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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, May 19, 2019
Time to Impeach Yet?: 'BradCast' 5/17/19
Guest-hosted by Nicole Sandler with Senate Judiciary Committee vet Lisa Graves and Tweeter 'GottaLaff'...
The Republican Party is a Culture of Corruption: 'BradCast' 5/16/19
Spate of GOP pol scams, indictments, corrupt pardons; Also: Are Congress and corporate media finally waking up to our woefully insecure, non-overseeable elections?...
'Green News Report' 5/16/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
PG&E caused deadliest fire in CA history; CO2 level hits milestone, exactly as Exxon predicted; Climate action delay will cost trillions; PLUS: The Impossible Whopper goes national...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/19 - 5/7/19 - Archives...
FL's Sancho: 'No Confidence' 2020 Will Be Secure After New 2016 FBI Disclosures: 'BradCast' 5/15/19
30-yr elexn chief says FBI lied in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL unverifiable in 2020...
22 Candidates, 2020 Visions:
'BradCast' 5/14/2019
Bad news CO2 landmark; Biden booed on climate, pushes back; MT's Bullock jumps in to 2020 as Dem Gov from 'red state'; Warren says no to FNC's 'hate-for-profit racket'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/19
Trump trade war hits U.S. NatGas; Admin ices Arctic Council; Houston floods as U.S. sees wettest year on record; PLUS: UK, Scotland declare 'climate emergency'...
GA Supremes Hear Case of 125k 'Missing' 2018 Lt. Gov. Votes: 'BradCast' 5/13/19
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's trade war, Congress'l war; FL voting news; NC-9 do-over primary...
Sunday Billion Dollar Loser Toons
Once again, lots of losers from which to choose in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
House All Action Against Trump, with Help from Repubs: 'BradCast' 5/10/19
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ UCSF's Dr. Monica McLemore, NARAL's Amy Everitt on what's next for abortion laws...
Trump Uses Exec Privilege to Block Mueller Report; Judiciary Finds Barr in Contempt: 'BradCast' 5/8/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Don Jr. subpoenaed by GOP-Senate Intel Comm...
'Green News Report' 5/7/19
U.N. report warns humans pushing 1 million species to extinction; Trump repeals post-BP spill safety rules; PLUS: Midwest flooding breaks all-time records...
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...


Leon County's 30-year veteran Election Supervisor tells us FBI lied about hacks in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL ballots will be unverifiable in 2020; calls NSA 'leaker' Reality Winner a 'heroine'; warns new GOP law means 'Jim Crow' has returned to the Sunshine State
Also: Trump's Iran war threat; AL bans almost all abortions; NC-9 do-over candidates set...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2019 6:59pm PT  

It seems that even Republicans in Florida have finally been forced to notice/admit what we've been pointing out about the 2016 election for years now. And our guest on today's BradCast, a longtime county elections chief from the Sunshine State, is none too happy about any of it. He offers several serious-as-a-heart-attack warnings about 2020 in the bargain. [Must-listen audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

But, first up today, the nation and world continue to pay a dangerous and painful price for whatever did or didn't happen that resulted in the election of Donald Trump in 2016. The Administration continued to ratchet up their threats of war against Iran on Wednesday by ordering all nonessential U.S. Government staff out of Iraq, citing unspecified and publicly unsupported claims of threats from Iran. The face-off clearly comes from Trump's ill-considered decision to pull out of the 2015 Obama Administration-brokered, seven-nation nuclear agreement which had effectively ended Iran's nuclear program. Though even the Trump Administration conceded Iran has been faithful to the anti-nuclear pact, Trump withdrew the U.S. and re-imposed crippling sanctions. He's now threatening war, for reasons that nobody seems to understand, and has deployed war ships and bombers to the tinder-box region.

Back at home, Trump's stolen U.S. Supreme Court has inspired dozens of new anti-abortion laws in state after state. On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the most draconian measure yet, a bill that would outlaw almost all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest, while jailing doctors who perform the (currently) Constitutionally-protected procedure for up to 99 years. The new law, adopted on Tuesday by the male-dominated state Senate and signed less than 24 hours later, would not only force women to carry the child of their rapists, it could also penalize doctors more harshly than the rapists. The ACLU has vowed to challenge the law which would require even pregnant 11-year old rape victims to carry their baby to term.

In North Carolina on Tuesday, Republican primary voters selected their candidate to run against Democrat Dan McCready in the do-over election for the state's 9th U.S. House Congressional District after the Republican candidate and Baptist Minister Mark Harris was discovered to have hired a GOP contractor who carried out a massive Absentee Ballot Fraud Scheme last November. The 10-candidate GOP primary resulted in hard-right, Trump-loving state Senator Dan Bishop being selected to run against McCready in September's do-over election. Bishop is the author and lead sponsor of NC's infamous 2016 law restricting bathroom access for transgender people.

But, as the nation and world continue to pay the price for Trump's nightmarish Presidency, new questions emerge (or, at least, are finally being noticed by Republicans) regarding his own supposed 2016 election victory. On Tuesday, Florida's new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis acknowledged the FBI notified him that election systems in at least two different Florida counties were infiltrated by by Russian intelligence in advance of the 2016 election. He says the FBI has barred him from publicly stating which two counties those are.

The news comes on the heels of similar (and similarly vague) allegations detailed in the redacted Special Counsel report [PDF] from Robert Mueller (see Volume II, page 50, "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), as well as public claims in 2018 made by Florida's then Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. Nelson's assertions about Russian access to the state's elections systems were publicly ridiculed at the time by then Gov. Rick Scott and other GOPers, even though Florida's Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio was told about the same information at the same time as Nelson in the Senate Intelligence Committee. Scott would go on to narrowly defeat Nelson for the Senate seat in 2018 and Republican DeSantis is said to have narrowly edged out Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum on the same day. Both races were so close they resulted in unprecedented statewide "recounts".

However, as our guest today, 30-year veteran Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections ION SANCHO explains, "recounts" in Florida amount to little more than running the same paper ballots through the same optical-scan computers which tallied them --- either correctly or incorrectly --- in the first place. Sancho, the legendary elections chief in Tallahassee, the state's capital, was so well-respected by all sides that he was tapped in 2000 to oversee FL's notoriously aborted Presidential recount that year. He is furious today about DeSantis' announcement, the secrecy behind which are the counties that were penetrated (he retired after the 2016 election), and explains that he was lied to by the FBI when he was told, during a then confidential conference call with Bureau officials in 2016, that "no county had been hacked" in the run-up to the election.

"The Justice Department has continued to obfuscate and lie about this situation from the very beginning. I was on a confidential call on September 30, [2016] in which all 67 election officials here in this state, and the state election officials, were informed by the FBI that no county had been hacked. The state hadn't been hacked. They told us that. And we now know, from the documentation that's been released through The Intercept and Mueller, that was false. We now know from the documentation, some time in early August [of 2016], the successful penetration occurred."

Sancho also now questions whether there were more than two counties penetrated and says he has no reason to trust the claims by either DeSantis or federal officials that election results were unaffected by the attack. "Here's the crazy thing about it," he tells me, "the Russian GRU knows which counties they've penetrated. The only people that don't know are the election officials and the citizens and voters of the state...it's time the American citizenry, particularly Floridians, figured out that information."

He also hails NSA whistleblower Reality Winner as a "heroine" for alerting the world to documents revealing that the Russian GRU had penetrated elections systems in Florida (and possibly elsewhere) via coordinated spear-phishing attacks that allowed them access to voter registration and website election results reporting systems made by VR Systems, a private election systems vendor with contracts in dozens of U.S. states. Winner is currently serving 5 years in federal prison for having leaked those documents to The Intercept in 2017.

Sancho demands to know "why Homeland Security decided to keep critical information from state and local election officials" for so many years. "Why weren't we told?" He also furious at Rubio and other Republicans for their treatment of Nelson when he tried to blow the whistle himself last year. "Nelson was vilified as being old and senile for saying such a ridiculous thing. And actually he was right...And quite frankly, the individual whose stock falls in my eyes is Senator Rubio, who confirmed what Sen. Nelson said, only after the election. He could have told the truth, and said that Sen. Nelson is raising a valid point. He kept his mouth shut. He put his party over this nation, and we are poorer for it today."

As to the security of the state's election systems as we head into 2020, he warns that "Florida is not well protected," adding a chilling note: "You do a reconnaissance before a major attack," he tells me, "and I don't think we've had the major attack yet."

Sancho has plenty more to say regarding Florida's move to unverifiable computer-marked paper ballots in advance of the upcoming Presidential election, and much more that I hope you'll click below to tune in for. There's simply too much to fully summarize here.

But one last point for now. Sancho also offers his thoughts today on the recent measure passed by GOP state lawmakers to undermine Florida's Constitutional Amendment 4 which was adopted by nearly 65% of statewide voters last November, allowing some 1.5 million former felons in Florida who have completed their prison sentences as well as all parole and probation, to have their voting rights restored. The new GOP measure, which awaits DeSantis' signature, would bar those newly-eligible voters --- including more than 20% of the states African-American voting-age population --- from registering to vote unless all court-imposed fines and fees are paid.

"What the Republicans did was reprehensible," Sancho rails, arguing that the bill contradicts "the overwhelming, clear language" of the statewide constitutional ballot measure. Many have described the new GOP bill as a poll tax. Sancho calls it more "cash register justice", as it will allow those with money to vote, but not those without. "This is clearly restricting the right to vote based upon who can afford to pay. Jim Crow has been reestablished in Florida."

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump trade war sends markets plunging; Trump's Constitutional Crisis with Congress continues; Good news for FL voters; NC-9's do-over primary election...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Trump-induced chaos continues to worsen, from China to the U.S. Congress, and the fights over 2018 and 2019 elections continue in Georgia and North Carolina, while a court ruling in Florida will make things a bit easier for voters in 2020. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, Donald Trump sends world markets --- including the Dow, which dropped more than 600 points on Monday --- plummeting, after China announces plans to respond to Trump's newest 25% tariff on $200 billion in Chinese goods on Friday. Today China announced they plan to institute retaliatory tariffs on some $60 billion in U.S. exports and may cut off sales from certain companies entirely. So, Americans are left paying exorbitant new import taxes (tariffs on Chinese goods imported to the U.S. are taxes paid by U.S. companies and consumers, they are NOT paid by China, as Trump keeps falsely asserting), and now financial markets are taking an additional hit. Experts worry the dispute could soon nudge the economy into recession if a trade deal is not brokered. Trump has since threatened to add new taxes on all goods made in China if they refuse to kowtow to his demands.

At the same time as Trump is playing out his ill-considered foreign trade war, he is also expanding his domestic war against Constitutionally-mandated oversight by the Legislative Branch. A weekend analysis by the Washington Post finds Trump and his allies are now blocking more than 20 separate Congressional investigations "into his actions as president, his personal finances and his administration's policies" in what experts --- and even former Republican Congress members and legal staffers --- cite as a deepening crisis of unprecedented proportions between the two co-equal branches.

From Florida, however, we have a bit of good news from a federal court, where a judge has ruled that the state must follow the Voting Rights Act by supplying election materials and assistance for Spanish-speaking voters in advance of the 2020 primaries. The ruling is key for the tens of thousands of new Spanish-speaking Florida voters who moved to the Sunshine State from Puerto Rico following the devastation of 2017's Hurricane Maria.

In North Carolina on Tuesday, Republicans voters in the state's 9th Congressional District will select their nominee to run against Democrat Dan McCready in a do-over general election scheduled for this fall, after the state refused to certify a winner from last November's contest following the revelation that the Republican candidate (and Baptist minister), Mark Harris, was found to have hired a GOP contractor who carried out a massive absentee ballot fraud scheme on his behalf. In February, after some remarkable testimony, the state scheduled a new election. Tuesday's GOP primary in NC promises to be a bit of a circus with 10 --- um, colorful --- Republicans running for the nod. If none of receive more than 30% of the vote, there will be a runoff in September, with the general election then pushed back to November. The U.S. House seat in NC-9 will remain vacant until then, as 2018's last undecided election is finally completed near the end of 2019.

In Georgia, meanwhile, results from a 2018 race are still being challenged in court, after more than 125,000 votes cast in last November's race for Lt. Governor appeared inexplicably "missing". The unusually large undervote rate in that contest does not appear in any others races, including statewide elections much farther down the ballot (eg. Sec. of State, Insurance Commissioner, etc.)

Moreover, the missing votes only appear to have occurred on ballots cast at the polling place, where voters are forcced to use GA's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Hand-marked absentee paper ballots revealed no similar drop-off in voting rates for Lt. Governor and, according to our guest today, plaintiff MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, the unusually large residual vote rate was also inexplicably highest in predominately African-American precincts.

"It wasn't just our speculation that something went wrong with the machines," Marks tells me. "We had the premiere election statisticians in the United States look at this, and they basically said it would be a one-in-ten thousand chance that something wasn't happening in the machines that would have caused this kind of result."

Last January, as the Coalition sought a forensic analysis of the state's voting systems and other materials needed to carry out their lawsuit seeking to overturn the results of the Lt. Governor election, they were blocked by the state. Leading that fight was Republican Gov. Brian Kemp who is said to have narrowly defeated Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams last year on the same day, in a race where then-Sec. of State Kemp oversaw his own election and was found by several court challenges to have been suppressing the vote in predominately African-American areas. Last week, the Georgia Supreme Court heard the plaintiffs' appeal in the case, after a lower state court judge dismissed it --- without even allowing discovery --- earlier this year. Marks and the other plaintiffs seek to have the lower court's ruling by Senior Superior Court Judge Adele Grubbs reversed, so they may proceed with discovery, including forensic analysis by cybersecurity and voting systems experts, and a full trial.

"The dynamics of [the lower court] trial were extremely strange," she explains. "We told the Supreme Court several times that during the trial, when we were begging for discovery, begging for a jury trial, begging for a continuance because they had been blocking everything we were doing, the judge said, 'Look, I'm getting pressure to get this resolved. So, no --- you cannot have the documents, you can't have a continuance, and you can't have a jury trial.'

"Getting pressure"? From whom? "We don't know. She didn't disclose that," Marks says, "but that alone is reason to reverse her."

Marks joins us to detail how things went at the high court last week, and for an update on Kemp's new effort to move the voting systems in Georgia from its current 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen system, installed in 2002, to an all-new 100% unverifiable touchscreen system that prints equally unverifiable computer-marked paper ballot summary cards. On that front, Marks has been loudly opposing the move --- advocating instead ofr hand-marked paper ballots --- and offers some interesting news as well...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: NC writer, activist Tom Sullivan on today's hearing, yesterday's shooting at UNC Charlotte, upcoming U.S. House elections in NC-3 and NC-9, and on pushing back against the 'campaign-industrial complex'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/1/2019 6:36pm PT  

Despite our best efforts, on today's BradCast, we are unable to avoid the vortex of testimony by Donald Trump's newly-appointed and already-dishonest Attorney General William Barr in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

What made the testimony of the President's cover-up man impossible to ignore (as much as we had previously hoped to) was the overnight release of a letter from Special Counsel Robert Mueller [PDF] sent to Barr just days after the A.G. released his misleading four-page letter to Congress in late March, mischaracterizing the findings of the Special Counsel's two-year probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, Team Trump's coordination with the effort, and the President's repeated attempts to obstruct the investigations into those matters.

In his letter, Mueller charged the A.G.'s summary --- sent to Congress nearly a full month before Barr finally released a redacted version of the Special Counsel's report [PDF] to the public --- "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office's work and conclusions." That, Mueller wrote, led to "public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation" and "threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations." In his summary letter, Barr took it upon himself to clear Trump of obstruction charges even though Mueller's report specifically said it was unable to exonerate the President, finding at least 10 different instances in which Trump had attempted to stymie the investigation. Barr also mischaracterized the report's findings on "collusion" with Russia.

The revelation of Mueller's extraordinary complaints (which Barr described as "snitty" today) came after previous sworn testimony by the new A.G. in early April, in both the House and Senate, in which he misled members of both chambers regarding Mueller's concerns about Barr's inaccurate conclusions about the Special Counsel's findings. We share some experts from today's hearing in which Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) charges Barr with lying to Congress and calls for his resignation, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) calls out Republican colleagues for ignoring the matter in favor of calls to investigate Hillary Clinton's email server again, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) calls out of the A.G. for making his decisions about the case without, as he admitted, reviewing the evidence.

We're then joined today by North Carolina writer and activist TOM SULLIVAN, a daily correspondent for Digby's Hullabaloo and longtime progressive organizer in the Tar Heel state. Even though it's not why we had originally hoped to speak with Sullivan today, we get his thoughts on what to make of Barr's "stunning performance," as he describes it, and how Congressional Democrats should now respond, with impeachment seeming more and more inevitable each day despite continuing reticence from Democratic Congressional leadership.

As Sullivan is based in North Carolina, we also discuss the latest news from yesterday's mass shooting at UNC Charlotte, where a gunman killed two and injuried four others on the semester's final day of classes.

As well, U.S. House special election primaries were held in the state's 3rd Congressional District on Tuesday to fill the seat of the late GOP Rep. Walter Jones who died in February, and there is also a do-over election for the 9th Congressional District in a few months to fill the seat left vacant after the State Board of Elections refused to certify last November's contest upon discovery of a GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud scheme that tainted the race.

We briefly discuss both of those contests and Sullivan's "For The Win" nuts-and-bolts training guide for countywide Get Out The Vote operations in NC. He describes the manual as having been successfully used to organize Democrats in counties all over the country. (Request a copy for use in your own home town via email at tom.bluecentury at gmail).

And, finally, one of the points we'd originally hoped to discuss with Sullivan (but will have to dive in deeper on another day, given all the breaking news that shuffled things for us today), we get his thoughts on the still roiling internecine battles between progressive activists and the conservative Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) --- which has led to a new boycott campaign by a nationwide coalition of College Democrats. He offers his thoughts on "the campaign-industrial complex that exists in Washington, as well as in the state capitals," and what progressives may wish to do about it...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Bad news for WI progressives after last week's Supreme Court election...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2019 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast, finding light on a very dark news day, and making sense of Devin Nunes' bizarre new legal attack against a well-respected media outlet. [Audio link for today's show is posted below.]

You know the news is dark on a day when the brightest spot seems to be the first-ever photographic evidence of a black hole in a galaxy that is 53 million light-years from Earth, as constructed by an international consortium of scientists from 20 different countries employing an array of observatories around the world to construct a virtual "telescope" the size of the planet itself. The assembled image of the supermassive black hole is the first such glimpse of such an object in space (theorized by Einstein over a century ago, but directly proven today for the first time) containing the same mass as 6.5 billion suns and so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitational pull.

Sounds a lot like the Trump Administration. But we (mostly) avoid that today, even as we discuss one of its biggest supporters in Congress, California Rep. Devin Nunes, and his increasingly mysterious (and troubling) new legal gambit.

But, before we get there today, an update on last week's razor thin race for a key seat on Wisconsin's Supreme Court. With computer-reported results from last week's election showing progressive-aligned Judge Lisa Neubaeur fell less than half of a percentage point shy of defeating far-right Judge Brian Hagedorn for a seat on the state's high court being vacated by a retiring progressive-leaned Justice, Neubauer decided on Wednesday against seeking a recount which she would have had to pay for under state law. Her concession today --- despite unofficial and unconfirmed computer tallies showing a loss by just about 6,000 votes out of some 1.2 million cast statewide --- means that progressives will be unable to regain a majority on the court until 2023 at the earliest. The new 5 to 2 rightwing majority all but scotches hopes for rolling back former Republican Governor Scott Walker's anti-union measures and GOP voter suppression laws, and could handicap the state's Democrats during the inevitable redistricting fights following the 2020 census. (Have we mentioned lately that elections matter?!)

Also today, more on the incoming and "potentially historic" "bomb cyclone" developing over plains states and the upper Midwest, where blizzard warnings have now been issued in 6 states, snowfall as high as two feet is predicted in some areas, and the threat of more major flooding is plaguing several states still fighting to recover from billions of dollars in damage from the last "bomb cyclone" which erupted just weeks ago. This latest evidence of the increasingly dangerous threat of catastrophic climate change comes on the same day as Donald Trump signed two new Executive Orders intended to make it more difficult for environmental regulations at the state level to prevent the construction of new oil and gas pipelines (which serve to exacerbate man-made global warming.)

Then, we're joined by veteran media analyst and author ERIC BOEHLERT to discuss the latest bizarre lawsuit, which seems to challenge the First Amendment itself, as filed by Nunes this week.

Several weeks ago, the California Congressman and top Trump ally in Congress filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter, the owners of two anonymous parody accounts (@DevonCow and @DevonNunesMom), as well as Republican strategist and Nunes/Trump opponent Liz Mair for defamation. This week, the GOP Congressman filed suit against Mair again, along with the 162-year old McClatchy Company, a news consortium which publishes the Fresno Bee, the hometown paper in the Nunes' central California district. His latest complaint seeks $150 million in damages, charging defamation based on an article published by the Bee last year detailing the settlement of a lawsuit after a charity yacht cruise which reportedly included cocaine and underage prostitutes, according to court documents cited by the paper. The cruise was auctioned off by the philanthropic arm of the Alpha Omega Winery, in which Nunes is an investor.

But where his Twitter suit seemed absurd, this new suit --- like the first one, originally reported by Fox "News", of course --- suggests a darker and more nefarious effort to undermine Constitutionally-protected freedom of the press. Who is funding these efforts by Nunes and why? Might it have anything to do with Trump's repeated assertions that libel laws need to change to make it easier for public figures like himself to challenge reporting that celebrities like himself don't care for?

Boehlert offers insight on what may be going on here: "The Republican Party has decided that Google, Twitter and Facebook are the new targets. And they're using the exact same playbook that they used on the traditional media for four decades, which is you work the refs, you scream and yell over these fake phony allegations of 'liberal media bias'. And it works! Facebook has bent over backwards to make sure Republicans are happy. Twitter could have easily banned Donald Trump two years ago and saved this country an enormous amount of pain, because he obviously violates the rules all the time. So it works."

But there may be even more behind all of this, as we discuss, along with his concerns about ongoing corporate media failures in the wake of Trump AG William Barr's handling of the still-secret Mueller Report and other related matters as we head into the 2020 Presidential election cycle.

Finally, we close with some listener mail regarding our ongoing discussions of how Dems should move forward as they attempt to remove both Donald Trump from office next year and the nation itself from the black hole we continue to sink into under his increasingly dark reign...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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The truth behind the President's latest lies on North Korea, Mueller, the border, the military, healthcare and wind power; NC GOP Chair indicted...
By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2019 6:09pm PT  

Among the many truthful stories covered on today's jam-packed BradCast filled with Trump lies and much more...[Audio link to show is posted below]...

  • How Trump is undermining military readiness and hurricane recovery for Marines and their families with lies about a "national emergency" at the southern border and how the Marine Corps' top General is pushing back;
  • How Trump lied about a new health care plan to replace Obamacare and how Congressional Republicans have forced him to back down;
  • How Trump lied about closing the border with Mexico this week and how economic reality forced him to back down;
  • Then, two North Carolina special elections for the U.S. House are coming up --- the first, in NC-03, to replace the late Republican Rep. Walter Jones (who voted against Trump more than for him), the second, in NC-09, a do-over election from the November 2018 contest which was never certified, thanks to a GOP absentee ballot fraud scheme paid for by the GOP candidate. But before we can get to either of those races, the federal indictment of North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes, a longtime state power-broker and former GOP Congressman, was unsealed this week. The criminal charges against Hayes include counts of fraud, bribery, campaign finance violations and lying to the FBI. And another Republican Congressman from the state and member of House GOP leadership, Rep. Mark Walker (NC-06), is also finding himself entangles in the criminal scandal and named in the indictment as "Public Official A";
  • All of that today is before Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with yet another deadly chemical fire in Houston, yet another court loss for ExxonMobil, yet another way that Trump is making both climate change and immigration even worse, and yet another mendacious Trump lie about wind energy that even a top Republican is calling him out over...Oh, and Burger King's "Impossible" dream...

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Guest: WI's John Nichols; Also: McConnell 'nukes' Senate rules again; House to subpoena 'Mueller Report', request Trump tax returns from IRS...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2019 6:52pm PT  

There were a number of important elections held around the country on Tuesday, so on today's BradCast, we've got some of the reported results from the key races, including both good and bad news for Democrats and progressives. Oh, and some stuff happened in D.C. today as well. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We start with the good news out of Chicago, where former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot will become the Windy City's first black female Mayor, as well as the city's first openly gay chief executive. Lightfoot, who has never held elective office, ran as a progressive reformer to clean up Chicago's notorious old-school, insider politics after Democratic Mayor Rahm Emmanuel chose not to seek a third term. She is said to have easily bested Toni Preckwinkle, another African-American woman and a longtime elected official. by a nearly 50-point margin in Tuesday's final runoff contest.

There was still more good news for Democrats in the key swing-state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, where Democratic Navy vet and former Dept. of Veterans Affairs official Pam Iovino is said to have defeated Republican D. Raja in a special election for a state Senate seat representing a suburban district outside of Pittsburgh. Republicans have held that seat for most of the past half-century, and the district (which uses 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems) reportedly went to Donald Trump by 6 points in 2016, when he took the state's 20 electoral votes for the first time since 1988.

Iovino's 4-point victory over Raja is being regarded as a potential bellwether for next year's Presidential contest when Democrats will need to win back Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin --- all of which went to Trump in 2016 before electing Democratic Governors during statewide elections in 2018 --- if they hope to take back the White House.

While there was good news for Dems in Pennsylvania, the news out of Wisconsin on Tuesday was decidedly less good...at least as of this hour. Progressive-aligned state Supreme Court candidate Judge Lisa Neubauer had been widely expected to win the seat of a retiring progressive-aligned state Justice, but appears to have fallen just short against GOP-aligned Judge Brian Hagedorn, according to unofficial results.

Hagedorn, who has likened homosexuality to bestiality, derided Planned Parenthood as a "wicked organization" and called the NAACP a "disgrace to America", declared victory in the early Wednesday morning hours after computer tallies gave him a lead of just under 6,000 votes out of just over 1.2 million cast across the state. Neubauer's campaign announced the race was "too close to call" and "almost assuredly headed to a recount", stating that "Wisconsinites deserve to know we have had a fair election and that every vote is counted".

With the margin less than 1% (it is currently one-half of 1%), she will be entitled to request --- and pay for --- such a "recount". State law, however, currently leaves it up to local jurisdictions to decide whether they wish to tally the state's mostly hand-marked paper ballots manually or simply run them through the same computer scanners that tallied them (correctly or incorrectly, who knows?) on Election Night.

Tuesday's state Supreme Court contest in the Badger State was particularly important for Democrats who, even if they had won, would have retained a 4 to 3 minority on the state's high court. But, with a conservative-aligned Justice retiring next year and the replacement election to be held on the same day as the state's 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary, they had hoped to finally flip the court to a more Dem-friendly 4 to 3 majority next year for the first time in years. That majority would be particularly important following the 2020 census and the inevitable subsequent court battles over redistricting in one of the most extremely GOP-partisan gerrymandered states in the country, not to mention hopes for rolling back a host of rightwing initiatives enacted under Republican Gov. Scott Walker now that voters sent him packing last November.

We're joined today by Wisconsin's own JOHN NICHOLS, Washington Correspondent for The Nation and associate editor of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times, to help us make sense of Tuesday's stunning reported results that appear to have taken both Democrats and Republicans alike off guard.

How and why did it happen, given Neubauer's huge fund-raising advantage over the toxic, Koch-supported former Walker protege who many Republicans chose to stay away from? Did a last minute infusion of out-of-state Republican cash make the difference? While turnout increased for both parties compared to the state's last Supreme Court election in 2018 (when the Dem-aligned candidate won by a full 12 points!), why did turnout appear to increase more for the GOP this year? And what happened that dampened turnout in Milwaukee?

Does a potential "recount" have any chance of reversing the currently reported results? And what should all of this --- an objectionably flawed rightwing candidate seen as having little chance of winning in Wisconsin, before he then goes on to narrowly win the state --- tell Democrats as they head into the crucial 2020 Presidential election looking to flip WI back into the D column? We discuss all of that and much more with the ever-wise Nichols today, who offers this "number one lesson" to progressives: "Do not assume Donald Trump is doomed."

Finally, there was also a lot of stuff that happened in Congress today for a change as well: The House Judiciary Committee voted to approve subpoenas for the Department of Justice to require Trump's Attorney General William Barr to turn over the full, unredacted Mueller Report, including its exhibits and underlying evidence; In the Senate, GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unilaterally invoked the so-called "nuclear option" to change Senate rules, after failing to do so via regular Senate votes, in order to reduce the time needed to install Trump appointees to executive agencies and lifetime positions on the federal bench. The new rule will now require just 2 hours of debate, rather than 30, before holding a vote on such appointees; And, late in the day, the Democratic U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal sent a letter to the IRS formally requesting the past 6 years of Donald Trump's tax returns as well as those for eight of his business entities. The House actions are certain to face challenges from the White House and likely end up being decided in court...

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Bernhardt slithers to the top of Interior; Another deadly chemical fire in Houston; White House security whistleblower steps forward; Chinese national arrested with 'malware' at Mar-a-Lago...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's D.C. swamp isn't getting any less swampy, but it all does make chants of "Lock her up!" over Hillary Clinton's personal email server appear quite quaint. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • It's Election Day in a number of places today, including for a very important state Supreme Court seat in Wisconsin, where the results will have ramifications (for the state and nation) for the next decade. And voters are also at the polls near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania today for a special election for that state's Senate in a contest which may serve as a bellwether before the 2020 elections. We'll have reported results and other analysis of that and others contests, no doubt, on tomorrow's program;
  • More disaster today near Houston, Texas where yet another deadly chemical fire broke out, killing one as of airtime, with two others airlifted to hospitals. Emergency officials issued shelter-in-place warnings to schools and residents within a 1-mile radius, advising residents to stay indoors, turn off all ventilation systems and seal all doors and windows. It's the second major toxic chemical plant explosion near Houston within as many weeks. Given the state's shameful history with chemical facilities --- and a dangerous, years-long lack of transparency, even for first responders --- the latest tragic incident is, sadly, not all that surprising;
  • Donald Trump's latest nominee to head the Dept. of Interior is near confirmation in the U.S. Senate after his confirmation hearing last week in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But David Bernhardt --- currently Deputy Secretary and Acting chief of the agency following the resignation of Trump's first disgraced and corrupt Secretary Ryan Zinke --- is a longtime, top lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and has been instrumental since arriving at the agency in 2017 in reversing loads of environmental regulations long opposed by the fossil fuel and chemical industry.

    In fact, as a recent investigative report by Reveal illustrated, at an executive meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), a top industry group, after Bernhardt was tapped to be the top Deputy at Interior in 2017, the hundred or so oil industry executives at the conference were caught on tape laughing and applauding after the IPAA's CEO bragged about Bernhardt as "the guy that actually headed up" their legal team challenging federal endangered species rules being "now the No. 2 at Interior," adding, "So that's worked out well." Now Bernhardt will be No. 1 at Interior.

    We share some of the audio from last week's Senate Committee hearing in which Bernhardt said he would decline to recuse himself from issues at Interior involving companies for whom he lobbied, because, he said, he'd be "basically handcuffed and not in the game for the American people if I am recusing myself" and prevented from unleashing his awesome "skillset" on behalf of "the American team". Bernhardt, of course, is just one of many deeply-conflicted swamp creatures now inhabiting Trump's "drained" swamp;

  • Speaking of which, a whistleblower with 18 years of experience in the White House Personnel Security Office, where she worked for Democratic and Republican administrations alike, has stepped forward to expose what she describes as at least 25 Trump appointees who failed security clearance checks, but were ultimately granted clearances anyway after intervention by more senior officials. According to Tricia Newbold's recent testimony to the U.S. House Oversight Committee, many Administration security clearances had been rejected for a number of reasons including "foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct."

    She testified that two currently-serving Senior Officials in the White House were granted clearances despite failing their background checks. Though the names of the officials whose security clearances were granted only after intervention were not specified, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings has sought "adjudication summaries" from the White House for Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, his daughter Ivanka Trump, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, currently National Security Advisor John Bolton and a host of other top appointees.

    On Tuesday, the Committee voted to subpoena Carl Kline, Newbold's superior, believed to be behind a number of the questionable approvals. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders today described the Congressional oversight of the matter in partisan terms, bizarrely characterizing it on Fox "News" today as "sad and shameful" and, somehow, ironically enough, "dangerous" to national security;

  • That statement came just hours before court documents were released today revealing that the Secret Service arrested a Chinese national at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, during the President's latest visit to his Palm Beach resort, with four cell phones, two Chinese passports, a hard drive, and a computer thumb-drive said to contain "malicious malware". Court documents describe the woman telling the Secret Service, after she had initially been allowed inside the resort, that she was sent there by a Chinese friend who instructed her to travel from Shanghai to make contact with a member of Trump's family. But, why worry about security checks for those family members, eh?;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on Bernhardt's enormous conflicts of interest, the White House's latest unprecedented scheme to jump start the stalled Keystone XL pipeline, more bad news for Trump's environmental rollbacks in federal court, and the Green New Deal has its first town hall discussion...

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Guest: Former WI Supreme Court candidate Tim Burns; Also: Courts block Trump 'Obamacare' attacks; WI's Supreme Court election is a big deal...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2019 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some facts --- real ones, not Mitch McConnell's --- about our nation's healthy history of changing the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court, which we have done seven different times over the past 238 years since our founding. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up quickly today, Donald Trump has taken yet another hit from the courts on his attempt to undermine the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. healthcare system. It's the second such court loss he's faced over the past week, with the first court nixing his attempt to allow work requirements under Medicaid in Kentucky and Arkansas, and the second on Thursday night finding his allowance of cheap health insurance policies that don't meet the standards of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") to be unlawful. That second ruling comes courtesy of a well-respected George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who is rarely reversed by appellate courts.

Next, a preview of a very important election on Tuesday in Wisconsin for its state Supreme Court. Its the first of two elections to the high court in the Badger State (one on Tuesday and the other next year on the same day as the Democratic Presidential primary election in WI) that could result in a progressive-leaning majority, at long last, being restored to WI's high court. Control of that court is wildly important for both the state and the nation on a number of fronts, which we discuss today, including voting rights before the 2020 election, redistricting for the next decade after the 2020 Census, and the rollback of a host of anti-union and other hard-right policies enacted during the gerrymandered Scott Walker years.

Tuesday's match-up is between progressive-backed Judge Lisa Neubauer and Koch Industries/Chamber of Commerce-backed Judge Brian Hagedorn, a protege of former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Hagedorn has called Planned Parenthood a "wicked organization" devoted to "killing babies", described the NAACP as "a disgrace to America", and argued "The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable."

But while voters in WI directly select their Supreme Court at the ballot box (which I am no fan of), the U.S. Supreme Court is a different matter. After Senate Republicans stole what should have been a Democratic majority on the court in 2016 by refusing to even hold a vote on Judge Merrick Garland, Barack Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell held the seat vacant for a year before unilaterally changing Senate rules to do away with the filibuster to allow Neil Gorsuch to be seated on the high court. Later, under those same changed rules, the far-rightwing, accused sexual-predator Brett Kavanaugh was similarly added to the Court, likely cementing a generation of GOP-control.

In response, many progressives --- even Presidential candidates --- are now calling for the expansion of SCOTUS if Democrats can regain control of the U.S. House, Senate and White House next year, in order to restore a liberal-leaning majority that arguably should have been theirs in 2016. Naturally, McConnell is already decrying the idea, describing it on Thursday, ironically enough, as "an unprincipled power grab...that would threaten the rule of law and our American Judicial system." He cites the attempted court packing by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s to support his notion that changing the size of the Court is "a thoroughly discredited idea".

We're joined today by Wisconsin attorney and former state Supreme Court nominee TIM BURNS for both thoughts on Tuesday's crucial election in the state ("The stakes are huge," he explains) and the little-known history of "court packing" in the U.S. More specifically, Burns, who wrote about the issue recently at The New Republic, discusses the seven different times since the founding of our republic when the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court has been changed by Congress, including under one of our founders Thomas Jefferson and even under Republican Party icon Abraham Lincoln.

Burns, who serves on the board of the progressive Wisconsin Justice Initiative and the national board of the American Constitution Society, argues that contrary to misleading claims by McConnell and fellow Republicans, changes made to the size of SCOTUS by the Legislative and Executive Branches, as called for by the U.S. Constitution, have been healthy for the nation, often coming "hand in hand with some of the most vibrant periods of our democracy," and in response to the out-sized growth of corporate power.

"There have always been these predictions of the utter ruin of our democracy if the size of the Court is changed," Burns tells me. "The truth is, the Court's been viewed favorably even after its size has changed." And while he says that it's "entirely possible" that Republicans could then do the same thing once they regain power, "that doesn't spell the doom of our democracy. It says that our democracy is working. The political power rests with the voter instead of nine lawyers, judges on a Supreme Court."

Perhaps that's why Senate GOPers this week have introduced a measure calling for a Constitutional Amendment to keep the number of seats on the Court at nine. Good luck with that, boys.

Most interesting, however, may be Burns' fascinating recounting of what happened when FDR attempted unsuccessfully to expand the Court in what McConnell falsely described as an historic event that resulted in the idea of "Court Packing" becoming "synonymous in American history with the idea of an unprincipled power grab". What actually happened in the 1930s, and why the Court was ultimately not expanded under FDR is a fascinating bit of lost history and quite different from the way it has been described in lore. The truth places new calls to expand the Court today, during this period of unprecedented partisanship and class-divide under a hard-Right SCOTUS, into a very different light and perspective as this debate kicks off both in the nation and among Democrats vying for the 2020 Presidential nomination....

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2020 Presidential primary news; GOP election fraud news in NC and VA; Bad news for our wildly corrupt President; and much more news...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2019 6:07pm PT  

That headline will make sense once you listen to the show. With the news "only" turned up to 11 today (as opposed to its usual 12 or 13), we're able to catch up on a whole bunch of important stories, breaking and otherwise, on today's BradCast. [Audio link is posted below.]

Among those many stories...

  • Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Senator, Sec. of State and 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton all announce they will not be running for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020. That's mostly good news, as we discuss;
  • A southern Indiana election board is considering using hand-marked and hand-COUNTED paper ballots in an upcoming local primary election. That's definitely good news;
  • North Carolina's State Board of Elections announces the dates for the redo election(s) in the state's 2018 U.S. House race for the 9th Congressional District. The first one was nullified a week or so ago, due to Republican absentee ballot election fraud by a GOP contractor on behalf of the disgraced candidate and Baptist preacher Mark Harris. The Democratic candidate, Marine vet and businessman Dan McCready, has already announced he will be running again, and only one Republican, so far, has announced his intention to run in the do-over contest. That one candidate, Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing --- endorsed by Harris (ouch) --- turns out to be a real peach, as we explain with some help from Daily Kos' Jeff Singer;
  • Also in NC, the judge who nullified two state Constitutional Amendments, one of which would have imposed disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions, stands by his recent ruling to nix the measures on the basis that the state legislature that placed them on the ballot had been "illegally constituted" by unlawful racial gerrymanders in several NC legislative districts;
  • And, speaking of GOP election fraud, in Virginia, the criminal investigation into (now-former) Republican Rep. Scott Taylor and his paid campaign staffers who forged petition signatures to place an independent candidate on the ballot in 2018, continues. The GOP scheme, exposed before the election last year, included what a judge described as "out-and-out fraud" via forged signatures from people who had long ago died or moved. The failed scheme was meant by the Republicans to dilute the votes of Taylor's Democratic challenger, now-freshman Rep. Elaine Luria, in VA's 2nd U.S. House District;
  • A huge majority of American voters now believe, 64 to 24%, that Donald Trump committed crimes before becoming President, with a smaller plurality believing he also has committed crimes since becoming President, according to new polling from Quinnipiac.
  • Meanwhile, Trump characterized the new House majority Democrats' several burgeoning investigations into his and his associates myriad apparent crimes as a "big, fat, fishing expedition", "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!", "nonsense" and "a disgrace to our country" today. He charged the "real crime is what the Dems are doing." But, as we discuss today, the long, LONG overdue exercise of Congressional oversight into an unprecedentedly corrupt Presidency is anything but. We list an astonishing number of potential crimes now under the Democrats' microscope thanks to the House Judiciary Committee's massive document requests sent Monday to more than 80 Trump associates, family members, organizations and institutions. That, as we also note, is just the tip of the iceberg for what is still to come, thanks to voters who put Democrats back in charge in the House last November;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with tragic news out of Alabama, stupid news out of CPAC, and important news at the EPA and from the latest Democratic candidates entering the 2020 Presidential contest...

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House votes to overturn Trump 'Emergency'; Gaetz threatens Cohen before House testimony; Harris won't run in NC-9 do-over; Judge nixes NC Photo ID measure due to unlawful gerrymander; 12-year old journo exposes bad AZ cop; Kids push for climate action...
By Brad Friedman on 2/26/2019 6:46pm PT  

This is the week that everything is now all happening at once, apparently. We do our best to cover as much of it as we can, and then some. How it all fits together, you'll have to tune in and find out. Among the stories covered on today's whirlwind BradCast whirlwind [audio link to show is posted below]...

  • With the nation's top U.S. General for homeland defense telling a Senate committee today that there is no military emergency on the southern border, and scores of former national security officials and former GOP lawmakers declaring this week that Trump's "national emergency" declaration is unjustified and even unlawful and/or unconstitutional, the U.S. House voted on Tuesday to block Trump's "emergency" declaration that takes money allocated by Congress for other purposes in order to build his border wall. Prospects for similar passage in the Senate are currently unknown, but currently looking positive. Overriding a promised Presidential veto, however, will be much more difficult, so this is all likely to be decided by the courts and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court;
  • Trump landed in Vietnam today for the start of his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, where senior Administration officials have reportedly said the President plans to stay up overnight to watch Wednesday's televised hearing in the U.S. House Oversight Committee with Michael Cohen. Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer is expected, according to reports today, to testify --- with documentation --- on criminal acts he claims to have been carried out by Trump both before and during his Presidency. He's also expected to detail Trump's history of racist behavior and lies regarding his own personal wealth, among other things. Incredibly, Trump partisan Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) issued an extraordinary threat against Cohen via Twitter just before airtime today, which experts immediately cited as a potentially unlawful attempt at criminal witness tampering and/or intimidation;
  • Also in the Democratic-majority U.S. House on Tuesday, hearings on the Administration's policy of family separation at the southern border amid new reports today of thousands of children alleging sexual abuse during their detention;
  • In North Carolina, disgraced 9th Congressional House District Republican candidate Mark Harris announced he will not run in a new election called for the district after the November 2018 race was tainted by absentee ballot fraud carried out by Harris' campaign. According to his Harris' own attorney, after stunning surprise testimony against him by his own son at public hearings held by the NC State Board of Elections, the candidate and evangelical minister lied about his knowledge of the scheme. Harris now claims his health is preventing him from running in the not-yet-scheduled do-over election, and is also the reason for his faulty memory about his knowledge of fraud by a campaign contractor he hired to run his absentee ballot effort in Bladen County. The Democratic candidate, Dan McCready, previously announced his intention to run again, and several Republicans have now expressed interest in vying for the nomination in what will be the GOP's second bite at the apple, after getting caught committing election fraud the first time out;
  • Also in NC, a state court judge late last week nullified two state Constitutional amendments approved by voters in November after they were placed on the ballot by a super-majority of Republican lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature. That state legislature, however, is built on an unlawful racial gerrymander by those same state Republicans, as confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court last year. Therefore, the judge ruled, the illegitimately constructed chambers do not have the lawful right to place state constitutional measures on the ballot. One measure imposes photo ID voting restrictions previously found in violation of the state Constitution and another lowers a state cap on tax rates. The extraordinary ruling has already been appealed by the Republicans and legal experts are dubious as to whether it will be upheld by higher courts, but it reminds us (again) how, even when they know its unlawful and will eventually be overturned, it pays for lawmakers to gerrymander;
  • And, in Arizona, 12-year old journalist Hilde Lysiak of Orange Street News (who, three years ago when she was 9, broke the story of a murder in her Pennsylvania neighborhood!) posted a videotaped conversation with Patagonia, AZ Town Marshall Joseph Patterson lying to her about the law regarding taping cops. Patterson had previously threatened her with arrest and/or detention in juvenile jail on the basis of still more false claims when he reportedly said he didn't "want to hear about any of that freedom of the press stuff." We share the video of hero Lysiak's second encounter with Patterson. She has reportedly been interviewing local residents about border security in the state and Patterson has reportedly been disciplined;
  • Also this week, kids from the Sunrise Movement have been turning up to demand action on climate change and passage of the Green News Deal in the U.S. Senate, where Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) talked down to the children who visited her in her office asking for her vote on the GND, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY)'s office had a number of protesters in the group that visited his office arrested on Monday;
  • All of which leads us up to our latest Green News Report with Desi Doyen today, with details on a new Trump climate change Commission to be headed up by a climate science denier; very bad news in Antarctica; and children around the globe protesting and walking out of school to demand action on climate change...

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Guest: Stephen Schwartz of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists; Also: Criminal charges coming in NC-9's GOP election fraud scandal?; Trump injects himself into the Oscars that tried to ignore him...
By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2019 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, experts are worried about Donald Trump's summit this week with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un. But, given the overall menace to the world that our President represents, are those experts too worried about a deal that could, at least, keep Trump believing that he is "winning"? [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, the (non-nuclear) fallout continues in North Carolina, after the state Board of Elections last week voted unanimously for a new election in the state's 9th Congressional District following a Republican absentee ballot election fraud scandal tainted last November's never-certified 905-vote "victory" margin of Trump-endorsed Republican candidate and preacher Mark Harris over Democrat Dan McCready. State prosecutors on Friday disclosed their intentions to bring the matter --- along with evidence of similar GOP fraud allegedly carried out in the same district back in 2016 --- before a grand jury. It's still unclear who might be charged and for which crimes, given that GOP contractor McCrae Dowless is said to have carried out the scheme paid for by Harris, who also appears to have lied about it all under oath last week on the witness stand during the Board's week-long public hearings on the matter.

After last week's decision to hold a new election, McCready quickly announced his plans to run again, but the disgraced Harris has remained mum. During a press avail at the White House on Friday, after months of not mentioning it, Trump was finally forced to comment on the unprecedented election fraud scandal engulfing the candidate he campaigned for in NC last year. In world salad remarks, he offered a bunch of false, disproved, or otherwise evidence-free claims about supposed "voter fraud" in California, Texas, and Florida last year.

Meanwhile, on Monday morning, the President took off to Vietnam for his second nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Diplomatic, military and atomic experts --- and even senior Administration officials --- have reportedly been expressing concern for what Trump may give away during the upcoming meeting, as the North has only increased its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities following the pair's first meeting last June in Singapore, after which Trump falsely declared: "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea."

Given Trump's 2017 "fire and fury" threats against Kim, however, are experts overly worried about whatever "deal" Trump may try to make with Kim in order to walk away with something he can pretend to be a "win"? In exchange for promises of eventual "denuclearization" or less, they worry Trump, could "give away", among other things, a permanent end to U.S. military exercises in the region; a peace treaty to once and for all end the Armistice struck between the North and South at the end of the Korean War in 1953; or even a promise to bring U.S. troops home from South Korea, where they have been stationed for decades during the long, if tenuous truce in Northeast Asia.

But are those things bad, in and of themselves? And, more to the point, with a U.S. President as wildly unbalanced and unqualified as our current one --- along with the need for "nuclear security triage", given that fact --- should we all just be happy that at least he now believes Kim is his best buddy?

Analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, former publisher and executive director, now Senior Fellow at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists --- keepers of the so-called "Doomsday Clock" --- joins us to offer his insight and perspective on all of this in advance of this week's summit where, as I argue a bit today, a bad deal for the U.S. may be better than no deal, given the greater danger that Trump, with his finger on the nuclear button, presents to the world.

"In general, it's almost always a good thing when world leaders who are not seeing eye-to-eye on issues are talking rather than not talking, or arguing with each over Twitter, or setting up military confrontations up to and including war," Schwartz, who is also former editor of the Nonproliferation Review at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, tells me. "With Donald Trump, however, you can't really be sure, because he's very much a captive of the last person that he spoke with and tends to take their perspective. He's also pretty mercurial. He can turn on a dime and he's desperate for attention, desperate for a win, and therefore that makes it more likely he will try to strike some sort of deal that allows him, at least on the face, to come out of this looking like he accomplished something. And that could be problematic."

He goes on to explain why he believes "Kim Jong Un has Trump right where he wants him;" charges that Trump "in this instance, is both the arsonist and the fireman," having "inflamed an already tense situation with North Korea and made it much worse;" but seems to agree with my general theory that a placated Trump results in an ultimately safer world --- at least during the short term while he's still in office.

Schwartz also responds to Trump's repeated insistence that the U.S. would be at war with North Korea by now, had Hillary Clinton been elected in 2016 ("No, in a word," he tells me), and also comments on Trump's "very foolish and counter-productive" recent decision to withdraw from the otherwise successful, decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, struck by Ronald Reagan with Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s, and much more.

Finally, before leaving for Hanoi, Trump found time to tweet in response to Sunday night's Academy Awards Ceremony in Hollywood, where director Spike Lee won his long-overdue first Oscar for the screenplay of the remarkably timely BlacKkKlansman. Even though Lee never mentioned him by name during his acceptance speech citing 400 years since slavery began in America, our racist President found a way to inject himself into the proceedings by tweeting out today that Lee, a descent of slaves, was actually "racist". We close by discussing both that and a few of the must-see films that got robbed by the Academy this year...

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A decade of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering led to this moment...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2019 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Yes, Virginia, there is a problem with race (and hate) in the Commonwealth. But Democrats would be wise to take a breath and notice what's really going on there before making critical political decisions out of fear. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The media are all over the astonishing crisis that has overtaken VA state politics in the past week, since a Republican website revealed a racist photo on Governor Ralph Northam's 1984 yearbook page, and a serious sexual assault allegation leveled against Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, while Attorney General Mark Herring subsequently announced that he had donned blackface while dressing as one of his favorite rappers for a party 40 years ago when he was 19. The political futures of all three Democrats now hang precariously in the balance, with top Dems (and media elite) both inside and outside of VA demanding Northam resign, despite the complete lack of evidence to suggest he is a racist in the 35 years since the photo was published. As we discussed on Monday's program, Northam claims he knew nothing about the photo until last week, as he hadn't purchased the yearbook.

But with Fairfax --- an African-American and first in line to succeed the Governor, should he step down --- facing a serious assault allegation (which he has repeatedly denied) and some calls for Herring --- second in the line of succession --- to step down, echoing those leveled against the Governor, the next state official in the line of succession is Republican House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox.

Cox is in that role, thanks only to a questionably "tied" Delegate election in 2017 that left the GOP in control of the House, after a Republican election judge changed his mind in order to create the tie, and a subsequent lot was drawn from a ceramic bowl to break it.

Far more notably, and far less reported, is that a decade of unconstitutionally gerrymandered House of Delegates districts drawn by the GOP to dilute the voting power of African-Americans gave Republicans as many as 8 more delegates in the House than they likely would have won with fair districts. One of those districts was "won" by Speaker Cox himself, according to a new district map ordered for use in this year's 2019 House elections by a panel of federal judges just weeks ago. Without the racial gerrymander, he likely wouldn't be in the House at all, much less in a position to become the next Governor, replacing a guy who admitted only that he put shoe polish on his face to dress as Michael Jackson in a dance contest 25 years ago.

We break down the entire mess today to, hopefully, shed some light on the FULL story of what's going on there, and how Democrats' fearful and breathless rush to avoid charges of hypocrisy may be serving to simply do themselves in for no good or even smart reason.

Also today: Republicans are freaking out about wildly popular ideas such as increasing taxes on the wealthy and a "Green New Deal" (a resolution officially introduced today by Democratic freshman Rep. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez [D-NY] and veteran Senator Ed Markey [D-MA]). They are so alarmed that over at Fox "News", anchors are describing increased taxes on rich people as an attack on Capitalism itself, and programs like the Green New Deal as "Venezuela-styled socialism". But the laugh out loud part is when one wingnut Fox personality explains why, he claims, that such programs are now so popular among voters of all political persuasions. AOC's Twitter response was priceless.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for details on all of that and with the latest Green News Report, on Trump's "disgraceful" failure to mention climate change at this week's State of the Union Address, despite hundreds of Americans killed and displaced over this past year alone, which is now, officially, the fourth hottest year since record-keeping began...

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Guest: Matt Gertz of Media Matters; Also: Dems win big in VA, Trump claims to be cutting off FEMA wildfire recovery aid to CA...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2019 6:02pm PT  

Donald Trump's tantrums and partial federal government shutdown continue on today's BradCast, with no end in sight for either of them. [Audio link for today's show follows below.]

On Tuesday night and again on Wednesday, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Donald Trump of governing "by temper tantrum". The first reference came in Tuesday's Democratic response, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to Trump's televised prime-time Oval Office address meant to gain public support for his demand of $5.7 billion for a southern border wall. The money is needed, Trump claims, to respond to what he described during his 9-minute speech as an immigration and humanitarian "crisis". But the address offered no new policies or information and, at times, parroted word-for-word rightwing anti-immigration, pro-wall commentary from Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs' programs on Fox 'News'.

The second reference to a Trump "tantrum" came today after the President reportedly stormed out of a White House negotiation meeting with Congressional Democrats as the partial federal government shutdown over funding for his wall continues in its third week. The cost of that shutdown to some 800,000 federal workers is rapidly intensifying. Paychecks will not be issued this week for many workers who are already facing extraordinary hardship thanks to the shutdown which Trump has threatened to continue for "months or even years" unless Democrats agree to his border wall demand.

But, if nothing new was offered in his Tuesday night prime-time address, why did the television networks agree to clear the time for him to litter our public airwaves with false claims and long-ago debunked propaganda? Particularly since the same networks refused President Obama's request to air his own remarks on actual new immigration policy back in 2014?

We're joined today by Media Matters' Senior Fellow MATT GERTZ who charges that the "networks got played." He describes their capitulation to Trump as "cowardly" with the result being "exactly what we said was going to happen: the President used the time to lie to the public."

"I don't understand why there's such an urgency to just put the President on television when all of the people involved in producing the news know that he's a liar who is going to lie," he tells me. "It's the most predictable thing in American politics right now --- if the President is talking, he's lying."

So why did the networks give up that valuable airtime to allow it to happen? And, were the attempts by media outlets at debunking and fact-checking Trump's false claims during or after the speech actual helpful to the public? We discuss that and the larger challenge for media: "How do you respond to a President who is deliberately deceptive and is constantly trying to make people believe in a reality that is different from the actual one?"

Also today: The 2018 electoral 'blue wave' continues into 2019, as Dems in Virginia win very big (by 40 points!) in the first Special Election of the year. And Donald Trump announces, via misspelled tweet, that he is cutting off FEMA wildfire recovery aid to California, following the worst and most deadly fires in state history. Whether he will follow through with that threat is a separate question, of course, and his absurd explanation as to why he claims to be doing it is, as usual, nonsense...

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HUD closure threatens evictions; Pence makes false immigration claims; SCOTUS on redistricting; 2018 'blue wave' bringing good news for Americans in FL, MI, ME and elsewhere across the country...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2019 6:25pm PT  

The effects of the federal government's partial shutdown, now in its third week, continue to worsen, even as the effects of last year's 'blue wave' election continue to make things much better for Americans across the country. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [audio link is posted below]...

  • The shutdown is causing "a mess" for potentially tens of thousands of American families who live in properties subsidized by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. They may soon face rent increases or eviction due to HUD's failure to renew thousands of contracts before and during the agency's closure;
  • Vice President Mike Pence made the media rounds in advance of Trump's Tuesday night prime-time Oval Office remarks (which TV networks didn't allow for Obama), in hopes of drumming up support for the Administration's false claim there is a national security crisis on the border which may precipitate a Presidential declaration of a "national emergency". Pence offered a number of false claims in the bargain, which even some GOPers were scoffing at today;
  • With Trump having boxed himself into this protracted shutdown mess, a "national emergency" declaration may be his only face-saving way out of it. It would likely result in Republicans allowing a vote in the Senate for reopening the government, even as the declaration would face court challenges over its legality and, essentially, do little more than steal tax-payer money from national defense as U.S. troops are tasked with building Trump's southern border wall;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear two partisan gerrymandering cases this session (from Maryland and North Carolina), which may not be good news following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy;
  • But, in better news from SCOTUS today, the Court rejected a plea from Virginia Republicans to delay a lower-court mandated remapping of districts for its House of Delegates in advance of this November's off-year legislative elections in the state. Twelve of those districts were previously found by the lower court to be unconstitutional racial gerrymanders;
  • Meanwhile, last year's midterm 'blue wave' is already yielding dividends for the nation. In Maine, the nation's dumbest now-thankfully-former Governor Paul LePage certified what he declared to be a "stolen election" for the U.S. House on his way out the door, and the state's new Democratic Governor Janet Mills signed legislation on her first day on the job that will finally give access to healthcare to some 70,000 Mainers under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Medicaid Expansion that had been blocked for some eight years by the former Republican Governor;
  • And, in further good news following last year's midterms, Florida's Amendment 4, adopted by nearly 65 percent of voters in November, kicked in on Tuesday to allow as many as 1.4 million former felons the right to vote in a state that is notorious for its close elections. Despite claims by some Republicans that "implementing language" may need to be enacted, County Supervisors of Elections began allowing registrations under the new Amendment for most former felons who have served their time. The result could be a sea change for the state in 2020, not to mention for the rest of the nation where Florida's electoral votes are key to Presidential elections;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the first Green News Report of 2019, where last year's 'blue wave' is also being positively felt on the environmental front at both the state and federal level, even as Trump's shutdown is trashing national parks and blocking important scientific research...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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