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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, April 12, 2021
The SCOTUS-Approved, FCC Ownership Rule Catch-22: 'BradCast' 4/12/21
Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
Under Trump, the federal agency created a Catch-22 on new rule by requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid the 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
The Swift and Pathetic Downfall of AL's Sleazy SoS John Merrill: 'BradCast' 4/8/21
Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden speaks to dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Looming wave of abandoned oil, gas wells; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
Previous GNRs: 4/6/21 - 4/1/21 - Archives...
Overcoming Trump's Sabotage to Restore Landmark Iran Nuke Deal: 'BradCast' 4/7
Guest: Dr. Trita Parsi of the Quincy Inst.; Also: 10 Dem Reps join insurrection lawsuit against Trump; Update on Amazon union vote in AL...
Dems Hit Legislative Jackpot; Repubs' Trip to Looneyland: 'BradCast' 4/6/21
Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Ind. bills to nix renewables, block small govt; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
'Green News Report' 4/6/21
FL Wastewater crisis FL; Admin pushes back on GOP opposition to infrastructure; Earliest cherry blossoms in 1,200 years; PLUS: Springfield, MA victory for breathers...
Vaccination Nation: 'BradCast' 4/5/21
Wherein Brad and Desi get a first dose; COVID cases surge again, esp. among young; U.S. tops its record for shot distribution in race with new variants; Listeners ring in with own experiences, concerns on all of the above...
Sunday 'Hippity Hoppity' Toons
Here comes PDiddie's latest toon collection for Easter Day! Hop on over!...
EAC Sued After Allowing Modems in Vote Systems Following Private Meets with Vendors: 'BradCast' 4/2/21
Guest: FSFP's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Capitol attack; MLB pulls GA All-Star game...
Paying the High Price of Corporate Capture: 'BradCast' 4/1/21
Also: CA drought returns; De-Trumpifying the EPA...
'Green News Report' 4/1/21
'GNR' Special Coverage: Biden's sweeping, $2T American Jobs Plan to rebuild nation's infrastructure, take on the climate crisis...
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...


RNC cancelled in FL; Another COVID breakout at White House; FL Guv wobbles on school reopening; Jobless claims continue to break records; Congressional GOP in disarray over emergency relief; Trump's federal storm troopers tear gas Portland mayor; And too much more!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2020 6:47pm PT  

It was some weeks ago that we warned listeners to "buckle up" for what was to come over the next several month in the lead up to Election Day (and for whatever nightmares are likely to come thereafter). Today's BradCast provides ample evidence that we were right to issue that warning --- which remains in effect for the foreseeable future. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

  • Breaking at top of show - Trump cancels plans for Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida due to out-of-control coronavirus surge in the Sunshine State. That, after previously moving the convention from Charlotte, North Carolina because the state's Democratic Governor wouldn't allow a maskless deathtrap convention;
  • Federal Judge orders former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to be released from prison, citing "retaliation" by the federal government after he was removed from home detention and locked back up for refusing to sign a document vowing he wouldn't write a book or speak to the media about Trump. Cohen had previously been furloughed from prison and placed into home detention after one year of his three year sentence for lying to Congress to protect Donald Trump and participating in a hush-money conspiracy "directed" by the President, according to both him and federal prosecutors. Trump remains uncharged and at large despite running the conspiracy Cohen was imprisoned for in paying off porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal to keep quiet before the 2016 election sexual affairs with Trump. The judge excoriated the DoJ and Bureau of Prisons for violating Cohen's First Amendment right to free speech;
  • Trump sycophant and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis finally begins to wobble on his demand that schools in the state reopen next month for five days a week in-person classes, despite explosion of coronavirus cases. Tells Fox "News" that parents should have the "option" of sending kids to class, but offers no such "option" to teachers, whose union is now suing DeSantis;
  • Republicans are in disarray in Congress and at the White House after denying (for months) the need for additional emergency economic relief amid the pandemic. That, as expanded unemployment benefits --- one of the few actions taken by Congress that has successfully helped to avoid a complete economic collapse over the past 6 months --- are set to run out at week's end;
  • Breaking mid-show - New Fox "News" poll finds Joe Biden leading Trump, beyond the margin of error, in the key battleground states of Michigan (by 9 points) , Minnesota (by 13 points) and Pennsylvania (by 11 points);
  • Portland, Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler was among those tear-gassed by Donald Trump's federal stormtroopers on Wednesday night. The Mayor, whose local police force had previously tear-gassed protesters who have been gathering nightly for more than a month following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, now claims to be rethinking his own tactics while decrying "flat out urban warfare, being brought on the people of this country by the President of the United States";
  • In response to the violence being perpetrated by Trump's federal goon squad, John McCain's former Campaign Manager and longtime Republican campaign consultant Steve Schmidt unleashes a Twitter thread calling for Congressional investigations, cites Trump's use of the military against phony threats by "caravans" at the U.S. southern border before the 2018 election, and compares Trump's tactics, applauded by rightwing media, to those of Hitler's Nazi brownshirts;
  • Finally, a delightfully light-hearted Green News Report with Desi Doyen! Sort of. Other than a story about cow farts and Burger King, we also highlight the stunning arrest this week of Ohio's Republican House Speaker Larry Householder, nabbed as the ringleader of a $61 million conspiracy to funnel a $150 billion bailout to utility company FirstEnergy to prop up two failing nuclear plants and two aging, hyper-polluting coal plants at the expense of the state's rate-payers and renewable energy and efficiency initiatives in the Buckeye State. In a quick follow-up today, the company's stock price has plunged following the federal arrests this week, but questions remain about the company's own complicity in the scheme and the involvement of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine in last year's passage of HB6, the controversial boondoggle of a bill that resulted in Householder lining his pockets with millions in dark money from FirstEnergy and other utility company interests.

Hopefully your seatbelt is still on and will remain locked and in place until the chaos comes to a complete and full stop...if it ever does...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Constitutional attorney Thomas Wolf of Brennan Center's Democracy Program; Also: America STRONGLY against Trump school reopening plan during COVID surge; And, Kris Kobach for Senate!
By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2020 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: the COVID crisis continues to get worse, Americans wise up on reopening schools, potential hope for Kansas, and Donald Trump becomes a laughing stock. Again. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Last week, during his rambling, wildly political Rose Garden "press conference" (it was really a political rally), Trump promised that over the next eight weeks, we would be seeing "things that nobody has even contemplated, thought about, thought possible," and that "nobody's ever going to see eight weeks like we're going to have." While, I think it was meant as a rallying cry for a bunch of initiatives he plans to pretend to invoke during desperate days in advance of the November election, it sure sounded like a threat to me. Either way, we suspect he's right about what we will see. He suggested he would be "taking on immigration, taking on education" and that it all would start "some time on Tuesday."

On Tuesday, Trump unveiled something that had to do with immigration, which we discuss with our guest today (see below). As to "taking on education", that part remains somewhat less clear. But if it has to do with insisting that school kids go back to in-person classes next month in the middle of a deadly and worsening pandemic, the American people are decidedly not with him on that one. A new poll out today from AP/NORC finds that just 8% of Americans believe K-12 schools should reopen this Fall for normal, in-person instruction. Nonetheless, Trump is still threatening to take away federal money for special ed to those schools who do not obey his command.

That command is still in place --- and being ignored by most of the nation's largest school districts --- as more than 1,000 Americans died from COVID-related illnesses on Tuesday alone. It was the first time since May that that has happened, as mountains of evidence --- including 59,000 hospitalizations on Tuesday --- underscore, yet again, that the U.S. is headed in decidedly the wrong direction in dealing with the crisis. These will be a very difficult eight weeks indeed. There are fifteen weeks until the November 3rd Presidential election.

And, speaking of elections, state primaries are still ongoing, with statewide contests in Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washingtonstate coming up on August 4th. We take some time to focus on Kansas today, where notoriously failed GOP "voter fraud" fraudster and the state's former Sec. of State Kris Kobach is running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, in hopes of filling the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. It has been an embarrassing few days for Kobach, after his friend Rep. Steve Watkins was indicted last week on 3 felony counts and 1 misdemeanor charge related to voter fraud. As we reported last week, Watkins was charged for doing precisely what Donald Trump did. He unlawfully registered to vote at an address where he did not live, and then he unlawfully voted in an election using that unlawful address. Watkins has been indicted in Kansas. Trump is still a Florida voter fraud criminal at large at this hour.

Kobach, who built his entire two-term career as Sec. of State by promising to stamp out rampant "voter fraud" in Kansas by Democrats and non-citizens, was able to bring only 15 prosecutions during his eight years in office, obtaining convictions on fewer than 10 of them, with nobody receiving any jail time. Virtually all of the convictions were against people who voted twice in two separate states, because they owned homes in both, with many not realizing that was against the law. Nonetheless, Kobach prosecuted people who did the same thing that Watkins (and Trump) did. But, when asked by the Kansas City Star for comment after Watkins' indictment, Kobach offered a bizarre reason why he disagreed with the charges.

All of which helps underscore the fact that the fraud Kobach --- after losing to a Democrat during his 2018 run for Governor in Kansas --- is now hoping to secure the GOP nomination for the Senate. He is running in a field of 11 candidates seeking the honor and we completely endorse him! So, apparently, does his presumptive Democratic challenger, Barbara Bollier, who, in the second quarter of this year, according to AP, "raised almost $1.3 million more than the top-tier Republican primary candidates combined."

Could a Democrat actually flip the Kansas Senate seat from "red" to "blue" this year for the first time since 1932? Bollier was a moderate Republican until she became so embarrassed by Trump and her own party that she became a Democrat at the end of 2018. We'll will find out in about 15 weeks. But a Kobach win in the August 4th primary would certainly help, as Kobach is far "too conservative" for Kansas.

Finally, back to Trump's promise to "take on immigration" on Tuesday, when he unveiled an Executive Memorandum (not an Executive Order, but a memo...not sure if he knows the difference), declaring it to be the position of the United States that immigrants in this country should not be counted when determining the next Congressional apportionment that is to occur after the completion of the 2020 Census. That, despite the very plain language of the 14th Amendment which reads: "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state".

We're joined today by Constitutional law expert THOMAS WOLF of Brennan Center's Democracy Program, where he specializes in the Census, redistricting, and immigrant rights. He tells me, quite bluntly, that "the memorandum [issued by Trump] is not worth the paper its printed on. The Constitution's plain text is very clear: every person counts. 'Persons' means persons and 'persons' means everyone. That means that everyone is to be counted."

Even Bill Barr, when he was Attorney General the first time, back in 1989, agreed!

"The memorandum that President Trump issued yesterday," Wolf continues, "assumes that President Trump has the power to decide who counts and who doesn't. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for the rest of the country, the Constitution has already made that decision for him, and the Constitution decided that all people count."

In case he was unclear about that, Wolf adds later: "From the top, there is no legitimacy to this order." But, if so, what was the point of Trump issuing the memo that obviously tries to reverse the 14th Amendment adopted during Reconstruction to do away with the Constitution's previous clause declaring that some people in America --- slaves --- were to be counted by the Constitutionally-mandated decennial Census as three-fifths of a person? Wolf offers insight and answers to that question, as well as how to help counter Trump's plan which, as he notes, "is so patently unconstitutional, it's astonishing."

(Hint: One of the ways to counter it, argues Wolf, is to "Get counted! That's how we push back against this." If your household has yet to do so, please go and fill out a Census form today at 2020Census.gov!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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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GOP lawmaker, 4 co-conspirators face racketeering charges for billion dollar nuke plant bailout conspiracy; Also: 31 states smash COVID records; MO Guv okay with school kids getting infected...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2020 7:19pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Five arrests and a massive, $61 million criminal bribery scheme allegedly headed up by Ohio's Republican House Speaker in cahoots with GOP lobbyists and dirty energy company payouts help explain, yet again, why we can't have nice things. That's especially true for residents of the Buckeye State who keep electing Republican officials who play them for chumps, take all their money, and make them sick in the bargain. It's also true for Floridians, Georgians, Texans and now Missourians, but we'll get there as well today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

"We're here today to announce the arrest of Larry Householder, the speaker of the House of the state of Ohio and four other defendants for racketeering in relation to what is likely the largest bribery, money laundering scheme every perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio," announced U.S. Attorney David DeVillers during a news conference in Columbus on Tuesday afternoon. "The conspiracy was to pass and maintain a $1.5 billion bailout in return for $61 million in dark money that was used for various things. One: to line the pockets of defendants. Two: to build a power base for Larry Householder. And three: to further the conspiracy. That is to further the affairs of this Enterprise."

The explosive story is rocking Ohio today, though many should have seen it coming. A year ago, in July of 2019, Vox's longtime energy and climate reporter David Roberts wrote a must-read deep-dive article on the passage of House Bill 6 (HB 6) --- the legislation at the center of this massive con --- describing it at the time as "the most counterproductive and corrupt piece of state energy legislation I can recall in all my time covering this stuff."

The measure forced Ohio's ratepayers to subsidize bailouts of two supposedly failing nuclear plants (the Davis-Besse plant near Oak Harbor and the Perry plant east of Cleveland) owned by FirstEnergy and two failing coal plants owned by the Ohio Valley Electric Corporation (a collective owned by several large utilities), while wiping out previously successful state incentives for renewable energy and efficiency projects that saved the state's ratepayers both money and lives.

"Despite a tsunami of dark money supporting the bill," Roberts reported last year, "HB 6 was overwhelmingly opposed by ratepayer groups, business groups, free market conservative groups, environmental groups, and Ohioans generally. Its only support came from its only beneficiaries: the utilities that own the bailed-out plants, the employees of the bailed-out plants, the communities where the bailed-out plants are located, and possibly President Trump, who doesn't want to see coal plants closing during his reelection campaign."

Well, apparently there were a few more "beneficiaries": Ohio's House Speaker Householder and his political allies inside and out of the state legislature. That "tsunami of dark money", as it turns out, was used to blanket the airwaves with propaganda in support of HB 6 --- describing it misleadingly as a fight for jobs and "clean energy" in a battle between "Big Oil and Ohio" --- by a group calling itself Generation Now. That dark money group, as it turns out, was run by Householder himself with "bags of cash" from the nuke plants' supposedly bankrupt owners, FirstEnergy of Ohio. According to today's criminal complaint [PDF], his "Enterprise" used a series of unregulated passthroughs to move millions and "freely spent the bribe payments to further the Enterprise's political interests and to enrich themselves" with "unlimited" funds that came in to Generation Now from FirstEnergy in payments described by one of the defendants as "Monopoly money."

Despite the wildly unpopular HB 6's narrow passage in the state legislature, Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed it quickly after passage. He was not indicted today, though he did cancel a scheduled COVID-19 press conference after the announcement, before calling for Householder's resignation.

It's an incredibly sordid story which we report in detail today. It's also one that should remind everyone exactly what they can expect when they put corrupt politicians like this in power who did the bidding of major corporate interests, rather than the public's.

In not entirely unrelated news today, Couy Griffin, the idiot who heads up a group called "Cowboys for Trump", is calling for Americans to take their masks off because they --- as opposed to the coronavirus --- are making everybody sick. And while we'd love to ignore Griffin and the "Cowboys," it turns out he's also an elected Republican official in New Mexico and the same jerk who posted a video back in May which began by announcing that "the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat." And while we'd love to ignore that as well, that video was then retweeted by the President of the United States that month, along with the message "Thank you Cowboys. See you in New Mexico!"

Idiot elected "cowboys" and Presidents of the United States may be one thing we've come to expect by now. But with the coronavirus smashing records in at least 31 states, we'd hoped we'd get better from the Governors who have been left to handle the pandemic after Trump decided he had better things to do, despite some 4 million infected Americans and 144,000 U.S. deaths now from COVID-19 over the past six months.

But our hopes have been dashed. By Florida's very Trumpy Governor Ron DeSantis who's made a jackass of himself over the past month as cases, hospitalizations and deaths skyrocket in his state --- now overwhelming hospitals with at least 50 having run out of ICU beds --- while ordering kids back to in-person classes next month; By Georgia's Trumpy Governor Brian Kemp, who is suing cities in the state for instituting mask mandates as the Peach State also breaks single-day case records and death records; By Texas' Trump-loving Governor Greg Abbot, who wonders where he went wrong in reopening up the state so early, now that hospitals in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and elsewhere are overwhelmed and calling in refrigrator trucks to serve as overflow morgues to hold all of the extra dead bodies.

But now we now have Missouri's woeful Governor Mike Parson declaring he's just fine with kids in his state becoming infected in the classroom. "These kids have got to get back to school," Parson told a local radio station recently. "They're at the lowest risk possible. And if they do get COVID-19, which they will --- and they will when they go to school --- they're not going to the hospitals. They're not going to have to sit in doctor's offices. They're going to go home and they're going to get over it."

Whether Parson, who replaced the state's previous Republican Governor after he resigned in a sexual coercion, abuse and blackmail scandal, realizes that those kids go home to parents and grandparents who they will infect in turn (not to mention all of the teachers and staff at those schools) is unclear. Hopefully Missourians, however, understand it by now, and will consider replacing Parson this November with state Auditor Nicole Galloway, the Democratic candidate for Governor. Maybe then the good folks of Missouri can begin to have nice things again.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with a few too many disasters than we can possibly detail at the end of a summary like this one...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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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Despite legal challenges, White House threatens to expand 'shock troop' operation 'across heartland of the country'...
UPDATE, 7/23/20: Federal 'thugs' attack 'wall of moms', Navy vet; Tump/AG Barr expand 'illegal' assault to Kansas City, Chicago and Albuquerque; Judge issues TRO against feds...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/21/2020 1:21pm PT  

Under the guise of protecting federal property and public safety, a militarized secret federal police force, deployed by President Trump to Portland, Oregon, has unleashed a totalitarian assault on democracy and the rule of law. The brutal assault has trampled the civil liberties of peaceful protesters, journalists, legal observers and bystanders.

The astonishing offensive has extended well beyond the boundaries of federal enclaves. It also entailed a great deal more than the arbitrary application of police violence. Wearing military fatigues with patches bearing only the word "POLICE", previously unidentified, armed federal stormtroopers roamed city streets and sidewalks, arbitrarily snatching-up terrified citizens, who they whisked away in unmarked vehicles.

In a federal lawsuit filed late on Friday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenbaum challenged these wholesale violations of civil liberties and alleges that the arbitrary snatch and grab operation also creates a "risk" that law abiding, peaceful protesters could be kidnapped by armed and unaccountable, civilian right-wing "militias".

Separately, the ACLU, seeking to rein in what its staff attorney, Vera Eidelman, aptly described as an "unconstitutional nightmare", filed a 2nd amended complaint, which added the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) as party Defendants to the ACLU's already successful federal lawsuit. That lawsuit was initially filed previously against the City of Portland.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Court Judge Michael H. Simon issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and, later, a Preliminary Injunction [PDF], that blocked the Portland Police Bureau "from arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force...against any person they know or reasonably should know is a Journalist or Legal Observer...unless the Police have probable cause to believe such individual has committed a crime." The injunction also prevents police from seizing photographic, audio and video-recording equipment. (To its credit, the City of Portland agreed to the issuance of the preliminary injunction.)

By way of a newly filed Motion for a TRO [Temporary Restraining Order] and Preliminary Injunction, the ACLU now seeks a ruling from Judge Simon that would provide the same injunctive relief against the DHS and the USMS. In their motion, the ACLU described Trump's secret police as "shock troops" who "were successfully subjugating protesters and carrying out [the President's] longstanding vendetta against the press."

DHS and USMS were not the only federal agencies that have taken part in the trampling of civil liberties in Portland. In its federal complaint, Oregon also named the Federal Protection Service (FPS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as party Defendants.

Where both the ACLU and Oregon complaints lay out facts that support the assessment offered by Kelly Simon, ACLU Oregon's interim legal director, that Trump's stormtroopers have been "terrorizing the community, risking lives, and brutally attacking protesters," Oregon's complaint, unlike the ACLU's, seeks declaratory and injunctive relief designed to remedy the violations of the 1st, 4th and 5th Amendment rights of all affected citizens, including protesters and bystanders. Oregon also alleges that these agencies, especially the CBP, have violated Oregon's sovereign right to protect its own citizens.

Despite this disturbing, uninvited and unwelcome federal deployment --- as well as the now very serious legal challenges --- on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Fox "News" to expect a "roll out" of similar deployments to "Chicago or Portland or Milwaukee or someplace across the heartland of the country"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: Constitutional attorney Ben Clements of Free Speech for People; Also: New COVID records; Woolery deletes his Twitter account; RBG battling cancer again; Bowman declared 'winner' in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 7/17/2020 7:11pm PT  

It ain't over 'til it's over. And several well-respected Constitutional attorneys have just filed a motion arguing the Roger Stone case is not over at all. Not yet anyway. One of those attorneys joins us on today's BradCast to explain. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first, some other news of note today. It's becoming a broken record, but the U.S. broke yet another record for new, daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday. It's the 11th such record smashed in the first 16 days of July. With more than 75,600 confirmed new cases reported on Thursday alone, the U.S. is now quickly rushing toward the 100,000 cases per day that Dr. Anthony Fauci shocked the nation a week or so ago by predicting was likely coming soon.

Of course, why should anybody believe the nation's top infectious disease expert Fauci on these things? Former game show host turned rightwing genius Chuck Woolery certainly doesn't! Or didn't. Maybe he does now. Woolery unleashed an unhinged Twitter rant on Sunday calling news about COVID-19 "outrageous lies", and warning us that "The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors" are "lying" about it all. The President of the United State retweet that screed to much notice on the same day. The very next day, however, on Monday, Woolery tweeted again. This time "To further clarify and add perspective." What was his added perspective? His son had been diagnosed with COVID-19. That led the former "Love Connection" host to concede that the virus "is real and it is here." He deleted his entire Twitter account soon thereafter.

Yes. It's real and here, no matter how much Trump and his duped followers hope to pretend it away. And Woolery is just the latest wingnut to be hoisted on his own idiotic social media rantings suggesting the coronavirus is little more than hoax by the media and by Democrats to help them win the upcoming election and/or to allow Fauci and Bill Gates to control the world. Or something. Unlike so many other wingnuts, sadly, who've offered similarly dangerous public rants over the past several months, Woolery wasn't actually killed by the virus before his embarrassing social media spew revealed him to be an idiot. We send our best wishes for a healthy future to both him and his son.

Similarly, we send such wishes to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg who, after apparently overcoming an infection that hospitalized her overnight this week, announced that she, separately, has been undergoing twice-weekly chemotherapy since being diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer on her liver in May. She has, so far over the past decade, survived pancreatic, colon and lung cancer. She says her current cancer is "at bay" and that she is "able to maintain an active daily routine." In her statement today, she vowed to continue her work at the Court until she can no longer "do the job full steam," adding "I remain fully able to do that." In fact, according to NBC News, other than Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Ginsburg authored more opinions over the past term than any of the other Justices, even as she was undergoing treatment for cancer. Meanwhile, the nation will remain on pins and needles until a new President is sworn in.

Ginsburg's still-sharp mind may soon be needed on a number of landmark matters that could come before the Republican's stolen SCOTUS, as the Trump Presidency (hopefully) nears its ugly end over the next several months, even as he becomes more desperate, manic, narcissistic and reckless with each passing day. One such matter that could come before the Court is a ruling on the Constitutionality of Trump's grant of Executive Clemency to his long time pal, former Trump campaign official, and decades-long GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone.

On Wednesday this week, to little public notice, the non-partisan good government group Free Speech for People (FSFP) filed a motion [PDF] with U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who oversaw the Stone case and his eventual sentencing to 40 months in prison. Stone was found guilty by a jury of 7 counts of lying to Congress and federal investigators in their probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and of witness tampering (threatening to kill the witness and his dog) in his case. Jackson, in her closing remarks after sentencing Stone, said he "was prosecuted for covering up for the President."

That same President then granted Clemency to Stone by commuting his 3-year sentence to zero days late last Friday night, before Stone could even reported to prison as scheduled this past Tuesday. But a number of well-respected Constitutional legal scholars are now arguing that Trump's action on Stone's behalf was unconstitutional and should be overturned by Judge Jackson.

"This case isn't over," declared Ron Fein, Legal Director of FSFP in a statement announcing the motion filed with Jackson on Wednesday. "The Supreme Court has acknowledged that the pardon power is not unlimited, and the Constitution requires the President to exercise that power loyally and carefully in the public interest rather than in his own self-interest."

Joining us on the show today is BEN CLEMENTS, a former federal prosecutor, former Chief Counsel to MA Governor Deval Patrick and now Board Chair and Senior Legal Advisor for FSFP. Clements, with more than thirty years of expertise as a constitutional attorney in both the public and private sectors is co-counsel on the motion filed by this week with Judge Jackson.

"In the very clause establishing the Presidency itself, Article II of the Constitution, the framers included language making clear that the presidency is, in effect, a public trust. Its powers must be exercised for the benefit of the public, and not the personal benefit of the President," Clements tells me today. "They specifically provided that the President is required to take care that the laws be faithfully exercised and executed, and they required the President to take an oath to faithfully execute the office of President."

Clements goes on to explain that the Presidential pardon power, while "considerable" is "not absolute," and that the Supreme Court has recognized those powers "are subject to the textual constraints in the Constitution itself." In other words, as he details today, it can't be used in a criminal manner or with a corrupt purpose. He offers the example that it would be unlawful and unconstitutional for a convicted felon to pay bribe money to the President in exchange for a pardon.

"Granting a pardon or a commutation for a completely unlawful and illicit purpose is antithetical to [the President's] obligation to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed," Clements argues, adding, "There's ample public evidence that this was part of an illicit bribe. Stone agreed to protect the President by refusing to tell the truth, even lying to investigators investigating the role of Trump and his campaign in Russia's unlawful interference in the 2016 election. And Trump agreed, in exchange, to protect Stone from the legal consequences of his illegal conduct."

"At a minimum, the public evidence --- including statements from Trump himself throughout these last several years, and from the White House in describing the reasons for this commutation --- that evidence demonstrates that Trump's purpose in commuting [Stone's] sentence is to reward him for covering up for Trump, and to continue to protect Trump," according to Clement. "So, this is not 'faithful execution' of the laws as required by Article II. This is obstruction of the law, it's obstruction of justice, and it's obstruction of lawful investigations all for corrupt and self-interested purposes."

He says it is up to the court --- right now, Judge Jackson --- to consider the arguments presented and "if the judge agrees that the evidence is persuasive, to declare [the Commutation] constitutionally invalid and to order Roger Stone back to prison."

It's a fascinating twist --- or, at least, a potential one --- in the case. Clements goes on to offer his insight on how all of this may play out in the days ahead...including what may happen once, and if, the case reaches the High Court. You'll want to tune in for today's conversation for much more on this important filing, that has otherwise flown largely under the radar this week with everything else that is going on.

Finally, we end with some bonafide good news --- at least for progressives --- as 44-year old progressive African-American and first time political candidate, Jamaal Bowman, is declared the winner by AP over 16-term establishment U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel in New York's June 23rd Democratic primary. Bowman's reported victory in the 16th Congressional District mirrors Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' win over 10-term Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley in 2018. And, as with AOC's District next door, Bowman's is heavily Democratic as well, meaning the winner of this year's primary is, as AP reports, "virtually assured of victory in the general election in November."

So there's a bit more good news to take home with you this weekend, as we all limp together towards the hoped-for coming end of the Trump nightmare and all that has come with it...

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Guest: Longtime Koch researcher Lisa Graves; Also: Biden, Obama, Gates Twitter accounts hacked, but Nov. voting should be fine; KS Repub Congressman indicted on four voter fraud counts! Trump should be next...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2020 7:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: New insight on the nearly 50-year long effort to abolish and/or privatize one of the nation's most-beloved, 250-year old institutions. Just another disaster waiting to happen under the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First, however, today's show is once again shaken up by breaking news. But some of it, at least regarding Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg --- who has now been released from the hospital and said to be "doing well" --- is good news. The hack of top Twitter accounts today, including Joe Biden's, Barack Obama's, Bill Gates', Elon Musk's and many others, is not such good news. If a multi-billion dollar company like Twitter can't protect its own servers from hackers, how do you suspect local election officials will be doing this November when it comes to protecting complicated computerized voting, tabulation and registration systems?

Speaking of elections, first-term Republican U.S. Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas was charged on Tuesday night with three felonies charges and a misdemeanor related to voter fraud after he registered to vote (and then did so) using an address at a Topeka UPS store, where he obviously does not actually live.

Donald Trump committed nearly identical voter fraud crimes. Last year, he also specified an address where he does not live --- a commercial business in Florida (Mar-a-Lago) --- as his "legal address" for voting purposes on his voter registration application [PDF] in the Sunshine State, and unlawfully voted via absentee ballot there this year. Rep. Watkins may go to jail for the same crimes that Trump committed. Will Trump be charged with felonies as well?

And, speaking of voting by mail (lawfully or otherwise), that may also be threatened this year, even as states are expanding access to mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. A new, Trump-appointed (and wholly unqualified) Postmaster General has just been seated and, this week, sent a series of disturbing memos to all Postal Workers directing them, essentially, to slow down mail delivery and stop all overtime work, even with package delivery (often of much-needed medication and other quarantine-necessary supplies) rapidly increasing during the COVID crisis.

Louis DeJoy, a Trump donor and our new Postmaster General, has postal workers, including hundreds of thousands of union workers, up in arms about the new mandated slowdowns that will accomplish little more than giving a competitive boost to FedEx and UPS, two of the USPS' top private competitors. That, as it turns out, is likely the whole point, according to our guest today, LISA GRAVES of True North Research. Last week, Graves published an 18-page brief [PDF] at In The Public Interest on the billionaire who has been behind what is now a nearly 50-year effort to privatize the Postal Service.

That billionaire is none other than Charles Koch who has spent decades recruiting a rogues gallery of hard-right "libertarians" and Republicans, beginning in the 1970s, up through the Reagan and Bush Administrations, and now into the Trump Administration, to undermine the USPS despite its mandates specified by the U.S. Constitution and the fact that it is among the most popular and important institutions in the nation.

"Charles Koch has mapped out a very dystopian view of America, and has tried to push it into reality," Graves says, and he and his cronies have been successful. "They oppose having public transportation. They have oppose Amtrak, and any kind of public train system. They want public airports to be sold to the highest bidder and operated by the private sector. It's just one thing after another, including public parks! National parks, local parks, public parks --- these are all anathema to these very fringey rightwing libertarians who have been fueled and funded and stoked by Charles Koch and his billions from Koch Industries."

Graves, a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Dept. of Justice, has been researching and documenting the billionaire Koch's rightwing ideological agenda for years, as he and his late brother David, have worked to undermine and/or buy our democracy and most important public institutions. Her new exposé on Koch and cronies' decades-long effort to kill and/or privatize the USPS is another critical chapter of that important work, and one that highlights, as she describes it today, a perfect "marriage between [his] ideological agenda and greed".

With the USPS now on the brink of insolvency, thanks to the COVID crisis --- and, even more, the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), championed at the time by Koch-backed Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), which handcuffed the independent federal agency --- things could get much worse for the Service very quickly.

Describing Louis DeJoy, Graves tells me today, "It's irresponsible and reckless for them to have put this partisan hack, this Republican fundraiser, at the helm of the Postal Service at the time that it's facing such a great need to have a leader who is committed to it as a truly public institution, versus someone who is behaving in this predatory way to try to basically ruin the Postal Service and push it toward the idea that it should be a for-profit company. It's in the worst possible hands at the worst possible time." But, of course, that is largely the point.

"If it's destabilized right before the election, that sort of destabilization could not happen at a worse time. But it would be convenient for a Trump ally to destabilize it, since Trump is trying to attack the very idea of Vote-by-Mail," Graves warns, along with much more in a must-listen conversation today.

Finally, a few quick words on Tuesday's primary election and runoff results in Alabama, Texas and Maine where, by the way, Sen. Susan Collins will be facing her most difficult re-election bid ever this November against Democrat Sara Gideon, who appears to have sealed up the Democratic nomination to run against Collins in Maine on Tuesday...

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Record surges in FL, TX, elsewhere; CA Guv re-closes bars, restaurants, churches, gyms, salons; Callers ring in on Trump's 'genocide'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2020 6:14pm PT  

We raise a whole bunch of topics and news from the weekend for conversation with listeners on The BradCast today, but most wanted to only to discuss the Trump Administration's twisted demand that schools reopen next month for in-person classes, even as COVID-19 cases are now exploding around the country. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Florida, on Sunday, reported a record 15,300 cases. That's a larger single day record than any state in the nation. It is more than either California at its recent peak or New York at its peak back in April. The news of Florida's quickly worsening crisis comes just days after the state announced that all schools in Florida must reopen for in-person classes for all, five days a week, despite concerns expressed by local school officials.

As Florida shattered the national record, many states, most controlled by Republican Governors, continue to hit new seven-day rolling average records of new cases (even as testing plateaus or even decreases in some states), California, with its Democratic Governor is spiking as well. Governor Gavin Newsom in the Golden State on Monday declared that bars, indoor dining at restaurants, hair and nail salons, churches and gyms would all be shut down again in counties that are the hardest hit. Los Angeles and San Diego County both announced that the school year will reopen with remote learning instead of in-person classes, to the great relief of teachers who are, overwhelmingly, against reopening school campuses.

Donald Trump's Secretary of Education, meanwhile, appeared (poorly) on the Sunday news shows, to insist that schools must reopen, or face lost federal funding, while admitting she has absolutely no federal plan for what do when coronavirus spikes occur. That, she said, should be left to local officials --- the same local officials that she and Trump are hoping to force to reopen schools next month, even as a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds nearly 1.5 million teachers (one in four) are older than 65 or have health conditions that place them at higher risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19.

At the same time, oddly enough, Admiral Brett Giroir, the federal government's coronavirus testing coordinator, warned on ABC News' This Week on Sunday that the U.S. shouldn't even be thinking about how to get kids back into the classroom until we get the virus under control. "When we get the virus more under control," he said, "then we can really think about how we put children back in the classroom." We suspect the Admiral may not be in his position very much longer. People who tend to tell the truth are not particularly welcome in the Trump Administration.

Getting the virus under control, of course, as Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed out over the weekend, is made all the more difficult, if not impossible, because the federal government is still failing --- more than four months into this crisis --- to ensure adequate testing kits or personal protective equipment (PPE) as cases spike, hospitalizations surge and the death rates began to climb in every region of the country over the past two weeks.

Trump's plan to pretend that everything is somehow normal in time for the November 3rd Presidential Election is beginning to look a whole lot like genocide or at least mass murder, as a whole bunch of callers today seem to agree. (I wanted to hear from those who disagreed with me. None of them were willing to call in for some reason, even though they frequently email me after the show. Cowards.)

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Guest: Sen. Timothy Wirth; Also: Following infection and hospitalization spikes, COVID-19 deaths now surging, as predicted, in GOP-run states...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2020 6:55pm PT  

Some pretty scary topics on today's BradCast. But don't worry! There's a Rainbow at the end of this pot of gold to help make it all just a tiny bit better! [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

First up: As we've been reporting for weeks, coronavirus infection rates and hospitalizations have been surging across much of the country, particularly in states with Republican Governors who reopened far too early, despite warnings to the contrary from health experts. Throughout this epic failure, however, there has been one statistic these sociopaths have been repeatedly clinging to in recent weeks to justify their ill-considered orders to try and goose the economy in the short-term before the election by reopening, despite the obvious dangers: mortality rates from COVID-19 had not been increasing along with the spike in infection rates

Of course, as we've also been reporting for weeks, the death rate is a lagging indicator that, sure enough, follows the increase in hospitalizations. And now, especially in states like Florida, Texas, Arizona and others where Republican Governors put their perceived (and twisted) political interests ahead of the health and lives of their actual constituents, death rates are now beginning to swell as expected. That, even as Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the head of his so-called White House Coronavirus Task Force, continue to mislead the public about such facts. "We are encouraged that the average fatality rate continues to be low and steady," Pence lied to reporters at the White House this week, while vowing to strong-arm schools into reopening for in-person classes next month --- including in Florida, where, as in Texas and Arizona, ICUs are now at capacity in much of the state, hospitals are running out of test kits and the Republican National Committee plans to hold its nominating coronation for Trump next month as well.

Governors Ron DeSantis (FL), Greg Abbott (TX), Doug Ducey (AZ) and others like them share the same buckets of blood on their hands with Trump, Pence, and the other rightwing death cultists, like Sean Hannity at Fox "News".

Then --- in even cheerier news --- it is now "not just possible but increasingly probable" that Donald Trump will steal the election, according to our guest, Colorado's former U.S. SENATOR TIM WIRTH! Writing recently at Newsweek with Editor-at-Large Tom Rogers, Wirth --- who has served in various branches of government since the Johnson and Nixon Administrations --- details a scenario in which Trump could lose not only the popular vote, but also the Electoral College votes of enough swing states to lose in a rout, but still manage to remain in office!

And, as they detail in 12 simple steps, it can all be done "legally" thanks to some obscure emergency powers granted by Congress decades ago to the President, some help from a compliant and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, and the shameless Republican caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In short, the example scenario proffered by Wirth and Rogers involves the invocation of Presidential powers to launch an investigation into dubious claims of election fraud in several battleground states. That prevents the certification of results in those states which, as SCOTUS has previously ruled, would mean their electoral votes would not ultimately be included in the final tally. If the result was a tie or challenge to the final electoral count, the winner of the Presidential contest would, as specified by the Constitution, be determined by state delegations in the U.S. House, where Republicans currently hold the controlling majority in a majority of states (26).

While the specific scenario they spell out might seem unimaginable, their very specific step-by-step plan is both entirely plausible and, theoretically, perfectly legal. It is no more unimaginable than the idea that Donald Trump could become President of the United States in the first place.

So, Wirth warns we would be wise to begin imagining it --- and making plans for how to counter it --- immediately. "We can't wait until the middle of October or early November to ring the alarm bells," he tells me. "The alarm bells, in our opinion, have to go off now."

The scenario, as he details it, is as chilling as it sounds --- and completely imaginable under this President, who, Wirth explains, is already busily laying the ground work for such a coup. "If you look at Trump and what we've learned in the last 3 and a half years, this is a man who is absolutely deathly afraid of the word 'loser'," he argues. "He does not want to go down in history as the biggest loser in American political history. He will do everything he possibly can to avoid that and to stay in office."

"Effectively, under Article II of the Constitution, he can do practically anything that he wants to do. There are no constraints on his use of these emergency powers," says Wirth. "There is no review of these powers. The Congress actually knows very little about them. They are in statute, but held by the Justice Department and by the White House. The Congress has had little or no attention to these. They have not heard hearings about them, they don't know what's in these emergency powers, they have not reviewed them."

"Trump has no constraints on these. The Congress doesn't have any authority to check these powers. People can say, 'Well, it would go to court!' Who's going to take it to court? Barr, the Attorney General? Are they going to challenge what Trump says he's going to do?"

"The more you know, the worse it is. The more you know about these emergency powers, the more you sketch out what he may do, the more you see what he's doing in all of these swing states, how they're trying to discourage vote by mail, how he's making all kinds of wild statements about how corrupt electoral voting would be if its conducted by mail," the former Democratic Senator explains. "It would really take a failure of imagination not to begin to think... that this is not just possible, but probable. Let's connect the dots."

Wirth connects a bunch of those dots on today's show, adding to his opinion piece at Newsweek and another related warning he penned at Politico with former CO Senator Gary Hart and Carter and Clinton Administration officials Joel McCleary and Mark Medish, telling me today: "There is a danger in our system, and we have to build public attention to this, so that it doesn't happen...We should be alert to it, and aware of it, thinking about it, talking about it, and building the firewall against it."

Finally, because we suspect you need as much help as we do at shaking off today's nightmares --- and all of the ones we've endured over the past week (or even 3 an a half years) --- we close with some important advice from the great musical satirist, Randy Rainbow...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern explains today's rulings; Also: Two conditions on Biden's debates with Trump?; Continuing COVID-19 havoc...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2020 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: They were the last major decisions of the term for the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. And at least all of the Justices seemed to mostly agree that Presidents are not above the law, even if this one was allowed to buy some time before facing accountability. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Lucky for Donald J. Trump, that extra time granted by two remands to lower courts by SCOTUS today will almost certainly prevent the public from seeing his tax returns and other likely fraudulent financial documents from the years before his Presidency, before he must stand for re-election on November 3rd. Despite those considerable gifts from SCOTUS today, Donald Trump went off on an incomprehensible Twitter tantrum in response. For some, I guess, too much is never enough.

"Not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority in one of Thursday's long-awaited 7 to 2 opinions [PDF]. Citing 200-year old remarks by Chief Justice John Marshall, Roberts observed: "We reaffirm that principle and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need." Even accused sexual assaulter Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed in a concurring opinion that "no one is above the law."

While no one may be above the law, Trump received two extraordinary gifts from the court today. One opinion, Trump v. Vance [PDF] effectively postpones the disclosure of his dubious financial documents to the Manhattan District Attorney for a criminal grand jury investigation until, mostly likely, after the November election. The other, Trump v. Mazars [PDF] prevents several Congressional Committees from seeing similar documents that they subpoenaed from Trump's accounting firm, also until after the election --- and maybe never if the clock runs out on the end of the Congressional session in December. It will likely take at least that long to work through the courts with SCOTUS' newly-raised bar for such subpoenas of the Executive Branch by Congress.

We're joined once again today, at the last minute, by Slate's great court reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to offer his ever-helpful clarity and context to today's complicated opinions, which one attorney today described thusly: "The ruling is 'No president is above the law', but they post-dated it to the Biden administration".

"I think he just doesn't really understand how the Court gave him a gift," Stern explains, in response to my questions about Trump's whining, incoherent Twitter response to today's ruling. "These decisions are wrapped up in a lot of language that pointedly reduces the President's immunity and executive privilege from oversight and investigations. And announces or reaffirms some crucial principles, like, of course a state can subpoena a President's records for a grand jury proceeding and, yes, Congress can also subpoena the President and his confederates and businesses if it seeks to get that information to pass legislation."

"But the Court said 'We are going to draw a line because we're not so sure that here, either the New York grand jury or the House of Representatives checked all the boxes that we think they needed to in order to get this information.' So, there's going to be a run-down-the-clock thing now, where Trump tries to keep fighting this in the lower courts --- at least through the November election --- and that means we may never actually get to see these records that the Supreme Court said, theoretically, we could have a right to see."

Stern observes: "It was almost like it was a carefully brokered compromise to reach this exact result and then work backwards for the reasoning." Nonetheless, Stern notes, even if his financial firms are allowed to escape subpoenas by Congress, "the writing is on the wall" for the subpoenas filed by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance. "I think the lower court is going to very quickly say, 'Yep, these records can go to the grand jury.' And that's going to be that. It could happen in a matter of weeks."

We will see. Or not.

Next, a few more accountability odds and ends today. Trump received another gift this week in the form of a second --- and still-unexplained --- extension of the deadline for the release of his annual financial disclosure statement. Speaking of, the New York Times' Thomas Friedman thinks that Joe Biden should refuse to debate Trump (who now needs the debates more than Biden does) unless Trump releases his tax returns from his years as President, since he promised to do so in 2016, and Biden has already done so. Friedman has one other condition as well that he suggest Biden place on the debates before agreeing to participate this year.

On the COVID-19 front today, the CDC is now claiming they are not planning to rewrite guidance for the reopening of schools after Vice President Mike Pence indicated yesterday they would be doing so following Trump's complaint that their original recommendation for opening schools safely was "very tough and expensive". And, whaddaya know? There's a surge of COVID cases in Tulsa following Trump's unmasked super-spreader campaign rally there in late June, according to the city's top health official.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report with record-breaking Siberian wildfires; a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season (which only just kicked off!); the new natural gas bomb trains the Trump Administration has just approved to move through your hometown; and some good truckin' news for breathers in California!...

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Unlikely either a grand jury, Congress or the public will gain access to any incriminating financial records prior to the Presidential Election
UPDATE 8/4/20: Subsequent court orders/legal filings suggest NY grand jury may get records by September. Will there be an October Surprise?...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/9/2020 1:23pm PT  


"Two hundred years ago, a great jurist of our Court [Chief Justice John Marshall] established that no citizen, not even the President, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding. We reaffirm that principle and hold that the President is neither absolutely immune from state criminal subpoenas seeking his private papers nor entitled to a heightened standard of need." --- Chief Justice John Roberts, 7 - 2 majority opinion in Trump v. Vance, July 9, 2020

In Trump v. Vance, the President of the United States sued to block Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's subpoena of Donald Trump's accounting firm Mazar's USA. The subpoena seeks financial records that may expose criminal violations of NY law. Those potential violations include, but are not limited to, the sworn allegations presented by Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, that the President falsified loan applications and other financial documents.

The fact that the Supreme Court, as observed by Justice Brett Kavanaugh in his concurring opinion in Vance, "unanimously" agreed that "a President does not possess absolute immunity from a state criminal subpoena" is great news for those who are concerned about the threat the Trump administration poses to the survival of the rule of law. However, the Court's decision to remand the case to the District Court where President Donald J. Trump "may," per the majority opinion, "raise further arguments as appropriate" makes it unlikely that a New York grand jury will acquire the potentially incriminating records that might otherwise justify the issuance of a criminal indictment prior to the November 3. 2020 election.

Given the majority's conclusion, in Vance --- that the President's right to object to compliance with a criminal subpoena is no greater than the rights enjoyed by all private citizens --- it's unlikely Trump will prevail at the District Court level. However, the remand will allow Trump's legal counsel to seek further delays via stay requests associated with future appeals.

In a companion case, Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP --- in which Trump sued to block several Congressional Committees from obtain Trump's tax and other financial documents as part of their legislative oversight --- the Court vacated a District Court order compelling Trump to turn over financial records to Congress. Although the Court, in this case, left open the possibility that the District Court could again order the same financial records to be turned over to Congress after careful consideration of Separation of Powers issues. In this case as well, it is now highly unlikely that the records would be forthcoming to Congress prior to the Election.

The net result is that the Supreme Court has probably deprived the U.S. electorate of access to potentially incriminating financial records prior to the pivotal Presidential Election. That doesn't bode well for small "d" democratic accountability, which can only be accomplished when the electorate is "well informed". That's especially ironic given that even President Richard M. Nixon conceded that We the People have a right "to know whether or not their President is a crook."

UPDATE 8/4/20: Subsequent court orders, an expedited briefing schedule and legal filings suggest that a Manhattan grand jury may actually receive the withheld financial records by early September.

In a July 16 order [PDF], U.S. District Court Judge Victor Moreno adopted the parties' agreed upon expedited schedule, to wit: Trump was to file a second amended complaint by July 27. Vance could answer or move to dismiss by Aug. 3. Vance timely filed a motion to dismiss [PDF]. Trump has until Aug. 10 to file a brief in opposition to the motion to dismiss; Vance until Aug. 14 to file a reply.

On July 17, the Supreme Court issued an order granting Vance's request that the Supreme Court's July 9 decision be effective immediately --- as opposed to the usual 25 days after it was issued.

In his July 16 order, Judge Morero recited the following with respect to Vance's legal posture:

Each of [the President's] potential arguments must be understood first and foremost in the context of the Supreme Court's rejection of a heightened standard for the issuance of a standard of a state criminal subpoena to a sitting President. While the District Attorney does not contest that the President should have an opportunity to advance additional "appropriate" claims supported by factual allegations, consistent with the Supreme Court's opinion, his challenges to the Mazars subpoena must be considered in light of the principle that a President making such challenges stands "in nearly the same situation with any other individual."[Citation]. The President's proposal attempts to elide that standard; indeed, [he] expressly invites this Court to conduct a heightened-scrutiny inquiry drawn from the concurring opinion that was utterly rejected by the majority decision. Equally important, it overlooks the fact that he has already substantially advanced similar allegations in the [First] Amended Complaint, which this Court rejected.

The President states that he may argue that the subpoena "is motivated by a desire to harass or is conducted in bad faith…or that the subpoena is meant to 'manipulate' his policy decisions or to retaliate against him for official acts.' But this Court has already found there was no demonstrated bad faith, harassment, or any other unusual circumstance that would call for equitable relief. And this Court has rejected the President's claim that there was any evidence of a 'secondary motive' that goes beyond good faith enforcement of criminal laws.

In his erudite motion to dismiss Trump's Second Amended Complaint, which was co-authored by Walter E. Dellinger, III, a Duke Law Professor who had previously served as an Assistant Attorney General and as the head of the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, Vance lays out the reasons why the Second Amended Complaint must be dismissed and the records promptly produced.

Trump's newest filing, Vance asserts, merely "repeats a conspiratorial assertion [the President] has unsuccessfully pressed for nearly a year to all three levels of the federal courts." The only "new" allegation is the claim the subpoena is over-broad because it seeks financial records dating back to 2011. This "new" allegation is based upon the factually erroneous assumption that Vance's investigation is confined to the 2016 "hush money" payments that were the source of the allegations leveled by Michael Cohen, the President's former lawyer. (Cohen was convicted for his role in the "hush money" scheme.)

In actuality, Vance points out, the subpoena goes back to 2011 because the grand jury, on the basis of publicly revealed evidence, is investigating "potentially improper financial transactions by a variety of individuals and entities over a period of years."

In the motion, Vance based assertion on Cohen's Congressional testimony and cited Washington Post and Wall Street Journal articles. Turns out, the Manhattan DA has additional information in his possession, according to a The New York Times article that was published one day after Vance filed the motion to dismiss. Last year, Deutsche Bank turned over the Trump organization's financial records to Vance's office pursuant to a subpoena. Thus, it's likely Vance already has evidence in his possession to support the assertion, set forth in the motion, that the NY grand jury subpoenas of financial records held by Mazars relate to decades-long "alleged insurance and bank fraud by the Trump Organization and its officers".

Given Judge Marrero's rejections of the President's prior identical legal arguments, and the already significant delay incurred, it's likely that, following a hearing, a new order compelling compliance with the subpoena will soon issue. It's unlikely further stays will be granted. Thus, it's likely, a NY grand jury will receive the financial records by early September. If those records are incriminating, the intriguing question is to whether Vance, who is not hampered by DOJ rules against initiating an action, could promptly seek and deliver an October Surprise in the form of an unprecedented indictment of a sitting President.

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Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, and Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). He previously served as a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. Canning has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing




Guest: Eddie Perez of OSET Institute; Also: Trump's coronavirus Death March continues; SCOTUS allows religious groups to discriminate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2020 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Things are going to get far worse before they finally get better. In this case, "worse" means far more deadly and "better" means an election this fall that somewhat accurately reflects the intent of the electorate. Donald Trump has now get the killing Americans part down, but he and his fixer/Attorney General are still feeling their way around how best to undermine the election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Just weeks ago, in late May, the Trump Death Cultists on Fox "News" and those entrusted to govern states like Florida, were railing against media, demanding apologies by those who warned that opening up for business prematurely amid a deadly viral pandemic was a terrible idea. Republican Governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis and hackish clowns like Sean Hannity of Fox "News" aren't asking for apologies anymore, it seems, as at least 56 Florida hospital ICUs across the state have now hit capacity, with dozens more nearly full as well. Florida is just one such GOP-led state whose political decisions in advance of the November election have had deadly consequences as 31 states are now seeing infections and hospitalizations rise.

The conservative projected death estimates put out by the infectious disease modelers at University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) have once again been revised in the bargain. IHME now forecasts more than 208,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 by November 1, while noting that some 45,000 lives could be saved over that same period if we all simply wore masks in public. Other experts believe the mortality number could be as high as 500,000 by the end of this year.

So, again, we ask: At what point does it become a CRIMINAL act when DeSantis and Donald Trump and Vice President Pence command schoolchildren, amid this out-of-control surging pandemic, back to in-person classes next month, under thread of financial penalty, and in defiance of CDC guidelines? At least the CDC guidelines based on science and health data, versus Pence's newly promised revised CDC guidelines that the Administration ordered to be cooked up after Trump found the real ones to be too "tough" and "expensive". When do these people become liable for criminal deadly negligence or even mass murder?

This scheming is nothing short of sick and twisted. We will soon look back on these days with ghastly horror at what they have done in short-sighted and ill-considered hopes of winning re-election this November.

Speaking of which, while Trump and his corrupt A.G. Bill Barr have been out lying about absentee voting amid the pandemic, it seems Republican strategists and candidates are becoming quite concerned that their voters may be actually be listening to them. Many GOP voters new believe that vote-by-mail ballots are all fraudulent, which could end up costing the GOP dearly this year.

At the same time, folks like EDDIE PEREZ, Global Director of Technology and Standards at the OSET (Open Source Election Technology) Institute, has been doing his level best to debunk many of the lies about mail-in voting being infectiously spread by Trump and his Attorney General who, for example, recently declared that "a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots" and use them to undermine our elections somehow. Perez explains (and here's a shorter Twitter version of his explanation) why such claims are largely nonsense, even if there are, in fact, some concerns about fraud in absentee voting --- just not the ones that Trump and Barr are mostly trumpeting.

As no fan of absentee voting myself --- other than in cases where voters literally cannot vote at the polls on Election Day, or are forced to use 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems at the polling place, or when we find ourselves in the middle of an out-of-control deadly global pandemic --- I've got a few pointed questions for Perez on the reality of absentee ballot fraud.

Among the issues he speaks to: Whether ballots can really be counterfeited (by foreign or domestic actors alike); What security measures are in place to prevent someone from casting a ballot in someone else's name?; Should voters have confidence in signature matching by election officials who are not hand-writing experts? And more. "If nothing else," Perez tells me, "the country needs to realize --- and particularly election officials and Get Out The Vote organizations --- there are really, really good reasons to protect public health to make by-mail voting available to people, as one of several options. That's really critical. For November, you've got to have a balance. We need to pay attention to educating voters about what it's going to take to ensure that their ballot is accepted and counted."

Also, as Perez, before joining the non-profit OSET Institute, was a 15 year veteran of Hart-Intercivic, one of the nation's three major private voting system vendors (about whom we've reported a great deal of less than flattering things over the years), we take a few minutes today to discuss why private, for-profit vendors are ill-equipped to meet the critical needs of transparent, overseeable elections in support of American democracy. "I'll say that the one thing we can agree on," Perez notes, "is transparency in the voting process is what helps to build trust with the public. Transparency is what is going to produce confidence. And that's what we need in our democracy."

I didn't have the heart or time to respond that "trust" has nothing to do with Americans elections. But, other than that, on the need for transparent oversight to build confidence among the electorate, he is spot on.

Finally, two objectionable SCOTUS opinions were handed down today, allowing religious organizations to, among other things, ignore any and all state or federal anti-discrimination laws, because "freedom of religion", apparently, also now includes the freedom to take actual freedoms away from everyone else...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Non-U.S nations getting COVID-19 under control; SCOTUS rules on robocalls, 'faithless electors'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/6/2020 6:15pm PT  

Donald Trump celebrated the national 4th of July holiday weekend by using the backdrop of our national monuments to try and "gaslight" the nation again on coronavirus while hoping to spark a race war to jump-start his flagging re-election effort. So, how did your Independence Day weekend go? But, first up on today's BradCast...[Audio link to show is posted below summary]...

A number of countries around the world have now all but defeated the COVID-19 virus within their borders. In the U.S., on the other hand, thanks to our failed/non-existent national strategy, new infections and hospitalizations continue to explode, hitting new records for each of the past 27 days. That, as Trump and his White House continue to hope that by ignoring the pandemic, it will simply go away or that Americans will simply "grow numb to the escalating death toll" by Election Day. Good luck with that.

His own FDA Commissioner didn't have the courage over the weekend to contradict Trump's false claim at the White House on July 4 that, for 99% of people who contract the virus, it's "totally harmless". Iowa Sen. Jodi Ernst (R), who described President Obama's eradication of the Ebola epidemic in the U.S. with just two deaths as "failed leadership", didn't have the courage to describe Trump's leadership as "failed", despite nearly 3 million confirmed cases now in the U.S. and more than 130,000 deaths from COVID-19. Ernst is up for re-election in the Hawkeye State in just four months. Hopefully voters will keep her cowardice and its deadly consequences in mind.

Former Trump National Security Advisor Tom Bossert, however, came much closer to telling the truth to the American people on Sunday, by warning that "We are in trouble." And that if the virus continues on its current trajectory in the U.S., "we could top 500k US deaths this year." Good luck ignoring or becoming numb to that.

In U.S. Supreme Court news on Monday, the Justices on the Republicans' stolen Court released two interesting opinions on Monday. In a 6 to 3 ruling, the Supremes struck down a statutory exemption written into the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 that allows for the federal government to make otherwise banned robocalls on cellphones. The court found that exemption unconstitutional, but allowed the rest of the law to stand in what could be a good omen for a challenge coming up next year at the High Court to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). And, in a unanimous decision today, SCOTUS found that states may bar so-called "faithless electors" from casting votes at the Electoral College that contradict the popular will of state voters. We'll discuss more about both opinions on tomorrow's BradCast.

Today, however (amid a tribute to the late great Ennio Marricone) we're left to make sense of Trump's astonishing, aggressive, political, campaign-style rallies held on the 3rd and 4th of July at Mount Rushmore and at the White House in which he, according to our guest today, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, all but ignored the deadly coronavirus pandemic, along with its accompanying economic disaster, to offer "angry declarations of war against fellow Americans on the day the country celebrates freedom and independence."

By declaring war on what he described in the shadow of our nation's founders as "far-left fascism" and a "merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children" by "unleash[ing] a wave of violent crime in our cities," Parton concedes that at least he's being transparent. "If nothing else, I think we can see what the contours of the next four months of the Presidential campaign are going to be," she tells us, "and how he and his people have decided that they are going to deal with the real crises that are manifesting themselves in the country --- the obvious one is COVID-19 and the rapid spread of it throughout the country, and the other is the ongoing protest of unarmed black men being killed by police and systemic racism in general." That, as we discuss, instead of offering actual Presidential leadership during the most deadly pandemic in more than a century which might have otherwise assured his re-election.

Parton also offers her thoughts on last week's mind-blowing allegations that Russian military intelligence paid bounties to members of the Taliban in exchange for dead U.S. troops in Afghanistan while Trump has done absolutely nothing in response, and the too-overlooked story from Carl Bernstein late last week in which former Senior White House officials, from Trump's former SecDef, Sec. of State, Chief of Staff, two National Security Advisors and others confirm that Trump was "uninformed" and "delusional" during phone calls with world leaders; never got better at it over the years; was sycophantic in dealing with adversarial autocrats; and "near-sadistic" in his treatment of U.S. allies, especially the female leaders of the U.K. and Germany who he called "stupid" during at least one of the phone calls.

That conversation and few listener calls round out the hour, as we are now exactly 120 days from Election Day, November 3rd...not that anyone's counting...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with the CA Congressman on his new book, 'Endgame', and a different look at the 4th of July...
By Nicole Sandler on 7/3/2020 5:05pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, back in to guest host another edition of the BradCast. This weekend is the 4th of July holiday, but this year many of us are looking at it in a different way, seeing the rest of American history that's not usually remembered or recognized on "Independence Day." [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

I opened the show with a bit of wishful-thinking humor-- an "apology" from Donald J. Trump for his mishandling of the coronavirus crisis. It's courtesy of Liz Plank and The Recount. Just click here to watch the magic.

My guest today is REP. ERIC SWALWELL of California's 15th District, who has a new book, Endgame: Inside the Impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Since he's working from home, we even got a quick visit from his daughter who they call Cricket!

At the end, I shared a missive that I found on, of all places, Facebook. Typical of the venue, I have no idea who wrote it. But it's one of the few items I copied and pasted and shared. It's for white people who still don't understand why "all lives matter" is not a reasonable response to Black Lives Matter. This is the part of American history and Independence Day I think we need to spend a little more time on this 4th of July.

In the simplest terms:

400 years ago white people brought black people over here and enslaved them. And sold them. And treated them as less than human. For 250 years. While white men built the country and created its laws and its systems of government. While 10, 15 generations of white families got to grow and flourish and make choices that could make their lives better.

And then 150 years ago white people "freed" black people from slavery. But then angry white people created laws that made it impossible for them to vote. Or to own land. Or to have the same rights as white people. And even erected monuments glorifying people who actively had fought to keep them enslaved. All while another 5, 10 generations of white families got to grow and accumulate wealth and gain land and get an education.

And then 60 years ago we made it "legal" for black people to vote, and to be "free" from discrimination. But angry white people still fought to keep schools segregated. And closed off neighborhoods to white people only. And made it harder for black people to get bank loans, or get quality education or health care, or to (gasp) marry a white person. All while another 2-3 generations of white families got to grow and pass their wealth down to their children and their children's children.

And then we entered an age where we had the technology to make PUBLIC the things that were already happening in private-- the beatings, the stop and frisk laws, the unequal distribution of justice, the police brutality (police began in America as slave patrols designed to catch runaway slaves).

And only now, after 400+ years and 20+ generations of a white head start, are we STARTING to truly have a dialogue about what it means to be black.

White privilege doesn't mean you haven't suffered or fought or worked hard. It doesn't mean white people are responsible for the sins of our ancestors. It doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of who you are. But it DOES mean that we need to acknowledge that the system our ancestors created is built FOR white people. It DOES mean that we aren't disadvantaged because of the color of our skin and it DOES mean that we owe it to our neighbors-- of all colors-- to acknowledge that and work to make our world more equitable.

BLACK LIVES MATTER

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Also: Carl Reiner, RIP...
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2020 6:34pm PT  

In case you need something to celebrate this July 4th, it will be just 200 days exactly from that date until Donald Trump will no longer be the President of the United States next January! ... Presuming he is not able to somehow steal a second term anyway. Let's not let him. Therefore, go celebrate Independence Day in advance this Saturday on July 4th!

In the meantime, as we work our way towards that glorious day, a few related news items of note on today's BradCast [Audio link to full show follows summary below]...

  • Wyoming Republicans are beating themselves up over...well, apparently being Republicans. Literally! A fist-fight broke out over the weekend at the Wyoming Republican Party state convention in Gillette, as the party's extremist and less extremist factions duke it out, with one County Party chair who wielded an ax-handle and a pistol, versus another drunk County Party chair who ended up unconscious and in need of surgery as the whole debacle is investigated by local police. Grab your popcorn, because it's as insane as it sounds. We've got the blow-by-blow details!;
  • As to the battle between the Democratic Party's progressive and conservative wings, that appears to be playing out a bit more peacefully, at the ballot box instead. AP has now called a winner in Kentucky's Democratic U.S. Senate Primary a week after it was held. The delay was due to absentee ballot counting in two of the state's largest and most diverse counties, Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington). Neither released any results from the state's June 23 primaries until today. If the reported results are accurate, it appears that party establishment-supported former fighter pilot Amy McGrath will be the Democratic nominee to take on GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this November. She is said to have narrowly edged out progressive African-American state legislator Charles Booker, who surged to mount a serious challenge to McGrath and her large campaign war chest at the end of the campaign during protests for racial justice in the state. In the end, if the computer-tallied results are accurate, Booker's late surge --- as a Sanders/Warren/AOC-endorsed supporter of Medicare for All and the Green New Deal --- came up just short of the votes needed to defeat the front-runner who had been the presumptive nominee since being recruited by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer last summer. We'll see if McGrath also has what it takes to take down McConnell this fall. That, according to recent polling, will be no easy feat in a state that went for Trump by 30 points in 2016. But it will be well worth the effort in trying;
  • The National Republican Committee, the Trump Campaign and several sitting GOP Congressmembers are now filed a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania, claiming that their use of secure absentee ballot drop-off boxes somehow violates the U.S. Constitution, even though absentee voting was approved last year by the state's GOP-majority legislature and the use of drop-off boxes is a recommended best practice by vote-by-mail experts and the federal government alike;
  • We'll see if the Republicans' federal lawsuit in PA has any better chances for success than a similar attempt by the GOP and Trump Campaign to sue California in an effort to prevent absentee ballots being mailed to all active registered voters. That initiative was mandated by Gov. Gavin Newsom's recent Executive Order in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in a subsequent Republican-supported bill passed by the state legislature and signed by the Governor;
  • And here's that article I referenced by Ernie Canning on the other Dept. of Justice whistleblower who testified in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee last week about Bill Barr's abuse of the DoJ's Antitrust division to harass California and automakers who are working with the state (to the consternation of Donald Trump) and legal cannabis companies (perhaps to prevent the division from being able to probe real antitrust issues and anti-competitive monopolies in the banking, Big Tech, and telecom sectors.);
  • Then, we've got a brief and heart-felt tribute to the legendary and much-beloved Carl Reiner --- creator of the Dick Van Dyke Show, the 2000 Year Old Man with Mel Brooks and much more --- who passed away today at the age of 98. From nothin'.;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with news on a fracking giant filing for bankruptcy, SCOTUS signing a death warrant for endangered species and new data finding that millions of U.S. homes, far more than previously thoughts, are now at risk of flooding thanks to climate change...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

PLEASE NOTE: Desi and I are checking out for a few days of MUCH needed down time before the holiday. Nicole Sandler will be filling in for us until we see ya next Monday! Until then, please stay safe, healthy and don't forget to celebrate independence from the Trump Presidency in just 200 days as of July 4th!

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Guest: Slate's SCOTUS reporter Mark Joseph Stern on the 'canny legal' maneuverings of the Chief Justice; Also: MS votes to dump Confederate flag; Trump Campaign removed social distancing stickers before Tulsa Death Rally; COVID-19 now ravaging all but two states...
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2020 7:04pm PT  

As life in the U.S. continues to get grimmer, we find a few much-needed points of light during today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, the GOP-controlled Mississippi state legislature finally voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to remove the offensive Confederate flag symbol from their own state flag. Both the Governor and Lt. Governor support the move and the bill will be signed. Yes, the ongoing uprising against systemic racism in the U.S. continues to bring about long-overdue positive change! Also, there was (mostly) good news in a long-awaited abortion case at the U.S. Supreme Court today, but we'll get there in a second.

Before that, we've been arguing in recent days that Donald Trump should eventually be brought up on charges for what amounts to mass murder in his purposefully and criminally delinquent and negligent handling of the COVID crisis. More evidence of that affirmative endangerment of the public was reported over the weekend by the Washington Post, which obtained video evidence that the Trump Campaign, just hours before his June 20 campaign rally in Oklahoma, removed thousands of social distancing stickers placed on seats at Tulsa's BOK Center venue by its management. As the city's health director pleaded with the campaign to postpone the rally amid spiking infections rates, and local residents and business owners went all the way to the state's Supreme Court to try and block it, the Trump Campaign was purposely making it less safe for rally attendees. The infection rate in Tulsa has continued to spike since Trump's under-attended Death Rally (where he had falsely bragged in advance that there wouldn't be "an empty seat"), as infection rates now continue to rise in at least 36 states after the largest single day increase across the nation on Friday.

Florida, Texas and Arizona, with Republican Governors who were among the first to reopen, are now seeing among the largest growth in infections and hospitalizations in the country. That, despite Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' hubris-filled attacks on the media just weeks ago following an initial lack of new confirmed cases after reopening for Memorial Day and a now-embarrassing rant from Sean Hannity on Fox 'News' claiming that FL and NY "got it right", states like NY got it wrong (NY's infection rate was just 6% of Florida's on Friday) and that "the mob and the media....owe Gov. DeSantis a huge apology." Well, that didn't age well.

Then back to a bit more good(ish) news as the U.S. Supreme Court's Chief Justice John Roberts, for the third time in as many weeks, joined the Court's liberal wing on yet another major case --- well, mostly. It was enough, at least, to strike down an extremist anti-abortion measure in Louisiana, in any case. Had the attempt by state Republicans to insert Big Government in-between a woman and her doctor been upheld by the Court, it would have left the entire state of 4.6 million with just one single doctor legally allowed to perform the still-Constitutionally protected medical procedure.

We're joined today by one of our favorite SCOTUS corespondents, MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate, to explain today's 4 to 1 to 4 opinion which resulted in the end of the state law requiring abortion doctors to unnecessarily obtain difficult-to-receive hospital admitting privileges. While abortion rights activists are breathing a sign of relief today, Stern explains, they likely won't have long to enjoy it. The Court with a stolen Republican Majority still appears hell bent on rolling back Roe v. Wade, he says.

While Roberts, in his own concurring opinion [PDF], effectively joined the liberals again today in striking down the Louisiana law --- again, maddening the right-wingers in the bargain --- he "is a very canny legal strategist, who still quite obviously opposes the Constitutional right to an abortion," Stern warns. In fact, what Roberts opinion today did was "leave us with a state of abortion jurisprudence that sort of rewinds the clock back to maybe 1992. Whereas, for the past four years, at least in theory, we have had a more robust protection of Constitutional rights."

With Roberts' new opinion, Stern reports, abortion rights proponents have actually lost some ground, even while the second "admitting privileges" law to find its way to the Court in four years was again struck down --- just like the previous virtually identical one out of Texas in 2016 (which Roberts then voted to uphold.)

The Chief Justice also voted recently with the Court's Democratic appointees to ban LGBTQ employment discrimination and in striking down Trump's rollback of DACA protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrant children who were brought here by their parents. So, why has Roberts seemingly become a "liberal squish" on three important landmark cases this session? Stern argues that he hasn't at all. Another ruling today regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in which the Court's rightwing 5 to 4 majority dreamed up new (non-existent) Constitutional powers for the Presidency, and a SCOTUS decision over the weekend to block absentee voting for all voters --- not just those 65 and older --- in Texas, in the middle of a pandemic, and in clear violation of the 26th Amendment, is just more evidence that the Republicans' stolen SCOTUS majority is still anything but "liberal", even after these three recent surprise opinions on LGBTQ rights, DACA and abortion.

Stern also offers his thoughts on whether Roberts would be voting as he has been of late if Justice Anthony Kennedy was still on the Court as its swing vote, and whether all of this suggests that the Court should now be expanded in response to theft of what should have been an actual liberal majority by now...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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