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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, May 23, 2022
Sunday 'The Replacements' Toons
It's PDiddie's latest irreplacable collection of the week's best toons!...
Longtime Election Observers Barred from Wake County, NC Count, Threatened with Arrest: 'BradCast' 5/20/22
Guests: Lynn Bernstein, John Brakey; Also: GA officials debunk 2000 Mules vote fraud claims...
GOP Sen. Candidates Used 'Replacement' Rhetoric of NY White Supremacist Shooter: 'BradCast' 5/19/22
Also: Cruz TX disbarment sought for 2020 steal effort; Young voters eager for 2022; MORE...
'Green News Report' 5/19/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
New U.N. climate change warning; Fossil fuel air pollution kills 50,000 per year in U.S.; Bloomberg's new clean air initiative; PLUS: Wildfires force national forest closures...
Recent GNRs: 5/17/22 - 5/12/22 - Archives...
Did GOP Election Officials Facilitate Vote Software Theft in GA?: 'BradCast' 5/18/22
'The system has been breached' says Marilyn Marks; Also: Primary results in NC, KY, OR, ID, PA...
'Widespread' Primary Day Vote System Failures in PA Counties: 'BradCast' 5/17/22
Also: Biden in Buffalo condemns racist lies spread 'for power, political gain and profit'...
'Green News Report' 5/17/22
U.S. wildfire risk doubling over next 30 years; Russia's energy and now food war; California hits 100% renewable electricity, as Texas struggles to keep the lights on...
'A Movement Not a Moment': Rev. Barber Says 'Consistency' Needed to Restore America: 'BradCast' 5/17/22
Guests: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber; Kenia Alcocer of CA Poor People's Campaign...
Sunday 'Undesirable Outcomes' Toons
You can chalk up PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection to the rightwing radicalism still unmooring our nation from facts and reality...
Attempted Stolen Election, Stolen Docs, and Murder: 'BradCast' 5/12/22
McCarthy's J6 subpoena; Trump's new fed grand jury; Eastman advised 2020 PA election theft; Trump, meat-packers collusion; DeSantis FL gerrymander nixed...
'Green News Report' 5/12/22
Great Barrier Reef bleaching again; Global warming and new diseases; Interior cancels offshore lease sales; PLUS: AZ, CA move to enact more severe drought restrictions...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


'The system has been breached' says guest Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Primary results from NC, KY, OR, ID, PA...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2022 6:30pm PT  

We've got an amazing --- and chilling --- story for you on today's BradCast, about what has turned into a wave of proprietary voting system software theft in several key swing-states since Trump pretended the election was stolen in 2020. But the most disturbing part is that many of these thefts having been carried out by or with the help of actual elected GOP election officials in several states! And there is one in particular, in Georgia, which has just come to light which we focus on today, because our quick-thinking guest actually recorded a damning phone call she received from someone who claims to have been a part of that scheme. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get there today, however, we've got a very (too) quick round-up of results from Tuesday's primary elections in North Carolina, Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho and Pennsylvania, and some news on several of them that you may not have heard elsewhere. Among the most noteworthy of those races...

  • The loss of North Carolina's insurrectionist U.S. House Rep. Madison Cawthorn in his GOP primary, and what will now happen to the federal court case regarding Free Speech for People's challenge to his eligibility to run at all under the U.S. Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause." We've been covering that story closely in recent months and we've got comment today from the group's President on what may happen now in the federal case.
  • News on several apparent wins by progressive candidates for the U.S. House in PA and OR, including one that is set to result in the defeat of an incumbent establishment-backed Democratic Congressman and the other likely headed to a recount.
  • The good news for Democrats in the contest for PA Governor, as far-right Trump-endorsed insurrectionist wingnut state Sen. Doug Mastriano won the GOP nomination to run against state A.G. Josh Shapiro. Suffice to say for now, Republicans are not happy about their nominee.
  • And the critical race to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Pat Toomey, where progressive Lt. Gov. John Fetterman easily won the Democratic contest and the battle for the Republican nomination is likely headed to a recount between Trump-endorsed celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz and pretty-much-just-as-Trumpy former hedge-fund CEO Dave McCormack. Both are now waiting on late arriving mail-in ballots to be tallied in the exceedingly close race, even though Republicans in 2020 argued that late arriving mail-in ballots in the Keystone State were all illegal and should have been tossed out. Not anymore, apparently. (And we wonder how long it'll be before they notice yesterday's BradCast rounding up several Republican-leaning counties where voters were turned away for hours after polls opened, thanks to voting system failures.)

THEN, it's on to the remarkable story of GOP election insiders in critical swing-states such as Michigan, Colorado, Ohio and Georgia, who, following the 2020 election, conspired with a cabal of election denying Team Trumpers to breach secure facilities in elections offices. They made illegal image copies of hard drives from key voting system computers containing sensitive, proprietary software and voter databases in at least 8 counties across the country...for some reason.

Part of this story is newly revealed evidence about one such a case in Coffee County, Georgia, which includes a damning recorded phone call received by our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance. The caller admits to an elaborate scheme to copy and analyze hard drive data from the county that Trump is said to have won by about 40 points. He also told Marks that he hacked into her legislative filings in her long-running lawsuit against the state, which seeks to replace Georgia's unverifiable touchscreen voting systems with simple, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots.

You'll need to tune in for the full details on this story. It's broad and, at times, complicated. And, yes, we share some of the disturbing audio from that phone call to Marks from an Atlanta bail bondsman by the name of Scott Hall who brags about chartering a jet to Coffee County with a group that "scanned all the equipment, imaged all the hard drives and scanned every single ballot" with "the entire elections committee there" who, he claims on the call, said "we give you the permission. Go for it."

We pull together a bunch of threads from a bunch of investigative news sources (as well as some of our own reporting) on all of this, on the broad scheme carried out by some of Trump's top "Stop the Steal" compatriots and the almost inconceivable lack of apparent investigation --- or worse, cover-up --- by GA's Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger regarding the still mysterious incident in Coffee County.

As noted, you'll need to tune in for the full details, but among the stories and recent detailed investigative reports referenced and/or cited in our coverage today...

  • Mesa County Court Judge Removes Peters as Designated Election Official for the 2022 Election (CO SoS)
  • Trump allies breach U.S. voting systems in search of 2020 fraud ‘evidence’ (Reuters)
  • PRESIDENTIAL FINDINGS TO PRESERVE COLLECT AND ANALYZE NATIONAL SECURITY INFORMATION REGARDING THE 2020 GENERAL ELECTION (Draft Executive Order)
  • Georgia county under scrutiny after claim of post-election breach (Washington Post)
  • Georgia’s Alleged Dominion Voting System Breach (Coalition for Good Governance)
  • Building the "Big Lie": Inside the Creation of Trump’s Stolen Election Myth (ProPublica)
  • The Plot to Overturn the Election (PBS' Frontline and ProPublica)

Among the questions discussed with Marks: What the hell is going on here? Is it a violation of state and/or federal law to make discreet imaged copies of this software? Why was Team Trump doing it in the first place? Is Sec. Raffensperger's office investigating what happened in Coffee County, GA or not (they are offering conflicting statements, including in Marks' legal case challenging the use of the state's Dominion touchscreens)? What kind of threat does all of this pose to elections around the county in 2022 and 2024 in Georgia (their midterm primaries are next week) and in the many other states which use the very same software --- now stolen by these people --- to run their elections?

"Certainly they were violating state and federal laws," Marks tells me. "The difficult part of this is It puts virtually all states that are using the Dominion system --- without doing thorough audits and [using] hand-marked paper ballots --- it puts all of these at risk."

"If what Scott Hall and other have said happened truly happened, then there are people who have unauthorized copies of software off the server and off of all of the components," she explains. "These people can now craft and test malware and how to exploit the vulnerabilities in an election."

Marks believes the initial effort was meant "to try to find evidence or perhaps even fabricate evidence," regarding the 2020 election. But it has since gone far beyond that.

Raffensperger, she says, is offering "nothing but stonewalling" and "is telling different things to different people." She notes there is "no record of opening an investigation" in Coffee. That, as the Secretary's second-in-command, Gabe Sterling, seemed to suggest in a recent court deposition that there WAS an investigation of the server in Coffee, that it was actually quietly seized by the state, but that he "can't remember" the findings from the inquiry.

"There are many mysteries to unfold here. We don't know who has been in the system and how far any malware may have spread if it were implanted." She warns the Secretary's office and state Elections Board "want to hide their heads in the sand despite" the mounds of recent investigative reporting (as linked above) on what is going on here.

"The system has been breached," Marks cautions chillingly, before explaining what must be done now to safeguard our elections --- including from insider election officials who have now put our entire democracy at very serious risk. Even hand-marked paper ballots, she notes, are still tabulated by these same computer systems.

"Remember, the remedy we are seeking [in our suit] is not simply hand-marked paper ballots but hand-marked paper ballots with very thorough audits. IF we get the audits, yeah, there can be hacking but any outcome-changing hack will be detected and can be corrected," Marks argues. "While you can't get rid of the risk, you can remedy that risk."

Again, much more detail on today's show. It's a doozy. Please tune in...

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Also: Biden in Buffalo condemns 'poison' of white supremacy, those who 'spread the lie' of replacement theory 'for power, political gain and profit'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2022 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's primary election day in five states, with voting system problems reported in at least three counties in one of them, as the President traveled to upstate New York to condemn white supremacist "terrorism" and grieve with the community following Saturday's racist massacre at a neighborhood grocery story in a predominately black area of Buffalo. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST UP, a bit of seemingly encouraging breaking news just before airtime today from the New York Times. They report that the Dept. of Justice "has asked the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack for transcripts of interviews it is conducting behind closed doors, including some with associates of former President Donald J. Trump." The paper describes the news as "further evidence of the wide-ranging nature of the department’s criminal inquiry into the events leading up to the assault on the Capitol and the role played by Mr. Trump and his allies as they sought to" steal the 2020 election.

That sounds like encouraging news, even if the Times, for some absurd reason, describes the effort to steal the election as an attempt "to keep him in office after his defeat in the 2020 election." Normal humans would describe it simply as an attempt to steal an election. Our corporate media, and even most Democratic officials, for reasons I cannot explain, do not do so. In any event, sounds like good news no matter how stupidly the Times is reporting on it.

NEXT, it's midterm primary day in Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho, North Carolina (where insurrectionist Rep. Madison Cawthorn is running for his life) and Pennsylvania (where Dems see one of their best opportunities to flip a Republican-held U.S. Senate seat.) We'll have noteworthy results on tomorrow's program, but today we focus on three counties in PA, where voters were reporting problems simply trying to cast their vote.

In Berks county "widespread" problems were reported apparently with the County's new electronic pollbooks made by ES&S, just added to polling places countywide for the first time this year. Those new computers were added to the complicated mix of high-tech equipment already forced on voters in Berks, where residents are required to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device computers at the precinct. It was a full two and a half hours after polls opened before officials finally deployed backup paper pollbooks(!)to all locations in the county, so voters could finally vote. It's unclear whether the systems simply didn't work, or election officials didn't make sure to properly train poll workers to use them. Either way, voters couldn't vote for hours and some were undoubtedly disenfranchised entirely because emergency paper ballots were not supplied either, according to one state Rep. who said he was held up for hours (though he appears to have misreported the problem as one with voting machines, as opposed to the e-pollbooks.)

In Alleghany County (home of Pittsburgh), some precincts reportedly opened hours late, due to a mix of problems, including lack of keys to get into precincts or a lack of Election Judges in some case, thanks to COVID. At least they respect their voters enough there to allow them to vote on simple, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots (with simple paper pollbooks) ... once the polls finally opened, in any event.

In Luzerne, a Republican-leaning county with a history of voting system issues, it was reportedly the touchscreen voting machines made by Dominion that held up voters, though the Chair of the County's Board of Elections seemed happy to throw poll workers under the bus for what she described as "human error". That, instead of taking blame for forcing those over-worked, under-paid workers to use overly complicated computer systems with a lack of training, in order to eventually (maybe) allow voters to cast unverifiable ballots on touchscreen voting systems after they manage to sign in with e-pollbook computers made by ES&S.

THEN, we head to Buffalo for President Biden's remarks to victims of Saturday's mass shooting by an 18-year old white supremacist who killed 10 and wounded 3 with a Bushmaster assault rifle in a matter of minutes in a predominately African-American neighborhood. The massacre came just three days after a Trump-appointed federal appeals court judge issued a ruling overturning California's law banning semiautomatic weapons purchases for those under the age of 21, finding the law to be an unconstitutional violation of the 2nd Amendment.

In his Wednesday ruling, Judge Ryan Nelson cited "the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army" in "reaffirm[ing] that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms.” Never mind that young adults during the Revolutionary War used rifles that fired one shot at a time after being laboriously loaded through their muzzle --- as opposed to the semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle used to shoot more than a dozen, including an armed guard, in mere seconds on Saturday in Buffalo.

Biden said today that the nation must "reject the lie" of "replacement theory" spread the far-right, Fox "News" and GOP elected officials, while describing America's diversity as its strength. He derided the "hateful minority" who spread the lie "for power, political gain and for profit" --- as Fox' Tucker Carlson has done hundreds of times on his primetime show and as GOP House Leadership's Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate NY has recently done in her campaign ads.

"Evil will not win," the President vowed in moving and powerful remarks which we share at length. "Hate will not prevail, and white supremacy will not have the last word," Biden said, charging that "hate and fear have been given too much oxygen by those who pretend to love America."

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for a few thoughts on all of the above, as well as our latest Green News Report. Among the matters she covers today: a new analysis finding wildfires are likely to double across the U.S. in the next several decades; while Russia has used energy as a weapon in its war on Ukraine, they are now threatening to cause a global food crisis as well; and while the state of California recently became powered by 100% renewable electricity for a short time, the state of Texas is, once again amid another heat wave, having trouble even keeping their lights on...

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Guest: FSFP's Const'l law expert John Bonifaz with court updates on ballot eligibility challenges to 'insurrectionist' candidates in GA, AZ, NC; Also: Leaked SCOTUS 'Roe' opinion shaking up midterms...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2022 7:00pm PT  

I guess I'll have to keep saying it damn near every day on The BradCast between now and November (and probably for the next two years thereafter, at this rate), but anyone who tells you they know what's gonna happen in his year's elections, is just making it up outta whole cloth. Everything is changing every single day and all of it is going to effect what happens next. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

For example, before we get to our guest today, some quick news on the fallout from the stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court's likely plan to overturn 50 years of freedom for American women's healthcare by overturning the Constitutional right to an abortion established in 1973's Roe v. Wade.

The news has been so alarming to so many that even Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), a long time "pro-lifer", now says he plans to vote for the Women's Health Protection Act in the Senate this week to codify abortion rights into federal law. At the same time, new polling taken last week, after the leak of Alito's draft majority opinion that would overturn 'Roe', finds both good and suggestively helpful news for Democratic candidates paying attention.

The poll from Yahoo News/YouGov finds, once again, that a large majority of Americans do not want Roe overturned. More importantly, for democracy itself, voters in the survey support a generic Democratic over a generic Republican on their Congressional ballots by a 5-point margin (44% to 39%). But here's where the polling is really enlightening: "[W]hen voters were asked to choose instead between a 'pro-choice Democrat' and a 'pro-life Republican,' GOP support fell to 31% while Democratic support held steady --- more than doubling the gap between the two candidates, to 13 percentage points."

Got that, Dems?

That's just one of too many wildcards between now and November that make any sort of punditry largely useless. Another one? Well, Donald Trump's former Sec. of Defense Mark Esper was on Fox "News" this week confirming to Brett Baier that, yes, given the events of January 6th, 2021 and some other stuff, he believes "Donald Trump was a threat to democracy." Ouch.

Speaking of the January 6 insurrection and threats to American democracy, we're joined once again today by Constitutional law expert JOHN BONIFAZ, President and co-founder of Free Speech for People (FSFP), the non-profit, non-partisan good governance group helping voters to challenge the eligibility for reelection of elected officials who have "engaged insurrection" in violation of the Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause" (14th Amendment, Section 3).

Bonifaz was with us several weeks ago following the sworn testimony of challenged Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who hedged and/or lied and/or "can't recalled" her way through questioning before an Administrative Law Judge in Atlanta. Greene claimed she couldn't remember whether she suggested that Trump invoke Martial Law (she did), whether she said Nancy Pelosi was "a traitor to the country" (she did, and admitted as much after it was clear that FSFP's attorneys questioning her had the video evidence), or that she even opposed the peaceful transfer of power on January 6th (yup, she did that on video too.)

On Friday, the state Administration Law Judge who oversaw the hearing, Charles Beaudrot, released his decision in the case, recommending that GA's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger not disqualify Greene from the ballot for lack of evidence from the challengers. But Beaudrot's 19-page decision [PDF] --- and Raffensperger's subsequent rubber stamp [PDF] --- "betrays the fundamental purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause and gives a pass to political violence as a tool for disrupting and overturning free and fair elections," said FSFP in response. Bonifaz, today, describes major legal errors that he says must be reversed.

For example, Beaudrot completely ignored the evidence of text messages Greene sent to Trump's then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on invoking Martial Law and Greene's own video on social media declaring, "you can't allow it to just transfer power peacefully, the way Joe Biden wants, and allow him to become our President."

Beaudrot "treats her as a credible witness," in his decision, charges Bonifaz, with "nothing about her as a witness who is not credible on the stand under oath, saying she couldn't remember, couldn't recall more than 80 times. Then you add that to the fact that days after her testimony, the revelation of the text she sent to Mark Meadows, where she did in fact advocate that Trump impose martial law to stay in power."

On top of that, he explains, the Judge also offers yet another reason to appeal. "The Georgia Supreme Court stated that, under Georgia law, 'The entire burden is placed upon the candidate to affirmatively establish their eligibility for office.' That's what the law is. [But] days before this hearing began, [Beaudrot] shifted the standard --- he reversed the burden of proof, and said it was not going to be on the candidate, it was going to be on challengers, contrary to that Supreme Court ruling."

FSFP is appealing the decision on behalf of the voter challengers they represent in GA's 14th Congressional District to Fulton County (Atlanta) Superior Court. "That's going to be before one judge. If we prevail, I'm sure Greene's attorneys will appeal to the state supreme court." Bonifaz says they plan to make every challenge possible through both the primary and general election, if necessary.

"We are not, on our end, giving up in any way," he vows. "The evidence is overwhelming that Marjorie Taylor-Greene engaged in insurrection, that she's disqualified, and our clients want us to proceed --- the voters in her district who are courageous to stand up on this --- they have been done an injustice by Judge Beaudrot."

The Greene case in GA is not the only challenge to alleged insurrectionist candidates for office. FSFP also challenged the eligibility of Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina, where a federal Appeals Court judge was seemingly stunned last week by his defense attorney's claim at their hearing that, yes, a 12-year old could run for Congress and nobody in the state could challenge that Constitutional deficiency, that it would be solely up to Congress to determine who is eligible to be seated as a member. A ruling from that 3-judge appellate panel is due soon.

And in Arizona, where the indefatigable FSFP is representing voters challenging the candidacies of Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs, along with AZ State Rep. Mark Finchem, the Trump-endorsed Republican running for Sec. of State this year, the state Supreme Court on Monday denied the right for voters to challenge candidates at all based on the Insurrection Disqualification Clause. They determined [PDF] that "no private right of action exists under the United States Constitution or Arizona law" to challenge candidates under the 14th Amendment and that "the Constitution reserves the determination of the qualifications of members of Congress exclusively to the U.S. House of Representatives."

Bonifaz disagrees, but concedes the group is out of court options in the state. However, he explains, the Secretary of State has the final word on ballot eligibility. In this case, that would be Democrat Katie Hobbs, who they've asked to disqualify the candidates. While that might otherwise be encouraging news, it should be noted that Hobbs is also on the ballot this year running for Governor. That could restrict her political options in a matter like this...but we'll see. But credit to FSFP for fighting as hard and as long as possible!

And, yes, Bonifaz tells me, the group intends to bring challenges, on the same Constitutional basis, against Donald Trump if he runs again in 2024. "Absolutely," he vows.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as "unprecedented" wind and heat in New Mexico are fanning out-of-control wildfires across the state, endangering thousands of homes and other structures. Also, wildfires in Russian Siberia are out of control as the military, which usually tensd to them, are otherwise occupied of late fighting Putin's war on Ukraine. But she's got some good news too, about cow burps! That alone may be worth tuning in for!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Turner loses again to Brown in OH; Trump-endorsees win in OH and IN; Amazing appeals court hearing in Cawthorn ballot eligibility case; Trump wanted to shoot BLM protesters, says his former SecDef...
By Brad Friedman on 5/4/2022 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With midterm primaries in Ohio and Indiana yesterday kicking off a month of about a dozen such primaries across the country, and more to come in subsequent months, America is voting again. So, naturally, America's voting systems are failing voters again. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

In Ohio, in at least three different counties (Lucas, Cuyahoga and Williams) reports of misprogrammed systems prevented voters from casting their votes or forced them to return later in the day to do so. Electronic pollbooks used as part of computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) appear to be the culprit this time. Again. In this case, at least in Lucas (Toledo) and Cuyahoga (Cleveland) it appears the e-pollbook vendor misprogrammed them to print out barcodes on ballot cards that subsequently brought up the ballot for the wrong party when voters put those ballot cards into the BMDs to try and cast their votes. Republicans received Democratic ballots and vice versa.

The widespread failure was reportedly corrected eventually, by about 2pm. In some cases, poll workers were able to manually punch in codes to bring up the correct party ballots and precincts onto the BMD systems for voters. In other cases, voters were given printed ballots that they could fill in by hand (begging the question as to why all voters weren't simply given reliable, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots to use in the first place to avoid these ongoing electoral nightmares!) Either way, problems like these do little to foster confidence in our electoral system, particularly on BMD systems which are already 100% unverifiable after elections, making it impossible to know if votes cast via such systems actually reflect the intent of any voter.

Luckily, confidence in our voting systems hasn't been a big concern in the U.S. of late, right?

As to actual reported results of voting on Tuesday, we cover, among other things, the Democratic U.S. House race watched closed by some on the progressive left between Rep. Shontel Brown and Bernie Sanders-ally Nina Turner in the state's 11th Congressional District (which happens to touch both Lucas and Cuyahoga Counties, where voting systems failed). The contest was a re-run of last Summer's special election to fill the House seat vacated by Rep. Marcia Fudge after she was tapped to serve as Joe Biden's HUD Secretary. Turner lost once again on Tuesday, reportedly by a much wider margin this time, before suggesting in her fiery concession speech that she may be planning an independent run for President in 2024.

All of the U.S. House races in Ohio were run on a new map found by the state Supreme Court to violate the state's constitution, requiring districts that reflect the state's partisan balance after a 2018 ballot iniative for fairer maps won 70% of the vote. Ohio's Presidential contest in 2020 was about 53 to 45% in Trump's favor. Nonetheless, the new maps created by the GOP-majority Redistricting Commission in the Buckeye State will likely result in a 13 to 2 --- or maybe 12 to 3 --- advantage in favor of Republicans in Ohio's U.S. House delegation, as redistricting expert Dave Daley told me via email today. The unconstitutional map is being used in 2022 as the court challenge continues. Perhaps they'll get fair U.S. House maps by 2024. Or not.

On the Republican side of Tuesday's primaries, all of Trump's endorsed candidates --- no matter how crazy, no matter how many times they've been accused of domestic violence or sexual harassment --- won yesterday in both Ohio and Indiana. In Ohio, that even included author and former never-Trumper J.D. Vance in his bid for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination. Vance, back in 2016, said he couldn't "stomach Trump" and found him "noxious". But he changed his tune when he decided to run for the open Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman. Now, Vance says, Trump's "a great President, certainly the best President of my lifetime." That was enough, apparently, to win Trump's endorsement, which appears to have catapulted Vance from third place, just a few weeks ago, to a reported win on Tuesday night. He'll be running in November against Democratic nominee Rep. Tim Ryan.

While all of this is great for Trump's considerable ego, it remains to be seen whether having a bunch of far-right, radical loons and alleged abusers who insist the election was stolen from Trump in 2020 (despite any evidence to support the claim) will be good or bad for the GOP this November. It should be a big year for them, but there are still a whole lot of X Factors that could affect so-called Conventional Wisdom on this.

Next, the voters challenging the eligibility of North Carolina insurrectionist Rep. Madison Cawthorn to run for reelection had their day in federal appeals court on Tuesday, after a Trump-appointed lower court judge tossed their Constitutional challenge to Cawthorn's eligibility under the "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause" of the 14th Amendment. The Q&A between Cawthorn's defense attorney and one of the judge's on the appeals panel was...um...kinda mind-blowing.

As Constitutional law expert John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People, the group representing the voter challengers, summarized on Twitter yesterday: "'Let's say you want to run for office at 12 years old, or something like that,' Judge James Wynn said. 'The state can't do anything? You've got to wait until Congress says they can't run?' Cawthorn's counsel: Yes, the state has no role + must allow that 12 year old on the ballot." Even that snippet doesn't do this hearing justice. We break the whole thing down for ya today.

Then, as we try to get caught up on a bunch of stuff that's been buried by larger stories (in Ukraine, at the Supreme Court) this week, a new memoir by Trump's last Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, claims that Trump wondered why the military couldn't just shoot Black Lives Matter protesters in the street.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as unprecedented heat in South Asia is now "testing the limits of human survivability" and much more, including even some good news on Denmark going all-electric...

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Guest: John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People; Also: Macron's victory; Trump found in contempt in NY, fined $10k/day until subpoena answered...
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2022 6:43pm PT  

Well, we're back after a much-needed break last week on The BradCast. (Thanks to Nicole Sandler for covering for us for a few days!) As it turns out, disappointingly, news didn't stop just because we were gone!

First up today, some very good news from over the weekend and from this afternoon...

According to Exit Polling (which tends to accurately report on Europe's various hand-marked, hand-counted balloting) on Sunday, center-right French President Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right extremist Marine Le Pen to win a second five-year term. The European Union and democracy-lovers everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief following the apparently failed third try by Le Pen --- a supporter of Trump, Putin and other far-right autocrats and an opponent of NATO, the EU and immigrants --- to win the Presidency. It was the first time in 20 years that a French President has won a second term. Macron did so by a comfortable 17 points, based on Sunday surveys. Le Pen's far-right coalition will now shift their efforts to Parliamentary elections coming up in June.

More good news today, this time out of New York, where the Judge overseeing state Attorney General Letitia James' civil probe of alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by Donald Trump, his kids and the Trump Organization has found him in contempt. Trump is now being fined $10,000/day until he adequately answers the AG's subpoenas for documents. "Today, justice prevailed," James said in a statement following following the Judge's order. “For years, Donald Trump has tried to evade the law and stop our lawful investigation into him and his company’s financial dealings. Today’s ruling makes clear: No one is above the law." But, in potentially even better news, Asst. Attorney General Kevin Wallace is quoted by AP as saying "We plan to bring enforcement action in the near future". Translation: Trump is about to face serious civil litigation in NY that could ultimately break up and/or bankrupt his company, if successful.

At the same time, the Manhattan District Attorney's criminal investigation into many of the same matters, regarding Trump committing fraud over many years by lying on his annual financial statements, continues as well.

The quest for accountability in the wake of our failed former President's attempt to steal the 2020 also continues elsewhere. On Friday, Georgia's far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene became the first sitting member of Congress to answer questions under oath about involvement in the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Her testimony in an Atlanta courtroom, following a ruling to allow it by a federal judge, came in response to a ballot eligibility challenge filed by several voters in her 14th Congressional District. They charge Greene is ineligible for office based on Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. The so-called Insurrection Disqualification Clause bars from office those who, after previously taking an oath to defend the Constitution, subsequently "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same" or have "given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."

Greene was just one of the members of Congress who was neck-deep in the attempts by Trump and his MAGA Mob to block the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 election victory. She even went so far, as video produced by the plaintiff revealed, as to threaten violence to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to the new President. On Friday, Greene sat for several hours of questioning from attorneys at Free Speech for People (FSFP) who are representing voter-clients in Georgia, as well as several other states where voters are challenging the eligibility of elected officials who "engaged in insurrection" or gave "aid or comfort" to those who did.

Today, we step through her prevaricating testimony from Friday, in which she attempted to lie about charging that Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had committed treason ("punishable by death," Greene noted in the video she initially tried to pretend did not exist) and about expressing approval for a comment on her own Facebook page calling for a "bullet to the head" of the Speaker.

Much of Greene's testimony consisted of dozens of "I don't recall" and "I don't remember" responses to the plaintiff attorneys, even as her memory was suddenly razor sharp when it came to remembering tweets, comments and other social media posts and videos cited by her own defense attorneys. While Greene claimed she never called for violence, the clear record proves otherwise.

We're joined today by JOHN BONIFAZ, Co-founder and President of FSFP, the group working with voters bringing the challenges to Greene in GA, as well as Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina, Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs in Arizona, and against far-right AZ State Rep. Mark Finchem, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for Secretary of State.

Bonifaz offers his reaction to Friday's hearing and Greene's attempt to evade accountability for her role in the 2021 insurrection. He also offers updates on the appeals filed in federal court in North Carolina (where a Trump-appointed judge rejected FSFP's challenge to Cawthorn's candidacy on a rather remarkable basis, as discussed) and in AZ, where a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge on Friday dismissed FSFP's challenge to Gosar, Biggs and Finchem. In that case, as Bonifaz details, the judge rejected the Constitutional challenge not on the merits, but on the claim that private citizens have no right to sue under the 14th Amendment. Bonifaz, a longtime, well-respected Constitutional law expert, explains why he believes the AZ judge is wrong (for example, he observes, it would allow a 14-year old or Vladimir Putin to run for Congress!) and the basis for which his organization is appealing that ruling.

Meanwhile, back in Georgia, the state administrative law judge who oversaw Friday's testimony, Charles Beaudrot (a corporate tax attorney who was initially appointed by a Republican Governor), will soon give his recommendation to Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger as to whether Greene should be disqualified from the mid-term ballot. Raffensperger will then decide whether to accept Beaudrot's recommendation or not.

No matter how it all shakes out, Bonifaz tells me today, the federal court ruling which allowed the challenge to go forward in the state last week is a victory in and of itself.

"Independent of what happened in the hearing on Friday," Bonifaz says, "what's happened is the door has now been opened for somebody like Donald Trump --- or anyone else who took an oath of office and engaged in insurrection --- being held accountable in Georgia. That door is now open because the precedent is there for voters to be able to challenge them based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Assuming its upheld by the 11th Circuit (Greene's attorney, who also works for Trump, is appealing the U.S. District Court Judge's ruling) that means there will be a challenge, I think, to Donald Trump appearing on the Georgia ballot in 2024."

There's lots more in today's conversation with Bonifaz! Please tune in...

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Guest: Eric Kramer of Arizonans for Fair Elections; Also: Good news on the economy, unions, COVID and cannabis!; Plus: Annoy a Nazi!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2022 6:54pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, we discuss a new, maddening --- and likely unconstitutional --- voter suppression law signed this week by Arizona's Republican Governor. But, as our guest notes, "Don't worry, we've got this!" We'll see. He's got a plan in response that voters in other swing-states may wish to look at as well. Other than that though, today's show ends your week with nothin' but good news! (Mostly.) [Audio link to full toe-tappin' show is posted below this summary.]

First up, good news on COVID! According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, hospitalizations are now at their lowest rate since the U.S. began keeping records at the beginning of the pandemic two years ago. Of course, last time hospitalizations where near this low we got slammed by Delta and then Omicron shortly thereafter. So, hey, now's a great time to get a vaccine shot or a booster if you haven't in the past 4 months or so!

Then, more good news on the economy! 431,000 new jobs were added in March, as Americans continue to shake off the pandemic, even amid war in Europe and inflation. Since Joe Biden took office, the economy has added a record 7.9 million jobs. Unemployment is the lowest it's been since before the pandemic and barely higher than the nation has seen in a half-century, as the President did some justifiable crowing about those numbers today. Things would be even better had Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin allowed his Build Back Better bill to pass, given that many more women are needed to fill millions of open jobs, but can't afford the child care (that BBB would have paid for) in order to take them.

But there's still more good news today, for workers and labor unions! Amazon employees in deep red Republican Staten Island, New York voted "yes" to unionize in an historic labor win at the only fulfillment center in New York City! It's the first Amazon facility in the U.S. to do so, but it likely means many others will join them. Another unionization vote at Amazon's fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama remains too close to call for the moment. It's the second such vote held at that plant after the National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon had cheated in the first vote and ordered a re-do.

Speaking of cheating in elections: Republicans. Though it may make your head (and mine) explode, mid-term primaries are beginning to kick off all over the country. The first one, last month in Texas, resulted in tens of thousands of disenfranchised absentee voters whose ballots were rejected thanks to the state GOP's new voter suppression law there.

We had slightly better news this week in Florida. There, a federal judge struck down several provisions of the new voter suppression law adopted last year by the GOP-dominated state legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his initial election back in 2018). U.S. District Judge Mark Walker found that the law unlawfully targeted black voters in violation of both the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Most notably, he ordered the state back under the VRA's preclearance regime for the next decade, mandating approval in advance from the federal government for any new election-related laws that may effect minority voters.

Republicans in Arizona, however, have been running a bit behind in their voter suppression. But, on Wednesday this week, the state's Governor Doug Ducey, also facing re-election this year, signed HB 2492 [PDF], even though legislative attorneys in both the state House and Senate found the measure to be likely unconstitutional. In short, it requires state voters to prove they are citizens before they may vote for candidates in state and local elections. But it goes farther than previous such laws in the state. This one could disenfranchise anywhere from 31,000 to nearly 200,000 voters in a state where Democrats won the Presidential election in 2020 by just over 10,000 votes. It would prevent voters who fail to prove their citizenship (or can afford to do so) from voting for either state officials or President. They may still be able to vote for members of Congress, but not during either early voting or via absentee ballot.

We're joined today by ERIC KRAMER, former Chair of the Navajo County Democrats, now Director of the Arizona Deserves Better non-profit coalition to discuss HB 2492 and, more importantly, what he and other voting rights advocates in the state are currently doing to both overturn such measures and prevent even worse ones from being adopted at any time in the future with their new Arizonans for Fair Elections ballot initiative.

We first learned of the effort via DailyKos, where Kramer writes as "EricAZ". Two articles of his there caught our eye in particular. The first, in early March, was headlined "Arizona Right-Wing Goes Batshit Crazy in Attack on Voters (Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This)". The second, a few weeks later, is titled, "The Joy of Soon Beating the U.S. Supreme Court on Several Voting Rights Issues".

Kramer explains how the AZ Fair Elections initiative, targeted for inclusion on the ballot this November, would work to prevent the kind of voter suppression we have been seeing from the increasingly extremist Republican radicals who now control the AZ state legislature. It would roll back laws like HB 2492 and prevent similarly disenfranchising laws from being adopted in an election year. It would also repeal a number of other laws recently adopted by state Republicans which target minority voters (Native Americans in particular), while instituting proactive measures to increase voter turnout, rather than block it, as the GOP is now working so hard to do there and elsewhere.

"In addition to these places where we're kind of playing defense against what they've done to voters in the past, there are some where we are playing offense," Kramer explains in detailing the voter referendum. "We have automatic voter registration. We have Election Day registration. We expand the periods for early voting. And we do quite a lot to help Native American voters and especially disabled voters --- we give more opportunities to vote. So it is a very good initiative."

Can his group, which is currently in the signature gathering process, get the measure onto the ballot in November? And, if so, can they get it passed? "We are going to get it done," he tells me confidently. "We need 243,000 signatures [by July 7] to get on the ballot. We're currently collecting at more than twice the rate we need. Fundraising has gone well. People from all over the country are supporting this. We will get it done."

You can get more information on the initiative --- in case you'd like to support it or consider something similar in your own state --- at the website for the Arizonans for Fair Elections initiative (azfe.org).

Finally, we close with even more good news and a song!

Our final good news for the day is about cannabis. U.S. House Democrats, with almost zero help from Republicans, adopted a measure today to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, though it will still have to overcome a likely GOP filibuster in the Senate. That, despite the American public's overwhelming support not just for decriminalizing cannabis, but for fully legalizing it once and for all. Not sure why the GOP would be dumb enough to take a pass on shooting the measure down again, as they did back in 2020 when they held the majority in the upper chamber, but explaining Republican stupidity is not my strong suit.

But to keep you happy and singing well into the weekend, we close with a new ditty from Canadian comedian and "The Internet's Favourite Dad* (*unproven)", according to his Twitter profile, Stewart Reynolds, who sings that "it's nice to be disliked!"...So "annoy a Nazi" today!...

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Lowest jobless numbers since 1969; MTG faces ballot disqualification in GA; Trump dumps Brooks, Brooks turns on seditionist Trump; Ginni Thomas texted Meadows to steal 2020; And, again, where is Clarence?
By Brad Friedman on 3/24/2022 6:57pm PT  

There's plenty of bad news out there. But on today's BradCast, we've got plenty of good news amid the bad...some of which is interrupted by breaking, bizarre, though hardly surprising news (at least when it comes to the corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas!) [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Almost all of these stories deserve more attention than they've been getting. But, because they tend to amount to good news and/or news that may help Dems and/or hurt Republicans, you haven't heard as much about them as you should from corporate media outlets where bad news leads or on social media, where rightwing outrage is monetized and weaponized. Among our many stories today...

  • According to the Commerce Dept., via Reuters, weekly jobless claims last week hit their lowest level since 1969! Seriously. But who knew? Do you think you might have heard more about that if Trump was President instead of Biden? While stories about inflation tend to dominate headlines, stories about Joe Biden's economy --- firing on all pistons, even amid both inflation and war in Europe --- quickly disappear off the front pages (if they showed up there in the first place.) Little wonder the President's approval ratings remain low, despite a booming economy and huge majorities of Americans (of all parties) supporting his response to Russia's war on Ukraine.
  • Far-right Congressional loon Marjorie Taylor Greene's eligibility to run for re-election is being officially contested today by Georgia voters and the Constitutional law experts at Free Speech for People (FSFP). The non-partisan group previously filed a separate challenge against the Constitutional eligibility of North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn to run in 2022 on the same basis. Greene, like Cawthorn, is accused of violating Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars those who have taken a federal oath to defend the Constitution from running again if they have subsequently "shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof." FSFP cites Greene's participation in the January 6, 2021 insurrection, including her pre-Jan 6 video-taped message urging supporters to block the peaceful transfer of power after Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory ("You can't allow it to just transfer power 'peacefully,'") and her charge that Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were "guilty of treason", which she described as "a crime punishable by death". That, before her supporters went on to attack the U.S. Capitol to block the peaceful transfer of power while calling for death of Pelosi. Under Georgia law, MTG will now have the burden of proving she isn't an insurrectionist, and FSFP will be able to depose her under oath in the process. Moreover, FSFP Co-Founder and President John Bonifaz tells The BRAD BLOG today: "There will be more such challenges to be filed this year."
  • Speaking of insurrectionists, one of Trump's favorite ones just got dumped by him. Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks, running to win the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in the state, was unendorsed by Trump on Wednesday. Brooks, a top "Stop the Stealer", spoke at Trump's January 6th Insurrection Day rally near the White House. But, after urging the MAGA mob last year to turn their disappointment about 2020 into efforts to win in 2022 and 2024, Trump pretended he didn't like Brooks anymore and unendorsed him yesterday. The real reason he dumped him, of course, is because Brooks is currently running third in the GOP primary and Trump doesn't want to be seen as backing yet another loser. But in response to getting dumped, Brooks put out an extraordinary statement last night claiming Trump asked him to "rescind the 2020 elections, immediately remove Joe Biden from the White House, immediately put President Trump back in the White House, and hold a new special election for the presidency." Brooks stood by the claim during a local TV interview last night, saying that Trump asked him repeatedly to remove Biden and restore Trump, even recently. TPM's Josh Marshall describes it as "definitional sedition."
  • Then, as we did yesterday, we have to ask again: Where is Clarence Thomas? After being admitted to the hospital last Friday with an "infection" and "flu-like symptoms", the Supreme Court finally disclosed the hospitalization of the 73-year old Justice on Sunday, announcing "his symptoms are abating" after intravenous antibiotic treatment and that he'll be released "in a day or two". The Court has had no update since Sunday. Today, four days later, The Hill reports a friend says Thomas is "resting" and "going to be just fine", but won't disclose whether he's "resting" in the hospital or at home, for some reason. Why not? We discuss.
  • And, speaking of the apparently ailing and clearly corrupt Clarence Thomas, his far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas --- according to breaking news this afternoon from Bob Woodward and Robert Costa at Washington Post --- sent dozens of insane text messages to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, encouraging him to somehow steal the 2020 election in November of that year. The Thomases have long been corrupt, but this incident may take the cake. She was encouraging the Trump White House to find ways to overturn the results of a Presidential election while her husband was often the lone vote at SCOTUS in favor of absurd MAGA lawsuits challenging the election. He even voted in favor of challenges regarding the January 6 House Select Committee's subpoenas. Ya know, subpoenas that resulted in Meadows turning over text messages from his wife Ginni Thomas! This is a remarkable amount of corruption inside of corruption inside of corruption. Is it finally time to impeach Clarence Thomas? (If he is ever released from the hospital, in any event.)
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which --- aside from more climate-fueled disasters in Texas and Louisiana, and nuclear concerns rising at Chernobyl --- she manages to find a whole bunch of surprising silver linings in the response to Putin's war on Ukraine, which is resulting in Europe speeding up their move away from fossil fuels...

If the news of late has ya down, today's show may offer a brief respite. You're welcome! (Yeah, we needed it too!)

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Also: Situation devolves in Ukraine under Russia's 'barbaric' assault...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2022 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's been a very bad week for the pretend "law and order" rightwingers dumb enough to have been suckered by Donald Trump's 2020 "election fraud" hoax. But it's likely to get still worse for them in the days ahead. That's fine by us. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

After a quick update today on the latest grim, and getting grimmer, news out of Ukraine as Russia's Vladimir Putin begins his third week of unspeakable barbarism, here are some of the much less grim stories we actually enjoyed covering today...

  • Yesterday, we reported on the ongoing challenge (and emergency appeal filed after a bizarre ruling by a Trump-appointed judge) to North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for re-election this year. The challengers, including our guest, Constitutional law expert Ron Fein of Free Speech for People, contend that Cawthorn is ineligible to run for federal office, after having violated the 14th Amendment's ban on those who "have engaged in insurrection" after taking an oath to defend the Constitution. But, no sooner did we get off air when news broke that Cawthorn was charged in NC with driving with a revoked license. Apparently, this is the second time he has been charged with the same crime. Will he face any real accountability for it this time around? The max sentence for that is 20 days in jail in NC.
  • On the federal level, Attorney General Merrick Garland insisted today that his Justice Department will "not shy away from cases that are controversial or sensitive or political," telling reporters that "to do that would undermine an element of the rule of law." Glad to hear it. His comments came in response to questions about the DoJ's January 6th investigation and whether Trump and those around him would ever face accountability, as hundreds of low-level insurrectionists have faced charges for storming the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, after being being incited by the disgraced former President and his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
  • Tina Peters, a Colorado elections official arguably incited to criminal acts by Trump's lies, is now facing state charges for them. She is the very Trumpy Republican Mesa County Clerk who recently announced her intention to run for Secretary of State. Peters turned herself into custody on Wednesday night after being indicted this week on 10 counts related to elections tampering. (A perfect resume for a GOP Sec. of State contender!) We've been reporting in detail on Peters over the past year, after she allegedly snuck into a secure facility where voting systems are stored in Mesa County along with accomplices (one of them her Deputy, who was also charged this week), turned off the security cameras, and then made copies of hard-drives with critical and proprietary Dominion Voting System software on them. Dominion's Election Management System software from Mesa was subsequently released, along with passwords to the system, to the Internet a few months later during one of conspiracy theorist and pillow magnate Mike Lindell's "election fraud" symposiums, just as Peters was speaking at the forum. The serious security breach with the public release of that software led to a bit of havoc in California's Gubernatorial Recall election just weeks later, where the same Dominion systems were used in several counties. We revisit the sprawling story of how we got here, as the loony Peters finally appears set to pay a very high price for being dumb enough to buy into Trump's con.
  • And then there was more bad news this week for Fox "News" and several of the top clods and dupes who host programs on their various channels. A New York judge denied the motions to dismiss filed by Fox and a number of their top anchors, such as Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs, in the $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit filed against them and conspiracy theorist/grifter attorneys Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell by voting system company Smartmatic. "At a minimum," the judge found in his 61-page ruling, "Fox News turned a blind eye to a litany of outrageous claims about plaintiffs, unprecedented in the history of American elections, so inherently improbable that it evinced a reckless disregard for the truth." That means the case against most of them will now move forward toward discovery and trial. (Several of those "inherently improbable" claims were based on The BRAD BLOG's own accurate, exclusive reporting back in 2010, which Powell, et al, bastardized to fit their pretend theories about massive election fraud.) Interestingly, the judge also cites a bit of accidentally responsible reporting from Fox star Tucker Carlson to underscore just how irresponsible the others were, in the judge's "finding that there is a substantial basis that Fox News acted with actual malice." The New York ruling follows a similar one from a judge in Delaware last December, who also rejected motions to dismiss from many of the same clowns in Dominion Voting Systems' separate $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit.
  • In Texas, which held this year's first-in-the-nation midterm primary elections last week, AP finds that an extraordinary 27,000 mail ballots --- from both Democrats and Republican voters --- were flagged for rejection under the Lone Star State's new voter suppression law passed last year in pretend response to Trump's claims about a stolen 2020 election. The initial rejection rate was approximately 17% statewide and substantially higher in a number of large, Democratic-leaning counties. That, compared with a statewide rejection rate of about 1% of absentee mail ballots back in 2020.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more disturbing fallout (and, maybe, some theoretical upsides) regarding energy and security in the wake of Russia's horrific invasion of Ukraine...

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Guest: Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: Russian atrocities; SCOTUS threatens fair elections; 'Help Fight Fascism! Work from Home!'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2022 7:01pm PT  

The news out of Ukraine continues to be grim, but there are a few bright spots here at home on today's BradCast, a way that you can help fight fascism without leaving home, and a renewed challenge to an alleged insurrectionist Congressman's eligibility to run for re-election. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this summary.]

FIRST UP, Vladimir Putin is now unleashing outright atrocities and unspeakable war crimes against the civilian population of Ukraine. On Wednesday, for example, Russian troops bombed a maternity hospital in Mariupol as nearly half a million residents in the southern Ukrainian city have been cut off from food, water, medicine and power for days. It could all still get much worse. In several ways. One of them is that the crippled Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine, now in the control of the Russians, has now been cut off from the power grid. Diesel generators are hoped capable of keeping the cooling system for the plant's 20,000 spent fuel rods from melting down entirely...as long as generators can be refueled and kept running.

Yesterday, we discussed a bit how working at home --- as many of us did during the pandemic lockdowns --- can help the war effort against Russia in several ways, if only by tamping down surging oil prices. A new poll from Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal finds a huge majority of Americans, 79%, favor cutting off Russian oil imports, even if it further increases the cost of gas at the pump.

Today, we double down on our call: HELP FIGHT FASCISM! WORK FROM HOME! (For now. If you can. It really could make a difference in several ways!) One of our listeners has some additional thoughts, via email, which we share today along similar lines.

NEXT UP, some good news for Democrats --- and those who support representative democracy --- from the U.S. Supreme Court this week. But that good news on U.S. House redistricting in two critical swing states also served to overshadow some potentially ominous news from the GOP's stolen and packed Court. The good news was that the Justices turned away two Republican challenges to new U.S. House maps selected by two state Supreme Courts in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. Each is likely to benefit Democrats this November. The disturbing, largely overshadowed news, is that the four rightwing Justices who would have preferred to have heard the challenges to the new House maps, made clear in their dissents that they are likely supportive of the bonkers "Independent State Legislature Theory".

In short, that's an old Constitutional argument that's been around for years, but has never received the support of a majority of Justices. It holds that two clauses in the U.S. Constitution delegating the "time, place and manner" of elections to state legislatures means that only state legislatures can set any election law, procedures or district map. That means that any other state officials --- Secretaries of State, state Boards of Elections, Governors through their veto pens, or even state courts --- have absolutely no authority to challenge or change any election-related provision adopted by a state legislature. Under this theory, even state Constitutional amendments adopted by a vote of the people would be deemed unconstitutional!

As noted, it's a bonkers theory. But it's one that now apparently has at least four votes in support on the Republican Party's far-right stolen majority. The dissenting Justices in the redistricting cases made quite clear: this issue will return to the Court soon, and it needs the support of just one more Justice. You have now been warned.

FINALLY, for the past two weeks or so, largely since Russia invaded Ukraine, we've been trying unsuccessfully to get back to a story we were covering closely prior to the war, as its both an important one, and there have been a number of twists and turns in it since over the past several weeks.

As we discussed early last month with John Bonifaz, Constitutional law expert and Free Speech for People (FSFP)'s co-founder and President, voters in North Carolina filed a challenge with the State Board of Elections to first-term MAGA Congressman Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for re-election. The challenge is based on their claim that Cawthorn violated Sec. 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars anyone from running for federal office who has taken an oath to defend the Constitution, but subsequently "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against it. The Civil War-era amendment was initially meant to prevent Confederates from running for federal office. Now it is being used to challenge Cawthorn's eligibility to run and, if successful, others as well, including Donald Trump himself if he becomes a candidate in 2024.

Cawthorn spoke at Trump's rally on January 6th, 2021, just days after being sworn in. He is also said to have been among some of the elected officials who may have helped organize the deadly assault on the Capitol that day, meant to prevent the ratification of Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

There have been a number of twists and turns in this story in recent weeks. Rather than defend himself before the State Board, Cawthorn filed a federal lawsuit to block the challenge entirely, absurdly claiming the Board had no right to determine anyone's eligibility to run for office. Both the State Board and the state's Attorney General filed motions rejecting that argument.

As the case worked it's way through federal district court, the State Board of Elections paused the challenge, as the state's U.S. House map was being contested in state court as well. Once the state Supreme Court selected the maps to be used in the 2022 mid-terms, Cawthorn's district had changed. The voters who initially filed the challenge to his eligibility, with the help of the non-partisan, government accountability group, FSFP, were no longer residents of Cawthorn's new district. But FSFP found new voters in Cawthorn's new district to refile the challenge.

And then, last Friday, in a gobsmacking ruling from the bench, the Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing Cawthorn's lawsuit to block the state challenge ruled in his favor. Judge Richard E. Meyers II declared that a law adopted by Congress in the years after the Civil War, the Amnesty Act of 1872, somehow forgave not only Confederate soldiers, but also any insurrectionists against the United States at any time in the future. The judge's ruling essentially holds that an act of Congress 150 years ago --- without ratification by any states --- nullifies an actual Constitutional Amendment for all time.

Yes, as FSFP's Legal Director RON FEIN, who joins us today explains, the ruling is largely as absurd as it sounds. Fein explains why, and what FSFP plans to do about it, including their emergency appeal to Judge Meyers ruling, filed in federal court today...

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Guest: Executive Director Marianna Treviño-Wright; Also: Cawthorn ballot woes worsen in NC; Trumpy CO County Clerk arrested; National Archives refers Trump Presidential records theft to DoJ...
By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2022 6:40pm PT  

Three years ago this month on The BradCast, we spoke with the Executive Director of the National Butterfly Center in deep south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley as Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security was busting locks on the 100-acre wildlife sanctuary to roll in heavy construction equipment to build Trump's dopey border wall. Last week, the Center was forced to temporarily shut its doors due to worsening violent threats and menacing from Trump's MAGA mob. Last night, she met with the FBI. Today, the Center's Executive Director joins us again to discuss the increasing madness of what is going on down there now, more than a year after Trump was tossed out of office. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

BUT FIRST, a couple of amusing and/or encouraging updates to other stories we've been covering in some detail on this program.

We have new news out of North Carolina, where Republican MAGA Congressman Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for reelection is being challenged at the State Board of Elections by state voters working with the Constitutional law experts at the non-partisan Free Speech for People good government group. The complaint to the SBE alleges that Cawthorn, who participated in the January 6 rallies and their planning, is ineligible to run for federal office in the state, based on Section 3 of the Constitution's 14th Amendment which bars from federal office those who previously took an oath to defend the Constitution and then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against it. Rather than defend himself in a Board hearing, as required by state law, Cawthorn filed suit last week in federal court charging the state Board has no right to determine whether he meets eligibility requirements for the ballot. In their response to the suit this week, CNN reported last night, the Board disagrees. Their motion explains that "States have long enforced age and residency requirements, without question and with very few if any legal challenges. The State has the same authority to police which candidates should or should not be disqualified per Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment."

The case obviously has serious implications for a number of other MAGA Caucus members of Congress who participated in the January 6th insurrection and huge implications for Donald Trump's ability to be on the ballot in 2024 in the critical swing-state, if he decides to run again. We discuss that and a few more follow up details on the heels of today's update, following on our in-depth conversation last week about the original complaint with Constitutional law expert John Bonifaz, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech for People.

NEXT, following up on a story we covered in great detail last year, the disgraced and very Trumpy Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk, Tina Peters, was arrested on Tuesday. And the video of her being taken into custody by law enforcement officials is pretty hilarious. You may recall that, in 2020, in the middle of the night, Peters snuck into the secured room where voting equipment is kept in her County with an unauthorized person. They turned off the security cameras and made copies of hard drives containing the critical Election Management System (EMS) software on the county's Dominion Voting Systems machines. That proprietary software was subsequently leaked onto the Internet as Peters participated in a loony "Cybersecurity Forum" with "Stop the Steal" conspiracist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell just days before the same critical software was to be used in several California counties during the GOP's failed attempt to recall the state's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Peters was removed from her duties by the state's Secretary of State and is now being investigated by the state's Attorney General. But her arrest on Tuesday was reportedly related to her use of an iPad to unlawfully record a court hearing for one of her deputies who was also removed from office in relation to the software theft. And, yes, the video of Peters' arrest, as you'll hear, is kinda hilarious.

THEN, we're joined by MARIANNA TREVIÑO-WRIGHT, Executive Director of the National Butterfly Center in far south Texas, which was forced to close its doors indefinitely last week. The sad --- but, hopefully temporary --- news comes on the heels of increasingly violent threats and targeting by Trump's MAGA mobsters over the past three years. She explains how those threats have worsened during that time and in recent days, ever since the Center attempted to sue the Trump Administration in 2017 to stop construction of his border wall on and near the Center's property on the banks of the Rio Grande River in the city of Mission. (We interviewed Treviño-Wright about that on this program in February of 2019.)

The targeting that the Center has endured, as she explains today, includes "outrageous lies" beginning in the fall of 2019, when Steve Bannon and supporters of his fraudulent "We Build the Wall" project (for which he was indicted and later pardoned by Trump) claimed that the wildlife preserve and study area was actually "a cartel front and engaged in human trafficking, that we were selling women and children in to sex slavery [and] that there were dead bodies and terrorists on the property."

"They tell these lies because they work," Treviño-Wright tells me today, citing the QAnon "Pizzagate" lie that almost turned deadly and the 2019 massacre at a Walmart in El Paso, just days after a nearby "We Build the Wall" rally. Two weekends ago in Mission, there was a "We Stand America" rally featuring Trump's disgraced National Security Advisor and QAnon hero Michael Flynn, which coincided with a physical altercation at the Center with a MAGA Congressional candidate from Virginia. There were also a number of rightwing media outlets who shot videos outside the sanctuary, suggesting that the Center was a way-point for human traffickers.

After the 2019 targeting, Treviño-Wright says, "the militia arrived, and a whole bunch of angry people unleashed a torrent of hate, of threats --- by mail, by phone, email, you name it. They came here to tell us to our face what despicable human beings we were, how we should be hanged and burned and all of that."

But menacing "indirect threats" have worsened in recent days, leading to her meeting on Tuesday night with the FBI to discuss a neo-Nazi who, she explains, has "gone to federal prison three times, most recently for his role in inciting the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre," who has recently moved to Texas. "He has been posting online messages using my photo and workplace, and urging the members of his church in his holy war to find out where I live, and everything they can about my children," Treviño-Wright details. You may or may not be shocked by what she says she was told last night by the FBI.

In the meantime, she tells me that the Board of Directors at the North American Butterfly Association, which runs the Center, "is actively seeking to engage licensed security professionals to do the assessments necessary and make the recommendations for training, for physical assets that we need on the property, and maybe even for additional personnel, so that we can re-open safely." But, she laments, "armed guards at a nature center is not at all the kind of look we are going for."

Citing the Lone Star State's Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's policies allowing for indiscriminate, unlicensed open or concealed carry of firearms, Treviño-Wright describes charges it's "the wild wild West down here," though not due to "the things that Fox News and other are saying" about some sort of "crisis" at the border. "The call is coming from inside the house," she asserts. "That's where we are in the United States now. The terrorism is home-grown, and it's our own neighbors and relatives."

Treviño-Wright goes on to offer a timeline for when the Center may be able to re-open to the public; how members of the public can help in the meantime (a membership with the Center, she explains, "comes with benefits for people across the United States" and will help to continue paying employees during these weeks they are forced to remain closed); the status of the Center's ongoing lawsuit to stop the nearby construction on the river, which she says the Biden Administration is continuing under the guise of "levee repair"; and much more --- including some actual good news on butterfly survival if you can imagine such a thing!

She is a fantastic guest and, frankly, a great American. Please tune in for our conversation today.

FINALLY, we close with late breaking word from WaPo that the National Archives has reportedly asked the Dept. of Justice to investigate whether Trump's mishandling of Presidential records --- including absconding to Mar-a-Lago with some 15 boxes of them --- is a criminal violation of the Presidential Records Act. (Which, of course it is. The question is whether Merrick Garland's DoJ will do the right thing and take action on it. Don't hold your breath...)

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Guest: Const'l attorney John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Trump more involved in 2020 gambit to seize voting machines than previously known...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2022 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Self-declared Republican "Constitutionalists" may not turn out to be huge fans of the written text of the U.S. Constitution after all. Particularly Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars from federal office those "who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States...to support the Constitution of the United States...engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same." [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

That's turning out to be very bad news right now for North Carolina's Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn. It could also turn out to be bad news in the not too distant for other members of the MAGA Caucus in Congress and even our disgraced former President --- even if that might be good news for the rest of the nation.

Last month, an official complaint [PDF] was filed by voters with NC's State Board of Elections, charging that Cawthorn must be disqualified from running for re-election this year in the Tar Heel State. The freshman Congressman reportedly participated in planning meetings for the rallies in advance of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, 2021 and spoke at the rally on the Eclipse in front of the White House prior to Donald Trump's speech directing supporters to head to the Capitol and "fight like hell". Cawthorn also joined dozens of other members of the House and Senate that day in voting against Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, despite the lack of evidence of fraud that might have changed the certified results of the election in any state.

The effort to block Cawthorn's candidacy in NC is the first official volley in the 14Point3.org campaign created by good government groups Free Speech for People and Our Revolution. NC state law requires that candidates must meet all requirements for office as detailed in the U.S. Constitution and further requires potential candidates to disprove any challenges to those qualifications, such as their age, legal residency, citizenship status or, in this case, whether or not they've "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against the U.S. Constitution.

We're joined today by longtime Constitutional law expert JOHN BONIFAZ, co-founder and President of the non-partisan, non-profit Free Speech for People, to discuss this rather amazing and actually quite serious challenge to Cawthorn's candidacy and perhaps additional challenges to other insurrectionist candidates such as Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and potentially even one Donald J. Trump.

"It's a 'novel' challenge in the sense that it's the first such challenge since the Reconstruction Era," Bonifaz tells me, while noting that "during that time, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was applied to many Confederates who remained in positions of government power." But, he explains, "the Framers of the 14th Amendment were clear that if you take an oath of office to defend and protect the Constitution, and then you turn around and engage in insurrection or give aid and comfort to it, then you are prohibited from holding future public office. Now, we have the second insurrection in our nation's history and those who incited the insurrection or gave aid or comfort to it must also face accountability under that mandate."

The challenge is serious enough that, on Monday, Cawthorn filed a federal lawsuit in hopes of quashing the inquiry into his role on January 6th. His lawsuit claims that the State Board has no authority to keep him off the ballot. Bonifaz describes the claim as absurd. "If Madison Cawthorn were ten years old and seeking to be on the ballot in North Carolina, there'd be no question that he's ineligible to be placed on the ballot because he doesn't meet the age qualification for a member of Congress. This is another qualification requirement --- you cannot take an oath of office, as Madison Cawthorn did on Jan. 3, 2021, and then turn around and engage in insurrection and hold public office again."

"Instead of complying with the process that is laid out under state law, he has now rushed to federal court with his attorney to try to completely declare the whole process by which candidate qualifications are brought to be unconstitutional" Bonifaz contends. "If it's so hard for him to prove that he's not an insurrectionist, maybe the real question is why Section 3 of the 14th Amendment should not be applied to him."

"If he's really nervous about appearing before the State Board of Elections, that may be a real indication that the Board needs to act in the voters' favor. But the very fact that he's doing an end run around the state process and rushing into federal court ought to tell you a lot about whether Madison Cawthorn wants to appear before the State Board of Elections to defend himself."

Cawthorn's attorney has also offered another unique defense. He charges that the last part of Section 3 states that "Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability" and that the Amnesty Act of 1872 declared just that. Yes, Cawthorn is relying on the dispensation given specifically to former Confederate rebels in 1872 to try and remain on the ballot in 2022. Bonifaz explains on today's program why he is less than impressed with that defense.

For the moment, while there is a separate legal challenge to NC's newly gerrymandered Congressional maps, the qualifications process for all candidates in the state is on hold. Once the maps are settled, however, Bonifaz says the Board's "longstanding process by which voters can bring these kinds of challenges" includes creating a panel that will have 20 days to hear the case in which Cawthorn will have to defend himself, before the matter goes to the full Board and then, potentially, to state court on appeal.

One way or another, the matter must be settled in a few months before the state's primary election. It has resulted in a fascinating conversation among Constitutional law experts on the matter of what it means to "engage" in an insurrection. Bonifaz explains why he believes that conviction for sedition or insurrection in a court of law is not necessary to trigger the Constitutional clause. And if Cawthorn is, in fact, disqualified from running in North Carolina based on restrictions in the U.S. Constitution, what will that mean for other such insurrectionist candidates in other states in 2022 and, indeed, for Trump himself, if and when he attempts to become a candidate on the ballot again in the critical and closely divided swing-state in 2024? All of that, and much more is discussed on today's program.

Also today, speaking of insurrectionist Trump, new exclusives late last night from both CNN and the New York Times suggest that the disgraced, twice-impeached former President was much more personally involved in the attempt to seize the nation's voting machines following the 2020 election than previously reported. Also, that his efforts were far broader than previously known. CNN reports that there were actually two different Executive Orders drafted up for Trump's use. One was recently obtained by Politico, which we discussed last week. That one would have ordered the Department of Defense to seize the machines. The other order would have directed the Department of Homeland Security to do so. Team Trump was reportedly told by DHS that the federal agency lacked the authority to impound the voting systems.

But the Times offers new details on a third effort, which included a personal appeal by Trump in the Oval Office to his then Attorney General Bill Barr to have DOJ impound the voting systems. Barr, to his credit, is said to have immediately shot down the idea, telling the desperate loser that, since there was no evidence of fraud on the systems, the DoJ had no probable cause to believe they had been used in any crime. Trump's A.G. tendered his resignation shortly thereafter.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with bad news for fans of winter sports and good news for opponents of more deadly oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico...

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Guest: Attorney, blogger Keith Barber on where the Jan 6 probe may be heading; Also: Majority of Americans now very worried about climate crisis; Manchin nixing another climate provision from Build Back Better...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2021 4:52pm PT  

As usual, we're looking both forward and back on today's BradCast...and not a whole lot of it looks fantastic in either direction. But their could be some accountability on the horizon, which always looks good to us. [Audio link to full show is below this summary.]

First up, some climate and "sausage making" news. New polling finds that a majority of Americans --- in both major parties --- now finally see our quickly worsening climate crisis as being of "high importance" to them. We break down the new survey and what it does and doesn't mean.

In related matters, as discussed on yesterday's program, there is still a chance that the U.S. could meet President Biden's pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, even after corrupt, coal-state Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin insisted on removing the key program for clean electricity from Biden's Build Back Better reconciliation bill. That program would have paid utility companies to move quickly to clean energy sources and penalized those that stuck with dirty, dangerous fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. But those already long odds may be getting much longer if Manchin is successful in removing yet another key climate provision from the bill, fees that are to be levied against the release of methane from oil and gas wells. Desi Doyen explains why that program is so important and how killing or weakening it, as Manchin reportedly wants, could be a fatal blow to our chances of surviving our ongoing climate emergency.

Next, the Biden Administration this week has, for a second time, rejected our disgraced, twice-impeached former President's attempt to invoke Executive Privilege to prevent the release of more Trump-era White House documents regarding the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. The documents are the second tranche requested of the National Archives by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited attack.

That bad news for the former President (but good news for all democracy-loving Americans) comes on the heels of a series of reporting shedding additional light on Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, including by insurrection at the Capitol. Over the weekend, Washington Post detailed the "war room" effort carried out at the historic Willard Hotel near the White House from December through January, as Trump's activist lawyers, goons and other operatives, such as Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon, plotted various ways to overturn Joe Biden's victory.

Another report over the weekend from Rolling Stone documents the ways in which at least seven GOP U.S. House Reps participating in the planning of the rallies that led to the assault on the Capitol. Those members of Congress, according to two of the organizers who served as sources for the magazine (who are also said to be cooperating with the Jan. 6 Committee) are Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX). In the wake of the reporting, a number of Democrats in the House are now calling for the expulsion of those Republican members.

The Rolling Stone report also cites Gosar as encouraging the two unnamed organizers by telling them they could expect a "blanket pardon" from the President for a separate, unidentified matter in which they are said to have been involved. If true, Gosar's (apparently false) promise, if it was actually made, also seems to place Trump himself squarely at the center of organizing the conspiracy that eventually became a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Monday, on MSNBC, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, who detailed the Willard Hotel war room in their new book PERIL, offered more details, with Woodward reporting that the pair had "talked recently with a former Republican head of the Criminal Division in the Justice Department who said there is a 'lay down case,' just in what we know --- 18 U.S. Code, Section 371 --- a law that says it is a crime to defraud the government in any deceptive way, and that's exactly what they did here."

Last night, citing Woodward's comment, our guest today, KEITH BARBER, who blogs at Daily Kos under the name "KeithDB", broke down exactly what 18 U.S.C. § 371 actually is and how it could or should be applied here. In addition to being a regular dKos contributor on legal and constitutional matters, Barber is a former U.S. Army Captain, a longtime (now retired) attorney, and a lifelong Republican, at least "pre- Trump", according to his profile at the website.

Today, he walks us through the statute in question today, explaining how it is interpreted by the DoJ and how it appears to apply quite perfectly to both Trump and his cronies in their efforts to steal last year's Presidential election through deception and fraud.

Citing the DoJ's own explanation for its attorneys, Barber notes that he "was really surprised how stunningly broad" the statute is. "It basically can refer to impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of government, or depriving any department of government of its lawful right and duty required by law."

"Here," he continues, "we have counting of the Electoral College votes, very much required by law. That has to be done. A duty of Congress by law. And, arguably, the efforts going on in that 'war room', even setting aside the violence question --- the efforts to, through legalese and bogus Constitutional means, overturn the election --- constituted an effort, through deception and dishonesty, to overturn the election." Barber argues that Trump's criminal conspiracy seems to perfectly meets the DoJ's definition of the law, exactly as Woodward and Costa's former DoJ source posited.

Then, of course, the question is: Will the House Select Committee on January 6 cite that section of federal law and, more importantly, will the DoJ take action to enforce it against Trump and/or his cronies? As we also discuss, the DoJ has been less than aggressive in upholding the conspiracy law against Trump in other matters, such as the criminal conspiracy that both federal prosecutors and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, allege that Trump "directed" in the hush-money payoffs to adult film actress Stormy Daniels --- for which his co-conspirator Cohen served time in prison.

There's much more in our conversation, including what to make of Gosar's alleged promise of "blanket pardons" and whether the attempts by Trump attorneys, such as John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, to avoid testimony to the January 6 Committee by claiming attorney/client privilege, will legally hold up. (Spoiler: It won't, explains Barber.)

Finally, we're joined again by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report on one of the busiest weeks in climate news in our 12 years of producing the GNR. So, I won't even try to summarize it here. But, please do tune in for that and much more on today's BradCast!...

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Guest: Col. Moe Davis, former Chief Military Prosecutor at Gitmo, now Dem candidate for NC-11; Also: Hurricane Laura lands hard and Faking America Great Again (again) at RNC Day 3...
By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2020 6:42pm PT  

On Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention, the GOP's candidate for the vacant seat in North Carolina's 11th Congressional District offered some strange remarks. Today, on The BradCast, his Democratic opponent joins us to offer his response. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel MOE DAVIS has a distinguished, 25-year career in the military that includes a boatload of awards and honors. As Chief Military Prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay, he pushed back against the George W. Bush Administration, refusing to use evidence obtained through torture against accused terrorists. When forced to do so anyway, he resigned. Later, while serving as a national security expert for Congress, he penned an op-ed critical of Obama's use of prosecutions at Gitmo. He was fired.

Now he's running for Congress as a Democrat in a NC District where Donald Trump reportedly won by 57 points in 2016, for the vacant seat previously occupied by Trump's latest Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows. But there are new court-ordered Congressional maps this year in North Carolina, after the previous Districts were found to have been unlawfully gerrymandered by state Republicans. The old maps allowed Republicans to hold 10 of 13 U.S. House seats over the past decade in one of the most closely divided states in the nation. Davis (and other experts) contend that while his District may still lean Republican, it is now much less so.

Moreoever, Davis will be running in November against a dashing 25-year old Republican kid --- and apparent Nazi-enthusiast --- by the name of Madison Cawthorn. You may have seen him speak from his wheelchair during Wednesday night's RNC. Col Davis joins us today to respond to some of Cawthorn's somewhat bizarre remarks (in which he incorrectly claimed that James Madison signed the Declaration of Independence when he was 25 --- though Madison did not sign the Declaration at all) and other elements of Cawthorn's apparently made-up resume.

Davis notes that his opponent was recently thanked "for his service to the country" on television by a Fox "News" anchor who apparently associated his wheelchair with military service. In fact, he was paralyzed in a car accident during a Spring Break trip to Florida when he was 18. "He didn't correct her," says Davis. But facts and telling the truth are no longer required in the Republican Party. In fact, both are apparently frowned upon. So Cawthorn could be the party's next superstar! "He plays fast and loose with the truth," charges Davis. "And I guess if you're on the side that 'alternative facts' are acceptable, then he's got a whole bag full." But, Davis concedes, Cawthorn "always gives you a good show. He's a handsome young man, very charismatic and articulate," before adding: "There's a lot of sizzle there but not much beneath the surface."

He says Cawthorn had promised to finally offer proposals for things like climate change and health care during his RNC speech, but instead argued simply that "conservatives" must "win the argument on both health care and the environment." He didn't bother to offer any actual argument, however. That on a night that a monster hurricane was speeding toward the Texas/Louisiana border --- the second one in a week --- while huge wildfires burned out west, after 3 nights of the RNC in which not one speaker seems to have uttered the words "climate change" even once.

"Mr. Cawthorn's plan for addressing health care is that we need more insurance companies," says Davis, who describes that as "laughable...If you're out of work, having more insurance companies isn't going to help you. That's his fresh new plan for the Republican Party.

For his part, Davis explains his own positions on several of these issues and others affecting some of the more rural (Republican-leaning) parts of his District. After the recent court-ordered redistricting in the swingiest of swing-states, the 11th District is now believed to be more Democratic, as it includes much more of Asheville. Davis notes that many describe the progressive city as "the Berkeley of the Blue Ridge....A big blue dot in the middle of a sea of red." He offers confidence that he'll be able to flip this previously "deep red" district to "blue" this year. He also shares his thoughts, as a law enforcement official himself, on calls from the Left for police reform amid continuing protests against systemic racism and a rightwing vigilante who murdered two peaceful protesters in Kenosha, WI on Tuesday night. And we discuss what he thinks about Donald Trump's pretend opposition to the Iraq War and threats to fill up Guantanamo Bay again, after it was nearly emptied during the Obama Administration.

Also on today's show: Desi Doyen joins us for details on the devastating damage wrought overnight by the monster Hurricane Laura in Louisiana and the bizarre, dangerous Night 3 of the RNC where Vice President Mike Pence gave his Presidential-sounding keynote address. He warned that violence in the streets under the Trump Administration is actually what we can expect, ironically enough, from "Joe Biden's America" --- to a maskless crowd filled with vulnerable elderly war veterans. Hopefully the event does not turn out to have been a COVID-19 super-spreader event, or Pence's closing promise to "Make America Great Again...Again" may never come to pass...again.

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Guest: Howie Klein on Tuesday's primary results in MN, GA, elsewhere; Also: Kamala's first appearance as Biden's running mate...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2020 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we look at noteworthy results after Tuesday's state primary elections in Minnesota, Georgia, Wisconsin, Vermont and Connecticut. But we begin with problems voting on Tuesday in (where else?) Georgia, and the quickly expanding efforts by Republican Secretaries of State in key battlegrounds to make mail-in voting as difficult as possible this November, as per Donald Trump's bidding.

In Georgia, as we noted on yesterday's show, despite a successful program to help keep voters safe amid the coronavirus pandemic by sending absentee ballot applications to all active registered voters during the June primary, their Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger has decided not to do so again before the November general elections, despite the spike in COVID infections and deaths in the state since then. A record 5 million Georgians are expected to vote (or try to) this year, when the battleground state is hoped by Democrats to finally flip from "red" to "blue for the first time in decades in the Presidential race and when there are not one, but two vulnerable GOP U.S. Senate Seats on the ballot as well.

In Kentucky, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing a challenge from Democratic former fighter pilot Amy McGrath, we're seeing an echo of Raffensperger's attempt to suppress the vote in November. Despite a largely successful June primary, when there were no restrictions on which voters were allowed to request an absentee ballot, the state's Republican Sec. of State Michael Adams on Tuesday submitted a plan to the Governor to restore restrictions, limiting absentees largely to the elderly and those with preexisting health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. That, despite the widely praised procedures used in June in the Bluegrass State, where the rate of infections and deaths has also spiked since the mid-summer primary. Adams' absurd excuses for the proposed restrictions on Vote-by-Mail reveal that this is much more about suppression than safety or efficiency. For example, while claiming that election officials and the U.S. Postal Service will be overwhelmed in processing the number of absentee ballots if Kentucky again allows no-excuse absentee voting, Adams is also proposing that only ballots that arrive by Election Day may be counted. Previously, officials had a week after Election Day to process ballots post-marked by then, but which arrived in the days following. Luckily, Kentucky now has a Democratic Governor who may need to approve (or veto) Adams' plan before it can be enacted.

In the neighboring perennial swing-state of Ohio, where Joe Biden and Donald Trump are believed to be neck-and-neck this year, Republican Sec. of State Frank LaRose announced on Wednesday that he is barring county Boards of Election from offering more than one single secure drop-box per county for depositing Vote-by-Mail ballots. After waiting for three weeks for an opinion from the Republican Attorney General as to whether the state's 88 counties could legally deploy extra drop-boxes, LaRose announced today that he could wait no longer. He says he believes it is now too late to make any changes to how the election will be administered. So there must only be one drop-box outside of each County's elections office. He also claimed that adding extra drop-boxes would result in lawsuits like the one filed by the Trump Campaign in late June in Pennsylvania, which argues that the use of drop-boxes in that key battleground state --- where they were successfully deployed without problem during the state's June primary --- is actually unconstitutional.

These are voter suppression attempts, period. Trump and his cronies are attempting to steal the election in plain sight. Don't. Let. Them. Inform yourself and make plans for safely voting this year NOW.

Then, we're joined once again by HOWIE KLEIN of the "Down With Tyranny!" blog and the progressive BlueAmerica PAC. He has been offering analysis on the show of late, from a progressive perspective, on the late season state primary results. Today, after sharing his thoughts on Joe Biden's new running-mate Kamala Harris (he is "not a fan") and who he might like to see appointed to fill her U.S. Senate seat if Democrats win, we cover freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar's win in the Democratic Primary in Minnesota 5th Congressional District on Tuesday against an AIPAC-supported challenger.

Then we discuss the win by Marjorie Taylor Greene --- a QAnon conspiracy theorist who has proudly made racist, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic statements --- in the Republican primary run-off in Georgia's 14th Congressional District. For some reason, AIPAC did not fund her challenger, despite her unapologetic anti-Semitic remarks, and the fact that she is most likely headed to Congress after easily winning her runoff in a very Republican district.

Nor did AIPAC manage to fund a challenger to 25-year old Republican Madison Cawthorn, an apparent Nazi sympathizer in North Carolina who Klein writes about today, and who appears likely to win the seat vacated by Trump's latest Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows this November. "They love him on the right," says Klein. "They're already seeing him as a future US Senator."

Klein also offers a preview of next Tuesday's state primaries in Florida where a progressive group outside of the state Democratic Party has worked, for the first time, to recruit Democratic candidates to run in each of the Sunshine State's 27 Congressional districts. "I always say the Florida Democratic Party is lucky that there's an Ohio Democratic Party, because otherwise the Florida Democratic Party would be the worst, instead of the second worst in the country," he says. "So the environmental caucus recruited all of these great candidates. The Democratic Party flipped out. ... But there's a really, really good roster of state legislative candidates and, on top of that, there are several excellent Democrats running for the U.S. Congress," he tells me, specifically citing Adam Christensen in Florida's 3rd Congressional District.

Finally, we close with a bit of Kamala Harris' remarks today from Delaware, where she and Biden appeared together for the first time since he named her as his running mate for the 2020 Democratic Presidential ticket...

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Guest: Howie Klein of 'Down With Tyranny' on Tuesday results; Also: DoJ corruption spreads to Judiciary in Flynn case; DoJ whistleblowers in Congress; All eyes on 'last firewall' of November election...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2020 6:36pm PT  

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...

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