On today's BradCast: The President's defense team wrapped up their Opening (and, they hope, Closing) Argument in the Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald J. Trump on Tuesday, even as we are now less than one week away from the official start of the 2020 Election season with worries about the integrity of the Iowa Caucuses, set for Monday night, February 3rd, now looming. [Audio link to show follows below.]
We break away momentarily, for the first half of today's program, from our ongoing coverage of the Impeachment Trial to cover some issues of concern for some, regarding the Iowa Caucuses and an arguably more troubling development regarding an election that is now underway in Washington state. First to Iowa, where Bernie Sanders is now said to have taken a slight lead, according to most of the recent polling in the Hawkeye State, over his nearest competitors, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. At the same time, a number of listeners have written to express concerns about a smartphone app developed by the state Democratic Party to help report results quickly to Party headquarters on Caucus night.
We discuss the way Democrats caucus in Iowa, what this app --- developed by the state Party in secret --- is supposedly designed to do to assist in the otherwise-open Democratic caucus process, and the worries that some have about the possibility of this new app being hacked to report inaccurate caucus results on Monday night. (Misreporting of Caucus night results has caused problems in the past, at least for Republicans.)
Of far greater concern, however, is an election underway right now in the Seattle area where more than a million voters are eligible to cast their vote via the Internet for the first time on either a computer or smart phone. The first-of-its-kind online election will fill a vacancy on the board of the obscure King Conservation District, responsible for managing natural resources in King County, Washington. The online voting is being carried out in partnership between the County's Board of Elections and a nonprofit named Tusk Philanthropies, headed up by a venture capitalist and Democratic political strategist by the name of Bradley Tusk.
The landmark pilot election comes despite a years-long, nearly-unanimous consensus from cybsersecurity experts (we've interviewed tons of them over the years on The BradCast) that the Internet is nowhere near secure enough for public elections. It also comes in the wake of last Summer's bipartisan U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's report finding all 50 states were targeted by Russia during the 2016 election, and the panel's recommendation that "States should resist pushes for online voting".
While she has no oversight of this particular election, Washington's top election official, Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, opposes the King County effort and hopes to roll back the use of electronic ballots in the state, charging (correctly!) that the Internet is "too risky for voting". Nonetheless, Tusk, King County Elections Director Julie Wise, and a Seattle company named Democracy Live are barreling ahead with this disturbing experiment that is set to further poison the all-too-quickly disappearing idea of publicly overseeable elections in the U.S.
You have been warned. Again.
Then, its back to impeachment today, at the end of Tuesday's brief, two-hour wrap up of the President's case in the Senate. Trump's attorneys argued largely that the President did nothing wrong, and even if he did, it's not impeachable, because the dispute boils down to little more than a "policy disagreement" between Democrats and the White House. Impeachment over such matters, Trump's bombastic TV/radio lawyer Jay Sekulow and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone argued, sets a dangerous precedent by lowering the bar on future Presidential impeachments.
But the biggest looming question over the U.S. Senate at the moment is whether four or more Republican Senators will agree to call for witnesses when they vote again on the matter later in the week, following two days of written questions for the attorneys on both side. The issue that has turned the Republicans' previous plans for a quick acquittal on its head is the reported bombshell claims by Trump's former National Security Advisor John Bolton, in the manuscript of his still-unpublished new book, that Trump did exactly what he is being accused of in the first of the two Articles of Impeachment. That Article charges Abuse of Power by Trump for withholding nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine in order to force them to help Trump in his reelection bid by announcing an investigation of Joe Biden and other Democrats.
Bolton's explosive disclosure, first reported on Sunday night by the New York Times, has reverberated ever since, with Trump's former Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, asserting on Monday night that he believes Bolton and agrees he should be called in as a witness for the trial against his old boss. The shake-up also comes as a new national poll out on Tuesday afternoon from Quinnipiac finds that registered voters by an astounding margin of 75 to 20 percent, agree that witnesses should be allowed to testify. The tally includes nearly half of Republicans and an astonishing 75 percent of Independent voters. According to the new survey, more than half of those polled believe Trump "is not telling the truth about his actions involving Ukraine"; should "provide more details" about it; has "abused his power" in the matter; has "obstructed Congress" in the bargain; and that the "withholding of U.S. aid to Ukraine was not justified". All of which has left Republicans reeling in a panic to find the votes needed to block witnesses in the trial. But they're still trying, and will likely have until Friday to pull it off.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, filled with several ongoing plagues, catastrophes and warnings of nearly biblical proportion...
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