On today's BradCast: With media reports on Thursday that online "Trump trolls" were making hundreds of calls to tie up the Iowa Democratic Party's results hotline after Monday's Caucuses in order to hold up results and embarrass Democrats, we're joined for an exclusive interview today with stakiomeone who knows a thing or two about such plots. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
In 2002, ALLEN RAYMOND, a then decade-long Republican operative and owner of a GOP phone-bank company, was hired to lead a scheme to tie up the Democratic Get Out the Vote phone lines during that year's very tight New Hampshire U.S. Senate race between Republican John Sununu and the state's then-Governor, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. The now-infamous scandal, which included thousands of automated phone calls to prevent Dems from carrying out their GOTV phone-banking effort, ended with a narrow win by Sununu that year. But the scheme was uncovered and four GOP operatives, were eventually convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, taking part in the RNC-funded effort. Raymond was one of them. He pleaded guilty and ended up serving 3 months in federal prison. In 2008, the contrite former operative published a book about that exploit and others during his time as a senior consultant to the Party called How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative.
Raymond joins us today to discuss the 2002 plot in NH, how it came about, and what was behind it, as well as to offer his thoughts about what we should know regarding whatever may have happened to the Democratic Party's hotline on Monday night in Iowa. He is skeptical about whether a few "trolls" on a popular rightwing Internet message board could effectively tie up enough lines to create the kind of chaos that ensued in Iowa, suggesting that its possible the scheme may be larger than currently reported.
"That takes a fairly sustained, collaborated, concerted effort," he explains. "So the question it raises in my mind is, can that happen organically?" Without making any allegations, he is calling for an immediate law enforcement investigation which he says should be able to quickly uncover the source of the phone harassment, the same felony for which he pleaded guilty to years ago in the RNC's NH scheme. "It raises enough suspicion of a coordinated effort that it's worth looking at."
It wouldn't be the first time in even recent months that an emboldened RNC has carried out a similar phone scheme against Democrats. As the New York Times reported last November, Republicans attempted to swamp Congressional Democratic phone lines with thousands of automated calls during the early stages of Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry.
Raymond also shares his thoughts on what has become of the Republican Party in recent years since he was thrown under the bus when the NH plot was uncovered (he is now a registered Democrat); how he and other political operatives justify such dirty tricks and/or illegalities when taking these kind of unsavory and/or unlawful actions in order to win elections; and what American voters should be concerned about as the 2020 election progresses under a Republican Party headed by a vengeful, recently-impeached President.
"This phone disruption effort occurring in the very first contest of the presidential nominating process leading up to November's general election, should be reason enough" to be concerned, he tells me. "If it's happening on the first one, and nothing's done, we're sending a signal that this is the new norm, it's okay, that you will not be punished or prosecuted for this kind of conduct. That's why, at minimum, an aggressive investigation should occur to determine what exactly happened, for the purposes of protecting against the same conduct in the future. Because by not prosecuting, by not investigating, the signal is being sent: 'Hey, we all agree that that stinks but that's okay, go ahead and do it because law enforcement is not going to come knocking on your door.'"
"A republic's center of gravity is its electoral process," Raymond warns. "And if our electoral process is compromised --- whether it be from domestic actors or foreign actors --- that's reason enough to do whatever you can to protect it."
Please tune in for this full, fascinating conversation with someone who has quite a bit of insight on many aspects of all of these matters.
Also on today's show: With the New Hampshire primary days away, AP announces that the chaotic results of Monday in Iowa will prevent them from calling a winner in the Democratic Caucuses, but that doesn't stop us from doing so; Antarctica hits an all-time record 65 degrees, underscoring, yet again, the need to replace a President who is a menace not only to the country's future, but to the entire planet's; Trump fires patriotic Iraq War vet and National Security Counsel Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alex Vindman and his million-dollar donor EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland for testifying truthfully during the U.S. House Impeachment inquiry; and Steven Colbert has a few thoughts about Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)'s courage and unprecedented vote against Trump in this past week's Senate Impeachment trial...
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