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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, April 18, 2024
SCOTUS Suddenly Worried About Overcriminalization ... for J6 Insurrectionists: 'BradCast' 4/17/24
Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner; Also: GOP impeachment ends; Turnout doubles in AL...
'Trump Media' Plummeting, MAGA Buyers Losing Life Savings: 'BradCast' 4/16/24
Also: Trump's ridiculous 'immunity'; 7 jurors seated in NY criminal trial; Repubs deliver impeachment to Senate; Smartmatic, OAN settle 2020 defamation suit...
'Green News Report' 4/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record ocean heat bleaching corals worldwide; EV charging roads in Indiana; Biden raising drilling, mining royalties for first time in a century; PLUS: A marine mystery in Florida...
Previous GNRs: 4/11/24 - 4/9/24 - Archives...
Trump's First Criminal Trial, for Cheating in 2016, Begins in NY: 'BradCast' 4/15/24
Special coverage of an historic day with Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos...
Sunday 'Party Like It's 1864' Toons
THIS WEEK: Bad politics, good toonery and at least one wake-up call, in our latest collection of the week's best toons!...
Biden Closes 'Gun Show Loophole'; Repubs Turn Desperate: 'BradCast' 4/11/24
RNC Chair says Ukraine our enemy; GA Lt. Guv faces probe; Fox hides AZ abortion ruling, Hannity blames Dems; WI Justice to retire...
'Green News Report' 4/11/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
10th hottest month ever in a row; Swiss climate inaction violates human rights; PLUS: EPA crack down on airborne chemical plant pollution, 'forever chemicals' in drinking water...
Previous GNRs: 4/9/24 - 4/4/24 - Archives...
'Pink Slime': Fake 'Local News' Sites Proliferating in Advance of Election: 'BradCast' 4/10/24
Guest: Alex Mahadevan; Also: Trump CFO back to jail; GOP chaos, panic after AZ's 1864 abortion ban restored...
Dirty Tricks and the Dirtiest Candidate Of All Time: 'BradCast' 4/9/24
A CA three-way!; Polls shift toward Biden; RW scam artists pay the price; Trump rejected again in NY criminal case, facing trouble for phony $175M bond in NY civil case...
'Green News Report' 4/9/24
Big hurricane season coming; Colorado River used mostly for cattle; Good news for CA snowpack, for now; PLUS: Disney's Tomorrowland says goodbye to Yesterdayville...
'Titanic Law' Reform Just Tip of Iceberg in Quest for Key Bridge Accountability: 'BradCast' 4/8/24
Guest: Helen Santoro; Also: Media echo Trump abortion lies; Biden's new debt relief for 30M...
Sunday 'Dark Days Indeed' Toons
FEATURING: The Eclipse! Disinformation! 'Victimless' Crimes! And much more in our latest collection of the week's darkest toons...
Trump's Very Bad Day in Court(s), Other Good (& Less Good) News: 'BradCast' 4/4
No Labels out; Soft sentence for vote fraudster; WI reconsiders drop-boxes; NE nixes Elctrl College change; Biden v. Israel; Sanders, Biden tout drug price success...
'Green News Report' 4/4/24
Hunger crisis amid drought in Africa; Biden invests billions to decarbonize manufacturing; Melting ice is bending time; America's first commercial-scale offshore wind farm...
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...


Guest: Alex Burness of Bolts Magazine; Also: OK voters remove neo-Nazi from office; Noteworthy Presidential Primary results from RI, CT, NY, WI...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2024 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: When democracy works as it's supposed to. And when it doesn't. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, encouraging news from Tuesday's elections out of the small town of Enid in supposedly "deep red" Oklahoma. After electing a guy by just 36 votes last year to the City Council --- a guy who turned out to be a neo-Nazi --- progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans in Enid rallied to remove Judd Blevins from office by nearly 20 points in a recall election. Republican Cheryl Patterson was elected to take the seat instead.

“We did it!,” said Kristi Balden, chair of the group called the Enid Social Justice Committee, which organized the signature drive to trigger Tuesday's recall after learning about Blevins' background as a participant in the White Supremacist riots in Charlottesville in 2017 and as an Oklahoma chapter head for a well known white nationalist group. Following the win for democracy in Enid on Tuesday night, she told NBC News that folks in the rural town discovered that even a small group can join together to effectively defeat extremism. “You can do this because we did this,” she said. “We didn’t even know what we were doing, and we did this. This is possible.”

In other election related news from Tuesday, Presidential Primaries were held in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Wisconsin despite the leading candidates for both major parties already having secured the delegates needed to clinch the 2024 nominations at their respective party conventions this summer. But there were still some interesting revelations from Tuesday's results.

While President Biden continues to see a small, if noteworthy, number of protest votes against him in Democratic primaries, largely in response to his position on Israel's war in Gaza, Donald Trump continues to do far worse among his own Republican party voters. Biden is still defeating challengers on the ballot as well as those registering votes for "uncommitted" by margins from the high 60s to the high 80s. Trump, on the other hand, is still having trouble topping a 70% percent margin on the GOP side, with Nikki Haley, who dropped out of the race weeks ago, still winning double-digit percentages in all four state primaries held on Tuesday.

In Wisconsin, for example, after an organized effort to encourage Dems to register a protest vote for "Uninstructed", the state's equivalent of "Uncommitted", approximately 48,000 (8.3%) of Democratic voters did so. That is certainly a concern in a state he won in 2020 by only about 21,000 votes --- and where Trump won by just 23,000 votes in 2016. On the other hand, about 125,000 voters in that state's Republican primary voted against the disgraced former President yesterday.

But the biggest news out of Tuesday's contests was arguably the fact that voters in Wisconsin approved two different Constitutional Amendments involving elections administration in the state. Both were placed on the ballot by Trump-allied Republicans in the GOP's still wildly gerrymandered state legislature after both measures were previously vetoed by the Democratic Governor.

Question 1 bans private funding of elections and Question 2 (the more troubling of the two), mandates that "only election officials designated by law" may perform election-related "tasks". Both measures sound fairly innocuous on paper. That, and a lack of organized opposition to either measure is undoubtedly why both were adopted by large margins statewide on Tuesday.

Some 27 other states won by Trump in 2020 have already adopted legislation similar to WI's Question 1, after Republicans decided to lie to themselves about private funding from non-profit organizations to help run elections during the pandemic as somehow related to Trump's loss. But Question 2 is a new idea and could, according to our guest today, result in chaos for election officials in the Badger State's nearly 2,000 decentralized election jurisdictions this November; frighten voting rights advocates away from helping voters at the polls; and spread to other states controlled by GOP election deniers, conspiracists and vote suppressors.

"These offices, even in better times, are chronically underfunded [and] understaffed," says my guest today, veteran voting rights journalist ALEX BURNESS, who published a deep dive warning about the dangers of these two ballot measures several weeks ago at the progressive Bolts Magazine. "It's hard to quantify what exactly the damage is going to be" regarding the ban on private funding of elections, "but if you can't afford to pay pollworkers, if you can't afford to recruit pollworkers, if you can't afford the extra dropboxes or those modern voting machines or tabulators, that's a problem," warns Burness.

But Question 2's vaguely worded requirement that "only election officials designated by law" may perform election-related "tasks" is what could really wreak havoc for voters and officials this November in the critical battleground state. Election-related "tasks" remains undefined in the new Amendment. It could relate to contractors who help design and program ballots for voting systems; outside experts who help officials analyze voting patterns to ensure the proper number of polling sites and printed ballots; voting rights groups who help disabled voters at the polls; municipal workers who are drafted by election officials to help set up tables at polling places; local volunteers who help officials in small towns seal envelopes to send voters absentee ballots, and many others.

It is all "straight out of the Big Lie," Burness explains today. "And in the absence of organized opposition to educate people about this, in the absence of much information from the media on this," he argues that it was easy for voters to look at these measures and think they make perfect sense --- as they apparently did on Tuesday. And yet, he asserts, the measures may turn out to be "a wolf in sheep's clothing."

"There is so much vagueness baked into that word 'tasks,'" Burness explains. "If 2020 is any indication, we can definitely expect that Wisconsin is going to play host to any number of election lawsuits. So, I think the passage of this measure kicks off many months of confusion and potentially chaos, of added stress for local election administrators, and added stress for the kind of people who would be inclined to assist in local election administration. The final word on what exactly Question 2 even means is probably yet to come."

"I can't say why this didn't get more attention, why folks didn't spend on it," he tells me in response to my question about why there was little warning from media and virtually no organized opposition to these measures from Democrats or voting rights advocates. "I could dream up reasons, such as fatigue," Burness says, summing up his guess as "the general normalization of Big Lie politics."

Unlike last night's story out of Enid, OK, that is decidedly not good news for democracy...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: AZ Repubs move to end early and mail-in voting; Trump coughs up $175M bond in NY, sees gag order expanded; FL Supremes approve abortion ban, allow abortion rights ballot measure in November...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2024 6:22pm PT  

As it is said, "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." It continues to bend mostly in that direction on today's BradCast.

Among our many stories today...

  • Donald Trump finally coughed up a bond for $175 million --- of the $454 million plus interest that he still owes in full --- in his New York civil fraud case as his appeal continues.
  • The judge in Trump's New York criminal trial related to hush-money payments to a porn star to help him win the 2016 election, has expanded his gag-order [PDF] against the disgraced former President to cover family members of jurors, witnesses, prosecutors and the judge himself, whose daughter had been repeatedly (and fraudulently) attacked in recent days by the GOP's Presidential front-runner. His trial, on 34 felony counts, begins on April 15.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis' packed state Supreme Court in Florida tossed out decades of state constitutional precedent to allow his Big Government 6-week abortion ban to take effect. At the same time, the court also narrowly allowed a Constitutional Amendment to protect reproductive rights on this year's general election ballot in the Sunshine State. It, like a measure to allow the sale of recreational marijuana that the Justices also approved for the ballot on Monday, will need to receive support from more than 60% of voters this year to take effect. Democrats are hopeful that the ballot measures could help them win back the former swing-state for the first time in years this November.
  • GOP state legislators in Arizona are on the verge of adopting a ballot measure for this November which would end most early voting and vote-by-mail in the state where more than 80% of voters currently take advantage of such conveniences as well as end the use of convenient Voting Centers in the state's two largest (and most Democratic-leaning) counties. Since the resolution will result in a ballot measure, if passed next by the state Senate, it can't be vetoed by the state's Democratic Governor. On the other hand, it'll be something for voters to think about as Dems are now just two swing-seats away from flipping each chamber of the state legislature from "red" to "blue".
  • Ever since Republicans decided to pretend the Presidential election was stolen from them with massive --- if evidence-free --- voter fraud in 2020, almost every case of such fraud that has been found has been carried out by Republicans. Today, we've got two more examples of GOP officials caught having committing such fraud. One is from a state Representative in Alabama who was forced to step down after lying about his residency (his seat was filled last week by a Democrat in a Special Election), and another was by a high-ranking state Republican Party official and rightwing talk show host in Georgia who was voted illegally 9 times. Both got off with largely slaps on the wrist.

    Whenever these stories have come to light in recent years, we've found ourselves comparing the velvet glove treatment of white, Republican voter fraud criminals to the years-long hell on Earth faced by Crystal Mason, the black Texas woman [pictured above] who was sentenced in 2018 to five years in prison for unknowingly casting an unlawful provisional ballot that was never even counted back in 2016. Last week, at long-last, Mason was acquitted of the charges she never should have never faced in the first place.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen is back with our latest Green News Report, as an iconic cliff-side coastal road collapses amid heavy climate-change fueled rains in California; Republicans protest federal funding to rebuild the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore; a new report finds our man-made climate crisis is taking a brutal toll on the economy; and the Biden Administration's EPA makes some major moves on methane leaks and truck pollution...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Biden, Trump (mostly) sweep; Haley drops out; McConnell endorses; Protests haunt Dem victories in MN, CA; Few (though some noteworthy) Election Day voting system failures...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2024 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We distill a whole bunch of stuff --- results, problems, politics, concerns --- from Super Tuesday's primaries and caucuses in some 15 states and one U.S. territory. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Included in our coverage today...

  • Donald Trump won most, if not all, of the GOP nominating contests on Tuesday by largely anywhere from 60% to 80% over Nikki Haley who defeated Trump in Vermont. Nonetheless, she subsequently announced on Wednesday that she is suspending her campaign, without (yet) endorsing Trump, saying he must now earn her support and those of her backers.
  • Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell --- after pretending to be outraged by the deadly January 6, 2021 insurrection which he described Trump as "morally responsible" for --- endorsed him for President on Wednesday. I've got a word or two about that today.
  • Joe Biden won the Democratic contests in all of the states which voted on Super Tuesday, most by well over 80%. (He only received 70% and 73% respectively in Minnesota and Oklahoma. More on that below.) Nonetheless, if you were watching CNN last night, you'd have heard how Trump "DOMINATED!" his primaries, while Biden just did "very well" on the Democratic side.
  • After the U.S. Supreme Court, last year, required Alabama to finally add a second U.S. House District where Black voters might elect a candidate of their choosing --- in a state where 27% of the population is Black but only 1 of 7 U.S. House seats are even held by a Democrat --- more than 6,500 voters in that newly redrawn district were misinformed by County officials about which Congressional District they were supposed to vote in on Tuesday. The Chair of Montgomery County's Board of Registrars blamed a computer "software glitch" for what several candidates worried may have led to mass disenfranchisement.
  • Meanwhile, in Utah, where Republicans decided to run their own statewide Caucuses this year, an untold number of voters end up going home without voting when the Party's computer systems crashed or were otherwise unusable at many Caucus sites. The Salt Lake Tribune describes the "chaos" that ensued.
  • In North Carolina, GOP voters elected their Holocaust-denying Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson as their nominee for Governor this year. Democrats, who selected state A.G. Josh Stein for the job on Tuesday are likely delighted about that. Also in NC, preacher and former Rep. Mark Harris appears to be heading back to the U.S. House after his 2018 campaign for the state's 8th Congressional District resulted in a do-over election after Harris hired a known election thief who illegally collected ballots and filled them in for Harris. That election was tossed by the state Election Board and a chastened Harris chose not to run again. But now he's back! And on Tuesday, he apparently won enough votes to avoid a run-off. So, he appears headed back to D.C. next year thanks to further GOP gerrymandering of his NC district since he last tried to steal the election there.
  • In Texas, Democrats elected Rep. Colin Allred to take on Senator Ted Cruz this fall. Though state Republicans drew the line, apparently, at nominating a convicted January 6th insurrectionist for the U.S. House in the state's 19th Congressional District, sticking with the current Republican incumbent instead.
  • Jason Palmer defeated Joe Biden on Tuesday to win the Democratic Caucus in American Samoa! Who is Jason Palmer? We discuss, while noting that the victory came in a 51 to 40 vote (Not percentage points! That's the actual vote tally!) on the U.S. territorial island some 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii. Apparently it pays to actually show up and campaign! Palmer was the only Democratic candidate who actually did so. Other than that, yeah, Biden actually "DOMINATED!" on the Dem side last night.
  • There was, however, a noteable vote for "Uncommitted" in Minnesota's Democratic Primary on Tuesday, with some 19% of voters casting a protest vote against the President, presumably as a statement in opposition to the Biden Administration policy regarding Israel's war in Gaza. The state has a sizeable Arab-American population. MN Democrats' bump for "Uncommitted" this year, as compared to the last time a Dem President ran for reelection in 2012, was substantial --- much more than a similar protest vote in Michigan last week --- even as all of the other states with similar "None of the Above" options on the ballot to date (Alabama, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Tennessee) all saw a decrease in such votes this year as compared to 2012.
  • Still, the protests from a small faction of the Left are unmistakable. Democrats dismiss those voters at their peril. Especially in critical battleground states like MI and MN. The protest was impossible to not notice at Rep. Adam Schiff's victory celebration last night in California. He will face Republican former MLB star Steve Garvey for the state's open U.S. Senate seat this November, after outpacing fellow progressive Congressmembers Katie Porter and Barbara Lee last night. But protesters chanted "Cease-fire Now!" and "Free Palestine!" throughout Schiff's entire victory speech on Tuesday, which the L.A.-based Dem handled gracefully. The Biden Administration does seem to be taking notice. Over the weekend, Vice President Kamala Harris gave remarks on Sunday calling for an "immediate cease-fire", "given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: New rightwing voter suppression schemes in swing-states; Sinema not running again; Trump CFO headed back to prison; New charges for Menendez; 'Christian' Liberty U. covered up sex abuse, rape crimes...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2024 5:32pm PT  

We'll have likely-unsurprising results from today's Super Tuesday elections in 16 states on tomorrow's BradCast, but we've got a few reminders today of the stakes, the challenges ahead and why it all matters. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • Arizona's former corporatist Democrat turned corporatist independent U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema says she will not run for re-election this November, clearing the way for a 2-person race to fill her U.S. Senate seat this fall. (And, perhaps, with both her and West Virginia's Joe Manchin also not running for re-election this year, a path someday to restoring the gutted Voting Rights Act and much more.)
  • Speaking of the Voting Rights Act, a new study from NYU's Brennan Center of Justice out this week finds that the racial gap between white and black voters has been widening since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the law's key provision in 2013's Shelby v. Holder, claiming the landmark Act's protections against racially discriminatory voting laws and rules was out of date and no longer needed. While the racial disparity gap has grown everywhere across the country, it has grown twice as much in jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination at the polls where minority voters were previously protected by the VRA's currently-gutted Section 5 "preclearance" requirement.
  • As if that is not disturbing enough, Republican "voter fraud" fraudster groups, such as the disgraced disinformationists at True the Vote, are ramping up efforts to suppress the vote in advance of this year's general election. According to a new New York Times investigation, a "grassroots" campaign has been quietly challenging the eligibility of thousands of legally registered voters at the County level in a number of swing-states around the country since 2020, removing eligible voters in the bargain and otherwise setting up for post-election challenges to the rolls this November, in the event that Donald Trump loses again.
  • And speaking of the disgraced former President and current 2024 GOP front-runner, his longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg is headed back to prison after spending about 100 days in Rikers last year related to a years long tax fraud scheme with the Trump Organization. On Monday, the 78-year old pleaded guilty to two counts of perjury after lying on the stand and in depositions with New York state prosecutors regarding his role in the massive, years-long fraud scheme by Trump, his company and his top executives. Trump and the executives, including his two eldest sons and Weisselberg were all found liable in the state's civil fraud case against them. Trump must now pay more than $450 million in penalties. His NY state criminal trial on 34 felony counts related to hush-money payments to help him win the 2016 election begins later this month, as Weisselberg prepares for another five months in the pokey, though he will not be required to testify against Trump under the plea deal.
  • But it's not just rightwingers facing justice this week. On Tuesday, New Jersey's Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and his wife saw new obstruction charges added to their existing indictments related to allegedly accepting gold bars, cash and a luxury car as bribes in return for favors to several businessmen. Menendez stands accused of using his former position as Chair of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee to help his business associates get multi-millionaire deals with Qatari investment funds and the government of Egypt.
  • Okay, it's just mostly rightwingers. Liberty University, one of the nation's largest so-called "Christian" schools, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, Sr., and subsequently run by his son Jerry Falwell, Jr. (until he was forced out in scandal) has agreed to pay the largest fine ever under the federal Clery Act, requiring that colleges and universities that receive federal funding keep detailed public lists of campus crime statistics. The school must cough up an unprecedented $14 million related to its years-long cover-up of sexual abuse and rape allegations, while fostering a community of fear for women who were often victimized and/or ignored after reporting such incidents to school officials.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as record heat and wildfires continue in Texas; California's Sierra Mountains dig out from an intense weekend blizzard with hurricane-force wind gusts; And as the Biden Administration announced billions of dollars for cleaning up and modernizing the nation's ports under the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act...

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, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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Guests: Former Deputy Asst. A.G. Lisa Graves; Legal journalist Chris Geidner; Also: Haley wins a primary; And a Super Tuesday preview...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2024 6:38pm PT  

In case I haven't mentioned it lately on The BradCast, the U.S. Supreme Court is wildly corrupt. They proved that again on Monday in their ruling on whether Donald Trump, who they don't dispute in their ruling is an insurrectionist, should be disqualified from the 2024 election for having "engaged in insurrection", as barred by the simple text of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We knew this ruling from the corrupt Court was coming, based on their questions at Oral Argument last month. We also knew that the packed, stolen and rightwing SCOTUS majority was corrupt. But their hypocrisy was what shined through most in today's relatively brief 13-page ruling [PDF] and the additional dissenting opinions that followed it. The one by the Democratic appointees was fairly seething.

After years of pretending to be "conservative Constitutionalists"; pretending to be "textualists" who are focused only on the simple meaning of what the words in the founding document say; who pretend to be "originalists", concerned only with what the framers were trying to accomplish at the time they adopted the Constitutional amendment in question, the Court, once again, gave away the ghost. They don't care about any of that. They are an activist rightwing Court finding stuff in the Constitution that doesn't exist to arrive at the political result they wanted in the first place.

On Monday --- in their 9 to 0 opinion (which, the dissenters made clear, was actually a 5 to 4 ruling, but for Democrats on the Court trying to go along to get along in an election year) --- the High Court reversed the Colorado Supreme Court's 213-page ruling [PDF] in December barring Trump from this year's ballot for having violated the Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause". So much for states rights as well, apparently.

But, not only did the SCOTUS majority twist itself into pretzels to come up with "logic" for doing so, they further perverted Section 3 of the 14th Amendment beyond recognition in order to do so. In the bargain, they have killed 14.3 to the point that it can likely never be used to bar insurrectionists from public office --- at least at the federal level. (That's another distinction they made up from whole cloth that appears nowhere in the actual Constitution.)

Congress, the Court decided, must pass a law before the 150 year old 14.3 may be used. It is not self-executing, they ruled, unlike all of the other sections of the 14th Amendment and the other Amendments adopted with it following the Civil War that prohibit slavery, guarantee due process and equal justice under the law for all. But only the two-sentence Section 3, apparently, is not self-executing. At least at the federal level. It can still, apparently, be used by states to bar state and local officials from public office for insurrection for some reason. That, even though Section 3 itself requires a two-thirds super-majority in Congress for the disqualification to be lifted for any insurrectionist to serve in office.

We're joined today by two experts on this matter, former Asst. Deputy Attorney General at the DOJ, LISA GRAVES of True North Research, and "recovering lawyer" and longtime legal journalist CHRIS GEIDNER of Law Dork to try and make sense of what the corrupt, hypocritical Justices did.

Geidner details how the dissenters in this case, the Court's three Democratic Justices, Sotomayor, Kagan and Jackson --- but also, in part, even Justice Amy Coney Barrett --- "explained how the majority had basically cut off the use of Section 3 going forward."

And they did so, according to Graves, in the most cowardly way, with a per curiam decision that speaks for the whole court, without saying who actually wrote it. "Like Bush v. Gore," they didn't sign their names to, she observed, noting that "issuing a per curiam opinion is an act of cowardice by these rightwing justices."

Geidner adds: "It truly is just an example, like 'Bush v. Gore', of 'Let's work backwards from the principle that we want, and we're going to shoehorn in some principle of law that clearly can't make sense in light of the interpretation of these amendments over the past 150 years.'"

"The Colorado Supreme Court's decision was so well-reasoned," Graves argues about the ruling overturned by SCOTUS today. "It sought to vindicate the plain language of the 14th Amendment. But here you had the Supreme Court not wanting to allow Colorado to make that independent determination based on the plain language. It really shows how outrageous this anonymous Republican-appointee decision --- how outrageous and wrong --- that decision is." She also notes, given what was actually a 5 to 4 ruling, how outrageous it is that Justice Clarence Thomas --- whose wife actually participated in the insurrection --- didn't bother to recuse himself.

Last Summer, Geidner tells us, when he wrote about this case, he says he argued, "It's pretty clear that Trump is barred from being President again. Will it matter?" He adds: "That was the right question to ask, and we got our answer today."

As usual, there is much more covered in today's program on all of this, so please tune in for the full show.

Also today, a wrap-up of of the weekend's GOP nominating contests in which Nikki Haley finally notched her first primary victory after Trump actually threatened the voters participating in it. And we close with a preview of tomorrow's 15-state Super Tuesday primaries in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and American Samoa. If you live in one of those states and have yet to vote, NOW is the time!...

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Guest: Chris Geidner of Law Dork; Also: Did Trump TV network unlawfully obtain and distribute voting machine company passwords after 2020?...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2024 6:26pm PT  

If, by now, you don't realize that Republicans are attacking both democracy and the rule of law itself in this country, I don't know what world you live in. But on today's BradCast we've got two fresh --- and disturbing --- examples/warnings. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

FIRST UP today: Did the far-right, pro-Trump propaganda outlet called One America News (OAN) obtain passwords for employees of voting system vendor Smartmatic and then share them with Trump attorney Sidney Powell after the 2020 election? That appears to be what Smartmatic is charging in recently filed court documents, according to CNN, as part of its billion dollar defamation lawsuit against the fake Trump TV "news" outlet.

OAN was just one of many such rightwing outlets that echoed and forwarded Team Trump's false claims of election fraud in 2020. OAN was particularly aggressive in their evidence-free mission to hoax viewers into believing that systems made by Smartmatic and Dominion, another voting system vendor, flipped votes to help Joe Biden that year. The claims against Smartmatic were particularly absurd, given that the company has just one contract in the U.S. for voting systems. That is here in Los Angeles County, were Biden reportedly defeated Trump in 2020 by nearly 2 million votes.

As explained today, however, the reason that the pretend "election integrity" advocates who emerged on the right following 2020, only to offer evidence-free claims and falsely tie Smartmatic to Dominion (and Venezuela's dead former President Hugo Chavez), is likely thanks in no small part to some exclusive reporting we did on the two companies here at The BRAD BLOG, circa 2008 to 2010, which was cited and bastardized by Powell and others on the right after 2020. You're welcome!

NEXT UP: A new legal chapter in a story that deserves much more coverage than it has received to date. In one respect, it's not surprising that it hasn't received much coverage, given that it is based on an absurd legal premise --- one already rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court --- that few thought would ever advance beyond the Trump-appointed U.S. District Court judge who initially gave it credence in a redistricting lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of the NAACP against the state of Arkansas in 2022.

In short, the case was dismissed [PDF] before reaching the merits by U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky on the novel grounds that neither voters nor private organizations like the NAACP have the right to sue to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Only the U.S. Attorney General may do so, according to the Rudofsky. That news must have come as a great surprise to the hundreds of private plaintiffs who have successfully hundreds of such cases since adoption of the landmark Act in 1965. It also may come as a surprise to the U.S. Supreme Court which, as recently as last June, ruled in favor of private litigants in a redistricting lawsuit against the state of Alabama. Congress is likely shocked as well, given they have reviewed, rewritten and reauthorized the VRA several times since 1965, without ever noticing there was no private right of action to enforce the law.

While the initial ruling was ridiculous enough, a split decision by a three-judge panel on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in November, incredibly, allowed the lower court ruling to stand. But it got even more absurd this week, when, on Tuesday, the full en banc 8th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 7 to 3 deny a rehearing of the matter, upholding the original lower court's radical, unprecedented ruling. The ACLU described the ruling as "appalling and unjustified," after "More than 400 Section 2 cases have been litigated in federal court in the past four decades to protect the voting rights of racial and language minorities. Private plaintiffs have brought the vast majority of them."

The 8th Circuit, comprised of 10 Republican appointees and one appointed by a Democrat, is not even considered the most radical in the nation. That would be the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals which has recently rejected the notion --- along with SCOTUS --- that there is no right to private action for voters to sue under Section 2.

We're joined today by CHRIS GEIDNER, longtime legal journalist at Law Dork, to explain this gob-smacking series of rulings and what they mean moving forward, as the matter almost certainly will head to the U.S. Supreme Court. For now, the ruling is the law of the land "only" in the seven states that comprise the 8th Circuit (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota). That could change, however, once the notoriously anti-VRA High Court gets a crack at this case.

Geidner decries the "out-of-control" appeals courts which seem to no longer believe it is necessary to follow long-standing precedent, if it regards laws that they don't like. "And then things go up to the Supreme Court," he charges, "and it's almost a win-win for the conservatives on the Supreme Court because if they reverse one or two of every three ridiculous decisions, they are able to set themselves up as a 'moderating' force that pulls back the extremes, while they are still letting one of every three extreme rulings go through."

"One of the underlying bases for a legal system is stability," Geidner tells me today. "When you have a legal system that is in such upheaval that lower courts have been told from the Supreme Court that 'No precedent is too sacred. We will overturn any precedent if we decide it should be overturned,'" that leads appellate courts to think that "if there's a chance that their opinion can lead to a revisiting of a precedent that they think is wrong, why wouldn't they go for it?"

"The answer," he notes, "is the rule of law, and they shouldn't. That's up to the Supreme Court, and until the Supreme Court does it, they need to follow precedent. But that's not the world in which we are living."

We also get some thoughts today from Geidner on the curious, now nearly month-long delay by a three-judge panel on the U.S. District Court of Appeals in D.C. to issue their ruling in response to Donald Trump's ridiculous claim that he is immune from criminal prosecution for any actions he performed while serving as President. A ruling was expected by many to have been issued by now. The case was heard on an emergency basis, as Trump's scheduled March 4 federal trial for attempting to steal the 2020 election is currently on pause in the bargain. But, Geidner notes that "the fact that we are quickly approaching a month" since the case was heard by what appeared to be three skeptical jurists, it is now beginning to look like "a dereliction of duty" and "a failure on the D.C. Circuit's part."

Stay tuned...

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RNC rigging nomination for Trump; Also: Luttig's 'textualist' SCOTUS brief argues Trump 'disqualified himself'; More bad news for Bannon; Court nixes Musk's $56B pay package; Biden pauses new NatGas terminals...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2024 6:11pm PT  

Be sure to put on your mud boots for today's BradCast. You're gonna need 'em. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • American Presidential Primaries and Caucuses were always confusing for voters. This year, they are even more so. That, however, suits Donald Trump just fine in advance of next week's Nevada Primary (on Feb. 6) and Caucuses (on Feb. 8 ), which have been rigged by Team Trump to assure he cannot lose a single delegate to Nikki Haley, his last remaining challenger for the 2024 GOP Presidential nomination.
  • The day after the New Hampshire Primary last week, Trump supported an RNC executive resolution to officially declare him to be party's "presumptive 2024 nominee for the office of President of the United States." That, after nominating contests in only two states (Iowa and NH) where he won just 32 of the 1,215 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Two days later (perhaps after receiving some sage legal advice) the desperate former President came out against the resolution, so the RNC promptly killed it. We what actually appears to have happened.
  • Well-respected and very conservative former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Michael Luttig filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief [PDF] with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, arguing that the Justices must adhere to the "textualist" approach that rightwingers on the High Court have claimed to follow in recent years, as they weigh whether Donald Trump is eligible for the 2024 ballot under the U.S. Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause." Trump has "disqualified himself" for the office of President under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, Judge Luttig and others argue in the brief, after having "engaged in insurrection" on January 6, 2021, when he "sought to prevent the vesting of the authority and functions of the Presidency in the newly-elected President." That, the brief contends, may be even worse than when South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860 to "prevent the newly-elected President Lincoln from governing only in that State." The Justices must not construct an artificial "off-ramp" to avoid their Constitutional mandate, the brief asserts. The matter will be heard by SCOTUS on Thursday next week.
  • Disgraced former Trump White House advisor and campaign Chair turned podcaster and con-artist, Steve Bannon, may be in more trouble than you know. He has already been convicted and sentenced to four months in federal prison for Contempt of Congress for his refusal to answer subpoenas from the House Select Committee investigating January 6. While free on appeal, he has also been charged by New York state for massive fraud in the "We Build the Wall" campaign which siphoned millions from duped Trump supporters. And now his former attorney in that case is gunning for Bannon's bank accounts after he was found to owe the law firm nearly half a million dollars in unpaid legal fees. Bannon's latest attempt to block his banks from turning over documents to the firm claims that doing so "poses a significant risk of compromising Mr. Bannon’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination." Sad!
  • BREAKING DURING SHOW: A Delaware court judge has voided Tesla CEO Elon Musk's nearly $56 billion compensation package, ruling it was unlawfully dictated by Musk himself to a non-independent Board of Directors in sham negotiations. Also sad!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as President Biden puts a pause on approvals for new Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals; new reports find Canada tar sands are up to 6000% more toxic than previously known and that climate change made Brazil's Amazon rainforest draught 30 times more likely; and China, as it turns out, built more new solar power in 2023 alone than the U.S. has in its entire history...

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Also: Haley notches small victory in Dixville, NH; 2020 mistallies in VA benefited Trump; Deadly, climate-fueled storms slam nation...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2024 4:12pm PT  

As noted on today's BradCast, CBS News' legendary radio and TV broadcaster Charles Osgood has passed away at age 91. Other than that, we've got some arguably much brighter news throughout the bulk of today's program. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the many stories covered today...

  • Last night, just after midnight, Nikki Haley won every single vote cast in Dixville Notch, New Hampshire, the first town in the state to vote in the state's first-in-the-nation Primary on Tuesday. They had a 100% turnout. Haley won all 6 votes. Donald Trump won 0. We discuss why that matters (and doesn't). Voters across the entire state are voting today on hand-marked paper ballots. In Dixville Notch --- and about 40% of towns in the state --- ballots are publicly hand-counted by human beings after polls close. The rest of the towns, the larger ones in general, are tallied by 15 or 20-year old computerized optical scanners. Though, due to a write-in campaign for Joe Biden in the state, where there is no officially sanctioned Democratic primary, most of those towns will be hand-counting a lot of ballots as well. We'll have full reported results out of NH --- and why they matter (or don't) --- on tomorrow's show, of course.
  • For years, Republicans have been citing evidence of miscounted votes in Prince William County, Virginia as evidence of massive fraud in the 2020 Presidential race. The state's Republican A.G., after taking office in 2022, even filed criminal charges against the County's Registrar. Recently, however, the charges were unceremoniously dropped. And now we learn that, due to largely understandable tabulation errors, Joe Biden should have received 1,648 more votes than he was credited for, and that Donald Trump was given 2,327 votes that he shouldn't have, in a county that Biden won by more than 60,000 votes --- in a state where the Democrat won the Presidential race by some 450,000 votes. Races for U.S. Senate and U.S. House were also affected by the counting errors, though none of errors would reportedly have changed the results of any contest. We explain the whole mess.
  • We've got quite a bit of good news for you today when it comes to redistricting and rolling back GOP racial and partisan gerrymanders! In North Dakota, a federal judge has ordered new state legislative map after Republicans, following the 2020 Census, cracked two Native American reservations into different districts in order to flip both state House and Senate seats from D to R. It worked in 2022. But now, the judge has ordered not only new maps, but also new elections this fall in the districts found to have been in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
  • Louisiana's new Republican Governor approved a new U.S. House map for the state this week, after the GOP state legislature finally adopted it last week, following a federal court order to draw an additional majority-Black voting district in the state. The Republican-controlled legislature previously had just 1 such district out of its 6 Congressional seats, despite African-Americans accounting for nearly a third of the statewide population. GOP lawmakers only agreed to do so after many appeals, and after realizing that if they didn't draw up their own maps, the court would do it for them. The new map will likely result in an additional Democratic member of Congress from the Bayou State next year.
  • And, in Wisconsin last week, voters filed a motion with the state's newly liberal-leaning Supreme Court seeking a new U.S. House map in time for the 2024 elections. Last month, the state's high court agreed with petitioners that the state GOP's state legislative maps for the Assembly and Senate, in place for more than a decade, were unlawful gerrymanders in violation of state Constitutional requirements. The new motion filed last week asks the same Supreme Court to order a new U.S. House map as well, on the same basis that the Justices determined the state legislative districts were unconstitutional. Petitioners argue that the unconstitutional and politically gerrymandered map resulted in Republicans winning 75% of the state’s Congressional seats despite winning just 50% of the statewide vote in the 2022 election. That year, the closely divided, if Dem-leaning Presidential battleground state also re-elected its Democratic Governor in the same statewide election.
  • Finally today, San Diego was deluged on Monday with a year's worth of rain in a matter of three hours, overwhelming infrastructure in the usually mild Southern California city. But, as discussed in our latest Green News Report today with Desi Doyen, it was just one of dozens of cities across the U.S. in recent weeks where infrastructure has been hammered by climate change-fueled extreme Winter weather. Nearly 100 have been killed in the recent storms in a number of states as of airtime. That, as Big Oil gears up a multi-million ad blitz to hoax Americans into supporting fossil fuel friendly candidates in 2024, as the unstoppable transition to clean, renewable energy is finally underway...

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Some good (and not so good) legal news at year's end, and some hope for what next year's elections could bring in our final show of the year...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2023 7:12pm PT  

Tonight's breaking news about the disgraced former President and insurrectionist being barred from the 2024 ballot in Colorado under the U.S. Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause" came just minutes before we were finishing up today's BradCast --- our last one of the year! But I suspect we'll have plenty to discuss when we return in 2024. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories we did have time to cover in full on today's program...

  • We open with a homerun public comment from a young man at a meeting of the Sarasota County, Florida School Board last week, calling for the resignation of Board Member and co-founder of Moms for Liberty, Bridget Ziegler. That, following the rape allegations against her husband, Christian Ziegler, Chair of the Florida Republican Party, by a woman who says she was involved in a threesome relationship with Christian and Bridget, a supposed "conservative" who rocketed to rightwing national fame as her Moms for Liberty group worked with FL Gov. Ron DeSantis to adopt the state's "Don't Say Gay Law" and to ban books from schools on LGBTQ-related issues. That, even as Bridget was allegedly involved in a sexual affair with another woman. But the guy's comment at the Sarasota School Board --- from which Bridget is still refusing to resign --- was killer.
  • Good news at the end of the year for voting rights out of --- of all places --- the very far-right 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in two different opinions issued on Friday, in fact. In one, the full court allowed a lower court ruling to stand mandating a new U.S. House map for Louisiana before 2024, after finding that the current map was an unlawful racial gerrymander by state Republicans under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The other decision by the 5th Circuit allows a Texas voter suppression law --- which bans online voter registration, in a state with the lowest voter turnout in 2020 --- to stand. That's not good. But both decisions re-affirmed that voters and private organizations do have a legal right to sue to block racist voter suppression laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Those affirmations come after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled just last month, for the first time since the creation of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, that only the U.S. Attorney General can sue to enforce Section 2 of the VRA. If allowed to stand at SCOTUS, the 8th Circuit's ruling would be an extraordinary blow to the landmark Act. So the 5th Circuit's rejection of those arguments, filed in both cases by Republicans, is a very encouraging sign.
  • On Monday, Texas' authoritarian Governor Greg Abbott signed a new state law allowing state police to arrest --- and local judges to deport --- anyone suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. On Tuesday, civil rights groups sued to block the almost certainly unconstitutional new law. At least it used to be unconstitutional, back when SCOTUS overturned a similar "Papers, please!" law out of Arizona in 2012. But that was before there was a packed, stolen and corrupted 6 to 3 Republican majority on the High Court.
  • Very bad news for both Donald Trump and Mark Meadows out of the also very conservative 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday, as a three-judge panel rejected Meadows' attempt to remove his Georgia state criminal indictment related to 2020 election interference from state to federal court. As Law Professor Lee Kovarksy of the University of Texas explained last night, the ruling, written by the court's Chief Judge and very close Clarence Thomas ally, is very bad news for appeals of the "immunity" defenses filed by both Trump and Meadows in several different cases where they are attempting to use that legal gambit to skirt accountability.
  • We received a lot of email following yesterday's lively call-in show, in which I asked folks who'd voted for Joe Biden in 2020, but who were planning on not doing so again in 2024, to call in and tell me why. Today we share a few of those notes in response.
  • But, for something for nervous pro-democracy Americans to consider over the holidays until we return after the new year, we share a recent column from University of Illinois' Political Science Professor Nicholas Grossman, explaining why folks should not (yet) be freaked out about polls showing Trump defeating Biden next year, and why "pro-democracy Americans [should] approach the 2024 election with enthusiasm, not only dread."
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our final Green News Report of the year! She includes a boatload of details on why, though we may be done with 2023, 2023 ain't yet done with us yet! But she also has some encouraging news on how long-overdue actions to tackle our climate crisis by the Biden Administration are finally beginning to take root as we move into the new year...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Dow tops record high; Chutkan pauses Trump case; Hunter Biden pushes back at U.S. Capitol; House GOP votes to open revenge Impeachment inquiry...
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2023 6:32pm PT  

We couldn't keep up with everything as it kept breaking all day and throughout today's BradCast. But we tried. Even while welcoming back one of our favorite guests. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We're happy to joined once again today by Slate's top shelf legal journalist, the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, who is now back from his recent parental leave. (That, thanks, in no small part, to an excellent contract by his union, the Writers Guild of America!) And, while we had previously planned to talk with Mark today about far-right Trump appointees to the lower federal courts undermining voting rights and even the Supreme Court itself, the news just kept coming today out of SCOTUS. Thankfully, Stern was here to hold our hand through it all.

After indicating earlier this week they were prepared to move quickly in response to Special Counsel Jack Smith's request for an expedited hearing on Donald Trump's ridiculous appeal regarding Presidential Immunity, the Supremes announced on Wednesday they would be taking up a challenge to the federal law used to charge hundreds of January 6 insurrectionists, including Trump himself. Two of the four charges he is facing in his federal election interference case are related to unlawful obstruction of an official proceeding. But a lower federal court Trump judge, Carl Nichols, has decided those obstruction charges --- adopted by Congress as part of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act, focused mostly on white-collar crime --- are inappropriate for use against J6 rioters.

What will that mean for the pending charges against Trump and his trial currently scheduled for March 4 next year? Stern describes it today as "a troubling development", if only because "there wasn't a significant dispute over the interpretation of this particular statute" which has been used to convict hundreds of J6 attackers. While he explains that it is not necessarily fatal to either Smith's indictment against Trump in D.C. or the ability for U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan to complete the trial before next year's election, Stern regards it as "an ominous sign for those of us who wanted Chutkan to be able to move forward on her own timeline."

Nonetheless, it is, once again, another example of a lower court Trump judge "try[ing] to wield their power in aggressive and truly unprecedented ways." That similar effort to go "beyond the judicial power to essentially act as a free-floating veto over any Democratic policy, and trying to smuggle in Republican policies under the guise of judicial review," as Stern characterizes it, was similarly on view today as the High Court also announced plans to hear a challenge to the use of the widely prescribed abortion drug Mifipristone. That, after abortion opponents filed their case specifically so that it would be taken up earlier this year by Trump-appointed anti-choice activist Matthew Kacsmaryk, the only U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District of Texas.

But where the "dead hand of the Trump Administration," as a recent article by Stern describes it, may be most troubling is in a series of recent rulings by Trump judges focused on undermining the Voting Rights Act, which is facing a tenuous moment at the stolen, packed and corrupted GOP-majority Supreme Court. Stern details three different recent cases --- one of them "almost too painfully stupid to explain" --- where jurists appointed by Trump in the lower courts are targeting and/or undermining the landmark civil rights law, even in violation of both long-standing SCOTUS precedent and very recent opinions by the High Court.

But, the news just kept on breaking today. Chutkan declared that Trump's Jan. 6 case would have to largely be "paused" until Trump's ridiculous immunity appeal is resolved, further imperiling next year's scheduled March 4 trial date.

The Dow hit a record high on Wall Street, as investors became jubilant at news from the Federal Reserve that it is likely to finally begin lowering interest rates next year --- even more aggressively than previously expected.

The 200 nations meeting in Dubai for the U.N.'s COP28 finally came to an agreement on their final statement after this year's climate conference. They deigned to mention the phrase "fossil fuels" for the first time ever. But more on that (hopefully!) tomorrow.

And the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, in a strict party-line vote, adopted a resolution to officially open an impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden for...well...something or other. It remains unclear.

In truth, it's a revenge impeachment inquiry meant to placate the disgraced, twice-impeached former President, and to distract from the many failures of a corrupted, dysfunctional GOP-run House in advance of next year's elections. The vote was held on the same day that Republicans again refused to accept Hunter Biden's offer to testify in a public hearing. He had a few words about that for assembled media on the U.S. Capitol steps earlier today...

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Guest: ACLU voting rights attorney Jonathan Topaz; Also: Israel-Hamas truce extended for two more days amid more hostage releases...
By Brad Friedman on 11/27/2023 6:05pm PT  

We're back live on today's BradCast after a much-needed holiday break. Thanks to those of you who helped us avoid disaster last week! Now the question is whether we'll be able to avoid disaster in next year's Presidential election where we will have "as stark a choice as the United States has ever faced."

A lot happened while we were off (as usual), but none as critical, as far as I'm concerned, as the mind-blowing ruling issued last week by a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal, upholding an insane lower U.S. District Court Judge's ruling in an Arkansas voting rights case.

The lawsuit, filed by the NAACP, challenges Arkansas' gerrymandered legislative maps which should --- if the rule of law and Constitution mean anything anymore --- include another five Black-majority voting districts before the 2024 elections.

However, last year, a Trump-appointed District Court Judge, while recognizing the merits of the case, found for the first time in U.S. history that individual voters and private organizations like the NAACP and ACLU have no "right to private action" to sue against violations of Section 2 of the landmark Voting Rights Act. The lower court judge found that only the U.S. Attorney General may sue to block racially discriminatory laws under Section 2. And, last week, incredibly enough, that ruling was upheld by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals panel featuring two Trump judges and one George W. Bush appointed judge.

We're joined today by JONATHAN TOPAZ, Staff Attorney at the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, who worked on the case at both the district and appellate court level. He explains that the District Court ruling "was the first court in the history of the United States to determine that Section 2 lacked a private right of action, which means that private plaintiffs are unable to vindicate their rights under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. This, at the time, and is today, is an incredibly radical ruling. We appealed, because it had no basis in the text and structure of the Voting Rights Act, it had no basis in the precedent, and it certainly had no basis in the practice of decades and decades of private plaintiffs bringing suits to vindicate the incredibly important right to vote free of racial discrimination under the Voting Rights Act."

But, as Topaz goes on to explain, it got worse. Last week "a divided panel of the 8th Circuit voted to affirm the District Court's finding. So now these are the only two courts in the history of the United States that have ever made such a finding."

Indeed, the arguably even more "conservative" 5th Circuit Court of Appeal, recently found the opposite, that private plaintiffs do have the right to sue. So, the 8th Circuit Court is an outlier, with what Topaz describes as "a radical opinion on appeal to the voters of Arkansas and voters around the country."

What happens next? What will it mean if it is upheld by SCOTUS? What are the chances of that actually happening? How can it be that neither SCOTUS nor Congress nor dozens and dozens of courts have previously noticed this flaw in the VRA over the past six decades? And, if SCOTUS does find in favor of the 8th Circuit, what will that mean for the hundreds of Section 2 cases previously decided in favor of private plaintiffs? Tune in for answers to all of those questions and many more.

Also today, a bit of what suffices for "good news" out of the Middle East on Monday, as Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their four-day pause in hostilities for another two days to allow for the release of more hostages from Gaza and more Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons.

That largely encouraging news, however, is somewhat tempered by events back here in the U.S. over the weekend, where three Palestinian students were shot at close range in otherwise peaceful Burlington, Vermont. The three young men, all 20 years old, were heading to dinner at one of the men's grandmother's house. A suspect was arrested on Sunday. We discuss.

Then, we open things up to listeners via phone and email in our closing few minutes...

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Results from OH, KY, MS, PA, VA, elsewhere; Guest: 'Handbook for a Post-Roe America' author Robin Marty of the West Alabama Women's Center...
By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2023 5:52pm PT  

It was a very good night for democracy and reproductive freedom in these United States on Tuesday, as Democrats, in almost every state holding off-year elections yesterday, continued their post-2016, Trump-era winning streak at the polls. We cover both the reported results from Tuesday and what they mean moving forward on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

  • First, the results, including major wins for abortion rights and the legalization of marijuana in the "red" state of Ohio, where Donald Trump won by 8 points in the 2020 election, and where the GOP pulled out all the stops to block the right to reproductive freedoms from being written into the Buckeye State constitution. Unverified results today show both ballot measure were adopted by voters on Tuesday by nearly 14 point margins.
  • In Virginia, Dems held onto their majority in the state Senate and won back a majority in the House of Delegates. Thus, crushing the hopes --- and, perhaps political future --- of Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin while also blocking his hopes of instituting restrictions on abortion in the southern state.
  • There was also a blue moon over the "deep red" state of Kentucky on Tuesday, where Trump won in 2020 by 26 points, and where the state's Democratic Governor Andy Beshear out-performed polling to defeat KY's Trump-endorsed A.G. to win a second term. Beshear vowed during the campaign to continue his fight against the state's total ban on abortion and he won on Tuesday by about five points. Statewide Democrats on the ballot below him, who did not run on abortion rights, all lost. Nonetheless, Beshear's victory may be a good omen for Democrats for another reason. The winning party in KY's off-year Gubernatorial elections has gone on to win the White House in every election this century. That's the past six in a row.
  • The news was not as good for Dems in Mississippi, where long-shot challenger Brendan Presley actually under-performed polling in his challenge to the incumbent, scandal-plagued Republican Governor Tate Reeves. Presley and Reeves both opposed abortion rights. (Paying attention, Democrats?) Of course, the disastrously run election in the state's 83% Black capital city of Jackson --- ballots ran out in many locations, lines were hours long, the state's online polling locator had incorrect instructions for more than 90 polling places --- didn't help.
  • But, in Pennsylvania, voters elected a new, pro-abortion Justice to their Supreme Court, and Philadelphia elected its first female Mayor (who also happens to be black).
  • Voters in Rhode Island, in the only U.S. House Special Election of the night, elected Gabe Amo as their first elected Black Representative for Congress, as Dems continue their streak of out-performing in Special Elections.
  • And voters up in Harlem elected Yusef Salaam, a member of the exonerated "Central Park Five", to the New York City Council. Salaam had been one of five young Black and Hispanic boys arrested and forced to confess to the brutal 1989 rape and beating of a white jogger in Central Park. He was jailed at age 15 and imprisoned for almost seven years before DNA evidence exonerated all five of the young men. A then little known real estate developer named Donald Trump took out full page newspaper ads at the time, calling for the reinstatement of New York's death penalty in hopes of killing the boys. He has never retracted or apologized for his demands. He still insists the innocent boys should be executed, as he remains the Republican Party's front-runner for next year's Presidential election.

But the biggest story of the night were the huge wins for abortion rights pretty much everywhere, and the Democrats who support them. We're joined today to discuss what all of it means moving forward into 2024 by ROBIN MARTY, author of 2019's prescient New Handbook for a Post-Roe America and The End of Roe v. Wade: Inside the Right’s Plan to Destroy Legal Abortion.

Marty is also the Executive Director of the West Alabama Women's Center. She offers a lot of insight --- sometimes harrowing, sometimes witty --- into the political fight for reproductive freedoms in both the Deep South and the nation as a whole, as efforts are now reportedly moving forward to place abortion right on the ballot --- both for and against them --- in about a dozen states.

She's got a lot to share today, including her call for Democrats to run on a federal referendum to restore abortion rights nationwide. For today, however, she is enjoying yesterday's wins across the country.

"The most important thing to take away is the fact that voters are still pissed," she tells me. "This is exactly their way of showing just how angry they are. It is going to take all of us, as voters who believe in reproductive rights, to go out, vote and change government on every level. And that's what people did yesterday. They changed it in governors races, flipped statehouses, changed abortion language on the ballot. They went and took out school boards that had gone totally MAGA and had started trying to take away the ability for kids to be able to read age-appropriate sex ed books. So we, literally, are going at every level of the government, and that is going to change things back."

As to her sharp response to the every-few-months retreaded claims from political pundits that the fight for abortion rights may be losing its potency since Roe v. Wade was overturned by our corrupted Supreme Court last year, well...you'll want to tune in for Marty's sharp reply to that question...and much more...

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Huge ES&S touchscreen fail in PA county; Missing VBM ballots at OSU; Also: WI GOP advances impeachment against state Election Director; Meadows sued by own book publisher for lying about 2020 election...
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2023 5:55pm PT  

Today was Election Day in a bunch of states across the U.S. Important contests and ballot measures were before voters in this off-year election, including in Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Mississippi, parts of California and elsewhere. And, as covered on today's BradCast, things did not go well for voters in parts of at least two of those states on Tuesday. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

  • As we reported at The BRAD BLOG earlier today in some detail, new, unverifiable touchscreen voting machines made by ES&S were reportedly flipping votes in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. This wasn't the type of "flipping" that we've seen many times in the past, where the screens on the voting system are not calibrated correctly and when one tries to select a candidate, a different one gets highlighted instead. This was quite different.

    At a number of precincts across Northampton, a largely suburban enclave outside of Philly, when voters selected either "Yes" or "No" in a statewide retention election for each of two judges (one D and one R), everything presumably worked as expected. But if voters chose "Yes" for one of the judges and "No" for the other, their votes would get reversed to the opposite selections. Making matters worse, the computer printout of those votes would be reversed, while the screen itself would show the voters' actual selections.

    Back in 2019, as we reported at the time, just after the ES&S ExpressVote XL systems --- wildly expensive computerized electronic pencils --- were first purchased for use in Northampton, there were a number of candidates who learned after the election they had received ZERO votes on them. That, of course, was not true, and the paper printouts from the systems were eventually used to discern what were believed to be the correct results of the elections. But, of course, there is no way of knowing if the printed paper records were actually accurate, whether voters bothered to verify them, or if they did so correctly even if they tried to. That's just a few of the problems with every touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) used across the country. (For example, every voter at every polling place in the entire state of Georgia is still forced to use similarly unverifiable BMD systems made by Dominion Voting Systems.)

    Shamefully, after the 2019 disaster, PA's Northampton County didn't dump the machines then and there and move to verifiable hand-marked paper ballots instead. Today, those same systems melted down for voters again. And, perhaps even more shamefully, the County officials who approved them for use in the first place were blaming everybody but themselves for it, including election officials and ES&S. Perhaps most shameful of all, one of the candidates who, in 2019, was reported to have received "zero" votes in his election at the time for Northampton County Judge, but later found that he had actually won the election, presided over what to do about today's mess. After the problems came to light, he was the Northampton County Judge who, rather than ordering a move to hand-marked provisional paper ballots, instructed election officials to continue using the machines despite the fact that they were reversing votes.

    One local outlet reporting on the mess described today's "solution" to the problem this way: "In cases where the error would pop up for the retention question, the county would flip the results during the post-election canvass." (!!!)

    As noted, this is just a mess. Much more on all of this on today's show. And, I suspect, we'll be covering it more in the days ahead. Let's hope there are no close elections either statewide or in Northampton when PA results are tabulated tonight.

  • Also today, it is being reported that, according to several nonpartisan voting rights groups, "an extraordinarily high number" of voters in the zip code of Ohio State University never received their requested absentee ballots by mail. The state held a critical election for a Constitutional measure today to protect abortion rights, as Republicans in the state, including its Sec. of State Frank LaRose, have pulled out all the stops to block the Amendment from passage (including recently purging 26,000 voters quietly from the rolls after the election had already begun.) There is also a proposal to approve recreational marijuana on Tuesday's ballot. Once again, the results, whatever they may be, better not be close, or there will be some hell to pay in the Buckeye State, I suspect.
  • In Wisconsin, Republicans appear to be working hard to ensure chaos for next year's critical Presidential election in the Badger State. State Assembly speaker Robin Vos, last week, advanced 15 articles of impeachment against the state's top election official, as part of their years long effort to blame someone --- anyone! --- for Donald Trump's 2020 loss in the battleground state.
  • And, speaking of 2020, Mark Meadows, Trump's former Chief of Staff and current co-defendant in the conspiracy case against them and 17 others for attempting to steal the Presidential election in Georgia, is being sued by his own book publisher. The publisher, All Seasons Press, claims that Meadows' reported cooperation in Special Counsel Jack Smith's federal indictment against Trump for his attempt to steal the 2020 election, contradicts Meadows claims in his book that the election was "rigged" and "stolen". ASP is now suing Meadows for millions. And it's hilarious.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Australia braces for another record bushfire season amid an El Nino; October 2023 is officially declared the hottest October ever recorded on the planet; Michigan enacts sweeping climate and environmental legislation; and President Biden unveils the nation's largest investment in rail travel in 50 years...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Reproductive freedoms and vote purges in VA, OH; Upset Gubernatorial races on deck in KY, MS?; Election denialism threatens vote counting in northern CA county; Also: Listener calls and other news of the day...
By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2023 6:26pm PT  

Tomorrow is a so-called "off-year" election in a number of states. But several of those elections may tell us quite a bit about the 2024 elections, and not necessarily in the way you may think, as reported on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among today's stories...

  • First up, some quickish news updates. Donald Trump took the stand on Monday in court in Manhattan for three and a half hours of contentious testimony in his losing battle to save his fraudulent company and his children's inheritance in New York State's $250 million fraud lawsuit against them for falsely inflating Trump Organization assets to the tune of $2.2 billion dollars each year from 2011 through 2021. He's already lost the case. Now the question is how much it will cost him (and his children.)
  • Next, a few quick updates on Israel's relentless war against the people of Gaza following the Hamas attack against Israel on October 7, which killed at least 1,300. Now, more than 10,000 have reportedly been killed in response in Gaza, including more than 4,000 children. Calls for a ceasefire are getting louder in the U.S. and around the world. The Biden Administration's calls and Sec. of State Antony Blinken's shuttle diplomacy in the region for a "humanitarian pause" to speed additional humanitarian aid into Gaza and allow the release of some 240 hostages, have yet to gain much traction from Israel's hard-right government.
  • Then, it's on to Tuesday's elections, first with a focus on two Gubernatorial contests in the Deep South, with one popular incumbent Democrat (Kentucky's Andy Beshear) seeking a second term, and another Democrat (Mississippi's Brandon Presley) vying for a long-shot victory now that his state, where 40% of the population is black, has finally done away with a Jim Crow law that has dampened African-American turnout for generations.
  • We discussed the critical fight for control of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates last week with former VA Delegate Mark Levine. But it was worth revisiting today for a reminder of how much is stake in the Commonwealth on Tuesday, including the right to abortion, which its Republican Governor, Glenn Youngkin, is vowing to restrict if he can hold the House and flip just two seats in the Senate on Tuesday. Every seat in the General Assembly is up for grabs this year, in what is likely to be seen as a bellwether ahead of the 2024 Presidential contest.

    But the biggest battle of the day is likely to be Ohio's Constitutional amendment to protect reproductive freedoms. Republicans are pulling out all the stops to lie, cheat and, yes, even steal it if they must, to block the popular ballot initiative in hopes of instituting a six-week ban on abortions in the Buckeye State with no exceptions for rape or incest. To that end, Republican Sec. of State and U.S. Senate nominee-wannabe Frank LaRose recently purged some 26,000 voters from the rolls. He did so after overseas and military voting had already begun (which would have been unlawful during a federal election) and without giving a heads up to voting rights groups as he has in the past. Those nonpartisan groups have frequently discovered and prevented thousands of errors in such purges. Last week's shocker, as discussed on Thursday's show, wherein I learned from an obituary on the Internet that I had died (even though, I assure you, I haven't) is a reminder of how easy it can be to wrongly remove "dead" voters from the roles who are, in fact, quite alive. At least when you do it as LaRose has done. But, of course, that's why he did it.

    And, in what may be a bit of a sleeper "bellwether" for next year's elections, one county in Northern California may be bracing for potential political violence, as rightwingers in Shasta County are insisting on hand-counting ballots after prematurely ending their contract with Dominion Voting Systems. But the elected registrar --- the only county-wide elected Dem in the County --- believes it wise to follow state law and tally with new Hart-Intercivic tabulators instead. Tune in for details. And keep your eyes on Shasta over the next few days, as we will.

  • Then we close by taking a few calls from listeners on some of the above today. Buckle up! Not as much for today's show or our callers, but for tomorrow's otherwise low-key, but critical elections around the country...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Election officials grapple with Trump's Constitutional ballot disqualification; Also: Proud Boy boss gets 22 years for 1/6; Courts order lawless AL, FL to restore Black-majority U.S. House Districts...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2023 6:24pm PT  

We're back! Both on today's BradCast and even in L.A., after fleeing the state last month to avoid weeks of construction on the roof of the apartment housing our home studio. To no one's surprise, the work is taking longer than we were told, so please pardon our efforts this week to work around it as best as possible after taking last week off to both avoid it and to enjoy the last days of Summer 2023 before the 2024 fight for Democracy (represented this year by Democrats) and Autocracy (represented by a lawless Republican party) begins in earnest.

Among our stories today...

  • Enrique Tarrio, former head of the far-right Proud Boys gang was sentenced to 22 year in federal prison on Tuesday following his conviction for Seditious Conspiracy for his role in the January 6th, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection. It's the longest sentence for any of the MAGA insurrectionists to date. Also, of note, Tarrio wasn't even in Washington D.C. that day. Point taken: One didn't need to be personally smashing windows and storming the Capitol to be held to serious account for what happened that day. Got it. Hopefully other jurors in other upcoming related cases will get it as well.
  • The federal Courts are still holding. Mostly. For now. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel found that Alabama Republicans blatantly defied an order from the U.S. Supreme Court to add another Black-majority district to their U.S. House map. The SCOTUS order to do so --- after finding the state violated both the U.S. Constitution and Voting Rights Act with their racially gerrymandered districts --- came in Allen v. Milligan [PDF] in early June. Alabama didn't care. In an unprecedented move, they gave the finger to the Court and drew up a new map with the very same deficiencies featuring just one Black-majority district out of seven, in a state where some 27% of residents are Black. The federal court panel has now assigned a Special Master to draw U.S. House districts for the state, after a lawless Gov. Kay Ivey joined with lawless legislators in the gerrymandered statehouse to defy SCOTUS, the Rule of Law and the U.S. Constitution. Alabama is now appealing the ruling to the same U.S. Supreme Court Justices who rejected their arguments barely three months ago.
  • The story is similar in authoritarian Governor and Presidential candidate Ron DeSantis' lawless state of Florida this weekend. In this case, a state court judge on Saturday ordered the state legislature to draw a new U.S. House map restoring a Black-majority district in Northern Florida that DeSantis had personally ordered state lawmakers to break into pieces and divvy up its Black voters into White Republican districts. The weekend's court order would seem to be good news. However, the State will now appeal the ruling directly to its Supreme Court where DeSantis has hand-picked a majority of the Justices. As we have long been warning, the fight between Democracy and Autocracy (or Fascism, as one of our longtime listeners insists), continues into 2024.
  • Next, I finally catch up with a bunch of news on a growing story --- some of which we've been discussing over the past two years --- that I've otherwise been trying to get to for weeks, but for all of the various indictments, hurricanes, wildfires, debates, etc. continually sidetracking me. The news has to do with the continuing feeling I have that Donald Trump will ultimately not be on the ballot come next November. As noted, that's not a prediction or an inside scoop. It's simply a feeling for now, but one that I can't shake as an increasingly swelling body of evidence seems to support its possibility.

    Today, that evidence includes polling last month finding nearly two-thirds of Americans say they will either "definitely" (53%) or "probably" (11%) not support Trump in 2024. Might such numbers begin to grab the notice of Republican Primary voters? (So far, the answer is largely no. But we've got a long way to go --- and a lot of criminal trials --- before the GOP's nominating convention next July.) There are already a number of high profile Republicans calling on Trump to drop out of the race or noting that he very well may be Constitutionally disqualified entirely from the ballot.

    It is that part of this story today --- disqualification from the ballot via Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution for his role in the January 6 Insurrection --- that we focus on today. Namely, the far-right, Federalist Society legal scholars who recently issued a 126-page law review paper [PDF] finding Trump to be Constitutionally ineligible for the ballot --- "cannot be president --- cannot run for president, cannot become president, cannot hold office" --- due to his roll in the January 6 insurrection.

    And now, there is a host of state Secretaries of State --- both Republican and Democratic --- around the country who are currently or soon to be grappling with the decision as to whether Trump is even eligible to be on their state ballots in 2024.

    Among those Secretary of State's discussed today, after they recently offered various opinions on the matter: New Hampshire's David Scanlan (R); Ohio's Frank LaRose (R); Arizona's Adrian Fontes (D), New Mexico's Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D); Maine's Shenna Bellows (D) and Michigan's Jocelyn Benson (D). (Benson gets credit for the first part of today's headline. REO Speedwagon gets credit for the alternate hed.)

    I welcome your feelings on this matter as well. Feel free to drop me an email or a note in comments and perhaps I'll share it on air in the days ahead.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen is back as well, of course, with our latest Green News Report, catching up with a bunch of stuff we missed while we were out, and as the Summer of Climate Disasters turns to...well, most likely the Autumn of Climate Disasters...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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