H.R.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate) --- and the filibuster reform that would be required to pass it with just 50 Democratic votes.

Joining us to today to explain how Dems and progressives can possibly move forward through all of these obstacles is ADAM GREEN, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who told Politico this week that: "The only two scenarios for Democrats are to go big or get nothing."

Green expands on those comments today, arguing that the process of negotiation going on right now is, by and large, meant to convince Manchin, and maybe a few other conservative Democrats, that there is only one real path forward to carry out Biden's truly ambitious progressive agenda.

"I think that there are two genres in working with Republicans," he tells me. "One, that hearkens back to the Obama era, where they really thought that Republicans were potentially willing to deal with them, and wasted a year and quarter negotiating with them before passing Obamacare. It wasted a lot of time that led to a lack of results by the 2010 election. And the lack of results meant low motivation for voters to turnout and vote, or vote Democrat."

"In this case, " Green continues, "I think we have a little bit of a different scenario, where most people understand the game. The game here is there are one or two Senate Democrats with that old mindset --- they genuinely believe Republicans will deal in good faith.  Everybody else is ready to get this done but has to play ball for a couple of months to make abundantly clear that these Republicans don't come in good faith."

Green also cites this week's last minute u-turn on the January 6th Commission as a perfect example, where the GOP had "pretty much of all of their demands met," only to see "Republican leaders coming out against it." That, he says, leads him to feel "hopeful that we're nearing the time when  even the Joe Manchins of the world realize that they did their best, but too bad, it's time to go it alone with Democratic votes and score big for the American people."

But even if Manchin is ultimately willing to agree to pass the infrastructure plans with a simple majority under Senate Reconciliation rules, is there ANY path that would allow for passage of other top Dem priorities like the For the People Act? That bill would almost certainly fail to meet Senate Parliamentarian muster to be passed under the same rules, so would somehow have to overcome a GOP filibuster to be adopted. An optimistic Green believes there is a VERY narrow path to make that happen as well, and he details how progressives in not just West Virginia, but every state, can help push Dems --- and Manchin --- through that narrow path. It includes, among other things, a new "Democracy exception" to Senate filibuster rules. Such an exception, he notes, could also allow D.C. to finally become a state in the bargain. As I said, optimistic!

Finally, we're always happy to end another mad week in these "United" States with another gem from the great Randy Rainbow, this one dedicated to all of the swell, not-at-all horrible Republican lawmakers in Congress. Enjoy!...

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason of GWU Law School; Also: Manchin's voting rights folly; Major fossil fuel supporting group says it's time to end new fossil fuel development...
By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2021 6:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast: In a bit of an earth-shaking statement issued to CNN late on Tuesday, which has echoed across the nation ever since, a spokesperson for New York's Attorney General said: "We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the company is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organization in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA." [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

The Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, has been running a criminal grand jury probe of our disgraced former President and his business empire for almost two years, looking into, among other things, allegations of major bank and tax fraud crimes. The New York Attorney General, Letitia James, has also been investigating some of the same allegations of falsely-inflated values of certain real estate holdings in order to receive loans, while Trump reportedly under-valued many of the same properties in order to pay lower taxes. That would be fraud. But, until last night, the NY AG's probe was understood to be looking at civil violations of the law, not criminal ones. That has all now changed.

We're joined today by former Asst. U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, RANDALL D. ELIASON who, while serving as AUSA, was also Chief of the Public Corruption/Government Fraud section at DoJ. He is now a professor at George Washington University Law School, a contributing columnist at Washington Post, and writes about corporate and white collar crime at his own Sidebars Blog.

Given today's news, we have a lot of questions for him, beginning with the most fundamental: What is the difference between a criminal and a civil investigation? "The most important difference," Eliason explains, "is in a criminal case, people can go to jail. Only in a criminal prosecution can somebody actually lose their liberty. Of course, criminal cases have the higher burden of proof, as well. You've got to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a unanimous jury. [In] civil cases the burden of proof is much lower, typically just a preponderance of evidence that you can establish the offense took place. So, civil cases can lead to hefty fines, but the stakes are lower, because at the end it's usually primarily about money. In a criminal case, you're talking about people possibly going to jail, and the stakes are much higher."

Beyond that, of course, we've got many more questions about the scintillating news out of James' office today:

  • Why would NY state's civil probe turn into a criminal one?;
  • If James' office has joined Vance's criminal probe, is her own civil investigation still moving forward at the same time?;
  • Why would the NY AG announce this new development publicly at all?;
  • Does anyone go to jail if a corporation is charged, rather than an individual?;
  • Why does it matter if the Trump Organization paid its longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg and his sons (who are also employed by Trump) with free NYC apartments and private school tuition for their children?;
  • Why is it a concern for prosecutors that Trump's company spent millions on consultants, including to his own daughter Ivanka while she was already employed at the company?;
  • Are the various probes of Trump and his company taking longer than might be expected in cases such as these?;
  • If Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen was convicted and imprisoned by federal prosecutors for participating in a hush-money conspiracy "directed" by Trump, why hasn't Trump been charged yet for "directing" that criminal conspiracy not that he's no longer in office?;
  • And, with all of Trump's looming legal concerns that we currently know of --- from New York to Atlanta to Washington D.C. --- would Eliason be more surprised if Trump has NOT been criminally indicted by this time next year or if he has been?

As you might expect, Eliason has a lot of helpful insight on all those questions and others today!

Next, West Virginia's Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Alaska's Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined forces this week to issue a letter calling on leaders of both parties in the House and Senate to move forward with a measure to repair the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. "Inaction is not an option," they write, "Congress must come together."

The effort comes as Manchin is the only Democrat in the Senate to have not signed on as a co-sponsor of the For The People Act (known as H.R.1 in the House and S.1 in the Senate). That is the Democrats' critical, omnibus election and campaign finance reform bill that would, among MANY other things, end gerrymandering, mandate automatic voter registration and early voting and curb the use of dark money in political campaigns. But it does not restore the critical provision in the VRA, gutted by SCOTUS, that mandate pre-clearance by the Dept. of Justice of new voting laws in jurisdictions with a long history of racial voter suppression. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (or H.R.4) does that.

While Manchin is, so far, unwilling to support H.R.1, because he believes election reform bills must be bipartisan (all Republicans in the House voted against it, and all have opposed it so far in the Senate), this week's efforts with Murkowski seems to suggest he'd be open to support H.R.4, the John Lewis Act, or something akin to it.

I explain why that bill is currently on a separate legislative track from the For the People Act --- instead of simply combined with it --- and why Manchin appears to be under the absurd illusion that somehow at least ten Republican Senators would support any legitimate fix to the Voting Rights Act in order to allow such a bill to overcome a GOP filibuster in the upper chamber.

Finally, a "blockbuster" new climate report was issued on Tuesday by the International Energy Agency (IEA), a U.N. partner group that is traditionally, and notoriously, pro-fossil fuel. This report, however, offers a road map on how the world's energy needs can be met while still achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. As Desi Doyen explains, the plan mandates no new fossil fuel development beyond what is already in place. That's a stunning turnabout on its own from this particular agency, which also points out that we already have the technological innovation that is needed to achieve net zero in 30 years, but a significant portion of it is not yet ready (or is currently prohibitively expensive) for broad commercial use. Desi details the IEA's road map, what it signals, and what it will mean both politically and for the energy sector as the world continues to come to terms with our quickly worsening climate emergency...

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Guest: Former FEC Chair Ann Ravel on FEC Repubs killing 'slam dunk' hush-money conspiracy 'directed' by Trump; Also: Computerized voting and tabulation has allowed my election nightmares to come true...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2021 6:46pm PT  

We've got two lede stories really on today's BradCast. You can decide for yourself which one is the more maddening. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Late last week, the bi-partisan Federal Elections Commission (FEC) announced they were ignoring the advice of their own General Counsel by voting down further investigation of the Stormy Daniels hush-money case payoffs by a former disgraced President. Two Republican appointees voted to kill, two Dem appointees voted to continue the probe (with one Repub recusing and one independent absent for the vote). The way the broken, six-person FEC is structured, no investigations of campaign finance reform violations --- no matter how obvious and blatant, as in this case --- can move forward unless there are four votes to do so.

Here, it's a slam dunk. Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was already found guilty and sent to prison for the criminal campaign finance conspiracy in which he paid off the adult film star to keep quiet about her affair with Trump. The affair took place ten years before the 2016 election. The payments were given to her just days before the election. It was clearly an election related expense, yet the Trump Campaign failed to report it, and Trump himself paid Cohen back for the payouts during his time as President.

Both Cohen and the DoJ stated in Court, before Cohen went to prison, that the payments were part of a criminal conspiracy "directed by" and "for the benefit of" Trump himself.

The explanation of the Republican commissioners on the FEC for killing the probe is ridiculously laughable, as we discuss with our guest today, former FEC Chair ANN RAVEL. She was appointed to the Commission under President Obama in 2013 and served until 2017. She, too, agrees this was a "slam dunk" case against Trump, which serves to highlight how the GOP have permanently "captured" the Commission in order to make certain that Republicans are never held to account for violations of federal campaign finance laws.

"Wanting to do nothing is exactly how the Republican Commissioners have always been able to assure that the Commission doesn't do what it is supposed to do to make elections and the electoral process fair, and to make sure that there is total disclosure of campaign finance activities," Ravel explains. "You're right to say that it's a 'slam dunk' case. In particular, because the [FEC's] General Counsel said [Trump's behavior] was 'knowing and willful', which it clearly was. 'Knowing and willful' is the criminal standard. So that may be an alert to the Justice Department that they need to now go forward and prosecute the case."

The DoJ prosecuted Cohen for participating in the conspiracy. Now the nation's top law enforcement agency needs to prosecute the man that the DoJ has already said "directed" it!

Ravel also offers her insight on how the FEC became so captured and broken in the first place (Hint: Trump's former White House Counsel and longtime GOP operative Don McGahn struck a corrupt bargain with Mitch McConnell years ago) and on the Democratic plan in the For the People Act (otherwise known as H.R.1 and S1) to reform the FEC. The plan would restructure it from a 6-person panel designed to deadlock and never move anything forward, to a 5-person panel of appointees selected by non-partisan judges and attorneys, with the fifth appointed by the President. No more than two people from any one political party could serve on the Commission at once, and appointees would have to have spent a number of years not working on political campaigns or as staffers for elected officials, among other sensible restrictions.

"The positive about what they have proposed in HR1 is that there would be a blue-ribbon commission, comprised of people who actually believe in the law and enforcement of the law, who would be nominating and reviewing particular individuals to be on the commission who would abide by the law. That is key to making the change --- to have people who are not beholden to a particular political party, who independently would look at the law and make decisions based on what the legal requirements are."

Naturally, Republicans oppose the reform (along with HR1 in its entirety) and are lying about it to say that it would turn the Commission from a bi-partisan commission into one that gives Democrats partisan control.

Ravel also explains how the Stormy Daniels case --- which can still be prosecuted on a criminal level by the DoJ --- is not necessary over at the FEC either, since the vote to kill the inquiry can now be appealed in a court of law by an outside group.

Then, I've got a bit of a today on the absurd clown show of an audit of the 2020 Presidential election still under way in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona (which we've been covering in detail for the past several weeks); the legitimate audit, being led by several top shelf election and voting systems experts set to begin this week in Windham, New Hampshire (as we detailed in some length last Friday); and the remarkable 8,500 word deep-dive investigative report published over the weekend by Washington Post, detailing how the phony myth of Donald Trump's "stolen" 2020 election came together beginning way back in 2018.

In short (which is not easy with an 8,500 word story!), a wealthy Texas businessman and some Republican operatives calling themselves Associated Specials Operations Group (or ASOG) took the research on vulnerabilities in computer voting and tabulation systems compiled by folks like Bev Harris of Black Voting, Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, myself and others, to morph those very real vulnerabilities into phony claims of actual election fraud. Simply because a system is vulnerable, does not mean the vulnerabilities have been exploited. But such distinctions did not matter to this group which is clearly operating in bad faith, or to Trump who was happy to highlight any lie to cover for his shame of having been a failed, one-term President.

As I have been trying to explain for nearly 20 years on this beat, whether an election is stolen or not, the fact that we now use privatized, non-overseeable computers to cast and tabulate votes is itself a grave threat to democracy. Ultimately, as I've warned over and over again over the years (and as we are now seeing play out), it doesn't matter if an election is 100% accurate and secure if the public can't know that it is. Secret software and concealed vote counting inside computers run by private companies --- even when done perfectly and securely --- allows those operating in bad faith (as is the case with Republicans right now), to claim an election was stolen, even when there is no proof to support such an extraordinary charge. It's nearly impossible to refute such claims, bogus or otherwise.

I have warned about exactly this scenario as a dangerous threat to democracy itself for years, and now, as I explain on today's show, my worst nightmare is now playing out before all of our eyes...

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Guest: Maya Worman of Univ. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections are under threat once again this year, and not just from the President of the United States. But one group of cybersecurity experts launched a new initiative on Friday to try and help --- and not a moment too soon. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, what suffices for some good news today: The Manhattan District Attorney seeking 8 years of Donald Trump's tax records and those from the Trump Organization suggested in a court filing today that his investigation requires those documents since he is examining "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization...dating back over a decade." Until today, the office of Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. had indicated only that he was probing the hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. Those payments were meant to keep them quiet about affairs with Donald Trump.

Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is serving a three year sentence for his part in that criminal campaign finance conspiracy which both he and federal prosecutors say was "directed" by Trump himself. But today's court filing makes clear that Vance's probe goes far beyond that. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said that subpoenas of Trump's financial services institution by the Grand Jury impaneled by Vance were permissible, though they sent the case back to a lower court for one more review, delaying any potential state prosecution of Trump or his associates likely until after the election. Now we have some confirmation that Vance's state investigation (which is immune to Presidential pardon power) appears much broader than previously publicly known.

In other accountability news, a 17-year old from Tampa, Florida was arrested on Friday, accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme last month that commandeered the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other high-profile politicians, CEOs and pop stars. The conspiracy --- two others were also arrested, including a 19-year old from the UK and a 22-year old from Orlando --- was an attempt to scam more than $100,000 in Bitcoin out of gullible people who followed the Twitter accounts of those celebrities, which were taken over by the alleged perpetrators.

As we've observed before, if multi-billion dollar social media companies such as Twitter, which spends huge sums of money on cybersecurity, can't keep their systems safe from hacks like this, what chance does Mr. and Mrs. Local County Election Clerk have in protecting their computer voter registration databases, electronic pollbooks, computerized voting systems and computer tabulators this November? That effort is made all the more impossible this year thanks to the expansion of Vote-by-Mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the refusal of Republicans in Congress to appropriate the $4 billion that election officials across the country have been seeking for months in hopes of expanding election systems and protecting it from cyber-intrusion and other related failures this year. The federal government --- via the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) --- offers extremely limited support for the nation's 13,000 independent voting jurisdictions.

But with just over 90 days until Election Day now, a new initiative is being launched out of the University of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative called the Election Cyber Surge. The initiative, according to its Executive Director MAYA WORMAN, who joins us on the show today, is to bring volunteer cybersecurity and voting systems experts together with local elections officials to help them with whatever cyber-related problems or concerns they may be facing before the election. The hope, she explains, is to help prevent cyberintrusions and ransomware attacks and the like before they happen.

"The need is clear," she tells me. "I think it's increasingly more obvious to those who aren't following this closely, who aren't following this beat. That, in itself, is a strong indicator that we are needed. ... It's not just voter rolls. It's not just the output of the machines, but all of the things in between, including maps of where all of your polling place might be, the hours that they're open, what the deadlines are to register, the information you need once you get there --- all of this stuff can be tweaked just slightly. That could affect the major portion of the voters in any given jurisdiction."

Given the enormous complexity of today's voting and counting systems --- not to mention often-interconnected voter registration systems and electronic pollbooks --- the free help offered by Cyber Surge is likely to be invaluable to thousands of local jurisdictions who may have limited, if any, IT support and a lack of access to cybsersecurity experts. Though we are now just three months out from this year's critical Presidential election (mail-in ballots will go out and early voting will begin in as few as 45 days in some places), Worman says she is confident that the new initiative --- born out of DefCon's "Voting Village", a hacking conference where white-hat hackers have been successfully trying their luck on various voting systems since 2017 --- will prove helpful to myriad election officials who, too often, rely only on private voting systems vendors for support.

"More than 50% of all election officials rely on at least 6 different vendors," Worman observes. "I think there's obviously an expectation that the people with whom they are doing business will not lead them astray, and maybe they won't. But when you have so many different, overlapping tools and systems and a network, and it's all being fed by an antiquated database that is protected who knows how, that is where vulnerabilities from having multiple vendors comes in."

Worman, and (hopefully) cavalry of experts aim to help. And quickly. The effort will be more necessary than ever this year given the necessary changes being made to voting during the pandemic and, thanks to Republican intransigence in Congress, a lack of financial resources to pay for it. "The days of making sure that the room where the ballots are kept is locked --- we're far beyond that now. So a reality check that is gentle, but based in reality, is critical," she warns, adding: "Without sounding too trite, I think staying positive is key here. I think it is very clear that there are more people who want our elections to work than who don't want them to work. And that's important to remember."

Finally, on a somewhat lighter note today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for their thoughts on a) who they would like to see presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden choose as his Vice-Presidential candidate and b) who those same listeners fear he will actually name. Some of the responses from callers may surprise you!...

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RNC cancelled in FL; Another COVID breakout at White House; FL Guv wobbles on school reopening; Jobless claims continue to break records; Congressional GOP in disarray over emergency relief; Trump's federal storm troopers tear gas Portland mayor; And too much more!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2020 6:47pm PT  

It was some weeks ago that we warned listeners to "buckle up" for what was to come over the next several month in the lead up to Election Day (and for whatever nightmares are likely to come thereafter). Today's BradCast provides ample evidence that we were right to issue that warning --- which remains in effect for the foreseeable future. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • Breaking at top of show - Trump cancels plans for Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida due to out-of-control coronavirus surge in the Sunshine State. That, after previously moving the convention from Charlotte, North Carolina because the state's Democratic Governor wouldn't allow a maskless deathtrap convention;
  • Federal Judge orders former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to be released from prison, citing "retaliation" by the federal government after he was removed from home detention and locked back up for refusing to sign a document vowing he wouldn't write a book or speak to the media about Trump. Cohen had previously been furloughed from prison and placed into home detention after one year of his three year sentence for lying to Congress to protect Donald Trump and participating in a hush-money conspiracy "directed" by the President, according to both him and federal prosecutors. Trump remains uncharged and at large despite running the conspiracy Cohen was imprisoned for in paying off porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal to keep quiet before the 2016 election sexual affairs with Trump. The judge excoriated the DoJ and Bureau of Prisons for violating Cohen's First Amendment right to free speech;
  • Trump sycophant and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finally begins to wobble on his demand that schools in the state reopen next month for five days a week in-person classes, despite explosion of coronavirus cases. Tells Fox "News" that parents should have the "option" of sending kids to class, but offers no such "option" to teachers, whose union is now suing DeSantis;
  • Republicans are in disarray in Congress and at the White House after denying (for months) the need for additional emergency economic relief amid the pandemic. That, as expanded unemployment benefits --- one of the few actions taken by Congress that has successfully helped to avoid a complete economic collapse over the past 6 months --- are set to run out at week's end;
  • Breaking mid-show - New Fox "News" poll finds Joe Biden leading Trump, beyond the margin of error, in the key battleground states of Michigan (by 9 points) , Minnesota (by 13 points) and Pennsylvania (by 11 points);
  • Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler was among those tear-gassed by Donald Trump's federal stormtroopers on Wednesday night. The Mayor, whose local police force had previously tear-gassed protesters who have been gathering nightly for more than a month following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, now claims to be rethinking his own tactics while decrying "flat out urban warfare, being brought on the people of this country by the President of the United States";
  • In response to the violence being perpetrated by Trump's federal goon squad, John McCain's former Campaign Manager and longtime Republican campaign consultant Steve Schmidt unleashes a Twitter thread calling for Congressional investigations, cites Trump's use of the military against phony threats by "caravans" at the U.S. southern border before the 2018 election, and compares Trump's tactics, applauded by rightwing media, to those of Hitler's Nazi brownshirts;
  • Finally, a delightfully light-hearted Green News Report with Desi Doyen! Sort of. Other than a story about cow farts and Burger King, we also highlight the stunning arrest this week of Ohio's Republican House Speaker Larry Householder, nabbed as the ringleader of a $61 million conspiracy to funnel a $150 billion bailout to utility company FirstEnergy to prop up two failing nuclear plants and two aging, hyper-polluting coal plants at the expense of the state's rate-payers and renewable energy and efficiency initiatives in the Buckeye State. In a quick follow-up today, the company's stock price has plunged following the federal arrests this week, but questions remain about the company's own complicity in the scheme and the involvement of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in last year's passage of HB6, the controversial boondoggle of a bill that resulted in Householder lining his pockets with millions in dark money from FirstEnergy and other utility company interests.

Hopefully your seatbelt is still on and will remain locked and in place until the chaos comes to a complete and full stop...if it ever does...

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Callers ring in on the upcoming testimony of the former Special Counsel; Also: Are they nuts? More on the insane move to 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting in Philly and L.A. for 2020...
By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2019 5:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open up the phone lines to listeners on a number of things, most notably to hear what listeners expect from this week's upcoming, long-awaited U.S. House testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller regarding his 448-page report on Russia's involvement in the 2016 Presidential election and the ten or more instances of criminal obstruction of justice by President Trump detailed within. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Mueller's testimony during hearings on Wednesday --- three hours in the House Judiciary Committee and two hours before the House Intelligence Committee --- will be the last chance for pro-impeachment Dems to swing the sentiments of both the nation and Democratic leadership toward opening an official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump before Congress leaves for its long 6-week recess next week. Callers ring on on what they expect and hope (or don't) from the proceedings.

As you can imagine, Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi --- who, so far, has blocked an official impeachment inquiry by her caucus in the House despite Trump's multiple felonious High Crimes and misdemeanors and in defiance of 100 or so Democratic members on record calling for impeachment --- came up quite a few times today from callers, both negatively and, in at least one instance, positively.

Also on today's program, a quick recap from key points made during our important --- and, at times, gob-smacking --- interview on Friday's program with cybersecurity and voting systems expert Kevin Skoglund on the dangerous new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems currently set for use in Philadelphia, in the key swingstate of Pennsylvania before next year's Presidential election, and how some of the new system's worst, most dangerous and unverifiable features are also found in the new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems being brought into Los Angeles next year.

Thanks to citizen-led efforts like those by Skoglund and Citizens for Better Elections and the Protect Our Vote Philly coalition, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania is now reviewing its previous certification of the horrible and easily manipulated computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) currently set for use in Philly. That re-examination may ultimately lead to decertification of those systems.

Meanwhile, here in Los Angeles, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, The BradCast and BradBlog.com have been pretty much the only ones publicly yelling and screaming about the serious (and completely misunderstood-by-the-media --- see this ridiculous headline and article!) dangers of moving from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMDs in advance of the critical 2020 Presidential election.

We also discuss the fact that, in addition to being completely unverifiable and easily manipulated, the cost of BMDs systems is at least twice the price of hand-marked paper ballots systems. In fact, one caller rings in with information to tell me that the $200+ million price-tag I cited for the new systems in L.A. was actually a low-ball estimate, according to L.A.'s actual contract with private voting system vendor Smartmatic [PDF]. That contract, she notes, specifies the price for moving L.A. to these new systems will be closer to $300 million! That, in a county that could desperately use funds for things like housing tens of thousands currently living on the streets and long-overdue infrastructure improvements among many other things...

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Trump Admin cutting nuclear reactor safety inspections, killing scientific analyses, hollowing out agencies from Interior to USDA, more; Also: Feds end Trump hush-money conspiracy probe, release damning docs...
By Brad Friedman on 7/18/2019 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover a number of disturbing new stories highlighting how Donald Trump's Administration --- while everyone is distracted by his is obnoxious, racist tweets and occasionally by his felonious criminal behavior --- is absolutely hollowing out the U.S. Government to the detriment of public safety and the cheers of industry special interests. Oh, and we cover some of his criminal behavior as well. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now cutting back on safety inspections for the nation's 90-plus nuclear reactors, along with legal notices that previously had to be given to the public regarding plant safety issues. The nuclear industry, facing stiff competition from cleaner, cheaper, safer renewable energy, is applauding the "cost cutting" (some would say safety cutting) measures. Public interest groups are very concerned;
  • Out in California, where, last October, Donald Trump issued an executive order to force more water to be released from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Northern California down to farmers in the state's agriculturally rich Central Valley after years of demands by the powerful agricultural industry, the administration has paused the process just days before what was to have been a legally mandated scientific analysis of potential harm to endangered species such as salmon and delta smelt. An investigative report from Northern California's KQED finds the administration is replacing biologists from two federal agencies, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who had spent months preparing a "biological opinion", as required by law, with a team of attorneys and so-called experts in policy and regulations from outside the state. Apparently, the Administration didn't like the findings by the actual government biologists, so have paused the process for two months to allow an entirely new analysis Bureau of Reclamation's water plan by hand-picked ringers;
  • At the same time that the Interior Department is undermining their own scientists on the California project, the Department's Bureau of Land Management is planning to move its headquarters from D.C. to Grand Junction, CO, along with hundreds of federal employees, including many senior managers, who will either be forced to move or retire. The planned hollowing out of the BLM comes with little public notice or explanation, and echoes a similar recent move by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which is forcing hundreds of the agency's top scientists to either pick up and move to a new headquarters in Kansas City, or be let go. Most of those USDA scientists are reportedly unwilling to uproot their lives and families to make the move. Similar processes, according to Washington Post, are said to have resulted in thousands of civil service jobs being cut at the Departments of Labor, Education, and Housing and Urban Development to name a few, as the Trump Administration continues to gut the U.S. Government (well, all but the Defense Department, where they have added jobs) at the expense of public safety and to the benefit of industrial profit motives;
  • Then, we move to some of those Trump crimes mentioned earlier. A federal judge in Manhattan ordered the release today of previously redacted files regarding Trump's illegal hush-money payoffs to two women with whom he is said to have had affairs before his election as President. The judge's order comes after federal prosecutors indicated they had suddenly ended investigations into the Trump Organization and Trump himself regarding the payoff scheme in the campaign finance felony conspiracy for which Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen is now serving time in federal prison. Both Cohen and federal prosecutors, when Cohen pleaded guilty, had said the conspiracy was "directed" by Trump himself. The newly unredacted documents underscore Trump's involvement in the conspiracy both before and after his election, as well as those of others in his campaign, such as longtime Trump aid and then Communications Director Hope Hicks. Setting aside the entirely of the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller --- and the 10 or so instances of unlawful obstruction of justice detailed in his report --- this hush-money matter alone is more than enough to merit impeachment and removal from office (not to mention federal prosecution). At least it would be for any other President --- or if there were real leadership among Democrats in Congress;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as much of the country will be sweltering for days under the latest, dangerous, climate change-fueled heatwave, and with more on the Trump Administration's latest plans to hollow out protections against pollution and the ability for local authorities to have a say in the matter. You didn't need all of that forest land near you to be saved from clear cutting by the logging industry anyway, right?...

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Guest: Eric Boehlert on media kid gloves for Barr, a country in crisis, impeachment, and why 'no one will break the glass on the alarm'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2019 6:29pm PT  

Before we get to the "crapshow" in D.C. today and much more related to it on today's BradCast, a few quick, important points. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, the St. Louis Blues, incredibly enough, are going to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 49 years. Okay, that's not all that important to most, but I've been waiting a really long time, so forgive me my momentary joy.

Second, and much more important (and disturbing): the City of Baltimore's computer networks have been crippled and shutdown by a ransomware attack for more than two weeks now, grinding all city services to a virtual halt and likely requiring a complete rebuild of everything from backup data onto new hardware. Baltimore is reportedly the 20th U.S. municipality to be hit by such an attack so far this year.

Among Baltimore city offices struggling to continue their work is their "dead in the water" Board of Elections, where all local computers are shut down with BOE employees now working remotely out of the State Board of Elections, as well as County Boards in Baltimore and Hartford. The ongoing disaster led the city Board of Elections' Deputy Director to opine: "Thank goodness it's not an election year." Um...yeah..."thank goodness" indeed. But what if it were? And shouldn't this be a much greater concern than, well, pretty much everyone is currently admitting, as city, county and state elections now rely, from top to bottom --- from voter registration to ballot programming to vote tabulation and election results reporting --- on similarly vulnerable computer networks? Without paper poll books at each precinct and HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all, it would be impossible to run an election under such circumstances. But...."thank goodness it's not an election year" and, otherwise, why worry about such crazy "conspiracy theories" as the ones we've been warning about for more than 15 years now?

In other, yes, related news: the Donald Trump Presidency continues to swirl still deeper into the bowels of its own disastrous making while the continuing stand-off with Congress intensifies and more bad news arrives from the federal courts for this President. Today, among too many other things, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Congressional Democratic leadership to discuss the growing cries for an official impeachment inquiry and emerged to declare that "the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up". That completely unsurprising statement was used as a predicate for Trump to storm out of a planned meeting at the White House with Democratic leaders on an infrastructure bill after just three minutes. He then held what media falsely characterized as an "impromptu" news conferences in the Rose Garden where the President discussed "the i-word" and, with a straight face --- in front a pre-printed sign inaccurately declaring "No Collusion, No Obstruction --- claimed to be "the most transparent President, probably, in the history of this country" and that he doesn't "do cover-ups".

Hours later, his ongoing efforts to cover-up his financial records was dealt a second blow this week by a second federal judge who flatly rejected the Trump family's attempt to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One from turning over Trump financial records in response to a lawful Congressional subpoena. Earlier this week a different federal judge found similarly against Trump's attempt to cover up his financial records held by private accounting firm Mazars USA, which are also the subject of a separate lawful Congressional subpoena. And, all of that is related, as we explain, to the cover-up payments to Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen who was "directed" by Trump to give hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels just prior to the 2016 election to cover-up their alleged affair.

Of course, as Trump's administration continues to cover-up their own growing private email server scandals (remember that li'l problem they had with Hillary Clinton about that?), the man who has helped carry off Trump's greatest cover-up to date (at least that we know of, so far) is his new Attorney General, cover-up artist and personal fixer William Barr. Our guest today, author and media critic ERIC BOEHLERT argues Barr has not been appropriately held to account by the corporate media, even after being found in contempt by the House Judiciary Committee for failing to answer a lawful Congressional subpoena to hand over the full Mueller Report and its underlying evidence. Boehlert explains as he wrote this week, where and why he sees the corporate media dropping the ball.

"New York Times, Washington Post --- they haven't called for his resignation," Boehlert tells me. "It is inconceivable what Bill Barr could possibly do which would trigger major newspapers in this country to call for his resignation. People say, 'Well, who cares? He's not going to resign.' That's true, but, it sends this message that we are in a crisis. We are in a possibly defining crisis in American history. But these major news organizations don't want to go there. They don't want to raise the temperature."

The crisis he refers to, of course, has "been a problem since Inauguration Day 2017, [but] no one will break the glass on the alarm."

We also discuss whether Congressional Democrats are falling short as well, as the internecine debate among Democrats in the House over whether to begin a formal impeach inquiry continues to grow and intensify. Among the many points discussed in that conversation: whether the conventional wisdom that Senate Republicans would never vote to convict and remove Trump from office is actually true...

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Guest: Ernie Canning defends inmate voting; Also: Trump lies (again) about tariffs, economy, China; House Judiciary to vote on Barr contempt; Mnuchin refuses (again) to turn over Trump taxes; 400 former prosecutors say Mueller revealed criminal felonies by the President...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2019 7:00pm PT  

Our lead story on today's BradCast makes everything else seem quite small by comparison. (And, no, that story is not the new royal baby. You're welcome.) Unfortunately, those other stories aren't small at all. In fact, they are almost all unprecedented as the nation continues its dark plummet into an historic Constitutional crisis under this Presidency. [Audio link for today's show is posted at end of summary.]

We cover quite a bit of ground on today's show, by necessity, if not choice. Among the stories covered...

  • A landmark, 1000+ page report compiled by some 450 researcher working with a U.N. agency, based on the data from 15,000 scientific and governmental reports warns that 1 million of the planet's 8 million plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction --- many within decades --- thanks to human activity. The report finds that, more than at any other time in human history, nature itself is threatened due to human development and consumption that leaves land species finding "insufficient habitat for long-term survival" and oceans species in similar peril. While the report's authors stress there is still time to act to reverse this alarming trend, we break down some of their critical findings at the top of the show, since they are likely being overshadowed today with so much other insane news emanating from our nation's capitol and reverberating around the globe;
  • Beyond that disturbing new study, world markets opened on an alarming note on Monday --- including an initial 450-point plunge on the Dow --- following Trump's weekend tweets threatening to impose a 25% tariff on all goods imported from China by week's end. In ">his tweet, he included at least two lies, including that "China has been paying Tariffs to the USA" and "These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results." In fact, Americans pay those taxes, not China. And, as even honest conservatives who we cite on today's show point out, Trump's continuing trade war has harmed, not helped the economy, and the trade deficit with China has only gotten worse, not better, for the US in the bargain;
  • Posing an additional threat to the world economy is the Trump Administration's chest-thumping against Iran, including threats of sanctions against any nation (including allies) who purchase Iranian oil and the deployment over the weekend of an aircraft carrier battle group and a bunch of bombers toward the Persian Gulf;
  • Setting aside the Trump-caused foreign-policy and market crises, there's the Constitutional crises that he's continuing to exacerbate today here at home, where some 400 former federal prosecutors --- both Republican and Democratic, some who served as long ago as Dwight D. Eisenhower --- issued an open letter today proclaiming that, were it not for the Dept. of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, Trump would have been charged on multiple felony counts of obstruction of justice, based on the information detailed in the redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report;
  • In related news, the House Judiciary Committee announced plans on Monday for a vote on Contempt against Trump Attorney General and "fixer" William Barr after the nation's top law enforcement officer's repeated failure to hand over to Congress the full Mueller Report and its underlying evidence, as per a Congressional subpoena;
  • Similarly, Trump's Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the Treasury Department will also rebuff a Congressional request from the Ways and Means Committee to produce six years of Donald Trump's tax returns, as per long-standing federal statute. Both incidents --- both unprecedented --- will almost certainly now be forced into federal court for adjudication;
  • Meanwhile, in New York, Michael Cohen, the former personal lawyer and fixer for Trump who predates Trump co-opting of the nation's Attorney General for that purpose, offered a public statement to media before heading off to federal prison for three years on Monday. Cohen will be serving time for, among other things, lying to Congress and carrying out hush-money payments to two women with whom Trump had affairs, a criminal conspiracy "directed" by Trump, according to prosecutors, in violation of federal campaign finance laws. In his statement, Cohen said: "I hope when I rejoin my family and friends that the country will be in a place without xenophobia, injustice and lies at the helm of our country." In other words, he hopes that voters will remove Trump from office next year, highlighting the fact that as a federal inmate in New York he will not be allowed to vote in that election. But if the man who federal officials say "directed" the conspiracy --- who would also have been charged on multiple obstruction counts had he not been the President (thanks, in no small part, arguably, to those unlawful hush-money payments made just before the 2016 election) --- gets to not only vote, but run for re-election next year, shouldn't Cohen have a vote as well?;

That brings us to our guest today, attorney and longtime BRAD BLOG contributor ERNEST A. CANNING, who penned an insightful op-ed today arguing that the notion of "inmate vote is not a radical idea". On Friday, Republican state lawmakers in Florida enacted a measure that would undermine Sunshine State voters who approved a Constitutional measure in November, with a nearly 65% majority, that would restore voting rights to most former felons in the closely divided swing-state, one of just three in the nation --- along with Iowa and Kentucky --- to ban former felons from voting for life, even after serving their time.

But the idea of inmates voting, while still in prison, has been a matter of discussion and growing debate following the ACLU's recently-launched "RIghts for All" campaign, in which they seek to get 2020 candidates on record regarding, among other things, the right to vote by those still in prison. Currently, 48 states, other than Vermont and Maine, ban the practice. But, as Canning explains, "21 other democracies, including Canada, Sweden and Israel, allow all prisoners to vote." So, why should inmates lose their right to vote in the nation that incarcerates more of its own citizens than any other?

Canning, a Vietnam vet who also worked as a Senior adviser to VetsForBernie.org, explains the injustice and hypocrisy of barring inmates from voting, citing its lack of deterrent effect and noting that luminaries such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his famous "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" and that Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, would go on to become the formerly-apartheid South Africa's first black President and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

In his article and on today's program, Canning also offers a compelling response to critics, like the President and many in his party (and in the Democratic Party, as well) who, as Trump's spokesperson recently charged, find the notion of inmate voting "deeply offensive", because it would allow the likes of the Boston Marathon Bomber and the perpetrator of the Charleston Church Massacre (both of whom have been sentenced to death), to cast a vote before being killed.

It's a long-overdue --- and interesting --- conversation that Americans of all political stripes, but certainly progressives, should have in "the land of the free", where First Amendment rights are still allowed for prisoners. So why isn't the right to vote?...

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New study finds rich guys lie the most; WaPo finds Trump lies constantly; CNN finds Mueller found Trump and associates lied like crazy; Legal experts find Team Trump learned nothing from 'Russia-gate'; Trump and Barr find out if they can obstruct Congress; And many other findings...
By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2019 6:47pm PT  

Why tell the truth and follow the rule of law when BS'ing and obstructing truth and justice (and Congress) now appear to be a far more successful way to get ahead in life...and in the Presidency of the United States? As Donald Trump recently reached a new milestone of having told more than 10,000 lies while in office, according to Washington Post's fact-checker database, these are among the related stories covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link is posted below]...

  • A fascinating new study finds that wealthy men are more likely than women and those of lesser means to simply make stuff up. That's right, lying appears to work for many, and is carried out far more frequently in North America than in other English speaking countries around the world. Or, as WaPo's headline summarizes the academic survey: "Rich guys are most likely to have no idea what they're talking about, study suggests". (Though, as you'll also learn, both Desi and Canada should be ashamed of themselves);
  • That may also help us understand today who our President is and why he and his supporters do what they do, as a new CNN analysis catalogs 77 different "lies and falsehoods" by Trump and his associates, documented in Robert Mueller's redacted Special Counsel report. The lies were told by Trump, his "campaign staff, administration officials and family, Republican backers and his associates" who all "made false assertions to the public, Congress, or authorities," according to the analysis. While a handful of those lies were prosecuted as crimes (for example, some of those told to the FBI by Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and to Congress by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen), most went unprosecuted for varying reasons, including the fact that lying to the public and the press is not a crime, even when the White House does it, repeatedly, apparently. Among the many lies cataloged, a plurality of which were told by the President himself, many concerned his dealings with Russia and those of campaign staff and administration officials;
  • Speaking of which, in March, Trump's 2020 Campaign Manager Brad Parscale flew to Romania to deliver a paid speech to Romanian politicians and policy experts, raising questions among U.S. legal experts about conflicts of interest and whether Team Trump has learned anything after their extensive dealings with Russia during the 2016 campaign. They paid little price for that, however, so why worry about a Trump/Romania Special Counsel investigation now?;
  • Mid-show today we covered some breaking news regarding today's U.S. support for a military coup being called for by Valenzuela's opposition leader and self-declared "President" Juan Guaido, and claims by U.S. Sec. of State Mike Pompeo that the nation's actual President Nicolas Maduro was preparing to leave the country in response. At the last minute, however, according to Pompeo, Maduro was talked out of it by Russia. But, of course, our Sec. of State is a huge and very successful liar as well, so there's no particular reason to believe any of his assertions regarding the attempted U.S. overthrow of Venezuela today;
  • In other breaking news, a federal judge today determined that a lawsuit filed by some 200 Congressional Democrats against Donald Trump charging he is in violation of the Constitutional Emoluments clause may move ahead, allowing plaintiffs to gain access to information about Trump's private business dealings;
  • And, in related news, Trump's private attorneys on Monday night filed a lawsuit on behalf of him, his company and his children's behalf against Deutsche Bank and Capital One in hopes of forcing them to not respond to lawful subpoenas for Trump financial documents as issued by a number of Congressional committees. Normally we'd say "good luck with that", but for Trump's stolen Supreme Court majority who have proven themselves capable of doing anything on his behalf at this point;
  • The obstruction also continued today by Trump's Attorney General William Barr, who, the Justice Department has said, still plans to appear before the Republican-majority Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday to give testimony regarding the Mueller Report, but that he is objecting to a planned appearance before the Democratically-run House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, where members may allow counsel from both the majority and minority to question Barr during the scheduled testimony. House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler asserts it's not up to Barr to determine who gets to question him or how the hearing is to be carried out, suggesting he may ultimately need to subpoena the A.G. to force his testimony. But if Barr defies that subpoena, as other Administration officials have been ordered by Trump in recent days, then what? Who would enforce a Contempt of Congress citation against the nation's top law enforcement official? And how would it even be done? Well, there is a House Sergeant-at-Arms and, reportedly, a jail in the basement of the Capitol Building. We discuss;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the back-to-back devastating cyclones in Mozambique, a delay to the Interior Department's plan to expand off-shore drilling, air pollution getting worse under Donald Trump, and voter support for a Green New Deal in Spain's recent elections...

Yes. All of that. In under one hour. Somehow. You're welcome...

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McConnell won't allow Senate vote on HR-1 or restoration of Voting Rights Act; Also: Hand-marked paper ballots for PA County; Cohen sues Trump Org; Brown won't run in 2020; GOPers re-thinking climate denial...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2019 6:18pm PT  

54 years to the day after the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama led to the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, and nearly 6 years following the rightwing U.S. Supreme Court's gutting of the VRA's most crucial provision, Republicans in Congress are still both blocking its restoration and working to prevent the Democrats' newly introduced and much-needed effort to expand voting rights. That's just one of a number of outrages on today's BradCast, otherwise brought to you with no small measures of hope to counter-balance the outrages. [Audio link to today's complete show is posted below.]

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

  • Michael Cohen is suing the Trump Organization for at least $1.9 million dollars to cover his legal expenses which they had apparently promised to pay --- at least until Cohen began cooperating with federal investigators.
  • Another worthy Democratic Senator, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, announces he will not seek the Democratic nomination in 2020. He joins Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Attorney General Eric Holder and (for the most part) Hillary Clinton who all declared this week that they will not be seeking the Presidency this year.
  • Some good news for voters out of the Republican-leaning Butler County, Pennsylvania. Officials there have decided to dump their 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. The local news report of this common sense measure in at least this one corner of the important swing-state is somewhat of a hoot, as we share on today's program.
  • Meanwhile, back in Congress, House Democrats will soon be holding a vote on HR-1, the "For the People Act", a massive elections and ethics measure which, among things things, calls for automatic universal voter registration; the expansion of early voting; an end to mass voter purges; independent redistricting commissions to avoid partisan gerrymandering; allows every voter in America to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot; endorses D.C. statehood; requires disclosure of funders to dark money groups; and requires Presidential candidates to release their tax returns. Naturally, Republicans oppose the measure, and Mitch McConnell vows to not allow it to see the light of day in the U.S. Senate, even if it passes in the U.S. House as expected.
  • Similarly, Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill to restore Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, by reinstating the requirement for the federal government to pre-approve new election-related laws in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polls. Naturally, Republicans oppose the measure, and Mitch McConnell vows to not allow it to see the light of day in the U.S. Senate, even if it passes in the U.S. House as expected.
  • Next, there is some curious movement in the Republican Congressional caucus in regard to climate change. Clearly reading the writing on the wall, as the public overwhelmingly not only believes in global warming but is becoming increasingly concerned about it, longtime GOP science deniers in both the House and Senate are finally admitting that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the cause of it. The recent introduction of the wildly popular Green New Deal by Democrats --- a sweeping effort to move the nation to 100% carbon-neutral energy sources and provide millions of jobs over the next ten years --- is another reason Republicans are now acknowledging they must do something about climate change, if only for appearances. We discuss what could be a sea-change (or not) in this long, existential battle today.
  • Finally, on related matters, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with disturbing news on toxic coal ash waste found in groundwater in 39 states, plastic pollution found in the deepest parts of the ocean, former military officials slamming the Trump Administration over their climate change denial, and Democrats vowing --- as they now are with elections and voting rights, as well --- to go on the offensive in the U.S. Senate...

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Guest: Emily Atkin of New Republic; Also: Inslee jumps into 2020 race to battle climate change; Repub trouble defending Trump against Cohen charges; Cummings' 'righteous rant' to save democracy...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2019 6:38pm PT  

As usual, there is no shortage of insane Trump news at the end of another insane week. But we also find time on today's BradCast to focus on Democrats plans for 2020 and the internecine battle over how to take on the existential and urgent threat of climate change. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee became the latest Democratic to announce his intention to seek the 2020 nomination for President amidst an already very crowded field. He's the first Governor to jump into the fray, as we're now just months away from the start of Democratic Party Primary Debates beginning in June. He's also the first Dem to make it his "number one priority" to "rise up to the most urgent challenge of our time: defeating climate change."

Even so, Inslee, unlike many of the other announced hopefuls, has yet to fully endorse the Green New Deal resolution [PDF] recently introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), preferring instead a more piece-meal approach. The GND is a sweeping, ten-year blueprint for a wartime-like push to transition the American economy and power-grid to 100% carbon-neutrality by 2030, while providing millions of public works jobs to upgrade U.S. infrastructure, clean up legacy pollution, and ensure that vulnerable communities, including coal miners, survive and thrive the crucial transition.

Last week, a group of children from the Sunrise Movement visited the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to urge her support for the GND. The 85-year old Senator appeared to speak down to the kids, explaining that she had her own version [PDF] of a Green New Deal that, she believed, unlike the AOC/Markey proposal, could gain Republican support while also including a mechanism to fund itself. While a viral edited video of the encounter between the Senator and the children makes it look worse than it really was, even the full length version (which is marginally better, if still not great) reveals the long-serving California Democrat doesn't truly seem to grasp the urgency of the moment that scientists have now been warning about for decades.

We're joined to discuss all of this today by environmental reporter EMILY ATKIN who received some push-back recently from Democrats after arguing at The New Republic that Dems like Feinstein present a "bigger threat to the left's goal of slowing climate change before it's too late" than even out-and-out climate science deniers like Donald Trump. At the same time, she makes the case in a separate article this week that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi --- who has taken some heat herself for appearing to dismiss the GND as a "green dream" --- is actually a valuable ally who hopes to see advocates rally public support for the program.

"What I mean is that [Feinstein] is a bigger threat [than Trump] to our one opportunity that we have to make a dent in climate change, to make a significant dent," Atkin explains, detailing the urgency of the next twelve years that world scientists find to be the last chance to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. "Feinstein has a preoccupation at this moment with what's passable with Republicans in charge. She's focusing on this in a moment when they're not going to pass anything either way, because Republicans are in charge. Right now is the time to mobilize on the idea of the most aggressive, most exciting climate plan possible. And use that to take control of the House and the Senate and the Presidency in 2020 --- and then you talk about what is passable."

Atkins says the DiFi legislation is "mostly a reinstatement of the status quo during the Obama Administration. So, putting back all of the regulations for the climate that Trump is attempting and has repealed. Getting back into the Paris Climate Agreement. Putting forth another big money mobilization in new technologies. It doesn't call for any of the social reforms that Ocasio-Cortez's Green New Deal resolution calls for."

"The path forward is to support something exciting, demonstrate that you know, as a Democrat, what it means when you say climate change is the biggest crisis of our time. Which is what Dianne Feinstein said, but doesn't demonstrate it with the type of plan she put forward," she tells me. "The path forward right now is to demonstrate to voters that you truly understand the magnitude of this crisis. That you're willing to support societal change to get there. Excite people, make them hopeful for the future, instead of saying well, we're going to support this lukewarm thing that's not going to do anything. And then people are just drawn back into apathy." We've got lots to discuss on all of those fronts today as Atkin details her arguments and offers her thoughts on Inslee's candidacy as well.

Also today, Congressional Republicans are still having a very difficult time constructing a defense for the indefensible Donald Trump following Michael Cohen's stunning U.S. House Oversight Committee testimony on Wednesday, when he detailed [PDF], with documentation, at least five felonies that Trump appears to have committed both before and after becoming President. But Trump's former nemesis-turned-lapdog Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) managed to cobble together a defense --- if a pretty thin one --- for one of the most serious alleged felonies detailed by Cohen. For his part, the President himself sputtered out another unhinged attempt at defending himself by attacking Cohen as a liar in a Twitter rant this morning.

Finally, as we wrap up another extraordinary week, NBC News reports that Congressional Dems in the Ways and Means Committee now plan to request 10 years of Trump's tax returns from the IRS, following on information provided by Cohen.

And we close with a couple more must-listen clips from the Cohen hearing that you may not have heard. One is the closing remarks from Cohen, who served as Trump's personal lawyer and fixer for about a decade, making the chilling case that Trump may not leave office peacefully if he's defeated in 2020. The closing comments include a direct, personal appeal to Trump himself. And then, one "righteous rant" from Committee chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) as he closed the proceedings on Wednesday, appealing to all of us to somehow leave this democracy in better shape than we found it and to fight like hell in the meantime to "get back to normal" someday soon in the midst of this very dark chapter in American history...

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