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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, July 19, 2024
What J.D. Vance Forgot to Tell You (and Lied About) at the RNC: 'BradCast' 7/18/24
Also: More pressure from top Dems for Biden to reconsider candidacy; Judge nixes GOP vote suppression suit in NV; Biden calls for SCOTUS reform, national rent control...
'Green News Report' 7/18/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Toronto crippled by extreme storms, flooding; Heat related costs rising in U.S.; Extreme weather and aging dams; PLUS: Marathon Oil pays record fine under Clean Air Act...
Previous GNRs: 7/16/24 - 7/11/24 - Archives...
Holding on for Dear Life Amid the Political Whirlwind: 'BradCast' 7/17/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton and 'Driftglass' on Presidential politics after the shooting; Dems still fighting over Biden; Trump's weird choice of Vance for VP; the RNC's 'unity' convention...
Cannon's Corruption: 'BradCast' 7/16/24
Guest: Attorney Keith Barber; Also: Menendez 'guilty' on all counts...
'Green News Report' 7/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Texas grid buckles under multiple disasters; Hurricane Beryl damages now estimated at $3 billion; PLUS: Climate crisis flip-flopper J.D. Vance gets GOP Veep nod...
Previous GNRs: 7/11/24 - 7/9/24 - Archives...
Amid the Assassination Attempt Aftermath:
'BradCast' 7/15/24
Also: Trump Stolen Docs Case Dismissed; OH's J.D. Vance named as GOP Veep nom; Callers ring in on all of the nightmares...
Sunday Monday 'Google Project 2025' Toons
After a brief pause following Saturday's assassination attempt of Donald Trump, we are back with our latest collection of last week's best political toons...
Meanwhile... :
'BradCast' 7/11/24
Biden's tenuous candidacy; Trump and Orban; Inflation, prices falling; Climate liar Inhofe dies; California's stunning solar revolution...
'Green News Report' 7/11/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Flooding, power outages, sweltering heat as deadly Beryl fallout continues; New FEMA flood risk standards; PLUS: House Republicans bravely seek Freedom for Refrigerators!...
Previous GNRs: 7/9/24 - 6/25/24 - Archives...
Paging 'Johnny Unbeatable'! Dems (Actually!) in Disarray!: 'BradCast' 7/10/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, 'Driftglass' of 'Pro Left Podcast'...
SCOTUS Immunity Ruling 'As Bad as it Sounds', And Worse: 'BradCast' 7/9/24
Guest: LawDork's Chris Geidner on that and the Court's massive 'power grab'; Also: Record-breaking Beryl; U.S. heat records smashed...
'Green News Report' 7/9/24
Beryl breaks records, slams TX; 140m in U.S. under heat advisories; Big SCOTUS gifts for polluters; PLUS: Biden unveils first-ever extreme heat protections for workers...
So, What Now?: 'BradCast' 7/8/24
Listeners have strong opinions about where we are and how to move forward to save democracy after corrupt SCOTUS rulings and disastrous Presidential Debate...
Debunking MAGA Cult Xenophobia
CANNING: Throughout U.S. history, decent, hard-working immigrants (like me) have contributed to the economy and our nation's security: CANNING
Sunday 'Courting Disaster' Toons
THIS WEEK: Kings and Things! In our special SCOTUS-sized edition of the last impossible week's best political toons!...
Sunday 'Bad Medicine' Toons
THIS WEEK: Trump's hot pants ... Biden's cool reception ... SCOTUS gone wild ... and more in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
'Green News Report' 6/27/24
China flooding; Heatwave, crop failure in India; Disaster upon disaster in NM; On edge for SCOTUS decision; PLUS: Biden climate law creates 300,000 jobs!...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: VA's far-right Rep. Good vows to block certification of apparent narrow primary loss...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2024 6:36pm PT  

Quite literally, as I signed off at the end of yesterday's show, a ton of alerts popped up on my iPhone with some pretty big and surprising news. News that turns out to be far more complex and/or nuanced than many seem to appreciate. So, that's where we pick things up on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST... As voters headed to the polls today in New York, Colorado, Utah and South Carolina for the last group of Congressional Primary Elections before next month's Republican National Convention, we're still keeping our eyes on a primary election from last week in Virginia.

Far-right Republican Rep. Bob Good, Chair of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, is currently just about 375 votes, out of more than 62,500 tallied, behind the even farther-right Republican state Sen. John McGuire in the GOP primary contest in VA's 16th Congressional District. With a margin that slim --- less than 1% --- whoever is certified next week as the winner of the currently "too close to call" race has every right to seek a recount. But Good --- who was opposed in the race by both Donald Trump and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy for various offenses against them --- is already on the offensive, charging that "this race cannot and must not be certified." He is claiming (without evidence, to date) "inappropriate activity" related to drop box voting in Lynchburg City, the largest in the district, that should prevent all votes in the city from being certified. That, even before a recount, apparently.

Good's own colleagues (all largely 2020 election deniers themselves!) appear to be laughing at him. Or worse. "No one is buying it," one House Republican told Axios. "What a loser," said another. "F**k Bob Good," said still another. But a Republican-turned-independent who lost to Good in 2020 may have best summed things up: "I don't find it surprising that an election between an election denier and an election denier would end with one of them denying the election was fair based on conspiracy theories."

In any event, we'll be watching and doing our best to ensure a fair, transparent recount, hopefully by hand and overseen by the public. We'll also be popping a fair amount of popcorn as it all plays out.

THEN... News broke last night that WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange had, at long last, struck a plea deal with the U.S. Dept. of Justice after years in a British maximum security prison fighting extradition to the U.S. and, before that, seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange was facing charges filed in 2019 by Donald Trump's DoJ related to the release, beginning in 2010, of a trove of stolen classified documents, many of which related to alleged war crimes carried out by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. But many of the documents were related to other things that were less than criminal or even newsworthy. And some, in fact, put a number of people in grave danger.

Moreover, as our guest --- a journalist who wrote a number of articles based on WikiLeaks documents herself --- details today, many of the documents were obtained via unlawful hacking that Assange himself appears to have participated in. Other documents published by WikiLeaks, such as a trove of emails from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton's Campaign Chair, are believed to have been hacked by Russia and given to WikiLeaks for publication before the 2016 Presidential election with dubious or no news value whatsoever.

Still, Assange and his supporters have maintained that WikiLeaks is a journalism outfit and, as a journalist, he can't be held to account under U.S. law for simply publishing documents in the public's interest, even classified or stolen ones --- at least if he was not involved in the theft.

But there is far more to the story, as detailed on today's program by longtime, independent national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of EmptyWheel.net. As of airtime, the plea agreement detailing the single charge he agreed to plead guilty to --- reportedly related to the Espionage Act --- had not been released. But Wheeler attempts to clear up some of what she characterizes as propaganda that has long been circulated by Assange's supporters.

"His hacking into other countries started before he reached out to Chelsea Manning," the military intelligence analyst who turned over reams of documents to WikiLeaks, Wheeler tells me. Among the documents from Manning was the famous "Collateral Murder" video, revealing U.S. helicopter pilots gunning down 11 people in Iraq, including 2 Reuters journalists. Wheeler charges that Assange "tried to help Chelsea Manning break a password. Then the hacking conspiracy continued through 2016. In other words, the attempt to get other people to hack things. It was a larger hacking conspiracy that other people pled guilty to and went to jail for." All decidedly not the behavior of an actual journalist, she says.

She details the "very, very deliberate effort on the part of Wikileaks to hide the fact that the hacking conspiracy started before, and continued long after, the Chelsea Manning stuff," and notes, by way of another example, that, "in 2015, WikiLeaks helped Edward Snowden [a national security whistleblower] flee to Russia."

"That's not something journalists do," Wheeler asserts. "You might think it's honorable or heroic, but that's not something journalists ever do."

Of course, if the charge against Assange relates only to journalistic activity, but not hacking, then, Wheeler believes, it would be a serious threat to press freedoms, "this precedent of somebody being prosecuted for publishing something, especially if they've taken the hacking part away entirely."

Wheeler was "reasonably comfortable" if hacking was tied to the charges against Assange, "but once you take the hacking away, yeah, it is a terrible precedent we should all be worried about."

"Regardless of how much you hate Julian Assange, or regardless of whether you think what he did was newsworthy, just the precedent is a worrying precedent," she warns. "That may be what we're left with going forward."

UPDATE 6/26/2024: With the plea agreement [PDF] now released, Wheeler has a detailed article on the "Damaging Precedent of the Julian Assange Espionage Guilty Plea" that, as she explains, fails to focus "on the alleged hacking, which always distinguished Assange from journalists". She notes, "This plea could have been written in a way that limited the damage of the precedent. For reasons we have yet to discover (but which may have been dictated by Assange’s side, not DOJ’s), it was not.":

It's over. Both sides lost. Chelsea Manning especially lost, given the additional time she spent in jail resisting a subpoena for testimony that would never be used at trial.

The question remains how much damage this loss for both sides will do in the future.

FINALLY... Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with Climate Change Gone Wild as summer begins, with disastrous record flooding in the Upper Midwest compounding record heat and wildfires already over much of the country. And, with hurricane season heating up, FEMA warns of a shortfall in disaster funding if Congress doesn't act quickly...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Researcher Victoria Cadostin on 'Citizens for Sanity'; Also: Giuliani arraigned with fake electors in AZ; Defense rests in NY Trump trial; More...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2024 6:42pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after an unavoidable extended weekend due to a family funeral. We've got a lot to get caught up on today. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we get to today's guest, a few quick headlines from over the weekend and through today...

  • Iran's President and Foreign Minister were killed over the weekend in a helicopter crash in foggy conditions in the northern part of the country.
  • The top prosecutor at the International Criminal Court is seeking arrest warrants for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three Hamas leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity in both Gaza and Israel.
  • A British court has granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange the right to appeal his extradition to the U.S. on 17 espionage charges and one for computer misuse related to the publication of classified U.S. documents 15 years ago.
  • The New York Times revealed last week that rightwing Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito flew an upside down American flag --- a MAGA "stop the steal" symbol --- at his home for several days following the Trump-incited January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Nonetheless, the corrupt Alito has failed to recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 election, including the Court's pending opinion on "Presidential Immunity" which has held up Trump's federal trial for months in his indictment on multiple failed attempts to steal the 2020 election.
  • Rudy Giuliani and 11 others, including Kelli Ward, the former chair of the Arizona Republican Party, were arraigned on Tuesday in Phoenix for their roles in attempting to steal the state's 2020 election for Trump. Giuliani and the others face multiple counts each (nine in Rudy's case) related to conspiracy, forgery and fraud.
  • The Defense rested on Tuesday in Donald Trump's 2016 election interference trial in New York, where he is facing 34 felony charges related to the falsification of documents to hide a hush-money payment to a porn star just before that year's election day. The disgraced former President, who repeatedly vowed that he would testify in his own defense at the criminal trial, did not do so. As expected. Closing arguments are next week.
  • Voters headed to the polls on Tuesday for down-ballot primaries and special elections in Kentucky, Oregon, Georgia and California on Tuesday. We'll have any available noteworthy results and problems reports on tomorrow's BradCast.

Then we're joined by VICTORIA CADOSTIN, researcher and writer at the non-profit watchdog organization DOCUMENTED to explain who is behind the new Trump-aligned extremist group known as "Citizens for Sanity". In a weekend article at The Guardian, Cadostin and her colleague Brendan Fischer break down details from newly obtained filings by the dark money group revealing they spent more more than $90 million dollars in the final few months of 2022 alone on a flood of what have been described as "vile, racist and transphobic" ads designed to disinform, terrify, divide and incite the voting public.

"They were one of the biggest election spenders in the last election cycle," Cadostin explains. "What's really alarming about it is that our records show that Citizens For Sanity is housed at the Conservative Partnership Institute, which has been characterized as the 'nerve center' of the rightwing." She describes the group as the homebase for the Trump Administration in exile, as it's led by former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as well as one of his former attorneys (and election fraudsters) Cleta Mitchell. It also shares the same leadership with American First Legal, a rightwing extremist lawfare organization headed up by Trump's MAGA anti-immigrant henchman Stephen Miller.

"CPI represents the creation of MAGA political infrastructure," says Cadostin. "These are all folks who are in the MAGA world very deeply, and who have a lot of power in that world, who are pushing out this messaging and pushing out extremism."

The group spent tens of millions of dollars from unknown donors on ads that air heavily in battleground states and swing districts, and even during highly-viewed mainstream events such as the World Series.

The organization uses racist messaging against Blacks and Latino immigrants in its ads, even while it also targets those same communities with different ads in hopes of suppressing their voters. "It's really a targeted effort to stoke racial hostility and suppress the vote however they can for the base that they don't think will vote Republican or conservative," she says. "While at the same time pushing out messaging that will move a conservative base, a white American base, to show up at the polls. It is very sinister, the way they are twisting this, using this information to mobilize one particular base against another."

"These divisive ads and the spreading of misinformation in order to sway folks in swing districts have a real impact outside of just voting," argues Cadostin. "This kind of messaging supports the rise of anti-trans legislation and violence against trans folks, as well as the rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, legislation and violence. Powerful folks are throwing money around to manufacture racial and gendered hostility in the voting population. And it's also further evidence that attacks on equality and democracy are often coming from the exact same place."

What can be done about any of it, since, as disgusting as it all is, it's all largely been legalized by a string of rightwing SCOTUS decisions over the years? We discuss that as well on today's BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
By Brad Friedman on 11/28/2022 6:29pm PT  

We're back for today's BradCast after some much-needed down time last week over the holiday when we tried to look the other way for a few minutes. We've got a lot of catching up to do.

Among the stories we try to catch up with today...

  • The independent Special Counsel appears to be wasting no time. Even on a holiday. Prosecutor Jack Smith, recently tapped by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee two Trump-related criminal probes by the Dept. of Justice --- on the January 6th insurrection and the classified documents stolen by the former President upon leaving office --- jumped into the documents case on Thanksgiving Day. While we were eating turkey, Smith was filing a one paragraph argument with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals calling out Trump's attorneys for lying during a hearing earlier in the week. That hearing didn't go well for Team Trump, despite being heard by two Trump-appointed federal judges and one appointed by George W. Bush. Smith did not make things any better for them. We explain.
  • Two Trump-backed candidates in Alaska were each declared losers in the U.S. House [PDF] and U.S. Senate [PDF] races last week after weeks of counting in the state's Ranked Choice Voting midterm elections. Democrat Mary Peltola will fill the seat in the U.S. House previously held by the late Rep. Don Young, a Republican who occupied the state's only House seat for nearly 50 years. She defeated the failed former President's choice, the state's failed former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, as well as two other candidates. And, moderate Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted to remove Trump from office during his second impeachment trial last year, was declared to have defeated Trump-endorsed GOP challenger Kelly Tshibaka. Dems will hold a narrow majority in the Senate next year no matter how the U.S. Senate runoff in Georgia between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Trump-endorsed Herschel Walker (R) works out next Tuesday. But, if yet another candidate supported by the disgraced former President crashes and burns next week too, the extra seat in the upper chamber could make a huge difference for Democrats.
  • Meanwhile, in Arizona, former TV news anchor and Trumpette, Kari Lake, is still pretending that she must have won the Governor's election. All of the available evidence suggests Democratic Sec. of State Katie Hobbs was the winner, albeit by less than one percent. The narrow margin, however, is just a bit higher than the trigger for a statewide recount. So, Lake is now suing the Republicans who run Maricopa County (Phoenix), on the basis that the County's print-on-demand ballot system prevented voters from voting. It didn't. Though some GOP voters reportedly chose not to cast their ballots after being told the precinct-based scanners couldn't read the hand-marked paper ballots printed at a number of the County's voting centers. Those ballots were placed into a locked box and scanned back at County HQ. On Monday, the County certified their results, and the usual parade of deplorables issued threats to the officials for doing so. The state is scheduled to certify results next week, which will be followed by a recount in the incredibly tight Attorney General contest. It is currently led by Democratic candidate Kris Mayes over Trump-endorsed Abe Hamadeh who trails by just 510 votes out of more than 2.5 million cast in the state's November midterms.
  • Meanwhile, the world's largest volcano, Mauna Loa, is erupting again in Hawaii...for the first time in nearly 40 years.
  • Finally, we open the phone lines today for a bit of a "reverse BradCast," where callers ring in with stuff they want me and/or the world to know about. Among the topics raised by callers: Israel, Julian Assange, accountability for Don Jr. and Eric, democracy beyond elections, and more...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: ACLU's Ben Wizner; Also: Results from KS abortion amendment recount; Dems quietly outsmart GOP/SCOTUS on climate; More...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2022 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Based on the FBI's unsealed warrant for their recent court-approved search at Mar-a-Lago, we now know that our disgraced former President is being criminally investigated by the Dept. of Justice for violation of at least three federal statutes. One of them --- the one which has arguably received the most headlines --- is the Espionage Act. But that very broad federal statute has been wildly misused by the government over the years to target free political speech and, in modern days, both whistleblowers and journalists. Today, we speak with national security whistleblower Edward Snowden's lead ACLU attorney in hopes of better understanding the controversial law, what's wrong with it, how it needs to be amended, and if it is now properly being applied against Donald Trump. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, however, as primary elections are underway in New York, Florida and Oklahoma today (noteworthy results and problem reports for voters on our next 'BradCast'), we wanted to close a loop on a story we reported last week. Anti-abortion activists in Kansas had hoped for a statewide hand recount of the ballot measure for a state constitutional amendment that failed so thoroughly during their primary elections earlier this month. The measure, trounced by about 18 points, would have allowed state Republicans to ban abortion rights in Kansas. Activists vaguely claimed there was evidence of fraud and asked for a hand-count of 9 of the state's largest counties after failing to raise enough money to count the whole state. That hand-count was completed over the weekend and very few votes changed at all. The "Yes" campaign netted an additional 63 votes out of more than 556,000 tallied by hand in those counties.

We've got some thoughts on that hand count to share today, including a response to the Kansas Sec. of State who claims the hand-count "proves once and for all that there is no systemic election fraud in our state's election process" (it doesn't) and for Democrats who decry lawful, public hand-counts --- paid for by challengers, even if they are loony ones --- as undermining our election system. They don't. In fact, they add confidence to it. Tune in for more.

Next, on Monday night, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump stole at least 300 documents marked as classified, many of them said to be incredibly sensitive national security documents. (Contrast that with the total of 3 documents found to have been sent to Hillary Clinton via her private email address marked as classified, for which Trump and his supporters railed to "LOCK HER UP!" for so many years.) All told, it took a year and a half to get those stolen documents back, after a year of negotiation and pleading by the National Archives, a grand jury subpoena from the DoJ, a personal visit to Mar-a-Lago by its top counter-espionage official, and, ultimately, the FBI search earlier this month.

Throughout that time, the paper reports, "Trump went through the boxes himself in late 2021," before failing to turn them all in and, even now, it is unknown if all of the stolen documents have yet been returned. Whether marked as classified or not --- and whether Trump declassified them or not (he didn't) --- it was still illegal for Trump to have any of them in his possession.

The federal search warrant revealed that he is being investigated for, among other things, violation of the Espionage Act. Writing last week at Politico, the Knight First Amendment Institute's Jameel Jaffer, formerly of the ACLU, argued that the Act has been abused over the years in its application against whistleblowers and journalists, such as Chelsea Manning (who released classified documents revealing war crimes by the U.S. Military), Reality Winner (who released a classified document revealing Russia's 2016 breach of U.S. voter registration systems) and, more recently, WikiLeak's Julian Assange.

But, Jaffer writes, while the overly-broad law desperately needs to be amended or even scrapped entirely, its use against Trump appears to be perfectly appropriate.

We're joined today by BEN WIZNER of the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. Wizner serves as the principal legal advisor for Edward Snowden, the national security whistleblower who, charged with Espionage Act crimes, is currently living in Russia to avoid prosecution.

Wizner explains the many problems with the more than 100-year old law as it was originally used --- before being somewhat amended decades later --- to prosecute thousands of Americans for legitimate political speech. "In fact, the abuses of the Espionage Act at the outset really had something to do with the formation of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920," he tells me. "It was used by Woodrow Wilson's administration to go after pacifists and anti-war activists, labor activists. Eugene Debs was prosecuted and imprisoned under the Espionage Act. So in its early years, it really is associated with all of the excesses of the first Red Scare and the crackdown on dissent, and immigrants and other radicals." (Debs ultimately ran for President from his prison cell, as Trump may now wish to take note.)

"In it's modern history, the core critique of the Espionage Act has been that it doesn't distinguish between selling the country's secrets to a foreign adversary for personal gain and sharing those same secrets with respected journalists in the public interest," Wizner explains. "In the Snowden case, you have somebody who shared information with news organizations. Those news organizations won the highest awards in journalism, a public interest Pulitzer Prize [based on documents from Snowden.]

But the most egregious part of the Espionage Act, as Wizner notes regarding Snowden's case and his exile abroad: "He's not able to argue, if he's brought to court under this law, that he was acting in the public interest, [and] that in fact the law [was] changed as a result of his actions. All of that would be irrelevant and inadmissible under an Espionage Act prosecution."

In other words, Snowden would be disallowed from even offering a defense for what he did. "The first person ever prosecuted under the Espionage Act for leaks to the press in the public interest, rather than trying to provide secrets to a foreign entity was, of course, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, in 1971," Wizner reminds us. (We discussed Snowden's case with Ellsberg on the show back in 2013. Audio and transcript here.)

There is much more to discuss about this bad law and the need to amend it, as several lawmakers from both major parties have long been trying to do. Tune in for that.

As to whether Wizner agrees with his former ACLU colleague, Jaffer, regarding the Espionage Act's correct application against Trump? While he argues "there's no good justification for what Trump did here," Wizner says he is keeping powder dry" regarding Trump's alleged Espionage Act violations. "I am very open to the possibility that when we find out why they cited that statute, I will be a full-throated advocate of what they did in this case. I'm just saying I don't have the information yet to be that full-throated advocate...It matters what those documents were. The fact that they were marked classified is a key fact. I still want to know what was in them."

"I believe Jameel Jaffer is correct that the concerns that the ACLU and other have raised about the Espionage Act are not implicated here," Wizner tells me. "We've been saying you shouldn't equate two different categories --- spies and whistleblowers. What we have here is a third category."

Finally, after some breaking news on President Biden reportedly deciding to forgive up to $10,000 in student loans for some federal borrowers, and Desi Doyen's explanation of how Democrats may have quietly and ingeniously outsmarted both Republicans and their stolen U.S. Supreme Court majority by declaring carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses to be "pollutants" in their recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, she joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the summer of extreme extreme weather continues...

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Setting politics aside, why the evidence-free Trump/GOP claims about Ukraine and the 2016 election actually make no sense whatsoever...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/29/2019 10:05am PT  

Sometimes, when faced with an insidious canard, it isn't enough to either expose the true source of a conspiracy theory or the absence of any facts to support it. In order to thoroughly demolish it, one can identify a reductio ad absurdum --- "a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications to absurd conclusions".

It is indeed important that, throughout the recent public impeachment hearings, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) referred to allegations that CrowdStrike and the Ukrainians hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server in 2016 as a "debunked" conspiracy theory and that none of the State Department and National Security Counsel (NSC) officials who testified during the impeachment hearings could identify any evidence that would support that "debunked" theory. It is also important that, in her opening statement, Dr. Fiona Hill, Trump's own former NSC Senior Director of Russian and European Affairs, proclaimed that Russian intelligence agencies were the source of that "fictional" canard.

While there is ample evidence to support the conclusions offered by Dr. Hill and Chairman Schiff, one can deliver the coup de grâce to the baseless but insidious theory that Ukraine and CrowdStrike hacked the DNC by asking "why" they would do that?...

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

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Special impeachment hearing coverage with guest Heather Digby Parton; Also: Stone found guilty on all counts; Giuliani reportedly facing federal criminal probe for Ukraine natural gas scheme...
By Brad Friedman on 11/15/2019 5:19pm PT  

Our special BradCast coverage of the ongoing impeachment hearings of Donald J. Trump continues today, as 33-year foreign service veteran, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was sworn in as a witness in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee's public hearings. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Yovanovitch, whose parents fled both Stalin's Soviet Union and Nazi Germany offered riveting testimony about being ousted, without explanation, by Trump, amid a smear campaign against her, propagated by Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani, ousted corrupt Ukrainian officials and the President of the United State himself. The coordinated campaign against the virulently anti-corruption Ambassador appears to have been at the center of Team Trump's need to move her out of the way in April of this year so they could try to force Ukraine to announce state probes into Donald Trump's political rivals in exchange for $391 million in military assistance apportioned by Congress and unlawfully withheld from the embattled nation by the White House.

Even as the hearing on Trump's apparent high crimes and misdemeanors played out in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee on Friday afternoon, Trump seems to have added a new potential Article of Impeachment by attacking Yovanovitch on Twitter during her testimony. Committee Chair Adam Schiff, a former federal prosecutor himself, characterized the remarkably brazen attack on the longtime, well-respected Ambassador as attempted "witness intimidation". Even top Fox "News" reporters and anchors were stunned by Trump's attack.

We're joined today once again by award-winning opinion and analysis journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hulaballoo as we analyze, explain and try to make sense of Friday's hearing, along with the aid of several extended clips from the proceedings.

ALSO TODAY: Even as the hearings played out, Roger Stone, a longtime Republican dirty trickster and close Donald Trump ally, was found guilty on all 7 criminal counts for which he was facing trial in federal court as part of the Robert Mueller investigation into Russia, Wikileaks and Team Trump interference in the 2016 election. The charges Stone was found guilty of include lying to Congress and witness tampering and could net the 67-year old GOP operative up to 20 years in federal prison...unless he is pardoned by his friend Trump. He is the sixth top Trump associate to be found or have pleaded guilty to federal felony charges.

At the same time, the Wall Street Journal today is exclusively reporting that Giuliani --- who was at the center of the Yovanovitch smear campaign and what Democrats describe as the bribery scheme to force Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden and his son who served on the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma --- is himself now being criminally investigated by federal prosecutors in relation to a Ukrainian natural gas scheme.

Yes, it is all that insane, but we do our best to try and make sense of it today nonetheless...

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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!

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Broken U.S. goes from grim to grimmer...
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2019 7:04pm PT  

Today's BradCast, not unlike today's news, goes from grim to grimmer...But we find a reason or two to smile every now again. Really! I promise! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the tales told of our broken country on today's program...

  • Breaking right at the top, Trump's Dept. of Justice announces 17 new charges filed against WikiLeak's Julian Assange, "including a virtually unprecedented move to charge him with publishing classified material," which serves as a very serious threat to the First Amendment rights of all journalists and media outlets;
  • Breaking over night, 13 tornadoes were confirmed across Missouri, including a "violent" twister that ripped through its capital of Jefferson City. One near Joplin lead to the deaths of three, eight years to the day after a tornado, one of the deadliest in U.S. history, killed 160 in the southwest MO town. In total, there have been more than 130 tornadoes over about a half-dozen states in just the past week...for some reason;
  • A breakthrough in the Senate on Thursday as the White House finally agreed to support a long-awaited disaster relief bill that does not include more money for Trump's border projects. But it does include $19 billion in actual disaster relief funding to hurricane, tornado, flooding, and wildfire ravaged states in the Southeast, Midwest, California, Puerto Rico and elsewhere after Trump held up the measure for months in hopes of border money and to block much-needed funds for Puerto Rico where communities were wiped out and thousands of Americans killed following 2017's Hurricane Maria;
  • The Trump Administration announced another $16 billion giveaway to farmers --- on top of the $11 billion bailout they were given last year --- as compensation for Trump's ongoing trade war with China that has broken import/export markets around the world, hitting Trump supporters in farm country particularly hard. As it has become clear that President Stable Genius' trade war with China shows no sign of ending any time soon ("They're really easy to win!," he has repeatedly said) and as the cost of his import tariffs (new taxes on Americans) continue to add up, world financial markets are "buckling" again today;
  • And, as all of that is ongoing, Trump appears to be coming even more unglued by the day, as the noose of his own criminality continues to tighten. Witness his insane tweets attacking his own former Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, who he described on Twitter today as "'dumb as a rock' and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State." Maybe. But whoever would hire such an ill-prepared dolt for such an important job must be even dumber, apparently. Trump's comments were in response to testimony the former Secretary of State and Exxon-Mobil CEO gave to Congress this week, in which he detailed for hours how embarrassingly unprepared Trump was for a two-hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2017 G-20 summit;
  • And yet, with all of that, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who charged on Wednesday that Trump was "engaged in a cover-up", vowed at her weekly press conference on Thursday that House Democrats were "not on a path to impeachment". She further suggested that Trump was too unstable to govern and offered prayers once again for him while "wish[ing] that his family or his Administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country." If only there was a way for CONGRESS to somehow "intervene for the good of the country". Maybe Pelosi will come up with something...anything that could be done on that score. In the meantime, she did note that the use of the Constitution's 25th Amendment, which allows a President's cabinet to remove a President who is, for any reason, "unable to discharge the duties of the office" would be "a good idea." But really, if only there was SOMETHING a majority led by Pelosi in the House could possibly do for the good of the country?! We discuss;
  • Next, as if you didn't think this Presidency could get any grimmer, Trump is now said to be considering a Memorial Day weekend pardon of a passel of U.S. military war criminals who were either convicted of horrific crimes via military court-martial or who have been charged and are facing upcoming trials. We detail some of those horrendous crimes and the likely reason that Trump is now reportedly turning the Presidential pardon process on its head to grant unprecedented get-out-of-jail-free cards to war criminals while insulting his own military and breaking his own military justice system in the bargain. (Hint: Fox "News");
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on the week's terrifying tornado swarms and flooding in the beleaguered Midwest, a disturbing new study on sea level rise, Louisiana's plan to retreat from the coast, and some good news and bad (mostly bad) from Trump's EPA...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ UCSF's Dr. Monica McLemore, NARAL's Amy Everitt...
By Angie Coiro on 5/10/2019 5:56pm PT  

I'm Angie Coiro, host of In Deep with Angie Coiro, in for Brad and Desi on today's BradCast.

One story after another is piling out of the House today: subpoenas, threats of fines for unanswered subpoenas, and more. Chelsea Manning is out of jail for now. The Pentagon is shifting important funds to building a border wall. Chobani steps in to save a school lunch program. And the interview by the BBC's conservative Andrew Neil with the right-wing Ben Shapiro is a lesson in how journalism should be done --- and why being coddled by friendly interlocutors in the past did Ben no favors.

Then a deep dive into a topic that will never die: abortion. This week's "heartbeat" law and shenanigans in Alabama are just the latest in the non-stop assault on women's health care and autonomy. UC-San Francisco's DR. MONICA McLEMORE and NARAL's AMY EVERITT tackle the topic from both the medical and legal angles. You can hear the whole one-hour conversation on the In Deep website.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Also: Several other indictments today and, yes, still more unprecedented Trump Administration corruption...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2019 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: You get an indictment! You get an indictment! You get an indictment! Everyone gets an indictment!!! Well, not everyone. At least not everyone who deserves an indictment. But a bunch of folks got indicted today in a bunch of separate federal cases. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

One time Democratic hero and former Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti was charged in a 36-count federal indictment in California for allegedly stealing from clients, not paying his taxes, and committing bank fraud. Former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig was charged by prosecutors in D.C. for lying to federal agents regarding his lobbying work in Ukraine, a case that came out of the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe (where Trump Campaign chair Paul Manafort was previously found guilty of very related charges).

And, of course, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was finally arrested in the U.K. after being kicked out of the Ecuadorean embassy in London (where he's claimed asylum for the past seven years) before being found guilty by a British judge of skipping out on bail while facing extradition for charges of sexual assault in Sweden back in 2012. The Swedish charges have since been dropped, but Assange now faces both prison time in Britain and an extradition request from the U.S. where prosecutors unsealed a one-count indictment [PDF] against him today, as filed under seal in March of 2018.

For now, that charge is an allegation of "conspiracy to commit computer intrusion". Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia claim he attempted to help crack a password for a classified Defense Department computer system to assist then U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea Manning in hacking documents. That, after Wikileaks had already released hundreds of such documents --- many containing evidence of serious U.S. crimes --- taken by Manning, back in 2010. Freedom of the press advocates, however, warn today that the charges being brought by Trump's Dept. of Justice against Assange could be expanded to include normal journalistic activities, which could threaten the Constitutional rights of many media outlets and journalists alike.

We detail today what we know --- and don't --- about the indictment; what we know --- and don't --- about what Assange and WikiLeaks have done (including the release of documents stolen from the DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign in 2016); and what all of this may --- or may not --- mean for U.S. press freedoms as the case moves forward.

Also today: Some good news regarding the death penalty in New Hampshire; Some quick updates on Trump Treasury Dept. Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal (so far) to turn over Trump's tax returns to Congress in violation of the law; Trump Attorney General William Barr's obnoxious, hypocritical, and (so far) evidence-free claim that the Obama Administration was "spying" on the Trump Campaign in 2016; And more disturbing details on the perfidy and corruption of David Bernhardt, the longtime oil and gas industry lobbyist who was shamefully confirmed today by the U.S. Senate as Trump's new Interior Department Secretary.

Finally, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report on Trump's newly signed Executive Orders authorizing himself to, among other things, authorize new oil and gas pipelines without approval from other federal agencies, and to remove states' rights to block energy infrastructure that threatens local water supplies; the second bomb cyclone in weeks to likely bring billions in damages to a number of Midwestern states; and several troubling new studies regarding the acceleration of climate change and glacial ice melt now outpacing previous scientific predictions...

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton on today's House Oversight hearing, revealing evidence from the President's former lawyer, and his damning description of Trump as 'a racist, conman and cheat'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2019 6:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As you may have heard, Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen publicly testified under oath for some 7 hours in the U.S. House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. We're all over it today with special coverage. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the "highlights" were Cohen's detailed allegations --- along with supporting documentation --- revealing that Trump committed felony crimes both before his election and since taking office, including secretly writing checks while President to reimburse Cohen for illicit hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to felony charges related to participating in that felony campaign finance conspiracy, which he says was "directed" by Trump to affect the election by keeping Daniels quiet about the affair she allegedly had with Trump.

Cohen also testified that Trump's son Don, Jr. participated in the conspiracy scheme in the months following the 2017 inauguration. Moreover, Cohen charged that Trump was told in advance by Roger Stone during the campaign that WikiLeaks' planned to release DNC emails said to have been hacked by Russia. He also offered evidence to suggest that Trump was well aware of the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians offering "dirt" on Hillary Clinton before it took place. Trump has previously denied both matters.

Cohen is set to soon begin a three-year federal prison sentence for his part in the hush-money conspiracy and for lying to Congress previously about Trump's plans to build a condominium project in Moscow.

In his damning and masterful opening statement [PDF], some of which we share at length today (and which you should read in full if you missed it), Cohen explains how he is seeking redemption and describes the man for whom he worked for ten years, in no uncertain terms, as a "racist, conman and cheat".

We're joined today by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo to discuss what we now know (and still don't), as well and how both Republican and Democratic lawmakers handled the day's astonishing and historic proceedings.

She describes Cohen's testimony as revealing how he "joined Trump's cult of personality and it destroyed him. The rottenness at the center of this cult of personality around Donald Trump was laid out, exposed. And [Cohen] looked in the eye of the Republicans sitting there on that panel who were defending Trump, saying to all these people, 'This will happen to you too. This is what happens if you follow this man.' It was almost a warning to the country [that] there's a rottenness surrounding this man on every level."

Indeed. Our full special coverage follows below...

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Guest: The Intercept's Akela Lacy on Admin approval for religious discrimination; Also: Kushner was rejected for top secret clearance, but granted it anyway; Stone arrested and charged in Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why Donald Trump finally buckled in his demand for border wall funding and how the unprecedented government shutdown helped distract all of us from the Administration's new policy that endangers children by officially allowing blatant religious discrimination --- at least against religions other than Protestant. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, Trump caved. He finally agreed to reopen the federal government --- at least temporarily --- after five weeks and the longest shutdown in U.S. history. He pretended he'd made a "deal" with Democrats. In fact, he simply agreed to continue funding the government at its previous levels until February 15. He received zero dollars for his border wall in the bargain, while suggesting during bizarre, inaccurate and, at times, graphic remarks at the White House that, without some sort of "deal" for a wall, he would either shut the government down again in three weeks or declare a "national emergency" to take the money to build it from elsewhere.

There were many reasons Trump finally buckled today, including increasing anger from lawmakers in his own party, plummeting poll numbers, news that the IRS was in "panic mode" without enough workers as tax season begins, and flight delays up and down the Eastern Seaboard thanks to a shortage of Air Traffic Controllers, according to the FAA. But there were at least two stories that the Administration, no doubt, was eager to get off the front pages today and over the weekend.

One, a stunning report from NBC News Thursday night that Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner had been rejected for top secret clearance in 2017, for a host of reasons, by two career security professionals at the White House, only to have that security recommendation overruled (along with similar rejections for "at least 30" others!) and granted to him by a Trump appointee. Also, Trump's longtime supporter and dirty trickster Roger Stone --- who helped lead the "lock her up!" charge against Hillary Clinton with the release of hacked emails by WikiLeaks --- was arrested in Florida on Friday morning by FBI officials and charged with seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice by a grand jury convened as part of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Following the GOP's fake "outrage" about national security concerns related to Clinton's private email server, which Stone helped amplify, there's no small amount of irony here with his arrest on the heels of news that the Trump Administration appears to have forgone top level security concerns altogether in order to allow Kushner and others access to the nation's most closely guarded intelligence materials.

Trump's "deal" to temporarily reopen the government may have served to change the news cycle for a few hours, but it didn't endear him to Republican extremists like Ann Coulter, whose critiques late last year led Trump to break his agreement with lawmakers and demand $5.7 billion for a southern border wall resulting in the five week shutdown. Today she deried him as "the biggest wimp ever to serve as President."

While all of these nightmares have been unfolding in recent weeks, few noticed that the Trump Administration's Health and Human Services Department quietly approved a very controversial waiver to allow a Protestant South Carolina group called Miracle Hill Ministries to discriminate against Muslims, Jews, Catholics and atheists in the placement of foster care children. We're joined by criminal justice reporter AKELA LACY of The Intercept today to explain this very real and disturbing outrage which very few have noticed, and how the Administration's partnership with "Religious Right" Republicans under the guise of "religious freedom" is now officially sanctioning religious discrimination in the U.S.

"South Carolina is saying that the foster care statute in HHS rules and regulations does not specify religion as a characteristic on which they are not allowed to discriminate. They say that the foster care program statute says that agencies that receive federal funding can't deny parents based on race, color or national origin, but that because that statute does not specify religion, the request that Miracle Hill accept these families is outside of the law," Lacy tells me, noting that state law in South Carolina bars this sort of discrimination, as do federal non-discrimination laws that the Administration appears to be ignoring.

"The other really scary part of this," she notes, "is that, aside from these individual waivers, eighty Republican lawmakers signed a letter to the President in May asking for even further repeal of these federal protections against discrimination. So this is not just something that is being advocated for on a state-by-state basis. This is a quiet effort from the right to change these rules in the interests of mostly Christian organizations."

Describing a similar waiver request from Texas --- which also seeks to allow discrimination against LGBTQ families as well --- she says (real) advocates of religious freedoms and civil liberties fear the South Carolina precedent is likely now to spread to other states, other federal agencies, and other matters that reach well beyond foster care while much of the media continue to be distracted with the ongoing Trump chaos...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Trump's dark week gets darker; Dems nix SCOTUS nom meetings; Majority of Repubs support 'Medicare for All'; Very bad polling news for GOP; GA county poll closure scam falls apart; Hurricane Lane threatens Hawaii...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2018 6:30pm PT  

Like the news cycle, we're all over the place on today's BradCast with politics, accountability and corruption news, democracy and voting news, green news and court news and much much more. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the many stories covered today...Some Democratic Senators are now refusing to meet with Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, following the convictions of Trump's campaign chair Paul Manafort and the guilty pleas of his personal lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, implicating the President himself in a conspiracy to commit serious criminal campaign finance felonies.

On related fronts today: Trump has now finally admitted (after years of lies about it by him and his staff) that he did, in fact, make hush-money payouts to women before the 2016 election; Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis offers more details on what his client may know regarding Trump's early knowledge of hacked DNC emails before they were released in 2016; and Trump's longtime friend David Pecker [pictured above], who runs the National Enquirer and helped kill stories about Trump's mistresses, is reportedly now cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller after being granted an immunity deal.

Also, a Trump-supporting juror from the first Manafort trial says there was only one person on the jury who prevented him from being found guilty on all 18 counts of tax and bank fraud, versus the 8 on which he was found guilty. A mistrial was declared on the 10 other counts.

A new Reuters poll today finds that more than 70% of Americans now support a "Medicare for All" styled universal healthcare program, including a majority of Republicans. And a new poll from Fox "News" offers an avalanche of bad news for Trump and Republicans in advance of the 2018 midterm elections. (For example, Mueller is more popular than Trump by double-digits, and other numbers that may spell trouble in November.)

Speaking of which, following a public outcry, Randolph County, Georgia, whose two-person Board of Elections is set to vote on a proposal to close 7 of 9 polling places before the November election in the majority African-American county, now admits it has no evidence to support the claim that those precincts need to be closed due to violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Moreover, it has now fired the consultant --- hired on the recommendation of GA Sec. of State Brian Kemp (the Republican nominee for Governor this year) --- who urged the poll closures at, what he initially said, had been Kemp's recommendation.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the Trump EPA's deadly new proposed rule to replace Obama's landmark "Clean Power Plan", the Administration's spate of recent court failures blocking their attempts to overturn environmental protections, and the latest news on Hurricane Lane which is bearing down on Hawaii and threatening record rainfall among other potential dangers which, the Governor warns, could cripple the island for several weeks...

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Guest: James Goodwin of Center for Progressive Reform; Also: DNC files Trump/Russia 'conspiracy' lawsuit; Wells Fargo fined $1B; Comey memos reveal Trump wants to jail journalists...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2018 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As usual, the big headlines obscure the most disturbing ones. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee filed a surprise federal lawsuit against Donald Trump, his son Don Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, several other members of the Trump Campaign, as well as Russia and WikiLeaks, for what the DNC's characterizes in the complaint as a broad "conspiracy" to steal private documents and undermine the DNC and the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign in "an act of previously unimaginable treachery". If allowed to move forward, the suit could result in the President, and all of his men, being forced to turn over documents and give depositions under oath. (It could also set a troubling precedent for journalists.)

Also on Friday, Wells Fargo was slapped with a $1 billion fine by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for hoaxing more than half a million customers into purchasing car insurance they did not need. While it was the first major action by the CFPB since Trump muscled his own Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney into the dual role of Acting CFPB Director, the record fine is only a small percentage of what Wells is receiving from Trump's recent massive tax cuts.

Mulvaney, who, as a Tea Party Congressman had spent years trying to abolish the consumer bureau formed after the 2008 global banking and mortgage crisis, was upbraided by Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a recent hearing in the Senate, for his ongoing efforts to undermine the CFPB's critical assistance to consumers.

And, related to all of that, while the worst of the Trump/GOP's major legislative agenda under Trump was broadly considered to be behind us with Democrats believed likely to take over one or both chambers of Congress this November, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA, pictured above) recently came up with a scheme to twist the obscure Congressional Review Act (CRA), in order to gut decades of executive agency regulations with a simple majority vote in each house. While the CRA, only used once in its 21-year history before Trump took office, was meant as a way for Congress to roll back new formal rules enacted by executive agencies, it has been used over the past year to gut dozens of formal regulations enacted during the last 60 days of the Obama Administration.

Toomey, however, has now come up with a new interpretation of the law to allow Republicans to kill regulations from decades ago. This week, the GOP Senate began using his interpretation to do just that. They voted to kill a 2013 CFPB "guidance" document enacted to prevent racial discrimination in auto loans after hundreds of thousands of minority car buyers were found to have been charged higher interest rates for loans (resulting in more than $100 million in fines by the CFPB and money paid back to customers.)

Toomey's maneuver, however, allows such guidelines --- as opposed to only recently enacted formal rules --- to be killed under the CRA, which also prevents executive agencies from ever reinstating a similar regulation in the future. In the bargain, decades of established executive agency regulations could now be done away with, with simple majority votes, between now and the start of the next Congressional term in 2019.

We're joined today by JAMES GOODWIN of the Center for Progressive Reform to discuss this dangerous and insidious new scheme which has received disturbingly sparse media attention since its first time use this past week. Goodwin details what the CRA was meant to do, versus how Republicans have now decided to use, and the many ways in which the CRA might now be abused across the federal government with this new precedent. "One of the main dangers of this new precedent," he explains, "is we have all of these critical safeguards that we thought were in place, that now could simply vanish. And, really, the only limitation [Republicans] face is time."

Finally, the release of memos [PDF] written by fired FBI Director James Comey just after his several meetings with Donald Trump, confirm Comey's earlier descriptions of those bizarre encounters, and have received much coverage for the President's described concerns about Russian hookers and his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to felonies in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Less discussed, however, are the troubling details from the memos revealing that Trump was similarly obsessed with convincing the FBI Director to throw journalists in jail --- in stark violation of the First Amendment --- for reporting on embarrassing leaks coming out of his White House...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: BuzzFeed News Journalist, 'FOIA Terrorist' Jason Leopold; Also: Trump says he was bluffing about audio tapes...but was he?...
By Brad Friedman on 6/22/2017 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Republicans in the U.S. Senate finally released a draft of their secret plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or 'ObamaCare', and the Dept. of Defense finally releases a redacted version of a damage assessment from 2011, examining the fallout to national security from the Bradley/Chelsea Manning leaks of 2010. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: The secret working group of white, male Republicans in the Senate finally revealed their new scheme, dubbed the "Better Care Reconciliation Act", to rewrite 1/5th of the U.S. economy by replacing ObamaCare with what Donald Trump has promised would be a healthcare plan "with heart" that was less "mean" than the version he celebrated after its narrow passage by Republicans in the U.S. House several weeks ago.

The release of the new Senate plan did not go well. Democrats, independents, and healthcare advocates alike --- not to mention elderly protesters in wheelchairs dragged away from outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell --- slammed the legislation for its massive tax cuts to the wealthy in exchange for deeply cruel cuts to federal Medicaid funding, and the promise of stingier premium subsidies for less generous health care policies.

A number of Republicans in the Senate also currently oppose the plan as written, because it doesn't repeal ObamaCare enough, but we'll see if they change their tune before the bill comes up for a vote next week, as promised by McConnell, before Congress leaves for the July 4th recess. The GOP can only afford to lose the support of two Republicans among their 52-seat caucus.

Then, we're joined by BuzzFeed News journalist and "FOIA terrorist" JASON LEOPOLD, to discuss the newly unearthed Dept. of Defense damage assessment of the hundreds of thousands of documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, as well as diplomatic cables, leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010.

During her trial, Government officials charged that the disclosures caused massive damage to national security and endangered counts lives of both U.S. personnel and our allies, but is that what the DoD's own secret 2011 assessment --- finally released this week in heavily redacted form in response to Leopold's Freedom of Information Act request --- actually found? We discuss that and the "passionate responses" he has received since publishing the assessment.

We also discuss the new White House ban on cameras during press briefings and how the Trump Administration compares to previous administrations on matters of government secrecy and document classification.

"In the overall picture, you have an administration that operates under intense secrecy that wants to limit access --- 'access' being the key word there --- that journalists depend upon. Access is really important, and it's really important to be able to confront government officials," Leopold tells me, while placing the news about the ban in context with the Trump Administration's secrecy and on-going battle with journalists elsewhere. "This type of behavior trickles down to various levels within the federal government and, I've seen, it also goes into local and state governments, as well. This intense secrecy, where elected officials who are accountable to the people are simply not interested in speaking --- and then try and set up some new rules that basically bars the press from confronting them."

Leopold goes on to cite the increased difficulty he is beginning to have prying documents loose via FOIA requests under the Administration, while noting that "some of these agencies are having trouble trying to figure out how to respond to requests, largely because you have a President now who is tweeting, who is arguably declassifying --- instantly declassifying --- information that would otherwise remain secret."

Speaking of which, finally today, Trump tweeted that, despite his previous suggestions, he has no audio tapes of his one-on-one conversations with now-fired FBI Director James Comey. But is he telling the truth, or bluffing yet again?...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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