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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 12, 2020
BIDEN PICKS HARRIS; Also: 'Lost' GA Vote Mystery Solved: 'BradCast' 8/11/20
Guests: Heather Digby Parton on Kamala; Jeanne Dufort on GA's scanner fail that missed 1000s of valid votes & how to fix it before Nov...
'Green News Report' 8/11/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
More deadly fossil fuel disasters in Baltimore, off island of Mauritius; Get ready for hyperactive hurricane season; Record July 2020 heat; PLUS: Canada's last intact ice shelf collapses...
Previous GNRs: 8/6/20 - 8/3/20 - Archives...
Failed PR Primary; 100k Infected Kids in 2 Weeks; Trump's Pretend 'Exec Orders': 'BradCast' 8/10/20
Also: 'Back to school' with listener calls, as it all goes from bad to worse...
Overcoming Trump's Vote-By-Mail Obstacles
How states, counties and YOU must help defend our 'last firewall'...
Sunday 'Is What' Toons
This week's toon collection from PDiddie is what it is...
'Mail is Being Slowed Down... Everywhere' Warns Postal Union Prez: 'BradCast' 8/7/20
Guest: APWU's Mark Dimondstein; Also: Progressive activist 'wins' TN's Dem U.S. Senate nom after being outspent 250 to 1...
National Ripoff Association: NY A.G. Sues NRA for Fraud, to Dissolve Org: 'BradCast' 8/6/20
Also: Trump in NY legal trouble too; Economy over a cliff as White House, Repubs dither...
'Green News Report' 8/6/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Trump signs major land bill; Fertilizer caused Beirut explosion; Electricity shutoff ban ending; Shell's offshore hybrid wind farm; PLUS: Northeast climate pact causes healthier kids...
Previous GNRs: 8/3/20 - 7/30/20 - Archives...
Progressive Victories (and Losses) in MO, MI, AZ, WA, KS Primaries: 'BradCast' 8/5/20
Guest: Howie Klein; Also: Disgraced Kobach and Watkins lose in KS; Disgraced Arpaio in running in AZ; GOP Guv restores IA voting rights to former felons...
Death and Destruction; Hope and Change: 'BradCast' 8/4/20
Isaias lands; Trump goes to 11; McSally and Graham in trouble; MUCH MORE...
'Green News Report' 8/4/20
Isaias hits NC amid a pandemic, makes history; Rising seas pushing storms further inland, study warns; PLUS: 15 states clear the air, move to all-electric trucks and buses...
'Election Cyber Surge' Launches Not a Moment Too Soon: 'BradCast' 8/3/20
Guest: Maya Worman of U. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative says help is on the way!; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
Sunday 'Delaying the Inevitable' Toons
Distract yourself with PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
FEC Complaint: Trump Camp Running $170M 'Laundering' Scheme: 'BradCast' 7/31/20
Guest: CLC's Brendan Fischer on yet another extraordinary Trump grift; Also: Stop cowering at his wannabe dictator tweets!...
Monopoly Money: 'BradCast' 7/30/20
Guest: David Dayen on the 'incredible' anti-trust hearing in the House and his new book 'Monopolized'; Also: Cain dies of COVID; Trump tries to distract from newly disastrous economic numbers; Rep. Lewis laid to rest...
'Green News Report' 7/30/20
Trump in TX to expand fossil fuel exports, lie about Biden; Very good news for clean, renewable energy in U.S.; PLUS: Ag officials alarmed by 'mystery seeds' in the mail...
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...


Police-instigated violence sweeps nation amid mostly peaceful demonstrations after police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis...
By Brad Friedman on 6/1/2020 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we start with comments from the Administration's Defense Secretary on Friday: "While no one condones looting, on the other hand, one can understand the pent-up feelings that may result from decades of repression." Well, that was compassionate. Unfortunately, the Friday in question was on April 11, 2003 and the DefSec at the time was Donald Rumsfeld. He was speaking about the looting that took place in Baghdad after the U.S. invaded Iraq. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Back then, apparently, Republicans were able to find common ground with "looters" who, as Rummy lectured the media at the time, were in a transitional phase on their way to freedom. "Stuff happens," in such situations, he said, dismissing the "looting" of priceless artifacts as anything worth being concerned about. Today, the Trump Administration was discussing "dominating" American cities with overwhelming military force to quash largely peaceful demonstrations in support of George Floyd, the 46-year old African-American who was killed by Minneapolis police officers last week after having his neck crushed by an officer for almost nine minutes after allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

Since last week's horrific video-taped killing of Floyd, police have been attempting to "dominate" demonstrators with tear gas, rubber bullets, arrests and other forms of violence, including against more than 100 journalists attempting to do their First Amendment-protected jobs of reporting to the American people about what is going on. (Are they "enemies of the people" or something?)

Had America not been America, the dystopian police state of armed warriors "dominating" citizens amid ethnic unrest would have been reported very differently by the Western Media outlets, as Karen Attaiah, Global Opinions editor for the Washington Post, brilliantly illustrated in her must-read column on Friday. We cover all of that and just some of the police-instigated violence and death across the country --- in state after state --- as well as the damage instigated by provocateurs (white ones, who were anything but civil rights activists), as looting and some fires were played in endless loops during the cable and local TV news "Protest Porn" all weekend long.

After a fairly righteous rant on all of the above --- and some late-breaking news on new curfews tonight here in Los Angeles, national guard troops in its streets, and citizens being targeted by cops on their own front porches --- we open up the phone lines to hear from listeners about what they saw and how they see it.

As Rumsfeld proved in 2003, people see the same things very differently from each other, depending on how they are invested and how the information is presented to them by media. In other words, tune in. Today's show is not an easy one to summarize as the American Carnage amid the Trump Era continues to worsen, with no end in sight...

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

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Guest: FairVote's David Daley; Also: Trump pretends to be 'furious' at Twitter. He isn't. But he is hoping to distract you (and the media)...
By Brad Friedman on 5/27/2020 6:27pm PT  

Desi Doyen is on the money at the end of today's BradCast when she cites a Twitter user who recently asserted: "The GOP has become a virus: it now exists solely to replicate itself." If you've yet to notice, the 160 days between now and the critical 2020 Presidential election will be about little more for Republicans than a desperate attempt to suppress certain voters; to game the results of those who do manage to vote; and, of course, to do anything possible to distract from the fact that more than 100,000 Americans have now tragically died on Trump's watch over just the past 3 months, tanking the economy in the bargain, thanks to his disastrously failed response to the coronavirus. We discuss all of those things on today's program. [Audio link to the full show is posted below.]

First, Trump today is pretending to be furious about the fact that Twitter placed a very polite "Get the facts about mail-ballots" link under two of his misleading tweets on Tuesday about absentee voting fraud. He is feigning outrage, claiming the company is biased against Republicans and that he has the power to shut them down. The RNC and Trump's campaign, of course, are all playing along with the phony fury, because they love playing both victim and strongman at the same time, and because it all helps distract the media from his ongoing unspeakable failures as President.

In fact, not only did Twitter do him a favor by placing those links on his tweets, helping to bring attention to his disinformation (which can also been seen as instructions for his followers on how to defraud the November election), but the company didn't even bother to label his most offensive recent tweets, such as the ones in which he accused MSNBC's Joe Scarborough of murdering a staffer who tragically died in the then-Florida Republican Congressman's office in 2001.

At the same time, Facebook is allowing the Trump Campaign to run hundreds of paid, false political ads making the same misleading claims, as that social media company simply allows false paid-for propaganda ads from politicians, even if they are meant only to disinform, distract and undermine the 2020 election itself.

It should also be noted anytime any media outlet reports on Trump's false claims about absentee voter fraud, that he is a voter fraud criminal himself, after voting by absentee in Florida where he has no legal permanent residence, in violation of state law.

As to voter suppression and Florida, we reported yesterday on the excellent ruling by a federal judge who gutted the GOP state legislature's new poll tax law over the weekend. The measure was enacted to undermine a Constitutional Amendment adopted by state voters in a 2018 mid-term landslide. Despite the enormous bipartisan voter support for Amendment 4, which could allow some 1.5 million former felons to vote in the Sunshine State for the first time, Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his election that same year) has now announced plans to appeal the court's ruling that gutted the poll tax passed by Republicans in hopes of countering Amendment 4.

Florida, however, is hardly the only state in the union with GOP-controlled legislatures attempting to undermine recent bipartisan ballot box landslides. In Missouri, on the heels of the adoption of a landmark state Constitutional Amendment in 2018 meant to end extreme partisan gerrymandering in the Show-Me State, the gerrymandered GOP state legislature is rolling out what our guest today describes as REDMAP 2.0.

We're joined by FairVote senior fellow DAVID DALEY who, literally, wrote the book on the GOP's successful plan to take control of state legislatures in 2010 to implement crippling partisan gerrymanders during redistricting after that year's decennial Census. Now, as Daley detailed in a recent New York Times op-ed, MO Republicans are rolling out an even more invidious scheme to undermine the voters' intent with another Constitutional amendment on this November's ballot.

He describes the plot --- which includes an unprecedented plan to count only voting age citizens during redistricting --- as a "dress rehearsal" for GOP-controlled states in the rest of the country. The plan, which would "dramatically" shift voting power from Democratic-leaning urban areas to white, Republican-leaning rural areas, is being adopted for nationwide roll-out by the rightwing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), he reports.

"It changes the definition of representation and it overwhelmingly tilts this in the direction of conservatives and Republicans," he tells me. "Total population has been the guiding standard that everybody has used for a long time. If you were to change this to say that the baseline that we're going to count is not everybody, but only citizens who are over the age of 18, then what you are doing is eliminating huge numbers of people. You are curating and manicuring an electorate that is older, more rural, more conservative, and of course, whiter."

As Dems are finally trying to win the last battle by rolling back what happened in 2010 a decade later, Daley argues they need to get ready --- immediately --- to figure out how to counter the GOP's newest ugly war on this front.

"I don't think Democrats are paying enough attention to this," he says. "This is a Presidential election year. Democrats are thinking about the White House, about the Senate, about holding on to the House. But there's so much more at risk in this election. This is the last election before these maps are going to be drawn for another decade. ... The Republicans are going to have a 2020 'REDMAP 2.0' plan, and if Democrats are not equally focused on playing offense and defense, they are going to get check-mated."

We also discuss Daley's newly published book, UNRIGGED: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy', documenting recent, critical (and successful!) citizen-led efforts to restore democracy across the nation...

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

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An exclusive conversation with AL's former Dem Governor and former federal (political) prisoner; Also: Sanders suspends Presidential run...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Sanders is out, and a former federal prisoner tries to sound the alarm about deplorable and deadly conditions in our nation's prison system as coronavirus turns jail sentences, even for non-violent offenders, into death sentences --- not to mention the dangers posed to prison workers and their families in the bargain. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up: And then there was one. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced the suspension of his Presidential campaign on Wednesday, leaving Joe Biden the last man standing from about 25 or so Democratic men and women vying for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. In a live-streamed announcement, Sanders said he was leaving the race, though staying on the ballot in the remaining primary states (if they are ever able to vote amid the coronavirus pandemic) in hopes of leveraging as many delegates as possible at the Democratic National Convention (if it is ever able to happen) to continuing moving his progressive agenda forward. We share an extended portion of Sanders statement today, in which he announces his support for Biden, if not yet an explicit endorsement.

Next: While most Americans continue to hunker down in their homes and maintain physical distancing while outside of the home as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise, there are millions held in state and federal prisons (as well as immigration detention centers) who are unable to physically distance themselves from others. The result, not unexpectedly, is an explosion of infections and deaths for both prisoners and prison staff around the country, even as some states have released thousands of non-violent offenders to try and ease over-crowding that is exacerbating the problem and turning incarceration into a potential death sentence for many.

Former Alabama Governor DON SIEGELMAN contacted us last week in hopes of trying to get the word out about the problem, including at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana, where the former Democratic Governor (and "political prisoner") served five years of time before his long-overdue release in 2017.

The minimum security facility at Oakdale has seen an explosion of COVID-19 cases and, according to suspiciously low numbers being reported by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP), currently has more reported cases (35) and deaths (5) than any other federal facility. (Curiously, on its website, the BOP is reporting just 253 federal inmates and 85 BOP staffers infected as of today at more than 40 federal facilities across the country. At the same time, as the NYTimes reported this afternoon, the Cook County jail in Chicago alone has at least 387 cases linked to that one county facility.)

Siegelman, who has been in touch with some of his former cellmates who are now pleading for help, details the conditions that prisoners at the Oakdale facility are forced to live under. "The conditions at Oakdale were bad before the virus started," he tells me. "If people can imagine living stacked, one on top of the other, basically a warehouse."

He details one of the areas he was housed in that inmates call "the submarine room" because bunks are stacked three high and it is like living in a submarine. The bunks, he says, are "so close together you can actually reach out and touch the other inmates if you wanted to. It was so crowded. There's no ventilation. The doors are shut, the windows are locked. There's nothing to protect an inmate from breathing what other inmates exhale." With inmates "in such close proximity, there is no way to protect themselves from someone who has the virus, who is a carrier. For the virus, it's going to be like shooting fish in a barrel."

Siegelman explains that he has been told the facility has not made adequate changes to deal with the outbreak, which is why the ACLU has filed a lawsuit in hopes of allowing many of the non-violent offenders to be released from the facility. While that has happened in a number of state prisons, the federal system is moving intolerably slowly in taking any action at all. In many cases, Siegelman says, prisoners are locked up during pre-trial, before they've been found guilty of anything. In others, they are forced to stay in these dangerous conditions longer than they might otherwise, since many probation and parole boards have been unable to meet due to the pandemic.

He is calling for non-violent offenders, particularly those late in their sentences, to be released immediately. "My question is, why are they there in the first place? If they pose no threat to public safety, if they're non-violent offenders, if they have only a few months remaining on their sentence, if they are at risk because of health reasons, why not let them out? They should have been out already."

The once very popular southern state Governor served from 1999 to 2003, after serving as Alabama's Sec. of State, Attorney General and Lt. Governor. He was charged with bribery-related offenses in which he never received a dime on charges that more than 100 former Democratic and Republican state Attorneys General described as something that was never considered to be a crime until Siegelman was charged with it. He was sentenced by a federal judge who was later arrested and removed from the bench after being found to have beaten his wife.

The evidence suggests, as we've covered his story over the years on air at The BRAD BLOG, that it was a political prosecution which included major prosecutorial misconduct during the George W. Bush era, when Siegelman's Republican rival, Gov. Bob Riley, worked closely with longtime Alabama GOP operative Karl Rove to take him down by any means necessary. That included an almost-certainly stolen election on a Diebold optical-scan tabulator on which results were flipped against him in the middle of the night. All of which Siegelman details in his upcoming book, Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation.

For now, however, Siegelman is fighting for criminal justice reform and imploring listeners to "call your mayors, your governor, and Members of Congress to keep the pressure on to get these people out of jail and out of prisons that pose no public safety risk. They need to say that inmates that are non-violent, that pose no public safety risk, need to be released --- or at least placed in another facility where they are separate from other inmates. .... We would hope that the President of the United States would get on board and take this a little more seriously. But don't hold your breath."

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

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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!... ---




Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon; 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/15/2020 5:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Once again, our plans for Special Coverage of the latest Democratic Presidential Debate is somewhat truncated today to make room for our Special Coverage of impeachment and the new, wildly disturbing evidence released on Tuesday night to go with it. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

We're joined today by guests HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo and fellow longtime progressive blogger "DRIFTGLASS" (otherwise known as @Mr_Electrico on Twitter, or "Bill" to a few friends), co-host of the Professional Left Podcast, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this week.

We start with coverage of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to finally transmit the two Articles of Impeachment against Donald John Trump, as approved by the House last year, over to the Senate for just the third Presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history. With the articles, on Wednesday, she also announced the selection of seven House members who will serve as prosecutors (known as House Managers) for the trial. They include House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, and Reps. Hakeem Jeffries of NY, Sylvia Garcia of TX, Val Demings of FL, Jason Crow of CO and Zoe Lofgren of CA.

Moreover, we discuss the troubling new documentary evidence released late on Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee from the phone of Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. That material, among other things, reveals a bizarre and creepy 2019 text message thread between Parnas and Republican Connecticut Congressional candidate and Trump superfan, Robert H. Hyde, detailing what appears to be Hyde's surveillance of movements of then U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

The texts suggest the now-ousted Yovanovitch, who was eventually recalled for her own safety on the next available flight out of the country, may have been targeted, given the content of the conversation, including remarks such as "They are willing to help if we/you would like a price." Ambassador Yovanovitch, an anti-corruption warrior, was described by Trump in his phone conversation with Ukraine's President as "bad news", claiming "she's going to go through some things."

As if all of that is not enough for one show, we then move on to coverage and analysis of Tuesday night's debate in Des Moines, Iowa, the final Democratic Presidential debate before voting begins in earnest for the 2020 nominating cycle with the Iowa Caucuses on February 3rd. Digby and Driftglass offer insight on all of the candidates who qualified for the debate --- Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer --- and a number of topics discussed on Tuesday night, including the bubbling feud between Sanders and Warren, the many and shifting Democratic positions on the Military/Industrial Complex and our forever wars in the Middle East.

We also discuss the failures of the debate moderators from CNN and the Des Moines Register, the problem with culling down the field to just 6 candidates before a single vote has even been cast, and whether Tuesday's debate has shifted the fortunes of any of the front-runners before voting finally gets under way next month....

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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Dems and Reps charge Admin has no evidence of 'imminent threat' before Soleimani assassination; Ukrainian passenger plane believe downed by Iranian missile; New study confirms new computer BMD voting systems should not be used in 2020; Trump guts landmark environmental rule...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2020 4:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a whole lot of evidence as to why Desi Doyen calls us "your early warning system". [Audio link to show posted beneath summary below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • The deadly and dangerous fallout continues from Donald Trump's assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, with Democratic and Republican members of Congress from both the House and Senate, blasting the Administration for failing to provide evidence of an "imminent attack" which might have legally justified Trump's targeted killing of the second most powerful public official in Iran. Members who attended classified briefings by top Administration officials on Wednesday were outraged by the failure of those officials to provide the information they claimed they had regarding the killing. Without that information, Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's top military general was very possibly in violation of both domestic and international law. But are Democrats enraged enough to bring another article of impeachment over it?;
  • Not all Congressional members were upset by the classified briefing. Some, like Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL), charged that members such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who claimed after the briefing that Trump "recklessly assassinated" Soleimani with "no evidence of an imminent threat or attack", was actually an "Ayatollah sympathizer" who was "divid[ing] our country" (Seriously. That's what he said. Rutherford's challengers this year are Donna Deegan and Christopher Eagle on the Democratic side, and 20-year Navy vet Dr. Erick Aguilar in the August Republican primary in the state.);
  • In related matters, as we surmised based on available evidence during yesterday's BradCast, U.S. officials today are now confirming their belief that the Ukrainian Airlines passenger jet that crashed minutes after takeoff from the airport in Tehran on Wednesday was, in fact, shot down by an Iranian missile. The crash killed all 176 on board just hours after Iran's non-lethal ballistic missile revenge attack on Wednesday in response to Trump's killing of Soleimani last week. Officials in the U.S., Ukraine and Canada (which lost 63 residents in the tragic disaster) believe Iran might have mistaken the passenger flight for a military response from the U.S. that night. Along with the 56 killed during a stampede amidst the massive funeral processions for Soleimani, the death toll of Trump's action has been extraordinary. How any of this has made Americans safer is anybody's guess;
  • In election news, a new, landmark study [PDF] was released this week by computer scientists, cybersecurity and voting systems experts at the University of Michigan. It finds that new, touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) --- which we have long been warning about, and which are now proliferating the country in advance of the critical 2020 Presidential election --- are "extremely unsafe" and vulnerable to undetectable hacking.

    Most alarming (at least to those who haven't heard the same loud warnings from BradBlog.com and The BradCast for many years now) is that the researchers found that in a mock election, where they had rigged the new voting systems to misprint a voter selection on the computer-marked paper ballot printouts, more than 93% of voters failed to notice that their vote had been changed by the computer! 93%!

    And yet, these all-new, vulnerable, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems are now being deployed to battleground states like Pennsylvania and Georgia and North Carolina, and even to the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, in advance of this year's elections! We explain the study's disturbing findings and what you can do to try and avoid having your vote lost to a touchscreen Ballot Marking Device in your home jurisdiction;

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some good news (coal plant shutdowns have save some 26,000 American lives!), scary news (new findings that Trump's EPA and FEMA are not prepared for disasters) and terrible news (the Trump Administration is announcing a new rule that would do away with most environmental impact studies before construction of major federal projects, such as roads, bridges and even oil pipelines!)...

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Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs on the path toward de-escalation with Iran; Also: Lights out (again) for Puerto Rico...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2020 5:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, while "all" is anything but "well", it may at least be a bit better than it was 24 hours ago at this time --- at least if the backing away from the likelihood of an apocalyptic military confrontation in the Middle East serves as any gauge. [Audio link to today's program is posted at end of summary.]

Shortly after air time on Tuesday, Iran launched a 22 ballistic missile fusillade at two Iraqi military bases housing thousands of U.S. troops in response to Donald Trump's assassination late last week of revered Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. And shortly after that, a Ukrainian Airliner made by Boeing fell from the sky and crashed after take off from Tehran's airport, killing everyone on board. While it's still early and unclear what exactly caused the disaster, some experts believe the plane could have been attacked either accidentally or on purpose. We discuss.

As to the Iranian attack on U.S. troops, thankfully there were no casualties, either American or Iraqi, as Iran announced there would be no more military reappraisals for Soleimani's killing, so long as America does not attack the nation again. What turned out to be a largely symbolic revenge attack for domestic consumption by Iran appears to have been an act of mercy to help deescalate a military confrontation touched off late last week by Trump that many feared had been spiraling out of control since the targeted drone strike against Soleimani.

After declaring "All is well!" on Twitter Tuesday evening, amidst the missile assault and deadly airliner crash, Trump offered mercifully brief remarks at the White House on Wednesday morning, flanked by the Vice President and top cabinet members and military officials, to suggest he was taking the off-ramp offered him by the grown-ups in Iran. In between several blatant lies told about the anti-nuclear pact struck with Iran and other leading nations during the Obama Administration and on other related matters, Trump promised new economic sanctions against Iran, but said the nation "appears to be standing down", that Iran and the US should "work together" against their mutual enemy of ISIS, and that the United States is ready to embrace peace."

Whether any of that turns out to be true, given a President of the United States who lies as easily as he breathes, is anyone's guess. But it may allow many of us to breathe a bit easier for the moment, at least until Trump's next unnecessary self-inflicted crisis.

We're joined today by former Deputy Asst. Secretary of State MICHAEL FUCHS, to try and help clear up much of the confusion and anxiety of the last 12 hours since Iran's attack and the six days since Trump's assassination of Soleimani. Among the questions discussed with Fuchs...

  • Was Iran's missile attack, in fact, an "act of mercy"?;
  • Should we take any comfort from Trump's response today?;
  • Will there be additional responses from Iran (including cyberattacks) against the U.S.?;
  • Why were there no grown-ups in either the State or Defense Departments to warn Trump off of his wildly ill-considered murder of Iran's second most powerful official?;
  • What can and should be done to keep a President from being able to do something as irresponsible and dangerous like this in the future?;
  • Haven't both Republicans and Democrats in Congress ceded far too much of their Constitutional war-making authority to Presidents of both parties in recent years?;
  • What can Congress do to prevent this President and future ones from acting so dangerously?;
  • While the deal with Iran to block their path to a nuclear weapon had been a success (Trump's demonstrable lies about it not withstanding), until he unilaterally pulled the U.S. from the deal, wouldn't Iran be within their rights, and indeed wise, to now pursue a nuclear weapon, given the behavior of the U.S.?;
  • With Iranian and Iraqi leaders both demanding that U.S. troops leave the region, and Trump pretending for years that he wants the same, wouldn't this be a great time to find common ground and finally pull out of our many decades-long disastrous adventures in the Middle East once and for all?;
  • Can U.S. diplomacy actually rise in the Trump Administration with his widly hawkish Sec. of State Mike Pompeo?;

Fuchs, a former senior State Department official turned Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Guardian columnist, gamely offers insightful answers to all of those questions and many others at the (hopeful) end of another series of exhausting, unnerving and confusing days during the horrific Trump Presidency.

"It is entirely possible that Iran might respond more to this most recent series of events. They might use cyberattacks, they might use their proxies throughout the region, which is a little bit hands-off, allows them a little bit of plausible deniability in their mind to attack US interests," Fuchs tells me. "But even if there is no immediate other response from Iran, we are still in this very dangerous and precarious moment where tensions between the two countries are incredibly high. And neither side seems, frankly, to have the ability nor the interest, at the moment at least, to finding a sustainable solution to these tensions. So for the moment, we want to hope for a very quick de-escalation, but the bigger problem is still very much there."

Finally, with the ability to breathe just a bit easier (at least for now) for the first time since the turn of the New Year, we turn to some quick coverage of some stories we've had to put off during Trump's latest world-threatening tantrum, beginning with the fact that two-thirds of Puerto Rico has been without power, and hundreds of thousands without clean water, since a major (and unusual) earthquake on Tuesday took out the U.S. island's largest power plant...

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Guest: National security law expert Karen J. Greenberg; Also: McConnell says has votes to begin fixed impeachment trial; 'GNR' returns for 2020!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2020 5:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the world remains on edge in the wake of Donald Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's top military general Qassem Soleimani. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of summary.]

At least 56 mourners reportedly died during a stampede at funeral processions for the revered figured in Iran, were millions turned out to show their respects and to vow revenge against the U.S. Meanwhile, U.S. customs and border officials were reportedly detaining Iranian-American citizens for extended questioning as they re-entered the country; Trump's Secretaries of Defense and State each tried to walk back Trump's twice-threatened war crimes against Iran, should they dare to retaliate; And both Secretaries along with the White House continued to claim, without evidence, that an "imminent attack" that would have killed "hundreds" of Americans was prevented by the killing and served to justify the targeted drone strike against Soleimani and several Iraqi officials; Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell claimed to have the votes necessary to move Donald Trump's impeachment trial forward in the U.S. Senate (which Trump had clearly hoped to distract from with his attack on Iran) without allowing for either first-hand witnesses or subpoenaed White House documents to be presented as evidence; and the Foreign Minister of Iran described the assassination of Soleimani as "state terrorism" and President Trump as "lawless".

On that last point, and many related, we are joined today by KAREN J. GREENBERG, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law and the author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. Professor Greenberg, an expert on national security, terrorism, and civil liberties, detailed in a New York Times op-ed today headlined "Killing Qassim Suleimani Was Illegal. And Predictable.," how American Presidents have been expanding their own executive authority for "targeted killings" and assassination since the post-Watergate Church Committee in the Senate called for reforms to ban such activity by the Executive Branch in 1975. President Gerald Ford, in 1976, issued an Executive Order to ban all political assassinations by the U.S.

Over the years since, however, as Greenberg documents, Presidents from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama have each stretched the definitions of what amounts to an allowable "targeted killing" under certain restricted circumstances in order to prevent an "imminent attack". And while such killings eventually numbered in the hundreds under Obama (and included at least one U.S. citizen, albeit in a different country), Greenberg explains that no President, until Donald Trump, has broadened the definitions to include an out-and-out assassination of a state official, much less one as highly revered as Soleimani in Iran.

"President Obama attempted to expand the authority for targeted killing, excepting it from the category 'assassination', and giving many reasons --- including international law reasons --- for why this would be lawful. And tying it, however, to the War on Terror, which in a way, puts it in a different scenario than what we're now seeing. Because what we've seen this week is a successful attempt to attack a leading member of a sovereign state," Greenberg tells me. "It distinguishes in many ways from what the Obama Administration had done. But what the Obama Administration did was to open the window for that. They did it because they wanted to expand the targeted killing program of George [W.] Bush. Obama said it would cause less trouble, less reprisal on the ground, and therefore less violence against American troops. And they thought it would work in cases where they couldn't capture somebody who they thought was being tremendously detrimental to the United States."

The authority he and other Presidents granted to themselves, however, "essentially bypasses the idea of laws that restrain" and "comes down to 'trust me' government", in that the public must rely on classified evidence by the Intelligence Community --- and, hopefully, its review by members of Congress --- as legal justification for the actions. But Trump, she explains, while previously dismissing the assessments of the intelligence community as dishonest "Deep State" actors, is now citing what he claims to be their evidence and asking us to trust it.

The result of all of this is what Greenberg describes as "a lack of foresight to put in place policies, by any President or any administration that, should it get into the wrong hands, can prove truly dangerous. We've now crossed that threshold." She goes on to note that "The basic bottom line is this is not something that the United States has supported or allowed since the Church Committee" in 1975.

We discuss how Ford's Executive Order, the War Powers Act of 1973 (meant to constrain Presidents from acts of war without approval by Congress), and the Authorizations for Use of Military Force adopted by Congress after 9/11 and again before our invasion of Iraq, have all now been stretched to the point of near meaningless. At the same time, the U.S. has also pushed the boundaries of Geneva Convention restrictions against war crimes to fit its defensive/aggressive needs of the moment, with as little enforcement by international agencies as Congress has brought against U.S. Presidents from both major parties at home for violations of domestic laws and Constitutional mandates.

There is quite a bit in this conversation that can't adequately be summarized here, so I hope you'll tune in for much more.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, which, sadly, picks up with the continuing, record, devastating Australian wildfires which also led our last GNR of the year in 2019, some two and a half weeks ago...

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Trump chooses deadly confrontation with Iran to distract from his impeachment, callers ring in on it; Also: Bolton willing to testify in Senate 'if subpoenaed'; A voter registration heads-up for California!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/6/2020 5:56pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a much needed holiday break! (Thanks to the great Nicole Sandler for helping us to sneak in some down time!) Sadly, things are much worse --- and more dangerous --- now than they were before the end of the new year, thanks to Donald Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani, placing the U.S. --- and the world --- on the brink of yet another potential war. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

The Germans were right last year. Donald Trump is the greatest threat to world peace. Far greater than Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, or Iran's Ayatollah. By far.

The bulk of today's program is devoted to developments and fall-out since Trump's ill-considered attack on Soleimani late last week --- including the tens of millions of Iranians who Trump helped unify to turn out for Soleimani's funeral processions; Trump's threat of war crimes against Iran should they dare to retaliate against what is likely already a war crime; Iran's declaration that the 2015 anti-nuclear agreement which Trump pulled the U.S. out of is now all but dead; Iraq's Parliamentary resolution to throw all U.S. forces out of the country, and Trump threat of sanctions against them if they do; Trump's 2011 (and 2012 and 2013) false predictions that Obama would start a war on Iran to win reelection "because of his inability to negotiate properly"; and calls from listeners on all of the above.

Of course, the real reason Trump decided to kill Soleimani is almost certainly to distract from his end of year impeachment and upcoming trial in the U.S. Senate. On that front, we covered former National Security Advisor John Bolton's announcement today that he would testify as a witness in the trial, if subpoenaed by the Senate (which Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are still blocking, along with all first-hand eye witnesses requested by Democrats).

And also, a few heads-ups regarding voter registration in California (and elsewhere) in advance of March 3rd's Super Tuesday Presidential primaries. If you live in California, and are registered as a "No Party Preference" voter, you will either have to request a Democratic, Libertarian or American Independent Presidential ballot, or register yourself as a Republican, Green Party or Peace and Freedom Party member if you wish to vote in one of their primaries. Otherwise, in California, if you are a permanent Vote-by-Mail voter, you will receive a ballot in the mail without any Presidential options. Tune in to today's show for more details on that and what you need to do about it....very soon! (At least if you wish to avoid voting on 100% unverifiable touchscreens here in Los Angeles County and elsewhere on Primary Election Day!)

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Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with the DOJ's IG report on the Russia probe, and the latest Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing...
By Nicole Sandler on 12/9/2019 4:38pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER back again guest hosting the BradCast on a day filled with breaking news.

From the release of the DOJ's Inspector General's Report on the origins of the Russia probe to the surprise huge story from the Washington Post, 'The Afghanistan Papers: A secret history of the war - At War with the Truth' and lots more, I begin the show recapping it all.

Then we move to the main event, the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Intelligence Committee report on the impeachment inquiry. Daniel Goldman, the lead investigative counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, was the Democrats' lone witness who summarized the Democratic case for Trump's impeachment.

In his 45-minute opening statement, Goldman explained, "We are here today because Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, abused the power of his office, the American presidency, for his political and personal benefit. As part of this scheme, President Trump applied increasing pressure on the president of Ukraine to publicly announce two investigations helpful to his personal reelection efforts... When faced with the opening of an official impeachment inquiry into his conduct, President Trump launched an unprecedented campaign of obstruction of Congress — ordering executive branch agencies and government officials to defy subpoenas for documents and testimony...President Trump’s persistent and continuing effort to coerce a foreign country to help him cheat to win an election is a clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and to our national security."

Next stop, articles of impeachment? Tune in tomorrow for As the Trump Squirms...

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Also: Trump's LA Guv candidate goes down in runoff; Mass shooting in Fresno; Trump pardons war criminals; Impeachment Week 2 preview...
By Brad Friedman on 11/18/2019 5:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open up the phone lines to listeners to get their takes on where they are on impeachment following Week 1 of public hearings in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first, before we go to the phones, a few news items of note from over the weekend and into today, including...

  • In Louisiana on Saturday, Donald Trump lost yet again, with Eddie Rispone, the Republican candidate for Governor that Trump rallied bigly for --- three different times over the past five weeks --- going down to the state's Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards (according to Louisiana's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems which are shamefully used across the entire state.) The embarrassing loss for Trump and Republicans in the Deep South was his second in as many weeks after he also campaigned hard for Kentucky's Governor Matt Bevin. He lost in that state to Democrat Andy Beshear the week before last. If Trump is counting on support from Republican voters in red states --- during his impeachment or his re-election next year --- he could be in for some surprises based on the reported results of this year's off-year elections. Republican U.S. Senators on the ballot in "red" and swing states may also be looking very closely at these statewide results when considering whether to vote for or against Trump's removal in an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate next year;
  • The American Carnage that Trump pretended to promise to end continues apace, with yet another mass shooting on Sunday. The latest was at a football watch party in Fresno, CA where 10 party-goers were shot with 4 of them killed. The shooter(s) remains unknown and at large;
  • And, as the walls close in around Trump, the President of the United States attacked yet another impeachment witness on Twitter over the weekend. This one, Jennifer Williams, is a senior staffer for Vice President Mike Pence who referred to his strong-arming phone call to Ukraine's President as "inappropriate". Trump called her, baselessly, a "Never Trumper". But impeachment and removal of the President is getting more popular, according to a new poll from ABC News/Ipsos with a majority now in favor. And the worst is still to come for Trump as 9 witnesses, including Williams, will be testifying on the Ukraine bribery scandal in open hearings this week, and much of that testimony --- as we break down in detail today --- is expected to be both explosive and quite damaging to the President (who is also now reported under investigation by House legal counsel for lying to Robert Mueller in his written testimony during the Special Counsel's probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump's multiple attempts at obstructing the inquiry.)

Then, we open the phone to callers for the rest of the hour, in order to try and get a read on whether the first week of public impeachment hearings has moved them --- one way or another --- on the matter. While most of our callers say they were in favor of impeachment before it began, they are now even more so following last week's hearings. But a few of them were opposed to impeachment and still are. They offer a few humdingers as to why. I can't adequately summarize those calls and those excuses here, so I won't even try. Tune in and enjoy!

And buckle up for much more BradCast impeachment special coverage in the days ahead...whether you --- or we --- like it or not!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Conyers, Hagan, RIP; Hill resigns; Another House GOPer retires; Trump touts ISIS kill, lies about bin Laden; Former Bolton aide a no-show at impeachment; Pence ducks Ukraine questions; Senate Repubs on edge...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2019 7:03pm PT  

With the avalanche of news over the weekend and right up until airtime, we've got nothing but news on today's show. Most of it emanates out of Congress in one way or another, though we take a short side-journey to debunk a major lie over the weekend by Donald Trump. Even that, however, is ultimately about his fate in Congress as well. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's wildly news-packed BradCast...

  • Former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan died on Monday at age 66, after a three year battle with encephalitis. We share some thoughts on the distinguished record of public service from the state's first female Democratic Senator.;
  • Former Democratic Rep. John Conyers died at the age of 90 on Sunday. The champion for civil rights and equal justice and longtime Chair of the House Judiciary Committee served 53-years in the House, making him the longest-serving African-American in Congressional history, before abruptly resigning in 2017 in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations which he refuted. He stated during his resignation that he believed he was unlikely to receive due process during the peak of the "#MeToo" era. We share a number of his many lasting accomplishments today, including his successful 15-year fight to adopt a national Martin Luther King Day holiday, a years-long effort he began just four days after the civil rights legends' assassination. (Conyers was the only candidate for Congress ever endorsed by MLK.) We also share a number of personal reflections on our years working with Conyers and his office in various ways at The BRAD BLOG, particularly during the darkest years of the George W. Bush Administration. (As mentioned on the program, here is the kind message he sent to the blog in 2005, and here is his guest blog from later that same year.);
  • And, speaking of a lack of due process, rising-star freshman Rep. Katie Hill announced her own resignation from Congress on Sunday, less than a year after flipping the last Republican-controlled House seat in Los Angeles County in her 2018 election. The 32-year old California Democrat was granted a position on Leadership in the House and a plum position on the House Oversight Committee. However, allegations about an affair with a legislative staffer, which she denies, in violation of House rules was at the center of a complaint filed with the House Ethics Committee. The publication of illicit photographs and text messages attributed to the Congresswoman, which she charges were released by her estranged "abusive" husband, made her ability to fight the charges "untenable," according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who praised Hill. Seen as a voice for Millennial voters, Hill describes the released photos as unlawful "revenge porn," while many supporters feel she should not have stepped down;
  • On the GOP side of the aisle, the woes are far worse. Yet another senior Republican House member, Rep. Greg Walden announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election, even as the Oregon lawmaker was thought likely to be reelected to long held seat in . He is the 19th House Republicans, many of them senior members who are current and former committee chairs, to declare their intent to retire next year, all but conceding that Republicans have little or no chance of winning back the U.S. House majority in 2020;
  • On Sunday, Donald Trump announced that a targeted mission by U.S. special forces succeeded in killing long-sought ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria. After Trump's brief announcement, in which claimed that al-Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide vest and "died like a dog", "crying", "whimpering" and "screaming", Trump went on to sing his own praises during an insane question and answer period with the press for a good 45 minutes. He claimed that the killing of al-Baghdadi was a much bigger deal than the killing of Osama bin Laden during the Obama Administration, and that he, unlike anybody else, had called for the killing of bin Laden long before the 9/11 terror attacks, in his book "The America We Deserve".

    Multiple fact-checks by multiple news outlets, however, detail that Trump did nothing of the kind in his book, where he barely referenced bin Laden in a single passage. He did not calling for him to be killed, though he did recognize him as "public enemy Number One," which also serves to debunk his own claim at the Sunday presser that "nobody had ever heard of Osama bin Laden" until 9/11. Trump's bizarre spectacle on Sunday, trumpeting his triumph and offering easily debunked false assertions, serves to add a question mark to his claims about al-Baghdaddi --- Russia's foreign ministry is dubious about the kill --- and otherwise serves to underscore what a horrible fact and character witness Donald Trump is for himself, given the ongoing impeachment inquiry he is now facing in the U.S. House;

  • Speaking of which, former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman, who worked directly under former NSA John Bolton, failed to show up for his deposition before House impeachment investigators today, after seeking a ruling from a federal judge as to whether he was legally required to comply with a House subpoena. His testimony, if and when it happens, is expected to underscore concerns that Bolton reportedly had about the quid pro quo pressure campaign Trump was running against Ukraine while withholding nearly $400 million in military assistance to the country in exchange for a promise from its President to investigate 2020 candidate Joe Biden and a rightwing conspiracy theory concerning Ukraine's involvement in the 2016 Presidential election;
  • The Ukraine scandal left Vice President Mike Pence going to extraordinary lengths to avoid answering --- four times --- a simple question on Face the Nation on Sunday as to whether or not he knew about the strong-arm scheme before Trump's infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as corroborated last week by the explosive testimony of top U.S. envoy to Ukraine Bill Taylor and, apparently, by others as well;

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Guest: Campaign Legal Center's Brendan Fischer; Also: Republican worms turning on impeachment after Mulvaney 'confession'?...
By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2019 5:51pm PT  

The outlook for Donald Trump appears grimmer by the day, but the systemic institutional problems that brought him to office and have now helped bring him to the brink of impeachment are of even larger concern on today's BradCast. [Audio link to today's program is posted below.]

First up, the latest in the House's ongoing impeachment inquiry, as the worm may --- emphasis on 'may' --- be turning, following Trump's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's nationally-televised admission that the Administration withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military aide to Ukraine in an effort to strong-arm the former Soviet nation into investigating Democrats and the 2016 election. Mulvaney's "confession", as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described it, of a pretty clear quid pro quo has knocked several Republicans off their footing, as they struggle to find ways to defend the President's actions.

A number of Congressional Republicans in both the House and the Senate now appear troubled by the admission (which Mulvaney attempted to walk back just hours later) and it has led Ohio's former Republican Governor John Kasich to concede on Friday that he now supports the impeachment and removal of Trump based on the latest information.

Then, we're joined by BRENDAN FISCHER, Associate Counsel at the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in Washington D.C., which filed a formal complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in July of 2018, detailing serious campaign fiance law violations by Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The Soviet-born Ukrainian-Americans were dramatically arrested and indicted at Dulles International Airport just over a week ago by federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, as they were attempting to flee the country with one way tickets to Vienna. Parnas and Fruman were charged [PDF] with using a fake shell corporation to illegally funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars from an unknown source to Republicans, including Trump's America First Action SuperPAC, in a successful effort to gain political power.

They also paid some $500 thousand to Giuliani --- who is working, for free, as Trump's personal lawyer --- and donated to Texas Congressman Pete Sessions, all in an effort to act on the conspiracy theories used by Trump and Giuliani to strong-arm Ukraine. As Fischer lays out in a piece at CLC detailing the backstory of the arrests of the two Trump donors, "Working closely with the president’s personal attorney, Giuliani, their efforts touched two branches of U.S. government, two presidential administrations in Ukraine, at least five countries, numerous individuals in and out of government, and, now, an impeachment inquiry into the U.S. President himself."

"The big giving opened a lot of doors," Fischer tells me. "It got them into political fundraisers where they rubbed shoulders with President Trump's inner circle. That money allowed them to build and deepen a relationship with Giuliani. And they were able to leverage that relationship in order to advance this narrative about Ukraine --- the same narrative about Ukraine that President Trump espoused in his call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, which has now led to this impeachment inquiry."

In other words, despite the ongoing mysteries behind the true source of their funding, they got a lot of bang for their campaign finance bucks used to buy influence with GOP officials and effect actual U.S. foreign policy in the bargain. But, as Fischer explains on today's program, had they not used a phony corporation to do it with someone else's money (and lied about that to the FEC), everything they did appears to be largely perfectly legal under U.S. campaign finance laws! Yes, apparently if you have enough money, you are allowed to use it to buy a major political influence operation that can directly effect U.S. foreign and domestic policy, even out of the White House.

Fischer explains how the dark money operation --- which didn't even include all that much money --- is still being unraveled by federal investigators as the probe (which could even nab Giuliani) continues and, perhaps even more importantly, how it may represent just be the tip of a campaign finance iceberg that illustrates the dangers of our disgraceful campaign finance laws in the wake of the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling in 2010.

"The indictment makes clear that the purpose of the political contributions that Parnas and Fruman made was to buy access and to build influence with powerful political officials in order to advance their own personal financial interests," says Fischer. "But that is not what they are being indicted for. They were indicted because they laundered the funds through shell corporations and then lied about it." So, had they actually been rich dudes who used their own money for this scheme, it would have been just fine? "Yes, it would have been just a beautiful expression of their First Amendment right to free speech."

“This indictment of Parnas and Fruman is really an indictment of our big money political system. It lays out very clearly how powerful political figures operate on this cash-for-access practice. It's become entirely commonplace for wealthy political actors to buy their way into Congressional offices and into the President's inner circle. If you don't have money, your voice does not get heard in our democracy.”

Finally, longtime good government watchdog Fischer also rings in on Mulvaney's stunning announcement that the Administration has officially selected Trump National Doral resort in Miami, Florida as the location for next year's G-7 Summit of world leaders, despite the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution which strictly bans payments to the President from foreign officials --- a point that even Fox "News" (well, at least some there) appear to have a problem with as well...

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U.S. bombs own base in retreat from Kurdish stronghold; Pelosi tells Trump 'all roads lead to Putin'; Elijah Cummings: Rest in Power...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2019 6:26pm PT  

I'm still out of breath from today's BradCast, even after I had to cut a whole bunch of breaking (and not so breaking) news to make room for the sad passing of a much-beloved Congressional giant.

We begin today with the devastating news of the untimely death of 68-year old Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the larger than life Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee whose extraordinary 23-year legacy in Congress and decades of civil rights work before it has left an indelible mark on the nation and our ongoing fight for democracy and equal justice for all.

Next up, as support for the impeachment and removal from office of Donald J. Trump continues to build, chaos continues to unravel in the Middle East following his recent green light for Turkey's invasion of Northern Syria. Trump's approval, given to Turkish President Erdogan on a recent phone call, stunned White House aides, the Pentagon, bi-partisan members of Congress, and our Kurdish allies in the long fight against ISIS in the region.

It also led to an incredibly bonkers threat letter sent by the U.S. President to his Turkish counterpart (which was ignored); the escape of ISIS prisoners being held by the now-endangered and fleeing Kurds; Kurdish forces choosing to ally with Russian and Iran-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as Turkish and Russian forces rolled onto bases previously occupied by the U.S. and the Kurds; the U.S. military being forced to bomb its own military outpost and ammo dump near the Turkish border; bi-partisan condemnation from Congress (including from Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a lopsided 354 to 60 resolution vote in the U.S. House against the Trump policy), Russia's emergence as the new power-broker in the Middle East, and a meeting between Democratic Congressional leaders and the President on Wednesday that ended with furious Democrats storming out after Trump reportedly insulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a "third-rate politician" and suggesting that the Democrats were communist sympathizers in what the Speaker described as a "meltdown" after she charged that "all roads lead to Putin" with this President.

And, amidst that chaos today, after Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were dispatched to Ankara to try and clean up the mess created by Trump with Turkey, a supposed "deal" was struck for a short-term cease-fire to allow the Kurds (and U.S. troops) to retreat, while all but giving Turkey everything that it had sought on the Turkish/Syrian border for years, with the U.S. promising to lift economic sanctions against its NATO ally.

It's all even more disastrous than that, according to Trump's own former Envoy in the Fight to Defeat ISIS who calls the new U.S. policy a "disaster" and "totally incoherent", and a former FBI official who warns that Trump is "spiraling down into a dangerous posture", acting in "almost total isolation" and is now "incredibly vulnerable" to foreign manipulation. But you'll have to both tune in and buckle up for the full details. They are worse than they sound.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with coverage of the lack of climate questions raised at the recent 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Ohio, California's latest plans to foil Trump's fossil fuel schemes in the Golden State and much more!...

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