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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Bolton Bombshells; Starr Hypocrisy; L.A.'s Vote System Debacle: 'BradCast' 1/27/20
Also: Tragic death of an L.A. icon and listener calls on all of the above...
Sunday 'Elephant in the Room' Toons
Another unavoidable set of the week's best toons in PDiddie's latest collection...
Dems Wrap at Senate Trial; CA Approves Unverifiable Voting in L.A.: 'BradCast' 1/24/20
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Schiff's powerful plea; CA SoS certifies new touchscreens, adds curious 'hand-marked paper ballot' provision...
'Even Puts Nixon to Shame': Damning Evidence at Senate Trial: 'BradCast' 1/23/20
Repubs called out for blocking key docs, witnesses; Dershowitz, Graham cited for flipping 1998 positions; Fox 'News' bags out; 'Doomsday Clock' nears 'midnight'...
'Green News Report' 1/23/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Big Oil rebrands for climate change; Trump DOJ and Big Oil in cahoots; U.S. drinking water more toxic than previously known; PLUS: Greta's dose of climate reality for Davos...
Previous GNRs: 1/21/20 - 1/16/20 - Archives...
Impeachment Trial Begins With a Trial About Holding a Trial: 'BradCast' 1/21/20
Repub Senate blocks document, witness subpoenas as White House offers remarkably hypocritical defense...
'Green News Report' 1/21/20
World's oceans hottest ever recorded; Climate change worries Wall Street; PLUS: Federal court dismisses climate kids' lawsuit...
My Letter to CA's SoS on L.A. County's New, Unverifiable Touchscreen Voting Systems
Dangerous VSAP system must not be certified! HAND-MARKED paper ballots needed for 2020 elections!...
Sunday 'Ding Dong the Witch is...' Toons
PDiddie documents yet another week over the rainbow in his latest toon collection!...
On Bernie's 'Electability':
'BradCast' 1/17/20
Guest: Historian, author Richard Hayes Phillips; Also: Security experts worried about L.A.'s new, uncertified, unverifiable vote system...
A Statistical Response to the Charge That Bernie Sanders is 'Unelectable'
Analysis of 2016 primary election numbers in three key states appears to counter the allegation...
Parnas Sings, Sen. Trial Begins, Suit Against L.A.'s New Vote System: 'BradCast' 1/16/20
D.C. bombshells; Huge fail in L.A.'s $300M vote system, County Clerk finally responds...
'Green News Report' 1/16/20
GNR SPECIAL COVERAGE: Climate change pervades the final Democratic presidential primary debate before 2020 voting begins...
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...


Also: Tragic death of an L.A. icon and listener calls on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 1/27/2020 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The President's defense team picked up on Monday where they left off on Saturday in their Opening (and potentially Closing) Argument in the Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump. But that defense was hit with a major bombshell by the New York Times on Sunday which could (emphasis on "could") turn out to be a game-changer for the previously expected course of this trial. [Audio link to program is posted at the end of this summary.]

But first, and before we eventually open the phones today, a few updates on the tragic Sunday death of Los Angeles Lakers' legend and NBC icon Kobe Bryant, who was killed along with his 13-year old daughter and seven others during a helicopter ride on a very foggy day just outside of L.A. While the shocking death of the 41-year old Bryant has reverberated around the globe, the pain of his loss was particularly acute here in Los Angeles yesterday.

In other Los Angeles news with national implications, we've got a bit more information on Friday's "conditional certification" [PDF] by CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla of L.A. County's new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system set for first-time use in the upcoming March 3rd Super Tuesday Presidential primaries. Among the updates, we've got a bit more information on the so-called "hand-marked paper ballot" that Padiila has ordered be made available at Voting Centers "for any voter that requests to cast" one. It will, according to the Secretary's mandate, be a "write-in absentee ballot," modeled on the Federal Voting Assistance Program's federal write-in absentee ballot [PDF] --- meant as a ballot of last resort for overseas voters who do not receive a normal absentee ballot in time to cast a vote --- that requires voters to write in all of the names of the offices and candidates for which they would like to vote. As much confusion and chaos as L.A. County's new, $300,000,000 "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP voting system is likely to cause at the polls this year, the provision for a second-rate, hand-marked "write-in ballot" as the only means for casting a hand-marked ballot at the polling place, is likely to make things even more chaotic. We detail that, and a few other points related to the certification of the new system on Friday, despite a newly filed lawsuit and warnings from cybersecurity and voting systems experts after its failure to meet more than 40 California Voting System Standards, according to the independent testers hired to analyze the system during Padilla's certification process.

Next it's on to the President's lawyers' case being presented once again as we went to air today, in the U.S. Senate, where Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr, the Special Prosecutor who recommended impeachment against Bill Clinton for lying about an affair) argued hypocritically that Trump could not Constitutionally be impeached for Abuse of Power (Article 1 of the two Impeachment Articles against him), even though Starr's own recent book on impeachment explains that Abuse of Power was the capstone of Clinton's impeachment case in 1998. That, and his argument that impeachment was just too divisive to put the country through without a bi-partisan political consensus was a bit hard to stomach for those of us old enough to remember the Clinton impeachment.

But the most noteworthy Impeachment-related news today is John Bolton, Trump's former National Security Advisor, reportedly charging in a manuscript of his new book, according to the New York Times, that Trump was directly involved in the unlawful freeze of $391 million allocated to Ukrainian for military assistance, unless the Ukrainians agreed to turn over documents related to an investigation of Joe Biden meant to help Trump's 2020 reelection changes. That alleged Abuse of Power is at the heart of Trump's impeachment, and the manuscript of Bolton's forthcoming book reportedly charges that Attorney General Bill Barr, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo and Trump's Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney were all directly aware of the scheme, according to the Times blockbuster report.

That explosive news on Sunday has, according to several different news outlets, led a number of key GOP Senators to rethink their previous votes against calling for new witnesses and documents in the Senate Trial. Will four or more Republican Senators now agree to vote in favor of subpoenaing Bolton and other related (and/or unrelated) witnesses? That appears to be the question of the moment in this matter as we go to air today, and one we open up to discuss with callers near the end of today's program...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Martin Longman of Washington Monthly and Progress Pond...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2020 6:31pm PT  

Our special coverage of the ongoing U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump continues on today's BradCast following Tuesday's marathon session that ended at nearly 2am in the nation's capital, before beginning again with opening arguments on Wednesday. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

On Tuesday, Republicans voted repeatedly along party lines to block 11 different amendments proposed by Democrats to allow for various first-hand witnesses to Trump's alleged High Crimes and Misdemeanors and documents being withheld by the White House that underscore other evidence in the two Articles of Impeachment.

Republican Senators blocked amendments proposed by Democrats to subpoena documents from White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney; Documents from the State Department detailing the President's call with Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelinsky, as Trump withheld military assistance and a White House meeting in hopes of strong-arming Ukraine's new anti-corruption President to announce (not to carry out, just to announce) investigations into Trump's potential 2020 political rival Joe Biden; Documents from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which the President illegally ordered to withhold nearly $400 million in Congressionally-appropriated military assistance; Documents from the Pentagon where officials were reportedly troubled about potential violations of law in withholding the funds; a subpoena for Mulvaney himself to give testimony in the trial; A subpoena to two OMB staffers who carried out the hold on military assistance to the war-torn country; A subpoena for Trump's own former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who regarded Trump's Ukraine scheme as a "drug deal" and who has said he'd be willing to testify if subpoenaed by the Senate because, as he claims, he knows more about all of this than is currently publicly known.

In vote after vote, Republicans voted as a block, with 53 votes, to deny every Amendment offered by Democrats, even against ensuring votes for subpoenas at a later date or to have the Chief Justice authorize subpoenas if the Republican-appointed John Roberts, who presides over the trial, felt any particular witness or document would have probative value by being relevant to the case. "One side is not afraid of a fair trial," lead House Manager Adam Schiff argued, "one is terrified" that the truth might come out.

Meanwhile, Trump offered false comments to reporters overseas at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he echoed his previous lies that he would "love" to have Bolton and Mulvaney and his Sec. of State Mike Pompeo and former Energy Secretary Rick Perry testify at the Senate trial, but he just can't allow it due to "national security" and "executive privilege" concerns.

Back home, the White House team's public defense at the first day of the trial was not well received, even by Republicans, including Chris Wallace of Fox "News" (which is now, unlike actual news outlets like CNN and MSNBC, breaking away during trial coverage for commercials and regular programming, while leaving the impeachment proceedings in a little silent box in the corner of the screen), the House Republicans' own Constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, and George Conway, the longtime Republican attorney and activist husband of Trump's Senior White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway.

In a blistering interview with CNN on Wednesday, George Conway charged that Senate Republicans "don't want to hear the evidence because they know the truth, they know he's guilty"; that the charges against Trump are "much, much more serious" than those against Bill Clinton during his impeachment (on which Conway worked); that Trump is a "pathological liar" who "needs to be removed now" from office, because he is "thoroughly unfit for office". Kellyanne's husband also said that he is "deeply saddened" by what has happened to his Republican Party, but sees this historic event as a "moment of reckoning" for the nation and his party.

We're joined today by MARTIN LONGMAN (long known as "BooMan" to many old time progressive blog readers) from Washington Monthly and Progress Pond, for commentary as the Democratic House Managers begin their first day of opening arguments (which could also be their closing arguments if Republicans vote again next week to block witness subpoenas following the White House attorneys' opening argument). We also discuss the rules for McConnell's "scam trial" and why it is that Republicans seem to "lose every round and still win on the scorecard" --- not just in this matter, but going back as far as the Florida 2000 election.

Finally, we close with a few audio clips from Tuesday, when Democratic House Manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler accurately charged that Trump's lawyers "lie and lie and lie and lie", and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said in response --- with a straight face --- that "President Trump is a man of his word." The heated late-night exchange resulted in a reprimand for both sides as Tuesday's marathon 13-hour session drew toward its close.

But we close today with a clip from Rep. Schiff's opening argument, citing a chillingly apt warning from founder Alexander Hamilton about "a man unprincipled in private life desperate in his fortune, bold in his temper, possessed of considerable talents...despotic in his ordinary demeanour [and] known to have scoffed in private at the principles of liberty [who] is seen to mount the hobby horse of popularity—to join in the cry of danger to liberty --- to take every opportunity of embarrassing the General Government & bringing it under suspicion --- to flatter and fall in with all the nonsense of the zealots of the day --- It may justly be suspected that his object is to throw things into confusion that he may ‘ride the storm and direct the whirlwind."

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Bombshells from Giuliani's right-hand man; GAO says Trump Ukraine scheme unlawful; Senators sworn to 'impartial justice' by SCOTUS Chief; Major design fail found in L.A.'s $300M vote system; L.A. County Clerk finally responds to our coverage...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2020 6:23pm PT  

Really just blockbusters and bombshells from top to bottom on today's BradCast. From historic impeachment proceedings to game-changing disclosures to potentially big legal trouble for L.A.'s imperiled new touchscreen voting system. [Link to complete show is posted below summary.]

First up, the historic Impeach Trial of Donald John Trump got officially under way in the U.S. Senate today, with a solemn oath-taking ceremony administered by Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts who will preside over the trial that could determine whether Trump remains President of the United States.

But before we even got there on Thursday, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) came out with its finding that the Trump Administration did, indeed, violate federal law last year when it withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine as appropriated by a bipartisan vote of Congress. "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," the decision says, finding that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) "withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act." That matter is at the heart of Trump's impeachment.

But before the GAO findings were released on Thursday morning, or Senators could take their oath to do "impartial justice" as jurors on Thursday afternoon as the impeachment trial began, Rachel Maddow's Wednesday night blockbuster interview on MSNBC with Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born right-hand man to Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, shook up just about everything and everybody. Parnas, facing charges of campaign finance violations, sung --- and sung like crazy. On everybody. "Everybody was in the loop," he said.

He claimed Donald Trump knew from the jump about the scheme to strong-arm Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden to help his 2020 reelection bid. So did Vice President Mike Pence, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Congressman Devin Nunes and even Attorney General William Barr. We share a few clips from Maddow's jaw-dropping scoop of an interview --- with a recommendation that you go check out the whole thing (which is set to have a Part 2 on Thursday night), before we move on to a few blockbusters and bombshells closer to home out here on the west coast.

Earlier in the week, we broke exclusive details on the pending certification of a brand-new, $300,000,000 unverifiable touchscreen voting system set for first time use in Los Angeles County --- the nation's largest --- in this year's March 3rd Super Tuesday primary elections. As we reported, independent testers hired by the Sec. of State's office to carry out certification testing of the new systems discovered more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards as the Public Comment period for certification of the County's "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system ends this coming Monday. Given the enormous problems with the system set for use in the critical 2020 Presidential election, we have been urging voters to send public comments seeking a HAND-MARK paper ballot system instead of the failed, unverifiable new touchscreen systems, to the Sec. of State at VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov.

All the while, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has refused, for months, to respond to our serious questions about the systems or appear on the show. Well, we've got some new news today on all of that, including a potential lawsuit by the City of Beverly Hills, whose City Council, according to LAist's Libby Denkmann, has voted to approve a suit after discovering the effects of a serious design flaw in the system. The new VSAP tablets only display four candidates per race, before a voter must select a "MORE" button to be taken to a second page. That "MORE" button is right next to the "NEXT" button on the tablet voting system. And that "NEXT" button, takes voters to the next race on the ballot without voters ever even seeing the additional candidates in the race. This is a very serious flaw that is likely to cause havoc for candidates whose random positions on the ballot come as Number 5 or higher in any given race, including in the upcoming Presidential primaries. (If I'm Dean Logan today, I am praying that Bernie Sanders doesn't draw the fifth or later position on the March 3rd Democratic ballot!)

That matter is just one of several that Logan has either refused to speak to or has mislead on when I questioned him, or tried to, as I detail on today's program. But, given the noise we've caused over the past several days with this on The BradCast, Logan finally deigned to offer a Twittered response, excoriating our coverage of the certification testing failures. We share his misleading response in full on today's program, along with a number of the serious points that he either failed to respond to at all, or is attempting to mislead the public about in his tweeted answers. (For example, the fact that after a computer-marked ballot has been supposedly "verified" by the voter, it is sent back through the same printer path where it could be changed by the system with no way for the voter to ever know.)

Finally today, as if that's not enough blockbusters for you, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with our special coverage of Tuesday night's 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Des Moines, the last one before voting begins next month, and one in which our climate crisis, at long last, was front and center throughout much of the forum, happily enough...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Trump chooses deadly confrontation with Iran to distract from his impeachment, callers ring in on it; Also: Bolton willing to testify in Senate 'if subpoenaed'; A voter registration heads-up for California!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/6/2020 5:56pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a much needed holiday break! (Thanks to the great Nicole Sandler for helping us to sneak in some down time!) Sadly, things are much worse --- and more dangerous --- now than they were before the end of the new year, thanks to Donald Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani, placing the U.S. --- and the world --- on the brink of yet another potential war. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

The Germans were right last year. Donald Trump is the greatest threat to world peace. Far greater than Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, or Iran's Ayatollah. By far.

The bulk of today's program is devoted to developments and fall-out since Trump's ill-considered attack on Soleimani late last week --- including the tens of millions of Iranians who Trump helped unify to turn out for Soleimani's funeral processions; Trump's threat of war crimes against Iran should they dare to retaliate against what is likely already a war crime; Iran's declaration that the 2015 anti-nuclear agreement which Trump pulled the U.S. out of is now all but dead; Iraq's Parliamentary resolution to throw all U.S. forces out of the country, and Trump threat of sanctions against them if they do; Trump's 2011 (and 2012 and 2013) false predictions that Obama would start a war on Iran to win reelection "because of his inability to negotiate properly"; and calls from listeners on all of the above.

Of course, the real reason Trump decided to kill Soleimani is almost certainly to distract from his end of year impeachment and upcoming trial in the U.S. Senate. On that front, we covered former National Security Advisor John Bolton's announcement today that he would testify as a witness in the trial, if subpoenaed by the Senate (which Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are still blocking, along with all first-hand eye witnesses requested by Democrats).

And also, a few heads-ups regarding voter registration in California (and elsewhere) in advance of March 3rd's Super Tuesday Presidential primaries. If you live in California, and are registered as a "No Party Preference" voter, you will either have to request a Democratic, Libertarian or American Independent Presidential ballot, or register yourself as a Republican, Green Party or Peace and Freedom Party member if you wish to vote in one of their primaries. Otherwise, in California, if you are a permanent Vote-by-Mail voter, you will receive a ballot in the mail without any Presidential options. Tune in to today's show for more details on that and what you need to do about it....very soon! (At least if you wish to avoid voting on 100% unverifiable touchscreens here in Los Angeles County and elsewhere on Primary Election Day!)

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Special coverage of both with David Bender and Jackie Schechner...
By Brad Friedman on 11/21/2019 5:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we impossibly offer special coverage of both Wednesday night's Democratic 2020 Presidential Debate in Atlanta and Wednesday night and Thursday morning's blockbuster public impeachment hearings in the U.S. House. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today: Wednesday's second session in the House Intelligence Committee featuring Laura Cooper, Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense for Russia and David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, in which Cooper revealed that Ukrainian officials were aware of the Trump Administration's freeze on nearly $400 million in military assistance at least a month earlier than previously known. The claim undercuts GOP claims that the pressure campaign on Ukraine couldn't have been a quid pro quo because Ukraine didn't know their military assistance had been withheld. Both officials says they had no idea why the White House had frozen the funds. Their testimony also backs up the bombshell testimony earlier in the day from Gordon Sondland, Donald Trump's EU Ambassador, who charged that the scheme amounted to a clear quid pro quo by the President, as Sondland was assigned to take the lead in Trump's pressure campaign to force the Ukrainian President into announcing investigations of the 2016 election and Joe Biden in exchange for a White House meeting and millions of dollars in military aid approved by a bipartisan Congress.

And, on Thursday, David Holmes, political adviser at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine and Dr. Fiona Hill, who served as Trump's top Russia and Ukraine expert on the National Security Council under John Bolton, offered riveting testimony in the last of the Committee's scheduled impeachment hearings, for now. Holmes detailed the unsecured cell-phone conversation he overheard between Trump and Sondland at a cafe in Kiev, in which the President was eager to hear about the investigations into his political rivals on the day after his infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Holmes said Sondland told him Trump didn't care about Ukraine, other than as it pertained to the President's personal reelection interests. Hill, a longtime non-partisan foreign service officer, shared gripping details on the Russia/Ukraine conflict, describing the Trump/Rudy Giuliani/GOP claim that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 election as a "fictional narrative" propagated by Russia. She detailed Bolton's description of Rudy Giuliani as "a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up," adding, "I think that’s where we are today." Hill also went on to explain Trump's pursuit of what she described as a "domestic political errand" that came at the expense of official American foreign policy.

Then, we move on to Wednesday evening's 2020 Presidential Debate featuring ten candidates --- Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Harris, Klobuchar, Steyer, and Yang --- in the 5th such forum of the year, this one sponsored and moderated by hosts from MSNBC and Washington Post. We're joined for insight and analysis on BOTH of our special coverage topics today by longtime political activist, reporter, author, broadcaster and documentarian DAVID BENDER, Political Director of Progressive Voices Network and journalist, producer and communications expert JACKI SCHECHNER, formerly of CNN and CurrentTV.

Among the many debate-related matters we discuss today: How Wednesday's forum, lead by four female journalists, differed from previous debates this year; whether Democrats are focusing too much or not enough on the dangers posed to the nation and the world by Donald Trump; whether the Democratic Party is adequately reaching out to the anti-war left (some of whom abandoned them for Trump in 2016); Joe Biden's frailty and Tulsi Gabbard's politics; and what if any effect Michael Bloomberg may have on the race if and when he finally enters --- as he continues to threaten...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Special impeachment hearing coverage with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2019 4:42pm PT  

It was what many are characterizing today as a "John Dean moment" in the public impeachment hearings of Donald J. Trump. His $1 million donor turned swamp-dwelling Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, dropped some bombshell testimony on Wednesday --- and we do not use that word on The BradCast lightly. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Sondland, who Trump described as "a really good man and great American" as recently as last month, admitted in his blockbuster testimony that the President's scheme to withhold a White House meeting and $391 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the announcement of investigations into his political rivals was, in fact, a "quid pro quo".

Moreover, Sondland tossed a whole bunch of top Trump officials and allies under the bus in the bargain --- including Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Mike Pence and, especially, the President of the United States himself. "Everyone," he said, "was in the loop. It was no secret." He explained that he "followed the directions of the President" when he "worked with Mr. Giuliani" on the Ukraine pressure campaign "because the President directed us to do so." That, barely two months after Steve Doocy of Trump's favorite TV show, Fox & Friends, declared: "If the President said 'I'll give you the money, but you gotta investigate Joe Biden --- that is really off-the-rails wrong."

We were joined once again today, just moments after the Sondland hearing concluded, by our official BradCast partner-in-impeachable-crimes, the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo, with extended explosive excerpts of today's testimony, along with insight and analysis. Our special coverage continues with the remarkable events that transpired on Wednesday in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee's ongoing impeachment proceedings on what may well prove to be an historic day (or the long-awaited beginning of the end?) for the shamefully failed Presidency of Donald J. Trump...

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Special impeachment hearing coverage with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2019 4:06pm PT  

We go to air, on today's BradCast, midway between the two sets of witnesses on Day 3 of public hearings in the U.S. House impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump, with testimony from Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine and Tim Morrison, the National Security Council's former chief Russia and Ukraine adviser --- both of whom have since resigned in the wake of the Ukraine scandal --- scheduled for the afternoon session. So we focus today on the testimony from Tuesday's morning session featuring Lt. Col Alexander Vindman, the Ukraine expert on Donald Trump's NSC and Jennifer Williams, Vice President Mike Pence's Ukraine expert. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Both of those witnesses have served for years as government officials. Williams was hired as a political appointee by the George W. Bush Administration after working on his Presidential campaign. Vindman, who immigrated here from Soviet-era Ukraine with his family when he was three, is a 20-year, decorated military man and Purple Heart recipient after being wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2014. Both officials were listening in during Donald Trump's infamous July 25 call to Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelensky when Trump asked him for the "favor" of investigations into Joe Biden and his son's involvement with Ukrainian gas company Burisma, and into the Russia-supported theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. President election.

Williams described the President's phone call with Zelensky as "inappropriate", as did Vindman, who was so "shocked" by the attempt at strong-arming Ukraine for Trump's personal political purposes that he brought his concerns to the NSC's top legal counsel on two separate occasions. The first time was after a July 10 White House meeting with Ukrainian officials, after then National Security Advisor John Bolton objected strongly to Trump-donor turned EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland (who testifies on Wednesday) informing the foreign emissaries that they would need to carry out those investigations in order to receive a White House meeting for President Zelensky, and again after the July 25 phone call when nearly $400 million in military aid was held up by the Administration in exchange for the "favor" Trump sought from the Ukrainians. Vindman testified today that he "couldn't believe what [he] was hearing".

“It was probably an element of shock — that maybe, in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out, and how this was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security,” Vindman explained.

We share portions of Vindman's testimony on both of the disturbing July events, including his concerns that the pressure campaign was a threat to U.S. national security, along with his personal response to the attacks he has received from the President and others since his role in what Democrats describe as the President's bribery scandal has come to light.

We're joined once again by our special BradCast Impeachment Correspondent Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to discuss today's proceedings, including how Vindman's testimony blew up the Trump/GOP narrative that the pressure campaign was meant to combat corruption in Ukraine; what Democrats hope Americans take away from today's testimony; how Republicans are responding in their alternate reality world; how John Bolton might actually prove to be a hero in this story (as unlikely as that seems); and, by the way, what was Donald Trump doing in his unannounced, rushed, mysterious weekend trip to Walter Reed Medical Center anyway?

Finally today, as if all of that is not enough, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, on record, climate change-fueled flooding in the historic city of Venice; Ford's new all-electric Mustang SUV, and a landmark, bipartisan legislative plan passed by New Zealand to reach net zero carbon emissions in just over a decade...

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Also: Impeachment 101; NSC official offers first-hand corroboration of Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2019 5:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast, in an historic vote, the U.S. House officially adopted formal rules and procures to govern the ongoing impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump. We also do a bit of helpful Impeachment 101 to explain how it works, and what we know historically about the process from the three prior Presidential impeachment proceedings against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. [Audio link to program is posted below.]

Then, it's on to today's vote in the U.S. House, undercutting a limp Republican argument --- already undercut by a federal court last week which determined no such vote was actually required by the Constitution to proceed with impeachment --- a sharply divided House adopted a resolution [PDF] by a 232 to 196 vote, setting out official rules for how the inquiry will proceed. All present members of the GOP voted against the measure and all but two Democrats (conservative ones, from districts won by Trump in 2016) voted in favor. So did former Tea Party Republican turned Independent Rep. Justin Amash of Texas.

The resolution sets the ground rules for upcoming public hearings in the House Judiciary Committee with witnesses who have testified to members behind-closed-doors in recent weeks. The adopted procedures allow the President and his attorneys to participate and cross-examine witnesses in those hearings, as well as request subpoenas for their own witnesses and other evidence, as long as they do not obstruct the proceedings or continue to withhold evidence. The Democrats are targeting a timeline that could see a vote on Articles of Impeachment in the Judiciary Committee and then the full House by Christmas, unless it is further derailed by continuing White House obstruction.

We cover the historic floor arguments today in favor of the resolution offered by Democrats from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff to several rank-and-file members, along with arguments against the resolution from members like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

Even as today's vote was carried out, both Democratic and Republican impeachment investigators from the Intelligence, Foreign Services and Oversight Committees continued taking depositions behind closed doors on Thursday, from witnesses testifying about Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine, which is at the center of the current effort to consider official Articles of Impeachment against the President. Testifying in the House today was the top Russia expert on the White House's National Security Council, Tim Morrison, who was hand-picked by his immediate superior, the extremely right-wing then National Security Advisor John Bolton (who Democrats have also summoned to offer testimony in coming days.) Morrison reportedly corroborated accounts by other senior Administration officials that Trump did, in fact, personally push to withhold $391 million in Congressionally-allocated security assistance to Ukraine in exchange for a commitment from its new President to open an investigation into Joe Biden and a conspiracy theory that Ukraine (not Russia) attempted to manipulate the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with new evidence that Donald Trump is losing --- and losing badly --- the "War on Coal", the ominous sign for every state offered by California's wildfires and power blackouts, a very disturbing new study on sea level rise, and a number of major automakers joining Trump in his battle against California and a number of other major automakers on mileage and emissions standards...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: 40k false voter purges prevented in Ohio; The return of 'GNR'!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2019 4:31pm PT  

Our long road toward catching up with a month's worth of news continues on today's BradCast, with voting news out of Battleground Ohio, the latest on Trump's impeachment and chaos in Syria (and the thing that ties them together), as well as the latest environmental and climate news after a month away. [Audio link to show posted at end of summary.]

First up today: Some surprisingly good news for voters out of Ohio! The biggest surprise, perhaps, is that it comes, at least in part, thanks to the state's new Republican Sec. of State Frank LaRose, who had the good sense to check with voting rights groups beforewrongly purging some 40,000 perfectly active and eligible voters from the rolls who should never have been flagged for removal in the first place! Most of his fellow Republicans are likely not happy about that.

Then, we're joined by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo to discuss the latest impeachment news and Trump's deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syrian.

The impeachment inquiry over Trump's attempt to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for its President's trumped-up state investigation of Joe Biden and the 2016 election continues to gain steam, with half a dozen or more current and former Executive Branch officials now lining up to testify --- and not in favor of Trump or his lackey lawyer Rudy Giuliani --- to Congressional investigators. Trump's former Russia and Europe expert, Fiona Hill, testified for some ten hours on Monday, reportedly citing Giuliani's shadow foreign policy schemes meant to undermine U.S. foreign policy and personally enrich the President in some way.

According to reports of her deposition, her superior on the National Security Counsel, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, was so alarmed by Giuliani's efforts he described the former NYC Mayor turned Fox 'News' conspiracist as a "hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up". Bolton reportedly tried to warn White House attorneys about Giuliani's many attempts to undermine U.S. Ukraine policy. Bolton himself, the unlikeliest of heroes in this shameful saga, may soon be called to testify to Congress in coming days, along with a long list of other State, Defense and National Security officials who now seem eager to defy the White House's strategy of denying both documents and testimony in the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. "They're defying the White House telling them not to go testify," Parton observes, "That is a change. That is different than what we've seen. Suddenly that stonewall is crumbling."

We also discuss Parton's reasonable theory as to why this matter has finally resulted in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi giving full permission to her caucus to proceed with impeachment, where clear evidence of felony obstruction of justice from Robert Mueller's report and Trump's hush-money payoffs to porn stars to help win the 2016 Presidential election did not. "This is the same kind of stuff that Trump was accused of [in 2016], that we all suspected him of doing, colluding with a foreign government to sabotage his rival's campaign. Here he is [with Ukraine] doing it in real time. I think that's really what has made the difference."

In not-at-all-unrelated news, Parton goes on to discuss her latest Salon column in which she details how Trump's Syria pullout appears to be anything but an impulsive decision after a recent phone call with Turkish President Erdogan, as many in the media are still describing the disastrous move. She explains how the U.S. abandonment of our Kurdish allies with the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Northern Syria is of a piece with Trump's feckless Ukraine policy. In both cases, she explains, there is one unavoidable fact in common --- even for those of us who may not be Russia hawks: both actions, like so many other controversial policies of the Trump Administration, are in the clear and direct interest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Finally, we close today with the long-awaited return of the Green News Report, which we had been forced to suspend over the past month due to my family emergency. Somehow or another, Desi Doyen manages to fit in a month's worth of green news into the latest GNR in just six minutes. Buckle up --- and stay that way!...

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Guest host Angie Coiro with the news and a long chat with Shannon Watts...
By Angie Coiro on 9/18/2019 4:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast - guest hosted by moi, Angie Coiro - we hear from the worst and the best of human beings: first Corey Lewandowski then SHANNON WATTS.

Lewandowski worked very hard to smarm and smirk a House committee into submission, as they probed the possibility of impeaching Donald Trump. Arguably, he had the upper hand until Barry Berke took the mound. Then the façade began to crumble. Check out my analysis.

The news roundup reveals a very surprising – as in, compassionate and sensible – proposal from a Trump advisor. Advisory: don't hold your breath waiting for Trump to jump on it.

A jarring new public service announcement from the folks at Sandy Hook Promise – which leads into a long-form interview with Moms Demand Action founder SHANNON WATTS. Sadly, the interview called for bodyguards for Shannon and bag searches for attendees. She is one incredible human being.

Continued good wishes to Brad, Desi, and family!

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Guest: Ed Scruggs of Texas Gun Sense; Also: Bolton tossed out; Trump rallies, lies for GOPer in bellwether NC U.S. House Special Election...
By Brad Friedman on 9/10/2019 6:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Is it possible? Could gun reform really be coming to the gun-loving, GOP-run, NRA-controlled state of Texas in the wake of a spate of mass shootings in the Lone Star state? Our guest today, an expert in the matter, is surprisingly optimistic. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up, before we get there, some very quick news of the day. In a move that was a surprise, apparently, to even top White House officials, Donald Trump's very hawkish, very rightwing National Security Advisor --- his third --- John Bolton, was tossed out of his job abruptly on Tuesday morning. That's both good and bad news for several reasons, which we discuss, including the late day concerns about the man reportedly being tapped to replace him, who used to serve as a board member at an Islamophobic organization named as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

On Monday night, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence held rallies for the Republican candidate in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District U.S. House Special Election being held today. Though Trump won the district by some 12 points in 2016 and no Democrat has held its U.S. House seat since the 1960s, the GOP appears to be hedging their bets today by describing NC09 as a "swing district". NC election watchers are scoffing at those comments, citing them as coming from Republican officials in preparation for a potential loss by the extremely Trumpy Republican candidate Dan Bishop who is running in the do-over election against Democrat Dan McCready.

The race is being held to fill the nearly year-long vacancy after last November's contest in the district was never certified by the state, thanks to the discovery of an Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme engineered by a GOP contractor hired by the Republican Baptist preacher who had been running for the seat last year.

Tuesday's contest is being seen as both a bellwether for 2020 and a referendum on Trump's job performance. We'll have full coverage of reported results on tomorrow's program. But, at Trump's rally for Bishop on Tuesday night in Fayetteville, the President appeared to, once again, lie about the weather, just as he did during Hurricane Dorian. Those lies have now resulted in a crisis at the senior political level of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Then we're joined by ED SCRUGGS, President of Texas Gun Sense, a nonprofit advocacy group in the Lone Star state fighting for common sense --- and long overdue --- gun safety reforms. In the wake of two recent mass shootings in the state --- one a massacre that killed 22 at an El Paso Walmart last month and the other a rampage just two weeks later that killed 7 and injured more than 20 others in Odessa and Midland --- the previously very pro-gun, very pro-NRA Republican Governor Greg Abbott and his similarly pro-gun, pro-NRA Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, have been claiming that they are now open to reform of some of the state's gun laws in the very pro-gun state of Texas.

Scruggs was one of several reform advocates who met with the Governor following the Walmart shooting last month. He reports today that, in contrast with previous such meeting, both Abbott and Patrick brought "startling" and specific ideas for reforms themselves to the meeting planned for two hours, but which was extended to five. Among the measures discussed were expanded background checks to close the so-called "gun show" loophole (which was exploited by the Midland/Odessa shooter) and the possibility of "red flag" laws.

"Both the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor actually had reforms that they brought to the table that they wanted the folks to consider there. Which was very unusual," Scruggs tells me. "I've never heard them speak that way. Two years ago, it never would have happened. It would have been unthinkable."

At the meeting, which occurred after El Paso but before Midland/Odessa, "Both the Lieutenant Governor and the Governor both said, 'Hey, we have this situation where people can get around the background check system. They can go on a private market and can get around it, and it's very dangerous'. And the Governor said, 'Well, that would be a crazy way to sell a weapon because how would you know that you wouldn't be selling a gun to a terrorist, or to a criminal.' Of course, these are things we've been saying for many years."

After the Midland and Odessa spree, Abbott even indicated he might not be opposed to ideas being discussed by state legislators regarding new restrictions on AR-style assault rifles used in a spate of mass shootings since Abbott has taken office as Governor. But, Scruggs explains, the devil will be in the details as far as what Abbott and Patrick may support --- and what the NRA will even allow them to. For example, he notes that Patrick has suggested ending "stranger-to-stranger" sales, while allowing for the ability to transfer firearms within your family, or to loan a gun to your friend or neighbor.

"Everyone agrees these stranger-to-stranger sales, the private sales that take place at gun shows, the sales over the Internet or out of the back of some guy's trunk in a big box store parking lot, something like that, we all know how dangerous and terrible those are. So, everyone seems to want to close that down. However, the catch is, if your exceptions for family transfer and transfer between friends is too large, you're just going to open up a new loophole again."

Nonetheless, Scruggs suggests that with the body count rapidly mounting in Texas and pressure being felt by Republican politicians facing very real demographic and political changes, even one of the nation's most staunchly pro-gun states may be on the verge of long-overdue reform. And if it can happen in Texas...

"There's a realization that's starting to set in where you have responsible gun owners saying, 'Hey, they've been so extreme now for so long, there's a backlash building, and I'm afraid if we don't do something now we're going to lose it all soon.' Because they know these shootings are going to continue. I think that's something that has really hung over the last few weeks in Texas. We're not done with this. So if you don't act, and there's another one, and then maybe there's another one, how much more difficult is it going to be?"

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with more on the Trump-invoked NOAA scandal in the wake of Hurricane Dorian; an horrific potential death toll in the storm-ravaged Bahamas; and an investigation into what appears to be a corrupt anti-trust probe by the DoJ of four major automakers who made an agreement with California to lower auto-emissions and raise mileage standards in defiance of the Trump EPA's rollback of cost-saving and life-saving regulations enacted under the Obama Administration...

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Guest: Journalist Steven Rosenfeld; Also: Trump threatens Iran, they laugh; Former Fox reporter rips channel's 'partisan misinformation'; Warren releases election plan for hand-marked paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2019 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Are Democrats finally beginning to reconsider their incredibly ill-considered mandate to require remote voting for their 2020 Presidential caucuses via phone or Internet voting schemes? Our guest today says they may just be doing so! If so, that would be very good news and not a moment too soon! [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, speaking of "ill-considered", in an echo of his earlier posturing against North Korea, Donald Trump issued new militaristic threats and slapped new sanctions on Iran, including against its Supreme Leader, President, Foreign Minister and even the Islamic Nation's lead nuclear negotiator. The result is what Iranian officials describe as the "permanent closure" of diplomacy between the two countries. The new sanctions also resulted in the Iranian President mocking the measures as "outrageous and idiotic", "hilarious", "stupid and ugly", while charging the White House is suffering from a "mental illness".

Trump's new punitive measures come in response to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone, which they say entered its air space last week. The U.S. denies the charge, insisting that its spy plane was in international airspace over the Straight of Hormuz. And all of it comes in the wake of Trump pulling the U.S. unilaterally out of the 2015 treaty between seven world powers that prevented Iran from enriching enough uranium to create a nuclear weapon.

But now, as the Administration penalizes Iranian leaders --- who, by all accounts, have fully complied with the strict terms of the landmark accord struck under Barack Obama's Administration --- Trump and his team can't seem to understand why Iran is not interested in negotiating with them. They have, however, threatened Iran if they renege on the terms of the deal that Trump pulled out of, as Iran has now announced they intend to do. Of course, the possibility of, once again, touching off WWIII comes with Trump's threat today of "great and overwhelming force" and "obliteration" of Iran, just days after he reportedly cancelled a planned attack against them at the last minute last week.

All of which underscores the necessity of removing this dangerous menace from the White House, whether by impeachment or at the ballot box next year. Not that viewers of Fox "News", of course, have any idea of the facts behind these latest incidents, which all stem from Trump pulling out of the very good landmark agreement with Iran. In fact, even one of Fox' most beloved former reporters, "Campaign Carl" Cameron has now come out against the fake news channel's "partisan misinformation" in a video promoting his new news venture, Front Page Live, launched with progressives such as Joe Romm of Climate Progress.

As to removing the buffoonish, inept, unfit, dishonest Trump at the ballot box, that may not be as simple as it should be for Democrats, given both the proliferation of rightwing misinformation at Fox and other rightwing fake news outlets (such as the NY Post which removed its story on well-known magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll's new allegations that Trump raped her in a department store dressing some years ago) and the extraordinary vulnerability of our nation's voting, registration, and tabulation systems. To that end, 2020 Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren introduced a plan for election reform today which calls for, among other things, a mandate to replace the nation's easily-manipulated, oft-failed computerized voting systems with ones that allow every American to cast their vote by the safest, most verifiable method possible: HAND-MARKED paper ballots. Her measure is not unlike some of the provisions in HR-1 as passed by Democrats in the House and the PAVE Act, introduced in upper chamber by Sen. Ron Wyden, where it remains, along with all such election security bills, blocked by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

But, where Democrats --- some of them anyway --- are coming around to the understanding that every voter in America must be allowed to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot, the Democratic National Committee seems less than clear on the need for verifiable, publicly-overseeable election results. To that end, as we warned on the program some months ago, the DNC, following the 2016 election disaster, issued a mandate for all state Dem parties which choose to hold Presidential caucuses in 2020, rather than statewide primaries, to include some form of "remote voting" for party members who cannot attend in person.

That Democratic Party mandate, as our guest today Voting Booth's STEVEN ROSENFELD reported when we spoke with him back in March, has resulted in party officials in early caucus states such as Iowa and Nevada, scrambling to find private vendors willing to provide "remote voting" services that employee phone or Internet voting schemes. Today, Rosenfeld reports on what we'll call a moderately encouraging follow-up, finding that DNC officials may now be reconsidering that, frankly, insane mandate for unverifiable off-site voting systems.

"The thing about caucuses --- these are not government-run elections," Rosenfeld explains. "So this is really, really critical, because this means that all of the cybersecurity efforts --- of which there have been tremendous efforts made since 2016 to deal with trying to tighten systems --- those have all been in government election systems. These [caucuses] are private elections. So what the state parties will do in the caucus states is they have to rent a voting system. These do not have to be certified voting systems." That, of course, is an invitation to even less secure systems than those which already plague American elections, not to mention that cybersecurity experts consider Internet Voting schemes to be the most vulnerable of all such systems.

"So they're talking to different vendors who run these different systems. It's either going to be like using a telephone, to punch a button in to choose a candidate, or using an app, or using some kind of webpage." Rosenfeld, whose recent reporting on this includes discussion with the co-chair of the DNC's Rules & Bylaws Committee, says DNC officials plan to review state party plans this week, but may, in fact, not approve those plans after all.

Rosenfeld envisions a situation where, "in the first [Iowa] and third [Nevada] contests, the Democrats have a complete mess and Trump runs with it and yells and screams about 'stolen elections' all the way into the fall. The whole thing is just madness on top of madness."

Let's hope wiser heads prevail at the DNC, though I'm not holding my breath.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with Vice President Mike Pence's embarrassing weekend appearance on CNN, in which he was unwilling to acknowledge his own administration's scientific warnings about the national security threat posed by our worsening climate emergency. Also on today's GNR, the Trump USDA is burying scientific reports on climate change, a deadly heat wave and acute water shortages are ravaging India, and --- with some good news --- G.E. has announced plans to shut down a natural gas power plant in California twenty years earlier than planned because renewable energy options are now both cheaper and cleaner!...

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Guest: Dr. Assal Rad of the Nat'l Iranian Amer. Council; Also: OR Repubs skip town; House re-launches bipartisan 'Climate Solutions Caucus'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2019 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Already increasing tensions in the Middle East got much higher today after Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone last night, which the Islamic Republic claims had crossed their border into their airspace. The U.S. contends the spy plane, a U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk that can fly as high as 10 miles in altitude with a wingspan as wide as a Boeing 737, was in international airspace at the time it was downed by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Both nations suggest they have evidence to support their claims about the location of the craft when it was shot down. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Tensions in the region have been rapidly rising in recent weeks as the U.S. has blamed Iran, without presenting evidence, for several attacks on shipping tankers near the narrow Straight of Hormuz, which borders Iran in the Persian Gulf and through which 20% of global oil supplies travel. Iran has denied any involvement in those incidents, other than helping to rescue the crew of one of the tankers and extinguishing its fire. But war-hawks in the U.S. have been banging the drums against Iran for some time. They applauded Donald Trump's unilateral withdrawal last year from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, the landmark deal struck between Iran and seven other nations during the Obama Administration. The hard-fought treaty ended any possibility of Iran enriching uranium for use in weaponry, at least until Trump broke the deal that had lifted crippling, years-long sanctions against Iran. Trump reinstated the sanctions after becoming President and pulling out of the pact that even his own Administration admits Iran has been in full compliance with.

On Thursday, Trump described Iran's action as "a very bad mistake" and "a foolish move", while repeatedly telling reporters "you're going to find out", when asked how and if the U.S. plans to respond. He did suggest, however, during Oval Office remarks, that he believed the incident must have been unintentional or taken by "someone who was loose and stupid" --- as if to suggest he was reluctant to retaliate and/or make the situation worse.

Nonetheless, at the very same time, GOP hawks in the Senate like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) seemed eager to inflame the situation by warning that Iran "needs to get ready for severe pain," vowing that "if [Iran] is itching for a fight, they're gonna get one."

We're joined today to discuss all of this by DR. ASSAL RAD, Research Fellow and policy analyst at the nonpartisan, nonprofit National Iranian American Council. In a statement today, the group's President, Jamal Abdi, counseled for both nations to "firmly step away from the path to war" by seeking out "third party mediators who can help de-escalate and bring the U.S. and Iran back to the negotiating table."

Rad explains what is known and unknown about the current situation, how dangerous the situation has now become, and how Trump's restoration of sanctions has crippled Iran's economy, at least for the working class, leading to severe shortages of food and medicine. In addition to increasing military tensions, she tells me, Trump's violation of the anti-nuclear pact has led to both increased uranium enrichment --- bringing Iran closer to the ability to build nuclear weapons if they desire --- as well as strengthening the political hand of anti-U.S. hardliners in the Islamic Republic.

"What Trump has done," she tells me, "is played into the hands of the hard-line elements in the country, tarnishing the image of the U.S., which was very positive. But, of course now, as they suffer, it's much easier for that government to point to the United States as the blame."

"On the U.S. side, of course, the argument can be made that there's a credibility issue, given that President Trump has gone back and forth in the tone he takes with Iran. He'll tweet something like 'we're going to end Iran' and 'that was a big mistake on Iran's part', and then walks it back. 'No, we don't want regime change' or 'we don't want a war'. But then he has advisers, like the National Security Advisor John Bolton, who argues exactly for those goals."

"And that's not, by the way, to give credibility to the Iranian side," Rad made clear. "The Iranian side also lacks credibility in their own right. And that's why without a full investigation and having evidence, I would avoid drawing conclusions. And certainly taking action based on conclusions that aren't based on full evidence."

She notes that "sometimes the way that our media frames it, it makes it seem like the Iranian side is an irrational party --- and yet that is the party that agreed to the deal and has abided by that deal, despite the fact that the U.S. abrogated that deal a year ago."

"One of the things that we know about war is that it's unpredictable. We don't know what will be the consequence. And to prevent this sort of unforeseen concern that something terrible could happen, we have the opportunity right now to prevent it," she concludes with optimism, advising fellow Americans to speak out to our representatives in Congress to urge them to find a peaceful solution to the quickly escalating crisis.

Then, just to lighten things up, we turn to our worsening climate crisis! With Republican state Senators in Oregon fleeing the state on Thursday to avoid a quorum needed for final approval of a sweeping bill meant to help curb climate change by reducing carbon and capping greenhouse gas emissions through a cap-and-trade system. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has now authorized state police to try and find the rogue lawmakers and bring them back to the capital. Meanwhile, back in D.C., Florida Congressmen Ted Deutch (D) and Francis Rooney (R) announced the re-launch of a bipartisan 'Climate Solutions Caucus' with about 60 members, including more than 20 Republicans.

We get some thoughts on both of those stories from a skeptical (cynical?) Desi Doyen, who also joins us for the latest Green News Report, with troubling news on the Trump Administration's official roll back of Obama's landmark Clean Power Plan in favor of scheme to aid the coal industry which, according to Trump's own EPA, will result in the premature deaths of thousands of Americans. But, she's also got some good news for us today --- and not a moment too soon --- out of the state of New York, where lawmakers did not skip the state, but instead adopted one of the world's most ambition climate change action plans...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: MIT nuclear proliferation expert Vipin Narang; Also: Flooding, evacuations in AR, MO; GOP pushback against Trump's new Mexican tariff scheme; The necessity of continuing to talk about impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2019 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we really tried to talk about something other than impeachment...and we mostly did! You're welcome! But don't expect it to last. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, as predicted, during a very brief pause in the record severe weather that's been afflicting the central U.S. for weeks, flooding continues to be a major problem today and is getting worse. Mandatory evacuations are now in place in both Arkansas and Missouri after levees have breached, been topped or may do so soon both states. Thousands of homes are threatened there and elsewhere as some 80 different river gauges in 10 different states indicate the highest category of major flooding, with more severe weather predicted in the days ahead for rain soaked Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, Louisiana and other Midwestern states.

In politics today, Republicans and major business groups are pushing back at Donald Trump's surprise announcement on Thursday evening that he plans to impose unilateral new taxes on all goods coming in from Mexico, in hopes of forcing our southern neighbor --- in some fashion --- to stop the flow of migrants coming into the U.S. from Central America. The new tariffs --- which are taxes paid by American importers and consumers (despite the President mischaracterization) --- would begin at 5%, and increase by the same amount until reaching 25%under Trump's scheme. A number of GOP lawmakers, particularly in farm states such as Iowa, are blasting the proposal, and warning that it is likely to derail Congressional ratification of Trump's updated NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada. It is also likely to cost billions to American businesses --- particularly in the automobile and agriculture sectors --- and threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, calls for official impeachment proceedings to begin against the President get louder each day following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's statement this week clarifying the evidence in his report of serious obstruction of justice crimes by the President and a need for Congress to take action. A stunning reported comment from an attendee at a town hall held this week in Grand Rapids by Michigan's Republican Rep. Justin Amash underscores the necessity to continue informing the public about Mueller's findings. (So, yeah, we're gonna have to continue doing so. Sorry.) Amash remains the only Republican member of Congress, so far, to call for impeachment proceedings and, perhaps, clearest and most effective voices among Rs or Ds in Congress as to why taking action to hold the President accountable is so crucial.

But outside of Congress, a group of former high-level GOP attorneys are also making their voices heard, with a new video detailing several of Trump's obstruction crimes highlighted by Mueller. The group, Republicans for the Rule of Law, says they plan to begin airing a shorter version of their new ad on TV outlets such as Fox "News", where --- at least according to that attendee at Amash's town hall --- only fake news, falsely claiming Mueller exonerated Trump, is being heard.

Finally today, after several months of relative calm during negotiations with Trump, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un began testing missiles again in early May. While Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton has described the tests as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and South Korea sees the tests as a potential violation of recent agreements between the two Koreas, Trump has continued to downplay --- or completely deny --- Kim's actions.

At the same time, as the North fires ballistic missiles and continues to amass nuclear weaponry, Trump --- who spent the Memorial Day weekend in Japan to discuss this and other matters --- still seems more obsessed with Iran, who does not have nuclear weapons, but is now said to be increasing their fissile material enrichment program in the wake of Trump pulling out of the seven-nation anti-nuclear agreement struck during the Obama Administration. Trump now says he'd "like to make a deal" with Iran, but Iran says they see "no prospect" of such a deal with this American President.

We're joined today by VIPIN NARANG of MIT's Security Studies Program to try and make sense of what is or isn't going on on the Korean peninsula, and how the Trump Administration is or isn't responding to both North Korea and Iran. That, after Trump sided with Kim, while on foreign soil in Japan last weekend, to attack former Vice President and 2020 Presidential hopeful Joe Biden --- and amidst unconfirmed reports from South Korean media that Kim has executed his top nuclear negotiator and four other senior Foreign Ministry officials following the failed summit between him and Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam last February.

Among the very clarifying information from Narang on North Korea, he warns: "The risk now is that by [Trump] green-lighting North Korean tests short of ICBMs, it may encourage or embolden Kim Jong Un to continue testing more frequently, and maybe longer-range missiles. We've seen Trump flip very quickly, so if Kim Jong Un makes a mistake of pushing the line just a little bit too far, or testing one missile too many, President Trump can flip and feel betrayed very quickly." He adds: "If you get a missile test that really pushes a line, then we could end up back [like] in 2017 [with threats of 'fire and fury'], but without the possibility of a diplomatic off-ramp."

Narang, who focuses at MIT on nuclear proliferation, strategy and South Asian security, is the author of the award-winning Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era. Among the insights he offers regarding Trump's on-again, off-again chest thumping against Iran: "It's very difficult to envision a deal with Iranians that is better than the JCPOA ... You're not going to get everything you want in a deal, and that's what the Iranians were willing to accept. And then you have to ask yourself, is a world with the JCPOA in that incarnation better than a world without? And I think it was. It was working."

In both cases, in North Korea and Iran --- as well as the United States --- Narang warns that "dysfunction within the [Trump] Administration" is allowing hardliners to gain the upper-hand against peace initiatives. "The irony is that the hardliners in the United States that want to press Iran, and press North Korea, forget that those countries have hardliners, also." Our actions, he cautions, are now serving to embolden them.

"The horse is out of the barn in North Korea. You're not going to take away their nuclear weapons. The aim should be to avoid a war," he argues. "In the medium term, the risk with this strategy is that North Korea miscalculates, or that Iran miscalculates, and then Trump flips...In the long run, the problem is if this dysfunction isn't sorted out, we are setting ourselves up for crises in both areas."

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Plus: NY AG finally probing Trump bank fraud; Feds finally probing GOP election fraud in NC; Kids in 90 countries planning day of climate action...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some good reporting, some bad politics, and some accountability on the horizon. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among the many stories worth your while covered on today's program...

  • Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seems to take impeachment "off the table", just as she did back in 2006 during the George W. Bush regime, asserting this time that, "Impeachment is so divisive to the country that unless there's something so compelling and overwhelming and bipartisan, I don't think we should go down that path, because it divides the country. And he's just not worth it." It was a mistake during the Bush era, and its a mistake now. Perhaps not a political one --- at least as she and many Democrats may see it --- but a mistake for the nation and its long term well-being. We discuss and explain why;
  • While he may (or may not) be safe from impeachment, Donald Trump's legal troubles are getting no better. New York state's recently elected Attorney General has now reportedly subpoenaed Duetsche Bank and other financial institutions related to a number of Trump projects where, according to recent testimony by his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump exaggerated his wealth on financial statements in order to fraudulently borrow money for real estate and other projects;
  • Speaking of subpoenas, federal investigators are now said to finally be investigating Republican election fraud in North Carolina, where a GOP absentee ballot fraud scheme resulted in the nullification of last November's U.S. House election --- and a new one now scheduled --- in the state's 9th Congressional District. The State Board of Elections had requested a federal probe following apparent GOP absentee fraud in the 2016 election, but Trump's U.S. Attorney in NC appears to have ignored the request, paving the way for the same fraud scheme to be repeated during 2018 cycle. McCrae Dowless, the contractor who carried out the fraud, as hired by GOP candidate Mark Harris, has already been indicted on state charges. But Harris, so far, has escaped accountability at both the state and federal levels. His campaign has now been subpoenaed by the feds. Stay tuned;
  • The Trump Administration evacuated the last of the remaining U.S. diplomats in Venezuela on Monday night, saying their presence in the country has become a "constraint" on U.S. policy there, whatever that may ominously mean. Top Trump officials have been threatening the administration of President Nicolas Maduro for several months since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself to be President of the nation in turmoil. Since late last week, power outages have crippled the country, with each side blaming the other and Maduro charging the U.S. has sabotaged the power grid with cyberattacks.

    But some excellent reporting by the New York Times over the weekend reveals, yet again, that many of the claims against Maduro being made by Trump Administration and supportive Republicans in Congress like Sen. Marco Rubio, are based on completely false information. On Sunday, the Times published a video report revealing that claims by Trump officials from National Security Advisor John Bolton to Sec. of State Mike Pompeo to Vice President Mike Pence and, yes, Rubio, charging that Maduro's forces set fire to aid trucks coming from Colombia are inaccurate. In fact, as the Times' unearthed video reveals, it was protesters in support of Guaido on the Colombian side of the border who caused the fires. This is just one more reason to be skeptical about Trump's intentions in the troubled South American nation (and media reports of same) as his own political fortunes worsen at home.

    And, in case you don't find Rubio wrong enough in his false claims about the aid trucks, just wait until you hear what the dumb cluck charged over the weekend regarding an explosion at the 'German Dam' in Bolivar State!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the oil, gas and mining lobbyist Trump has now officially nominated to head the U.S. Interior Dept; news on Wyoming Republicans bailing out their coal industry; how Bernie Sanders was right about climate change and the media as long ago as 1989; and this Friday's plans for school children in more than 90 countries to strike in demand of action on climate change, thanks to the inspiration of Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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