With the avalanche of news over the weekend and right up until airtime, we've got nothing but news on today's show. Most of it emanates out of Congress in one way or another, though we take a short side-journey to debunk a major lie over the weekend by Donald Trump. Even that, however, is ultimately about his fate in Congress as well. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Among the stories covered on today's wildly news-packed BradCast...
- Former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan died on Monday at age 66, after a three year battle with encephalitis. We share some thoughts on the distinguished record of public service from the state's first female Democratic Senator.;
- Former Democratic Rep. John Conyers died at the age of 90 on Sunday. The champion for civil rights and equal justice and longtime Chair of the House Judiciary Committee served 53-years in the House, making him the longest-serving African-American in Congressional history, before abruptly resigning in 2017 in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations which he refuted. He stated during his resignation that he believed he was unlikely to receive due process during the peak of the "#MeToo" era. We share a number of his many lasting accomplishments today, including his successful 15-year fight to adopt a national Martin Luther King Day holiday, a years-long effort he began just four days after the civil rights legends' assassination. (Conyers was the only candidate for Congress ever endorsed by MLK.) We also share a number of personal reflections on our years working with Conyers and his office in various ways at The BRAD BLOG, particularly during the darkest years of the George W. Bush Administration. (As mentioned on the program, here is the kind message he sent to the blog in 2005, and here is his guest blog from later that same year.);
- And, speaking of a lack of due process, rising-star freshman Rep. Katie Hill announced her own resignation from Congress on Sunday, less than a year after flipping the last Republican-controlled House seat in Los Angeles County in her 2018 election. The 32-year old California Democrat was granted a position on Leadership in the House and a plum position on the House Oversight Committee. However, allegations about an affair with a legislative staffer, which she denies, in violation of House rules was at the center of a complaint filed with the House Ethics Committee. The publication of illicit photographs and text messages attributed to the Congresswoman, which she charges were released by her estranged "abusive" husband, made her ability to fight the charges "untenable," according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who praised Hill. Seen as a voice for Millennial voters, Hill describes the released photos as unlawful "revenge porn," while many supporters feel she should not have stepped down;
- On the GOP side of the aisle, the woes are far worse. Yet another senior Republican House member, Rep. Greg Walden announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election, even as the Oregon lawmaker was thought likely to be reelected to long held seat in . He is the 19th House Republicans, many of them senior members who are current and former committee chairs, to declare their intent to retire next year, all but conceding that Republicans have little or no chance of winning back the U.S. House majority in 2020;
- On Sunday, Donald Trump announced that a targeted mission by U.S. special forces succeeded in killing long-sought ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria. After Trump's brief announcement, in which claimed that al-Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide vest and "died like a dog", "crying", "whimpering" and "screaming", Trump went on to sing his own praises during an insane question and answer period with the press for a good 45 minutes. He claimed that the killing of al-Baghdadi was a much bigger deal than the killing of Osama bin Laden during the Obama Administration, and that he, unlike anybody else, had called for the killing of bin Laden long before the 9/11 terror attacks, in his book "The America We Deserve".
Multiple fact-checks by multiple news outlets, however, detail that Trump did nothing of the kind in his book, where he barely referenced bin Laden in a single passage. He did not calling for him to be killed, though he did recognize him as "public enemy Number One," which also serves to debunk his own claim at the Sunday presser that "nobody had ever heard of Osama bin Laden" until 9/11. Trump's bizarre spectacle on Sunday, trumpeting his triumph and offering easily debunked false assertions, serves to add a question mark to his claims about al-Baghdaddi --- Russia's foreign ministry is dubious about the kill --- and otherwise serves to underscore what a horrible fact and character witness Donald Trump is for himself, given the ongoing impeachment inquiry he is now facing in the U.S. House;
- Speaking of which, former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman, who worked directly under former NSA John Bolton, failed to show up for his deposition before House impeachment investigators today, after seeking a ruling from a federal judge as to whether he was legally required to comply with a House subpoena. His testimony, if and when it happens, is expected to underscore concerns that Bolton reportedly had about the quid pro quo pressure campaign Trump was running against Ukraine while withholding nearly $400 million in military assistance to the country in exchange for a promise from its President to investigate 2020 candidate Joe Biden and a rightwing conspiracy theory concerning Ukraine's involvement in the 2016 Presidential election;
- The Ukraine scandal left Vice President Mike Pence going to extraordinary lengths to avoid answering --- four times --- a simple question on Face the Nation on Sunday as to whether or not he knew about the strong-arm scheme before Trump's infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as corroborated last week by the explosive testimony of top U.S. envoy to Ukraine Bill Taylor and, apparently, by others as well;
- All of which has left Republicans in the U.S. Senate wildly anxious about their own likely votes for or against Trump's removal from office in an impeachment trial, as they worry that independent voters may soon be turning against the President. According to a recent Reuters poll, they already are. Bigly.
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)