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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, November 14, 2019
'Green News Report' 11/14/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Catastrophic fires in Australia; Arctic blast in U.S.; Thunberg sets sail back to Europe; PLUS: Trump EPA seeks to limit science used to write public health rules...
Previous GNRs: 11/12/19 - 11/7/19 - Archives...
'If This Isn't Impeachable Conduct, What Is?':
Public Hearings Begin:
'BradCast' 11/13/19
Extended excerpts and analysis with guest Heather Digby Parton...
New EPA Rule Guts Science, Public Health for Corporate Polluters: 'BradCast' 11/12/19
Guest: Dr. Andrew Rosenberg of Union of Concerned Scientists; Also: SCOTUS allows suit against gun-makers, but may kill DACA; Impeachment begins; Our 1000th 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 11/12/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
OUR 1000th EPISODE! Looking back and forward at a thousand episodes of the 'GNR' with a few messages from some friends and the funniest snarky comment of all time!...
Previous GNRs: 11/7/19 - 11/5/19 - Archives...
EVERYTHING Is Now Political (Even CA Wildfires!): 'BradCast' 11/11/19
Callers ring in on impeachment, the climate change 'hoax', the new touchscreen vote system disasters last week in GA and PA, and in L.A. before next year's 2020 election...
Sunday 'Leaves of Crass' Toons
All the fall colors are on display in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Religious Freedom in Opposite World: 'BradCast' 11/8/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with Frederick Clarkson of Political Research Associates on the Christian right's new 'Project Blitz'...
Might Bevin Really Try to Steal KY's Gubernatorial Election?: 'BradCast' 11/7/19
Guest: U. of KY's Joshua A. Douglas; Also: NY judge fines Trump millions for fraudulent 'charitable' foundation; Much more...
'Green News Report' 11/7/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
11,000 scientists issue dire warning; Hottest Oct. ever recorded; Trump EPA to weaken water standards, again; PLUS: Honolulu, Maui County sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Previous GNRs: 11/5/19 - 10/31/19 - Archives...
2019 Off-Year Election Vote System Disasters and Electoral Triumphs: 'BradCast' 11/6/19
Guest: VA Delegate Mark Levine; Also: Brand new touchscreen vote systems failed in GA, PA, while Dems saw big wins elsewhere...
One Year Out: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid. (Then Take Action!): 'BradCast' 11/5/19
Election Day 2019 voting system failures; Trump failures; 2020 polling failures; What YOU must do about all of it...
'Green News Report' 11/5/19
Trump begins withdrawal from Paris pact; Another Keystone Pipeline spill; Trump threatens disaster aid for CA wildfires; PLUS: Thunberg takes Los Angeles...
Nope. Not 'Getting Over It', A Year After Kavanaugh: 'BradCast' 11/4/19
Guest: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov's reelection contest...
Sunday 'Fall Back' Toons
You've got an extra hour this week to peruse PDiddie's latest toon collection! You're welcome!...
Warren's Plan to Pay for 'Medicare for All' Without Raising Middle Class Taxes: 'BradCast' 11/1/19
Guest: Alice Ollstein; Also: Repubs blocking 2020 student vote; Hill's final floor speech...
Divided House Holds Historic Vote on Impeachment Rules: 'BradCast' 10/31/19
Also: Impeachment 101; NSC official corroborates Trump's quid pro quo Ukraine pressure campaign...
'Green News Report' 10/31/19
Trump losing 'war on coal'; CA fires, blackouts an ominous sign for nation; Severe flooding coming to coastal cities; PLUS: Carmakers pick sides in clean air battle....
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: Dr. Andrew Rosenberg of Union of Concerned Scientists; Also: Carter hospitalized; SCOTUS allows suit against gun-maker, but may kill DACA; Impeachment hearings begin; and our 1000th 'GNR'!...
By Brad Friedman on 11/12/2019 5:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a heads up for just one of the newest, horrible, deadly things the Trump Administration is hoping to pull off on behalf of toxic corporate polluters, even as we're all distracted by impeachment of the President. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

In addition to a top of show teaser for our 1000th Green News Report at the end of the show, we kick off with a quick news roundup. Among the stories covered...

  • 95-year old former President Jimmy Carter is said to be recuperating after surgery to drain pressure on his brain following a number of recent falls;
  • The Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court, surprisingly, allowed a lawsuit to proceed against gun manufacturer Remington, as brought by families of victims killed with one of the company's AR-15-style weapons in 2012 at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. The case alleges Remington's marketing was unlawful under CT law, and the plaintiffs have successfully argued that a 2015 federal law which bans most lawsuits against gun makers should not apply in this instance. SCOTUS appears to have agreed. If the complaint is ultimately successful in finding Remington violated the law, it may open up new avenues for additional suits against gun manufacturers and dealers by victims of gun violence;
  • Less surprising news from the GOP's stolen SCOTUS today comes from those in attendance at the Court for oral argument on Tuesday in a case which could strike down President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Court watchers suggest that questions from five Justices auger that the Republican appointees are prepared to allow the Trump Administration to end the program meant to offer protection from deportation for more than 700,000 [PDF] children of immigrants (so-called "Dreamers") brought here by their parents at a very young age;
  • On the eve of public hearings for only the 4th Impeachment inquiry in U.S. history, Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) released details on procedures for the hearings beginning on Wednesday, while an 18-page Republican talking points memo, detailing how they plan to oppose charges against the President, was obtained and published by CNN.

But, while the nation's attention is understandably focused on impeachment, the Trump Administration is continuing its non-stop corruption of federal Government power in favor of corporate industry interests. A draft proposal for a new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (and coal lobbyist) Andrew Wheeler, as obtained by the New York Times, reveals the EPA's latest attempt to undermine scientific research in favor of toxic industry pollution of air and water and more.

The new rule, if approved, picks up where one introduced by disgraced former EPA chief Scott Pruitt left off. The original iteration of the rule was met with a tidal wave of opposition in some 600,000 public comments, almost all opposing the scheme. Nonetheless, Wheeler not only ignored those comments, but has now broadened the new proposed rule so that it might actually be applied not only to new regulations from the EPA, but also to existing regulations as well.

In effect, as our guest today, DR. ANDREW ROSENBERG, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, warns, the new rule, if adopted, would "devastate public health and environmental protections".

The long sought-after rule would deny the use of scientific studies for the basis of EPA regulations, if the raw, underlying data of such studies are not fully released. That means, for example, that private medical information of those who participated in various health studies under confidentiality agreements would have to have their names and medical records exposed, or the studies cannot be used as a basis for federal rule-making. Industry groups, of course, favor the new rule, which they and Trump's EPA are selling as "scientific transparency". Scientists and health care providers, however, are strongly opposed, charging, as Rosenberg does, that the scheme will undermine public health protections and "would put the entire enterprise of developing science-based public health safeguards at risk."

The policy, he explains, upends decades of well-established scientific norms, as well as federal rule-making procedures, and is precisely what the chemical and fossil fuel industries, in particular, have been pushing for for years.

"This isn't about transparency. This is about restricting the ability of the government to do the job that we want them to do --- that is, to protect public health and safety," Rosenberg tells me. "There's absolutely no scientific basis for doing this. One of the ways that you can tell that --- it's not just my word for it --- they put no justification in the rule. They didn't even identify what problem they're trying to solve. There's no analysis of what the impacts of putting this rule in place would do. There's not even an analysis of how much it would cost the agency. But, more importantly, [there's] absolutely not a single word on how it would impact the agency's ability to put public health protections in place. So there is no merit to this proposal at all."

Nonetheless, Rosenberg cautions, even if the public makes noise about this, given Wheeler simply ignoring the response to the Pruitt version of the same rule, it will likely be implemented. But, he notes, it will almost certainly be challenged in court, at which time public comments against the new rule will become very important. As Desi Doyen notes at the end of today's interview, some 200,000 Americans die each year prematurely due to pollution which will only be made worse under this new rule.

And, speaking of Desi, yup, finally, it's our 1000th Green News Report! In which we look both forward and back (to our first GNR in February of 2009), hear from a few old friends, and share what we believe is the funniest "snarky comment" in 1000 episodes over nearly 11 years of the GNR. All of it, by the way, made possible not by industry or political support, but by you, our listeners via BradBlog.com/Donate. Thank you!...

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

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Guest: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov. Matt Bevin's reelection contest...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2019 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: John Oliver touches on America's voting machine crisis, America goes to the polls again (using those same, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems), and one year after accused sex assaulter Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, one 20-year veteran SCOTUS journalist is refusing to return to the Court...and for very good reason. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, as we are now officially --- finally --- less than one year away from the critical 2020 Presidential election, our electronic voting systems in many states are still just as bad and dangerous and vulnerable and unverifiable as they were 15 years ago. And, in a bunch of states and jurisdictions across the country, they are getting even worse and less verifiable than they were in the 2016 election. HBO's John Oliver dipped into the issue on his latest Last Week Tonight on Sunday night and got a lot of stuff right regarding our easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems that have been in use over the past several decades. Unfortunately, he also left out a whole bunch of stuff regarding the new and equally vulnerable and 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) which are now being installed and proliferating in states (many of them key battlegrounds) from coast to coast before 2020. In short, as we detail, Oliver's report was excellent....if this was 2009. As it is now 2019, however, his commentary was a bit wanting. But, we'll take what we can get and that, of course, is why you have The BradCast.

In related-ish news, a bunch of off-year state and local elections are happening in several states on Tuesday. Among the noteworthy contests is the gubernatorial race in Kentucky, where the unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Governor Matt Bevin is fighting for his life in a race with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear (son of the Bluegrass State's former Governor Steve Beshear), in what pre-election polls suggest is currently a dead-heat contest. But, as we detail today, Bevin was down anywhere from 3 to 5 points in pre-election polling during his first run for Governor against then Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in 2015. Nonetheless, as we detailed that year, he somehow ended up winning the race, reportedly, by nearly 9 points in a state which still forces many voters to use the same unverifiable touchscreen voting machines that helped Bevin win in 2015. Many of those systems are the same very old, vulnerable and unverifiable ones which Oliver railed against on his HBO piece on Sunday. Trump is in KY on Monday night to help "drag one of the nation’s most unpopular governors across the finish line," as the New York Times describes it today, in what many see as a potential bellwether race ahead of 2020.

Meanwhile, it has now been just over a year since Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to his lifetime post as an Associate Justice on the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. He was seated on the bench almost immediately after Republicans in the U.S. Senate rammed through his nomination --- with the help of a trumped up FBI "investigation" --- late last year despite multiple, credible allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh from the time he was in high school and college.

Longtime SCOTUS journalist DAHLIA LITHWICK wrote at Slate last week about why she has not returned to the Court since Kavanaugh was sworn in. She joins us today to discuss the reasons behind her decision, and why, as she described, she will "not accede to the routinization and normalization of the unprecedented seat stolen from President Back Obama in 2016" by Mitch McConnell and Republicans, nor from the "unprecedented seating of someone who managed to himself evade the very inquiries and truth-seeking functions that justice is supposed to demand" in Kavanaugh.

"One-quarter of the federal appeals courts, at this moment, three years into the Trump presidency, are Trump nominees. We're not just talking about nine justices on the Supreme Court. We're talking about the most strategic, systematic takeover of the federal bench that any president has ever effectuated," she tells me. "And that is happening day by day, right under our noses. And those judges are also going to sit for decades. So it's not just the Supreme Court."

It's a fascinating and important conversation, I think, about not only why none of us should simply "get over it" and "move on", when it comes to both Kavanaugh and the stolen seat filled by Neil Gorsuch, but also why our nation's seeming inability (or even interest) in assuring accountability for all manner of precedent --- and criminal law --- breaking in recent years has brought the country to the perilous position we now find ourselves in: Trump in the White House, the Supreme Court stolen and federal courts packed with unqualified rubes for life, and SCOTUS on the precipice of deciding a number of enormously momentous issues this session from union rights to reproductive justice.

"It's what happened when Barack Obama made the decision that we just are not going to re-litigate the CIA torture program, and this very aspirational notion that if we all forgive and forget, we all get to meet in the middle and work toward better outcomes. It's kind of Lucy with the football --- it never works out to meeting in the middle and working toward better outcomes. It just turns out that, yet again, ground has been ceded," she tells me.

"We're really bad at this. The heart wants what it wants, and the heart wants normal. I think that we keep believing that this erosion, this slow systemic erosion of norms, is somehow normal. I thought it was a law, it's not a law. I thought it was a rule, it's not a rule," says Lithwick. "We didn't didn't used to seat 37-year-old bloggers who've never set foot in a court room as a federal judges for life. And now we do. There's no law, there's just a norm. What I was trying to get at in the piece is that constantly acceding to this and saying, 'Well, this is what it is now' --- that there are costs. There are huge, huge costs to democracy."

"Our scrutiny, our unwavering, unflinching, I'm-not-over-it scrutiny does make a difference," she insists. "We need to hold the Court to the same unflinching, 'we're watching you,' 'we care'. That seems like soft power, I understand it's not optimal, but I think the Court responds. What they really want is for us to put this on page A27 and get over it. And that's our choice, not theirs."

Lots of important stuff here, as I said. Can't really summarize it well enough here, so please tune in.

Also, Lithwick rings in with some thoughts --- which tie into the broader conversation --- on what she expects from John Roberts' Supreme Court following today's ruling by a federal appeals court in Manhattan that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over some 8 years of his and his company's tax and other financial documents to New York state prosecutors and a similar decision by a federal appeals court in D.C. last month that the same firm must also turn over similar records to Congressional investigators in response to yet another lawful subpoena...

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

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall Eliason; Also: Army officer was so alarmed by Trump's Ukraine scheme he alerted NSC lawyers; NC court orders ungerrymandered U.S. House maps for 2020!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2019 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're at the point in the ongoing impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump when the facts against him have become so damning that he and his supporters in Congress are pretty much just tossing everything they can against the wall to see what, if anything sticks. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, some long-overdue very good news out of North Carolina, where a three-judge state court panel has determined the state's Republican-drawn Congressional maps to be an "extreme partisan gerrymander" and has ordered new maps before the 2020 elections. The court went so far as to state that no more Congressional elections may be run on the current maps, and if new ones aren't drawn in time for next year's March 3 primary election, the judges --- two Democrats and a Republican --- will postpone the primaries until they do.

The news is long-overdue, though hardly a surprise. North Carolina is the most divided of swing states, but the GOP-skewed maps have resulted in 3 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the state's Congressional delegation for the past decade. A federal appeals court already ruled the same map to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and ordered a new one drawn. But that ruling was ultimately over-ruled by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, when they declared in a 5 to 4 opinion that federal courts may not hear partisan gerrymandering cases. Only state courts may now do so, and now North Carolina's state court has done so. The same court ruled last month that the state's legislative districts were also drawn in violation of the state constitution and ordered new maps there as well.

Meanwhile, speaking of Congress, a White House national security official and decorated Iraq War vet offered startling testimony to House impeachment investigators on Tuesday, regarding Trump's scheme to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine unless the nation's President promised to investigate Joe Biden in advance of the 2020 election. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman serves as the top Ukraine expert on the White House's National Security Council (NSC) and is the first official to testify in the impeachment matter who actually listened live to Trump's infamous July 25 "I need a favor though" phone call with Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky.

According to Vindman's prepared opening statement obtained by the New York Times, the veteran Army officer and longtime civil servant was so alarmed by Trump's strong-arm tactics and withholding of military aid that, out of a "sense of duty", he alerted the top lawyer at the NSC --- twice --- in order to register internal objections about the policy, which he feared would "undermine national security."

"I am a patriot,” Vindman says in his testimony, "and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country irrespective of party or politics." Since news of his testimony broke on Monday night, rightwing media have been attacking the Purple Heart winner who was wounded by an IED in Iraq, as a traitor who must be working for Joe Biden or George Soros or Ukraine, after he fled the then Soviet-controlled country as a 3-year old with his parents in 1979.

Next, were joined by former Asst. U.S. Attorney turned George Washington University Law School professor RANDALL ELIASON to discuss the Republicans' continuing, nonsensical whining that the impeachment inquiry lacks "due process" for the President. Though each of their arguments toward that end have been dismantled by both facts and federal courts in recent days, they are still making the case which Eliason describes as "nonsense" in his latest Washington Post op-ed.

He explains why on today's program, noting the old "saying in Washington, that if you're arguing about process then you're losing," adding: "I think that's certainly the case here." Eliason, a longtime expert in white collar crime, government fraud and federal criminal law, responds to a number of different allegations being offered by Trump and his defenders, including the specious claim that there is no crime at the heart of Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine.

He also offers his thoughts on the recent news --- and "incredibly suspicious" timing behind it --- that Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr has elevated the Dept. of Justice's probe into the origins of the 2016 investigation into Russian election meddling into a criminal investigation of some sort.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on California's wind-drive wildfires, Massachusetts' new climate fraud lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, and Trump's new plan to steal Syria's oil in violation of international law. Also, as we close, late news and a few thoughts on the nation's largest private coal company, Murray Energy, declaring bankruptcy protection today. So much for Trump's promise to save the dirty coal industry. Now, what about the company's long-serving coal miners who may very well lose their pensions and health care under Trump-supporter Robert Murray's scheme to restructure his dying company?...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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AG Barr ordered to hand over grand jury transcripts, exhibits redacted from the Mueller Report to Congress by October 30
UPDATE 10/29/19: DC Circuit Court of Appeal Grants Temporary Stay of Order to Release Grand Jury Materials...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/28/2019 9:35am PT  

In her landmark, 75-page decision filed on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell did much more than simply grant a motion filed by the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) to compel the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide it with grand jury materials from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe that had been previously concealed. In that same order, the court systematically demolished every quasi-legal objection the DOJ and White House have raised in their specious efforts to interfere with an ongoing and lawful impeachment inquiry.

The core question raised by HJC's motion was whether the court should order the DOJ to release pertinent grand jury materials in accordance with Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Although grand jury testimony and exhibits are ordinarily kept secret, Rule 6(e) authorizes a court to order the disclosure of such materials "preliminarily to" or "in connection with a judicial proceeding" when there is a "particularized need" for disclosure.

Judge Howell suggested that a House impeachment inquiry, in and of itself, may be considered a "judicial proceeding". She concluded, however, that the court did not have to reach that issue because the HJC was correct in its assertion that its impeachment inquiry was "preliminary to" a judicial proceeding.

In her erudite decision, Howell cited historical practice, the Federalist Papers, the text of the Constitution, and both Supreme Court and binding DC Circuit Court of Appeals precedent. All of these make it abundantly clear: U.S. Senate impeachment trials are "judicial proceedings". Indeed, the DOJ's contrary position is not only at odds with the appellate decision in Haldeman v. Sirica (1974) but also with the DOJ's own legal position in that Watergate-era decision. The DOJ was unable to satisfactorily explain why, under Attorney General William P. Barr, it had changed its previous, long-standing legal position.

The "particularized need" to release the materials arises, in this instance, because Mueller, in deference to the opinions of the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that a sitting President may not be indicted,* refrained from reaching conclusions about the legality or illegality of the President's conduct. "This," the court observed, "leaves the House as the only federal body that can act on allegations of presidential misconduct." Yet, the court observed, "under the DOJ's reading of Rule 6(e), the Executive Branch would be empowered to wall off any evidence of presidential misconduct from the House by placing that evidence before a grand jury."

The DOJ's contentions were, thus, not simply wrong but untenable. "In carrying out the weighty constitutional duty of determining whether impeachment of the President is warranted," Judge Howell observed at the outset of her opinion, "Congress need not redo the nearly two years of effort spent on the Special Counsel's investigation, nor risk being mislead by witnesses, who may have provided information to the grand jury and the Special Counsel that varies with what they tell HJC."

Had she stopped there, Judge Howell's ruling would be significant. Her demolition of every argument against the validity of the impeachment inquiry that has been presented by the DOJ, by the White House and by some Republican members of Congress, however, was nothing short of breathtaking...

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




Guest: Ann Ravel goes from FEC Commish to CA State Senate candidate, with some thoughts on many criminal violations by the President, and on our broken campaign finance system; Also: Giuliani snowballing...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2019 6:44pm PT  

In my exclusive interview on today's BradCast with ANN RAVEL, former Chair of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), we cover quite a bit of ground. From the reasons she has decided to run for office in California, to the apparent violations of federal election laws at the heart of the Trump impeachment inquiry into the quid pro quo with Ukraine, to the absurd campaign finance laws that allowed two now-indicted Rudy Giuliani associates to buy their way into the White House and directly effect U.S. foreign policy, to the Stormy Daniels affair, and to our shamefully broken FEC. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Ravel, who also previous served as Chair of California's Fair Political Practices Commission (or FPPC --- a more functional version of the FEC, but for the state of CA) and as Deputy Asst. Attorney General during the early years of the Obama Administration, is now running for State Senate in CA's 15th District, which includes San Jose in the Northern California Bay Area. After a lifelong career of public service, this is her first actual run for elected office.

We begin today's conversation with a few thoughts on the "local" issues regarding Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)'s preemptive blackouts for hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid their above ground power lines sparking wildfires. The bankrupt for-profit power utility, the state's largest, has been found liable for billions of dollars after several deadly recent fires, thanks to a failure to properly maintain or bury power lines amid increasingly warm and dry climate changed weather. We discuss whether the state should simply take over the company, following Gov. Gavin Newsom's scathing remarks on Thursday citing PG&E's many deadly failures, which he attributed to "dog-eat-dog capitalism and corporate greed meeting climate change."

Then it's on to many issues of national importance --- as highlighted of late by several matters related to Trump's ongoing impeachment inquiry --- regarding our broken FEC, which does not currently even have a quorum of Commissioners to either meet or vote as we head into the most critical election year in the history of our nation!

Ravel, who resigned as FEC Chair "in abrupt and dramatic fashion", according to the Mercury News in February of 2017, "declaring in a public resignation letter that the Federal Election Commission is on a gridlocked road to nowhere," offers her many insights on...

  • Campaign finance laws apparently violated by Trump in soliciting a "thing of value" from a foreign entity. That impeachable and criminal violation of law is at the heart of Trump's attempted withholding of military aid and the strong-arming of Ukraine in exchange for dirt on the Biden family and the 2016 election. "There is no question whatsoever that there was a crime at the heart of this," Ravel tells me. "And I'm appalled, having also been at the Department of Justice at the beginning of the Obama Administration, what has become of a Department that is supposed to be doing justice for the people";
  • Attorney General Bill Barr and the Dept. of Justices' failure to refer that matter, exposed by a whistleblower complaint, to the FEC for civil charges, as per a longstanding agreement between the two federal agencies. "That was the general understanding that always was the principal we operated by at the FEC";
  • The FEC's lack of ability to take immediate action on such a charge, even if it had been referred to them, given the FEC's current lack of a quorum. "Had it been referred as a complaint, that would begin the statute of limitations. And there is a five-year statute. So at some point, assuming there are other Commissioners appointed, ever --- by McConnell, or the Democratic Minority Leader, and assuming that the President makes the nominations --- it could, in the coming five years, actually take some action";
  • The obscene lack of campaign finance laws following Citizens United and other woeful "dark money" rulings from SCOTUS in recent years. Those High Court rulings have allowed men like Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to run an influence operation to purchase access to the White House and Republican members of Congress and actually effect U.S. foreign policy in the Ukraine matter in exchange for a few hundred thousands dollars (of unknown origin) given to Trump's SuperPAC, to Giuliani, and to other Republican officials and organizations. While Parnas and Fruman were recently indicted, their charges were based on lying to officials about the source of the money. Had they simply used their own, as we also recently discussed with Brendan Fischer of Campaign Legal Center (which filed the original complaint to the FEC about the pair's donations last year), the influence operation would have been perfectly legal under current law, she confirms. "And that is a whole other problem with our campaign finance system...That will only be fixed if there is a different Supreme Court";
  • Why isn't the case of Trump's hush-money payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels a bigger matter, given that Trump is known to have "directed" a campaign finance law felony conspiracy in making the payments, and then failed to report them to the FEC as required by law? To Ravel's consternation, Democrats in Congress, to date, have yet to make the matter a central point in their impeachment inquiry, and the short-handed FEC is otherwise unable to bring civil charges for Trump's willful violation of the law. She notes that fines levied against the Obama Campaign years ago were for far less serious violations of campaign finance law. "I often say, to much laughter, that I consider myself an expert in Stormy Daniels. I think this is scandalous. It is a campaign violation, without question, and it was being done at the behest of the President."

Those are just some of the many topics discussed on today's program with Ravel.

Finally, after some breaking news on a ruling late today by a federal judge ordering the DoJ to turn over unredacted grand jury testimony and other materials from the Robert Mueller probe to House Democrats working on impeachment, we take a quick look at the quickly snowballing fate of Rudy Giuliani, who finds himself in deeper and more embarrassing --- and potentially criminal --- straits by the hour. For now, Trump is standing by his man. But probably not for long. So, for a musical close to to the week, we turn to the inimitable Randy Rainbow, who recently threw Rudy entirely under a bus...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 10/24/2019 11:28am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: California utilities announce more widespread pre-emptive blackouts; Trump's rollbacks of clean air standards are killing Americans; U.S. Supreme Court refuses to block climate liability lawsuit; PLUS: Former Exxon scientists confirm oil giant lied about climate science... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): U.S. Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to Climate Change, Report Commissioned By Pentagon Says; The eco-conscious corporations funding climate doom; Trump administration unveils new water rules for California; Trump Admin Sues California Over Cap-And-Trade Agreement With Canada; Ocean acidification can cause mass extinctions, fossils reveal; Southwest tribes oppose spent nuclear fuel storage plans; Ex-CEO and ex-prisoner Blankenship making presidential bid... PLUS: ExxonMobil CEO Depressed After Realizing Earth Could End Before They Finish Extracting All The Oil... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Trump attorneys claim immunity for shooting someone on Fifth Ave.; WH attacks Bill Taylor; House RWers 'storm' Impeachment hearing; Facts keep undercutting Ukraine quid pro quo excuses; Also: Exxon scientists undercut oil giant on Capitol Hill...
By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2019 6:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump needs a LOT of defending --- on virtually every front today. Lucky for him he's still got quite a few willing chumps, suckers and patsies willing to go down with his ship, from elected officials in Congress, to entire media networks invested in his criminal wingnuttery, to the best team of shameless lawyers his dirty money can buy. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

We kick off today with the remarkable argument offered by one his shameless attorneys in a federal appeals court in Manhattan, where a lower court judge recently ruled against Trump in his suit to block his longtime tax accountants at Mazars USA from turning over eight years of his tax and other financial documents as subpoenaed by state prosecutors. The probe is into payments made while Trump was in the White House to reimburse his then-attorney, now-convicted felon Michael Cohen for hush-money payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels just prior to the 2016 Presidential election.

After the lower federal court judge virtually laughed the Trump attorneys out of court earlier this month, finding their argument that a President may not be indicted or even investigated at the federal OR state level to be "repugnant to the nation's governmental structure and constitutional values," Team Trump quickly appealed to the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard his argument today.

During today's hearing, the 3-judge federal panel, citing an infamous quip about Trump's ability to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing any supporters, queried Trump attorney William Consovoy on whether law enforcement officials would be Constitutionally allowed to investigate or do anything about it, if that literally occurred. The President's attorney said no, they could not. It's a hypothetical that I've raised several times in the past, in response to the absurd, Constitutionally-weak, decades-old DoJ Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) opinion memo asserting that a sitting President may not be criminal indicted. That OLC memo, never tested in a court of law, though cited by Robert Mueller when he failed to bring criminal Obstruction of Justice charges against the President despite mountains of supporting evidence, will now almost certainly have its day before the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court in this matter.

Then, the many desperate attempts made by Republicans last night and today to try and defend the President following Tuesday's "damning" testimony to House impeachment investigators by Bill Taylor, Trump's acting Ambassador to Ukraine. The veteran diplomat rocked D.C. with his meticulously detailed recounting of how he learned that Trump was personally behind the quid pro quo pressure campaign to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine unless its recently elected President, Volodymyr Zelensky, publicly promised an investigation into Joe Biden and the 2016 election.

With no clear messaging campaign to push back against the explosive charges at the heart of the ongoing impeachment inquiry, Republicans from the White House to Congress to Fox "News" have been flailing over the past 24 hours. The White House Press Secretary released a statement attempting to tar the longtime civil servant and military veteran Taylor as a "radical unelected bureaucrat waging war on the Constitution"; Trump's former Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker took to Fox "News" to declare that "abuse of power" is not actually a crime; and Trump's far-right allies in the U.S. House stormed a secure room in the basement of the Capitol in a faux "riot" (reminiscent of the infamous "Brooks Brothers Riot" in Florida in 2000) to stall the planned impeachment deposition of Defense Department official Laura Cooper, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia. It is believed Cooper was to testify on the Pentagon's finding that the White House's withholding of Congressionally-allocated military assistance to Ukraine was, in fact, unlawful.

Some of Trump's defenders today have been arguing that Taylor's testimony highlighted that Zelensky didn't know about the withheld U.S. military assistance and, therefore, the Administration's pressure campaign could not possibly have amounted to a quid pro quo. That argument, however, was neatly eviscerated late today via an exclusive from Associated Press, reporting that Zelensky was aware of the White House pressure campaign and the potential of losing U.S. aid if he didn't play ball in Trump's political scheme, as early as May of this year.

Finally today, the stalled impeachment deposition was not the only hearing on Capitol Hill today. Desi Doyen joins us for some highlights from a House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday in which Exxon Mobil scientists testified about the oil giant's knowledge, decades ago, that the use of their product was endangering humanity by warming the globe, even as Exxon invested millions in an "immoral" public relations campaign to convince the world that the science on the matter was in doubt...

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Guest Host Nicole Sandler with Denis Campbell and Thom Hartmann...
By Nicole Sandler on 10/10/2019 2:53pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER back with you again today, guest hosting the BradCast. The good news is that Brad and Desi will return on Monday, so you'll just have to deal with me for one more day.

As has been the case the entire time Brad's been gone, the news is non-stop. We begin the show, as usual, with the latest. Then I check in to commiserate with our UK Correspondent- journalist, author and broadcaster DENIS CAMPBELL.

The new term of the Supreme Court convened on Monday, coinciding with the release of a new book, The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America, from our guest THOM HARTMANN.

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Guest Host Nicole Sandler with David L. Phillips and Jasmine Beach-Ferrara...
By Nicole Sandler on 10/8/2019 4:38pm PT  

It's your friendly Guest Host NICOLE SANDLER, again filling in for Brad and Desi on the BradCast, for a show that deals with Donald Trump and the administration, Congress and its role in trying to perform oversight, and the Supreme Court, now back in session. We begin the show with the latest news from Trumpworld on the impeachment inquiry and his self-inflicted crisis with Syria, Turkey and the Kurds.

My first guest is DAVID L. PHILLIPS, author, educator and veteran of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations about the situation in Syria with the Kurds and Turkey. He wrote 'Shock and Disgust' about Trump’s idiotic announcement that he was turning Syria over to Turkey, damn the Kurds.

And, the Supreme Court began its new term yesterday. Today, they heard what will likely be one of the biggest cases of the year – the question of whether LGBTQ people have employment protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. We discuss it with JASMINE BEACH-FERRARA, Executive Director of the Campaign for Southern Equality.

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Guest Host Nicole Sandler with authors Jenny Brown and Doug White...
By Nicole Sandler on 10/4/2019 3:53pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, back again to guest host the BradCast. We start the show as usual, by bringing everyone up to speed on the latest news concerning the impeachment inquiry into the president.

I promised I'd provide links to the pages of text messages turned over to Congress by Kurt Volker, and to Volker's opening statement as delivered yesterday. So, just click!

I have two fascinating guests today. First up, JENNY BROWN, author of Without Apology: The Abortion Struggle Now, on the day the Supreme Court announced that they'll hear an abortion rights case this term.

Then, I speak with author and non-profit advisor DOUG WHITE about his new book, Wounded Charity: Lessons Learned from the Wounded Warriors Project Crisis.

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Guest: Dr. William 'DocDawg' Busa on that and two U.S. House Special Elections in NC as Dorian closes in; Also: TX shooting highlights 'gun show loophole'; Trump creates fake map to mask his AL hurricane lie...
By Brad Friedman on 9/4/2019 5:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast, w've got some very good news for democracy, for a change, today --- and it comes out of North Carolina of all places! But first, a few quick updates on some others stories we've been following recently on the program. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • Hurricane Dorian is weaker but larger after devastating parts of The Bahamas. The now-Category 2 storms is moving incredibly slowly northward, perilously close to the Florida Coast, and on a more direct path that could include landfalls in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and even Virginia. Massive storm surges and power outages are predicted for many of those states in the days ahead;
  • Following two recent mass shootings in Texas, one at a Walmart store in El Paso where 22 were killed by a white nationalist, the superstore chain announced a change to its policies on gun and ammo sales and is asking shoppers to no longer open carry weapons in their stores. Grocery giant Kroger has also now asked customers to leave their guns at home. In response, the terrorist-enabling NRA shot a letter to Walmart describing their new policy as "shameful".

    That, as law enforcement officials confirm that the gunman who killed 7 and injured more than 20 during a Labor Day holiday weekend shooting rampage in Odessa and Midland, TX had failed a federal background check for purchasing a firearm before buying his semi-automatic assault-style rifle through a private sale with no required no background check. The so-called "gun show loophole" in the federal background check law allows for private sales between friends and families, on a number of online forums, and via some vendors at gun shows. Such sales amount to an estimated 25% to 40% of all guns sales in the U.S., but NRA-controlled Republicans in Congress have refused for years to allow an up or down vote on measures that would close the loophole, despite overwhelming public support, including from members of the NRA;

  • Then, we get to the huge news out of the North Carolina Superior Court, where a three-judge panel (2 Dems and 1 Republican) unanimously ordered the GOP-dominated state legislature to redraw its state House and Senate maps before the 2020 elections. The court found the current maps to be partisan gerrymanders in violation of the state Constitution's Free Elections Clause, Equal Protection Clause, and Free Speech and Free Assembly Clauses. The current maps, as allowed for use in 2018 after the U.S. Supreme Court declared in early summer that federal courts may not block partisan gerrymandering, were themselves newly drawn after the ones created by state Republicans following the 2010 Census were found to have been racially gerrymandered in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The existing state legislative maps resulted in a 65 - 55 seat majority for the GOP in the state House, even after 2018's "Blue Wave" election when Democrats received 51% of the votes statewide to the GOP's 49%. The state Senate is similarly gerrymandered in favor of Republicans, as is NC's U.S. House map in the closely divided state where Democrats have held just 3 seats in the state's 13-seat Congressional delegation over the past decade.

    We're joined today once again by NC election expert and campaign consultant DR. WILLIAM BUSA of EQV Analytics, who is perhaps better known as "DocDawg" at Daily Kos. Busa breaks down what Tuesday's 357-page ruling [PDF] means for NC voters, describing "a court that clearly has had it up to here with the GOP's ten years of obstruction of justice in this matter."

    He believes the new maps will help "level the playing field" and possibility result in long-overdue Democratic majorities in one or even both chambers of the state legislature next year, though he details a potential GOP scheme to undermine the court's ruling that might explain the decision by Republicans to not appeal Tuesday's landmark order. "We won the vote" last year, he notes, "we just didn't win the map. If we win the map, we can win the vote again, and we'll have the whole shooting match."

    All of this is happening as two U.S. House Special Elections are currently underway in the state, with Election Day set for Tuesday (September 10) as the slow-moving Hurricane Dorian is creeping toward the state. One of the House elections will fill the seat vacated by the late Republican Rep. Walter Jones in NC's 3rd Congressional district which runs the entirety of the state's now-imperiled coastline. The other election, in NC's 9th district, is the long-awaited do-over election following the GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud Scandal last November which resulted in the State Board of Elections refusing to certify an extremely narrow reported "win" by the Republican candidate.

    What effect will the impending storm and all of these various controversies have on Tuesday's election --- if it is not postponed due to Dorian? Busa explains it all for us on today's action-packed program!

  • And finally, speaking of bad maps, we close today with the story of the somewhat mind-boggling and continuing attempts by Donald Trump to justify his false --- and potential unlawful --- repeated claims that Dorian was threatening the state of Alabama. It wasn't and isn't. But that hasn't stopped Trump from both lying about it repeatedly and today, incredibly, producing a clearly doctored map in the White House in hopes of supporting his obviously false claims...

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Guest: SMART Elections co-founder, documentarian Lulu Friesdat: Also: RGB treated for pancreatic cancer; David Koch dies; Trump blows up markets, trade war with China; Amazon burning...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2019 6:38pm PT  

Just before airtime for today's BradCast, everything seemed to blow up at once (figuratively!) But we do our best to navigate through the most important explosions, including one that is likely receiving little coverage around the country. An astounding vote by the North Carolina Board of Elections --- led by a new appointee of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper --- has allowed the certification of controversial, new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the state for the 2020 elections. The Board's vote was 3 to 2 against a motion that would have blocked the dangerous and expensive voting systems made by ES&S, with the newly-appointed Democratic chair voting with the Board's two Republicans to kill the motion. It had been put forward and supported by the two Democratic Commissioners and supported by virtually every public commenter who packed today's SBE meeting. We discuss that remarkable news and much more with our guest today. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But first, a few of the other items blowing up in today's news that you have likely heard a bit more about than the very bad news out of NC today. The U.S. Supreme Court released a statement that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has completed radiation therapy for a malignant cancerous tumor discovered on her pancreas at the end of July, but that there is no evidence of the disease remaining in her body at this time. The 86-year old Justice underwent surgery for lung cancer in December and was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Rightwing billionaire David Koch has died, according to his brother Charles. Collectively, the pair had raised and spent about $1 billion on elections and in support of almost exclusively Republican candidates and causes in recent years. Just last week, brother Charles was allowed to absurdly opine in a Washington Post op-ed that "both sides" of the political spectrum "have made it harder to come together as a country."

And, the Dow Jones took another 600+ point dive on Friday, after China announced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods and as Donald Trump pitched a tirade on Twitter in response. Not only did he announce intentions to double-down several times in kind today, but he also attacked his own Fed chair Jerome Powell by calling him an "enemy" of the U.S. and comparing him to China's Chairman Xi. But, that's not all. He then absurdly declared that he has "hereby ordered" U.S. companies to stop doing business with China and their 1.4 billion consumers. White House officials, as well as Republicans in Congress and rightwing business groups were reportedly left dumbstruck by the President's latest and increasingly unhinged Twitter pronouncements as he headed off to France for a G-7 summit with allies --- and as the market headed sharply "south" in response to it all.

With the figurative national cancer in the White House seemingly metastasizing quickly at this point, and with corporate media focused almost exclusively on the horse race elements of the 2020 Presidential election, we look once again toward the quickly deteriorating track conditions on which next year's horses will be running. That issue has received a lot of coverage on The BradCast over the past several weeks, if not from the rest of the media, including news of the federal judge finding Georgia's entire touchscreen voting system unconstitutional; voting and tabulation systems discovered online in at least ten states, including several battleground states, despite claims by elections officials and private vendors that the systems were never connected to the Internet; ransomeware attacks that have shutdown city government computer systems in 22 Texas municipalities over the past week; and the successful efforts by citizens in New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia to demand new security reviews of recently certified, hackable touchscreen voting systems.

But the wild twists and turns in the battle against the new systems in the battleground state North Carolina came to a shocking and disappointing conclusion today, after scores of citizens spoke out against the dangers of the new computer-printed, barcoded ballot system being unleashed in the state. While largely the only person to testify in favor of the systems was a representative of the company selling and servicing them, the State Board of Elections certified them for use anyway, with the help of the Board's new Democratic chair voting with its Republican Commissioners in a series of stunning 3 to 2 votes.

We spoke to a number of folks on the ground in NC today, who testified against the new systems, and they were both stunned and furious. Frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance (a plaintiff in the successful federal case against Georgia's touchscreen voting machines) is a North Carolina resident who testified today. She sent me a statement just before airtime: "As a North Carolina voter I am embarrassed by the level of ignorance shown by three of the five members of the Board. The arguments they made wouldn't pass muster in fifth grade civics class." Another opponent of the new systems, Lynn Bernstein, an election security advocate, aerospace test engineer and ardent supporter of hand-marked paper ballot systems also spoke today and told me afterward that the new Chairman Damon Circosta "couldn't cite a single reason" for his vote, "other than he has confidence the new system will be fine."

We're joined today by longtime, award-winning journalist, columnist, documentarian and SMART Elections co-founder LULU FRIESDAT for her response to today's stunning news from NC, which she says she regards as a "coup" that will allow the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems next year in the closely divided battleground state of North Carolina as well as other jurisdictions such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles, unless the public can rollback this alarming trend.

"We have state after state after state --- we have this in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, we've had it in New York, they had it in Kansas --- it's the same ES&S machines. And now you're seeing it in North Carolina, where you have a vast majority of citizens coming to these Board of Election meetings saying 'We want hand-marked paper ballots! We want voting systems that we can trust! We don't want touchscreen barcode systems!' And the election officials are putting in place those electronic touchscreen barcode systems that are the exact ones that people are protesting against."

She cites broad donations by vendors to many of the officials tasked with selecting the systems and passing statutes which allow them.

We also discuss the disturbing news out of DefCon's Voting Village a week ago, where she witnessed new voting and electronic pollbook systems --- like the ones now set for use in NC --- being easily hacked by attendees in minutes time. "This is the third year that they've had a Voting Village, where they have voting machines that are in use in the United States available there. And each year it becomes more clear that really, every system is extremely vulnerable. There was not a single system there, to my knowledge, that was not penetrated in some way, or they didn't find vulnerabilities," Friesdat tells me.

And, finally, we discuss her newly-launched effort at SmartElections.US to help train and organize voters nationally to help oversee our own public elections via her new #CountTheVote citizens initiative to help people "get involved on a very local level" .

CountTheVote will be "training people who care across the country, in county by county, especially targeting states where we know this is really going to come down to the wire, swing-states, giving people the toolkits that they need and the skills and information they need.," she explains. "You can have conversations with your election officials to try to influence them to purchase secure voting equipment. Get other groups involved to start pressuring them. This is happening all over the country."

Finally, if it seems that the world is on fire of late, that's because it is --- both figuratively (see everything above) and literally, from the Arctic to the Amazon. We close with a few words on the troubling developments in the Brazilian rainforest where that country's Trump-like authoritarian climate science-denying leader, Jair Bolsonaro, is actually blaming non-profit groups fighting to save the Amazon rainforest for the global warming conditions and Bolsonaro policies that are actually helping to spark the massive fires in a region of the world that otherwise helps turn climate warning C02 into oxygen. At least it did before the record fires have become to consume the region...

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Guest: Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) 'hopes' newest SCOTUS Justice was 'completely forthright with U.S. Senate during confirmation', says House Judiciary 'proceeding in the nature of an Impeachment Inquiry' on Trump; Also: Prez uses visits to Dayton, El Paso to attack Dems...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2019 6:35pm PT  

Hey! Remember Brett Kavanaugh? The Donald Trump SCOTUS appointee who demonstrably lied during his sworn U.S. Senate Confirmation hearings last year before Republicans voted to ram him through to a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land, anyway? Yeah, we do too. Thankfully, so does our guest on today's BradCast who, as a member of Congress, can actually maybe --- just maybe --- do something to finally bring some accountability there. And, according to a letter signed by him and House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Tuesday, there is now evidence that they intend to try and do just that! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today, NBC News nailed it in a headline we saw only after getting off air today: "Trump turns day of grieving for shooting victims into day of grievances". That about sums it up. On Monday, in a scripted teleprompter speech, the President responded to the two weekend gun massacres that took the lives of at least 31 in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio by asking Americans "to set destructive partisanship aside...and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion and love". But, just over 24 hours later, he began to unleash various attacks on Democrats Beto O'Rourke, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former Vice President Joe Biden, and even managed to tie Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren somehow to the shooter in Dayton. All of that before, during and after what were supposed to be Presidential visits to the two recovering cities, intended to console them and help ease their pain after the twin tragedies.

On Tuesday night, Trump first broke his call for setting aside partisanship with a misfired Twitter snipe at El Paso native Beto O'Rourke's name, in which he told the former Texas Congressman to "be quiet!" after O'Rourke accurately tied the El Paso shooter's white supremacist diatribe to Trump's identical references to an "invasion" at our southern border. But on Wednesday morning, before leaving for his trips to the two grieving cities, he told reports at the White House that he felt his "rhetoric brings people together" and he "would like to stay out of the political fray." That vow didn't even last until he arrived in El Paso, with his new Twitter attacks emanating even while he was on Air Force One.

But in news today that is much less insane, we are joined by REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA), a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and Chair of its Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. That subcommittee oversees the federal court system, including the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Johnson and Nadler sent a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration requesting records from Justice Kavanaugh's tenure in the White House during the George W. Bush Administration, when he first served in the White House Counsel's office from 2001 to 2003 and then as White House Staff Secretary from 2003 to 2006.

The request includes thousands of documents either never reviewed or never requested by then-U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) during Kavanaugh's SCOTUS confirmation process last year. While Grassley requested no documents at all from Kavanaugh's tenure as Staff Secretary --- during which many decisions were discussed and made in the run-up to Iraq War and about the torture and detention of suspect terrorists and prisoners of war --- thousands of documents from Kavanaugh's time in the White House Counsel's office were withheld from the Senate Judiciary panel last year after they were privately reviewed by Kavanaugh's own personal attorney.

Johnson explains why Democrats are now seeking all of those records, what they hope to find, and what they may do with the information they unearth from them on the Committee which has jurisdiction to launch impeachment proceedings for all federal judges, including Supreme Court Justices.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Trump Administration will attempt to block the records request, which asserts the rights of the Committee to review the documents under the Presidential Records Act of 1975. If they are blocked, Johnson tells me, they are prepared to take additional measures to obtain the records. The Georgia Congressman also responds in detail to a number of my questions including whether he supports an expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court in order to unpack the Republican's currently stolen majority; why he is not currently among the majority of House Dems publicly calling to open an official Impeachment Inquiry in his Judiciary Committee; and what he thinks of his home state of Georgia's current plan to move from one 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to an all new, if equally unverifiable touchscreen voting system --- rather than a cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system --- before next year's crucial 2020 Presidential election in a state that many believe may finally be ready to flip "blue" after years of GOP dominance in the state.

On what he hopes to find in Kavanaugh's records from the George W. Bush years: "I hope to discover that Justice Kavanaugh has been completely forthright and honest with the U.S. Senate during his confirmation process. Moreover, I hope to find that the conduct of Justice Kavanaugh, during his time as Secretary with the Office of Counsel for the President, at all times conducted himself in a way that would be in keeping with that of someone who now serves on the U.S. Supreme court with a lifetime tenure. And, of course, that is only subject to the House's ability to impeach, should there be a need for it. The American people deserve to know who we have on the US Supreme Court, what his background is, and if he was honest with the Senate in his confirmation proceedings."

On expanding the stolen SCOTUS: "It's no question that the courts have been stacked with judges with a particular political bent...They are holding the future back, and it's hurting America. So we, as the legislative branch, with the power to expand the Supreme Court --- nothing in the Constitution says that it will be a Court of nine Justices --- so we have to look at whether or not its in the efficiency of our process that we need to expand the Court. We really don't need to politicize the courts. But unfortunately the courts have been politicized. So the question is, what do we do? And how will the Supreme Court react to the fact that the legislative branch is open to looking at alternatives to the current way that it does business?"

On why Johnson is not currently among the majority of Dems in the House publicly calling for an official Impeachment Inquiry: He stands by his current position (despite my generous offer to allow him to make news by changing it on today's BradCast), while explaining, "We are proceeding in the nature of an impeachment inquiry at this time, and we're doing so without calling it an impeachment inquiry so as not to put the 31 red-to-blue winners in 2018, new Democrats, not to put them in jeopardy of not being able to come back and keep us in the majority in 2020. ... At some point we may accumulate the record that we can then pass the impeachment resolutions on and then proceed to the evidence --- not just the Mueller Report, but the evidence... take that over to the US Senate and have a trial. " After I press him a bit on his current position, he concedes: "I tell you what --- if you call me back in about two or three months, maybe I will have changed on impeachment."

And, finally, on Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State defying cybersecurity experts to move from one unverifiable touchscreen voting system to another: "I think the way to go is to have hand-marked paper ballots that are then scanned into a counting machine and counted. And then you have the paper ballots that you can test the results of the tally machine against, and that way, you can have a verifiable vote. ... But we cannot do it on this new system that the Georgia legislature has authorized. I think it is a $125 or $150 million dollar expenditure that will be for a system that we can't even rely on. I think it's bad for the taxpayers, it's bad for the voters, it's bad for democracy, and it's a bad move for Georgia."

He offers much more on all of the above, so I hope you'll tune in to listen to today's BradCast...

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

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Public pressure in NC almost results in statewide hand-marked paper ballots --- almost; WI's Scott Walker files suit to undermine MI democracy; And many others reasons to fight for your democracy right NOW...
By Brad Friedman on 7/30/2019 4:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The hack of over 100 million personal financial records of those who applied for credit cards at Capital One, one of the nation's largest financial institutions, underscores yet again how insane it is that we are relying on proprietary, un-overseeable computer systems "overseen" by Mr. and Ms. County Clerk to safeguard free and fair elections with results that can be known by the public to be accurate. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

The Capital One hack did not take a nation-state like, say, Russia, to accomplish. It was allegedly pulled off by one woman hacker who lives with cats in an apartment in Seattle. But if Capital One can't protect its data --- even from a lone hacker in Seattle --- what chance do you really think your local county clerk or even state election official has in protecting the votes of millions of voters? Should you be concerned about those three guys who, according to testimony last week in federal court from a Georgia Sec. of State's official --- as discussed on our show yesterday --- program every voting machine in the state, without oversight, from their garage?

Georgia, of course, is not the only swing state right now considering the purchase of millions of dollars of new, if 100% unverifiable, computer voting systems for use in the crucial 2020 Presidential election. The closely divided North Carolina is doing the same. Thanks to public pressure from a lot of folks on the ground in NC, however, the State Board of Elections appeared, as of Monday night, to be on the verge of a resolution that would effectively mandate hand-marked paper ballot systems across the state.

That decision however, as we report today --- with some new details from those carrying out the fight locally in the state --- may now be on very shaky ground after possible pressure on State Board officials applied by ES&S, the nation's largest voting vendor and, currently, the only vendor certified to do business in the Tar Heel State. A new meeting is now scheduled for Thursday to consider rescinding the motion passed by the Board on Monday night.

The fight for free, fair and publicly overseeable elections in North Carolina, Georgia and many other states and counties around the country is taking place right now. As in previous years, waiting until after the election will be, once again, too late to do anything about whatever may happen. We try to give you the information you need every day here to fight for your publicly overseeable democracy. What you do with that information, however, in your own locality, is up to you. And you are really needed right now.

Meanwhile, after Florida Republicans recently undermined a landmark state Constitutional Amendment adopted in a landslide by voters last November to restore voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons, a similarly popular state Constitutional Amendment adopted in 2018 by Michigan voters is also now under fire by Republicans. Amendment 2, adopted by 61% of statewide voters last November, creates an independent redistricting commission to draw fair state legislative and U.S. House maps after the 2020 Census. The effort came in response to the state's wildly gerrymandered 2011 maps which have kept Republicans in the majorities in the state legislature and U.S. House delegations, despite receiving fewer votes than Democrats statewide. Though federal courts found MI's maps to be unconstitutional, an opinion by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court killed that ruling in June, with Chief Justice John Roberts declaring federal courts may have no say in partisan gerrymandering cases, while citing, among other things, the citizen-led effort to create an independent redistricting commission last November in Michigan as an alternate solution to unfair partisan maps.

But, on Tuesday, a Republican group led by Wisconsin's former Gov. Scott Walker --- who approved similarly gerrymandered maps in that state before eventually being voted out of office last November --- filed suit in federal court to kill Michigan's Prop 2. The group claims the Amendment violates the Free Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution. We explain and discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with some good news for California in its fight against Donald Trump over new vehicle mileage and emissions standards; cable networks announce 2020 Democratic climate change forums; and professional Republican climate change denier and pollster Frank Luntz announces he has a change of heart...

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

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Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser on the GOP's ACA challenge and the passing of SCOTUS' 'last great conservative Justice'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/17/2019 6:46pm PT  

The United States, according to our guest today on The BradCast, lost "the last great conservative Justice" on the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. Justice John Paul Stevens, who lead the liberal wing of SCOTUS before retiring in 2010, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 99 after serving some 35 years on the High Court. IAN MILLHISER, Constitutional law expert, longtime Editor of ThinkProgress Justice and author of the book Injustices: The Supreme Court's History of Comforting the Comfortable and Afflicting the Afflicted joins us today to discuss that loss as well as the rightwing legal challenge seeking to strike down the entirety of the Affordable Care Act. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We begin today with a conversation about Stevens' remarkable legacy, and how his tenure was so starkly different from the so-called "conservatives" now seated on the GOP's stolen Supreme Court. Nominated to SCOTUS by Republican President Gerald Ford (after being appointed to the federal bench by Richard Nixon), Stevens, as AP eulogizes, "stood for the freedom and dignity of individuals, be they students or immigrants or prisoners. He acted to limit the death penalty, squelch official prayer in schools, establish gay rights, promote racial equality and preserve legal abortion. He protected the rights of crime suspects and illegal immigrants facing deportation. He influenced fellow justices to give foreign terrorism suspects held for years at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, naval base the right to plead for their release in U.S. courts." All positions now seen as "liberal".

And yet, Stevens said during a 2007 interview that he did not think of himself as liberal, but rather as "pretty darn conservative". Millhiser explains how Stevens was able to separate the law from politics, including his own personal preferences, while remaining true to the Constitution and both the rule of law and Court precedent --- all issues which those who call themselves "conservative" today seem to have a difficult time understanding or respecting.

"When he got on the Court, he was widely viewed as a center-right judge. He personally held very, very conservative views. But what made Justice Stevens a great judge was that he knew his political views didn't matter when he was a judge. He knew that regardless of what he thought about minimum wage, or Obamacare, or whatever else, his job was to be faithful to the law and the Constitution," Millhiser tells me. "He was able to set his political views aside and let the law work. And that is all you can ask for in a judge. If we had conservatives like John Paul Stevens right now, who understand that law and politics are separate, we would be in a much better place as a country."

Moreover, as I note at the top of the show, based on my own reporting from 2013, Stevens was willing to admit when he got cases wrong. That year he conceded that his 2008's controlling opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections --- the case which approved Indiana's Republican law requiring voters to present Photo ID at the polling place before being allowed to vote --- was ultimately the wrong decision. That SCOTUS opinion has been falsely cited by GOPers across the country as confirmation that Photo ID restriction laws do not suppress legal votes, but help prevent illegal ones. That is both inaccurate and decidedly not what the Court found that case. In 2013, Stevens conceded, "as a matter of actual history," dissenting Justice David Souter was "dead right" in his opposition and warnings about how the precedent would be abused to suppress the vote.

As to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) challenge we had originally booked Millhiser to discuss before news of Stevens' passing, oral arguments in Texas v. United States were heard in New Orleans last week before a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. In his coverage for ThinkProgress, Millhiser, who was in the courtroom, describes the hearing before two Republican-appointed judges (one by George W. Bush, the other by Donald Trump) and one Democratic-appointee as a "disaster for Obamacare".

On today's show, he explains the "dumb" and "ridiculous" basis for the case brought by some 20 Republican state Attorneys General --- and now joined by Trump's Dept. of Justice --- and how the challengers specifically filed it in a Texas jurisdiction, a "a kangaroo court", where they knew they could get a favorable ruling from the lower court judge and were likely to get a similar ruling from the rightwing 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. He describes the suit as "the stupidest case I have ever seen", but notes that the appellate court's three-judge panel --- "the two Republicans on this panel were really wacky and behaved in a really partisan way in the oral arguments" --- may ultimately uphold the lower court ruling, at least in part.

Nonetheless he believes the case cannot possibly pass muster at the U.S. Supreme Court given previous rulings on ObamaCare by Chief Justice John Roberts. However, he has a caveat: that prediction only holds if the makeup of the High Court when the case ultimately reaches SCOTUS remains the same as it is today. That, as Millhiser cautions, is not a guarantee. "If Trump gets another vote, all bets are off." And there are ways that both the 5th Circuit and the Republicans challenging the landmark healthcare law could hedge that timing, depending on how quickly they act and how long they delay both the court's decision and any subsequent appeal.

While the basis for this case, he details, is so absurdly thin, that may not mean it will fail, even if, as Millhiser observes, an estimated 24,000 Americans will die each year if the ACA is entirely struck down as plaintiffs seek --- and as the lower court judge already ruled should happen.

Finally, there was a flurry of breaking news coming over the wires as we spoke with Millhiser today, including Democrats in the House scuttling a vote on Articles of Impeachment against Trump; the House voting to hold AG William Barr and Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross in criminal contempt and MA prosecutors dismissing sex assault charges against actor Kevin Spacey. And then we close today with a few thoughts on the House Dems successful vote on Tuesday for a resolution finding Donald Trump's (legally) racist tweets attacking four freshmen Congresswomen of color were, in fact, racist, and on the 4 Republicans in the 197-seat GOP House caucus willing to vote in favor of that resolution...

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

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