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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Baltimore BOE Crippled by Ransomware Attack; 'Crapshow' Worsens in D.C.: 'BradCast' 5/22/19
Guest: Eric Boehlert on Barr, impeachment, why 'no one will break glass on the alarm'...
'Our Subpoenas Are Not Optional' (Even If Impeachment Clearly Is): 'BradCast' 5/21/19
Also: More GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud, this time in Florida....
'Green News Report' 5/21/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
More extreme weather for Midwest; Another coal co. goes bankrupt; BP, Shell lobby for a carbon tax (with a catch!); PLUS: Inslee and Warren unveil comprehensive climate plans...
Previous GNRs: 5/16/19 - 5/14/19 - Archives...
GOP's Amash Declares Trump 'Impeachable'; Gerrymanders Allowed Radical Abortion Bills: 'BradCast' 5/20/19
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley: Also: Tornado swarms amid climate crisis; Ford to fire 1000s...
Sunday CSA* Toons
(* Coathanger States of America) As usual, 'PDiddie' flags the very best political toons of the week in his latest collection...
Time to Impeach Yet?: 'BradCast' 5/17/19
Guest-hosted by Nicole Sandler with Senate Judiciary Committee vet Lisa Graves and Tweeter 'GottaLaff'...
The Republican Party is a Culture of Corruption: 'BradCast' 5/16/19
Spate of GOP pol scams, indictments, corrupt pardons; Also: Are Congress and corporate media finally waking up to our woefully insecure, non-overseeable elections?...
'Green News Report' 5/16/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
PG&E caused deadliest fire in CA history; CO2 level hits milestone, exactly as Exxon predicted; Climate action delay will cost trillions; PLUS: The Impossible Whopper goes national...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/19 - 5/7/19 - Archives...
FL's Sancho: 'No Confidence' 2020 Will Be Secure After New 2016 FBI Disclosures: 'BradCast' 5/15/19
30-yr elexn chief says FBI lied in 2016; Rubio covered up in 2018; FL unverifiable in 2020...
22 Candidates, 2020 Visions:
'BradCast' 5/14/2019
Bad news CO2 landmark; Biden booed on climate, pushes back; MT's Bullock jumps in to 2020 as Dem Gov from 'red state'; Warren says no to FNC's 'hate-for-profit racket'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/19
Trump trade war hits U.S. NatGas; Admin ices Arctic Council; Houston floods as U.S. sees wettest year on record; PLUS: UK, Scotland declare 'climate emergency'...
GA Supremes Hear Case of 125k 'Missing' 2018 Lt. Gov. Votes: 'BradCast' 5/13/19
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's trade war, Congress'l war; FL voting news; NC-9 do-over primary...
Sunday Billion Dollar Loser Toons
Once again, lots of losers from which to choose in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
House All Action Against Trump, with Help from Repubs: 'BradCast' 5/10/19
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ UCSF's Dr. Monica McLemore, NARAL's Amy Everitt on what's next for abortion laws...
Trump Uses Exec Privilege to Block Mueller Report; Judiciary Finds Barr in Contempt: 'BradCast' 5/8/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Don Jr. subpoenaed by GOP-Senate Intel Comm...
'Green News Report' 5/7/19
U.N. report warns humans pushing 1 million species to extinction; Trump repeals post-BP spill safety rules; PLUS: Midwest flooding breaks all-time records...
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: Will Bunch of Philly Inquirer/Daily News; Also: Trump blows up both federal deficit AND foreign trade deficit; House Dems seek vote suppression docs from GA's GOP Governor, Sec. of State...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the heat continues to grow on the Trump Administration, as Democrats ramp up their oversight efforts after taking back a majority in the U.S. House. But, with another Presidential election around the corner, should they already be pursuing Articles of Impeachment, particularly with what we already know about Donald Trump's unprecedented crimes and corruption both before and after becoming President? [Audio link to full show follows below.]

But, first up today...A new report from Donald Trump's U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday confirms that the Trump/GOP tax cuts have blown up the federal deficit to record levels. In the first four months of the budget year (which began in October) the deficit is up an astonishing 77 percent over the same period the previous year, thanks in no small part to a vast reduction in revenue on the heels of the tax cut, including a 23 percent drop in corporate taxes paid to the Government compared to last year. So much for the Republican repeated lie that their tax cuts would "pay for themselves!"

Then, on Wednesday, the Commerce Department followed up that news with the announcement that the foreign trade deficit has exploded, even after Trump's "American First" tariffs and trade wars that were supposed to shrink the imbalance with foreign nations that Trump has long (falsely) blamed for the loss of American manufacturing jobs. As a candidate, he described the U.S. foreign trade deficit as a "politician-made disaster" that he said he could "turn around fast". But his tariffs have only made things worse.

Moreover, as recently as this past weekend at CPAC, he repeated his line about "billions of dollars...pouring into our Treasury" due to his new tariffs on imported goods, but failed, as usual, to mention that those "billions" are paid by American consumers, not foreign nations. A recent study [PDF] found Americans are footing the entire bill for Trump's tariffs and that it is costing more for those in Republican-leaning counties. A separate study [PDF] from a different set of economists found that if Trump's tariffs somehow resulted in the creation of 35,000 new manufacturing jobs (the total number of jobs lost in the steel and aluminum industry over the past decade) they would still have cost tax-payers $195,000 per job.

Those, of course, are just some of Trump's failures as President. His high crimes and misdemeanors are another matter. With Democrats back in the majority in the U.S. House, oversight of the Executive Branch is finally beginning again. Trump and the White House and their TV operation called Fox "News", describe the Constitutional mandate oversight as a "fishing expedition", a "disgrace" and "PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!" But, citing the House Judiciary Committee's request for documents from over 80 Trump associates or entities this week, our guest today, longtime Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News national columnist WILL BUNCH, describes the effort as a "shadow impeachment".

He tells me the effort now underway in the House is "exactly like" the process we would see if Articles of Impeachment had already been introduced, but without Democrats having to use "the i-word". But will that process be enough to bring accountability, much less put the brakes on this out-of-control, unprecedentedly corrupt Presidency? Especially with the next Presidential election already baring down on us? A "shadow impeachment" that could become a real one is fine, but shouldn't we have a real one already? We discuss those questions and many others with Bunch on today's program.

Finally, speaking of long-overdue and much-needed federal oversight. Democratic leadership in the House Oversight and Reform Committee today sent letters [PDF] to Georgia's new Republican Governor and former Sec. of State Brian Kemp, along with new Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger, seeking documents surrounding the massive vote suppression that tainted Kemp's reported narrow victory in the Governor's contest over Democrat Stacey Abrams last November. Among the documents sought by the House Dems in their new investigation are those related to Peach State government actions to purge voters (1.4 million were removed from the rolls during Kemp's tenure as SoS), shut down polling places (200 have been closed since 2012); keep newly-registered voters off the rolls (the registrations of 53,000 disproportionately black voters were suspended under the state's so-called "exact match" requirement); the "sequestration" of un-deployed voting machines (which resulted in long lines on Election Day in three key counties); and other related concerns over which Kemp was sued (and lost) countless times while overseeing his own election last year.

All of that as both Kemp and Raffensberger are pushing hard this week to hoax state lawmakers into voting to spend at least $150 million on new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Republicans are rushing through legislation this week in the state Senate to purchase the new computer-marked "paper ballot" systems, despite being virulently opposed by computer cybersecurity and voting machine experts who describe the new systems as unverifiable [PDF], unauditable [PDF] and vulnerable to hacking [PDF]. The experts recommend hand-marked paper ballot systems instead.

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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Guest: Former U.S. House General Counsel Stanley M. Brand; Also: NC-9 GOP election fraud follow-up; Trump pal, Patriots owner in prostitution, human-trafficking sting; The President's musical 'Border Lies'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2019 7:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some maddening facts about what awaits when Robert Mueller's Special Counsel report is handed over to the Attorney General and what will and won't likely be in it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today...in "lighter" news...some followup to our detailed coverage yesterday of the remarkable events leading up to the unanimous 5 to 0 vote by the North Carolina State Board of Elections for a new election in the state's 9th Congressional U.S. House District. The action was in response to what the board described as a "coordinated, unlawful, substantially resourced absentee ballot fraud scheme" in last November's election by the campaign of Trump-endorsed Baptist minister Mark Harris. The decision followed on stunning surprise testimony against Harris by his own son at the Board's public hearings on the matter this week.

Among our follow-up coverage today: the (not-at-all-shocking if wildly-hypocritical silence from GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters who've made their living for years lying about phony fraud to encourage laws that suppress the Democratic-leaning vote, while hoaxing Fox "News" brain-addled clowns like Donald Trump into believing there's an epidemic of Democratic voter fraud, rather than the insider election fraud which can easily flip the results of an entire election --- as seen in North Carolina. It was also nice to hear the NC Democratic Chairman finally explain the difference between "voter fraud" and "election fraud" to NPR's Steve Inskeep on today's Morning Edition. We'll see if NPR can remember that difference in the future.

And, speaking of GOP hypocrisy, long-time Trump-supporting billionaire and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged today by Florida police for two instances of soliciting prostitution, as he was caught amidst a probe into human sex trafficking. Ironically enough, human trafficking has long been disingenuously used by Trump to support his "National Emergency" declaration to steal money from the military for use in building his border wall with Mexico. The news of the warrant for Kraft's arrest today raises a panoply of interesting issues which Desi and I take a few minutes to discuss.

Then, with several media outlets reporting this week that a report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be coming as soon as next week (and, at least one outlet today reporting that's not so), the question of what happens whenever that report is finally delivered to the Attorney General is coming to the forefront.

My guest today, Professor STANLEY M. BRAND, Distinguished Fellow in Law and Government at Penn State University, recently argued in a column at The Conversation that those hoping the public may see this report after it's turned over, by statute, to Trump's newly-minted AG William Barr may be in for some disappointment. Brand, who formerly served for eight years as General Counsel to the U.S. House, now teaches a course on the Independent Counsel at Penn State, explains how it differs from the Special Counsel statute that replaced it after the Clinton era. He suggests the public may never see any of Mueller's "confidential" report.

More frustratingly, he tells me why he believes that Mueller is unlikely to indict the President or recommend such an indictment and how the by-the-book prosecutor is similarly unlikely to recommend impeachment in his report. Unlike the old Independent Counsel statute in effect under Nixon and Clinton, the new statute, he explains, as written by a Democrat, is limited to criminal matters only (not legislative matters such as impeachment) and requires Mueller largely to issue a "confidential" report with little more than details on who was prosecuted and who was not, and what, if any, actions were blocked by the Attorney General overseeing the probe. What Barr then does with that report, he explains, is a separate matter.

Brand, who says he has worked with both Mueller and Barr in the past, says "you may see portions of it, or you may see selected excerpts, or representations of what it contains, if Bill Barr --- and I take him at his word --- wants to be as transparent as he can within the rules and regulations."

In somewhat more comforting comments, he also contends, in response to my query about the curious timing of Barr being seated just days before news (accurate or not) of the report's imminent release: "I have no notion why it's wrapping up --- if it is --- at this particular point, but I have confidence that, if it is wrapping up, it's because Mueller has decided he's finished." He adds, "Nobody is going to push Bob Mueller around. So if there's a conclusion to this, it's because Mueller has determined in his judgment that it's time and he has no further actions to bring."

Brand also offers his insight on whether Mueller would testify to Congress, if subpoenaed, about what was in the report if it's not released to the public or even to Congress. The central frustration at the core of this conversation, at least for me, is that Brand essentially argues that Mueller can't indict Trump (thanks to very debatable, if long-held DoJ "guidelines") and wouldn't cite evidence of impeachable offensives in his report, since that is not part of the new statute's mandate, as written in the wake of "excesses" under the old statute.

"Leon Jaworski, who was the Independent Counsel in the Nixon case, decided that he had sufficient evidence to indict but determined it was not something he should do, given the ongoing investigation into impeachment by the House of Representatives," Brand explains. "Ken Starr, for his part, determined that he could indict a sitting President but determined as a matter of discretion not to do that, because the statute provided a specific mechanism for referring that type of evidence to the House for impeachment, which he did, and which resulted in an impeachment proceeding of President Clinton."

But now, If Mueller can't indict or recommend impeachment, how is this current process supposed to bring accountability for a scofflaw President? There is a lot more to dig into in our discussion, as maddening as it may be at times. It does, however, raise the clear need for a long-overdue Congressional Hearing in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee into whether a sitting President can, under the Constitution, be criminally indicted (a hearing that would, on its own, likely bring some accountability for our current Executive). It also raises the question of why the hell Democrats are waiting for the Mueller Report to be issued before taking action to bring accountability through impeachment, especially since even they may never see this report! If not this President, then what President would ever merit impeachment proceedings in Congress?!

Finally, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that a vote will be held in the U.S. House on Tuesday to block Trump's "National Emergency" declaration under the National Emergency Act. It'll likely pass in the Democratic-controlled House, but what are its chances in the GOP Senate, which much also hold a vote within 18 days of a resolution being adopted by the House? And, will EITHER chamber be able to overcome an almost-certain veto by the President?

That all remains to be seen, but satirist Randy Rainbow has a few musical thoughts on Trump's "Border Lies" to play out us out today at the end of another impossible week...

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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History reveals it is unnecessary to wait for a Special Counsel report...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/30/2019 11:01am PT  

The time for the U.S. House of Representatives to initiate an inquiry into the question of whether President Donald J. Trump should be impeached is now.

Those, who suggest that the U.S. House of Representatives should await a formal report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller before passing a resolution that would authorize the House Judiciary Committee to initiate an impeachment inquiry, ignore both the U.S. Constitution and historical precedent.

The same is true with respect to those, who suggest that percipient witnesses, like Michael Cohen, could, when appearing before Congress, refuse to answer questions if those questions touched upon the same subject matter that is a topic of Mueller’s investigation...

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




Legal scholars find DoJ opinion fails to consider Constitutional measure for Executive Branch continuity during a President's criminal trial...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/17/2018 9:35am PT  

So long as there is a prospect for the issuance of a pardon by a Vice President once he/she becomes President, or the expiration of the statute of limitations while a President remains in office, the indictment of a sitting President may be the "only" constitutional means for ensuring "Equal Justice Under Law".

That conclusion, of course, is at odds with the official U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) position that a sitting President cannot be indicted until after he/she leaves office. The DoJ's position is based upon the December 10, 2000 Opinion issued by the DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), citing an earlier OLC opinion that "the institution of criminal proceedings 'would interfere with the President's unique official duties, most of which cannot be performed by anyone else.'"

But that position is flawed and is being challenged by a number of legal scholars, including Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, a preeminent constitutional expert, whose famous former students include Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and President Barack Obama.

In a December 10 Boston Globe op-ed and during a subsequent appearance on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell (see video below), Tribe noted that the long-controversial OLC opinion lacks the force of a judicial precedent and is at odds with the legal accountability required of all federal officers, including the President...

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




Guest: Author, columnist, political scientist David Faris on all of that and on 'packing' the U.S. Supreme Court once Dems return to power...
By Brad Friedman on 9/5/2018 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A stunning political upset in MA's primary on Tuesday, the Kavanaugh hearings continue, and a senior Trump Administration official drops an anonymous late day bombshell in the New York Times. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

First up today, primary election results out of Massachusetts, including the stunning, double-digit defeat of 10-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano by progressive challenger Ayanna Pressley. With no Republicans running in the state's 7th Congressional District this November, Pressley is set to become the first African-American woman to represent MA in the U.S. House.

Then, Judge Brett Kavanaugh dodges many questions as "hypothetical" --- including on whether a sitting President must respond to a subpoena and whether the Constitutional allows one to pardon to themselves-- from Democrats in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on the second day of confirmation hearings for Donald Trump's nominee to fill the U.S. Supreme Court seat of retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kavanaugh also stumbled a bit when seemingly taken by surprise by a line of questioning from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) regarding about his knowledge of stolen emails from the Democratic Senator's office during the mid-2000s when, as a GOP operative, Kavanaugh was helping to shepherd George W. Bush nominees through Senate hearings. Leahy indicated that a number of emails still being protected as "committee confidential" for no legitimate reason, demonstrate Kavanaugh was aware of the ill-gotten information and lied about it during Senate testimony some years ago.

"There's a reason that Republicans don't want all of these documents released," argues my guest today, Roosevelt University political scientist DAVID FARIS, columnist at The Week and author of the recently published book It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. He joins us to discuss all of the above, including his thoughts on the Democrats' strategy to oppose Kavanaugh's nomination and to continue his call, first published in his book this Spring, for Democrats, once they eventually regain control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, to "pack" the U.S. Supreme Court with enough new seats to create a Democratic majority to replace the one stolen from them by Republicans in 2016.

"We're still living in the dream palace of the previous normative order," he tells me. "And there's a lot of Senate Democrats who are clinging to the fantasy that if they adhere to Senate norms, then at some point in the future, we will return to what they see as regular order."

Faris discusses how Democrats might have fought harder or more effectively against Kavanaugh's nomination, while conceding they are most likely powerless to block his seating. "I think what's being revealed over the past two days is that they are stuck with a much worse nominee, with much greater baggage, than anyone understood," he says, before adding: "I wish I could say those revelations would be enough to have a couple of Republican senators vote against him, but I've really, over the last couple of years, just lost faith that there are even two people, two Republicans, in the US Senate who are willing to take a political hit to do the right thing."

He is optimistic, however, in describing what he sees as an incredible "generational transformation" of the Democratic Party over the past year or so, highlighted by the rise of more progressive, diverse and younger candidates vying for office, and details what he feels Democrats should do after the November midterms if they are able to regain control of one or both houses of Congress.

Finally today, just before we go off air, stunning breaking news of the anonymous op-ed by "a senior official in the Trump administration" published in the New York Times late on Wednesday. The remarkable column from a self-described member of a "quiet resistance within the administration" charges that Trump is unmoored from reality, that top officials must work to counter his "impulsive," "half-baked," "ill-informed and occasionally reckless decisions" in order "contain" the worst and most dangerous of them. The author also asserts that cabinet officials had, at one time, considered "invoking the 25th Amendment" to remove the Trump from office given "the instability many witnessed", but decided against it in order to avoid "a constitutional crisis". Wow.

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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Newspapers push back as GOPers agree with Trump's Nixonian attacks on media; Trade war leads to U.S. factory closures; Trump's $92M parade; Zinke's land lie; Pruitt's toxic desk; Poison in your cereal; RIP Aretha...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2018 6:43pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On the 47th anniversary of the Nixon White House creating its then-confidential "enemies list" featuring, among others, many members of the media, Donald Trump's intensifying attacks on the press have now resulted in a majority of Republicans (51%) believing that the press is the "enemy of the people" rather than "an important part of democracy", according to a new Quinnipiac poll finding just 36% of self-identified GOPers agree with the latter. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

(Though I've also got a few thoughts and, perhaps, a warning on today's show regarding what to make of polling of self-identified Republicans these days. I think it's very possible our polls may now be broken, as we discuss a bit today.)

In response to the repeated and worsening attacks on the press by the President of the United States, some 350 newspapers today issued editorials in support of press freedoms. We join them in calling for support of media outlets --- particularly local newspapers and independent outlets --- who are struggling to stay alive and, yet, are needed more now than ever. (Yes, we too welcome your support for the same reason.)

That, as evidence continues to come to light underscoring the lies told to the American people by Donald Trump and the GOP while selling their tax cuts for the rich and corporations to the American people. In fact, those tax cuts won't not "pay for themselves" (the federal deficit this year will now be close to $1 trillion, thanks to plummeting revenue to the government in the wake of the cuts to the wealthy and corporations), nor have they increased wages for members of the working class (who are now making less than they did before the cuts, thanks to inflation and pay that has remained largely stagnant for workers.)

Less than three months out from the crucial 2018 midterms, Trump's tariffs and trade wars are continuing to worsen their toll on workers as well. Factories are shutting down or moving jobs to Mexico and other "off shore" locations in order to survive new added costs of tariffs on imported manufacturing supplies from China and elsewhere.

And, speaking of con jobs by this President, a new report finds his planned military parade, scheduled just days after the upcoming midterm elections, is now estimated to cost taxpayers some $92 million. That is some $80 million higher than a report on the parade's estimated cost last month, which was "only" $12 million at the time. That lower price tag is almost as much as the cost of military exercises with South Korea that Trump cancelled after his recent summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un because, at $14 million, they were "tremendously expensive" and, he tweeted, "we save a fortune" by not holding them. (Shortly after we got off air today, new reports suggest the military parade will now be postponed until 2019...if it's ever held at all.)

Also today, before we get to today's Green News Report', a brief tribute to the life and civil rights legacy of Aretha Franklin, the beloved "Queen of Soul", who died today at the age of 76.

Then, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest GNR, in which --- among many other stories --- Interior Dept. Secretary Ryan Zinke is revealed as a liar for promising, upon taking office, that public lands would not be sold off. In fact, as reported this week, his Department has now drawn up draft plans to do exactly that.

So, if you're keeping track this week, the President of the United States has called the press "the enemy of the people" and "very disgusting", while the head of his Interior Department has called mainstream environmental groups "terrorists". But it's Democrats, we are told, who are being uncivil in their response to this Administration.

Finally, a disturbing follow-up to today's GNR for people who eat food, after last week's $289 million jury award to a man with terminal cancer, after determining that Monsanto knowingly sold toxic RoundUp weed killer despite studies finding that it causes cancer. And, in related news, recently obtained internal EPA emails reveal that its disgraced and now former chief Scott Pruitt's staff were very concerned about formaldehyde used in a desk they were considering purchasing for his newly remodeled office, even as the agency blocked the release of a public report highlighting the dangers of the very same carcinogen in public drinking water...

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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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: KS GOP Gubernatorial primary counting fight update; MO Repubs elect another Nazi; Interior Sec. Zinke says environmentalists are 'terrorists'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/14/2018 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our long 'Digby' drought is finally over! [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, an update on the ongoing counting from (and fights over) last week's incredibly close GOP gubernatorial primary in Kansas between Sec. of State Kris Kobach and Gov. Jeff Colyer, who is accusing Kobach's deputy of giving incorrect instructions to counties regarding the counting of provisional ballots. Some 9,000 provisionals are now being processed as Kobach leads the current unofficial count by just over 100 votes out of some 311,000 cast last week. The latest battle is over whether provisional ballots cast by unaffiliated voters who did not officially declare a party affiliation at the polls (because poll workers failed to instruct them to do so) should be included in the tallies. Colyer's office argues yes. Kobach's deputy --- who is overseeing the post-election canvas following Kobach's recusal --- says no. We explain both positions.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Missouri last week, Republican voters in Clay County appear to have elected a huge Hitler fan, by a very large margin, as their nominee for the state House of Representatives. Earlier this year a former member of the American Nazi party won the GOP nomination for the U.S. House of Representatives in a Congressional district outside of Chicago.

Then, as the defense rested Tuesday without bringing forward any evidence or witnesses in the first of two federal indictments against former Trump Campaign chairman Paul Manafort, we're joined by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of both Salon and Hullabaloo, to catch up on a number of stories boiling over from within the Trump Scandal Swamp.

Most notably, she explains her recent spot-on observation that the Whitewater scandals during the Clinton Presidency, rather than Nixon's Watergate scandal, may offer "a better window into the current behavior of the Republican Party" when it comes to their denial of and outrageously partisan attacks on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into alleged Team Trump/Russia coordination in the 2016 Presidential election.

After drawing apt comparisons to Watergate (and there are plenty), Parton moves to Ken Starr's Whitewater investigation. "What the Republicans did in that era --- it was kind of the beginning of this 'scorched earth' partisanship that we see today. They brought all hands on deck to go after Bill Clinton, starting in 1992," she says. After which, "they started to use this scandal-mongering as a political weapon. This became their weapon of choice."

Thus, she concludes, "that's how they're viewing the Russia scandal. They are portraying it to their people as a partisan weapon, that 'They're using all of this to damage Trump, there's no substance to it!' In their view, they can convince their people that this is how scandals work because that's what they do" in their own so-called investigations, which really are, more often than not, the "witch hunts" that Trump and Congressional Republicans characterize the probe by Mueller (a lifelong Republican) to be.

While we're in the swamp, we also discuss the Manafort case, Trump's Dept. of Justice firing of senior FBI counter-intelligence official Peter Strzok (who oversaw the beginning of the Trump/Russia investigation in 2016) on Monday, and the importance (or lack thereof) regarding sensational new allegations being made by fired White House staffer and former TV reality star Omarosa Manigault Newman this week, in conjunction with the release of her new tell-all book.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report in which, among other things, we discuss more record heat and fires threatening national parks and forests, the Trump Administration's efforts to use those disasters to cripple the Endangered Species Act and help out the logging and farming industries, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's on-tape charge that "environmental terrorist groups" are to blame for massive record wildfires currently engulfing large areas of the West...

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Guest: Fordham Univ. School of Law's legal historian Jed Shugerman...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2018 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The nation appears to be lurching ever closer to a full-blown Constitutional Crisis, as Trump and his team offer a series of extraordinary and largely unprecedented (save for Nixon) claims in support of sweeping Presidential powers, over the past few days, which would place the Executive completely above the rule of law. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Over the weekend, Team Trump was once again on the offensive in the media, following the disclosure of a 20-page letter sent by Trump's attorneys to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in January, wherein they argued, among other things, that Presidents cannot legally be subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury, cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice, since they have unfettered power over all Dept. of Justice investigations, cannot be indicted while serving, and have absolute power to pardon anybody for any crime at any time for any reason.

Moreover, on Monday, Trump took to Twitter to charge that the Mueller probe is, itself "totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL" (his caps) and that he has "the absolute right to PARDON" himself. Many constitutional law experts disagree with many of those points.

In response, author, blogger, Slate contributor and Fordham University School of Law legal historian JED SHUGERMAN joins us on today's show to offer historical, legal, and Constitutional points of clarity and precedent on the power and scope of Presidential pardons, subpoenas, indictments and the expansive interpretation of those powers that Trump and his attorneys have been proffering in recent days.

Among the historically relevant cases and precedents referenced by Shugerman today: United States v. Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton v. Paula Jones, and even the more recent case of Rod Blagojevich, who, Trump recently said, he was considering pardoning after the disgraced Illinois Governor was convicted for trying to sell off the vacant U.S. Senate seat left by Barack Obama when he became President. "It's no accident that Trump is talking about pardoning [Blagojevich]," argues Shugerman, detailing how Trump sees him as unfairly convicted for simply using his constitutional powers, "even with a bribe, because that's just politics as normal. It's an incredibly cynical move."

"Just because the Constitution gives someone the power to do something, it doesn't mean they can use it for whatever purpose they want," he tells me. "Even if you have five good reasons for doing something, but one illegal reason, that illegal reason still makes it illegal."

"The Constitution says 'the President shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed'," Shugerman notes, while explaining why many of the current arguments being made by Team Trump may work effectively for propaganda purposes, but appear to have little legal basis or precedent, particularly while describing that a President would be acting "faithlessly" by pardoning himself. But, even if that happens, he says, he is confident (more so than I) that state prosecutors who are unbound by federal pardons, will pick up the prosecutorial ball against Trump and his cohorts.

[Update 6/5/2018: Shugerman and more than a dozen other distinguished constitutional law experts outline their case against Trump's expansive pardon powers claim in a letter to Trump's Whitehouse attorneys now posted here.]

Shugerman also describes the "bombshell" disclosure from that newly revealed letter from Trump's lawyers, in their admission that the President "dictated" the false written response from Don Jr. after the disclosure of the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russian nationals to receive "dirt" on Hillary Clinton.

Also on today's show...

  • Republican House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy --- believed to be the front-runner to become the next Speaker of the House if the GOP maintains control of the chamber this November --- refused to respond to CNN's on-air questions over the weekend about the Trump attorneys' concession that they and the White House had lied to the public about the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting;
  • Despite his continuing lies and chaotic presidency, Trump remains wildly popular among Republicans, according to Gallup. As of his 500th day in office, he enjoys a higher "own party" approval rating than any other President since WWII, other than George W. Bush (following 9/11), at a similar point in their presidencies;
  • The U.S. Supreme Court allows a baker in Colorado to discriminate against a gay couple. (More on this tomorrow.)
  • Corporate CEOs are now admitting out loud that, despite record profits, a theoretically booming economy and huge recent tax cuts, they have no intention of raising pay for workers;

And, on the day before 2018 mid-term primary elections are held in eight states tomorrow, an Election Integrity author rings in to remind us that Russia isn't the only threat to vulnerable, easily-manipulated computerized election results in the U.S. --- not by a long shot...

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Guest: The Intercept's Jon Schwarz; Plus: Kobach loses in court; Battle over election results and control of VA House continues...
By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2017 5:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the GOP has made an industry out of protecting their power and their Presidents, from Richard Nixon right up through Donald Trump. And neither the Democrats nor the corporate media seem to have figured out how to counter the Right's radical transformation of the American political landscape over the past 40+ years. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first today, a bit of voting and election news: A federal judge on Friday, just before the Christmas holiday, found in favor of Maine's Democratic Sec. of State Matt Dunlap after he was forced to sue Donald Trump's so-called "Election Integrity" Commission headed up by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas' Republican Sec. of State --- and infamous GOP "voter fraud" fraudster --- Kris Kobach. Dunlap had sued because, even though he is on the Commission itself, Kobach and the other rightwing fraudsters on it had been withholding documents and keeping Dunlap completely out of the decision making process. While that was a loss for the Government, a separate lawsuit against the Commission, filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), was rejected by a federal Appeals Court on Tuesday, on the basis that the group did not have standing to sue.

Also today, an update on the November 7th, 94th District Virginia House of Delegates race where Democrat Shelly Simonds appeared to have unseated Republican David Yancey by one single vote, until one of the Republican election official judges decided, the day after a "recount" was completed last week, that a previously discarded over-vote ballot [JPG] was actually a vote for the Republican after all. A three-judge court panel of GOP-appointed judges agreed, which meant the race was tied and the winner would be determined --- along with the balance of control of the Virginia House, which had been controlled by the GOP for decades --- by a random draw. That draw, scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed late on Tuesday by the state's Election Commission at Simonds request, while she challenges the three-judge panel's ruling in court.

Then, with the calls intensifying from the Fox "News" rightwing for Trump to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, are Democrats doing enough to counter the Constitutional Crisis that would likely ensue if he did so? For that matter, how have we arrived at a moment in American history when an investigation by a Republican Special Prosecutor into the firing of a Republican FBI Director by a Republican President can be considered a partisan Democratic witch hunt?!

JON SCHWARZ of The Intercept joins us to discuss the historical chain of events, connecting the dots of lawless GOP Presidential administrations from (at least) Richard Nixon up through Donald Trump, to illustrate exactly how we got here. In his recent historical essay, he details a fairly direct line of actions taken by the right during and after Nixon, right up through the present, that has largely prevented real accountability for lawless Republican Presidents, while both the Democrats and the corporate media have continued to pull their punches for various reasons.

"The history of Watergate has been completely rewritten in the past 45 years," Schwarz explains. "The reality is that it just barely succeeded. All of the investigations, all of the obvious, blatant wrongdoing by Nixon was just barely enough to get him out of office. Under other circumstances --- if the Republicans had controlled Congress, if they'd had Fox News then, if they'd had decades of appointing people to the courts --- it's very likely that Nixon would have stayed in office, and people would remember it as just a minor blip."

As is, he tells me, Nixon still escaped accountability for the worst of his crimes including collusion with a foreign power which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans, and an untold number of others in Indochina. "It's kind of shocking how this has been completely kept out of history."

Nonetheless, during his administration, a young Nixon staffer by the name of Roger Ailes came up with "A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News," which would eventually become Fox "News", while a separate if related scheme by a future Supreme Court Justice that became known as the "Powell Memo", helped to restructure the federal judiciary and paved the way for the corporate takeover of our electoral and political system. "It describes exactly what has happened for the last forty, forty-five years," Schwarz notes. "They laid out a plan and they executed it, and it worked."

And now, we live in a world where only Republicans allowed to be appointed to investigate Presidents, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, and only Republicans have ever been appointed as FBI Directors, even by Democratic Presidents. And, despite that, we now hear the ever-increasing drumbeat charging that Mueller's investigation is a "partisan Democratic witch hunt", leaving Dems fighting among themselves as to whether they should push for impeachment, and the media pulling punches when reporting on GOP Administrations.

"If Hillary Clinton were President and had done the things that Donald Trump has done," Schwarz argues, "everyone knows she would have already been impeached 97 times."

Finally, we close today with some related listener e-mail, a few more thoughts on the Powell Memo, and a few words of thanks to those of you who have stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate to help us try and continue BradCasting into the new year...

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Guest: Constitutional expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Senate vows ObamaCare repeal vote; Dems unveil 2018 plan, put 'single-payer on the table'; Healthcare fight moves U.S. to the left; Impeachment getting popular...
By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2017 6:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the turmoil continues in the Senate over the GOP undead attempt to repeal health care for millions, and in the White House where Team Trump faces the ongoing investigations of the Dept. of Justice's Special Counsel. [Audio link to complete show follows at end of article.]

A new analysis out late Friday from the U.S. Senate Parliamentarian suggests that a number of provisions in the GOP's scheme to repeal and replace ObamaCare may not pass muster under Senate rules for passage under 'budget reconciliation' with just a 51 vote majority. Instead, 60 votes may be needed, in which case, the scheme may be in even more trouble than it already appears. Or, Senate Republicans could simply try to kill the legislative filibuster instead. Either way, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is promising a vote to proceed on Tuesday, even though it remains unclear exactly what Senators will be voting on.

At the same time, Democrats are unveiling their own scheme ("A Better Deal") to try and win back voters in 2018. Comments over the weekend from Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer suggest that the passionate advocacy from progressives for a "Medicare-for-all" style system (single payer) or, at least a public option for health care insurance, may finally be moving the party establishment.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump continues publicly attacking his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions and talking about Presidential pardon powers for some reason. But some of those powers, contrary to conventional wisdom, may not be as absolute as he and others have argued, including the power to pardon himself. We're joined by author and Constitutional law expert IAN MILLHISER, Senior Editor of ThinkProgress Justice, to discuss legal assessments from the Nixon era though the Clinton era through now, in regards the power of the Presidential pardon, and the dangers that power could present for Donald Trump himself if he chooses to exercise it for some of his close aides and family members.

Among the man related questions and "myths" discussed: What dangers lurk for the President from those he may pardon? Can the President really pardon himself? Can a sitting President be criminally indicted?

But, of course, much remains unknown when it comes to the various extraordinary ways we are discussing the power of the Presidential pardon, of late, because the U.S. Supreme Court has not rung in on most of it. That's because, as Millhiser notes, "most Presidents don't commit federal offenses when they're in office."

"Here's what this really comes down to: Everyone has assumed that the President would be capable of shame. I'm dead serious about that. Why did Nixon resign? He resigned because he was capable of shame," Millhiser argues. "Everyone assumes that if the President somehow was not capable of shame, then the Congress would be capable of shaming him. When you go back and you read James Madison or Alexander Hamilton, they did not understand the inevitability of political parties," Millhiser argues. "So the Constitution was written on this assumption that you've got all these ambitious people in Congress...and so if you've got a rogue President, they'll all band together to throw that President out because it's good for their careers. They did not understand that, in 2017, we would have the kind of extraordinary partisanship we have right now, where you have a President who is incapable of shame, and you have Congress controlled by the President's party, which is unwilling to do anything to undermine its party's President. Our Constitution is not fit for this set of circumstances."

Finally today, in related matters, the public is much more in favor of impeachment now than they were at the start of the Watergate scandal, four years and six months into Richard Nixon's term as President. And, speaking of public interests, it appears the GOP attempt to undermine ObamaCare has resulted in many more Americans believing the federal government has a responsibility to ensure health care coverage for all...

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Guest: Princeton political historian Prof. Julian Zelizer...
By Brad Friedman on 6/1/2017 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Making history and breaking history. From historic worldwide climate pacts to nuclear arms treaties, from Trump and Russia to Nixon and the Soviet Union and back again. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, in an historic Rose Garden speech on Thursday, President Donald Trump --- against the advice of world leaders, major American companies, and even many in his own Administration --- announced his intention of pulling the U.S. out of the historic Paris Climate Agreement. The landmark 2015 pact is signed by nearly 200 nations and was crafted as part of a 20-year U.N. effort to decrease greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, in hopes of avoiding the worst effects of man-made climate change.

Trump's announcement has largely been met with worldwide derision from China to India to Russia to the EU and back here at home. And his announced intention of "renegotiating" a different deal was quickly nixed today by France, Germany and Italy. We offer extended experts from Trump's remarks announcing his intention to withdraw, some much-needed fact-checking, and a look at where the tortured decision --- which will take four years and another Presidential election --- leaves the U.S.

But, as that unfortunate history was being made today, we also take a look back at historic parallels for the recently reported, and seemingly bizarre, attempt by Trump's son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner to create a secret back-channel line of communications with Russia during last year's Presidential transition.

Princeton University political history professor and author Julian E. Zelizer, joins us to describe two different similar back-channels created with two different countries (including one to Russia --- actually, then, the Soviet Union) by Richard Nixon, both during his campaign and his transition.

One such line of secret diplomacy, Zelizer explains, turned out to be hugely successful for both the U.S. and USSR alike. The other...well, it didn't turn out so well, even as we've only learned details about both in recent years. Zelizer also describes the recent history of diplomatic back-channel diplomacy by Presidents other than Nixon and Trump, offers a few other uncomfortable parallels for the current President, and explains why Kushner's purported scheme to use Russian facilities to speak with the Kremlin is so bizarre, even, apparently, to the Russians themselves.

"Part of the idea that both Richard Nixon believed in, and his top National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger, was that there needed to be a new approach to handling U.S. relations with the Soviet Union," Zelizer tells me. "The key to doing this was simply opening up the lines of dialogue. [Kissinger] sets up a back-channel, as it was called, to the Soviet ambassador, which is top secret. He believed this had to be done around the existing government bureaucracy. They were worried about leaks, they were worried about political push-back."

"Nixon was totally paranoid and frightened about the existing bureaucracy in the State Department, and to some extent in the Defense Department, and was really determined to try to do things --- which would ultimately lead to his downfall --- on his own. And to have these kinds of communications without the official government knowing what he was doing, and subverting him."

Sound familiar? In that case, as Zelizer writes at CNN, it was actually a huge success that eventually resulted in the SALT I Agreement to limit nuclear weapons in both nations. The other Nixon back-channel was far more nefarious, dealing with his campaign's attempt to scuttle peace talks by Lyndon Johnson in Vietnam before his election.

In both Nixon cases, it took years before we even learned about any of it. In the more recent case of Kushner and Russia, Zelizer notes, "There's a lot of uncertainty, both about context and the substance of this effort, which is why it is something that's raised a lot of suspicion and is the focus of an investigation. It's not the back-channel, it's what this back-channel was meant to do and why it was being put into place --- if it's true."

Finally, Desi Doyen re-joins us for special, breaking Green News Report coverage of, well...see if you can guess...

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Guest: Former Asst. US Attorney Randall D. Eliason of GWU Law School...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2017 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, yes, like yesterday, more huge breaking news mid-show. [Audio link follows below.]

But before we get to that, today, controversial, extremist and, perhaps, insane Milwaukee Sheriff David C. Clarke claimed today that he has been appointed to a position in Donald Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security. If true, his appointment would be disturbing. Not only given the number of people who have died in his jail cells, but also because he has, literally, called for about a million people in the U.S. to be rounded up and shipped off to Gitmo, indefinitely, without attorney or trial. Really.

Then, the fallout from yesterday's huge mid-show breaking news concerning the report that, in February, Donald Trump asked then FBI Director James Comey to end the Bureau's investigation of Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Republicans, both last night and today on Capitol Hill, are having trouble grappling with and/or responding to the news, though at least one GOP Senator, John McCain, compared what's now going on to Watergate. And committees in both the House and Senate have now asked to see the Comey memos said to document his private meetings with Trump.

And, along with all of that, the phrase "Obstruction of Justice" is being heard more and more regarding Trump's apparent efforts to shut down the FBI's probe into his campaign associates alleged coordination with Russia during the 2016 Presidential election. So, we are joined today by former Asst. U.S. Attorney, now Professor Randall D. Eliason of George Washington University Law School to discuss what "Obstruction of Justice" actually means, in both the criminal sense (as it might apply in an indictment) and in the political sense (as it might apply in Articles of Impeachment) Eliason recently discussed both applications in a lengthy article at his Sidebars Blog.

"The important thing," he tells me today, "is to distinguish between Obstruction of Justice in the broader sense --- the way the term gets thrown around a lot --- and the more narrow criminal sense of an actual criminal violation that fits the Obstruction of Justice statutes. That's a much higher standard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, all of the elements of an actual crime, as opposed to a more general claim that the President is kind of violating all these norms and rules and traditions that we have about not interfering with ongoing investigation, appearing to pressure the FBI Director, things like that."

The key issue, Eliason explains, is whether there was "corrupt intent" in the many different incidents that now appear as Trump's obstruction. "It's not enough if the President does something that just has the effect of hurting the investigation, as a kind of side effect. The prosecutor would have to show that was what he set out to do --- he had the wrongful and deliberate intent to try to thwart, in [the Flynn] case, the ongoing grand jury investigation."

As to the use of Obstruction of Justice as used in Articles of Impeachment against a President, there is a different standard, which Eliason also explains. We discuss the cases (and defenses) being built for both types of obstruction, whether a sitting President can actually be indicted on criminal charges, and also the meaning of another phrase being bandied about of late: "abuse of power".

In the course of the conversation we also discuss the likelihood of impeachment and the potential application of the 25th Amendment remedy as a way to remove Trump from power and the need for a Special Counsel to be named by the Dept. of Justice.

No sooner do we complete that conversation, than the huge news breaks late today that, indeed, former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been named by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein as Special Counsel to take over the the FBI's probe into "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump"...

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The VP will now oversee Trump's sham 'Election Integrity' Commission; Also: Trump/Comey goes 'Godfather' and even more Nixon-like...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2017 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The story of Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey turns even more bizarre and takes a decidedly thuggish turn (don't worry, your President is 'not a crook') and Vice President Mike Pence gets tapped to head Trump's new "voter fraud" commission, despite his own (much overlooked) record of stoking false GOP allegations of "voter fraud" and helping to shut down a major registration drive in his home state, just before last year's Presidential election, while campaigning for Veep and serving as Governor of Indiana.

First, the Trump/Comey affair turns more insane and Godfather-like by the hour...or Nixon-like, if you prefer, now that Trump has hinted there may be audio recordings of his private conversation with the now-former FBI Director. We bring you up to date on the latest madness and lies on that quickly moving soap opera, which continues to tie the White House into knots.

We then turn to the Executive Order signed this week by the President amidst all the Comey fallout, which creates a new sham commission, by fiat, to examine Trump's false claims that as many as five million votes were illegally cast in the 2016 election. The so-called "Election Integrity Commission" --- which, according to the Order, is to look at only voter and voter registration fraud, rather than voter suppression, which is a far more extensive problem or concerns about the vulnerability of vote casting and counting systems --- is to be headed up by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas' notorious vote-suppressing Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

While many may be familiar, by now, with Kobach's years-long storied history of fraudulent 'voter fraud' claims, many are likely unaware of Pence's efforts last year during the campaign, while serving as Indiana's Governor, to suppress a major voter registration drive targeting African-Americans in Indiana, with false claims of "voter fraud" and the outrageously heavy-handed use of his State Police force.

On today's show, we detail how the offices of the Indiana Voter Registration Project were raided and shut down, with computers, cell phones and paperwork confiscated by Pence's cops, just days before the state's October 11, 2016 voter registration deadline. The effort (also aided and abetted by the state's Republican Sec. of State Connie Lawson, who is also set to serve on Trump's phony commission), served to shut down the major registration drive by a Democratic-leaning organization and resulted in the Marion County Prosecutor demanding an end to misleading and suppressing public statements from Superintendent of the State Police. It did not, however, despite claims of "thousands" of fraudulent forms, result in any arrests, and it was all quickly forgotten, as usual, after Election Day. In all, some 50,000 valid registrations may have been scuttled in the Hoosier State, thanks to the false claims of forged and fraudulent registration forms across dozens of counties in what Pence described to brain-addled supporters on the campaign trail as a "vigorous investigation into voter fraud".

Finally today: The White House lies about the number of new manufacturing and coal jobs created last month and North Carolina receives just 1% of their requested funding for Hurricane Matthew relief from Congress and the President...

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Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress Justice...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2017 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as you might have guessed, we pick up on the news that broke mid-show yesterday of Donald Trump's stunning and sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey, while the fallout and reeling continues in D.C. and across the nation today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The pretext for that firing, which even some on Fox "News" describe as "almost inexplicable", was Comey's alleged mishandling last year of the Bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while Sec. of State, according to a letter [PDF] written by new Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

A handful of Republican Senators (though some key ones) have expressed concern or "disappointment" over "the timing" of Trump's unprecedented firing of the FBI chief, which appears to have caught just about everybody by surprise, even as investigations continue at both the FBI and Congress into Trump and members of his campaign regarding allegations of undeclared ties to Russia and/or other foreign nations both during the campaign and after the election.

Democrats, meanwhile, are outraged by Comey's firing, despite their furor about the way he oversaw the Clinton probe last year during the run-up to the Presidential election. They are calling for a special prosecutor to be named by Rosenstein at the DoJ and an independent bi-partisan special committee to be named by Congress to investigate all of this. Many are comparing Trump's dismissal of Comey to Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" at the height of the Watergate investigation, others describing it as "a grotesque abuse of power by the President", while some Congressional Democrats are citing this moment as "a full-blown Constitutional crisis."

Joining us today to try and explain what is or isn't going on here, and whether it amounts to such a Constitutional crisis, full-blown or otherwise, is author and Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress Justice. He explains the legitimate complaints against Comey, while making the case that his firing was little more than an effort by Trump to disrupt the FBI's ongoing Russia probe.

"What is the emotion you're supposed to feel when the biggest villain in the United States fires the second biggest villain in the United States?," Millhiser wryly asks, before detailing the legal underpinnings for Trump's move, whether any of it is in violation of the law or the U.S. Constitution, and whether Rosenstein or his new boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, acted inappropriately in collusion with Trump and the White House.

"The story of the last nine years of American politics," he goes on to explain, "has been that people like Trump, and Jeff Sessions, and James Comey, and Mitch McConnell --- maybe I shouldn't lump Comey in with them because I don't know that he was necessarily acting in bad faith in the way that some of the other ones are --- but people have figured out that we don't have a system of rules that prevents you from doing a lot to blow stuff up, and that prevents you from engaging in a lot of sabotage. What we have are norms that people just didn't violate because they cared enough about the United States of America not to do so."

Those days, Millhiser argues today, appear to be over --- at least as of right now --- in these United States.

Finally, we close with a tiny bit of good news today --- thanks, in part, to the surprising vote of at least one Republican Senator --- regarding the GOP's continuing attempt to roll back Obama Administration fossil fuel-related regulations on public lands...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 4/3/2017 8:35am PT  

In August of 1822, James Madison, one of this nation's Founding Fathers, famously argued: "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

On the other hand, on January 6, 2017, a joint Intelligence Community Report ("IC Report"), entitled "Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections" explained: "The Intelligence Community rarely can publicly reveal the full extent of its knowledge or the precise bases for its assessments, as the release of such information would reveal sensitive sources or methods and imperil the ability to collect critical foreign intelligence in the future."

There is a core conflict seen in those two quotes. What we see proclaimed in the IC Report is a direct collision between self-proclaimed national security interests and the public's right to know.

There is no question that Congress has both the Constitutional right and obligation to investigate "Russia-gate". It does so in accordance with its exceedingly broad powers of oversight that include the ability to "provide new statutory controls over the executive," executive accountability and to exercise its exclusive power of impeachment.

It is really not controversial to suggest, as did The Chicago Tribune, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and Adam Schiff (D-CA), that Congressional hearings be conducted either by an independent or select committee. But even if a reasonable level of investigative objectivity and integrity is achieved, the thorny question remains as to the extent to which such hearings, and testimony from witnesses, should be carried out in public.

It is a difficult issue that pits the public's right to know against (a) avoiding disclosure of classified information, and (b) compromising the ability of federal prosecutors to secure criminal convictions in their own parallel investigations...

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




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