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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, September 20, 2021
Sunday 'End of the Roe' Toons
PDiddie's latest, timely, not-yet-banned collection of the week's best political toons...
It's The Fox 'News', Stupid! (Or, How a Fake News
Channel Broke America):
'BradCast' 9/17/21
Guest: Kevin Drum; Also: Catastrophic heat; Fires threaten Sequoia's 3,000-yr old giants...
Whitehouse Presses Wray on FBI Whitewash of Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Probe: 'BradCast' 9/16/21
Also: Debunking CA Recall 'fraud' claim; Unvaxxed surging hospital death panels...
'Green News Report' 9/16/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Nicholas adds insult to injury in LA; Biden continues urgent climate action pitch; States hold plastic producers accountable; PLUS: VT latest to sue fossil fuel giants for lies...
Previous GNRs: 9/14/21 - 9/9/21 - Archives...
NEWSOM WINS LANDSLIDE, GOP'S CA RECALL FAILS: 'BradCast' 9/15/21
Guest: The Prospect's Harold Meyerson; Also: Senate's 'Freedom to Vote Act' mandates hand-marked paper ballots for all!...
Repubs Threaten 'War' Over CA Recall and COVID, Dems Threaten Voting Rights for All: 'BradCast' 9/14/21
Elder's fraud lies; Dems' awesome new election bill; More anti-vax RWers 'bite the dust'...
'Green News Report' 9/14/21
Nicholas drowns Gulf Coast; Biden urges Congress to move on climate infrastructure; EPA protects drinking water; PLUS: Another nail in Pebble Mine's coffin...
Last Call Before Perils, Security Dangers of CA Recall Election: 'BradCast' 9/13/21
Also: No, we weren't 'united' after 9/11. My 'Presidential Speech', written 20 years ago this week. Plus: Callers...
Sunday 'Not Forgetting' Toons
PDiddie's latest, memorable collection of the week's best toons...
CA SoS Asks Election Experts to be 'Cheerleaders' for Recall Election Security Procedures: 'BradCast' 9/10/21
Guests: Emily Levy, Jim Soper; Also: GOP freakout over Biden vaccine mandate...
Thanks for the Death Panels, Anti-Vaxxers!:
'BradCast' 9/9/21
Hospitals now rationing healthcare as Delta surges, even among kids (as DeSantis tries to kill them); Better news in AK; Good jobs numbers; DoJ sues TX; More...
'Green News Report' 9/9/21
Biden presses infrastructure resilience after deadly Ida's devastation; Mindy forms and slams FL in mere hours; PLUS: World finally ends use of leaded gas...
'Too Much Hubris': CA Recall Officials Dismiss Experts' Warning After Software Theft: 'BradCast' 9/8/21
Guest: Dr. Duncan Buell; Also: Trump probe in GA; Pillow Guy is really REALLY stupid...
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...


Also: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler with 'perspective' on Trump DoJ 'spying' on Dem lawmakers, lessons Adam Schiff may learn from it...
By Brad Friedman on 6/16/2021 5:56pm PT  

Our plans for covering the Biden/Putin summit in Geneva today were happily tossed aside late today, with the big news that West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin is apparently willing to compromise on a voting rights bill in the U.S. Senate! Frankly, it's more important right now than Biden/Putin, so they got bumped from today's BradCast. We didn't, however, bump our guest today, who offers some critical insight on the disturbing news that Donald Trump's Justice Department "spied" on House Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, Sen. Manchin has been the only Democrat in the upper chamber unwilling to come on board as co-sponsor of the For the People Act (H.R.1 in the House, where it's already passed and S.1 in the Senate, where Manchin is holding it up.) In fact, he recently declared in a hometown paper op-ed that he opposes the measure (even though he co-sponsored it back in 2019), while also restating his opposition to reform of the filibuster. Such reform would be required to adopt the For the People Act with a simple majority of Democrats in the Senate.

Today, however, Manchin released a memo [PDF] detailing his "Compromise" points for support of the For the People Act! We discuss those points at the top of today's show. They include a whole bunch of stuff that's in the current measure already adopted by the House, along with a few "New" items that he is seeking. Most of them are acceptable (such as "Make election day a public holiday"), where some others (such as a measure for seemingly modest "voter ID" requirements) may be a bit more controversial among some Democrats and voting rights advocates.

All told, however, while the devil remains in the details --- and his simple bullet points offer few --- we see nothing particularly objectionable about Manchin's "Compromise" list. At least nothing that should prevent passage of such a measure ASAP to help counter some of the extreme voter suppression measures currently being adopted by Republicans at the state level around the country in advance of the 2022 mid-terms.

There is still the problem that, as Manchin's memo notes, "federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward." He's right, of course, in general. But the fact is that Republicans have zero interest in finding any such path. There is also the problem that, even if Dems can settle on a bill they (and Manchin) all like, there is little chance in hell that even one Republican will come on board to support it, much less the 10 that would be needed to overcome a GOP filibuster. If Manchin won't agree to compromise on the filibuster --- at least to pass democracy related legislation --- the measure would go nowhere.

Still, one step at a time. Today's news, that Manchin is finally willing, at least, to compromise on the For the People Act, is tremendously encouraging for those of us who care about the survival of democracy in the U.S.

Next, we're joined by long-time, independent national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel, with some critical insight on the news that broke late last week revealing the Trump Dept. of Justice secretly subpoenaed phone, email and text message records of House Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell in 2018. Both were, and are, members of the U.S. House Permanent Selection Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) and both were regarded by our disgraced former President as his political enemies.

In addition to Schiff and Swalwell, the Trump DoJ's shocking secret surveillance also included scores of Congressional aides and even their children, purportedly as part of a probe into leaks regarding a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant taken out during the Obama Administration on 2016 Trump Campaign advisor, Carter Page.

Following the news this week, the House Judiciary Committee announced a formal investigation into what they describe as "a pretext to spy on President Trump’s perceived political enemies". Also, Attorney General Merrick Garland has asked the DoJ Inspector General for a probe into the matter as well.

Wheeler, however, offered some very helpful "perspective on the politicized leak investigation" by Trump's DoJ at her website, which we discuss today. Among the points she notes: This isn't actually "spying"; It isn't actually unprecedented --- well, mostly; and the fact that the secret subpoenas reportedly only sought metadata (records of who and when someone was called, emailed or texted, rather than the actual content of those communications), shouldn't really bother Democratic lawmakers at all, given that they have long defended the collection of "just" metadata in probes by law enforcement officials.

Wheeler notes Schiff has been "championing" the "it's 'just' metadata" claims for years "when he talks about surveilling Americans." But, she explains, "when you get metadata [going back] ten years, that is enormously powerful." Putting limits "on the span on metadata that you can pull without a judicial order" might be "something, maybe that Adam Schiff will have learned his lesson" from here, she quips.

Moreover, the breadth of the secret subpoenas --- for example, obtaining Schiff's records from Apple going all the way back to 2009 for an investigation into a leak that occurred in 2017 --- was wildly broad. And, though the records apparently didn't reveal any of the Congressmembers or their staff (or their children) were guilty of leaking, the FBI and DoJ were legally allowed to hold onto to those records for years, potentially using them for other reasons as well, as it appears Trump's AG Bill Barr may have. As Marcy snarked in her piece on this at Emptywheel: "It’s a pity for Adam Schiff that no one in charge of surveillance in Congress imposed better trackability requirements on FBI’s access of its investigative collections."

Schiff is currently the Chair of HPSCI. At the time of the secret subpoenas, he was the Committee's ranking Democrat and has long been supportive of these types of virtually limitless subpoenas, according to Wheeler.

There are other outrages here, for example, the length of allowable gag orders, preventing companies like Apple from notifying customers, for years, that they are being surveilled, as in this case; the fact that there are no real requirements for narrowly tailoring such broad searches. Wheeler is hopeful that lawmakers may learn from this, now that they have become the targets. Naturally, they are bothered when it happens to them and to journalists, whereas the same invasive practices targeting ordinary Americans receives little attention or concern from lawmakers.

"The standard is there is no probable cause required," for these kinds of searches, she explains. "The FBI could have just said, 'We need all of the phone records for everybody on HPSCI because they are the people who got the document that was leaked,'  and that meets the relevant standard. And that is the standard that Adam Schiff has been telling us for years isn't all that intrusive"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: 'Jackpot' author Michael Mechanic; Also: Trump's politicized DoJ spied on Dems in unprecedented violation of Separation of Powers...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2021 6:30pm PT  

The volume of incoming huge news stories these days is getting to be as overwhelming as it was during the Trump years. But it's also a reminder to anyone who has deluded themselves into thinking that the Trump Era is over, it is anything but. We were planning on covering ProPublica's blockbuster bombshell exclusive this week on today's BradCast --- and we still do --- though it has been somewhat eclipsed by last night's New York Times blockbuster bombshell exclusive. We do our best to cover both today. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First, the remarkable news broken by the Times late on Thursday is that Donald Trump's wildly corrupt Dept. of Justice was a whole lot more corrupt than we have all yet fully appreciated. As it turns out, in an unprecedented move, his DoJ secretly subpoenaed phone, email and text message data of Democratic members of Congress on the House Judiciary Committee. But it wasn't just members that Trump saw as political enemies, including top Judiciary Dem Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell. It was also their staff and even their children, one of whom was a minor, according to the Times' blockbuster.

All of that, even as the Trump Administration spent years blocking Congress from lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents from the White House itself and virtually every Executive branch agency, under the false premise that it would violate the Constitution's Separation of Powers, granting co-equal powers to both the Legislative and Executive branches. All the while, the Trump Administration was actually --- literally --- spying on members of the Legislative branch, while claiming (disingenuously) that Congress was overstepping its bounds by issuing lawful, public subpoenas for testimony to members of the Executive branch.

The stunning news comes after a week in which we previously learned that the Trump DoJ also secretly obtained phone, email and text records of journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN. Democrats claim to be outraged by it all, and vow to investigate. But without real legal consequences, accompanied by sweeping reforms by both Congress and, most immediately, Merrick Garland's Dept. of Justice, the appalling and outrageous and unlawful acts carried out during four years of the Trump Administration will absolutely be carried out again --- and even worse next time --- in the very near future.

Speaking of much-needed, long-overdue action from Congress, the ProPublica bombshell this week revealed that --- based on a "vast cache of IRS information" somehow obtained by the non-profit media outlet on the nation's wealthiest men --- American billionaires have been allowed to avoid almost all federal income taxes for years on their accumulated and still-surging wealth. As the media outlet reports in their jaw-dropping, nearly 6,000 word exclusive this week, "billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing."

Their months-long analysis of the data "demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The IRS records show that the wealthiest can --- perfectly legally --- pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year."

The raw IRS data show that billionaires like Bezos (the world's wealthiest man), Musk, Buffett and the others often pay zero in federal income taxes. Overall, the nation's top 25 wealthiest --- whose fortunes increased collectively by $401 billion between 2014 and 2018 --- paid a tax rate on that accumulated wealth of just 3.4% on average. That, compared to a median tax rate of 14% paid by regular, middle-class Americans, as the U.S. tax code rewards wealth over labor.

The New York Times explains in its own coverage of ProPublica's scoop, that even as Congress and President Biden bicker over tweaks to marginal tax rates, the ultra-wealthy avoid such trivialities all together. "The ProPublica revelations got to a widely understood issue: that the superrich earn virtually all their wealth from the constantly rising value of their assets, particularly in the stock market, and that the sales of those assets are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income from a paycheck...But the analysis also revealed a less recognized strategy employed by the superrich: taking huge loans, using their assets as collateral. It allows them to avoid selling their assets and facing taxation, and even to write off some lending costs. In that way, Mr. Bezos and Mr. Buffett were able to show yearly income losses even as their wealth grew by billions of dollars."

Mother Jones' Senior Editor MICHAEL MECHANIC joins us today with a great deal of context and perspective on this long running, if legal, scam, after spending a couple of years hanging out with the ultra rich while researching his newly published book, Jackpot: How the Super-Rich Really Live --- and How Their Wealth Harms Us All.

Mechanic underscores the scam revealed by ProPublica: "As we've seen from the way the tax code works, wealth begets wealth, and we reward capital over wages. If you make a fortune on a stock, you pay a maximum of 20% when you sell that stock. In the meantime, when you hold it, you don't pay any taxes at all --- it's called 'unrealized gains.' What these billionaires have done is they just borrow against that. They never have to sell, so they never even pay the capital gains tax.  Meanwhile, you and I are getting a paycheck. If we made as much as they did, we'd be charged 37%.  So it's 37% versus 20% for assets, but they're not even paying the 20% because they're not selling the assets. They're taking out low-interest loans, paying a few percent, living on that money." And, yes, even as the cost of the interest would be less than they'd have to pay in taxes if they sold assets to live on their own money instead, they actually get to deduct the cost of those loans from their income taxes!

We discuss, among other things, how all of this actually hurts average Americans; how, because of it, trillions of dollars are not available to the government to spend on healthcare, schools, climate change, infrastructure and other public services; what, if anything, can or will be done about it by Congress --- where Republicans (and too many Democrats) seems to be just fine with a system that rewards wealth over work; whether proposals like Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax of .02 cents on every dollar of wealth by those worth more than $50 million could ever be adopted in Congress or is even Constitutional; and how all of this wealth doesn't even get taxed upon death when it's passed from generation to generation, as Mechanic reports at MoJo today.

"There's always been this argument, from the very beginning, that if you tax investors and business people, those people then won't invest, won't create jobs," Mechanic observes. "It's a spurious argument. If you have $100 million and somebody raises the capital gains rate, does that mean you're not going to start a company? You're not going to put it into the stock market? No, of course not. What else are you going to do with your money, put it under your mattress?!"

And, yes, we also discuss his new book (highly lauded by the legendary Bill Moyers!), which Mechanic describes as "not a polemical book. It's a funny, entertaining, and enraging character-driven narrative, in which I basically hang out with super-wealthy people and their minions. I interview researchers, I talk to a woman who trains billionaires' nannies in physical combat, [and] a guy who builds luxury safe rooms. It's a journey of the American wealth fantasy and how it's gone off the rails."

So, hey, if you're not already enraged enough by today's program, please buy Mike's book! It's out just in time to enrage Dad for Father's Day!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Longtime Koch researcher Lisa Graves; Also: Biden, Obama, Gates Twitter accounts hacked, but Nov. voting should be fine; KS Repub Congressman indicted on four voter fraud counts! Trump should be next...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2020 7:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: New insight on the nearly 50-year long effort to abolish and/or privatize one of the nation's most-beloved, 250-year old institutions. Just another disaster waiting to happen under the Presidency of Donald J. Trump. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First, however, today's show is once again shaken up by breaking news. But some of it, at least regarding Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg --- who has now been released from the hospital and said to be "doing well" --- is good news. The hack of top Twitter accounts today, including Joe Biden's, Barack Obama's, Bill Gates', Elon Musk's and many others, is not such good news. If a multi-billion dollar company like Twitter can't protect its own servers from hackers, how do you suspect local election officials will be doing this November when it comes to protecting complicated computerized voting, tabulation and registration systems?

Speaking of elections, first-term Republican U.S. Congressman Steve Watkins of Kansas was charged on Tuesday night with three felonies charges and a misdemeanor related to voter fraud after he registered to vote (and then did so) using an address at a Topeka UPS store, where he obviously does not actually live.

Donald Trump committed nearly identical voter fraud crimes. Last year, he also specified an address where he does not live --- a commercial business in Florida (Mar-a-Lago) --- as his "legal address" for voting purposes on his voter registration application [PDF] in the Sunshine State, and unlawfully voted via absentee ballot there this year. Rep. Watkins may go to jail for the same crimes that Trump committed. Will Trump be charged with felonies as well?

And, speaking of voting by mail (lawfully or otherwise), that may also be threatened this year, even as states are expanding access to mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. A new, Trump-appointed (and wholly unqualified) Postmaster General has just been seated and, this week, sent a series of disturbing memos to all Postal Workers directing them, essentially, to slow down mail delivery and stop all overtime work, even with package delivery (often of much-needed medication and other quarantine-necessary supplies) rapidly increasing during the COVID crisis.

Louis DeJoy, a Trump donor and our new Postmaster General, has postal workers, including hundreds of thousands of union workers, up in arms about the new mandated slowdowns that will accomplish little more than giving a competitive boost to FedEx and UPS, two of the USPS' top private competitors. That, as it turns out, is likely the whole point, according to our guest today, LISA GRAVES of True North Research. Last week, Graves published an 18-page brief [PDF] at In The Public Interest on the billionaire who has been behind what is now a nearly 50-year effort to privatize the Postal Service.

That billionaire is none other than Charles Koch who has spent decades recruiting a rogues gallery of hard-right "libertarians" and Republicans, beginning in the 1970s, up through the Reagan and Bush Administrations, and now into the Trump Administration, to undermine the USPS despite its mandates specified by the U.S. Constitution and the fact that it is among the most popular and important institutions in the nation.

"Charles Koch has mapped out a very dystopian view of America, and has tried to push it into reality," Graves says, and he and his cronies have been successful. "They oppose having public transportation. They have oppose Amtrak, and any kind of public train system. They want public airports to be sold to the highest bidder and operated by the private sector. It's just one thing after another, including public parks! National parks, local parks, public parks --- these are all anathema to these very fringey rightwing libertarians who have been fueled and funded and stoked by Charles Koch and his billions from Koch Industries."

Graves, a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Dept. of Justice, has been researching and documenting the billionaire Koch's rightwing ideological agenda for years, as he and his late brother David, have worked to undermine and/or buy our democracy and most important public institutions. Her new exposé on Koch and cronies' decades-long effort to kill and/or privatize the USPS is another critical chapter of that important work, and one that highlights, as she describes it today, a perfect "marriage between [his] ideological agenda and greed".

With the USPS now on the brink of insolvency, thanks to the COVID crisis --- and, even more, the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), championed at the time by Koch-backed Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), which handcuffed the independent federal agency --- things could get much worse for the Service very quickly.

Describing Louis DeJoy, Graves tells me today, "It's irresponsible and reckless for them to have put this partisan hack, this Republican fundraiser, at the helm of the Postal Service at the time that it's facing such a great need to have a leader who is committed to it as a truly public institution, versus someone who is behaving in this predatory way to try to basically ruin the Postal Service and push it toward the idea that it should be a for-profit company. It's in the worst possible hands at the worst possible time." But, of course, that is largely the point.

"If it's destabilized right before the election, that sort of destabilization could not happen at a worse time. But it would be convenient for a Trump ally to destabilize it, since Trump is trying to attack the very idea of Vote-by-Mail," Graves warns, along with much more in a must-listen conversation today.

Finally, a few quick words on Tuesday's primary election and runoff results in Alabama, Texas and Maine where, by the way, Sen. Susan Collins will be facing her most difficult re-election bid ever this November against Democrat Sara Gideon, who appears to have sealed up the Democratic nomination to run against Collins in Maine on Tuesday...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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In nearly seven hours of long-awaited, halting responses from the former Special Counsel, the need for impeachment became clearer than ever...
By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2019 5:39pm PT  

As documented by today's BradCast special coverage, former FBI Director Robert Mueller finally offered his long-awaited testimony in the U.S. House during nearly 7 hours of hearings before both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The Republican former Special Counsel confirmed key details of his two-volume, 448-page report [PDF] on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's coordination with that effort and, in most detail, multiple instances of both indictable and impeachable criminal corruption of justice laid out by the report. In frequently halting and often terse responses to members of the two House panels, Mueller, as promised, refused to stray from the "four corners" of his report, issued earlier this year following his two-year probe.

Nonetheless, as heard on today's program, his responses made clear that both Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr --- not to mention the bulk of the Republican Party and their rightwing media outlets --- have been completely misleading the American public with their claims that Mueller's report somehow "exonerated" the President. It did anything but.

"Did you actually totally exonerate the President?" Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler asked during his opening round of questions. "No," Mueller flatly replied, later adding that "the President was not exculpated for the acts that he alleged committed." When Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chair of the Intel Committee, asked, "Your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?," Mueller dryly responded: "It is not a witch hunt."

In fact, as Mueller's testimony made clear to those who watched --- especially to those who didn't bother to read his actual report --- any other American who committed the crimes detailed in the Special Counsel's report would have been indicted on multiple felony counts, as more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors have now stated. But for the Dept. of Justice Office of Legal Counsel's (unsupportable) opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted, Trump would most likely have been charged long ago for his repeated, unlawful attempts to quash the Special Counsel's investigation.

Moreover, near the close of today's long hearings, Mueller offered a chilling warning about what he describes as still-ongoing efforts by Russia and other foreign powers, "as we sit here", to interfere with and manipulate upcoming U.S. elections.

We hold most of the commentary and analysis on all of this for another day in order to bring you extended excerpts on today's program from the detailed questions and answers with members of Congress from both parties and in both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. If you weren't able to catch seven hours of hearings beginning at 8:30am ET on a work day, we'll get you fairly well caught up on the key through-line and the most noteworthy stuff in just under an hour. You're welcome!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Sarah Pierce of Migration Policy Inst.; Also: Trump vetoes Congressional ban on U.S. support for Saudi war in Yemen; Media (and Dems) unequipped to deal with Trump lawlessness; More...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2019 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as the nation awaits Trump Attorney General William Barr's release of some redacted version or another of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Thursday morning, Barr was busy announcing new immigration policies to add to the Administration's ongoing success in creating havoc and a humanitarian crisis on our southern border. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, a few other news items of note and another reminder of how neither the media nor the Democrats in Congress are prepared to adequately respond to the "creeping authoritarianism", as media analyst Eric Boehlert too-generously describes it, that has turned outrageous, impeachable actions by a sitting President into little more than another "wacky Trump story of the day" over the past two years of his chaotic and criminal Presidency.

On Tuesday night, the war-mongering Trump vetoed a bicameral, bipartisan War Powers Resolution adopted by Congress --- for the first time since the 1973 War Powers Act largely delegated Congress' Constitutional war-making power to the White House --- demanding an end to U.S. military aid for Saudi Arabia's war against Yemen, where thousands of civilians have been killed and millions are facing famine. That, despite the murder last year of Washington Post's Saudi journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi at the alleged command of Saudi crown prince and Trump ally Mohammad bin Salman.

Meanwhile, as federal prosecutors seek up to 10 months in prison for actress Felicity Huffman in the college admissions scandal after her recent guilty plea (please note my "Full Disclosure" during the program regarding my personal history with Huffman and her husband William H. Macy), the actions taken by Trump last week alone, as highlighted by Boehlert, are a veritable litany of impeachable offenses.

Nonetheless, while the actress may face jail time for a foolish and illegal offense on behalf of her daughter, our lawless President runs free --- and few, if any, in the media or Congress appear capable of taking on his Constitution-endangering lawlessness with the gravity warranted. Even several of the outspoken progressive freshman Democrats in the House, while supporting calls for impeachment in general, appear to be pulling punches in deference to fearful party leadership. As I argue today (yet again), there is more than enough --- even without whatever findings may come from Mueller --- to, as columnist Dan Savage has long argued, "ITMFA".

Next, we're joined by immigration attorney SARAH PIERCE, Policy Analyst at the Migration Policy Institute to discuss Barr's newly-announced immigration policy changes revealed Tuesday evening. The new measures would bar asylum seekers who have already demonstrated a "credible fear" of return to their home countries to immigration officials from being allowed to seek bond for release until their asylum case can be heard. The process would, she explains, keep such individual in detention for months and even years, despite an already-existing lack of space in ICE detention facilities which has led to their current so-called "catch and release" policies.

The new measures, Pierce explains, would not apply to families seeking asylum or children traveling alone (even as thousands of asylum seeking children remain separated from their parents in the wake of Trump's previous AG Jeff Sessions' so-called "zero tolerance" policies.)

Pierce details what Barr's new policy measures will and won't do; why Barr has the authority to enact them; how they differ from Executive Actions undertaken by the Obama Administration (which Republicans used to object to as "unconstitutional unilateral actions"); why the new policy is likely to be challenged in federal court; how almost all of Trump's border policies are exacerbating the very problems he claims to want to solve; and why he continues to take such extreme and often unlawful and/or unconstitutional measures.

"This Administration just doesn't seem that interested in resolving this systemic problem. Instead, they just want to deter asylum seekers from arriving at the southern border. They want to limit how many ultimately apply for asylum, and then limit how many ultimately receive it," she tells me. "There is a political incentive for this President to look like he's active on immigration, to show that he's engaged in the fight, and fighting for the policies that his base is interested in --- and maybe less of a political interest in actually having results on the ground." Pierce surmises that Trump wishes to "keep hammering in these harsh policies, whether or not they're actually going to stand up in court or be effective."

Finally today, some listener comment in response to my rant yesterday regarding the $700 million raised overnight (now up to nearly $1 billion), from a handful of billionaire families and corporations, to restore the fire-ravaged, 850-year old Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of Paris...

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Guest-Host Angie Coiro with a slew of Mueller news and three new Trump noms; Revisiting the Bush Legacy; Huawei as spy?; And guest Lara Bazelon on justice for the wrongly imprisoned...
By Angie Coiro on 12/7/2018 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm your host - Angie Coiro, host of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Donald Trump's tweet fingers were a'twitchin', as he tried to keep up with the flow of Mueller investigation news while churning out headlines of his own. For starters, he made three key appointments/nominations:

  • Army head General Mark Milley will move over to chair the Joint Chiefs of Staff;
  • Former H.W. Bush Attorney General William Barr is up for confirmation as Trump's next A.G.;
  • Former Fox 'News' talking head Heather Nauert is up to replace Nikki Haley as UN ambassador.

I've got the whys and wherefores on those for you. Also, Trump went into rage mode at word of his former Sec. of State Rex Tillerson's very frank discussion on Thursday at a public interview with CBS news veteran Bob Schieffer. Tillerson's explanation of Trump's incomprehension of basic issues, along with his trademark lack of discipline, provoked high-minded Trump tweets calling Tillerson "dumb as a rock" and "lazy as hell".

The BBC has a good basic rundown if you're trying to catch up with the case of Chinese telecom Huawei's alleged spying. I bring you the highlights plus updated news.

Meanwhile, a Swiss paper has published a conversation with Fox's Tucker Carlson who damned the White House occupant as "incapable" of fulfilling his promises. And he went further: "I don't think he's capable of sustained focus. I don't think he understands the system. I don't think the Congress is on his side. I don't think his own agencies support him."

Then, legal expert and journalist LARA BAZELON joins me to discuss her work on restorative justice for wrongly-convicted parolees. She's covered the topic for years for Slate.com, and has now released a book called Rectify. The full version of our conversation will be posted here over the weekend. Don't wait for that, though - I've brought you a big chunk of it right here on The BradCast!

Plus, so much more! It's a bellyful of news today. Check it out!...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Campaigns fight to 'count every vote' amid uncounted and rejected ballots, undervotes, computer-tabulation concerns
Also: 12 killed in CA shooting; RBG hospitalized; White House lies about, bars CNN journalist; Constitutional Crisis concern mounts after Trump fires Sessions...
By Brad Friedman on 11/8/2018 7:33pm PT  

We're getting tired of being right about this stuff. The political apocalypse we predicted for the day(s) after the 2018 midterm --- from problems counting ballots to Trump's "burn it all down" response to the results --- appears to be playing out in a number of ways today. We have several big news items today regarding reported results in Florida, Arizona and Georgia on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show posted below.]

But first today, we needed to hit several disturbing breaking news headlines...

  • 12 people were killed in a mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, CA, a wealthy suburb just outside of Los Angeles in Ventura County, during it's popular country music college night. The shooter, who took his own life, was reportedly a 28-year old white male Marine combat veteran thought to be suffering from PTSD. Victims are said to include the bar's security guard, an armed Sheriff's deputy, and a survivor of the October 2017 massacre in Las Vegas that killed 58 and left more than 800 wounded;
  • 85-year old U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was reportedly hospitalized on Thursday, after fracturing three ribs in a fall in her office;
  • A three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump Administration's attempt to kill President Obama's 2012 DACA program was likely done so in violation of the law. For now, the protection from deportation for hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought here as children will stay in place, though the Administration has filed for a quick ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court;
  • The White House has barred CNN's Jim Acosta from the White House, after the President's bonkers post-election press conference on Wednesday. The White House lied about their reasons for doing so, despite video of the presser revealing their blatant lie;
  • And Trump's firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the day after the midterms is quickly leading to a full-on Constitutional Crisis, as he has named Matthew Whitaker, a former political operative and opponent of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation, as Acting AG responsible for overseeing that probe. Normally, the Deputy AG --- Rod Rosenstein, who had been overseeing it following Sessions' recusal --- would fill that role. It's feared Whitaker, a Trump loyalist, is likely to move to scuttle the Mueller investigation at any moment.

Meanwhile, the fight to count votes continues to grow predictably uglier in several states following Tuesday's contentious midterms. Democrats are now said to have picked up at least 31 seats in the U.S. House, taking back control of the chamber from Republicans, with analysts forecasting that they could end up winning as many as 38 new seats, as votes continue to be tabulated and canvassed across the country. But there are growing concerns about computer-tabulated results in U.S. Senate and Governors races in at least three different states tonight...

  • In Florida, a "recount" now appears inevitable in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and his Republican challenger Gov. Rick Scott, with the margin between the two at less than 0.22% as of airtime. That would trigger an automatic statewide hand count in the Sunshine State. But there remain many questions about uncounted provisional and absentee ballots, as well as tens of thousands of suspicious undervotes in the Senate race reported by the paper ballot computer tabulators in Broward County. Some 25,000 voters, according to the computers, voted for down-ticket races like Agricultural Commission, but failed to vote in the top-of-the-ticket U.S. Senate race?

    In the state's gubernatorial election, Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis' lead over Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum, has now fallen to 0.47 percent. If it stays below 0.5 percent, it would trigger an automatic machine "recount" statewide. (The margin must be below .25 percent for a hand count in Florida.)

  • In Arizona, there are nearly three-quarters of a million completely uncounted ballots across the state, leaving the results of the highly-contested and very close U.S. Senate race between Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in doubt. Arizona sources tell me that this many still-uncounted early and absentee ballots is now unusual for the state. But with all eyes on whether Democrats can flip the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Jeff Flake blue, a lot more people are now noticing. Sinema currently leads McSally by about one-half of a percentage point, according to the latest computer-tabulated numbers.
  • And in Georgia, attorneys for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams held a news conference today, in which they offered a blistering response to Sec. of State Brian Kemp's declaration of victory in the Governor's race, and his belated resignation as SoS along with it. Team Abrams charges there are thousands of wrongly rejected and still-uncounted ballots in the state, though --- thanks to Kemp's horrific administration of the election --- they are unable to know how many there actually are and how many voters were unlawfully prevented from voting at all. They forcefully repeated Abrams' Election Night vow to fight to assure that every vote is counted, even if legal action is required to ensure it.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with both good news and bad for the environment from Tuesday's midterm elections.

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Also: Trump fires Sessions, but we won't let that derail us today...
By Brad Friedman on 11/7/2018 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some brakes --- some --- may now finally be applied to our ongoing Trump-induced national emergency, in the wake of his election two exhausting years ago. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Despite shameful obstacles placed in front of voters across the country during Tuesday's midterms, Democrats managed to wrestle back control of the U.S. House of Representatives by flipping at least 27 seats, as of airtime, with the results of several other races still unknown, according to unverified computer tabulation in all 50 states. Setting aside partisan issues, women and diverse candidates were the biggest winners yesterday...along with the American people.

At the same time, the GOP reportedly picked up several seats in the U.S. Senate, even while Democrats racked up some very important (and, occasionally stunning!) wins at the gubernatorial level. Those wins and losses (including Scott Walker ousted and Kris Kobach denied!) are likely to reverberate for the next decade, as the next round of redistricting occurs after the 2020 census.

Today we review as many of the noteworthy reported results from House, Senate and Governor races as we can possibly jam into one single show....and then we hit several important ballot initiative results as well.

Moreover --- and, perhaps, as importantly --- we look at several "too close to call" races where no winner has yet been declared by media and/or a number of contests with outcomes worth questioning, including in Florida, Georgia, Texas and elsewhere. (If only every candidate sounded like Georgia's Stacey Abrams at the end of a reportedly very close election night!)

Election Day may be over, but the fight for public oversight of results may just be beginning.

Oh, and as we long predicted would happen if results didn't go Trump's way on November 6, today he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions to begin his move against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Nonetheless, for today at least, we won't allow Trump to hijack our news cycle on The BradCast...

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Guest: David Roberts of Vox; Also: Trump fan charged in mail bombings...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2018 6:45pm PT  

Among the many stories covered on today's BradCast, a bit more than one week from the crucial midterm Election Day. [Audio link follows below.]...

  • A 56-year old white man from Florida, suspected of sending mail bombs to about a dozen perceived enemies of Donald Trump, is arrested and charged with federal crimes. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the alleged MAGABomber, Cesar Sayoc, Jr. turns out to be a huge fan of Donald Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions fails to call it terrorism;
  • In Tennessee, a state court rules in favor of voting rights advocates who sued to require Shelby County (Memphis) election officials to allow thousands of new registrants to cure any alleged omissions or errors on their voter registration applications through Election Day, and to allow those voters to vote on normal, not provisional, ballots. The Republican-majority commission in the very Democratic-leaning county, has said they would appeal the ruling. The matter could be crucial to the tight race for U.S. Senate between popular former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn in the contest to fill the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Bob Corker;
  • In Georgia, massive attempted voter suppression overseen by Republican Sec. of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, should qualify the entire state as a crime scene, at this point. More troubling news along those lines today, as the DeKalb County Election Commission appears to have lost nearly 5,000 vote-by-mail applications. The Democratic Party claims they turned in 4,700 requests, but the County tells the NYTimes they only received 48! The potential disenfranchisement of thousands of voters could effect the tight gubernatorial race between Kemp and African-American Democrat Stacey Abrams. Given the massive suppression attempts in the state, I don't see how a Kemp victory could possibly be seen as legitimate;
  • In Texas, amid the very tight U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke, many of the 100% unverifiable electronic voting machines used across the state are reportedly selecting Cruz during some attempts at straight ticket Democratic votes. State and county election officials confirm the problem with their voting systems made by Hart-Intercivic of Austin has existed for years. Nonetheless, they are blaming voters, rather than themselves or Hart, their private election vendor, for the failure. That, despite conceding that it is those systems, used in many TX counties, that are at the root of the problem for voters;
  • Finally, we're joined by energy and politics writer DAVID ROBERTS of Vox.com, to discuss a very important initiative on the ballot in Washington state this year. Roberts explains Initiative 1631, which, if adopted on November 6th, would create a price for carbon pollution by creating a fee for the use of fossil fuels that cause global warming. The revenue raised by the measure would be used to fund key initiatives to improve the environment and help middle and lower income Americans. Roberts describes, as he recently wrote in much more detail, how the new initiative differs from the revenue-neutral carbon tax which failed at WA polls in 2016, and how the fossil fuel industry is spending tens of millions to crush this effort (just as they did in 2016).

    All of this on a week, which we also discuss, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has staked his 2019 re-election chances on a new national carbon tax and dividend policy. The politically courageous effort was announced this week, despite what is predicted to be a neck-and-neck contest next year with his Conservative Party opponent. The scheme would tax the use of fossil fuels and send all revenue from the measure straight back to Canadians each year in the form of a check.

    Expect to see many more such efforts both in North America and across the world, to place a price on carbon pollution, as the globe continues to warm while fossil fuel companies continue to pollute the atmosphere for free. As Roberts notes: "Civilization is on the line."

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Guest: TPM's Alice Ollstein; Also: ES&S misleads officials after lie about remote access of election systems; Deadly storms slams Midwest...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2018 6:09pm PT  

First up on today's BradCast, a follow-up to yesterday's important show on the wildly vulnerable remote access software installed with computerized election systems sold --- and lied about --- by the nation's top voting system vendor, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), as well as by other U.S. vendors who have helped privatize our public election systems. [Audio link to show follows below.]

After Kim Zetter's report at VICE's Motherboard earlier in the week revealed the company had lied to her about their use of the dangerous software for her New York Times report earlier this year, ES&S apparently sent an extraordinarily misleading email to their "valued customers" (election officials in counties around the nation), hoping to minimize concerns over their ill-considered practices.

As they --- and the other corporate vendors who have taken over our public elections with poorly designed, oft-failed and easily-manipulated computer voting and tabulation systems --- have been doing for years, the letter misinforms their "customers" about the dangers of including remote access software on election management systems which program ballots for electronic voting machines and tabulate votes. We explain how the company --- and, sadly, most of the federal government --- continues to lie and mislead about the dangerous of such systems, all of which, despite claims to the contrary by many officials, are, in fact, vulnerable to both Internet hacking and insider manipulation.

Then, as a new federal court deadline looms in less than a week for the Trump Administration to reunite more than 2,500 children separated from their parents at the border, we're joined by Talking Points Memo reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN, who has been keeping up with a dizzying array of federal court motions, hearings and rulings in recent weeks.

The consequences of Trump's so-called "Zero Tolerance" policy at the border has somewhat fallen off the front pages over the past week of mind-bending Trump/Russia news, so Ollstein catches us up with much that we have missed, including one court loss after another for the Trump Administration and federal judges --- appointed by Democrats and Republicans alike --- quickly losing patience with them. Heartbreaking stories of thousands of separated families continue to come out, as the Administration, from all reports, appears nowhere close to meeting a July 26 deadline to reuinite thousands of children over 5 years of age with their parents.

"It's just a huge mess, and it has been for weeks," she tells me. "The administration has been saying things in court and in legal filings that are just blatantly untrue. They have made promises and not kept them. They've blown past the deadlines for the reunification. So these federal judges are losing their patience and stepping in."

Ollstein describes reports from legal groups and immigration advocates of kids still being snatched from their parents at the border and facing "deep, deep trauma" within government detention, while novel (and seemingly unlawful) new interpretations of asylum laws are challenged in court and Congressional Republicans refuse to take substantive action.

"This has been pushed off the front page by other crazy, breaking news in this crazy administration," she observes. "Obviously, people are still outraged, still upset about this and want to see a solution. But it seems Republicans are not feeling enough heat to take action."

Finally, with way too much heat in the Midwest, extreme weather turned deadly on Thursday, as 17 were killed when a sudden storm overtook an amphibious "duck boat" on Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri, and as a swarm of as many as 27(!) tornadoes seem to have appeared out of nowhere to devastate several towns in Iowa...

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Guest: Author David Daley of FairVote; Plus callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2018 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More disappointing (if not deadly) rulings on voting rights were released on Monday from the U.S. Supreme Court, and callers ring in on the growing outrage of the last few days, thanks to the parent/child separation of Donald Trump's "zero tolerance" policy at the border.

First up today, two long-awaited rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court on partisan gerrymandering were finally handed down on Monday. In both cases, as our guest today, FairVote's DAVID DALEY details, the Court decided to essentially punt the cases back down to lower courts.

Daley, author of RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, which details the GOP scheme to implement extreme partisan redistricting following the 2010 census, explains that Wisconsin Republicans will be allowed to keep their wildly unfair state assembly districts for yet another election, and that, in Maryland, where Democrats admit to having gerrymandered a U.S. House district to their own advantage, that gerrymandered district will also stay in place, almost a full decade after being implemented. That, despite lower courts finding those districts to be unlawful and unconstitutional, and other pending cases --- such as the federal court which found all of the U.S. House districts in North Carolina to have been unlawfully gerrymandered by Republicans --- still on hold and awaiting a hearing at SCOTUS.

"That's what's so frustrating and sad about today," Daley tells me. "They had a buffet of statistical standards and evidence that all pointed in the same direction and that revealed exactly what had happened here, and, instead, they ducked." He explains the basis on which the Court punted in both cases and how "Republicans have essentially been able to run out the clock to steal, in some ways, the entire decade of power, especially in state legislatures around the country."

While the "silver lining" on this today is that the Court did not declare, as some had feared, that it was up to legislatures, not courts, to fix the problem that legislatures themselves created, Daley argues that this was a missed opportunity. The Court's swing-vote, Justice Anthony Kennedy, has long suggested he'd be open to finding partisan gerrymandering unconstitutional once and for all. But, once again, in both of today's cases, he ducked. That means --- should the 81-year old Justice (or any of the others) leave the Court before another case comes up to offer a definitive ruling --- things could become much worse, for generations, if Trump is allowed to appoint a replacement.

Then, as even some Republicans (a precious few) begin to finally turn against the Trump Administration's grotesque and inhumane new policy which separates children from their parents after they are detained crossing the southern border with Mexico --- resulting in thousands of kids being locked away in detention centers in just the past few weeks --- how long can Trump continue to falsely blame the Democrats for his own Dept. of Justice's new "zero tolerance" policy?

Trump and his department chiefs continue to double down on his false claim, despite the growing outrage from Americans after disturbing stories, pictures, and sounds of abuse continue to be reported out of these detention centers around the country, with media finally gaining very limited access to them.

We open the phone lines today to callers on all of those issues, as the chilling rise of Trump's GOP-approved authoritarianism in the U.S. continues to stun the nation and the world...

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Guest: Karen Musalo of the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies; Also: Thousands of children ripped from parents, warehoused in detention centers by U.S. Government for months...
By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2018 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The immigration horror stories of children being ripped from their parents and of asylum seekers fleeing domestic abuse in their home countries are beginning to pour in. We speak today to a longtime immigration attorney at the center of a number of landmark rulings, who is now representing the woman from El Salvador whose grant of asylum was unilaterally overturned this week by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. [Link to audio of the show is posted below.]

There are now more than 11,000 children who have been separated from their parents at the southern border being held in detention centers across the country by the U.S. Government. It's unclear whether that number includes the 2,000 kids taken from their parents over a recent six week period, as reported by AP today, under the Trump Administration's new "zero tolerance" policy, which requires criminal, rather than civil, prosecution against those who cross the border unlawfully.

This week, some members of the media finally received a limited first look inside one of the largest such detention centers --- a converted Walmart superstore in Brownsville, TX --- where some 1,500 boys, aged 10 to 17, are being warehoused. They are living five in each room built for four people, are forced to stay inside for 22 hours a day, and are being held, on average, for about 50 days each in the facility, before they are either sent to foster care or reunited with their parents (if those parents can find them within the government system.)

Media reports this week include horrific stories of babies being ripped from their mothers' arms while breastfeeding and parents being told that officials are simply taking their children to bathe them, before they are shipped away to a detention facility. Somehow, Donald Trump and his White House are managing to blame all of this on Democrats, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions is justifying these new Dept. of Justice policies by quoting the bible. We cover some of those nightmarish stories, reports that an outdoor tent city, in sweltering southwest TX near El Paso, is being planned to store more than 400 more children --- who are now being separated from their parents at an alarming rate --- and a confrontation between reporters and Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders over these matters during a briefing on Thursday.

In a separate, if related issue earlier in the week, Sessions issued a decision, attempting to change decades of U.S. immigration policy regarding asylum claims by immigrants fleeing their home countries on the basis of domestic abuse and gang violence.

We're joined today by KAREN MUSALO, Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies at the University of California Hastings College of Law to discuss the Administration's new policy. Musalo represents "A.B.", the El Salvadoran woman whose grant of asylum by the U.S. Immigration Board of Appeals was unilaterally overturned by Sessions on Monday, along with his announcement of the Administration's cruel new policy which declares that domestic abuse will no longer be an allowable basis for asylum seekers.

The longtime immigration rights attorney pushes back today, detailing the disturbing circumstances under which her client, Ms. A.B., fled her home country, explaining several poorly understood aspects of the U.S. Immigration Court system (which is part of the Dept. of Justice, not the federal Judicial branch --- so, judges work for Sessions), and stressing that the Attorney General is misinforming the public by claiming that asylum seekers fleeing domestic violence will no longer be allowed in the country.

"Clearly what the Attorney General is trying to do with issuing this decision is to send a strong message that cases of women fleeing domestic violence or people fleeing gang violence are not legitimate asylum claims," Musalo tells me. "But for those of us who are experts and understand the law, and read his decision closely --- he may want to send that message, and he did in fact reverse a 2014 precedent that clearly stated that survivors of domestic violence were eligible for asylum --- but there's a whole framework of law that has developed in the 38 years since the 1980 Refugee Act was enacted."

She says: "The reason I'm underscoring that point is that I think he's going to try to bully judges and asylum officers into thinking this is the law, there's no way around it, they should deny these cases --- and also, making lawyers think they shouldn't bring cases on behalf of their clients. So I feel it's very important to point out this is what he's trying to do, but that's not how the law is properly interpreted."

Musalo also stresses that, despite reports of an increase in those seeking asylum from Central America due to domestic abuse since the 2014 change in policy, "The number of claims have not skyrocketed as a result of the Obama Administration recognizing domestic violence as a basis of protection. That's simply not true."

"This has really made people rise up and say, "How can it be in the year 2018 that we have an Attorney General who says that you can send a woman to her death, back to a country where the police and the courts just sit by?," Musalo notes, citing Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras with the "highest homicide rates in the world [and] the highest femicide rates in the world, denoting gender-motivated killings."

There is a lot of important and enlightening information that Musalo imparts today --- more than I can adequately share in a short description here --- so I urge you to listen to the full conversation on today's program.

Finally today, Stephen Colbert, just before Father's Day, had a few thoughts of his own on CBS' Late Show in response to Sessions' use of a bible passage to justify the Administration's cruel and alarming new policy of separating children from their parents at the border. It also should be considered a must-listen...

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Guest: Former HUD official Diane Yentel; Also: DoJ spied on journalist in leak probe, refuses to defend 'ObamaCare' in new lawsuit...
By Brad Friedman on 6/8/2018 6:45pm PT  

It was another very difficult day, with a fire hose of incoming news, figuring out what most needs to be covered, underscored, highlighted and given context to on today's BradCast. Here are some of the stories that made the difficult cut. [Audio link to show follows below.]...

First up: The Department of Justice appears to have ignored its own guidelines for dealing with journalists and their Constitutional First Amendment protections. James A. Wolfe, a 30-year veteran of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in charge of security, has now been charged with three counts of lying to federal investigators as part of an aggressive leak investigation. It should be noted that he has not (at least yet) been charged with leaking classified information, just of lying to investigators.

Related to that indictment, we have now learned that New York Times journalist Ali Watkins, said to have been in a romantic relationship with Wolfe at one time, had at least a year's worth of her phone and email records secretly seized by Trump's DoJ without her knowledge. That means the confidential sources and whistleblowers (above and beyond Wolfe, who, she says, was never a source of classified information for her) have presumably now all been exposed to the DoJ. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that his DoJ has tripled the number of leak investigations carried out by Obama's DoJ, which had already prosecuted more government leakers than all previous Administrations combined.

The turn of events has, justifiably, gravely alarmed journalists and First Amendment advocates, such as the Freedom of the Press Foundation which has decried both the indictments of Wolfe and, in particular, the spying on Atkins, who was given no opportunity to challenge the matter in court. "Having her private records scrutinized and spied on by the government for doing her job as a journalist, and the Justice Department's move should be loudly condemned by everyone no matter your political preference," said Trevor Timm, the Foundation's Executive Director.

Next: In another alarming break with both precedent and tradition, Trump's DoJ announced they would not defend the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") against a lawsuit filed by some 20 Republican state Attorneys General. The DoJ traditionally defends federal laws duly adopted by Congress and signed by the President in all but the most extreme circumstances. According to experts, however, this is an otherwise very weak case against the law which has ensured affordable health care for tens of millions of Americans since its passage in 2010.

We explain the basis for the suit, and how, if successful, it would gut two of the most popular provisions of the ACA, it's restriction on charging the elderly more for health insurance, and on insurance companies denying covering to those with pre-existing conditions.

Three career attorneys at DoJ were removed from the case on Thursday so that a Trump political appointee could take it over and flip the Department's previous position defending ACA and opposing the lawsuit. Nonetheless, some 17 state Attorneys General from Democratic leaning states have interceded to oppose the suit and defend the federal law.

Finally today: As if all of that isn't disturbing enough. A new bill introduced in Congress, supported by the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, would see rent for low-income tenants in federally-subsidized housing increased by an average of 26% --- year after year, according to a new analysis! The "Make Affordable Housing Work Act" introduced in April, would affect roughly four million American households, many of them families with children who could be forced into homelessness by this extraordinary cruel measure which Carson recently described on Fox "News" as "our attempt to give poor people a way out of poverty."

Our guest today, former director of the Public Housing Management and Occupancy Division at the HUD under Barack Obama, DIANE YENTEL, charges that Carson's statement is "as absurd as it sounds. Clearly, increasing rents on people isn't the way out of poverty, it's the way deeper into poverty. And potentially homelessness."

Yentel, now President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, explains the extraordinary measure, noting that "by design, the greatest burden falls on seniors, people with disabilities, and families with young kids." In fact, the measure would, according to AP, "increase the percentage of income poor tenants are required to pay from 30 percent to 35 percent [of their income, and] would eliminate deductions, for medical care and child care, and for each child in a home."

Moreover, while Carson's HUD claims the elderly and disabled would be exempt from the change, Yentel charges that "is just not true", and explains how an estimated 314,000 households stand to lose their elderly or disabled status and will see their rents increased as well.

She goes on to argue that we already face a massive housing crisis for low and middle-income Americans, and that this measure would only make things far worse. "The housing crisis that we're in right now has reached historic heights. It's most negatively impacting the lowest income people. The National Low Income Housing Coalition's research [shows] we currently have a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available for the lowest income people. Nationwide, for every 100 of the lowest-income people who need housing assistance, there's only 35 homes that are affordable and available to them."

Yentel goes on to tell me that most of those who would be effected are already working families, and that while raising the federal minimum wage is a necessary part of making housing affordable for millions of these Americans, it would have to be raised to more than $21 per hour for most to be able to afford a modest, two bedroom apartment. That, even as the wealth disparity between rich and poor in the U.S. continues to grow in the wake of the Trump/GOP tax cuts last year, gifting some $1.5 trillion to the wealthiest of Americans who need it the least and now "by cutting the programs that give the most basic resources, basic benefits, to the lowest income, most vulnerable people in our country."

"I think that's pretty shameful," says Yentel...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'having cake and eating it too'; Also: Probs for voters in CA and SD, as eight states hold primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2018 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As voters head to the polls in eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) on Tuesday, we cover a few "sorta victories" elsewhere for now, including at the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Reports of problems at the polls have already cropped up, however, in South Dakota, where electronic pollbooks failed in eight counties, and here in Los Angeles, where a "random issue with the print job" on paper rosters at polling places, according to the County Clerk, has led to some voters needing to cast provisional ballots.

As we await election results and likely reports of more problems elsewhere, a "sorta victory" for Twitter users who had sued the President after he blocked them on Twitter. Those seven plaintiffs were finally unblocked by Trump after a federal court found last month that he was violating their Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights. But, on the same day those seven were unblocked, the Dept. of Justice appealed the court's ruling anyway.

In Alabama, another "sorta victory" as the story of Sec. of State John Merrill blocking folks on Twitter for pointing out his errors as the state's top election official, has finally been picked up by the corporate media in the state. That, just hours before voters headed to the polls, with Merrill himself on the ballot. The coverage comes after we first reported on Merrill's behavior months ago (when he blocked me for being right about the state's computerized election tabulators), and again last week after he sent me a flurry of insane emails [PDF] in response to a simple query as to whether he planned to unblock followers now that a federal court has found his behavior to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Montgomery Advertiser's weak coverage, however, largely serves to offer the Sec. of State a platform to call election experts and journalists "trolls" (for being correct and polite), while still refusing to unblock them.

In Arizona, a lawsuit against the state for keeping tens of thousands of registered voters off the rolls for failing to provide "proof of citizenship" before being allowed to vote has now been settled with a consent decree that will enfranchise many voters, even if it will still result in thousands being disallowed from voting in state and local contests. So, a "sorta victory" there as well.

And, at the U.S. Supreme Court this week, a "sorta victory" for both anti-gay bigots and civil rights advocates as the long-awaited ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission, a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding reception is finally decided by a narrow 7 to 2 ruling in favor of the baker...sorta.

Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain how Justice Anthony Kennedy, with his majority opinion. tries to "have his cake and eat it too," by largely kicking the can down the road for another day, while ostensibly siding with the baker against the state Commission on rather dubious religious freedom grounds.

The decision, however, also appears to strengthen the existing right of states to bar discrimination by similar businesses on the basis of sexual orientation. So much so, that, under the ruling, the two plaintiffs, according to their ACLU attorney, should be able to walk into Jack Phillip's Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO today and purchase a cake for their wedding anniversary, if they wished. If they are blocked, that would be in violation of the Constitution. Nonetheless, a definitive opinion from SCOTUS on the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will have to wait for another day.

"If the Supreme Court applied the same standard to the [Trump] travel ban case as they have applied to Masterpiece, the Court would have no trouble striking down the travel ban as a violation of First Amendment religious freedoms," Stern tells me, when I ask whether Kennedy's weak religious liberty argument here may apply more to some religions than others. "Unfortunately, I do not think the court is going to be consistent. I think, instead, the Court's going to wind up applying a much stricter standard when it's Christians' rights on the line, than when it's Muslims' rights on the line. And we're all going to be very disappointed in this kind of inconsistent religious liberty --- 'for me, but not for thee.'"

Stern offers smart insight on the Court's opinion(s) --- which were widely misreported elsewhere on Monday --- as well as another decision this week from the Court on the Trump Administration's failed attempt to punish the ACLU for supporting a teen immigrant who sought a lawful abortion after being detained at the border. That ruling, at least, was a complete victory, he explains, not just a "sorta" one.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on two deadly volcanoes in Guatemala and Hawaii, the Administration's new scheme to bail-out the coal industry, Canada's new scheme to nationalize a controversial pipeline, and more distressing fossil fuel and climate change news...

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Callers ring in on all of the above and much more today!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2018 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We have a lot to catch up from over the weekend, and callers with lots of opinions to go with it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, both a Republican federal court panel and the U.S. Supreme Court both rejected Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker's last ditch attempt to block a new U.S. House map forced upon them by the state Supreme Court in February after the previous map enacted in 2011 was determined to be an unlawful partisan gerrymander in violation of the state's Constitution. Those were the last chances for the state GOP to restore the unlawful maps --- which had given them a 13 to 5 advantage in U.S. House seats over the past three elections --- before the candidate filing deadline for the 2018 primary elections in the largely 50/50 swing-state.

At the same time, voters head to the polls in Illinois on Tuesday for the second primary of the crucial 2018 mid-terms. Among the contested races is a primary challenge by progressive Marie Newman to longtime, very right-wing Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski in IL's 3rd Congressional district. The race is said to be statistically tied, as Lipinski fights for his political life, and as the winner of Tuesday's primary in the very "blue" area of Chicago will likely go on to win in November, since the GOP, literally, has only a proud neo-Nazi running on the ballot for the Republican nomination.

But concerns about Illinois' computerized voting, tabulation and registration system continue to haunt officials and undermine democracy and voter confidence --- justifiably. The state's voter registration system was breached during the 2016 election, and remains wildly vulnerable along with the state's voting and tabulation systems. Despite purported concerns of "Russian interference", little has changed in any of our nation's easily hacked, oft-failed electoral systems following the 2016 election.

Then: On last Friday's show, we noted that nobody in the Trump Admin had yet been fired that day. But, shortly after airtime, FBI Deputy Director and former Acting Director Andrew McCabe was fired just two days shy of receiving his lifetime pension after 21 years of service to the Bureau.

We discuss the reasons he was said to have been fired and the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who officially fired him) was supposed to have recused himself from the matter. Nonetheless, Donald Trump rejoiced at the news via Twitter --- since McCabe is a witness against Trump's apparent attempted obstruction of justice in the firing of FBI Director James Comey --- before turning his wrath back against Comey and, for the first time on Twitter, Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Is a newly emboldened Trump preparing again to fire Mueller? If he does, will Congressional Republicans do anything to block him? And what, for that matter, will the American people do --- if anything --- in response to what many (over-confidently) believe would be a Constitutional crisis? We open the phone lines to talk about all of that and much more on today's BradCast!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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