Given the disturbing news out of a D.C. Appeals Court today in the Michael Flynn case, we begin today's BradCast with a few words of warning about what is likely to come between now and November 3rd (and even beyond), and how we all must now collectively approach that day in order to save this Republic. This is not a test. This is the real thing. And, as our darkest hour gets darker still --- and it will --- we must stay focused on the only thing that offers hope right now, the only thing that matters: making very real changes at the White House and Congress this November.
After that serious-as-a-heart-attack public service announcement/warning, we break down just why the surprise ruling by two Republican appointees to the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. today --- in response to an unprecedented motion by Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor and confessed federal felon Michael Flynn --- is so damning, dangerous and unprecedented.
The three-judge panel's majority ruling [PDF], ordering Flynn's case to be dismissed --- as Trump demanded and as corrupt Attorney General Bill Barr facilitated in opposition to the career prosecutors who successfully obtained Flynn's guilty plea (twice, before two different judges) --- was written by Judge Neomi Rao, a former White House staffer who Trump recently appointed as a federal appeals court judge. The entire matter is about as corrupt as it can get, but it may not be over yet. The full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals may decide to rehear Flynn's unprecedented motion, given "the question of exceptional importance" raised by the matter, as allowed by law. The lower U.S. District Court was not even allowed to hold a hearing on the Dept. of Justice's Motion to Dismiss their own case before Flynn filed for a writ of mandamus to force U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan to approve the DoJ's motion before it was even heard.
As Judge Robert Wilkins, the lone Democratic-appointed judge on the three-judge appellate panel wrote in his dissent, his colleagues "grievously" overstepped their judicial powers with their order. If the surprising ruling holds, it will, as BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernie Canning wrote last week, mean that the court has become "complicit in the President's corruption of the rule of law," which is "tantamount to an abandonment of the Judiciary's constitutional function to act as a check against Executive Branch abuses of power."
At the same time as that stunning order was issued by the D.C. Court of Appeals panel, two DoJ whistleblowers were testifying about similar cases of corruption at the Department by senior political appointees working at the behest of Barr and Trump in the case of Roger Stone, another Trump crony found guilty of lying to federal officials (just as Flynn had admitted he did as well) in relation to the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe into Russian inference in the 2016 election. We share some of today's disturbing testimony by Aaron Zelinsky, one of the career prosecutors who refused to sign off on the DoJ's attempt to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Stone, Trump's pal and longtime dirty-tricksters (found guilty here on all seven counts), despite what he described as "heavy pressure from the highest levels of the Department of Justice," including senior political appointees who, he alleged, were "afraid of the President."
"It’s very important that we recognize what’s happening now," warned Donald Ayer, another witness at today's hearing and a former Deputy Attorney General under George W. Bush. "What’s happening now is much worse than what happened in Watergate --- much worse. It’s across-the-board. It’s a systematic effort to undo the checks that were put in place in Watergate and others that existed in the Constitution. And we need to do something about it."
The corruption of the Flynn and Stone prosecutions are now so far off the rails from what the U.S. Department of Justice is supposed to stand for that it is difficult to fully express how much dark trouble this now portends for our nation. Thus, we have one hope left --- our last firewall against full-blown authoritarianism in this country --- this year's critical general elections. To that end, there were primaries held on Tuesday in Kentucky, New York and Virginia along with a few other key races elsewhere. We're joined today by longtime progressive political blogger and Congressional campaign expert HOWIE KLEIN of Down With Tyranny to discuss a number of election results from Tuesday in New York and Kentucky which appear to suggest some very good news for progressives. We say "appear" because several of those elections are currently reported to be very close and, due to the coronavirus (which had its single biggest day of new infections in the U.S. on Wednesday), it will take some time for officials to tally the unprecedented number of absentee mail-in ballots cast. We run through several of the key races with Klein (he details many more here today) why they matter, and how a number of them they are likely to scare the hell out of the establishment on both the Left and Right.
"There were wins and losses," Klein tells me. "It wasn't like the progressives wiped out the [Democratic] conservatives. But thank goodness it didn't go the other way. So yes, it was a good night for progressive Democrats."
Also worth a quick mention today: The 24-year old Republican dude named Madison Cawthorn, who defeated the Trump-endorsed candidate in the GOP runoff to become the nominee to fill former Congressman turned White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' seat in North Carolina. And ALL of the electronic pollbooks in Virginia Beach, Virginia's 100 precincts failed on Tuesday...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)