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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Voting is Not Enough: How YOU Can Help Oversee and Protect Our Elections!: 'BradCast' 10/19/20
Guest: Emily Levy of Scrutineers.org; Also: Bad news for MI voters; FL voting website fails...
Sunday 'A Bigger Boat' Toons
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the voting booth...PDiddie offers his latest collection of the week's best toons...
2020's Federal Court Voting Rights Roller Coaster: 'BradCast' 10/16/20
Guest: Univ. of KY election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Trump's CA wildfire emergency disaster relief roller coaster...
'Deranged Power Grab': Barrett SCOTUS Hearings Conclude: 'BradCast' 10/15/20
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: E-Pollbook systems fail in GA; FBI reports 'unauthorized access to elections systems'...
'Green News Report' 10/15/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Barrett sure sounds like a climate denier during Senate hearings; Sen. Whitehouse breaks down dark-money polluter capture of judiciary; PLUS: Sept. 2020 hottest ever recorded...
Previous GNRs: 10/13/20 - 10/5/20 - Archives...
'Hypocrisy in Daylight? Look for Power in the Shadows': 'BradCast' 10/14/20
Guest: Lisa Graves on Sen. Whitehouse's revelations of GOP's $250M SCOTUS-packing coup; Also: Good voting news in VA, TX, AK!...
Barrett's Hypocritical, Scalia-Fueled 'Originalist' Hoax: 'BradCast' 10/13/20
Also: Touchscreens fail on 1st day of Early Voting near Houston; Trump judges okay absentee suppression in TX; Online registration fails on deadline day in VA...
'Green News Report' 10/13/20
Cleanup, recovery in battered LA in wake of Hurricane Delta; PLUS: Climate change in the spotlight (sort of) at the one and only 2020 Vice-Presidential Debate...
Judge Finds 'Serious Security Vulnerabilities' in New GA Vote Systems, Allows Them Anyway: 'BradCast' 10/12/20
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: GA systems fails on first day of early voting...
Federal Court Upholds NJ Canvass of Mail-In Ballots Prior to Election Day
Also upholds counting of mail-in ballots received by 11/5, two days after Election Day, even without a postmark...
Sunday SuperSpreader Toons
Look! Up in the sky! It's COVID-19 being spread by the goddamn President of the United States! That and many more sick toons in PDiddie's latest weekly collection...
Tyranny Loves Company:
'BradCast' 10/9/20
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with 'Strongman' author Kenneth C. Davis...
Buzz-worthy, But Otherwise Refreshingly 'Normal' VP Debate: 'BradCast' 10/8/20
Special Coverage with Heather Digby Parton, David Faris; Also: Suspended on Twitter for tweeting completely accurate news about GA's flawed voting system...
BRAD BLOG Suspended by Twitter for 100% Accurate Tweet About GA's New Touchscreen Vote Systems
The tweet in question and federal court evidence proving it's true. [UPDATED x 2!] ...
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...


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




And how the War Powers Act was created and then ignored...
By Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D. on 2/24/2020 10:35am PT  

In response to President Donald Trump having ordered a drone strike that killed a top Iranian general, the United States Senate on February 13 passed a resolution that would prevent him from engaging in further hostilities against Iran without first getting approval from Congress. The resolution had already passed the House by a vote of 224-194. It passed in the Senate by a vote of 55-45, with eight Republicans voting in favor.

Those Republicans include Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine, Todd Young of Indiana, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

President Trump is almost certain to veto the resolution. Both chambers lack the two-thirds majority necessary to override a Presidential veto. But the War Powers Act was written to be exempt from the possibility of a Presidential veto.

So, what's going on here? One of the most contentious fronts in the current power struggle between the Congress and the President involves the power to declare war. The Constitution makes clear that this power resides in Congress. Over time, this power has effectively shifted from the Congress to the President. Here's how that happened...

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




Guest: Former FEC Chair Ann Ravel on 'insane' legal and campaign finance assertions by Dershowitz, Philbin in Senate Impeachment trial...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2020 5:28pm PT  

Day two --- the final day --- of the Questions phase in the Senate Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump was perhaps best characterized by lead House Manager Adam Schiff on Thursday, when he described the new defenses offered by the White House Counsel's team as "a descent into Constitutional madness" and "the normalization of lawlessness." Those comments were echoed by the former chair of the Federal Election Commission, who joins us on today's BradCast. She called Trump's new line of defense as "insane". [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of article.]

On Wednesday, the first day of written Questions from the U.S. Senators, as read to both legal teams by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Trump's defense attorney Alan Dershowitz made an extraordinary argument: "If a President does something which he believes will help him get elected, in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment." He went on to offer an analogy. "If a hypothetical President of the United States said to a hypothetical leader of a foreign country, 'unless you build a hotel with my name on it, and unless you give me a million dollar kickback, I will withhold the funds'." That, he said, would be an "easy case" and "purely corrupt". However, he continued, a more complex case was one where a President says: "I want to be elected. I think I'm a great President. I think I'm the greatest President there ever was and if I'm not elected the national interest will suffer greatly. That cannot be an impeachable offense."

In other words, he seemed to argue, it's just fine for a President to solicit a foreign power for help in an election (which is a violation of the law), so long as he or she believed it was in the best national interest for him or her to be elected. Dershowitz has spent a lot of time since those remarks, on Twitter and elsewhere, attempting to defend himself by saying that he did not say what he said. But he absolutely did say it, and so we share audio of some of his extended argument saying as much today, so you can hear it for yourself.

It wasn't the only way in which Trump's team of defense counselors moved the goal posts to accommodate his well-documented Abuse of Power, the basis for the first Article of Impeachment against him. Deputy White House Counsel Patrick Philbin on Wednesday astonishingly charged that "mere information" about a political opponent, even from a foreign source, "is not something that would violate the campaign finance laws."

“Apparently it’s okay for the President to get information from foreign governments in an election," House Impeachment Manager Zoe Lofgren responded with alarm. The California Democrat who worked on the Judiciary Committee during the Nixon Impeachment added, "That's news to me!" The new lines of argument from the President's team is what led Schiff to charge Trump's defense has become "a descent into Constitutional madness," adding "that way madness lies," before citing a similar, then-rejected defense from Richard Nixon who claimed "when a President does it, it's not illegal," before he eventually resigned the Presidency in disgrace. "Have we learned nothing in the last half century?," asked Schiff in response to Dershowitz today.

We share all of those assertions and counter-assertions today, before we turn to someone with no small amount of authority on all of this, ANN RAVEL, who served four years on the Federal Election Commission and as its Chair for two years before leaving her post in 2017. Prior to that, she chaired a similar state commission overseeing campaign finance matters in California.

"There are so many things wrong with [Dershowitz'] argument it's hard to know where to start," she tells me, charging that the claim that a quid pro quo is "somehow justified because it's important for the nation is ridiculous. It would be like saying, for any elected public official, that because it's so important for them to be re-elected that they can commit any criminal act. That's not what the framers of the Constitution intended with regard to the Presidency, and it's exactly why they have the laws relating to impeachment procedures."

"The law does not have an exception for people who think they are so important, that their worth is necessary for the whole country and therefore they can act with illegality and with impunity," she opines, before similarly torching Philbin's argument that there is nothing unlawful about soliciting a thing of value from a foreign power --- an express violation of campaign finance law.

Ravel, who is currently running for office herself in the California State Senate, laments the fact that "there is no FEC in existence now" with only three members currently seated on the six-person panel, and at least four required for a quorum to vote on enforcement of federal law. Similarly, she warns that Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr, responsible for overseeing criminal violations of campaign finance regulations, "is not acting as an Attorney General who would act with integrity to enforce the laws fairly and evenly. Instead, he seems to be biased in favor of assuring that he supports this President, so he remains in office I presume. As a result, we do not have any enforcement whatsoever of campaign finance laws."

Ravel offers alarming insight and a grim assessment as voting in the critical 2020 Presidential election begins just days from now in Iowa. "This is like sending a flare up indicating it's open season for illegality in our electoral process," she warns, along with many other thoughts, including on what she has come to learn about elections now that she is on the other side of the issue as a candidate herself. Running for office, Ravel tells me, has led her to be believe that "more constraints" are needed on electoral campaign finance, not less. She would like to see publicly financed elections in the future.

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with a few encouraging signs (though not nearly enough) on how some institutions are attempting to step up and deal with our worsening climate crisis, both in the U.S. and around the globe...

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

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Trump and his supporters hope to make this complicated. It isn't...
By Richard Hayes Phillips, Ph.D. on 12/27/2019 11:35am PT  

President Trump has been impeached on two articles --- Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress --- not because of disagreement with his policy, as he and his supporters are attempting to argue, but because his actions were viewed as both illegal and unconstitutional.

The grounds for those charges are straightforward. Please allow me to explain in very clear and simple terms...

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




Debunking the 'impeachment is a disaster for Democrats!' lie with actual, independently verifiable facts for your use over the holiday...
By Brad Friedman on 11/27/2019 5:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A few holiday morsels that we hope may come in handy over your Thanksgiving weekend with friends and family. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Donald Trump, along with his cowardly Republican apparatchik and dishonest rightwing media machine, have all been busy pretending over the past several days that the first two weeks of public impeachment hearings in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee were somehow "a disaster for Democrats." Even mainstream corporate media have been helpful in spreading that fake news.

Polling, however (among other things), suggests the opposite --- unless 50% majority support for impeachment and removal of the President of the United State from office, according to CNN [PDF], and steadily increasing support for impeachment over each week of public hearings, according to Reuters/Ipsos, is somehow "a disaster for Democrats".

By way of comparison, at the height of Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998, support for the GOP effort among Americans was never higher than 29%. And yet, 50% want Trump out already, after just two weeks of public testimony. (It took nearly a year of impeachment inquiry before the worst evidence against Richard Nixon even became apparent, by the way.)

At the same time, even since the first round of hearings concluded last week, there has been a constant drip, drip, drip of increasingly damning information against the President, shoring up an already overwhelming amount of evidence that Trump directed a quid pro quo bribery scheme against Ukraine by withholding a White House meeting and hundreds of millions in military aid in exchange for the announcement of a Ukraine investigation into his 2020 political rival Joe Biden and a debunked, nonsensical theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton, not Trump.

In just the few hours since our previous BradCast, newly released testimony from a top official in the White House Office of Management and Budget reveals that two OMB officials quietly resigned over the summer due, at least in part, to their concerns about the legality of Trump's order to withhold Congressionally-allocated military aid to Ukraine for personal political purposes.

Also, the New York Times has reported that Trump had been briefed about the complaint from the whistleblower that kicked off this impeachment inquiry before he finally unfroze military aid for Ukraine in September. Moreover, that report helps to explain Trump's strange insistence to his EU Ambassador that "there is no quid pro quo!" long before the phrase had even made it into the public discussion of the matter.

So, as things get worse for the President, somehow it's "a disaster for DEMOCRATS"?

As many Americans today are heading home for the holidays and may have to discuss all of this with their Trump-lovin' relatives over the holiday table, we thought it'd be helpful to supply a bit of (non-lethal) ammunition. While various blockbuster revelations from witnesses received most of the attention over the first two weeks of lengthy public hearings in the House, the closing summations each day and at the end of the series of hearings by Intelligence Chair Rep. Adam Schiff received far less attention. That's a pity, as the Congressman --- a former prosecutor who served as Asst. U.S. Attorney in the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's office before being elected to Congress --- gives one helluva closing summation.

Today, we share two of those closing arguments, as they nicely wrap up both what this impeachment is about, how damning the evidence already is against the President, and what the stakes are for the country.

Our mission, as journalists, is to help educate and inform the electorate. That's not easy these days in a post-truth world full of fake news, a lying President, and still far too much corporate media hackery. We hope today's program might help you to help ALL of us find our way out of this otherwise very dark hour in American history. We ALL must play a part in that, right now, if our republic is to survive this unprecedented attack.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving. Somehow...

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

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Special impeachment hearing coverage with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 11/20/2019 4:42pm PT  

It was what many are characterizing today as a "John Dean moment" in the public impeachment hearings of Donald J. Trump. His $1 million donor turned swamp-dwelling Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, dropped some bombshell testimony on Wednesday --- and we do not use that word on The BradCast lightly. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Sondland, who Trump described as "a really good man and great American" as recently as last month, admitted in his blockbuster testimony that the President's scheme to withhold a White House meeting and $391 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for the announcement of investigations into his political rivals was, in fact, a "quid pro quo".

Moreover, Sondland tossed a whole bunch of top Trump officials and allies under the bus in the bargain --- including Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Vice President Mike Pence and, especially, the President of the United States himself. "Everyone," he said, "was in the loop. It was no secret." He explained that he "followed the directions of the President" when he "worked with Mr. Giuliani" on the Ukraine pressure campaign "because the President directed us to do so." That, barely two months after Steve Doocy of Trump's favorite TV show, Fox & Friends, declared: "If the President said 'I'll give you the money, but you gotta investigate Joe Biden --- that is really off-the-rails wrong."

We were joined once again today, just moments after the Sondland hearing concluded, by our official BradCast partner-in-impeachable-crimes, the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo, with extended explosive excerpts of today's testimony, along with insight and analysis. Our special coverage continues with the remarkable events that transpired on Wednesday in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee's ongoing impeachment proceedings on what may well prove to be an historic day (or the long-awaited beginning of the end?) for the shamefully failed Presidency of Donald J. Trump...

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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Also: Impeachment 101; NSC official offers first-hand corroboration of Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2019 5:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast, in an historic vote, the U.S. House officially adopted formal rules and procures to govern the ongoing impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump. We also do a bit of helpful Impeachment 101 to explain how it works, and what we know historically about the process from the three prior Presidential impeachment proceedings against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. [Audio link to program is posted below.]

Then, it's on to today's vote in the U.S. House, undercutting a limp Republican argument --- already undercut by a federal court last week which determined no such vote was actually required by the Constitution to proceed with impeachment --- a sharply divided House adopted a resolution [PDF] by a 232 to 196 vote, setting out official rules for how the inquiry will proceed. All present members of the GOP voted against the measure and all but two Democrats (conservative ones, from districts won by Trump in 2016) voted in favor. So did former Tea Party Republican turned Independent Rep. Justin Amash of Texas.

The resolution sets the ground rules for upcoming public hearings in the House Judiciary Committee with witnesses who have testified to members behind-closed-doors in recent weeks. The adopted procedures allow the President and his attorneys to participate and cross-examine witnesses in those hearings, as well as request subpoenas for their own witnesses and other evidence, as long as they do not obstruct the proceedings or continue to withhold evidence. The Democrats are targeting a timeline that could see a vote on Articles of Impeachment in the Judiciary Committee and then the full House by Christmas, unless it is further derailed by continuing White House obstruction.

We cover the historic floor arguments today in favor of the resolution offered by Democrats from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff to several rank-and-file members, along with arguments against the resolution from members like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

Even as today's vote was carried out, both Democratic and Republican impeachment investigators from the Intelligence, Foreign Services and Oversight Committees continued taking depositions behind closed doors on Thursday, from witnesses testifying about Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine, which is at the center of the current effort to consider official Articles of Impeachment against the President. Testifying in the House today was the top Russia expert on the White House's National Security Council, Tim Morrison, who was hand-picked by his immediate superior, the extremely right-wing then National Security Advisor John Bolton (who Democrats have also summoned to offer testimony in coming days.) Morrison reportedly corroborated accounts by other senior Administration officials that Trump did, in fact, personally push to withhold $391 million in Congressionally-allocated security assistance to Ukraine in exchange for a commitment from its new President to open an investigation into Joe Biden and a conspiracy theory that Ukraine (not Russia) attempted to manipulate the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with new evidence that Donald Trump is losing --- and losing badly --- the "War on Coal", the ominous sign for every state offered by California's wildfires and power blackouts, a very disturbing new study on sea level rise, and a number of major automakers joining Trump in his battle against California and a number of other major automakers on mileage and emissions standards...

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: House votes to condemn Trump 'racism'; Dem Rep. to introduce Articles of Impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2019 6:32pm PT  

As a chaotic vote to condemn Donald Trump's racist comments against four Democratic freshmen Congresswomen of color moved successfully through the House during today's BradCast, we tried --- even if we didn't always succeed --- to focus as much or more on the effects of his Administration's dangerous policies, more than his obnoxious, hateful words as our eternally embarrassing President of the United States. [Audio link to full show is posted below article.]

On Monday morning, as we discussed on yesterday's program, Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr, with a stroke of his pen, took Administrative action to effectively rewrite decades of immigration law and case precedent to bar virtually all asylum claims made on the U.S. southern border. The radical action is now being challenged by the ACLU and, according to many immigration experts, is likely to be found unlawful by the federal courts.

Then, on Monday night, after we got off air yesterday, the Administration enacted another radical measure without notice. Trump's Department of Health and Human Services declared a new regulation would immediately take effect to ban medical services providers who receive Title X funding from referring patients to other doctors for abortions. Federal funds are already banned for use in most actual abortions themselves, but now what critics describe as a "gag rule" will be in place to keep medical professionals from even referring their patients.

Title X, signed in 1970 by President Richard Nixon after bipartisan support in Congress, allocates some $260 million each year to family planning services for four million low income women. The funds are granted to states across the country and to organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

Under the new regulations, as our guest today, Politico healthcare reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN detailed after the rule was first proposed earlier this year, "clinics offering abortions would need to construct physically separate entrances, hire separate staff and maintain separate medical records for its abortion and non-abortion providers --- a requirement reproductive care groups argue is so costly that some, or even perhaps many, sites would be forced to close."

At the top of today's show, news broke that, in the wake of the Administration's new regulations and other rightwing assaults on the Constitutionally-protect right to abortion, Planned Parenthood's recently appointed new President, Leana Wen, has been forced out of her post. The group had previously suggested they would need to forgo federal Title X funding if the rule was formally enacted, as have several states across the country who, like Planned Parenthood are suing to block the regulation.

Nonetheless, even before any of those lawsuits have been tried, the new rule has been placed into immediate effect by HHS, resulting in "mass confusion and chaos" for states and medical care providers alike today, according to Ollstein. "Now, any clinic that makes abortion referrals for patients who request one will have their funding cut," she tells me. "Lots of clinics across the country, including all Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a large portion of the Title X population, said that they can't comply with that. It's against their ethics as doctors to not be able to make a referral that a patient requests. So they said 'We're going to exit this program. We're going to try to rely on our own funding as long as we can. We're going to hope the courts stop this rule, and we're going to try to keep our doors open and serve this low-income population.'" But, as Ollstein notes, "that could be a struggle."

She also explains how the Right is able to justify this blatant intrusion of the federal government between a patient and her doctor, given their years of decrying the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) under the premise that the landmark healthcare law would do just that. Ollstein also goes on to warn that the federal case currently moving through the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that could strike down Obamacare entirely as unconstitutional, is now a very real threat to the law's future --- which even Republicans in Congress are now beginning to panic about.

Also on today's program, we follow the House Democrats move today to pass a non-binding resolution condemning Trump for his racist "go back" to your countries tweets over the weekend, directed towards Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, all of whom are American citizens. Three were born in the U.S. and one, Omar, came here as a child refugee to escape civil war in Somalia. Also today, Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green announced his intention to introduce Articles of Impeachment against Trump once again tonight after the vote on resolution to condemn Trump. He vows to force a floor vote on the Articles within two legislative days.

By show's end, the racism resolution had been passed by Congress with the votes of all Democrats, four Republicans and newly independent former Republican Justin Amash, after what is being reported as a "bitterly partisan brawl" and "one of the most polarizing exchanges" ever on the House floor. The measure comes after both Trump's racist tweets telling the women to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" on Sunday, and his doubled-down assertion on Monday that their criticism of his Presidency and policies demonstrates they "hate America".

In fact, as Philip Bump cleverly highlights in a "Who said it?" test at Washington Post, Trump's own comments about the U.S. during the Obama Administration are far more demonstrative of hating America than anything ever known to have been publicly uttered by the four women he continued to attack on Twitter today. We're happy to associate ourselves with Stephen Colbert's response to all of this from Monday night.

Finally, as if all of that isn't chaotic and ugly enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, after New Orleans dodged catastrophe (for now) from Hurricane Barry over the weekend; the U.S. sees its wettest 12-month period on record (again); and the weekend blackout in NYC reveals (also, again) the fragility of this nation's vulnerable infrastructure...

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Guest: Former Dep. Asst. AG Lisa Graves; Also: Acting SecDef withdraws nomination; S. America power grid collapse did not prevent voting; Swing district Rep. Porter calls for impeachment proceedings...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2019 6:24pm PT  

I've had a lot of legal questions swirling through my head in recent weeks as Trump and his minions have expanded their attempts at blocking all Congressional investigations of his many crimes. On today's BradCast, despite the unprecedented and ever-changing nature of what Trump is attempting, I get a bit of clarity from a guest with a long background in legal, legislative and executive matters regarding all three branches of the federal government. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, however, some quick news of the day. Donald Trump's Acting Sec. of Defense Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has withdrawn his formal nomination after reported difficulties obtaining a standard FBI background clearance due to a history of domestic violence with his former wife. Former Raytheon lobbyist and Trump's Sec. of the Army Mark Esper has been tapped, for now, as the new Acting SecDef.

The widespread --- and still-unexplained --- failure of the electrical grid in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay over the weekend that affected tens of millions in South America, did not, at least, prevent gubernatorial elections from continuing on Sunday in Argentina, where they wisely use HAND-MARKED paper ballots. The election was uninterrupted despite the outage, as voting was able to continue as usual, even if voters needed to rely on mobile phone flashlights in order to see their ballots while filling them out by hand. That, by way of contrast with the utter havoc and chaos that would result from a similar outage or cyber-attack on the U.S. power grid during an election next year, with dozens of states relying on computer voting systems and electronic poll books, including a number of jurisdictions such as Los Angeles County (the nation's largest), which are set to move from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential primary elections. What could possibly go wrong?

Freshman Democratic U.S. House Rep. Katie Porter announced on Monday night that, after weeks of careful consideration, she has decided to call for an official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. Her announcement is significant in that Porter narrowly won election last year in Republican-leaning Orange County, California, defeating her incumbent GOP opponent by just over three points. With more than 65 Democratic members in the House (and one Republican) now calling for impeachment proceedings, Porter is one of only two Democrats from closely divided swing districts where GOP incumbents were ousted last November to call publicly for beginning the Constitutional process of impeachment of our criminal President.

At the same time, the Trump Administration has spent months following the release of the damning, redacted Special Counsel's report from Robert Mueller [PDF], exercising all manner of legal schemes and Presidential tricks to try and obstruct the Congressional investigation of the many criminal obstruction offenses by Trump detailed in Mueller's report. The Administration, with the aid of his new Attorney General and fixer William Barr, has invoked so-called Executive Privilege over the entire report (even the already released material) in an attempt to prevent the unredacted report and its underlying evidence from being disclosed to Congress and the American public. They've also used Executive Privilege to try and block lawful Congressional subpoenas of current and former White House officials, many of whom cooperated as witnesses with the Mueller probe, in hopes of preventing them from testifying in the House or turning over subpoenaed documents. Barr's DoJ has gone so far this week as to offer a legal claim that the IRS need not turn over Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee in defiance of a decades-old statute requiring the IRS to do so. Trump's private attorneys have attempted to block Congressional subpoenas for the President's financial documents at his accounting firm Mazars and at Deutsche Bank, and, during a recent interview with ABC News, Trump said his own FBI Director was "wrong" for insisting that candidates contact the FBI if they are approached by foreign nationals with opposition research on their political opponents.

Those, of course, are just some of the ways that Trump continues to obstruct justice and defy the rule of law. But what are the chances that he will ultimately succeed in his attempts to obstruct Congress? We're joined today by LISA GRAVES, who has worked as a senior advisor in all three branches of the federal Government, to help us better understand some of the key elements of Trump's crimes and his attempts to invoke measures to block accountability for them.

Graves, the co-founder of the non-profit Documented, formerly served as Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the Dept. of Justice, General Counsel in the US Senate, and former Deputy Chief for the US Court system. On today's program, she explains the seriousness of obstruction crimes; how "Executive Privilege" has been invoked by Presidents (successfully or otherwise) in the past, and what the privilege really is and isn't (hint: it's not actually a statutorily or Constitutionally defined thing); whether it's actually possible or justifiable to prevent the disclosure of Trump's tax returns under the DoJ's new pretext; and whether she believes Trump should be impeached.

On criminal obstruction, says Graves: "The fact is that obstruction is a very serious crime. I suppose that if they really wanted to know how serious obstruction is, they could call Nixon back from the grave to ask him how serious this is."

On Barr's collusion with Trump: "It's truly a shame, quite frankly, that under the broken Senate led by Mitch McConnell, that Barr was confirmed to this role that he was most undeserving to hold. And that he now holds basically as a lapdog to this President, willing to his bidding, and to really subvert the true mission of this Justice Department."

On Trump's broad attempted use of Executive Privilege: "The idea that any President could somehow assert privilege over revealing evidence of his own potential obstruction of justice, the crime of obstruction, is simply astounding...There's simply no way that any reasonable interpretation of whatever that privilege might or might not be, would allow a President to hide from Congress --- which expressly has powers under our Constitution to impeach a President and to try a President --- to hide evidence from that Congress that has those express powers to hold a President accountable."

But, on that last point, she offers some "hesitation" thanks to "this Supreme Court which has been stacked by McConnell and the dark money which backs him." I'm also happy to hear her correctly note that "this court is not truly conservative, they are radically reactionary."

Graves also responds to my question about the recent statement from the chair of Federal Elections Commission, Ellen Weintraub, issued in response to Trump's assertion that he needn't contact the FBI if approached by a foreign national with dirt on a political opponent. Weintraub's statement clarified that "It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election." But, isn't that precisely what the Hillary Clinton Campaign (and a Republican primary campaign before it) did during the 2016 election by soliciting oppo-research on Donald Trump from former British spy Christopher Steele? I discuss that and much more with Graves today.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more details on Sunday's South American power grid failure, news of a reported U.S. cyber-offensive against the Russian power grid, bad climate change-related news for the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone", and some very good news from outgoing conservative British Prime Minister Theresa May who is vowing to commit the UK to the world's most aggressive targets to combat our climate crisis by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions while boosting the nation's economy at the very same time...

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Two federal courts uphold Legislative oversight of the Executive Branch...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/27/2019 2:37pm PT  

The federal courts, so far anyway, are holding up well amidst the Constitutional Crisis foisted upon the nation with President Donald Trump's attempts to stymie all Congressional oversight of the Executive Branch and the potentially criminal record of its chief occupant. The Judicial Branch firewall, at least according to one renowned Constitutional law expert --- and at least on the matter of the Congressional subpoenas --- should hold up all the way to even the otherwise very divided U.S. Supreme Court.

On May 20, just seven days after hearing oral arguments, United States D.C. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta issued an erudite 41-page decision [PDF] in which he ordered Donald Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee. Both the subpoena and subsequent court order directs Mazars to provide financial records from Trump and several affiliated entities to the panel. Judge Mehta also denied Trump's request to stay the order pending appeal, reasoning that the President had failed to either cite "potentially persuasive authority" or "present serious legal questions" to overcome nearly 140 years of Supreme Court case law establishing the right of Congress to obtain the requested records as part of its broad investigative authority.

Judge Mehta's rationale was so compelling --- and the "legal" arguments advanced on behalf of the President so specious --- that, when Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, a preeminent constitutional expert appeared on MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell following the ruling, he predicted the President's appeal would not only be swiftly denied by the United States D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal, but that the Supreme Court would either deny the President's request that it hear the case or swiftly affirm the District Court decision. Tribe described the law in this realm as a "slam dunk" and said he'd "expect all nine Justices...would follow the law."

It took only one day for Tribe's sentiment to be echoed elsewhere. Citing Mehta's decision, Judge Edgardo Ramos at the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, issued a bench ruling immediately after oral arguments in a separate, if related case. Ramos directed Deutsche Bank and Capital One to comply with a Congressional subpoena to turn over the President's bank records. That subpoena, according to The New York Times, seeks "to elicit information on potential money laundering and bank fraud." Like Mehta, Judge Ramos refused to issue a stay pending appeal...

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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.

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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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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...

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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...

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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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