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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, January 19, 2020
On Bernie's 'Electability': 'BradCast' 1/17/20
Guest: Historian, author Richard Hayes Phillips; Also: Security experts worried about L.A.'s new, uncertified, unverifiable vote system...
A Statistical Response to the Charge That Bernie Sanders is 'Unelectable'
Analysis of 2016 primary election numbers in three key states, finds Richard Hayes Phillips, appears to counter the allegation...
Parnas Sings, Senate Trial Begins, L.A. Facing Suit Over New Vote System Flaw: 'BradCast' 1/16/20
D.C. bombshells; Huge fail in L.A.'s $300M vote system, County Clerk finally responds...
'Green News Report' 1/16/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
GNR SPECIAL COVERAGE: Climate change pervades the final Democratic presidential primary debate before 2020 voting begins...
Previous GNRs: 1/14/20 - 1/9/20 - Archives...
Courts Step in to Protect 'Inactive' Voters in WI, NY: 'BradCast' 1/14/20
Also: Fall out from yesterday's exclusive news on major security failures discovered in Los Angeles' new voting system, and much more...
'Green News Report' 1/14/20
2020 race loses climate justice warrior; Billion dollar disasters on the rise; 2019 second hottest year ever; PLUS: 150 arrested with Jane Fonda at climate protest...
L.A.'s New Touchscreen Vote System Fails State Testing: 'BradCast' 1/13/20
CA Sec. of State could approve for 2020 anyway, despite security failures. Public comment period ends soon! Hand-marked ballots needed in nation's largest jurisdiction!
Sunday 'Close Call' Toons
We're all living on the edge in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
One Thing Voters Can Do to Ensure Trump is Dumped This Year: 'BradCast' 1/10/20
Guest: Public Policy Polling's Jim Williams; Also: GOP Photo ID restriction blocked in NC; DoJ's probe of Hillary Clinton and Clinton Foundation quietly finds...nothing...
Hate to Say 'We Told Ya So', But...:
'BradCast' 1/9/20
Admin has no evidence of 'imminent threat'; Ukrainian plane downed by Iran missile; Study confirms new computer BMD vote systems should not be used in 2020...
'Green News Report' 1/9/20
Trump guts another landmark enviro law; EPA, FEMA not disaster ready; Coal plant shutdowns saved 26K American lives; PLUS: Murdoch, troll disinfo on Aussie fires...
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...


Bombshells from Giuliani's right-hand man; GAO says Trump Ukraine scheme unlawful; Senators sworn to 'impartial justice' by SCOTUS Chief; Major design fail found in L.A.'s $300M vote system; L.A. County Clerk finally responds to our coverage...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2020 6:23pm PT  

Really just blockbusters and bombshells from top to bottom on today's BradCast. From historic impeachment proceedings to game-changing disclosures to potentially big legal trouble for L.A.'s imperiled new touchscreen voting system. [Link to complete show is posted below summary.]

First up, the historic Impeach Trial of Donald John Trump got officially under way in the U.S. Senate today, with a solemn oath-taking ceremony administered by Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts who will preside over the trial that could determine whether Trump remains President of the United States.

But before we even got there on Thursday, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) came out with its finding that the Trump Administration did, indeed, violate federal law last year when it withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine as appropriated by a bipartisan vote of Congress. "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," the decision says, finding that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) "withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act." That matter is at the heart of Trump's impeachment.

But before the GAO findings were released on Thursday morning, or Senators could take their oath to do "impartial justice" as jurors on Thursday afternoon as the impeachment trial began, Rachel Maddow's Wednesday night blockbuster interview on MSNBC with Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born right-hand man to Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, shook up just about everything and everybody. Parnas, facing charges of campaign finance violations, sung --- and sung like crazy. On everybody. "Everybody was in the loop," he said.

He claimed Donald Trump knew from the jump about the scheme to strong-arm Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden to help his 2020 reelection bid. So did Vice President Mike Pence, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Congressman Devin Nunes and even Attorney General William Barr. We share a few clips from Maddow's jaw-dropping scoop of an interview --- with a recommendation that you go check out the whole thing (which is set to have a Part 2 on Thursday night), before we move on to a few blockbusters and bombshells closer to home out here on the west coast.

Earlier in the week, we broke exclusive details on the pending certification of a brand-new, $300,000,000 unverifiable touchscreen voting system set for first time use in Los Angeles County --- the nation's largest --- in this year's March 3rd Super Tuesday primary elections. As we reported, independent testers hired by the Sec. of State's office to carry out certification testing of the new systems discovered more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards as the Public Comment period for certification of the County's "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system ends this coming Monday. Given the enormous problems with the system set for use in the critical 2020 Presidential election, we have been urging voters to send public comments seeking a HAND-MARK paper ballot system instead of the failed, unverifiable new touchscreen systems, to the Sec. of State at VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov.

All the while, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has refused, for months, to respond to our serious questions about the systems or appear on the show. Well, we've got some new news today on all of that, including a potential lawsuit by the City of Beverly Hills, whose City Council, according to LAist's Libby Denkmann, has voted to approve a suit after discovering the effects of a serious design flaw in the system. The new VSAP tablets only display four candidates per race, before a voter must select a "MORE" button to be taken to a second page. That "MORE" button is right next to the "NEXT" button on the tablet voting system. And that "NEXT" button, takes voters to the next race on the ballot without voters ever even seeing the additional candidates in the race. This is a very serious flaw that is likely to cause havoc for candidates whose random positions on the ballot come as Number 5 or higher in any given race, including in the upcoming Presidential primaries. (If I'm Dean Logan today, I am praying that Bernie Sanders doesn't draw the fifth or later position on the March 3rd Democratic ballot!)

That matter is just one of several that Logan has either refused to speak to or has mislead on when I questioned him, or tried to, as I detail on today's program. But, given the noise we've caused over the past several days with this on The BradCast, Logan finally deigned to offer a Twittered response, excoriating our coverage of the certification testing failures. We share his misleading response in full on today's program, along with a number of the serious points that he either failed to respond to at all, or is attempting to mislead the public about in his tweeted answers. (For example, the fact that after a computer-marked ballot has been supposedly "verified" by the voter, it is sent back through the same printer path where it could be changed by the system with no way for the voter to ever know.)

Finally today, as if that's not enough blockbusters for you, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with our special coverage of Tuesday night's 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Des Moines, the last one before voting begins next month, and one in which our climate crisis, at long last, was front and center throughout much of the forum, happily enough...

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 host Nicole Sandler with Global Trade Watch's Lori Wallach and American Ex-Pat Denis Campbell...
By Nicole Sandler on 12/11/2019 4:57pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER again, your trusty guest host for another edition of the BradCast.

With so much happening each day we begin with a look at the latest news, including today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the DOJ Inspector General's report on the Russia probe, another mass shooting, a courageous chief of police, and the latest example of blatant anti-Semitism from the President under the guise of fighting anti-Semitism.

We have two guests today. First up, LORI WALLACH, founder and director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch who gives us the scoop on the USMCA (or NAFTA 2.0) that the Democrats agreed to on Wednesday. Next, we turn to the UK, where tomorrow voters go to the polls yet again. American ex-pat DENIS CAMPBELL fills us in on the political climate across the pond...

Download MP3 or listen 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!




Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with a day of Dem whiplash on impeachment and a new trade deal; Also author Ramesh Srinivasan…
By Nicole Sandler on 12/10/2019 4:10pm PT  

It’s NICOLE SANDLER, guest hosting the BradCast again today.

December 10, 2019 is the day that the Democratic-led House of Representatives introduced two Articles of Impeachment for Donald Trump on Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress. They're linked there for you to read for yourself, or just click the play button and listen to the show, as I read them for you.

The Democrats played a game of whiplash today as, an hour after introducing the Articles of Impeachment, Pelosi led a press conference to announce that they’ve reached a deal with the Trump administration to pass the NAFTA replacement known as the USMCA. From impeaching the President to giving him one of the biggest legislative victories of his term. Go figure.

We also cover the disconnect between the DOJ’s Inspector General’s report released yesterday and Attorney General Bill Barr’s gaslighting the nation over what it says. And lots more…

We changed the subject for today's interview with RAMESH SRINIVASAN, author of a new book, Beyond the Valley: How Innovators around the World Are Overcoming Inequality and Creating the Technologies of Tomorrow, which is basically an in-depth look into the internet and how it’s fundamentally changed our lives during its short existence.

We finish up with a new episode of Desi and Brad's Green News Report.

Whew. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. On second thought…

Download MP3 or listen 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!




Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with the DOJ's IG report on the Russia probe, and the latest Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing...
By Nicole Sandler on 12/9/2019 4:38pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER back again guest hosting the BradCast on a day filled with breaking news.

From the release of the DOJ's Inspector General's Report on the origins of the Russia probe to the surprise huge story from the Washington Post, 'The Afghanistan Papers: A secret history of the war - At War with the Truth' and lots more, I begin the show recapping it all.

Then we move to the main event, the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Intelligence Committee report on the impeachment inquiry. Daniel Goldman, the lead investigative counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, was the Democrats' lone witness who summarized the Democratic case for Trump's impeachment.

In his 45-minute opening statement, Goldman explained, "We are here today because Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, abused the power of his office, the American presidency, for his political and personal benefit. As part of this scheme, President Trump applied increasing pressure on the president of Ukraine to publicly announce two investigations helpful to his personal reelection efforts... When faced with the opening of an official impeachment inquiry into his conduct, President Trump launched an unprecedented campaign of obstruction of Congress — ordering executive branch agencies and government officials to defy subpoenas for documents and testimony...President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security."

Next stop, articles of impeachment? Tune in tomorrow for As the Trump Squirms...

Download MP3 or listen 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!




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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AG Barr ordered to hand over grand jury transcripts, exhibits redacted from the Mueller Report to Congress by October 30
UPDATE 10/29/19: DC Circuit Court of Appeal Grants Temporary Stay of Order to Release Grand Jury Materials...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/28/2019 9:35am PT  

In her landmark, 75-page decision filed on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell did much more than simply grant a motion filed by the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) to compel the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide it with grand jury materials from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe that had been previously concealed. In that same order, the court systematically demolished every quasi-legal objection the DOJ and White House have raised in their specious efforts to interfere with an ongoing and lawful impeachment inquiry.

The core question raised by HJC's motion was whether the court should order the DOJ to release pertinent grand jury materials in accordance with Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Although grand jury testimony and exhibits are ordinarily kept secret, Rule 6(e) authorizes a court to order the disclosure of such materials "preliminarily to" or "in connection with a judicial proceeding" when there is a "particularized need" for disclosure.

Judge Howell suggested that a House impeachment inquiry, in and of itself, may be considered a "judicial proceeding". She concluded, however, that the court did not have to reach that issue because the HJC was correct in its assertion that its impeachment inquiry was "preliminary to" a judicial proceeding.

In her erudite decision, Howell cited historical practice, the Federalist Papers, the text of the Constitution, and both Supreme Court and binding DC Circuit Court of Appeals precedent. All of these make it abundantly clear: U.S. Senate impeachment trials are "judicial proceedings". Indeed, the DOJ's contrary position is not only at odds with the appellate decision in Haldeman v. Sirica (1974) but also with the DOJ's own legal position in that Watergate-era decision. The DOJ was unable to satisfactorily explain why, under Attorney General William P. Barr, it had changed its previous, long-standing legal position.

The "particularized need" to release the materials arises, in this instance, because Mueller, in deference to the opinions of the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that a sitting President may not be indicted,* refrained from reaching conclusions about the legality or illegality of the President's conduct. "This," the court observed, "leaves the House as the only federal body that can act on allegations of presidential misconduct." Yet, the court observed, "under the DOJ's reading of Rule 6(e), the Executive Branch would be empowered to wall off any evidence of presidential misconduct from the House by placing that evidence before a grand jury."

The DOJ's contentions were, thus, not simply wrong but untenable. "In carrying out the weighty constitutional duty of determining whether impeachment of the President is warranted," Judge Howell observed at the outset of her opinion, "Congress need not redo the nearly two years of effort spent on the Special Counsel's investigation, nor risk being mislead by witnesses, who may have provided information to the grand jury and the Special Counsel that varies with what they tell HJC."

Had she stopped there, Judge Howell's ruling would be significant. Her demolition of every argument against the validity of the impeachment inquiry that has been presented by the DOJ, by the White House and by some Republican members of Congress, however, was nothing short of breathtaking...

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




Guest: Ann Ravel goes from FEC Commish to CA State Senate candidate, with some thoughts on many criminal violations by the President, and on our broken campaign finance system; Also: Giuliani snowballing...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2019 6:44pm PT  

In my exclusive interview on today's BradCast with ANN RAVEL, former Chair of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), we cover quite a bit of ground. From the reasons she has decided to run for office in California, to the apparent violations of federal election laws at the heart of the Trump impeachment inquiry into the quid pro quo with Ukraine, to the absurd campaign finance laws that allowed two now-indicted Rudy Giuliani associates to buy their way into the White House and directly effect U.S. foreign policy, to the Stormy Daniels affair, and to our shamefully broken FEC. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Ravel, who also previous served as Chair of California's Fair Political Practices Commission (or FPPC --- a more functional version of the FEC, but for the state of CA) and as Deputy Asst. Attorney General during the early years of the Obama Administration, is now running for State Senate in CA's 15th District, which includes San Jose in the Northern California Bay Area. After a lifelong career of public service, this is her first actual run for elected office.

We begin today's conversation with a few thoughts on the "local" issues regarding Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)'s preemptive blackouts for hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid their above ground power lines sparking wildfires. The bankrupt for-profit power utility, the state's largest, has been found liable for billions of dollars after several deadly recent fires, thanks to a failure to properly maintain or bury power lines amid increasingly warm and dry climate changed weather. We discuss whether the state should simply take over the company, following Gov. Gavin Newsom's scathing remarks on Thursday citing PG&E's many deadly failures, which he attributed to "dog-eat-dog capitalism and corporate greed meeting climate change."

Then it's on to many issues of national importance --- as highlighted of late by several matters related to Trump's ongoing impeachment inquiry --- regarding our broken FEC, which does not currently even have a quorum of Commissioners to either meet or vote as we head into the most critical election year in the history of our nation!

Ravel, who resigned as FEC Chair "in abrupt and dramatic fashion", according to the Mercury News in February of 2017, "declaring in a public resignation letter that the Federal Election Commission is on a gridlocked road to nowhere," offers her many insights on...

  • Campaign finance laws apparently violated by Trump in soliciting a "thing of value" from a foreign entity. That impeachable and criminal violation of law is at the heart of Trump's attempted withholding of military aid and the strong-arming of Ukraine in exchange for dirt on the Biden family and the 2016 election. "There is no question whatsoever that there was a crime at the heart of this," Ravel tells me. "And I'm appalled, having also been at the Department of Justice at the beginning of the Obama Administration, what has become of a Department that is supposed to be doing justice for the people";
  • Attorney General Bill Barr and the Dept. of Justices' failure to refer that matter, exposed by a whistleblower complaint, to the FEC for civil charges, as per a longstanding agreement between the two federal agencies. "That was the general understanding that always was the principal we operated by at the FEC";
  • The FEC's lack of ability to take immediate action on such a charge, even if it had been referred to them, given the FEC's current lack of a quorum. "Had it been referred as a complaint, that would begin the statute of limitations. And there is a five-year statute. So at some point, assuming there are other Commissioners appointed, ever --- by McConnell, or the Democratic Minority Leader, and assuming that the President makes the nominations --- it could, in the coming five years, actually take some action";
  • The obscene lack of campaign finance laws following Citizens United and other woeful "dark money" rulings from SCOTUS in recent years. Those High Court rulings have allowed men like Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to run an influence operation to purchase access to the White House and Republican members of Congress and actually effect U.S. foreign policy in the Ukraine matter in exchange for a few hundred thousands dollars (of unknown origin) given to Trump's SuperPAC, to Giuliani, and to other Republican officials and organizations. While Parnas and Fruman were recently indicted, their charges were based on lying to officials about the source of the money. Had they simply used their own, as we also recently discussed with Brendan Fischer of Campaign Legal Center (which filed the original complaint to the FEC about the pair's donations last year), the influence operation would have been perfectly legal under current law, she confirms. "And that is a whole other problem with our campaign finance system...That will only be fixed if there is a different Supreme Court";
  • Why isn't the case of Trump's hush-money payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels a bigger matter, given that Trump is known to have "directed" a campaign finance law felony conspiracy in making the payments, and then failed to report them to the FEC as required by law? To Ravel's consternation, Democrats in Congress, to date, have yet to make the matter a central point in their impeachment inquiry, and the short-handed FEC is otherwise unable to bring civil charges for Trump's willful violation of the law. She notes that fines levied against the Obama Campaign years ago were for far less serious violations of campaign finance law. "I often say, to much laughter, that I consider myself an expert in Stormy Daniels. I think this is scandalous. It is a campaign violation, without question, and it was being done at the behest of the President."

Those are just some of the many topics discussed on today's program with Ravel.

Finally, after some breaking news on a ruling late today by a federal judge ordering the DoJ to turn over unredacted grand jury testimony and other materials from the Robert Mueller probe to House Democrats working on impeachment, we take a quick look at the quickly snowballing fate of Rudy Giuliani, who finds himself in deeper and more embarrassing --- and potentially criminal --- straits by the hour. For now, Trump is standing by his man. But probably not for long. So, for a musical close to to the week, we turn to the inimitable Randy Rainbow, who recently threw Rudy entirely under a bus...

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 Host Nicole Sandler with the latest news and Marcy Wheeler too...
By Nicole Sandler on 10/3/2019 3:14pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, still manning the guest host desk for Brad and Desi at the BradCast.

The news is breaking at warp speed. I open the show with a recap of what's happened since the last BradCast, and there's a lot!

My guest today is MARCY WHEELER from Emptywheel.net who explained how Attorney General Bill Barr is implicated in Trump's efforts to solicit help from foreign leaders to damage his political opponents. And it's not only Barr, but Pompeo, Pence, Giuliani and even Lindsey Graham!

Plus, I'll share an amazing essay from John Pavlovitz titled, "I’m Not The Radical Left, I’m The Humane Middle."

And because we need it and deserve it, we end the show with some levity, courtesy of the always brilliant Randy Rainbow.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Guest Host Nicole Sandler with whistleblower John Kiriakou and Professor Harvey J. Kaye...
By Nicole Sandler on 10/2/2019 3:30pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, still holding down the fort at the BradCast for Brad and Desi.

As you know, it's been an insane few weeks in the news. I begin each show with an update on the latest from Trumpland and Impeachment World. Today, we witnessed a Trump meltdown that started with presidential profanity on Twitter in the wee hours of the morning, and continued through two media moments with the president of Finland looking on, horrified!

We had two great guests today. I wanted to get a whistleblower's take on what's happening, so I reached out to JOHN KIRIAKOU, who served 23 months in prison for blowing the whistle on the US torture program during the Bush years, who brings a unique perspective to the story. He's written three great books on his experience.

Then, I went the academic route, and called on HARVEY J. KAYE, author and professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, to get his thoughts on this moment in history.

Download MP3 or listen 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!




Guest Host Nicole Sandler with The Nation's DD Guttenplan and author Tom LoBianco...
By Nicole Sandler on 10/1/2019 2:13pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER in the BradCast guest host seat again today, filling in for Brad and Desi. Since there's so much breaking each day, we begin with an update on the latest news in the Donald Trump impeachment inquiry! Both Mike Pompeo and Bill Barr are in it up to their eyeballs!

My first guest is D.D. GUTTENPLAN, editor of The Nation. We discussed his new article, "We Don’t Have to Choose Between Warren and Sanders Yet," a topic I'm obsessed with these days.

But, with impeachment looming, if Trump is removed from office, Mike Pence is first in line to become president. Or he could be implicated along with the rest of this administration. Either way, he's an interesting topic, and the focus of the new book from veteran journalist TOM LOBIANCO called Piety and Power: Mike Pence and the Taking of the White House.

Download MP3 or listen 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!




Also: Judge overturns Mnuchin scheme to make 'dark money' even darker; Texas sued for tossing out absentee ballots without notifying voters...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2019 6:39pm PT  

"You've heard about 'Draining the Swamp'," Donald Trump's Acting Chief of Staff and Office of Management and Budget Director told a bunch of GOPers at a fundraiser recently in South Carolina. "What you haven't heard is what we're actually doing." He's right. We try to do something about that on today's BradCast. Again. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

Lack of funding and a hiring freeze by the Trump Administration has resulted in a shortage of correctional officers at facilities like the federal lockup in Manhattan where accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday morning. The billionaire financier and friend of Trump was supposed to have been monitored every 30 minutes by correctional officers after being removed, for some reason, from the prison's "suicide watch" list just 6 days after he reportedly tried to kill himself. But media reports say that Epstein was not monitored for hours before being found dead. Both of the officers tasked with the job were working overtime and one was merely a substitute, reportedly, not fully trained for it. Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr has temporarily suspended both of them and reassigned the warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, as he claims to be seeking accountability for the failure at the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility overseen by the Attorney General.

The lack of federal funding at BOP is not an accident, of course. It's just one small part of this Administration's ongoing efforts to, as Mulvaney admitted, "streamline government" by making it simply disappear any way they possibly can. As Trump's Director of the OMB, Mulvaney attempted to cut funding in half for several key scientific and economic departments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When Congress rejected those cuts, the Administration implemented Plan B, which is what Mulvaney was bragging about to the Republican donors in South Carolina. The USDA gave just over 30 days for career officials at two important and long-established USDA agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), to decide if they wished to uproot their lives and those of their family's to move to Kansas City (either Missouri or Kansas, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has not told anyone which state it will be) or be fired.

Matt Shuham at Talking Points Memo has been covering the ongoing crises at the two agencies in a series of stories, documenting how senior officials, with decades of institutional knowledge are being lost in the bargain, as more than half of those longtime federal workers have chosen against moving 1,000 miles across the country before the end of September.

"It's nearly impossible to fire a federal worker," Mulvaney complained while explaining the Administration's scheme for forcing longtime federal employees to either move to "the real part of the country" or quit. "They quit," Mulvaney boasted to the delight of the corporate GOP funders. "What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven't been able to do for a long time." One of Shuham's latest reports details the gut-wrenching decision of a 30-year veteran branch chief at the ERS, who says that staffers working on everything from researching genetically engineered seeds to soil conservation to climate change are almost all entirely gone from the agency now, along with hundreds of years of collective knowledge and institutional experience. Ironically enough, when Purdue issued the letter to employees notifying them of the move, he claimed it was being done, among other reasons, to "improve USDA's ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff."

The gutting of the USDA is a "test case", one economist at ERS said. "If they can carry this out, what’s to stop them from doing this on a larger scale to another agency?" The answer: Nothing. They are already doing something identical to the Bureau of Land Management at the Dept. of Interior. And there will be more to come if these moves aren't somehow blocked. Donald Trump is actively and purposely killing your government and both he and corporate industry interests couldn't be more delighted about it. This will only be stopped --- maybe --- if he is turned out of office no later than next year.

To that end, we catch up on a couple of (mostly) good news elections-related stories today as well. In Montana, a federal judge has overturned a new rule by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that would have allowed "dark money" non-profit 501(c)4 groups to keep their donors a secret from the IRS. Such groups are already exempt from disclosing their funding sources publicly, but Mnuchin didn't want even the Government to know where their money used for elections is coming from either. A lawsuit by Montana Governor and 2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful Steve Bullock has successfully blocked that new rule --- for now. It would have made it almost impossible for the Government to determine if foreign sources were unlawfully funding elections work by such groups.

And down in Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project and other plaintiffs are suing the state on behalf of voters to force election officials to notify voters when absentee vote-by-mail ballots are rejected by county election officials in time to correct any perceived signature mismatches. Such decisions are largely ad hoc from county to county --- elections officials are not hand-writing experts after all --- as there are no statewide standards for making the determination that the signature on the vote-by-mail ballot does not match that of the registered voter. Thousands of ballots in the Lone Star state have been tossed without the knowledge of voters who, under state law, do not need to be notified about signature mismatches that will keep their ballots from being counted, until 10 days after the election. With Texas potentially in play for Democrats next year, every vote may very well matter. So this lawsuit, like similar ones successfully filed in other states in recent years, is very important on several levels.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which another new rule imposed by the Trump Administration's Dept. of Interior is set to gut federal protections for thousands of endangered species; his EPA has cleared the way for an enormous, controversial mine project in Alaska which threatens key, pristine salmon fisheries in the region; and with details on the one energy project that the Administration is suddenly interested in slow-walking for some reason...

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

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Also: Andrew Cohen of The Marshall Project on America's shameful epidemic of prison suicides; Plus: The Administration's new rules to restrict legal immigration and gut the landmark Endangered Species Act...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2019 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's one of those shows you may have to take a shower after --- or even during. Apologies in advance. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We start today with the easy stuff. The Trump Administration announced two new federal rules of note on Monday. Both include major changes to federal law without Congress actually voting to have changed anything and both will result in lawsuits from opponents.

The first is a change to the law that would further restrict legal immigration to the U.S., by barring green card status in the country to whomever the Administration believes is not wealthy enough and may require public assistance. The move, if not blocked by the courts, would put the emphasis on the skills of immigrants seeking permanent status, rather than on family reunification. The new rule would prevent many U.S. citizens from being joined here by parents, siblings or children.

The Administration's other major rule change today is to significantly weaken the landmark Endangered Species Act on behalf of industry profits. The ESA has protected thousands of plants and animals from becoming extinct since President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1973. Trump's changes would end protection for plants and animals newly deemed threatened and allow federal officials, for the first time, to consider the economic costs of protecting a particular species. The change could also allow officials to disregard the impact of climate change when determining which species require federal protection. Both rule changes, according to opponents, are unlawful and will face legal challenges almost immediately.

Next, we turn to the weekend's disturbing news regarding the death of imprisoned financier, sexual predator and former Donald Trump friend, Jeffrey Epstein. The accused pedophile was found dead Saturday morning alone in his federal prison cell in lower Manhattan where he was supposed to have had a cellmate and guards that were supposed to monitor him every 30 minutes. His death came less than 24 hours after thousands of documents from an earlier lawsuit were publicly released, revealing lurid allegations that he'd sexually abused scores of young girls and just two weeks after he'd been removed from "suicide watch" after reportedly trying to kill himself just six days earlier.

There are many questionable circumstances that resulted in Epstein's death, angering elected officials, his many victims and even Trump's Attorney General who claimed to be "appalled". Barr announced over the weekend that he had tasked the Dept. of Justice Inspector General to investigate the matter. But, of course, conspiracy theories began flying almost immediately upon the news of Epstein's death, given his years of contact with high profile celebrities from Presidents to prime ministers to princes to other politicians and titans of industry and the academic world. Those conspiracies are hardly surprising. But the fact that Donald Trump, over the weekend, tweeted out several such conspiracies, attempting to tie Epstein's death to Bill Clinton, suggesting the former President had a hand in murdering the accused sex trafficker and may even have been a "pedophile" himself, seems to be a new low, even for this President.

Of course, while there is no evidence that Clinton was a close friend of Epstein's, Trump is known to have partied with him on several occasions, telling New York magazine in 2002 that he had "known Jeff for fifteen years" by that time, that he was a "terrific guy" and a "lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side." Trump's senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway actually defended Trump's Twitter smears of Bill Clinton, claiming on Fox "News" on Sunday that "the President just wants everything to be investigated".

Okay. If so, does he also want a proper investigation of the detailed 2016 lawsuit filed against him and Epstein --- before many of the allegations against Epstein had even come to public light --- by a woman who claims she was raped and abused by both men when she was 13 years old? Trump vigorously denied the charges at the time, and the case was eventually dropped after the woman says she faced death threats. But, given the many credible allegations of sexual assault by Trump, including from his own ex-wife who claimed at one point she was also raped by Trump, there is certainly more evidence to support that conspiracy than the ones forwarded by the President of the United States over the weekend following Epstein's death by apparent suicide --- in a federal prison overseen by Trump's own Administration.

While we have never discussed those rape allegations against Trump by the anonymous woman on The BradCast before --- yes, we saw them originally when they appeared in 2016, but didn't share them on air, preferring not to traffic in unverified allegations --- it seems that Trump himself has no such reservations. That, even after the death of his sexual predator friend in a federal prison overseen by his own federal Bureau of Prisons. If Trump is happy to spread wildly defamatory unsubstantiated allegations about former Presidents, I guess its now appropriate to publicly share allegations with far more substance since, right? According to Conway, after all, he "just wants everything to be investigated." And, as noted, we just want to take a shower at this point!

Finally, setting aside grotesque conspiracies, ANDREW COHEN, senior editor at The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization which reports on the U.S. criminal justice system, and a fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice, took the opportunity of Epstein's death to note that it was "completely predictable". Not due to Epstein's high-profile or even the particular circumstances of his case, but because there is what Cohen describes as an "epidemic" of prison suicides in U.S. prisons.

He explains that the epidemic --- shamefully resulting in an all-time high of hundreds of suicides in both federal and state prisons each year --- is the number one cause of death in such facilities. Cohen says the epidemic crosses all demographics and has been exacerbated --- arguably, even caused --- by a lack of interest or empathy by prison officials and both funding and interest from elected officials. "There's plenty of blame to go around," he tells me. "Yes, it's a long term problem [and] yes, it's gotten worse under the Trump Administration."

If anything good can possibly come of all of these horrific events, perhaps it begins in conversations like the one we have on today's program with Cohen. After your shower, I hope you will tune in for it...

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

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton on the former Special Counsel's testimony and what's next; Also: Everyone giving everyone else the finger...
By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2019 5:10pm PT  

Both Democrats and Republicans alike --- on Capitol Hill and in the media --- are trying to make sense of Wednesday's landmark testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and where things go from here. We do a bit of the same ourselves on today's BradCast. Though I hope we are a great deal more honest about it than Donald Trump and Fox "News", and less confusing than Fox' Ainsley Earhardt who announced this morning that Mueller's testimony "didn't change anything", before going on to tell viewers that "it changed everything". [Audio link to show our full program is posted below.]

For full coverage and extended excerpts from Mueller's nearly seven hours of hearings before the U.S. House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, see yesterday's special coverage show. For analysis and the fallout since the Republican former FBI Director confirmed the multiple and repeated felonious and impeachable crimes by the President of the United States detailed in his 448-page report [PDF], we're joined by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo today. As usual, we attempt to cut through the media drama and partisan positioning to get to the actual facts and important content that matters.

Among the issues discussed with Parton....

  • The fact that only Republicans are ever allowed to be Special Counsel/Prosecutors, no matter whether the President being investigated is a Democrat or a Republican;
  • Content of note from Wednesday's hearings that was both damning to Donald Trump and at risk of being lost amid frequently lousy corporate media coverage (and, wholly dishonest coverage from rightwing outlets);
  • The proper context for making "sense" of some of the conspiracies offered on Wednesday by Republicans, even as Trump's AG/fixer Bill Barr and other GOPers may have done harm lately to the prospects of their own conspiracy-based argument about the origins of what would eventually become the Mueller investigation;
  • How House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still dropping the ball on impeachment in Congress, at least for now, and setting the country up for even more Presidential corruption in both the near and distant future in the bargain;
  • And, where all of this madness may and/or should go next.

"It seems obvious to me that we have a criminal in the White House. And an abuser, a corrupt leader, and a barbarian and an ignoramus," Parton explains, cutting to the chase. "He's an unfit President and he should be impeached. To me, this is obvious."

But, she goes on, in struggling to make sense of why impeachment proceedings have not already been triggered, "One of the reasons that the dial is not being moved is the way that the press is covering this. There was a lot of criticism, during and after the testimony, about the fact that they covered it like a sporting event. 'He didn't put on the best show', etc. etc. The theater criticism. This is a big problem because this is a complicated story. People are seeing it as a game, as this is a strategy, instead of what it really is --- which is a fundamental threat to our democracy.

"If Donald Trump gets away with this, if he gets off scot-free --- re-elected or not --- if he gets away with doing these things while in office, it has changed everything. The President is no longer accountable. If Donald Trump cannot be impeached, then nobody can be impeached. Impeachment no longer exists as a stop on a President like this. And that's very scary," warns Parton.

Also on today's BradCast: "Unprecedented" heat and wildfires in the Arctic; Ohio's "socialist" Republicans give the planet and Ohio residents the finger by going all in on Big Government bailouts of coal and nuclear power companies; U.S. automakers give Trump the finger by working out a secret deal with California to lower vehicle emissions; The Trump Administration gives humanity the finger by deciding to "Make America Kill Americans Again"; A federal judge in California gives the finger to the Administration's new, unlawful southern border asylum ban; And Kim Jong Un gives his friend Donald the finger by firing off a few ballistic missiles to celebrate Mueller's testimony.

And, finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report on some of the above, and much much more...

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

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In nearly seven hours of long-awaited, halting responses from the former Special Counsel, the need for impeachment became clearer than ever...
By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2019 5:39pm PT  

As documented by today's BradCast special coverage, former FBI Director Robert Mueller finally offered his long-awaited testimony in the U.S. House during nearly 7 hours of hearings before both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The Republican former Special Counsel confirmed key details of his two-volume, 448-page report [PDF] on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's coordination with that effort and, in most detail, multiple instances of both indictable and impeachable criminal corruption of justice laid out by the report. In frequently halting and often terse responses to members of the two House panels, Mueller, as promised, refused to stray from the "four corners" of his report, issued earlier this year following his two-year probe.

Nonetheless, as heard on today's program, his responses made clear that both Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr --- not to mention the bulk of the Republican Party and their rightwing media outlets --- have been completely misleading the American public with their claims that Mueller's report somehow "exonerated" the President. It did anything but.

"Did you actually totally exonerate the President?" Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler asked during his opening round of questions. "No," Mueller flatly replied, later adding that "the President was not exculpated for the acts that he alleged committed." When Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chair of the Intel Committee, asked, "Your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?," Mueller dryly responded: "It is not a witch hunt."

In fact, as Mueller's testimony made clear to those who watched --- especially to those who didn't bother to read his actual report --- any other American who committed the crimes detailed in the Special Counsel's report would have been indicted on multiple felony counts, as more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors have now stated. But for the Dept. of Justice Office of Legal Counsel's (unsupportable) opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted, Trump would most likely have been charged long ago for his repeated, unlawful attempts to quash the Special Counsel's investigation.

Moreover, near the close of today's long hearings, Mueller offered a chilling warning about what he describes as still-ongoing efforts by Russia and other foreign powers, "as we sit here", to interfere with and manipulate upcoming U.S. elections.

We hold most of the commentary and analysis on all of this for another day in order to bring you extended excerpts on today's program from the detailed questions and answers with members of Congress from both parties and in both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. If you weren't able to catch seven hours of hearings beginning at 8:30am ET on a work day, we'll get you fairly well caught up on the key through-line and the most noteworthy stuff in just under an hour. You're welcome!

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

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Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser on the GOP's ACA challenge and the passing of SCOTUS' 'last great conservative Justice'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/17/2019 6:46pm PT  

The United States, according to our guest today on The BradCast, lost "the last great conservative Justice" on the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. Justice John Paul Stevens, who lead the liberal wing of SCOTUS before retiring in 2010, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 99 after serving some 35 years on the High Court. IAN MILLHISER, Constitutional law expert, longtime Editor of ThinkProgress Justice and author of the book Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted joins us today to discuss that loss as well as the rightwing legal challenge seeking to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We begin today with a conversation about Stevens' remarkable legacy, and how his tenure was so starkly different from the so-called "conservatives" now seated on the GOP's stolen Supreme Court. Nominated to SCOTUS by Republican President Gerald Ford (after being appointed to the federal bench by Richard Nixon), Stevens, as AP eulogizes, "stood for the freedom and dignity of individuals, be they students or immigrants or prisoners. He acted to limit the death penalty, squelch official prayer in schools, establish gay rights, promote racial equality and preserve legal abortion. He protected the rights of crime suspects and illegal immigrants facing deportation. He influenced fellow justices to give foreign terrorism suspects held for years at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base the right to plead for their release in U.S. courts." All positions now seen as "liberal".

And yet, Stevens said during a 2007 interview that he did not think of himself as liberal, but rather as "pretty darn conservative". Millhiser explains how Stevens was able to separate the law from politics, including his own personal preferences, while remaining true to the Constitution and both the rule of law and Court precedent --- all issues which those who call themselves "conservative" today seem to have a difficult time understanding or respecting.

"When he got on the Court, he was widely viewed as a center-right judge. He personally held very, very conservative views. But what made Justice Stevens a great judge was that he knew his political views didn't matter when he was a judge. He knew that regardless of what he thought about minimum wage, or Obamacare, or whatever else, his job was to be faithful to the law and the Constitution," Millhiser tells me. "He was able to set his political views aside and let the law work. And that is all you can ask for in a judge. If we had conservatives like John Paul Stevens right now, who understand that law and politics are separate, we would be in a much better place as a country."

Moreover, as I note at the top of the show, based on my own reporting from 2013, Stevens was willing to admit when he got cases wrong. That year he conceded that his 2008's controlling opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections --- the case which approved Indiana's Republican law requiring voters to present Photo ID at the polling place before being allowed to vote --- was ultimately the wrong decision. That SCOTUS opinion has been falsely cited by GOPers across the country as confirmation that Photo ID restriction laws do not suppress legal votes, but help prevent illegal ones. That is both inaccurate and decidedly not what the Court found that case. In 2013, Stevens conceded, "as a matter of actual history," dissenting Justice David Souter was "dead right" in his opposition and warnings about how the precedent would be abused to suppress the vote.

As to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) challenge we had originally booked Millhiser to discuss before news of Stevens' passing, oral arguments in Texas v. United States were heard in New Orleans last week before a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In his coverage for ThinkProgress, Millhiser, who was in the courtroom, describes the hearing before two Republican-appointed judges (one by George W. Bush, the other by Donald Trump) and one Democratic-appointee as a "disaster for Obamacare".

On today's show, he explains the "dumb" and "ridiculous" basis for the case brought by some 20 Republican state Attorneys General --- and now joined by Trump's Dept. of Justice --- and how the challengers specifically filed it in a Texas jurisdiction, a "a kangaroo court", where they knew they could get a favorable ruling from the lower court judge and were likely to get a similar ruling from the rightwing 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He describes the suit as "the stupidest case I have ever seen", but notes that the appellate court's three-judge panel --- "the two Republicans on this panel were really wacky and behaved in a really partisan way in the oral arguments" --- may ultimately uphold the lower court ruling, at least in part.

Nonetheless he believes the case cannot possibly pass muster at the U.S. Supreme Court given previous rulings on ObamaCare by Chief Justice John Roberts. However, he has a caveat: that prediction only holds if the makeup of the High Court when the case ultimately reaches SCOTUS remains the same as it is today. That, as Millhiser cautions, is not a guarantee. "If Trump gets another vote, all bets are off." And there are ways that both the 5th Circuit and the Republicans challenging the landmark healthcare law could hedge that timing, depending on how quickly they act and how long they delay both the court's decision and any subsequent appeal.

While the basis for this case, he details, is so absurdly thin, that may not mean it will fail, even if, as Millhiser observes, an estimated 24,000 Americans will die each year if the ACA is entirely struck down as plaintiffs seek --- and as the lower court judge already ruled should happen.

Finally, there was a flurry of breaking news coming over the wires as we spoke with Millhiser today, including Democrats in the House scuttling a vote on Articles of Impeachment against Trump; the House voting to hold AG William Barr and Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt and MA prosecutors dismissing sex assault charges against actor Kevin Spacey. And then we close today with a few thoughts on the House Dems successful vote on Tuesday for a resolution finding Donald Trump's (legally) racist tweets attacking four freshmen Congresswomen of color were, in fact, racist, and on the 4 Republicans in the 197-seat GOP House caucus willing to vote in favor of that resolution...

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

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