As usual, we're looking both forward and back on today's BradCast...and not a whole lot of it looks fantastic in either direction. But their could be some accountability on the horizon, which always looks good to us. [Audio link to full show is below this summary.]
First up, some climate and "sausage making" news. New polling finds that a majority of Americans --- in both major parties --- now finally see our quickly worsening climate crisis as being of "high importance" to them. We break down the new survey and what it does and doesn't mean.
In related matters, as discussed on yesterday's program, there is still a chance that the U.S. could meet President Biden's pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, even after corrupt, coal-state Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin insisted on removing the key program for clean electricity from Biden's Build Back Better reconciliation bill. That program would have paid utility companies to move quickly to clean energy sources and penalized those that stuck with dirty, dangerous fossil fuels like coal and natural gas. But those already long odds may be getting much longer if Manchin is successful in removing yet another key climate provision from the bill, fees that are to be levied against the release of methane from oil and gas wells. Desi Doyen explains why that program is so important and how killing or weakening it, as Manchin reportedly wants, could be a fatal blow to our chances of surviving our ongoing climate emergency.
Next, the Biden Administration this week has, for a second time, rejected our disgraced, twice-impeached former President's attempt to invoke Executive Privilege to prevent the release of more Trump-era White House documents regarding the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. The documents are the second tranche requested of the National Archives by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited attack.
That bad news for the former President (but good news for all democracy-loving Americans) comes on the heels of a series of reporting shedding additional light on Trump's attempt to steal the 2020 election, including by insurrection at the Capitol. Over the weekend, Washington Post detailed the "war room" effort carried out at the historic Willard Hotel near the White House from December through January, as Trump's activist lawyers, goons and other operatives, such as Rudy Giuliani and Steve Bannon, plotted various ways to overturn Joe Biden's victory.
Another report over the weekend from Rolling Stone documents the ways in which at least seven GOP U.S. House Reps participating in the planning of the rallies that led to the assault on the Capitol. Those members of Congress, according to two of the organizers who served as sources for the magazine (who are also said to be cooperating with the Jan. 6 Committee) are Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX). In the wake of the reporting, a number of Democrats in the House are now calling for the expulsion of those Republican members.
The Rolling Stone report also cites Gosar as encouraging the two unnamed organizers by telling them they could expect a "blanket pardon" from the President for a separate, unidentified matter in which they are said to have been involved. If true, Gosar's (apparently false) promise, if it was actually made, also seems to place Trump himself squarely at the center of organizing the conspiracy that eventually became a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Monday, on MSNBC, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, who detailed the Willard Hotel war room in their new book PERIL, offered more details, with Woodward reporting that the pair had "talked recently with a former Republican head of the Criminal Division in the Justice Department who said there is a 'lay down case,' just in what we know --- 18 U.S. Code, Section 371 --- a law that says it is a crime to defraud the government in any deceptive way, and that's exactly what they did here."
Last night, citing Woodward's comment, our guest today, KEITH BARBER, who blogs at Daily Kos under the name "KeithDB", broke down exactly what 18 U.S.C. § 371 actually is and how it could or should be applied here. In addition to being a regular dKos contributor on legal and constitutional matters, Barber is a former U.S. Army Captain, a longtime (now retired) attorney, and a lifelong Republican, at least "pre- Trump", according to his profile at the website.
Today, he walks us through the statute in question today, explaining how it is interpreted by the DoJ and how it appears to apply quite perfectly to both Trump and his cronies in their efforts to steal last year's Presidential election through deception and fraud.
Citing the DoJ's own explanation for its attorneys, Barber notes that he "was really surprised how stunningly broad" the statute is. "It basically can refer to impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of government, or depriving any department of government of its lawful right and duty required by law."
"Here," he continues, "we have counting of the Electoral College votes, very much required by law. That has to be done. A duty of Congress by law. And, arguably, the efforts going on in that 'war room', even setting aside the violence question --- the efforts to, through legalese and bogus Constitutional means, overturn the election --- constituted an effort, through deception and dishonesty, to overturn the election." Barber argues that Trump's criminal conspiracy seems to perfectly meets the DoJ's definition of the law, exactly as Woodward and Costa's former DoJ source posited.
Then, of course, the question is: Will the House Select Committee on January 6 cite that section of federal law and, more importantly, will the DoJ take action to enforce it against Trump and/or his cronies? As we also discuss, the DoJ has been less than aggressive in upholding the conspiracy law against Trump in other matters, such as the criminal conspiracy that both federal prosecutors and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, allege that Trump "directed" in the hush-money payoffs to adult film actress Stormy Daniels --- for which his co-conspirator Cohen served time in prison.
There's much more in our conversation, including what to make of Gosar's alleged promise of "blanket pardons" and whether the attempts by Trump attorneys, such as John Eastman and Rudy Giuliani, to avoid testimony to the January 6 Committee by claiming attorney/client privilege, will legally hold up. (Spoiler: It won't, explains Barber.)
Finally, we're joined again by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report on one of the busiest weeks in climate news in our 12 years of producing the GNR. So, I won't even try to summarize it here. But, please do tune in for that and much more on today's BradCast!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)