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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, February 25, 2021
SCOTUS Puts Both Trump and Future Elections in Serious Legal Peril: 'BradCast' 2/24/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Virginia is no longer for death penalty lovers...
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
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'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2018 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our 'WTF?!' coverage of the remarkable joint press conference following President Donald Trump's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland. [Audio link follows below.]

It was not 72 hours following US Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment on Friday of 12 top Russian Military Intelligence officers on 11 felony indictments related to hacking into and stealing DNC and Hillary Clinton campaign emails and releasing them to the world, in an alleged attempt to manipulate the 2016 Presidential election, when Trump tweeted: "Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!"

Hours later he held his one-on-one summit with Putin in Helsinki before going on to hold a remarkable press conference in which, essentially, the President of the United States took Russia's side in the matter on virtually every point. In the bargain, he also attacked the FBI, the DNC and other Americans, as he stood next to the Russian President, taking his side against his own intelligence agencies.

On one point, however, they differed. Trump asserted Putin had told him he was not involved in interference in the 2016 Presidential election and he didn't "see any reason why" he would have been. But, when asked directly by a reporter if he "direct[ed] any...officials" to help Trump, who he says he supported over Clinton, Putin admitted, "Yes, I did."

Nonetheless, Trump failed to demand an explanation for any of the exceedingly detailed allegations contained in Mueller's Friday indictments when directly asked by media, choosing instead to return to strange, and largely disproven assertions regarding Democrats, the DNC server, Hillary Clinton's emails, his claims of "no collusion" with Russia and his great electoral college victory (which he also lied about.) Neither did he condemn Russia or its President in any way. We have clips from several of those answers during today's presser and reaction to it --- much of it gobsmacked --- from media, Democrats, former top intelligence officials, and even a number of Republicans, including at least one Fox "News" host who, on air, just after the news conference, condemned Trump's behavior as "disgusting".

Then, we open up the phone lines to callers --- who have a number of diverse opinions --- on all of the above, even as most of the same U.S. electoral vulnerabilities said to have been exploited by Russia in 2016, remain equally as vulnerable just months before our crucial 2018 midterm elections...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: SC GOP activist Frank Heindel and attorney Larry Schwartzol; Also: New Senate bill finally calls for HAND-MARKED paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2018 6:44pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: On the eve of Donald Trump's scheduled Monday summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Dept. of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller brought eleven new felony charges against twelve Russian military intelligence officials on Friday. They were charged with various crimes related to cyber-interference in the 2016 Presidential election. And, a bi-partisan federal lawsuit is filed in South Carolina in hopes of finally terminating the state's easily-hacked, repeatedly-failed, 100% unverifiable voting system. [Audio link to show follows at end of article.]

The Russian military officials cited in today's indictment [PDF] relates to hacking into and stealing documents from the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, and releasing them to the public in hopes of manipulating the election. The charges also relate to attacks against state and county election officials and a voter registration company where email spearphishing schemes are said to have implanted malware onto the computer networks in question.

The new indictment does not allege any Americans knew of the hacking scheme detailed by Mueller, though it notes that Trump's public July 2016 call for Russia to find and release "missing" personal Hillary Clinton emails was followed by attacks, "for the first time", on an Internet domain used by her personal office.

While the filing details at least one state voter registration system where some 500,000 private records were accessed, it does not allege that voting results were manipulated (although the DHS admitted last year they never examined either ballots or voting systems.) During Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's announcement of the new charges, he also excoriated partisan and media speculation regarding the probe, as well as attacks (presumably by Congressional GOPers and Trump) on the FBI itself.

Meanwhile, much media coverage was given on Thursday to the insanely chaotic ten-hour long U.S. House hearing featuring testimony by Peter Strzok, the top FBI counter-intelligence specialist who initially led the investigation into Russian interference back in 2016. At the same time, a hearing in the U.S. Senate this week on safeguarding our election infrastructure received little or not coverage. Today, we try to correct that a bit, with some of the testimony offered by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), sponsor of a new election reform bill in the Senate --- the Protecting American Votes and Elections (PAVE) Act --- which is the only one that would require a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for every voter in the U.S. His testimony calls out ES&S, the nation's largest computer voting system vendor, for failing to show up for the hearing or answer any of his basic cyber-security questions he's sent to the company over the past year.

Then, after more than a decade of failed elections on the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting systems used across the state of South Carolina --- including the still-remarkable and still-unexplained story of Alvin Greene, the completely unknown, unemployed man who somehow managed to win the state's 2010 Democratic U.S. Senate primary without campaigning at all, against a longtime, well-known state legislator and circuit court judge --- a lawsuit was filed this week in federal court to force the state to offer a secure system to voters.

The complaint [PDF] was filed on behalf of two plaintiffs. One, a former eight-term Democratic state legislator, the other a longtime Republican Freedom of Information Act champion and election critic in the Palmetto State. The Republican plaintiff, FRANK HEINDEL, and attorney LARRY SCHWARTZTOL, of the non-partisan, non-profit ProtectDemocracy.org, join me to explain the lawsuit, Heindel's years of work attempting to oversee state elections (and their accompanying disasters), and whether the new complaint might make any difference in the state before this year's crucial 2018 midterms.

"I've just always been skeptical of the 'black box' mentality where you go in and you just trust the machine, and there's no way to verify the results," Heindel explains. "I've just never really trusted that system. I've tried to push us towards a more paper-based way to vote, and it's taken many years here, but I'm starting to get a little optimistic that the worm has turned and we're going to make some progress."

"You need a system where the winner knows that he won, the loser knows that he lost, and everybody knows that their votes were cast and counted directly. We don't have that today," he tells me. The longtime businessman has spent the last decade or more filing some 47 FOIA requests attempting to personally investigate election results and related problems in the state. (We've been following Heindel's efforts for years. You can watch part of Dan Rather's 2010 report on Heindel, right here.)

The longtime litigator Schwartztol, for his part, explains: "What we're arguing for in the lawsuit is to replace that system with one that meets basic, common-sense principles. Secure in its basic architecture against cyber-attacks. The main way to do that, most people agree, is a pretty simple one. And that's building a system around paper ballots, that can be verified, that can be audited, that can be the subject of a recount if that's necessary."

"What we describe in the lawsuit is a voting system that contains unnecessary vulnerabilities and that is not sufficiently reliable to do the work," he adds. "The work of ensuring that votes are accurately recorded and counted."

He lauds the state's election commission chair, Marci Andino (one of the suits defendants), for stating her desire to move to a new system, but is critical of the claim that it would require $50 million to do so. A paper ballot system he says, citing a recent report from NYU's Brennan Center for Justice, would cost much less. He also tells me that one of the solutions they hope to pursue in the case, potentially before November, is the use of the state's absentee paper ballot system that could be used for all voters this year.

"You saw today where Rosenstein was saying that the Russians had sent phishing emails to various state and county folks," notes Heindel. "Our county election people, they're hard-working and they mean well, but I can get tricked on a phishing email. The idea that we have state and county election people that are trying to fend off sophisticated attacks from foreign adversaries, it's crucial that we get our arms around this thing, and get to paper sooner rather than later."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Listeners respond to Dem plan to block Kavanaugh at SCOTUS...
By Brad Friedman on 7/12/2018 5:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast, let's join the President and pretend that he's been victorious once again! Or, let's discuss the reality of the havoc being wrought by both him and the party that supports him as they go even farther off the deep-end and hope to take everybody else with them. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's broadcast, as we continue to counter the madness with actual, independently verifiable facts...

  • Trump wreaks absolute havoc at the NATO summit in Brussels, makes ridiculous demands that lead to an emergency meeting of our allies, and then declares he's fixed it all. He hasn't. But, let's pretend, as he claimed, that NATO is now a "fine-tuned machine". (Does that claim ring a bell?) We offer a fact-check on Trump's actual ridiculous claims and the realities behind them;
  • Back at home, Trump-fueled chaos similarly breaks out at a joint hearing of the U.S. House Oversight and Judiciary Committees during public testimony by longtime top FBI counter-intelligence official Peter Strzok, whose private text messages to his girlfriend, another FBI agent, have been cause for Trump, the GOP and rightwing media to pretend that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation was somehow part of a long "deep state" plot by the FBI to prevent Trump from being elected. Except he was elected. (Some plot!) And Mueller's probe has since resulted in dozens of indictments and guilty pleas from many top Trump campaign and White House officials. But we can keep pretending; In some remarkable audio from the insane hearing in the House today today, Strzok strikes back and helps reveal the Republican House witch-hunt against the Special Counsel for much of what it really is.
  • Speaking of reality, new data out from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and elsewhere reveals that not only have the Trump/GOP tax cuts from last December not resulted in increased pay for the "forgotten men and women" of the middle-class, as they'd promised, but workers are now actually making less than they did before the massive, deficit-blowing cuts which have resulted only in record profits for corporations and the already-wealthy;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with more on the existential threat Kavanaugh's seating poses to the environment, how a major oil company CEO is calling for a speed-up of the transition to electric vehicles, and how a world full of poo just might save itself...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/10/2018 10:57am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: While we were out: Scandal-plagued EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt forced to resign...but his replacement spells bad news for the environment and public health; Starbucks joins the global movement to end plastic pollution; PLUS: Extreme temperatures shatter all-time heat records around the world... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): New Trump Supreme Court pick gives environmental groups a lot to fear as consensus strategy emerges; We’ll All Be Paying for Scott Pruitt for Ages; Heat waves bother you? Under Trump climate policies, add another 12°F; “It Isn’t Just Flint”: How the Next Water Crisis Could Happen Anywhere; Utilities’ Energy Efficiency Programs Are a Bargain, National Lab Finds; Hot Summer Nights Are Getting Hotter. Here's Why It's a Health and Wildfire Risk.; Florida: Summertime Slime Fueled By Climate Change As Well As Pollution... PLUS: Scott Pruitt and the Global Heat Wave... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest-host Angie Coiro with guests Ziva Branstetter, Cyrus Farivar, Ken Auletta, John Carreyrou...
By Angie Coiro on 6/22/2018 7:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Brad and Desi are off breathing deeply. I’m sitting in – Angie Coiro, host of the syndicated In Deep with Angie Coiro.

First up, I spend time with ZIVA BRANSTETTER, Senior Editor with Reveal. She and the Reveal investigative team broke a number of key stories involving the child detainees this week: the drugging of the kids, violence, sexual misconduct, and petty theft at the camps and facilities; who’s making money off the detentions; and what agencies are charged with cleaning up the mess. And yes, she confirms: this has been going on for a good many years. The blatant wholesale grabbing of toddlers from parents is an ugly Trump twist, but Barack Obama has a lot to answer for, too.

Then onto the latest SCOTUS decision. The 5-4 verdict supports privacy protections from government trying to follow personal movements through cell site data. CYRUS FARIVAR of Ars Technica and author of the new book Habeas Data breaks the decision down – including its historic footing, and its peculiarly arbitrary “six day” rule.

Advertising brings up its own privacy issues. Long-time media critic KEN AULETTA has a new book, Frenemies. He probes here into exactly how tense the battle has become between advertisers, their agencies, and individual consumers trying to keep bits of their lives to themselves.

Finally: exactly how crazy the battle for Silicon Valley primacy and the consumer dollar can get: JOHN CARREYROU talks about the Theranos scandal. If you think you’re already cynical enough about what companies will risk to get your dollar – well, maybe you’re wrong. His deservedly bestselling book is Bad Blood: Secrets and Lives in a Silicon Valley Startup.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also on today's show...

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Alabama's election chief lashes out in advance of midterm primaries, after previously blocking journalists, election law experts on Twitter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just days from Alabama's mid-term primaries next week --- in which Sec. of State John Merrill (R) will be on the ballot himself --- we share a wild, and often inexplicable, string of bizarre emails sent sent to me over the past week by the state's chief election official. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The weird story begins late last year, with the contentious and closely watched December U.S. Senate special election in Alabama between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. On election night, following the state's computer-tallied results reported a narrow victory for Jones, Merrill inaccurately stated on CNN that "any candidate can ask for a recount and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount."

After UC Irvine's highly-regarded election law expert, Rick Hasen, noted on Twitter that Merrill appeared to be in error, that AL's state election code appeared to allow only candidates in NON-federal races to request and pay for a recount if the margin was larger than 0.5%, Merrill blocked him, rather than correct his own error or cite a different section of the state law to support his assertions. That pattern would be repeated as Merrill blocked other election law experts on Twitter.

Days later, the Secretary of State injected himself into a Twitter exchange I was having with others, to insist, repeatedly and inaccurately that Alabama's computerized paper ballot scanners "do not capture or preserve digital ballot images." In fact, they do, as made clear during a successful state court action just before the election. (My interview at the time with one of the organizers of the lawsuit is here). Merrill, however, was able to have the ruling stayed by the AL Supreme Court the night before the election. (My election day interview, with one of the plaintiff attorneys is here.)

Rather than cite evidence during the, extremely bizarre Twitter conversation [PDF], Merrill ended up blocking me there as well.

All of which brings us to last week, when a federal court in New York determined that public officials --- in that case, the President of the United States --- was in violation of the Constitution's First Amendment for blocking perceived "political opponents" on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs in that case is here.)

Before we covered the ruling on a BradCast last week with University of Kentucky College of Law constitutional expert Joshua A. Douglas, who had also been blocked by Merrill (my interview with him on that earlier last year is here), I sought comment from the Secretary as to whether he intended to restore those he'd blocked, given the federal court ruling.

The subsequent string of bizarre emails [PDF] and phone calls I then received from the state's top election official is remarkable, and we share those on today's show, in the interest of Alabama voters who head to the polls next week.

In addition to steadfastly refusing to unblock the election law experts and journalists he's blocked on Twitter, Merrill unleashes a number of unhinged and often inexplicable rants in response to polite queries about both the Twitter blocks and whether Merrill has asked county election officials to set their vote tabulation computers to preserve scanned ballot images in the upcoming primary, in order to make public oversight of results somewhat easier.

At several points, Merrill's Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director John Bennett attempted to intercede via both email and phone. As I explain on the show today, the call from Bennett was very pleasant and he seemed to me, in truth, somewhat embarrassed by his boss' behavior. But he promised to get back to me after looking into both the Twitter ruling and the issue of Alabama's ES&S computer tabulation systems capturing digital ballot images. A note he sent shortly thereafter confirmed that they do. (See the PDF linked above for details.)

But, then Merrill blew things up again, with another string of emailed rants. Among the odd attacks from the emails in which the first term Sec. of State describes himself as "a nationally recognized expert in the field of elections", Merrill charges that I have a "problem...bigger than one that I have the ability to solve" (but refuses to specify what that "problem" might be), that I live with my mother (I don't), "has absolutely no idea what [I'm] talking about" (despite some 15 years of covering elections and voting systems as a journalist), and should try to "get a job with an elections program system" so I can "contribute to the discussion as an expert in the field". That's just a taste.

As noted today, I didn't even want to cover this at all, in truth, because it's largely just embarrassing for Merrill. But when I realized he was actually on the ballot next week, it seemed this was information that voters in Alabama deserved to know before making their decision. For the record, Merrill is being challenged in the Republican primary by Michael Johnson. On the Democratic side, two candidates, Heather Milam and Lula Albert-Kaigler. (She ran unsuccessfully against Merrill in 2014, though I can't find an official campaign website for her now.)

Also today: A new book by a longtime senior adviser to President Obama reportedly reveals that he feared sanctions against Russia before the 2016 election might have resulted in hacked computer tabulation systems (despite public assertions by the Administration before and after that Presidential results could not be easily manipulated by foreign attack), and election officials in a number of states are now reportedly very concerned about hacking --- or the perception that results were tampered with --- in advance of the crucial 2018 midterm elections (just as we've been warning, non-stop, for more than a decade.)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as climate change wreaks havoc with a number of deadly storms over the Memorial Day weekend...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro with Trita Parsi, Brad Adams, Daphne Eviatar, Elena Saxonhouse...
By Angie Coiro on 5/10/2018 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Trita Parsi helps us make sense of the Israel/Syria attacks. I'm Angie Coiro of In Deep sitting in the host chair today.

Trita Parsi from the National Iranian American Council helps us get through the "they started it" claims around yesterday's attacks. We spend some time deconstructing media reports and voices on the issue. He talks, too, about the Americans still held hostage in Iran, and potential long-term consequences of Trump pulling out of the nuclear agreement.

Then Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch talks about the release of American hostages from North Korea. I ask him about Israel kicking a Human Rights Watch employee out, based on his support of the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Then it's back to Gina Haspel, as more news came out today about inaccuracies in her Senate testimony. Daphne Eviatar of Amnesty International details Amnesty's call for Haspel's CIA bid to be rejected.

Finally, we dig to the source of all those troublesome Scott Pruitt emails with Elena Saxonhouse, senior attorney with the Sierra Club. It was the Sierra Club's dogged insistence on getting 24,000 pages of emails that opened up all those tales.

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Guest-host Angie Coiro with guests Marcy Wheeler, Jed Shugerman, Beth Becker, Deborah Rhode...
By Angie Coiro on 5/9/2018 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm sitting in for Brad again on a very, very busy news day. Strap in!

Top of the hour we swing right into a conversation about Gina Haspel's Senate Intelligence Committee Hearing. Her best qualification to head the CIA might be her complete refusal to share any real information with anyone - including something as simple as whether she's met alone with Donald Trump. Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel is back on the BradCast, with her impressions from watching the hearing, and a lot of questions that didn't get asked - at least, in the short window between the first question and the doors closing for private interrogation.

We're running out of people who haven't given money to Michael Cohen. Add to previous lists AT&T, Novartis, and one of Vladimir Putin's close (and apparently quite dangerous) buddies. AT&T says it paid not for access, but to "learn how Trump's mind works" (note the "how" - "whether" didn't come up, apparently). Legal scholar Jed Shugerman, who blogs at Shugerblog, puts these new revelations into the long Russia/Trump timeline and says - while that elusive smoking gun isn't flashing on the horizon yet - collusion charges seem a little bit closer.

Digital strategist Beth Becker reads the tea leaves from this week's elections, to see what we can glean for the next go-round. She has a dismaying but all too likely prediction: some very good, highly qualified liberal candidate will have to go down in flames before the center-to-Left Americans will finally see the value in unifying. In other words, the Bernie Bros and Crooked Hillary contingents need to stand down and deal. She has a great albeit tentative prediction for Hillary, though. Beth conducts digital strategy bootcamps around the country. You can check out the next dates here.

Finally, something a bit bigger picture: whither ethics in the morass of politicians for sale, corporate lies, candidate lies, voter interference - where do we learn honesty? How? Who gets it and who doesn't? The show wraps up with excerpts from discussion all about honesty in America, featuring Stanford's Deborah Rhode. You can hear the whole one hour panel at website for my show, In Deep with Angie Coiro.

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Guests: AUDIT USA election expert John Brakey, attorney Chris Sautter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2018 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Rudy Giuliani works his magic as he settles in as the newest attorney on Donald Trump's personal legal defense team --- and it appears to have exploded spectacularly. And Ohio's Sec. of State and two largest counties are slapped with an election transparency lawsuit just days before next Tuesday's primary in the Buckeye State. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up: On Wednesday night, the former NYC Mayor stunned Sean Hannity of Fox "News" when he told him on air that Trump reimbursed his embattled "fixer" and personal lawyer Michael Cohen for the $130,000 in hush money paid to Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 Presidential election. The payment, which Trump had long denied making himself, was meant to cover up an alleged affair Trump had with the porn star. Then, on Thursday morning, Giuliani dug the hole deeper by making clear, once again on Fox "News", that the payment was meant to protect Trump's candidacy.

All of which means that Trump is likely in even more --- and perhaps even criminal --- trouble, regarding serious campaign finance violations which Giuliani seems to have thought he was helping Trump avoid. We discuss and try to clarify the President's newly revealed legal peril on that front today, even as Trump (or his attorneys) took to Twitter to reverse his own previous denials by admitting that he did, in fact, reimburse Cohen for the payments to Daniels.

As Politico's Jack Shafer wryly tweeted today: "Having Giuliani in the mix is almost like having a second Trump."

Then, as we try to stay focused amidst all the noise, we're joined by election transparency expert JOHN BRAKEY and longtime election attorney CHRIS SAUTTER, both of Americans United for Democracy, Integrity and Transparency in Elections (AUDIT USA) about their lawsuit just filed in Ohio in advance of the state's 2018 mid-term primary next Tuesday.

The suit echoes a similar one filed last December in Alabama before that state's much-watched U.S. Senate Special Election between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore. (That suit was successful in a lower court, before the state's woeful Sec. of State John Merrill convinced their Supreme Court to stay the ruling at the last minute.) The new complaint seeks to force Ohio's Secretary of State Jon Husted and its two most-populous counties, Cuyahoga (Cleveland) and Franklin (Columbus), to retain digital ballot images created by the counties' computer scanners as hand-marked paper ballots are initially scanned during tabulation.

Those images, as Brakey explains, allow the public to safely examine the accuracy of election results without disturbing the original paper ballots and, according to Sautter (and several court rulings in other states), complies with federal election law requiring the retention of all election materials for 22 months after federal elections.

The pair detail why preventing the destruction of the images in question is at the center of the multi-partisan suit filed in Ohio, and why they plan to continue pressing election officials in Ohio and in many other states and counties around the country to ensure that digital ballot scanners are set to retain all such images for public oversight after Election Day.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with still more bad news for corrupt EPA chief Scott Pruitt and for the planet itself, but also with a bit of good news for NYC, Hawaii, and even one of China's major cities...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/3/2018 11:12am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Seventeen states sue the Trump Administration over rollback of car emissions standards; Still more new ethics problems for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt; Pakistan sets all-time world heat record for the month of April; Good news for breathers in NYC, China and Hawaii; PLUS: Russia launches world's first floating nuclear power plant... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

NOTE: GNR will be off for a short break next week! Please CLICK HERE TO DONATE so we can afford to come back the week after! Thanks! --- B & D

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The Last-Ditch Climate Strategy of Total Retreat Is Failing in America; Scott Pruitt’s top communications official is leaving the EPA; 9 Of 10 Air Pollution Deaths Occur In Developing Countries: WHO Study; Trump’s Solar Tariffs Cause a Scramble in the Industry; Hawaii Approves Bill Banning Sunscreen Believed To Kill Coral Reefs; New Vulnerability Found In Systems Used In Electric, Gas Industries; Earth’s atmosphere just crossed another troubling climate change threshold; Diseases Spread By Ticks, Mosquitoes And Fleas Tripled In Us Since 2004... PLUS: US-British Project Launches To Study The World’s Most Dangerous Glacier... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler on leaked Mueller questions, Cohen tossed under the bus, and Trump stealing his own medical records; Also: GOP photo ID voting restriction law blocked in AR, allowed in TX...
By Brad Friedman on 5/1/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The chaos that is the Trump Administration continues to move faster than anyone can possibly keep up with. But we try. [Audio link to show follows below]

First up today: Late last week a judge in Arkansas found the state's second try at a Photo ID voting restriction law to be as unconstitutional as the one struck down by the state Supreme Court four years ago. The new measure, adopted by Arkansas' Republican-majority legislature, has now been blocked in advance of the state's mid-term primaries coming up later this month. Leslie Rutledge, the state Attorney General who unsuccessfully defended the law, failed to demonstrate any evidence of voter fraud in court. The state is now appealing the lower court ruling. But, as we reported back in 2014, Rutledge herself committed actual voter fraud when she voted by mail in Arkansas even after registering to vote in Washington D.C.!

News out of Texas on this front is not as encouraging, as a split decision by a three-judge panel on the conservative 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided to allow that state's new version of its voter-suppressing Photo ID law to be used in the 2018 mid-terms, though opponents are likely to appeal. Lower courts --- and even a unanimous panel on the 5th Circuit itself --- have repeatedly found both versions of the state's GOP-adopted state statute to be unlawful and/or in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Then, we're joined today by national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel to try and make sense of, among other things, the nearly four dozen questions said to be from Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe for Donald Trump, as published by the New York Times on Monday night after apparently being leaked by someone on Team Trump. Those questions include queries on Trump's alleged obstruction of justice, as well as Team Trump's so-called "collusion" with Russia before and after the 2016 election.

Wheeler explains why she believes the information was leaked and how its being desperately used by Trump to (falsely) suggest the Special Counsel has found no evidence of "collusion", despite the many published questions in the list which cite issues related to a conspiracy between Russians and members of the Trump Campaign.

"These guys are incompetent at governing and most every other thing, but they are very competent at playing the press. And they have played the press for the last six months, making it seem as if the only risk to Trump has to do with obstruction," Wheeler argues. "More than a third of these questions go to the conspiracy. It was never just about just obstruction."

We also try to make sense of the bizarre, late-breaking story regarding Trump's infamous gastroenterologist, Dr. Harold Borenstein, who is now charging that Trump's longtime personal bodyguard Keith Schiller and a Trump Organization lawyer "raided" his office last year to take Trump's medical records without the required legal forms, shortly after Borenstein told the media that Trump uses a hair-loss drug.

Wheeler also offers her insights into the new evidence suggesting that Trump is now tossing his old business partner and personal lawyer Michael Cohen under the bus in the wake of the recent FBI raids on Cohen's office and residences. "There are so many weird things about the Cohen thing that I hesitate to settle on an explanation for what's going on there, aside from the fact that I think that yeah, Trump is worried about him flipping."

All of it is perhaps best summed up by Wheeler's comment today: "It's a mess. Trump is in trouble."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report as an EPA whistleblower (and Trump supporter) charges that embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt lied to Congress during recent testimony, and the Trump Administration is trying again to rollback fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. Both of those stories also have late updates today, as we now learn that two top (and controversial) EPA officials have recently resigned amid the mountain of Pruitt-related scandals, and as California and 17 other states sue the Trump Administration over its new attempt to rollback fuel efficiency...

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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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Congress acquiesces after second US attack on war-torn sovereign nation; Also: Hannity revealed as secret Cohen client; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 4/16/2018 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Bill Maher quipped Friday night that the U.S. attack, with France and Britain, on Syria was code-named "Operation Desert Stormy", an attempt by Donald Trump to force his legal and ethical nightmares off the front pages. It didn't work. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Sunday night, fired FBI Director James Comey described Trump as "morally unfit" for the Presidency in a prime-time ABC News interview, and on Monday, just before air today, Sean Hannity of Fox "News" was revealed in federal court to be a secret client of Trump's hush money payoff "fixer" Michael Cohen, and Cohen and Trump's motion to review documents seized in the raid on Cohen's office and residences last week was denied (for now) by the federal judge.

Nonetheless, before it's forgotten entirely in the fog of Trump Scandal, we focus mostly today on the fact that the pre-dawn bombing of Damascus by US and its allies, said to be in response to an alleged chemical attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against his own people a week earlier in Douma, was done without any actual hard evidence of a chemical attack or who was actually responsible for it. Trump's Secretary of Defense James Mattis admitted as much during Congressional hearings just one day before more than 100 cruise missiles were unleashed on supposedly chemical weapons-related facilities in Damascus. (No proof was offered to buttress the claim about those facilities either.)

Moreover, there is absolutely no legal authority whatsoever for Trump's attack --- either domestically or internationally --- despite various claims to the contrary. Shamefully, most of Congress, both Republicans and Democrats alike, have so far failed to demand accountability for the unconstitutional use of military force (even after threatening President Obama with impeachment when he wanted to launch a similar attack in response to an alleged Syrian chemical attack in 2013).

For his part, the hapless Trump, who mercilessly derided Obama for calling for Syrian airstrikes in 2013, took to Twitter on Saturday to echo George W. Bush's infamous appearance on a U.S. Aircraft Carrier in 2003 after the ill-fated invasion of Iraq, to declare "Mission Accomplished" in Syria.

Friday's unlawful US attack, as we also discuss today, is believed to have cost some $200 million. That could have paid for the replacement of all of Flint, MI's lead water pipes some four times over, as new studies reveal that reading proficiency levels for third-graders in Flint has plummeted in the wake of the lead drinking water contamination crisis. That continuing crisis came about after MI's Gov. Rick Snyder (R), following his election in 2010, ordered an Emergency Manager takeover of the city and a subsequent change to its water supply.

As one caller observed today, some poisoned children, like those in Syria apparently, seem to be a larger concern for the Trump Administration than others...no matter the evidence or lack thereof...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Clueless Trump now to rejoin TPP?; Sinclair continues to abuse public airwaves; And, why local news matters...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's like deja vu all over again. But with a Commander-in-Chief who is completely clueless about any of it and powerful adversaries who claim they are prepared to shoot back. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The President of the United States has no idea what he's doing, and is simply making up policy from minute to minute, according to a Washington Post report last night, detailing how White House aides are forced to scramble each day to either explain Donald Trump's actions "or clean them up."

"There is no proactive strategic thinking," one staffer told the paper. Another senior administration official conceded that aides are often forced to "reverse-engineer a policy process to match whatever the President said" on any given day. That may be workable, sort of, when it comes to something like Trump's announcement today that, after years of bashing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and pulling the U.S. out of it shortly after taking office, he is now considering rejoining the TPP after all.

But when it comes to sending the U.S. to war, Trump's erratic behavior poses a very serious danger. To that end --- as Trump has flip-flopped over the past week between demanding the U.S. pull its troops out of Syria within 48 hours, to publicly warning Syria's main ally Russia to "get ready" for incoming missiles, to reversing positions yet again to declare a U.S. attack on the war-torn nation "could be very soon or not soon at all" --- his Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis was busy conceding to lawmakers in the U.S. House on Thursday that the Pentagon lacks evidence of the alleged chemical attack in over the weekend, reportedly carried out by the Syrian government against its own citizens in one of the last rebel-held areas near Damascus.

While noting that he "believe[s] there was a chemical attack," Mattis told lawmakers on Capitol Hill today "we're looking for the actual evidence" and admitted that even if inspectors from the international Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) get access to the site of the alleged attack, "we will not know who did it. They can only say that they found evidence or did not."

It's not the first time that Mattis has conceded we've attacked Syria in response to purported chemical attacks for which the U.S. had "no evidence".

Nonetheless, the media continue to report the weekend attack in Syria --- said to have killed more than 40 civilians with some form of poison gas --- as having been carried out by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Even as Mattis was admitting the lack of evidence the U.S. has to support the charge, NBC News was busy reporting breathlessly and unskeptically, in an eerie echo of the run-up to the U.S. war(s) against Iraq, on claims from two unnamed "U.S. officials" citing "blood and urine samples from last Saturday's deadly attack in Syria that have tested positive for chemical weapons." It's like deja vu all over again, but with a clueless President and powerful countries like Russia and Iran already having warned that they are prepared to retaliate against any attack against the Syrian government by the U.S. or its allies.

In not-entirely-unrelated news today, as Trump continues to lie about "voter fraud" in the 2016 election (and about everything else), an alarming new study from Politico finds that voters with less access to local news voted in larger numbers for Trump in 2016 than they did for Mitt Romney in 2012. At the same time, the study reveals, those with more access to such news sources voted in higher proportion for Hillary Clinton.

The findings come as the rightwing Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the nation's largest owner of local TV news outlets, attempts to receive FCC approval to buy up enough local stations to reach some 72% of American households. While public push-back against the effort builds, the pro-Trump broadcast behemoth is revealed to be using the public airwaves at their own currently-owned stations (and websites) to lie about the mounting criticism against their practices.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on Shell's recently revealed decades long knowledge that their products cause global warming, and the mountain of scandal that continues to engulf Trump's embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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