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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, September 29, 2022
KS Abortion Referendum Data Suggest Women Being Under-Counted in Midterm Polling: 'BradCast' 9/28/22
Guest: Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Hurricane Ian storms ashore in FL...
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Ian takes aim at Florida; Fiona broke records in Canada; Noru pummels Philippines; Winter fuel prices soar; PLUS: Pacific Island nations call for fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at U.N.
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'Gold Standard' SCOTUS Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Expansion of High Court: 'BradCast' 9/26/22
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Be sure to check PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons before crossing state borders. You're welcome!...
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It's National Voter Registration Day!
(Who Knew?): 'BradCast' 9/20/22
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Guest: National security journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel.net...
[UPDATED with link to full transcript of interview with Wheeler.]
By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2022 6:34pm PT  

The big time former federal prosecutors are only just now beginning to catch up to what our guest on today's BradCast has been saying all along: Merrick Garland's Department of Justice is, in fact, on the job and Donald Trump is, in fact, in their sights. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

At The Atlantic today, Ronald Reagan's former Deputy Solicitor General and George H.W. Bush's Deputy Attorney General, Donald Ayer, along with former Asst. Attorney General for the Civil Division at DoJ, Stuart M. Gerson, and former federal prosecutor and Chief Asst. City Attorney in San Francisco, Dennis Aftergut, declared that, after seven public hearings by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection and Trump's multiple attempts to steal the election, "The evidence is now overwhelming that Donald Trump was the driving force behind a massive criminal conspiracy to interfere with the official January 6 congressional proceeding and to defraud the United States of a fair election outcome."

The three prosecutors, two of whom served in Republican Administrations, observe that "This was Trump's project all along" and there is now more than enough evidence to prosecute the disgraced former President. "The damage to America’s future that would be inflicted by giving him a pass far outweighs the risks of prosecuting him," they write, "And the tradition of not prosecuting a former president must yield to the manifest need to protect our constitutional form of government and to assure that the violent effort to overthrow it is never repeated."

At New York Times earlier this week, Andrew Weissman, a long time federal prosecutor of high profile criminal conspiracies and a senior prosecutor on the Special Counsel team that investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, argues that Garland's "bottom up" investigation --- working the way up the food chain from the hundreds of dupes on the ground on January 6, through the rightwing extremist militia group participants like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, now facing seditious conspiracy charges, to those in Trump's inner-circle --- is too slow, difficult and ultimately too narrow. He calls instead for a "hub and spoke conspiracy" probe, now that it's clear Trump was at the "hub" of multiple criminal "spokes" in his attempts to steal the 2020 election. January 6 was just one such "spoke".

Our guest today, however, who has perhaps been following every single indictment, federal court filing, and shred of available evidence as close or closer than anyone on the planet, has long been arguing that Garland's DoJ has been doing all of the above, and for some time --- whether the big time former federal prosecutors have finally gotten around to noticing or not.

MARCY WHEELER, the prolific independent national security journalist from Emptywheel.net, is a long time friend who has been joining us on the show for many months now, often to counter the many critics of Garland. She has long argued the DoJ is, in fact, on the case, and has a number of criticisms of Weissman's much-cited critique of the Department's probe.

She argues DoJ has long been carrying out a very broad investigation of the sort that Weissman is now calling for. In addition to the hundreds of grunts on the ground and dozens of seditious conspirators from the militia groups already charged, the Department has also been deliberately collecting a wide swath of critical evidence from members of Trump's inner-circle --- from Rudy Giuliani to Roger Stone to Michael Flynn to Sidney Powell to John Eastman to Mark Meadows and beyond.

Today's conversation, as usual with Wheeler, is complex and far-reaching. We discuss where folks like Weissman have been missing the big picture, and we discuss what she has learned from the Select Committee's hearings and where they still have information to learn themselves.

But the bottom line is this: Wheeler believes "there is plenty of evidence to prove that Donald J. Trump conspired and, himself, did obstruct the vote certification on January 6th," but that the DoJ "will not charge it...until they get a couple of more things in place." Those things, namely, are "four people," one of whom, she notes, the Trump camp itself believes "is about to go to prison."

Tune in to find out who those people are, and when Wheeler believes charges for Trump are likely to come down --- from someone who has been far ahead of the curve on all of this for the past year and a half or so. (Oh, and yes, she tells us that Steve Bannon, whose trial on criminal Contempt of Congress charges begins next week, is indeed in trouble too. "Probably more trouble than he knows.")

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

Update 7/21/2022: Our friend "Spocko" was so impressed by Marcy's commentary in this episode that he created a full text transcript of my interview with her. He says he used AI to do it, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of it, but thought it might be helpful to some if I posted that link to it here for archival and posterity purposes.

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Special Coverage with Heather Digby Parton of Salon, David Faris of Roosevelt University...
By Brad Friedman on 7/12/2022 6:43pm PT  

It was Day 7 of public hearings for the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee probe of Donald Trump's January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and his multiple failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential Election. We've got full Special Coverage once again on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

If you've been turning away over the past week or so, we've got a quick recap of "our story so far" at the top of today's show, summing up the key elements of the six previous public hearings by the Committee. In short, to sum up that summary, Donald Trump knew everything and was personally involved in everything. He knew there was no fraud of note in the 2020 election, as all of his top advisers and legal experts told him as much, but he continued to lie about it anyway. He knew that his efforts to reverse election results to steal the election from Joe Biden in various swing-states and at the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021 were unlawful and/or Constitutional. Again, we've been shown that all his top advisers told him as much. He relentlessly pushed for it anyway. And he knew that calling his supporters to D.C. on January 6 and directing them to march on the Capitol would result in violence led by armed extremist groups. He was advised against it, but he did it anyway.

Today's hearing picked up on Trump's "call to arms" to his supporters. It came in the middle of the night in his now-infamous "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!" tweet, issued just hours after an insane, "unhinged", hours-long December 18, 2020 White House meeting with his personal crackpot attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, his felonious former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne (for some reason) and a bunch of White House attorneys. The latter angrily tried to derail the MAGA coup plotters plans to have the President issue an Executive Order to seize the nation's voting machines and install Powell as a Special Counsel to investigate fraud and issue arrests. Even Trump loyalist and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone --- who finally testified to the Committee last Friday --- said he "vehemently opposed" the "terrible idea." That, after repeatedly asking for any evidence of fraud and being shown none at all.

That bonkers meeting, and its fallout --- resulting in the tweet that "electrified and galvanized" his supporters immediately thereafter --- was detailed in the first part of today's hearing, with mountains of evidence and video-taped testimony. The second part covered what happened next, as the extremist groups which supported Trump, including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers (the leaders of which have already been indicted for seditious conspiracy), descended on D.C., planning for the violence --- and much worse --- that eventually occurred.

The Committee shared video of Trump's media supporters, immediately after his "will be wild!" tweet, calling on their own followers to join them in D.C., including rightwing conspiracy radio host Alex Jones and others. One called for "storming right into the Capitol," noting "the rules of engagement: If you have enough people, you can push down any fence or wall." Another vowed "There are gonna be a million, geeked-up armed Americans" coming to occupy D.C. in response to Trump's call.

All of that, weeks before Trump eventually directed them to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6 in what, the Committee showed through several draft tweets and speeches, was absolutely not a spontaneous ad-lib made by Trump during his remarks on the Ellipse. The armed march on the Capitol was the plan all along.

On the night before the attack, according to White House call logs obtained and revealed by the Committee today, Trump's disgraced former aide Steve Bannon took to his "War Room" podcast just after a conversation with the then President to declare: "All hell is going to break lose tomorrow. It's all converging and now we're on the point of attack. It's not gonna happen how you think it's going to happen. It's gonna be quite extraordinarily different and all I can say is strap in."

One witness at the end of today's hearing were Jason Van Tatenhove, an independent journalist turned self-described Oath Keepers propagandist, who says he left the group 5 years ago after seeing them become more and more racist and violent. The other was Stephen Ayers, a January 6 rioter and Trump believer. He was not tied to any of the extremist groups. He was just a guy, "a family man" who answered Trump's call to come to D.C. and "fight like hell" to "save the country" as he believed Trump needed him to do. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct at the Capitol and now regrets every part of it, believes it was all a con, but has since lost his job and much more after having fallen for Trump's Big --- violent, deadly --- Lie.

Today's hearing came to a close with another Liz Cheney cliff-hanger. This time she revealed that Trump had attempted to contact one of the Committee's witnesses following their last hearing. "We will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously," vowed the Committee's Republican Vice Chair, adding that the Justice Department had been notified about the apparent witness tampering by the disgraced former President.

Joining us to make sense of all of this today are, once again, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullaballoo, joined this time by DAVID FARIS, Associate Professor of Political Science at Roosevelt University and a contributor to both Newsweek and The Week.

"They've been setting up the various strands," Parton explains, describing today's hearing focused on Trump's directives to his violent supporters, as she cited Andrew Weissman's recent "'hub and spoke' conspiracy" op-ed at NYTimes. "There were a number of different spokes going out from the Oval Office, which included the 'voter fraud,' the fake electors, the DOJ, Mike Pence. This was one of the spokes, and it's a huge one, because it is the spoke that leads from the White House and the Oval Office to the insurrection on January 6th. That part of the whole coup plot, the conspiracy to keep Trump in office come what may, that was a huge one."

"Big picture, I think these hearings have a number of different purposes. One is to provide concrete evidence of a systematic and sustained effort to extra-constitutionally overturn the results of the 2020 election," Faris observes. "Stealing the election. That's a coup. We've learned a lot more during these hearings about the mechanics of the coup. The bottom line is that the people who were putting these plans into motion knew perfectly well that they were illegal."

He also notes that he believes these hearings are likely to spur the DoJ into action. "There are a lot of little Trump lieutenants running for office who are planning to do things like manipulate the vote in 2024, or use extra-constitutional procedures to install a Republican candidate for President into office," Faris tells us. "There are a lot of people who are contemplating committing crimes in another conspiracy against the United States, and if you do not show them there are consequences to the people who did it the first time, I don't see how those people can draw any other conclusion then that they'll get away with it. I wish that we were not in this position where we have to talk about indicting a former President. It's not great. But I don't think he can be allowed to skate without really jeopardizing our democracy."

Lots more on today's show, of course, from the hearing itself and via smart analysis from Parton and Faris as, yes, the walls continue to close in on Donald J. Trump...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Special coverage of Cassidy Hutchinson's explosive testimony with Crooks and Liars' John Amato, Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2022 5:29pm PT  

There was one bombshell after another during Tuesday's "surprise" Day 6 hearing by the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating Donald Trump's January 6, 2021 insurrection and his many attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election. We cover as many of those bombshells as possible on today's BradCast Special Coverage. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

From the then President of the United States trying to commandeer the steering wheel of the Presidential limo ("The Beast") to force the driver to take him to the Capitol on 1/6, to his attempt to choke the top member of his Secret Service detail in the car, to smashing ketchup-drenched china plates against the wall of the Oval Office dining room when his Attorney General told AP there was no evidence of fraud in the 2020 election, to Rudy Giuliani and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows seeking pardons for their failed roles in helping Trump prevent the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in U.S. history.

Those were just some of the bombshells delivered during Tuesday's remarkable testimony by 25-year old White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, who served as Meadow's top deputy before, during and after the January 6 insurrection. She, apparently, was everywhere that he was. Her office was just feet from the Oval Office. She was even next to Trump just moments before he gave his infamous "fight like hell" speech on the Ellipse in front of the White House on Insurrection Day, as his supporters bearing AR-15s were climbing trees and scaring the hell out of the Secret Service.

There was more from both Hutchinson and the House Committee today, including evidence that Trump and Meadows seemed to be hoping for violence that day and did nothing to stop it as the deadly insurrection unfolded and as his Cabinet members were considering invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

And then there were the teasers...for future hearings...regarding mafioso-like messages delivered to witnesses testifying before the House Select Committee...

From one witness: "What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I'm on the team, I'm doing the right thing, I'm protecting who I need to protect, you know, I'll continue to stay in good graces in Trump World. And they have reminded me a couple of times that Trump does read transcripts and just to keep that in mind as I proceeded through my depositions and interviews with the committee."

A message to a witness: "[A person] let me know you have your deposition tomorrow. He wants me to let you know that he's thinking about you. He knows you're loyal, and you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition."

Who were the witnesses in question? Who was the goon attempting to tamper and intimidate them? Both matters would be federal crimes. Those questions will, presumably, be revealed in future hearings.

Lots to cover in today's special coverage, whether you saw the mind-blowing Day 6 hearing or not, which seem to be freaking out Trump World now. I hope you'll tune in for smart insight and analysis from our guests today, Salon and Hullaballoo's HEATHER DIGBY PARTON and Crooks and Liars' JOHN AMATO. (And some, even from me who, as Parton vouches, explained to her the likelihood of Hutchinson becoming a superstar witness in these hearings weeks ago, before the public hearings even began. Just sayin'.)

Notes Amato, who monitors Fox "News" closely for coverage at his blog: "Today was the first day of testimony that broke through their veil." He quotes Fox anchor Brett Baier observing, "I've been around politics a long time, and this was, first-hand, the most riveting, powerful testimony from anything I've ever seen since Watergate."

"I think she was incredible," Parton says regarding Hutchinson. "This testimony shook up the complacency that these hearings were really not going to end up doing much of anything. All you have to do is look up Trump's reaction. He's having a complete and total hissy fit over this, so you can tell he's concerned. What she ended up doing was giving this inside view that everyone's been waiting to get. Not just what he was doing, not just on January 6th, but in the days ahead. And Mark Meadows and what he was doing."

"That is super-important to proving the case. In my view, I think we're coming to is a case of seditious conspiracy, involving not just the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, but also Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani and ultimately Donald Trump," she tells us...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Pro Left Podcast's 'Driftglass'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/21/2022 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Special Coverage of gripping Day 4 public testimony in the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee's investigation of the January 6th insurrection and Donald Trump's repeatedly failed attempts to steal the 2020 election from the American people. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) led the bulk of the questioning of witnesses on Tuesday, observing at one point that "the system held, but barely", thanks to "people of courage, Republicans and Democrats, who put their oath to the country and Constitution above any other consideration."

We may take some issue with part of that on tomorrow's BradCast, with a guest who may rebut at least some of the testimony offered by the two Republican state officials from Georgia who testified on Tuesday, Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger and Deputy Sec. of State (who served as the voting system manager in 2020) Gabriel Sterling. But there should be no question of the selflessness of the two other live witnesses, Arizona's Republican state House Speaker Rusty Bowers and now-former Fulton County, GA election worker Wandrea "Shaye" Moss.

All four of them endured unrelenting and unforgivable attacks and threats and lies from Trump --- and from his attorney Rudy Giuliani and their mobs of thuggish supporters --- in his criminal attempts to fraudulently flip the results of the 2020 election in both of the swing-states focused on today. In the case of Moss in Atlanta, as one of our guests suggests today, she and her mother, Ruby Freeman (and eventually even her grandmother), were targets of nothing less than "a form of terrorism" by the President of the United States. All for the crime, as Moss explained, of "doing my job." It was a job that she loved. For ten years. Because she was able to help people vote. Now, as she testified this afternoon, she's barely able to leave the house, is constantly forced to look over her shoulder more than a year and a half since the election, is afraid to go out with her mother (for fear she might mention her name out loud), has gained 60 pounds, and has left her job for Fulton County that she loved so much. The terror visited on her and her mother was too much to bear.

Moss and Freeman were the targets of the oft-repeated Trump/Giuliani lie that they had hidden ballots in a "suitcase" under a table at the State Farm Arena counting room in Atlanta on Election Night, before "physically" forcing observers and the media to leave the room, and then counting those fraudulent ballots ("all for Joe Biden," as Trump lied) multiple times. All of those claims were easily rebutted lies. All of them. As Raffensperger and Sterling (who both voted for Trump) and even Trump's own advisors told him repeatedly. Trump knew they were lies, even before he continued to repeat them over and over, mentioning Ruby Freeman's name 18 times during his infamous recorded phone call with Raffensperger, threatening him with potential criminal penalties if he didn't "find" 11,780 votes --- one more than Trump needed --- to steal the election from Biden in the Peach State.

Bowers, also a Trump voter in Arizona, faced similar lies --- about hundreds of thousands of votes cast by undocumented immigrants and thousands of dead voters --- as he refused Trump's entreaties to convene a special session of the state legislature in order to select Electors for the disgraced President instead of the ones for Biden that the state's voters actually voted for. Bowers, elected to the state legislature in 1993, refused to violate the law and his sacred oath to both the state and U.S. constitutions.

It was an emotional --- and, at times, harrowing --- day in the hearing room, as the House panel laid out the pathetic story of the loser Trump's relentless attempts to force local officials to do his unlawful bidding, to trick several swing-state Republicans into signing up as fraudulent Electors, and as he threatened those who wouldn't play ball with the violence of his mobs.

We're joined today for our special coverage with smart analysis of the entire hearing by old-school progressive bloggers HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo and "DRIFTGLASS" of the Professional Left Podcast.

"What we're seeing over and over again [is that] Donald Trump was deeply, deeply immersed in this. He was calling these legislators and basically trying to order them to overturn the election on his behalf," Parton observers. "But there is also this undercurrent here that we're seeing through all of this, that this was always leading to violence. The violence was building from the time of the election. What [the Committee] did today, in particular, was talking about the threats of violence to all of these people. [Trump and his supporters] were inciting a form of terrorism against these people."

As Driftglass characterizes the case being laid bare by the Committee to date: "Donald Trump was the ringleader of this. He's the 'don'. He's the man calling the shots, dispatching his men into the field to threaten everybody. This is an army of raptors testing the fence --- 'Where can we find a break?' --- with the intention in mind at all times to retain power by any means necessary. And it was very clear that behind this was a mob of Brownshirts. He made it clear how deeply he was enjoying the idea scaring the crap out of people and ruining their lives for daring to stand in his way of holding onto power."

"Today was heartbreaking," he argues. "How could you be a citizen, love democracy, and watch these two very different people --- this old, bald, white guy, and these lovely African-American mother and daughter --- who go to very different churches, I'm sure, but have the same reverence for the Constitution and fidelity to duty, and believe this is a holy, sacred thing they're doing, and how completely they were undercut by that."

There is, of course, much much more in our coverage today. I hope you'll tune in...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Roosevelt University political scientist David Faris...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2020 6:00pm PT  

While it seemed impossible previously, Republicans in the U.S. Senate appear to have outdone their phony confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in late 2018, with their sham Impeachment "trial" of Donald John Trump. As we went to air for today's BradCast, the Senate was preparing to vote on whether witnesses would be blocked from a Senate Impeachment Trial for the first time in U.S. History. By the time we got off air, the shameful, dirty deed was done. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The day of the fateful vote began with yet another explosive piece of breaking news from the New York Times, reporting that Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton's forthcoming book charges that "More than two months before he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate his political opponents" Trump directed Bolton "to help with his pressure campaign to extract damaging information on Democrats from Ukrainian officials, according to an unpublished manuscript by Mr. Bolton." Moreover, the paper reports, Bolton describes an Oval Office conversation on the matter in early May of 2019 "that included the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and the White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, who is now leading the president’s impeachment defense."

Yes, that's right. The Trump attorney now leading his defense in the Senate trial, who has accused Democratic House Managers of "hiding the facts" in their arguments in favor of two Articles of Impeachment against Trump, is now allegedly a co-conspirator in the very plot that resulted in only the third impeachment of a U.S. President in history. Little wonder they'd prefer to have no witnesses testify.

Bolton has stated he would be willing to testify in the trial, as has Lev Parnas, a right-hand man to Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal lawyer at the center of the scheme to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations of Joe Biden before Trump would agree to a White House meeting or release $391 million in military assistance to war torn Ukraine. On Friday morning, Parnas' attorney submitted a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, explaining his client's willingness to testify at the trial with relevant information that alleges Trump, Mulvaney, Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General William Barr, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Senator Lindsey Graham, Congressman Devon Nunes and many others worked on Trump's plot to force Ukraine to help him undermine the 2020 Presidential election. So, yes, as Gordon Sondland said weeks ago, "everyone was in the loop. So, yeah, no witnesses please and thanks.

Despite all of that astonishing news --- and all that has come before it --- by the end of today's program, Republicans in the U.S. Senate, by a vote of 51 to 49, would vote to block subpoenas for all witnesses and documents in the Impeachment Trial, for the first time in U.S. history. Only two Republican Senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, were willing to cross the aisle to vote with all 47 Democrats to call for witnesses. We discuss the pathetic excuses offered by supposedly "moderate" GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and the retiring Lamar Alexander of Tennessee for voting against witnesses. That vote now paves the way for an acquittal vote for the President. One of the few remaining questions by show's end was when that vote may come. As of this hour, it may now happen next Wednesday, the day after the President's State of the Union Address on Tuesday night --- but we'll see.

Another major question of note is what price, if any, Republicans may ultimately pay for what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer described after the vote as the GOP's act of "perfidy...where the Senate did not live up to its responsibilities, turned away from truth, and went along with a sham trial." With "no witnesses and no documents", he described the proceedings as "not a real trial" and "a tragedy on a grand scale."

We're joined today by DAVID FARIS, Associate Professor of Political Science at Roosevelt University, author of It's Time to Fight Dirty, to discuss today's historic events, and his two most recent columns at The Week, where he is a regular contributor. In one, he finds fault with the House Democrats' strategy of sending over the Articles to the Senate too quickly and, in the other, with McConnell's strategy of blocking witnesses. Faris describes the latter as a "rare blunder" for the Republican leader and explains why. I disagree with him on the latter, as he and I discuss what all of this may now mean for Republicans, for Democrats, for the President and for the voters who will kick off the 2020 Presidential Election in Iowa this coming Monday.

"I don't know that there's anybody who could look at the Senate this week and say that a fair trial happened here," Faris tells me. "What McConnell did was he handed Democrats a bat to beat them with for the next eleven months about the legitimacy of the trial in the Senate."

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Guest: Martin Longman of Washington Monthly and Progress Pond...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2020 6:31pm PT  

Our special coverage of the ongoing U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump continues on today's BradCast following Tuesday's marathon session that ended at nearly 2am in the nation's capital, before beginning again with opening arguments on Wednesday. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

On Tuesday, Republicans voted repeatedly along party lines to block 11 different amendments proposed by Democrats to allow for various first-hand witnesses to Trump's alleged High Crimes and Misdemeanors and documents being withheld by the White House that underscore other evidence in the two Articles of Impeachment.

Republican Senators blocked amendments proposed by Democrats to subpoena documents from White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; Documents from the State Department detailing the President's call with Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelinsky, as Trump withheld military assistance and a White House meeting in hopes of strong-arming Ukraine's new anti-corruption President to announce (not to carry out, just to announce) investigations into Trump's potential 2020 political rival Joe Biden; Documents from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which the President illegally ordered to withhold nearly $400 million in Congressionally-appropriated military assistance; Documents from the Pentagon where officials were reportedly troubled about potential violations of law in withholding the funds; a subpoena for Mulvaney himself to give testimony in the trial; A subpoena to two OMB staffers who carried out the hold on military assistance to the war-torn country; A subpoena for Trump's own former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who regarded Trump's Ukraine scheme as a "drug deal" and who has said he'd be willing to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate because, as he claims, he knows more about all of this than is currently publicly known.

In vote after vote, Republicans voted as a block, with 53 votes, to deny every Amendment offered by Democrats, even against ensuring votes for subpoenas at a later date or to have the Chief Justice authorize subpoenas if the Republican-appointed John Roberts, who presides over the trial, felt any particular witness or document would have probative value by being relevant to the case. "One side is not afraid of a fair trial," lead House Manager Adam Schiff argued, "one is terrified" that the truth might come out.

Meanwhile, Trump offered false comments to reporters overseas at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he echoed his previous lies that he would "love" to have Bolton and Mulvaney and his Sec. of State Mike Pompeo and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry testify at the Senate trial, but he just can't allow it due to "national security" and "executive privilege" concerns.

Back home, the White House team's public defense at the first day of the trial was not well received, even by Republicans, including Chris Wallace of Fox "News" (which is now, unlike actual news outlets like CNN and MSNBC, breaking away during trial coverage for commercials and regular programming, while leaving the impeachment proceedings in a little silent box in the corner of the screen), the House Republicans' own Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, and George Conway, the longtime Republican attorney and activist husband of Trump's Senior White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway.

In a blistering interview with CNN on Wednesday, George Conway charged that Senate Republicans "don't want to hear the evidence because they know the truth, they know he's guilty"; that the charges against Trump are "much, much more serious" than those against Bill Clinton during his impeachment (on which Conway worked); that Trump is a "pathological liar" who "needs to be removed now" from office, because he is "thoroughly unfit for office". Kellyanne's husband also said that he is "deeply saddened" by what has happened to his Republican Party, but sees this historic event as a "moment of reckoning" for the nation and his party.

We're joined today by MARTIN LONGMAN (long known as "BooMan" to many old time progressive blog readers) from Washington Monthly and Progress Pond, for commentary as the Democratic House Managers begin their first day of opening arguments (which could also be their closing arguments if Republicans vote again next week to block witness subpoenas following the White House attorneys' opening argument). We also discuss the rules for McConnell's "scam trial" and why it is that Republicans seem to "lose every round and still win on the scorecard" --- not just in this matter, but going back as far as the Florida 2000 election.

Finally, we close with a few audio clips from Tuesday, when Democratic House Manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler accurately charged that Trump's lawyers "lie and lie and lie and lie", and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said in response --- with a straight face --- that "President Trump is a man of his word." The heated late-night exchange resulted in a reprimand for both sides as Tuesday's marathon 13-hour session drew toward its close.

But we close today with a clip from Rep. Schiff's opening argument, citing a chillingly apt warning from founder Alexander Hamilton about "a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents...despotic in his ordinary demeanour [and] known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty [who] is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty --- to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion --- to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day --- It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind."

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Republican Senate votes to block document, witness subpoenas as White House offers remarkably hypocritical defense...
By Brad Friedman on 1/21/2020 6:10pm PT  

"Can I get a witness?" That appears to be the big question, at the moment, for Democrats in the historic U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial of President Donald John Trump. On today's BradCast, we offer special coverage of the beginning of the trial, which, at least for today, is turning out to be a trial about whether there will be a real trial or not, with evidence, documents and witnesses, as Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus seem prepared to do everything in their power to ensure there will not be such an actual trial. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Before we get to today's action in the Senate, we bring you up to date on the holiday weekend's pre-trial briefs presented by the Democratic U.S. House Managers, who are serving as prosecutors for Trump's two Articles of Impeachment on Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress, and the brief responses filed by the White House defense team.

Newly added to to Trump's legal team is hypocritical TV attorney Alan Dershowitz, who spent his weekend arguing on the Sunday news shows that the Articles were invalid because they did not include a specific crime. "You need proof of an actual crime," he argued. That, by way of contrast with Alan Dershowitz in 1998 during the Bill Clinton impeachment when he argued, literally, "it certainly doesn't have to be a crime" that qualifies a President for impeachment.

Trump's 6-page response to the Impeachment Managers 111-page brief describes the Impeachment as a "brazen and unlawful attempt to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with the 2020 election" (which is what he is actually accused of doing in the Articles for which he is being impeached), and as "nothing more than a dangerous attack on the American people themselves and their fundamental right to vote." That's right. Donald Trump is now pretending to be concerned with the "fundamental right to vote." That, in the middle of an impeachment trial where he is accused of attempting to cheat in his 2020 reelection contest by withholding hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military aid for war-torn Ukraine in hopes of forcing them to create dirt he can use against Joe Biden and other Democrats.

Tuesday's opening agenda was on the adoption of McConnell's proposed rules for the trial that would postpone votes on whether to include witnesses and documents previously blocked by the White House during the House's initial impeachment inquiry (the basis of Article 2's Obstruction of Congress charges) and even evidence gathered during the House Inquiry itself. Under McConnell's resolution, both sides would spend days in opening statements, and then take as many as 16 hours of written questions from Senators before they even vote on whether to allow witnesses or not. Legal observers have noted that is the opposite of how actual trials are carried out.

We share audio from today's terse opening statement by White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, followed by an extended excerpt from lead House Manager Adam Schiff on the unprecedented attempt to exclude all witnesses and documents from a Senate impeachment. No trial in the upper chamber of Congress has lacked witnesses since the founding of our nation.

As we went to air for today's BradCast (and as we write tonight), all Democratic amendments to McConnell's resolution, attempting to subpoena documents from the White House, the State Dept. and elsewhere, and for witness testimony, have been rejected along strict party line votes with all 53 Republicans voting to table the amendments, and all 47 Democrats voting to move forward with the subpoenas.

Also today, a few quick points of news elsewhere regarding the public fight to stop the controversial certification of new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in Los Angeles County and the massive gun rights demonstration (over nothing) held on the Martin Luther King Day holiday in Virginia.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with exceedingly disturbing news about ocean warming, slightly more encouraging news about Wall Street beginning to wake up to worries about our climate crisis, and a big loss (for now) in the federal climate change lawsuit filed by a group of kids in California...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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!... ---



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