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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, October 23, 2021
Anita Hill Still Changing the World, 30 Years Later: 'BradCast' 10/22/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with author, lawyer, Brandeis University professor Anita Hill...
The Good with the Bad: 'BradCast' 10/21/21
House holds Bannon in contempt; TX Lt. Gov. pays out for GOP voter fraud; CA GOP's recall boondoggle; Vets dump Sinema; Manchin could dump Dems; TX steals minority House seats; IL boosts Dems (a little)...
'Green News Report' 10/21/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
We're making too much fossil fuel; Climate change imperils millions, study finds; CA expands drought emergency; PLUS: Cutting emissions is hard, but will lower energy bills...
Previous GNRs: 10/19/21 - 10/14/21 - Archives...
'A One-Way Ratchet': Biden's SCOTUS Comm. Does GOP's Bidding: 'BradCast' 10/20/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: 'Contempt' for Bannon; Manchin, Sanders in talks; GOP Senate blocks voting rights again...
'Despair is Not an Option' After Manchin Tanks Biden's Central Climate Plan: 'BradCast' 10/19/21
Guest: UCSB's Dr. Leah Stokes; Also: 'Mass homicide' allegations for Brazil's Bolsonaro...
'Green News Report' 10/19/21
Manchin blows up Biden's climate agenda; EPA to crack down on PFAS; Million of polluting, abandoned U.S. wells; PLUS: McDonald's finally going beyond meat...
Listeners on Whether Ds Should Gerry-mander 'Blue' States: 'BradCast' 10/18/21
Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill Colin Powell; How Manchin is killing Biden's climate change plan...
Sunday 'Democracy's Boundaries' Toons
PDiddie draws a few lines in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
Why Dems Should Gerrymander 'Blue' States (& Why They Shouldn't): 'BradCast' 10/15
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley; Also: Freedom to Vote in the Senate; GOP physics in VA...
'Green News Report' 10/14/21
Supply chain disruptions spike energy prices; Russia says they didn't do it!; CA bans gas-powered leaf blowers; PLUS: Biden Admin goes big on offshore wind...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Also: Netanyahu finally out in Israel; 'Imminent radiological threat' at Chinese nuke plant?; 2016 whistleblower leaves prison; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2021 6:07pm PT  

We try to hit a lot of news on today's BradCast after yet another very busy news weekend both at home and abroad. We don't get through our entire stack, but that's only thanks to some good calls from listeners along the way. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the stories we cover on today's program...

  • 600,000 are now dead from COVID-19 in the U.S. as states --- including California on Tuesday --- begin opening up again for business at full capacity (and as infection rates start to tick up again nationally...we're hoping it's just some noise in the data for now...)
  • Israel's longtime, hard-right leader Benjamin Netanyu, recently indicted on corruption charges, is finally out as Prime Minister of Israel. On Sunday, the Israeli Knesset officially approved a new governing coalition with a former top Netanyahu aide, Naftali Bennett, as the Jewish state's new Prime Minister. He will lead a broad coalition of some eight left, right and center parties, including the first Arab party to sit in a governing coalition. The fragile new partnership aims to move beyond the exceedingly polarizing years of the former PM, even as Netanyahu --- in one of his Trumpiest tantrums to date --- demonized many of his former rightwing colleagues in the new coalition as an "evil and dangerous leftist government" and decried his personal legal troubles as the result of a witch hunt. (Sound familiar?)
  • A disturbing story broke over night by CNN, suggesting there may be an ongoing or "imminent radiological threat" at a new nuclear power plant in China. Details come largely via a French company that has partnered with the Chinese on the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant in Guangdong province. Independent experts are watching the situation closely to determine how dangerous --- or, not-that-unusual --- the situation now is, as cracks seem to have formed in the main encasement of fuel rods at the plant. We'll continue to watch this one as well.
  • U.S. allies appeared just shy of giddy over the weekend and into today, as Joe Biden made his first appearance as President at the G7 summit in Cornwall, England and the NATO meetings that followed it. Biden and longtime allies in Europe hope the new President will restore a sense of normalcy to the proceedings and the post-WWII order, even as old disputes continue and many in Europe remain concerned (for good reason!) about the continuing fragile and divisive political situation in the U.S. that allowed the rise of Donald Trump's autocratic regimes in the first place.
  • Former National Security Agency whistleblower Reality Winner was released early from prison on Monday for good behavior. Winner had sent documents to media revealing Russia's attempted hacks of a voter registration software company in the U.S. during the 2016 election. The extent of those hacks is still publicly unknown but, arguably, wouldn't be known at all had it not been for Winner revealing the information to the media and public. As thanks, she was slapped with one of the longest prison sentences ever for such a leak to the media.
  • Then, callers ring in on a number of the various stories covered above, as well as some additional ones, including the news that Trump's DoJ secretly subpoenaed phone, email and text message records from Democratic lawmakers; Republicans continue to undermine American democracy in states across the nation; Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin continues to obstruct democratic reforms; and concerns persist about whether Biden's Attorney General Merrick Garland is up to the task of bringing accountability for so much of the unprecedented damage wrought by the Department during the Trump years...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with Edward-Isaac Dovere, author of 'Battle For The Soul: Inside the Democrats' Campaigns to Defeat Trump'...
By Nicole Sandler on 5/28/2021 4:47pm PT  

Thank God it's Friday! I don't think I could take another day like this one. It's NICOLE SANDLER, guest hosting the BradCast again while Brad and Desi try to dodge the jackhammers making work at their studio impossible. Hopefully the noisy work will be done soon so they can get back in time for the next show!

We begin today's show with the first Senate filibuster of the 117th Congress, and it was a doozy. First of all, the vote was 54-35. In any other civilized country, majority rules, and the motion to open debate on forming an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol would begin. But in the opposite world that is our reality, the minority wins. Again.

Six Republicans joined every Democrat present in voting to invoke cloture. But with 54 yes votes, that means they're two Democrats short. Two Democrats didn't show up to vote to investigate the attack on our government! The two are Patty Murray of Washington and Kyrsten Sinema, the thorn in the side of good Democrats everywhere. Murray released a lame statement blaming a "personal family matter." I'm biting my tongue because, unless someone is dying, there's no excuse for her missing that vote. As for Sinema, she's a heinous, horrible person who's misrepresented herself to the electorate. In my book, that's fraud, and she should be driven from office. Calls to her office today were unanswered.

But it wouldn't have mattered anyway. There were not 10 Republican votes because there aren't 10 Republicans in the senate with principles. Yes, our Democracy is still horribly broken.

But at least we got Donald Trump out of the White House, so we've got that going for us. But it wasn't easy.

The 2020 election season was the subject of today's interview with EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE. In addition to being a columnist for The Atlantic, he's the author of the just-released book, Battle For The Soul: Inside the Democrats' Campaigns to Defeat Trump, which, as the title suggests, brings us back to the trauma of the 2020 election season, beginning with election night 2016 as an incredulous Barack Obama watched his nemesis Donald Trump inexplicably become the next President.

I'm very glad the weekend has arrived...

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!




Guest: Election integrity advocate Jennifer Cohn with callers ringing in...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2021 7:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast, (riddled with a few tech probs at the station, so apologies for any incoherence on my part!) we bring you up to date on some of the latest developments in the insane, dangerously non-transparent "audit" theater in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona being carried out by the Trump-supporting Cyber Ninjas company. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.

[ALSO: See important "SHOW NOTE" at end of this summary!]

Notably, a story we broke some weeks ago, after the Ninjas were forced by a state judge to publicly release what suffices as their procedural documents [PDF] for the "audit" (they had claimed their procedures for counting public ballots from the 2020 election were "trade secrets") was confirmed, at least in part, by an excellent article at Slate this weekend by Jeremy Stahl. In short, we had explained weeks ago how the Ninjas poorly documented procedures (see p. 178 in the PDF linked above) allows them to change a MINIMUM of 42,000 votes in their so-called "audit", without setting off any internal or external alarm bells. Stahl's lengthy, well-reported story on the Maricopa mess, headlined "What if the renegade Arizona audit declares Trump won?" details, among many other things, the same point, that the Cyber Ninjas' own procedures allow them to change far more votes than would be needed to falsely declare Trump actually won the state. Any such mistally is considered an acceptable rate of error in their own documented procedures --- even though Joe Biden was certified to have won the state by just over 10,000 votes.

Moreover, if and when they do declare that AZ was somehow stolen from Trump, there is little that can be done to dispute such a claim, since the secure chain of custody for the 2.1 million actual ballots cast in Maricopa last year has now been irrevocably broken. Only yet another hand-count could prove or disprove such a claim by the Ninjas, since --- unlike real audits --- they have not allowed the public to track or oversee their daily tallies. But, after the private, Florida-based company took custody of the County's ballots weeks ago, they could have added, removed or changed ballots at any time since.

All of that, meanwhile, as a real audit continues in Windham, NH, being run transparently by actual voting system, cybersecurity and post-election audit professionals who are allowing full public oversight. And as a judge in Georgia just granted permission for yet another post-election audit of copies of the 2020 ballots cast in Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia's Presidential race last year.

Of course, all of these questions about the results of last year's elections --- whether offered in good or bad faith --- might have been avoided years ago had Democrats insisted on fully overseeable public elections, instead of allowing private voting machine companies to, by and large, take over America's election with computers that tally votes, essentially, in secret. We have been warning about this nightmare for years, and now it is coming home to roost.

As our guest today, San Francisco-based attorney, election integrity advocate and Twitter rockstar JENNIFER COHN pointed out in a recent smart Twitter thread, Republicans spent years blocking Democratic legislation, the SAFE Act, which would have at least mandated post-election audits for federal races in every state. Now, Republicans are claiming they are needed all over the country. But, oddly enough --- for reasons that Cohn has been unable to determine so far --- Dems have failed to reintroduce the SAFE Act in this session of Congress.

She speculates today that the legislation may now be seen by Democrats as feeding into the GOP's evidence-free claims of fraud in the 2020 election, not unlike how Dem fears of being labeled as "conspiracy theorists" over the years prevented them from challenging and demanding hand-counts after what her thread describes as "fifteen years of poll-defying victories" for Republicans.

"I don't want to imply that I think they are equally to blame," Cohn tells me. "But I do think that it's a failure of leadership. Because leadership isn't about just reacting always to what the other party does. It's about standing for something." She goes on to correctly note that Democrats "had an opportunity after 2016 to really be the champions of election security, and to even incorporate that into their campaign platforms, and they didn't do it." Doing so, "behind the scenes does not win the court of public opinion" and now that has "allowed Trump to hijack that narrative."

"It should have been the Democrats to take that to the people, to take that to the court of public opinion. Had they done that, Trump would not be in a position to play the victim. Had the public known about the SAFE Act, and that Republicans blocked it, they would not be in the position they were to pretend to be victims" today.

Cohn is a longtime, dyed-in-the-wool Dem. So she does not level such accusations lightly. We discuss those concerns and many other points regarding the various audits --- and several splits in the Election Integrity community about them --- before opening up the phone to listeners with thoughts and questions for her and/or me on all of the above today.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

SHOW NOTE!: We've just learned from my landlord that major construction --- tearing up a walkway to install a new security gate --- will begin on Tuesday and last anywhere from 7 to 14 days! That means jack-hammers outside of our studio will make it impossible for Desi and I to do shows for the rest of the week and maybe even next week. Our beloved guest host Nicole Sandler has agreed to fill in for us for the rest of the week...and then we'll see where we are after next Monday's holiday. It could be a week of re-runs, but I hope not! Just letting you know why we are forced to suddenly and unexpectedly disappear for at least the rest of the week! My apologies. Though, as usual, Nicole will do a swell job of covering for us in our unexpected absence! Thanks for your understanding! --- BF

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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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Guest: Former FEC Chair Ann Ravel on FEC Repubs killing 'slam dunk' hush-money conspiracy 'directed' by Trump; Also: Computerized voting and tabulation has allowed my election nightmares to come true...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2021 6:46pm PT  

We've got two lede stories really on today's BradCast. You can decide for yourself which one is the more maddening. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Late last week, the bi-partisan Federal Elections Commission (FEC) announced they were ignoring the advice of their own General Counsel by voting down further investigation of the Stormy Daniels hush-money case payoffs by a former disgraced President. Two Republican appointees voted to kill, two Dem appointees voted to continue the probe (with one Repub recusing and one independent absent for the vote). The way the broken, six-person FEC is structured, no investigations of campaign finance reform violations --- no matter how obvious and blatant, as in this case --- can move forward unless there are four votes to do so.

Here, it's a slam dunk. Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was already found guilty and sent to prison for the criminal campaign finance conspiracy in which he paid off the adult film star to keep quiet about her affair with Trump. The affair took place ten years before the 2016 election. The payments were given to her just days before the election. It was clearly an election related expense, yet the Trump Campaign failed to report it, and Trump himself paid Cohen back for the payouts during his time as President.

Both Cohen and the DoJ stated in Court, before Cohen went to prison, that the payments were part of a criminal conspiracy "directed by" and "for the benefit of" Trump himself.

The explanation of the Republican commissioners on the FEC for killing the probe is ridiculously laughable, as we discuss with our guest today, former FEC Chair ANN RAVEL. She was appointed to the Commission under President Obama in 2013 and served until 2017. She, too, agrees this was a "slam dunk" case against Trump, which serves to highlight how the GOP have permanently "captured" the Commission in order to make certain that Republicans are never held to account for violations of federal campaign finance laws.

"Wanting to do nothing is exactly how the Republican Commissioners have always been able to assure that the Commission doesn't do what it is supposed to do to make elections and the electoral process fair, and to make sure that there is total disclosure of campaign finance activities," Ravel explains. "You're right to say that it's a 'slam dunk' case. In particular, because the [FEC's] General Counsel said [Trump's behavior] was 'knowing and willful', which it clearly was. 'Knowing and willful' is the criminal standard. So that may be an alert to the Justice Department that they need to now go forward and prosecute the case."

The DoJ prosecuted Cohen for participating in the conspiracy. Now the nation's top law enforcement agency needs to prosecute the man that the DoJ has already said "directed" it!

Ravel also offers her insight on how the FEC became so captured and broken in the first place (Hint: Trump's former White House Counsel and longtime GOP operative Don McGahn struck a corrupt bargain with Mitch McConnell years ago) and on the Democratic plan in the For the People Act (otherwise known as H.R.1 and S1) to reform the FEC. The plan would restructure it from a 6-person panel designed to deadlock and never move anything forward, to a 5-person panel of appointees selected by non-partisan judges and attorneys, with the fifth appointed by the President. No more than two people from any one political party could serve on the Commission at once, and appointees would have to have spent a number of years not working on political campaigns or as staffers for elected officials, among other sensible restrictions.

"The positive about what they have proposed in HR1 is that there would be a blue-ribbon commission, comprised of people who actually believe in the law and enforcement of the law, who would be nominating and reviewing particular individuals to be on the commission who would abide by the law. That is key to making the change --- to have people who are not beholden to a particular political party, who independently would look at the law and make decisions based on what the legal requirements are."

Naturally, Republicans oppose the reform (along with HR1 in its entirety) and are lying about it to say that it would turn the Commission from a bi-partisan commission into one that gives Democrats partisan control.

Ravel also explains how the Stormy Daniels case --- which can still be prosecuted on a criminal level by the DoJ --- is not necessary over at the FEC either, since the vote to kill the inquiry can now be appealed in a court of law by an outside group.

Then, I've got a bit of a today on the absurd clown show of an audit of the 2020 Presidential election still under way in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona (which we've been covering in detail for the past several weeks); the legitimate audit, being led by several top shelf election and voting systems experts set to begin this week in Windham, New Hampshire (as we detailed in some length last Friday); and the remarkable 8,500 word deep-dive investigative report published over the weekend by Washington Post, detailing how the phony myth of Donald Trump's "stolen" 2020 election came together beginning way back in 2018.

In short (which is not easy with an 8,500 word story!), a wealthy Texas businessman and some Republican operatives calling themselves Associated Specials Operations Group (or ASOG) took the research on vulnerabilities in computer voting and tabulation systems compiled by folks like Bev Harris of Black Voting, Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, myself and others, to morph those very real vulnerabilities into phony claims of actual election fraud. Simply because a system is vulnerable, does not mean the vulnerabilities have been exploited. But such distinctions did not matter to this group which is clearly operating in bad faith, or to Trump who was happy to highlight any lie to cover for his shame of having been a failed, one-term President.

As I have been trying to explain for nearly 20 years on this beat, whether an election is stolen or not, the fact that we now use privatized, non-overseeable computers to cast and tabulate votes is itself a grave threat to democracy. Ultimately, as I've warned over and over again over the years (and as we are now seeing play out), it doesn't matter if an election is 100% accurate and secure if the public can't know that it is. Secret software and concealed vote counting inside computers run by private companies --- even when done perfectly and securely --- allows those operating in bad faith (as is the case with Republicans right now), to claim an election was stolen, even when there is no proof to support such an extraordinary charge. It's nearly impossible to refute such claims, bogus or otherwise.

I have warned about exactly this scenario as a dangerous threat to democracy itself for years, and now, as I explain on today's show, my worst nightmare is now playing out before all of our eyes...

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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Guest: L.A. Times' Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown details on 2016 election interference...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2021 7:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's nice to see hundreds of companies and corporate executives coming out in favor of democracy and voting rights. If only they actually meant it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, the Biden Administration announced a spate of new sanctions against Russian organizations and individuals in response to both the massive Solar Winds hack of top U.S. agencies, including including the Treasury, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security departments, as well as for what is described as interference in the 2020 election on behalf of Donald Trump.  At the same time, the Administration seems to be going out of their way to downplay the sweeping sanctions by suggesting that they are open to top level discussions to avoid further exacerbating growing tensions between the two nations.

But one of the 32 individuals sanctioned is of note today because the announcement from the U.S. Treasury Department refers to the 2016 election, charging that the individual, Konstanin Kilimnik shared proprietary polling information given to him by Trump's first campaign manager, Paul Manafort, directly with Russian Intelligence Services.  If true, that would be significant new information. Previous reports on Russia's involvement in the 2016 election from both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee cite the information Manafort is said to have given to his former business associate Kilimnik, a Russian and Ukrainian political operative linked to Russian intelligence. But neither of those voluminous report goes so far as to say that the data was subsequently given directly to Russian intelligence services.  Those reports acknowledge they were not able to learn what came of it after it was handed over to Kilimnik. Today's announcement of the sanctions by the Treasury, however, notes: "During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy."

As national security website Just Security observes: "The Treasury Department’s new statement raises questions about why this information is coming out now and why the Special Counsel’s office did not have access to it during its investigation. Was it not available then or did it exist but was not provided to the Mueller team?"   So, does this mean the Biden Administration has uncovered details on manipulation of the 2016 election that was previously hidden or withheld by the Trump Administration?  It looks like the "Clean up on Aisle 45" will be continuing for quite some time. There is a LOT to clean up.

In not entirely unrelated news, hundreds of companies and corporate CEOs issued a full-size, two-page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post and other papers this week, with a short statement purporting to declare "WE STAND FOR DEMOCRACY," and noting: "We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot."

Though the statement doesn't mention any specific states, it was issued in response to Republicans' recently enacted voters suppression law in Georgia and dozens of other states where similar restrictions on the franchise, in bills sponsored by GOP state lawmakers, are moving forward.  All of which is said to be in response to false claims by Trump and Republicans of massive fraud in 2020.  Georgia's new law, for example, makes it more difficult to vote by mail, limits the use of drop boxes, bans the distribution of food or water on long voting lines (which are all too typical in certain parts of the Peach State) and allows the partisan GOP state legislature to replace bipartisan County Election Boards with a single partisan person who will be able to unilaterally undermine elections or even overturn results.

While statements like the one issued this week in the two-page ad --- and, before it, by Atlanta-based companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines --- have resulted in good publicity for those signed onto them, they have also brought blowback from the right, leading Republicans (who pretend to abhor so-called "cancel culture") to demand boycotts of any company which stands up for voting rights.

I have railed in recent weeks about the absurdity of Republicans finally paying attention to concerns about new voter suppression laws only now that a number of corporations have come out in apparent opposition to such laws. Corporate entities, it seems, have far more sway with the GOP lawmakers who ignored weeks of complaints and protests about the new laws from actual voters before the GA law was passed.

But our guest today is seemingly even more cynical about these recent corporate declarations of fealty to democracy. We're joined today by MICHAEL HILTZIK, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and business columnist at the Los Angeles Times. He argued in his column this week that many of the "vague" declarations recently by large corporations are no substitute for actual action. He cites a host of companies, for example, which, following the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection, vowed to suspend donations to lawmakers who had voted to overturn the Electoral College results that same day. Despite those public pronouncements, he details one company after another --- from Jet Blue to AT&T to Toyota --- which, despite their previous public claims, have since given plenty of money to dozens of Republicans who voted against the certification of Biden's Electoral College victory.

In his column, he notes that while many companies and executives have come out in opposition of suppressive voting laws, almost none have gone on record to demand the passage of measures which would counteract them, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or H.R. 1, the For the People Act.

"It's not that unusual for businesses to affiliate themselves on the side of the angels when they feel a lot of popular pressure to do so.  But once again the question is, what are they going to do about it?," Hiltzik tells me today. "Let's face facts. Many of the companies --- if not all of them --- that signed on to these statements, these honeyed words, had been assiduous supporters of the politicians who are now out there introducing and passing laws that restrict the voting franchise."

Criticizing their failure to speak out before Georgia's law was adopted, for example, he says, "They didn't really put their reputations on the line when they didn't think they had to.  And, as a result, we have a law in Georgia that's going to be very hard to repeal because the more these companies come out and say this is wrong, the more the rightwing legislators who passed it are doubling down, saying 'We're not going to kowtow to these liberal leftwing corporations'.  So they lost their chance. They're trying to recover. But I don't think they really deserve a lot of credence just by signing a statement."

Moreover, he explains, many of these very same companies have been opponents of democracy within their own corporate organizations. "What's really hypocritical is that these same companies that have said 'We believe in democracy, we believe in everybody having a vote' --- they've actually gone to the Securities and Exchange Commission and asked for, and received, a tightening of the rules that makes it even harder for small shareholders to get resolutions on the annual meeting agenda, and to actually get votes on the resolutions that they submit."

There is plenty of cynicism on today's show to go around. And it extends to our discussion of the need for campaign finance reform, and several neat GOP tricks that have long been used to prevent such long-overdue efforts to keep corporations out of our elections altogether.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us once again for our latest Green News Report, which, as always, is chocked full of important news, including Japan's announcement that they intend to dump more than a million tons of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. And we close with a follow up to that story from the Guardian today, regarding Japan's ill-fated attempt to marginalize concerns from their own citizens and neighboring countries, by using a cartoon character dubbed "Little Mr. Tritium" to make the massive release of radioactive wastewater slightly more adorable than it actually otherwise is...

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Special Coverage of Day 4 with Salon's Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2021 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast special coverage: For Trump's attorneys, at least, it was an open and shut case, as they both opened and closed their argument in about 3 hours of their allotted 16 on Friday, on behalf of the former President in his second Impeachment Trial. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

We might have known it wasn't going to go well when the charge that a President of the United States incited a murderous insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th was characterized by his attorneys as little more than a case of "Constitutional Cancel Culture". A perfect fit for the Fox "News" chyron! And, naturally, a defense perfectly fit for Donald Trump since it was filled to the brim with unapologetic lies right out of the gate.

The first such lie (that we noticed anyway) came in the very first few minutes, when new Trump attorney and Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer, Michael T. Van Der Veen, falsely claimed that in 2016, "the Clinton Campaign brought multiple post-election court cases" and "demanded recounts".  Of course, as long time readers and listeners know, they did no such thing, even if we wished they had. Despite cybersecurity and voting systems experts at the time begging the Campaign to do so, they refused. Instead, Green Party candidate Jill Stein sought those counts instead, as she announced at the time on this program.

Trump's liars...er lawyers, also falsely claimed House Democrats waited until Trump was out of office to deliver the Article of Impeachment to the U.S. Senate (that was because then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to reconvene the Senate), and that the Democratic House Impeachment Managers withheld the chilling, "never before seen video" used in their presentation this week, from the defense team in an outrageous "rushed trial without due process".  (In fact, the Managers have since noted, all audio and video evidence and materials used in their presentation was given to the defense team before the trial began, as per Senate Impeachment Trial rules.)

Team Trump also charged that the Dems falsely manipulated Trump's tweets and manufactured evidence to make their case and that they failed to connect the violence at the Capitol to "the 45th President." The charge of manipulated, cherry-picked video evidence came just before the defense played several really long, fully out-of-context video montages of Democrats using the word "fight" in various settings, underscored by manipulative dramatic music. The Trump attorneys claimed that "the 45th President" never incited any violence and "was immediate in his calls for calm" after the assault was under way. That's a lot of lies (and that wasn't all of them) in such a short presentation. But we suspect they did their client proud.

Their central arguments were that Trump was merely exercising his First Amendment free speech rights when lying to his supporters for months that the election was rigged and imploring them to "fight like hell" or they "wouldn't have a country anymore". That, they argued, was only a plea for election reform and to primary Republicans who didn't fight hard enough for him. But there is no First Amendment right to incite imminent violence, and there are all matter of activities that would be protected by the First Amendment (wearing a Nazi armband, suggesting certain people should be killed) that are certainly impeachable activities for a President nonetheless.

Even more conspicuous were the matters that Trump's attorneys did not address, such as why Trump never attempted to send help to protect the Capitol or tell his supporters to stop their attack, even as he knew his own Vice President and others were being targeted for assassination by the MAGA Mob.

We're joined today to try and make sense of all of this, as well as the rest of the Impeachment Trial week and where it goes from here, by the the wise, award-winning opinion and analysis journalist, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo.

She describes the defense case as little more than an effort "to create sound bites for Fox New, OAN and Newsmax. That's it. They know that they had intimidated the jurors. They have 50 Republicans. Of those Republicans, I would say 90 percent of them of them have been intimidated by Donald Trump or they are true believers in MAGA." Parton charges that the events of January 6th were "a grotesque assault on democracy" and a "domestic act of terrorism, which the President of the United States incited."

"He did incite it. This is not in any way disputable. And there's nobody, if they're honest with themselves, that believes he didn't," she argues. "They actually targeted the day when every single one of our national representatives were present, and it was to stop the certification of the Presidential election. This was huge. It's historic. We all watched it."

Moreover, she notes, no matter how the vote for conviction comes out, "it was imperative that they did this. They had to put it on the record. And now Donald Trump is the only President in history to be impeached twice."

We also discuss not only how Republicans are expected to vote, but why they might vote against conviction and disqualification from future office even though, as I opined yesterday, removing Trump's only remaining superpower --- his viability as a 2024 Presidential candidate --- would actually help the Republican Party itself and most of those Senators.

Would Parton like to see witnesses brought? If so, who? And what will --- or should --- happen after Trump is acquitted which, at least for now, is believed the most likely outcome. As usually, it's a very lively conversation with our friend "Digby", though it ended just before the breaking news from CNN that Trump had a heated conversation with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy during the insurrection, which devolved into a "shouting match" in which the Republican lawmaker is said to have "begged" the then-President to call of his goons and send help to protect the Capitol. Trump, reportedly refused, according to the several House Republicans who McCarthy briefed on the call and who are now, apparently, willing to go on record to say as much, according to CNN's late breaking report.

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as President Biden places climate action at the center of both national security and foreign policy and as the U.S. wind energy industry just had its best year ever, among other important, non-impeachment related environmental news stories...

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Guest: Jeanne Dufort of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Team Trump targets black cities with phony fraud claims; Giuliani charges 'Bush v. Gore' violations in hilarious court hearing in PA, day before campaign contradicts 'Bush v. Gore' with cherry-picked partial WI recount request...
By Brad Friedman on 11/18/2020 7:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We wouldn't blame you if you felt like averting your eyes from the desperate, usually-sad, often-hilarious, chaotic and so far failed attempts by the incompetent Team Trump to somehow try and steal the 2020 election any way they can. Yes, that's still going on. It's our job, however, to keep our eyes on it, and so we do again today, as things continue to fall apart in all new ways with each passing hour for Donald and what's left of his legal team. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

Today, we cover the ongoing chaos the Trump Campaign is attempting to wreak in at least four different states. So far, only in Georgia has an election official who has buckled to pressure from Trump and fellow Republicans. Of course, he's a Republican himself and is doing a lousy job of it. But, in almost every case, the strategy --- such that there is one --- now seems to be to target the votes of African-Americans to be tossed out.

In Wisconsin today, the Trump Campaign plunked down $3 million to pay for a partial recount in the state. A full count would have cost the cash-strapped campaign $7.9 million. They have asked for counts only in heavily African-American Milwaukee County and Dane County, in a state where Joe Biden currently leads Trump by about 20,000 votes. In requesting the partial count they are doing what Republicans were outraged by in Florida in 2000 in the Bush v. Gore case, when Gore sought recounts only a few counties. The GOP, at the time, succeeded in forcing a statewide recount instead, which they were able to convince the U.S. Supreme court to block entirely. (Extra fun and irony today for those who noticed that Eric Trump complained in 2016 about the Presidential recount that year in the same state because the cost "Could Have Saved at Least 5,000 Children's Lives." He also falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton had anything to do with that recount. In fact, it was sought and paid for by the Green Party's Jill Stein for less money than the Trump Campaign sent to the Badger State today.)

In Pennsylvania, where Biden appears to have won by almost 82,000 votes, Rudy Giuliani made an absolutely hysterical jackass of himself during a federal court hearing on Tuesday. He hasn't argued a case in federal court for 30 years, and boy did it show! Just part of the fun included his opening argument in which he declared the case was about "widespread nationwide voter fraud!," before later admitting under questioning from the U.S. District Court Judge during the same hearing that "this is not a fraud case." That was hardly the only way in which he beclowned himself, especially as he focused on leveling baseless claims against the voting in heavily-minority Philadelphia. But it should also be noted that he declared his evidence-free case "a classic violation of equal protection....This is exactly Bush v. Gore!" That's fun, considering his campaign then violated a basic tenet of that 2000 case with their request for a cherry-picked partial recount in WI today.)

In Michigan on Tuesday night, the two Republicans on the Board of Canvassers in Wayne County refused to certify the November 3rd results due to claims of irregularities in the county's largest city, Detroit. (Seeing a pattern here yet?) The irregularities in question, apparently, regard small inconsistencies between the number of ballots cast and the number of voters signed into the pollbooks in a number of precincts in the county, in a state where Biden appears to have won by almost 160,000 votes. Despite a higher number of inconsistencies during primaries in the County earlier this year --- and a larger percentage of inconsistencies in majority white cities in the same County --- the Republicans on the Board certified the spring primaries without a problem. Their refusal to certify the general election deadlocked the Board at 2 to 2 and prevented certification for a few hours on Tuesday night. Brutal public comments at the Board's hearing and agreement to ask the Democratic Sec. of State for an audit of Wayne County's discrepancies, resulted in certification after all, by a unanimous 4 to 0 vote in a new vote by the Board held just three hours later.

But much of today's show is focused, however, on the absurd clown show that has been underway in Georgia for the past week, where the Republican Sec. of State, Brad Raffensperger, buckled to pressure last week from Trump and fellow Republicans who hold him responsible for the fact that Trump appears to have lost there by about 13,000 votes.

Last week, when Raffensperger announced an unprecedented statewide "audit, recount and a recanvass all at once," we explained on the program how that's not actually possible or even legal. This week, Raffensperger quietly admitted as much, sending out a letter to County Elections Officials [PDF] to notify them that "after evaluating the audit procedures...the original results...tabulated on and after election day, and certified by the county election superintendent, should be the results that your county certifies as the November 2, 2020 General Election Totals."

In short, the so-called "Risk-Limiting Audit" of 100% of the ballots cast in GA's Presidential race was not a "hand recount" as many media outlets have been misreporting it, but a largely meaningless exercise meant to try and appease our cry baby President, as my guest today, JEANNE DUFORT of the Coalition for Good Governance, describes it. Dufort has been on the ground in the state where she has also been a voter plaintiff in some of the Coalition's lawsuits. They are plaintiffs in a long-running federal case seeking to ban the state's use of new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made Dominion Voting Systems. (The same lawsuit succeeded in obtaining an order from the federal judge that banned the state's previous, 20-year old, unverifiable touchscreen systems made by Diebold. Despite recommendations from cybersecurity advocates and voting systems experts, Raffensperger chose to move to the new $100+ million touchscreens that are similarly unverifiable.)

Over the past 48 hours, two Republican-leaning counties discovered about 2,700 votes each that had gone either unscanned or unreported to the state previously. Those would have been discovered in the normal course of regular post-election canvassing, and netted about 1,000 votes for Trump overall. That will decrease Biden's final state certified margin from about 14,000 votes to about 13,000 votes. He will still be declared the official winner. After state certification on Friday, Team Trump will then have an opportunity to seek an official "recount" (as opposed to Raffensperger's pretend one) in which, by state law, the ballots will scanned again by the same computers that scanned them the first time. So that is also unlikely to change the final results.

Dufort explains today what she was able to observe over the past week during Raffensperger's "audit"/"recount"/"recanvass" which amounts to little more than Election Integrity Kabuki Theater. But, she tells us, there were still a few lessons to be learned from it all, as elections officials, poll workers and count observers who have been working for weeks amid a deadly pandemic, will now have to prepare very quickly for the two January 5 U.S. Senate runoffs in GA that will determine which party controls the Senate next year. Early voting begins on December 14th, not long after some municipal elections are also held in some counties on December 1st. All while carrying out another "recount" which Trump will almost certainly request after Friday's state certification. After all, there were a lot of --- you-know-whos --- that cast ballots against Trump in the city of Atlanta. That can't stand, right?

"The big thing is this is theater," says Dufort, speaking for herself, not the Coalition. "We've been calling for this [unverifiable Dominion Voting] equipment to be banned in the same way our lawsuit got the last Georgia system banned. So we are not fans of this equipment. But it's really ironic to see the same legislators who forced this $100 million purchase on the state to now be saying, 'Hey let's return it to the vendor! Let's get rid of it! It's a terrible system!', because they didn't get enough for their money. They didn't get a President for their money, and it's not clear they're going to get two Senators for their money. So it's kind of a funny time in Georgia."

Finally, we close with some listener mail that may hit the nail on the head: Trump isn't trying to getto 270 electoral votes. He's trying to take enough votes away from Biden so that he gets less than the required 270, so the election must be thrown to the House where the Constitution allows for minority (Republican) rule to win the day. With Rudy Giuliani now leading Team Trump's efforts, how could the plan fail?!

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Also: Trump FBI Dir. confirms 2020 Russian interference; Former top Pence staffer endorses Biden; And MUCH more you need to hear...
By Brad Friedman on 9/17/2020 7:08pm PT  

As my rant near the top of today's BradCast makes clear --- there is a now mountain of madness emanating from the White House. All of it now going on at one time, as Donald Trump and the Republican Party become more desperate with each passing day before this year's election. And while the mountain of unfolding nightmarish stories I quickly cover in that rant are all terrible --- some of them horrific, in fact --- none of them matter, for the moment, as much as making sure that everyone is able to vote this safely this year and have their votes counted as cast in the November 3rd election. That is how we will keep ourselves and this republic alive, as this President and his Administration (and their party) appear to have no interest in that. I hope you'll enjoy the rant nonetheless. [Audio link to today's show follows below the summary.]

Before and after today's rant...

  • We kick off our show with the new ad from Republican Voters Against Trump, featuring Olivia Troye, a former top aide to Vice President Mike Pence as his homeland security advisor and his lead staffer on the White House Coronavirus Task Force "from day one". Troye, who left the White House in July, announced today that she is endorsing Joe Biden and explains why in the video ad that excoriates Trump for not wanting to hear about the pandemic back in February "because his biggest concern was that we were in an election year and how was this going to effect his record of success." She goes on to charge that Trump "doesn't care about anyone else but himself" and once described his supporters during a task force meeting as "disgusting people";
  • Then, a bit of testimony from Donald Trump's FBI Director Christopher Wray, in a hearing today before the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee in which the man Trump hired to replace the fired James Comey explains that Russia is currently undertaking "very active efforts...to influence our election in 2020 through what I would call more than malign foreign influence". He testified that the Russian effort underway is meant to denigrate Joe Biden;
  • But, as noted in our rant, ultimately, none of it matters unless American voters can safely vote and have their vote counted as cast. Toward that end, we have several stories of mostly good news for voting rights, beginning with the federal judge in Washington State who issued a nationwide preliminary injunction today to block what he describes as "a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service" before the November election. The injunction was sought in a suit filed by 14 states against the Trump Administration and the U.S. Postal Service. It seeks to block measures implemented by new Postmaster General and major Trump/RNC donor Louis DeJoy which slowed down mail delivery in advance of an election that will see record mail-in voting due to Trump's failure to control the coronavirus pandemic;
  • That is hardly the only effort underway by Trump and his party to make voting by mail more difficult this year. But we've got mostly good news to report today from the Supreme Court in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania. The high court approved the use of absentee ballot drop-boxes and is allowing ballots received by elections officials to be tallied if they arrive as late as three days after Election Day and are postmarked by November 3rd. The setback for Team Trump in the state Court's series of rulings on Thursday also included upholding a state requirement that poll watchers must live in the county where they are poll watching (while that's not optimal in most cases, it may be necessary this year to prevent the GOP from bringing in people to intimidate voters. We explain why that is.)

    In more good Keystone State news for Democrats, the state Supremes also ruled that the Green Party failed to qualify for this year's Presidential ballot. In better news for Trump and the GOP --- though not good news for voting rights advocates --- the Court denied a Democratic request for voters to be notified to come in and cure absentee ballot deficiencies --- such as missing or perceived mismatched signatures or missing secrecy envelopes --- before those ballots are rejected. Hopefully this serves as a warning to voters in PA (and everywhere else!) to follow all the rules for absentee voting carefully before mailing --- or, better yet --- dropping off ballots in person this year, where allowed. A lawsuit challenging some of the same issues has been filed by the Trump Campaign in federal court, where the Trump-appointed judge in charge of that case has put it on hold as the state cases moved forward. We'll see what that federal judge does now.

  • The embarrassing battle over absentee ballot drop-boxes continued today in the longtime battleground state of Ohio, leading the Republican Chief Justice of the state's Supreme Court to excoriate her own party for attacks they leveled against Democratic Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Richard Frye after he found in favor of Democrats earlier this week in the state suit they filed against Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose. In that case, Frye found that state law allows Counties to deploy as many secure mail-in ballot drop-boxes as they'd like.

    Longtime "conservative stalwart" and Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor issued a blistering rebuke against state Republicans for their response to Frye's finding, calling the GOP's allegations "disgraceful" and "deceitful" and "a blatant and unfounded attack". Nonetheless, even after Frye's finding, LaRose has so far declined to lift his August directive mandating only one drop-box in each of the Buckeye State's 88 counties and has vowed to appeal Frye's ruling. That turns out to be in contradiction of what the Secretary indicated previously, when he told many people --- including a top labor official in the state (via text messages) as well as a federal judge in a parallel federal suit --- that he would be happy to change his order once a Court clarified if it was allowable under state law. But LaRose, apparently, is a liar...or a coward cowed by his own party;

  • In our final War on Voting story for today (yes, there will be many more to come in the days ahead, sadly), South Carolina's Republican Governor signed a law this week that will allow any state voter to vote by absentee ballot this year, no excuse needed, in response to the nation's still-out-of-control COVID-19 pandemic. That's good news. But the legislation adopted this week by the GOP-dominated state legislature failed to include several provisions sought by Democrats, including the use of secure drop-boxes for absentee ballots and the waiving of a requirement for a witness to sign the mail-in ballot. The changes to state election law come as incumbent Republican U.S. Senator and Trump lackey Lindsey Graham is said to be TIED in pre-election polling with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison in the Palmetto State in what could be a stunning upset this November...if ALL voters in the state are allowed to vote and to see their votes counted as cast;
  • Finally today, in a brief respite from the War Against the War on Voting, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some of the ongoing brutal news this week in the war against our ever worsening and deadly climate crisis and those who continue to pretend it doesn't exist...even in a week like this one...

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Guest: Jenny Cohn, attorney, election security advocate; Also: Climate-fueled West Coast fires keep breaking records; More new hurricanes on the way; Trump claims climate change, like COVID, will just go away...
By Brad Friedman on 9/14/2020 6:21pm PT  

Today's BradCast in a nutshell: Elected officials lie, corporate media misinforms, people die. We try again to combat all of the above today. Wish us luck. [Audio link to today's show follow below.]

First up today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest on the deadly, devastating, climate changed-fueled wildfire infernos wreaking havoc up and down the West Coast and on the new record hurricanes that are heading our way at the same time. With more than 3 million acres now burned, hundreds of structures destroyed in California alone, and at least 35 dead from the record blazes so far, Donald Trump went to the state on Monday and told fire officials not to worry. "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch," the President told California state Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot, who was urging him to not ignore science and "recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests." Trump's response: "Well, I don't think science knows, actually."

So, don't worry! Just as Trump repeatedly promised COVID would "just go away," (more than 190,000 Americans have been killed by it since he pulled that phony promise out of his ass), apparently the same is true for our climate crisis! Of course, our corporate media have made it much easier for Trump to misinform the nation with his lies because the corporate media have done --- and are still doing --- an horrendous job of educating the electorate about the real reasons the western fires have become so horrific and why we are now up to "V" in the named storms so far this year, with a month and half still to go in the storm season and two and a half months remaining in the wildfire season.

The media have been similarly disastrous in their education of the electorate when it comes to our woeful election system. Sadly, too many top government officials --- Democratic and Republican ones alike --- share in that blame, as we're reminded in our guest today, JENNY COHN's new short #RemoveTheModems video, warning voters about the modems that are present in voting and tabulation systems in key states --- including battlegrounds Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin --- making our entire electoral system vulnerable to hackers.

Citing the comments from officials back in 2016 falsely telling America that our voting and tabulation systems are "never connected to the Internet" (they are), so can't be hacked (they can), Cohn tells me: "I'm very worried that we're going to be gaslit again in 2020. If the electronic totals somehow favor Trump, we're going to be told to pack up and go home there's nothing to see here, he just won, 'he's a legitimate president', period."

That year, even after Democrats promised "hundreds of attorneys" on the ground to assure a legitimate election (exactly as Joe Biden's campaign did again today), the DNC and Clinton Campaign refused to demand the hand-count of ballots in the three key states (MI, WI and PA) which barely flipped to the Republican candidate for the first time in decades. That, despite the fact that had an average of just two votes been recorded for Clinton instead of Trump in each precinct in those states that year, she, not he, would have won.

"What really concerns me is the blind spot that the Democratic Party seems to have for the electronic component of potential for cheating," says Cohn. She believes, however, that at least Clinton has learned her lesson. Based on a conversation she says she had with the 2016 Democratic candidate recently, Cohen tells me: "I do believe that Hillary Clinton understands it now, and I think she understands the importance of the Democrats not boxing themselves into a corner, where they will look like hypocrites if they need to file an election challenge based on the electronic totals, or any other aspect of the election."

Whether Clinton has enough power to convince the Biden Campaign and the rest of the Party of that, Cohn suggests, is a separate question.

Cohn, an attorney, election security advocate and Twitter activist, is calling for the modems cited in her video to be removed from the systems in states which use them before the November election. As journalist Kim Zetter reported last year, many of the election officials in those states don't even realize when their private election vendor has hooked their systems up to the Internet --- some of them she reports researchers discovered, are on the net all year around!

"I have no doubt that what the Trump team wants to do is win the electronic vote on Election Day, and then try to run out the clock or do something else with the [absentee ballot] signature match, so that we don't get all of them counted," she tells Cohn argues. "Or, if it goes to a recount, it gets shut down prematurely," she says, noting correctly that Vote-by-Mail ballots are also "sent to that electronic management system too."

Cohn also discusses some of her worst fears about this year's elections (and I share some of mine, several of which are similar, especially regarding electronic pollbooks which often have no paper backup) before we take a few phone calls from listeners on the topic, with Election Day now just 50 days away. "It's going to be ugly, no matter what the official result is," she says, noting: "My biggest concern --- the overarching concern that I think we both share --- is that there won't be any transparency about the results, and therefore we'll never really know."

Cohn has posted a bunch of helpful "Tips to Mitigate Threats to Our Votes and Voter Registrations Before November" that I'd urge you to check out and share as well, even though we didn't get time to discuss them. Just a good reason to have Jenny back. Please follow her on Twitter until then!...

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Foreign and domestic election interference continues. So does our effort to help you make sense of what's actually going on...
By Brad Friedman on 9/1/2020 6:52pm PT  

We've got a lot to get to on today's BradCast, as voters in Massachusetts go to the polls today with a couple of very interesting primary races (results tomorrow!), and as the rest of us are now counting the days (63 of them), until general Election Day, with both hope and trepidation. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

Among the mountains o' stuff covered on today's program...

  • After years of our reporting on the very successful, perhaps irreversible, decades-long effort by the Right to brainwash its followers, we open today with a few thoughts about a similar, if not quite as successful (though it's getting closer), effort to brainwash those on the Left. That effort to brainwash the Left, like the scheme on the Right, is also carried out by folks on the Right or those who support them. (And yes, that means we have a few words today about the still-misreported facts regarding the Hillary/Bernie race from 2016);
  • We have more evidence of attempts to manipulate the Left in today's announcement from Facebook that, based on a tip from the FBI, the social media outlet has shut down several fake accounts created to support a Russia-related propaganda scheme targeting the Left in hopes of undermining Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. The operation reportedly included a phony media outlet calling itself "Peace Data", in hopes of appealing to progressives in advance of this year's election;
  • Information of that sort, as we discuss, is --- or should be --- useful to voters. Nonetheless, with just over two months until Election Day, with Donald Trump's top intelligence officers having recently warned that Russia is taking active measures, once again, to undermine the Presidential election in support of Trump, his recently-appointed Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe notified Congress over the weekend that he will no longer offer in-person briefings to lawmakers regarding foreign attempts to interfere in the election. The claim, offered by Trump himself without facts to back it up, is that members of Congress were illegally leaking certain information from the intelligence community, and that the information leaked was also "wrong". No evidence was given to support that charge, and while Trump claimed the decision to end intelligence briefings to Congress was made by him and Ratcliffe, evidence suggests that it was, instead, a directive from Trump himself. For some reason;
  • Speaking of the November 3rd election, the dirty tricks are now underway, as revealed by a new robocall to some Democratic-leaning Michigan voters falsely warning that signing up to vote by mail will result in voters contact information being added to a database for tracking down arrest warrants, credit card debt collection and "mandatory vaccines". None of that is true. Though you should expect much more of it in the weeks ahead;
  • Also in Michigan, the state's Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, recently won a court case filed by rightwingers attempting to prevent her from sending absentee ballot applications to all of the state's 7.7 million voters. The ruling --- in a state which Trump is said to have won by just over 11,000 votes in 2016 --- comes in the wake of his misfired threat to withhold federal funding from Michigan in a tweet in which he falsely claimed the "rogue Secretary of State" was planning to send out actual ballots (as opposed to applications) to all voters;
  • And while Trump and his minions have been suing in state after state in (usually failed) efforts to make voting more difficult during the global pandemic that he failed to control --- even attempting to block the use of secure absentee ballot drop-boxes in key battleground states like Pennsylvania --- another newly elected Democratic Sec. of State, Jena Griswold in Colorado, announced today that her state will offer "at least 368 mail ballot drop boxes for the General Election, an increase of 49% since I was elected in 2018!";
  • Also today, a somewhat bizarre comment from a reader/listener in response to our coverage yesterday of L.A. County's disastrous, unverifiable new touchscreen voting system, in which the commenters offers several odd allegations amid of my nearly 20 years of critical coverage of e-voting and asks "whose side are you on?";
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report in the wake of catastrophic week for the climate and the Republican National Convention...

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Winning the Right to Vote; DeJoy to DeCongress; Repub Led Senate Report on Team Trump Lies About 2016 Russia Interference; Former DHS Official Calls Trump 'Terrifying', Lawless; Highlights from DNC Day 1...
By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2020 6:25pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, it is what it is. But we're here to cover it. And so we do. In the most information-packed broadcast you're likely to find anywhere. At least for the price. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among the MANY stories covered today...

  • It's been 100 years since women won the right to vote, as the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18th, 1920. They were not granted the right. They fought like hell for generations and won it for themselves. Sadly, thanks to Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans, too many are still fighting like hell to keep it;
  • Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi summoned lawmakers back to D.C. to pass a law this Saturday to roll back efforts by Donald Trump's donor and newly appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, to slow down mail delivery in advance of the November election. On Monday, he and U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Chair --- and former RNC Chair --- Robert Duncan, agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee next week. Today, DeJoy also agreed to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday and, clearly under pressure and facing lawsuits by 20 different state Attorneys General, DeJoy agreed to pause his new directives at the USPS...if you believe him;
  • The Republican-led U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a damning, nearly 1000-page report today on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the Trump Campaign's cooperation with the effort. The bipartisan report, described as more expansive than the one by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, highlights, among many other things: Trump's criminal lies to Mueller about conversations he "did, in fact" have with convicted felon Roger Stone (and multiple other campaign staffers) concerning the publication of stolen emails by WikiLeaks before the 2016 election; convicted Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort's collusion with a Russian intelligence agent described as a "grave counterintelligence threat"; the Russian "influence operation" after the election to claim that it was Ukraine, not Russia, which interfered in 2016 on behalf of Hillary Clinton, not Trump --- a claim for which the Senate Committee found "no reliable evidence" despite more than 200 interviews over three years of fact-finding, including with Trump family members and top campaign officials;
  • Just hours before the Democratic National Committee's Convention was to convene on Monday night, the group Republican Voters Against Trump released a damning video featuring Miles Taylor, the former Chief of Staff at Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security, who describes Trump's incompetence as "terrifying", detailing frequently "illegal" orders from the President who, he says, often attempted to exploit the DHS for his own political purposes and personal benefit. Taylor said today we should expect more insiders coming forward with similarly disturbing revelations in coming days;
  • Then, we move to the first night of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention with a few thoughts about the format (a "convention" without the actual convening part) and the high-profile Republicans --- including Ohio's former Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate John Kasich --- who spoke in support of Joe Biden on the Dems' opening night. We also share the segment featuring Kristin Urquiza, whose Trump-supporting father believed the coronavirus to be a hoax, until we was killed by it. We then play extended excerpts from former Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders' full-throated endorsement of Biden, making the progressive case for his Presidency, and finally an extended portion of the killer keynote remarks by former First Lady Michelle Obama, detailing Trump's irreparable failures as President and why the nation needs to replace him with Biden. Both Sanders and Obama made excellent arguments for why neither progressives nor Democrats nor the country nor the planet could endure four more years under the most inept, corrupt, dishonest, failed President in the history of the nation;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest, incredibly jam-packed Green News Report, as extreme weather broils the U.S., Greenland's ice sheet faces its final days, and the Trump Administration opens up the previously pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to commercial oil drilling...even though Donald Trump apparently does not even know what it is.

But, of course, it is what it is...

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Guest: Media Matters' Zachary Pleat; Also: If MLB can't avoid COVID, how's your local school district going to?; Trump's pathetic Fauci envy...
By Brad Friedman on 7/28/2020 6:44pm PT  

We're getting our sea legs back n today's BradCast, after a few days off (thanks, Nicole Sandler for filling in for us!) Luckily it's been a slow few new days since we last spoke. Sigh... [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Anyway, among the stories covered on today's program...

  • How pathetic is malignant narcissist, Donald Trump? So pathetic that he completely made up an invitation to throw out the first pitch at a Yankees game after the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was invited to toss the first pitch at the Washington Nationals' home opener last week;
  • Well, that didn't take long. Now 17 members of the Florida Marlins are said to be infected with the coronavirus, leading Major League Baseball to suspend the Marlins' season through at least this Sunday along with the cancellation of three games this week between the Yankees and Phillies. All of this comes just days after MLB opened for a truncated 60 game season. They didn't make it past Day 3 without an outbreak;
  • If MLB and its billions of dollars can't keep its player safe, how do you suppose your local school district is gonna fare next month if they are ordered to re-open for in-person classes? That is still the plan for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who is bravely risking the lives of his state's children and their teachers in hopes that somehow that will help Donald Trump get re-elected in 98 days. We wonder if he's noticed that the infection and hospitalization rate for KIDS in the hot-spot Sunshine State is now exploding, with more than 31,000 cases of COVID-19 for Floridians under the age of 18 as of late last week --- a 34% increase in cases and a 23% increase in hospitalizations since the week prior. More than 300 children in Florida are now hospitalized with the virus, with one-third of them between the ages of 14 and 17, and 67 cases of hospitalization for those younger than one year old. That, after Donald Trump told the nation last week at a White House coronavirus briefing that school age kids "don’t catch it easily; they don’t bring it home easily";
  • Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the nation's most corrupt Attorney General in history, Bill Barr, testified for the first time ever before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, as federal troops wreak chaos on American streets and after interceding in criminal cases on behalf of Trump's convicted felon friends, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone. Both were found guilty of lying to federal investigators during Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. It was a contentious hearing that seems to have accomplished little. Though it did include a moment when Barr, who pretended to be concerned about the rule of law, seemed to suggest it might be just fine for the President to solicit and/or accept foreign assistance in an election. For the record, that remains illegal --- at least for those who actually do care about the rule of law --- whether Barr actually enforces such things or not;
  • Then, the disinformation wars continue, as led by the President of the United States and his more-than-willing accomplices. One of which, naturally, is his eldest son and namesake Don Jr., who ended up in "Twitter Jail" today for retweeting a video by Breitbart "News" that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube consider to be "false information about cures and treatments for COVID-19."
  • But, of course, Trump Sr. has many such accomplices in the rightwing media. Unfortunately, that isn't limited only to wingnut propaganda cable channels like Fox "News" or Internet propaganda outlets like Breitbart. It also includes the second largest owner of local television stations in the nation. Late last week Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which is allowed to own nearly 200 local stations in more than 100 markets, was shamed into temporarily pulling an episode of American This Week, as hosted by disgraced and fired Fox "News" personality Eric Bolling. (While texting unsolicited photos of one's genitalia is apparently enough to get ya fired by Fox, Sinclair doesn't seem to mind it all!)

    The episode in question featured an interview with a dubious, self-proclaimed "expert in virology" who, among other thing, claims that wearing a mask causes COVID-19, that Dr. Fauci "manufactured" the virus and sent it to Wuhan, China for some reason, and that an eventual coronavirus vaccine will "kill millions". After light was spread on the false claims featured in the episode, Sinclair pulled it for retooling. Today, CNN reports, they will not be airing it at all anymore. The Media Matters Senior Researcher who first exposed the Sinclair conspiracy propaganda, ZACHARY PLEAT, joins us on today's show to explain what happened and why Sinclair's pro-Trump propaganda --- hidden in plain sight, often coming out of the mouths of your favorite trusted local news anchors --- is arguably more insidious than even Fox "News".

    Moreover, that rightwing propaganda is being spread over OUR PUBLIC AIRWAVES in dozens of mostly southern and midwestern states across the country, on stations owned by Sinclair with frequencies licensed (for free) to them by the federal government in exchange for serving "in the public interest". Hopefully the FCC, during the next Administration, will take a long hard look at Sinclair's licensing agreements next time they come up for renewal;

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with two surprise hurricanes in two different U.S. states over just one weekend; more environmental destruction by the Trump Administration on (hopefully) their way out the door; and the installation of the world's largest battery now set to power tens of thousands of homes with clean, renewable energy in Southern California...

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Guest: Ray Lutz of Citizens' Oversight; Also: Rest in Power, John Lewis...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2020 6:54pm PT  

We kick off today's BradCast on a somber, if hopefully inspiring note, on the passing of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis who died on Friday after a battle with cancer. His decades-long fight for voting rights --- and the call to cause "good trouble, necessary trouble" --- has been an inspiration to this show and our work at BradBlog.com for many years. The best tribute we can offer to Rep. Lewis, of course, is to continue his fight as best we can. And so we do once again today. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

More than 100k absentee/Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots were rejected by election officials in the state of California after its March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, according to a new AP analysis. Many of the rejections were due to voter error, though not all. Some were also due perceived mismatched or missing signatures and a to a too-short statutory deadline (3 days) for VBM ballots to arrive after Election Day. The state has now increased that time to 17 days for ballots postmarked by Election Day to be included in the final tally.

But, of course, various problems with VBM is why in-person polling places remain very necessary in CA and all states this year, even with expanded mail-in voting during the COVID crisis. That is true even in the Golden State, which will be sending VBM ballots directly to all active registered voters this year because of the pandemic. Here in Los Angeles County, however --- the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction --- the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has said that, for in-person voting, he will stick with the County's new, horribly failed $300 million unverifiable touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system this November, despite the disasters that resulted in 3, 4, and 5 hour lines to vote and an untold number of disenfranchised voters during the system's first county-wide use on March 3rd.

I discussed the decision by Logan to use L.A. voters, once again, as guinea pig beta testers this November, during the most critical election of our lifetimes, in a segment late last month on CBS2-LA News with investigative reporter David Goldstein. Incredibly, CA's Democratic Sec. of State Alex Padilla and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors have all apparently agreed to allow the failed system --- called "Voting Solutions For All People" or VSAP --- another try on November 3rd. What could possibly go wrong?

An L.A. County Civil Grand Jury --- which has also been investigating the VSAP failure --- thinks a lot could go wrong. The group's report on the VSAP failures [PDF] by both Logan and Padilla, entitled "Maybe I Voted?", demands answers from Registrar Logan as well as the state. Goldstein, who has been closely following the VSAP mess since a few weeks before the March 3rd election, followed up by covering the "scathing" L.A. Grand Jury report and called me once again to appear in that follow-up report on CBS2-LA as well.

Meanwhile, a group of Election Integrity advocates in the state sent an open letter [PDF] late last week to Gov. Gavin Newsom (and Sec. of State Padilla), seeking an Executive Order for important improvements to the state's 1% post-election audit process. We're joined today by RAY LUTZ, longtime Election Integrity advocate and the founder and Executive Director of CitizensOversight.org. His organization won a ruling in a lawsuit several years ago that would have required all Vote-by-Mail ballots to be included as part of the pool from which the random sample of ballots are drawn when determining which of them will be hand-counted after an election to assure the accuracy of the state's computerized optical-scan ballot tabulators.

When Lutz filed suit in San Diego after the 2016 election, that County's Registrar, Michael Vu, was drawing only from votes cast at the precinct or absentee ballots that were counted early for inclusion in the 1% post-election spot check. As the groups notes in their press release [PDF] announcing the letter to Newsom, that resulted in some 285,000 ballots that were automatically excluded from the mandatory "audit" in 2016. Lutz' win in the courts, however, was short-lived after Padilla (with support from L.A. County's Logan) lobbied the CA state legislator to specifically allow Registrar's to ignore late mail-in ballots all together during post-election audits. Leaving those ballots out of the audit, Lutz argues, means that nefarious actors "can just move ballots --- ten thousand, twenty thousand at a time --- from one candidate to another and no one would be the wiser because they wouldn't have that check." That, he says, is a virtual roadmap for election theft.

His group's letter asks the Governor to declare that all ballots should be included in the potential audit sample pool in this November's elections, particularly now that some 90% of votes are likely to be cast as mail-in ballots for the first time this year, due to the Governor's previous Executive Order to send VBM ballots to all this year.

Moreover, Lutz echoes frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance (which is suing Georgia to force hand-marked paper ballots for all) in her important tweeted concerns last night observing that both major political parties are utterly failing to ensure proper public oversight of absentee ballot handling and tabulation. Marks complained that Elections officials across the country (and definitely in Georgia!) are "working overtime to block transparency, block access, block observation, work[ing] behind closed doors, etc. This, of course, plays into Trump's hands in that if he wants to claim 'rigging,' the Dems will have little evidence documented to rebut the claim."

Lutz agrees with her thinking. California is "not a battleground state," he says, "but remember, the popular vote is always a big issue in the Presidential election. And as you remember last time, Trump made a big deal about 'illegal voter fraud' and all these 'million illegals are voting'. So we have to have our act together for this election to defend against those claims. If we do what we're doing now, we're going to have up to six million ballots that are completely unaudited and can be flipped. Six million votes is a lot. So we need to have this change."

The issue, he goes on to explain, is not only important in California. "Any state that expands their vote-by-mail or absentee voting right now probably is not auditing those ballots." Lutz points listeners to the letter to Newsom, suggesting others push for similar improvements to post-election audits in other states as well, given that, as bad as CA's processes are, they are still better than many states where no computer-tallied votes are ever examined by any human beings at all before election results are certified. "We can't rely upon the election officials, or really anyone, to do this job for us," he argues. "The public has to do its own oversight of its elections. No one can be trusted. We have to do it ourselves. This is where we really call on the citizenry to stand up and really take a look at this. Because the most important thing we can do is to make sure these elections are sound."

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Guest: Constitutional attorney Ben Clements of Free Speech for People; Also: New COVID records; Woolery deletes his Twitter account; RBG battling cancer again; Bowman declared 'winner' in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 7/17/2020 7:11pm PT  

It ain't over 'til it's over. And several well-respected Constitutional attorneys have just filed a motion arguing the Roger Stone case is not over at all. Not yet anyway. One of those attorneys joins us on today's BradCast to explain. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first, some other news of note today. It's becoming a broken record, but the U.S. broke yet another record for new, daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday. It's the 11th such record smashed in the first 16 days of July. With more than 75,600 confirmed new cases reported on Thursday alone, the U.S. is now quickly rushing toward the 100,000 cases per day that Dr. Anthony Fauci shocked the nation a week or so ago by predicting was likely coming soon.

Of course, why should anybody believe the nation's top infectious disease expert Fauci on these things? Former game show host turned rightwing genius Chuck Woolery certainly doesn't! Or didn't. Maybe he does now. Woolery unleashed an unhinged Twitter rant on Sunday calling news about COVID-19 "outrageous lies", and warning us that "The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors" are "lying" about it all. The President of the United State retweet that screed to much notice on the same day. The very next day, however, on Monday, Woolery tweeted again. This time "To further clarify and add perspective." What was his added perspective? His son had been diagnosed with COVID-19. That led the former "Love Connection" host to concede that the virus "is real and it is here." He deleted his entire Twitter account soon thereafter.

Yes. It's real and here, no matter how much Trump and his duped followers hope to pretend it away. And Woolery is just the latest wingnut to be hoisted on his own idiotic social media rantings suggesting the coronavirus is little more than hoax by the media and by Democrats to help them win the upcoming election and/or to allow Fauci and Bill Gates to control the world. Or something. Unlike so many other wingnuts, sadly, who've offered similarly dangerous public rants over the past several months, Woolery wasn't actually killed by the virus before his embarrassing social media spew revealed him to be an idiot. We send our best wishes for a healthy future to both him and his son.

Similarly, we send such wishes to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg who, after apparently overcoming an infection that hospitalized her overnight this week, announced that she, separately, has been undergoing twice-weekly chemotherapy since being diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer on her liver in May. She has, so far over the past decade, survived pancreatic, colon and lung cancer. She says her current cancer is "at bay" and that she is "able to maintain an active daily routine." In her statement today, she vowed to continue her work at the Court until she can no longer "do the job full steam," adding "I remain fully able to do that." In fact, according to NBC News, other than Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Ginsburg authored more opinions over the past term than any of the other Justices, even as she was undergoing treatment for cancer. Meanwhile, the nation will remain on pins and needles until a new President is sworn in.

Ginsburg's still-sharp mind may soon be needed on a number of landmark matters that could come before the Republican's stolen SCOTUS, as the Trump Presidency (hopefully) nears its ugly end over the next several months, even as he becomes more desperate, manic, narcissistic and reckless with each passing day. One such matter that could come before the Court is a ruling on the Constitutionality of Trump's grant of Executive Clemency to his long time pal, former Trump campaign official, and decades-long GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone.

On Wednesday this week, to little public notice, the non-partisan good government group Free Speech for People (FSFP) filed a motion [PDF] with U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who oversaw the Stone case and his eventual sentencing to 40 months in prison. Stone was found guilty by a jury of 7 counts of lying to Congress and federal investigators in their probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and of witness tampering (threatening to kill the witness and his dog) in his case. Jackson, in her closing remarks after sentencing Stone, said he "was prosecuted for covering up for the President."

That same President then granted Clemency to Stone by commuting his 3-year sentence to zero days late last Friday night, before Stone could even reported to prison as scheduled this past Tuesday. But a number of well-respected Constitutional legal scholars are now arguing that Trump's action on Stone's behalf was unconstitutional and should be overturned by Judge Jackson.

"This case isn't over," declared Ron Fein, Legal Director of FSFP in a statement announcing the motion filed with Jackson on Wednesday. "The Supreme Court has acknowledged that the pardon power is not unlimited, and the Constitution requires the President to exercise that power loyally and carefully in the public interest rather than in his own self-interest."

Joining us on the show today is BEN CLEMENTS, a former federal prosecutor, former Chief Counsel to MA Governor Deval Patrick and now Board Chair and Senior Legal Advisor for FSFP. Clements, with more than thirty years of expertise as a constitutional attorney in both the public and private sectors is co-counsel on the motion filed by this week with Judge Jackson.

"In the very clause establishing the Presidency itself, Article II of the Constitution, the framers included language making clear that the presidency is, in effect, a public trust. Its powers must be exercised for the benefit of the public, and not the personal benefit of the President," Clements tells me today. "They specifically provided that the President is required to take care that the laws be faithfully exercised and executed, and they required the President to take an oath to faithfully execute the office of President."

Clements goes on to explain that the Presidential pardon power, while "considerable" is "not absolute," and that the Supreme Court has recognized those powers "are subject to the textual constraints in the Constitution itself." In other words, as he details today, it can't be used in a criminal manner or with a corrupt purpose. He offers the example that it would be unlawful and unconstitutional for a convicted felon to pay bribe money to the President in exchange for a pardon.

"Granting a pardon or a commutation for a completely unlawful and illicit purpose is antithetical to [the President's] obligation to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed," Clements argues, adding, "There's ample public evidence that this was part of an illicit bribe. Stone agreed to protect the President by refusing to tell the truth, even lying to investigators investigating the role of Trump and his campaign in Russia's unlawful interference in the 2016 election. And Trump agreed, in exchange, to protect Stone from the legal consequences of his illegal conduct."

"At a minimum, the public evidence --- including statements from Trump himself throughout these last several years, and from the White House in describing the reasons for this commutation --- that evidence demonstrates that Trump's purpose in commuting [Stone's] sentence is to reward him for covering up for Trump, and to continue to protect Trump," according to Clement. "So, this is not 'faithful execution' of the laws as required by Article II. This is obstruction of the law, it's obstruction of justice, and it's obstruction of lawful investigations all for corrupt and self-interested purposes."

He says it is up to the court --- right now, Judge Jackson --- to consider the arguments presented and "if the judge agrees that the evidence is persuasive, to declare [the Commutation] constitutionally invalid and to order Roger Stone back to prison."

It's a fascinating twist --- or, at least, a potential one --- in the case. Clements goes on to offer his insight on how all of this may play out in the days ahead...including what may happen once, and if, the case reaches the High Court. You'll want to tune in for today's conversation for much more on this important filing, that has otherwise flown largely under the radar this week with everything else that is going on.

Finally, we end with some bonafide good news --- at least for progressives --- as 44-year old progressive African-American and first time political candidate, Jamaal Bowman, is declared the winner by AP over 16-term establishment U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel in New York's June 23rd Democratic primary. Bowman's reported victory in the 16th Congressional District mirrors Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' win over 10-term Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley in 2018. And, as with AOC's District next door, Bowman's is heavily Democratic as well, meaning the winner of this year's primary is, as AP reports, "virtually assured of victory in the general election in November."

So there's a bit more good news to take home with you this weekend, as we all limp together towards the hoped-for coming end of the Trump nightmare and all that has come with it...

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Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on new Court opinions on 'faithless electors', Obamacare and the GOP's ongoing (and now deadly) war on voting...
By Brad Friedman on 7/7/2020 6:52pm PT  

We've got a bit of a roller coaster today between good news and terrible news on today's BradCast. But that's life in the times of Trump and the coronavirus, I guess. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, the COVID-19 crisis continues to gravely worsen in the U.S., with new record infections and hospitalizations now pretty much every day for the past month. Despite the increasingly desperate concerns expressed by health experts, especially for hotspots where Governors reopened states far too early, some Republicans from the President of the United States on down are calling for measures that will only increase infection rates, hospitalizations and, yes, death.

Florida's Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday, for example, declared that all public schools must reopen next month to all students for in-person classes five days a week. His emergency order notes that reopening schools is critical to "a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride". That, despite more than 200,000 confirmed cases and new record daily infection rates each day for weeks now in the Sunshine State.

At the same time, in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Donald Trump held a White House event to demand the reopening of schools and to praise Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis for a "terrific job" in ordering them to open. Trump claimed that schools have been closed elsewhere for "political reasons" and added that "we are very much going to put pressure on Governors and everybody else to open the schools." This is now a death march being led by the President of the United States.

But if Republican politicians are fine sending children and their teachers and their families to their potential deaths, how do you think federal judges appointed by Trump or sympathetic to his political cause are going to react to measures being taken to try and make voting safer for Americans on November 3rd? We're joined again today by Slate's ace legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss Monday's opinions released by the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as a disturbing pattern of rulings at both SCOTUS and on the appellate level over the past two weeks that bodes darkly for this year's crucial Presidential election.

First, Monday's new opinions: The Court decided unanimously that states may prevent so-called "faithless electors" from casting their vote in the Electoral College for someone other than the Presidential candidate chosen by the state's popular vote. The issue stemmed from two combined cases of "faithless electors" in 2016, one of which was brought by plaintiff Michael Baca against Colorado. Baca appeared on The BradCast in December of 2016 to explain the reasons for his planned "faithless" vote in the Electoral College that year, before he was later prevented by the state from casting it.

While that opinion, written by Justice Elana Kagan received most of the media attention on Monday, another opinion handed down by the Court that day is likely of far greater import. The Court's 6 to 3 decision, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing for the majority in a case concerning robocalls made to cell phones, actually reveals some very encouraging news regarding a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) that will be heard next session by the Court. Kavanaugh's opinion, striking down one element of a robocall law as unconstitutional while upholding the rest of the law, suggests the challenge to Obamacare by GOP-controlled states and the White House --- seeking to strike down the entire health care law as unconstitutional based on the constitutionality of one single, now meaningless, provision --- is likely to fail.

As Kavanaugh crucially noted in his opinion, in words that will be remembered next year during the ACA case: "Constitutional litigation is not a game of gotcha against Congress, where litigants can ride a discrete constitutional flaw in a statute to take down the whole, otherwise constitutional statute."

"It's important to note that seven justices agreed with [Kavanaugh] on that particular point," Stern tells me. "Only Thomas and Gorsuch disagreed."

And with that seemingly very good news out of the way, we turn to a flurry of recent decisions by both SCOTUS and a number of federal appeals courts that are extremely concerning and revealing as to how right-wing controlled federal courts will be dealing with voter suppression cases and measures intended to make voting easier during the pandemic this November. Recent court rulings in cases out of Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas, as Stern explains, are very troubling indeed and suggest we could be in for no small amount of chaos, disenfranchisement and, yes, deadly disease, in this year's critical general elections.

There are more opinions to come from the Court before they are finished for the summer. Quips Stern darkly today: "We've got a handful left, and we will see if the Supreme Court breaks our democracy before the end of the term."

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, with a bit more news out of SCOTUS and lower federal courts, including some surprisingly very good news on several controversial oil and gas pipelines!...

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