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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, December 1, 2022
Good News and Bad News in GA Early Runoff Voting: 'BradCast' 11/30/22
Guest: GA election integrity expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
Fun Times in MAGA Land!:
Sedition! Collusion! Denial!:
'BradCast' 11/29/22
Oath Keepers chief 'guilty'; GOP money launderer 'guilty'; AZ Dem SoS/Guv-elect fights to keep Repubs from disenfranchising selves...
'Green News Report' 11/29/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
While we were out... Breakthrough at U.N. climate conference; Americans at risk of power blackouts; Buffalo, NY buried by blizzard; PLUS: Houston, TX under boil water notice...
Recent GNRs: 11/17/22 - 11/15/22 - Archives...
We're Back! But Election and Accountability Season Never Left: 'BradCast' 11/28/22
Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdiddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Constitution disqualify insurrectionist Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
Now Back to the Quest for Trump Accountability, Still in Progress: 'BradCast' 11/17/22
Guest: Allison Gill of 'Mueller, She Wrote'; Also: Pelosi leaves Dem leadership; GOP secures House majority; Bass wins L.A. Mayor...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announcement climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
Recent GNRs: 11/15/22 - 11/10/22 - Archives...
2022 GOP Political Fallout, Blame, Circus Begins: 'BradCast' 11/16/22
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Trump's running again; House, Senate GOP leadership chaos; MS moves to hand-marked paper ballots...
'Green News Report' 11/15/22
Biden pledges leadership, funding at U.N. climate summit; U.S. and China resume climate talks; Costly Nicole; PLUS: Dems Sen. majority to hold line on climate policy...
Sunday 'Red Wave' Toons
Surf the wave! It's Pdiddie's first post-midterms collection of the week's best political toons!...
The Guy Whose Data Analysis Was Right on the Election on Why Media Got It So Wrong (Again): 'BradCast' 11/11/22
Guest: TargetSmart's Tom Bonier; 'Red wave' buffoonery; Latest results from AZ, NV...
It's the Gerrymandering (and Corrupted Courts), Stupid: 'BradCast' 11/10/22
Guest: Redistricting expert, author David Daley; Also: How Fox 'News' dupes followers via smartphone; Latest Sen, House, Guv results...
'Green News Report' 11/10/22
Failed 'red wave' is good news for the climate; New reports warn of skyrocketing methane levels; PLUS: Mixed results for state environmental ballot propositions...
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...
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Longtime accountability journalist and media critic Dan Froomkin; Also: MD's GOP Guv says GOP Guv nominee 'not mentally stable'; Top Trump staffers say declassification order 'complete fiction'...
By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2022 6:51pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Our U.S. corporate media are still cowed by the radical Right and still failing in their Constitutional mandate to inform and educate the electorate; a few quick items from the UNconventional Times files in advance of the 2022 midterms; and a much-needed new tune to leave you whistling on the way out. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, as I've long argued on this program, it's a mistake to buy into the political punditry of Conventional Wisdom that Dems will taking a beating this November. While the climb is still an uphill one for them this year --- particularly in the House --- polling is now bearing out my warning from months ago to ignore Conventional Wisdom in these decidedly UNconventional times. Some brief new exhibits for that case today: Maryland's popular, termed-out Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is describing Dan Cox, the state's Trump-endorsed GOP nominee for Hogan's job, as "not mentally stable", and "a nut" who has "no chance whatsoever" of winning the Governorship.

Further harming GOP odds this year, Trump's ever-worsening legal woes. As CNN reported last night, there are now 18 former top Trump Administration officials --- from two Chiefs of Staff to key military and intel officials --- who tell the news net that the disgraced former President's claim to have had a "standing order" that any documents he left the Oval Office with were immediately declassified is "ludicrous," "ridiculous," "a complete fiction" and worse.

CNN's exclusive reporting, however, never makes clear to readers that, whether or not the highly sensitive national security documents were declassified or not, doesn't actually matter. It was still unlawful for Trump to have stolen them when leaving the White House. That is a fact no matter the classification status of those documents or any other material that he stole upon leaving office last year.

Why are they so afraid to use a 100% accurate description like "stole" when describing what Trump stole from the White House? Or, as we've discussed on many previous shows, simply using plain language to describe Trump's many failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election? (He wasn't trying to "undermine" or "reverse" or "overturn" the results, he was trying to STEAL the election!) Our guest today has some thoughts on all of that and more. He joins us the day after news broke that new management at CNN is cancelling Reliable Sources, the only legitimate media criticism program on cable or broadcast TV news, as hosted by Brian Stelter for 9 years at the end of its 30-year run.

We're delighted to welcome today longtime media critic and former corporate media "insider", DAN FROOMKIN, who served 12 years heading up Washington Post's popular "White House Watch" blog during the George W. Bush era (before he was unceremoniously let go for being too good at it), after which he moved to Huff Post and then The Intercept and is now the editor and creator of the Press Watch newsletter and website.

Our conversation follows on CNN's axing of Reliable Sources, as well as recent headlines from major media outlets that horrifically mislead the public or pull punches in order to "both sides" facts that they clearly see as as politically controversial, no matter how true they happen to be. One example, as cited by NYU media critic Jay Rosen last week, Washington Post's "Garland vowed to depoliticize Justice. Then the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago." And another deconstructed this week by media critic James Fallows on the New York Times' "Even on Biden's Big Day, He's Still in Trump's Long Shadow."

We cover a lot of ground on all of the above and more with Froomkin today. But, a few key quotes...

On Stelter and CNN: "It's a terrible indicator about what CNN is doing and where it's going. ....It's a huge loss for CNN and a huge win for Fox because Stelter was really one of the few in mainstream media who was willing to say that Fox News was all about spreading malicious lies and poisoning the politics of our country. ... I think the reason he was canned was because he was basically the number one target of the rightwing media." Froomkin describes the move as "clearly a sacrifice on the altar of rightwing media," likely at the behest of a major stockholder ("John Malone, the cable company monopolist") of CNN's new owner following the recent merger and reorganization of Warner Bros. and Discovery.

On the lack of Public Editors/Ombudsmen at major corporate outlets like NYT and WaPo: "Public Editors were an incredibly valuable thing...then they were all ditched. The excuse was hysterically funny. The excuse from the New York Times publisher was, 'We don't need a public editor anymore, because we have social media.' That has a certain sense to it, except you look at what they've been doing the last ten years. They've been scrupulously ignoring social media, mocking social media criticism of themselves. They've been incredibly defensive about anything anyone tweets about them. And they've now passed all of these rules telling reporters what they're allowed to tweet and not allowed to tweet, and one of the things they're not allowed to tweet is any criticism of the Times or any other journalists. Same rules at the Washington Post. ... I've always hoped that there would be a sort of critical mass of media critics out there who would cumulatively have the heft of one of these Public Editors, but it's never happened. And, as you pointed out, we're becoming fewer and further between."

On other ongoing corporate media failures in the Age of Trump: "The worst example, by far, is the coverage of the January 6 Committee and what's happened since. The singular achievement of that Committee was that it had established, to the satisfaction of pretty much everybody, except for the willfully ignorant, that prosecuting Trump was not a political necessity --- it was a moral necessity. I think that really helped inoculate [Attorney General Merrick] Garland against the perception that what he would be doing would be political. Instead, the FBI does a search warrant on Mar-a-Lago because of documents that [Trump] stole and didn't give back and then lied about giving back, and the press sees this as some sort of a political fight?!"

As to why the bulk of the mainstream media won't use the word "stole" or "steal" as in the indisputable facts regarding the documents Trump stole from the White House or his many attempts to steal the 2020 election: "Unfortunately, the truth has become so politicized in this day and age that simply asserting the truth is seen as political by these people. And they don't want to do that. ... Five years ago, I think everybody in the country would have agreed that trying to steal the Presidential election was a bad thing and whoever did it ought to be held accountable. But it's a little bit like the frog in the pot --- the media has, day after day, normalized what Trump does."

Much more in my fascinating conversation with Froomkin today.

Finally, as promised, we leave you with a long-overdue and much-needed new Randy Rainbow ditty to end yet another impossible week. Enjoy!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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The Everything-Everywhere-All-At-Once Era continues... And we continue to try and help you (and us) make sense of it all...
By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2022 7:07pm PT  

Years ago, the month of August was considered the slowest news month of the year. Those years are obviously over. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast...

  • There are some huge economic advantages on the horizon for large companies who transition their fleets to all-electric vehicles, including 18-wheelers. A writer at Torque News recently broke down the "staggering economics" in "fuel" savings for a 200-mile trip in the coming-very-soon Tesla Semi. The calculation finds, the costs for such a trip would plummet from about $170 now to just $28 in an all-electric semi-truck, an 83% reduction! (Not to mention the savings in lower maintenance costs "due to no engine and oil changes" and, yes, most critically, savings for the planet in huge cuts to carbon emissions amid our worsening climate crisis!)
  • And speaking of climate emergencies...A new federal study out today from the Dept. of Energy largely confirms several recent independent analyses finding the Democrats' newly-signed Inflation Reduction Act --- which invests nearly $400 billion to move the nation from dirty, deadly fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy --- will cut greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change by about 40% by 2030. It will remove more than one billion tons of heat-trapping gasses, including cutting 35 tons for every one that it adds, according to the study. As we discuss, while there are valid criticisms of the law as passed with several giveaways to the fossil fuel industry in order to win Joe Manchin's vote. But ya gotta start somewhere. And this is a very good start. Want even more climate action? (We do!) Then elect more Democrats to Congress this year, since the IRA passed with the barest of Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress without the support of one single Republican --- a party which still, in 2022, describes climate change as "a hoax"!
  • And speaking of denial...On Tuesday in Wyoming, GOP voters elected a Trump-backed 2020 election denier to become the state's next chief election official. Because no Democrat ran for the job, it means the winner on Tuesday, Chuck Gray, will become WY's next Secretary of State. Of course, it's a very Republican state (Trump won 70% of the vote in 2020), but there are now 2020 election deniers running to become chief state election officials in five battlegrounds states: Mark Finchem (Arizona); Kristina Karamo (Michigan); Kim Crockett (Minnesota); Jim Marchant (Nevada); Audrey Trujillo (New Mexico). While the 2022 election will be about a lot of things, it will likely prove to be about the 2024 election --- and the survival of American democracy --- as much as anything else.
  • And, speaking of even more election deniers...One GOP 2020 election denier who won't be a Republican Party nominee for Secretary of State this year is Tina Peters. She is the Mesa County, Colorado Clerk who has been indicted on 7 felonies and 3 misdemeanors related to making unlawful copies of her county's sensitive Election Management System Software in the middle of the night, and allowing it to be released to the public to make hacking future elections easier. Last month, Peters ran for the GOP nomination to become Colorado Sec. of State. She lost. By a lot. Nonetheless, she raised $250,000 for a statewide recount and...lost again. She gained just 13 votes in the re-tally out of the 90,000 votes needed to defeat the GOP's nominee, Pam Anderson. (Anderson will run against incumbent Democratic Sec. of State Jena Griswold in November.) But Colorado does statewide recounts by employing the same computers to re-tally hand-marked paper ballots that tallied them (either correctly or incorrectly) in the first place, rather than hand-counting them. While Peters is a duped rightwing loon, even duped rightwing loons deserve to know for certain if they won or lost an election. If candidates are willing to follow the law and raise the money to pay for a hand-count, they should be allowed to have one. Such counts will help, not hurt, to regain confidence in our electoral system after it has been so grievously harmed by the lies of Donald Trump and his party.
  • And speaking of hand-recounts...A group of anti-choice activists in Kansas this week had sought a statewide hand-count of the ballot initiative this month that would have rewritten the state Constitutional to allow Republicans to ban abortion rights. The measure failed by a stunning 165,000 votes (18 points), according to computer tallies. But the activists failed to raise the $229,000 needed for a full, statewide count, so they are settling for hand-counts in just nine counties. If supporters of the failed referendum want to spend their money on a hand-count to make sure it really really failed, that's perfectly fine by us, and likely to prove a good thing for our faltering democracy after Trump and his party have worked so hard to undermine confidence in it.
  • And speaking of confidence-men...The Trump Organization's longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, pleaded guilty in state court on Thursday to all 15 criminal counts related to tax fraud that he was charged with last year, along with the Trump Organization itself, by the Manhattan District Attorney's office. Weisselberg will not be cooperating with prosecutors in their criminal investigation of Trump himself. But he has agreed, as part of his plea deal, to testify truthfully for the prosecution in the company's upcoming fraud trial in October. If he does so, the 75-year old will then be sentenced to just 5 months in Rikers Island, will have to pay nearly $2 million in taxes, penalties and interest, and face five years of probation. He remains an employee of the Trump Organization even after being indicted and even after pleading guilty to all charges.
  • And speaking of attempts at accountability for the disgraced former President...A federal magistrate judge in Florida --- the same one who signed the FBI's warrant for a search at Mar-a-Lago last week finding "probable cause" that Trump violated the Espionage Act and several other federal statutes --- is considering the release of a redacted version of the affidavit the Dept. of Justice submitted to obtain the warrant. The DoJ strongly objects to its release, even with redactions. Nonetheless, the Judge ordered the Department to submit a redacted version of the affidavit by next week and said during his bench order that he will consider its release in a "careful process".
  • Finally...Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report following President Biden's signing of the largest single investment to take on the climate crisis by any nation. The historic bill was followed by Massachusetts' Governor signing a sweeping new climate and energy law this week. Both new laws can't have come soon enough, as several other stories Desi covers today, regarding unprecedented water worries in the U.S. West, make abundantly clear...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: Cheney loses in WY; Murkowski advances in AK, as Palin awaits Ranked Choice Vote count in U.S. House Special Election...
[UPDATED with link to full transcript of interview with Wheeler.]
By Brad Friedman on 8/17/2022 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What you need to know about the stolen national security documents retrieved by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago and the trouble Trump is in. And, about the known results of the strange-world-we-now-live-in primaries and special elections yesterday. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, those elections, as based on incomplete and/or unverified results in both states.

The biggest story of last night, of course, was conservative Republican Rep. Liz Cheney's loss to a Trump-backed GOP primary challenger in Wyoming for the state's single, at-large House seat. As expected, Cheney lost bigly to former Never Trumper turned MAGA 2020 election denier Harriet Hageman. What does it all mean going forward for Republicans who wrongly hate Cheney and Democrats who wrongly love her and for the Republican Party itself? Cheney offered some hints, as we discuss, in her graceful concession speech on Tuesday night, promising once again that she "will do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office."

Then, incomplete results from Alaska, where it has always taken a long time to tally them and will take even longer following election reform adopted by state voters in 2020. They now have an open primary system, where the top four vote-getters go on to general elections which become Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) contests among those candidates.

Like Wyoming, Alaska has just one at-large U.S. House district. But there were two elections for it on Tuesday following the death, earlier this year, of Republican Rep. Don Young. He held the seat for 49 years. One was a Special Election to fill the remainder of Young's term through the end of the year, the other was an open primary for a full term beginning in January.

On the Special, Democratic candidate Mary Peltola currently leads Republicans Sarah Palin (yes, that Sarah Palin) and Nick Begich with about 70% of votes tallied as of airtime. However, because it's an RCV election --- in which none of the candidates received more than 50% of first choice votes --- once the first round of counting is complete, the candidate in last place will be removed and their voters' second place choices will be redistributed to the other two candidates. The entire race is then tallied again. We are unlikely to know the final winner until the end of August, but if Peltola wins, she'd be the first Alaskan native to be elected to Congress.

In the open primary for the full House term beginning next year --- featuring nearly 30 candidates --- it appears that all three of the candidates in the Special will also advance to November's general election. The fourth candidate in that contest has yet to be determined as counting continues. In the state's U.S. Senate race, Republican Lisa Murkowski --- who, like Liz Cheney, voted against Trump in his second impeachment --- will advance to the November general, where she will face Trump-backed Kelly Tshibaka and two other candidates still to be determined, with just over 70% tallied.

Then, longtime, really smart, independent national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel returns to the show for the first time since the FBI's seizure of highly sensitive and classified national security documents at Mar-a-Lago last week, as stolen from the White House by Donald Trump upon leaving office last year.

As usual, we have a lot to cover with Wheeler, who was busy explaining on Twitter last week before anyone else that we know of --- before the unsealing of the FBI's search warrant detailing "probable cause" of three federal statutes violated by Trump --- that the Dept. of Justice was almost certainly investigating the former President for violations of the Espionage Act. As usual, after the warrant was unsealed, she was proven correct.

Also as usual when Marcy's on, you'll need to tune in for the full story. There is simply no way I can detail all of the critical insight and helpful information she has to offer here. But, among the points she helps clarify and explain along with key context from her years of covering similar cases dealing with the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and the theft of government documents...

  • What each of the three U.S. Criminal Code statutes cited in the warrant means, and the evidence that Trump appears to have blatantly violated each of them.
  • Were there, or were there not, documents including nuclear records found and/or sought in the search, as reported by Washington Post before the warrant and inventory list of retrieved items was unsealed.
  • Are documents sought by the National Archives and DoJ still missing after the search? And/or have they been mutilated or destroyed in violation of federal statutes?
  • Despite a signed declaration by one of Trump's attorneys that all of the highly classified documents and other material stolen from the White House had been returned to the government as of June, in fact, that was proven untrue. Who is the insider that tipped off the DoJ?

Wheeler argues that Trump is likely far more concerned about obstruction charges than even violations of the Espionage Act. Why? "We know that some of the documents that were responsive to subpoenas regarded January 6," she tells me, before suggesting reason to believe that some of the documents Trump was trying to withhold might be related to other crimes of his from farther in the past, such as: obstruction of justice in the Robert Mueller/Russia investigation; his attempt to bribe the Ukrainian President ("We know that the White House counsel didn't provide Congress the fullest version of the 'Perfect Transcript' of the Trump call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy. So that's an example of concealing a document that should have been released."); or the transcript regarding the classified Israeli intelligence that Trump gave to the Russian ambassador during an Oval Office meeting ("the documents got altered and disappeared.")

She has much more, including this fresh tidbit regarding obstruction: "There was a leak by one of the rightwing journalists [covering this story] that said, 'People close to Donald say he doesn't have to give [certain documents] over because the Archives will just give it to the January 6 Committee.' I'm like, 'That's a confession of obstruction! He just literally confessed to the elements of the offense for obstruction!' And honestly, Brad, this is something that virtually everyone is missing --- this is the one that Trump is terrified of."

There are many details we still don't not know and more disturbing revelations to come. As Wheeler notes several times, this all likely to get much much worse for Trump. But, she emphasizes, just based on what we already know it's already really really bad for him.

"Every half hour or so," she says, "this flash goes through my brain, and I go, 'Oh my God, Donnie has really, really screwed himself .' There are ways that I can imagine this snowballing that people aren't even grasping at this point. And that is all separate from the question of whether he's taken the nuclear codes and given it to [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman. You don't really need to get ahead of the game here to figure out things are pretty bad."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

Update 8/21/2022: Once again, our friend "Spocko" thought our interview with Marcy's was so important that he created a full text transcript of my interview with her. AI was used to do it, so it may have some inaccuracies in it. Nonetheless, I suspect it may be useful for easier access to the record.

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Guest: Stephanie Foggett of The Soufan Center...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2022 6:53pm PT  

We really do have (at least) two Americas at this point. One America, led by President Joe Biden and his Democratic party in Congress, who have now triumphantly signed into law the largest climate bill in U.S. history, which also includes landmark measures to make healthcare cheaper for tens of millions of Americans. And another America, which is calling for violence, mayhem and murder of American law enforcement officials, and they are led there by the disgraced former President of the United States. We discuss both Americas on today's BradCast. Apologies in advance for the whiplash. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On Tuesday, Joe Biden signed the historic, if somewhat misleadingly named, Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a trimmed down version of his Build Back Better Act which was blocked by all 50 Senate Republicans and two Democrat last year. The IRA, however, includes some $400 billion to finally begin tackling climate change and moving the nation from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy; institutes a $2,000 annual cap on prescription drug costs for seniors; allows Medicare to negotiate for cheaper prices with drug companies for the first time ever; and increases taxes on hugely profitable corporations that currently pay no taxes at all. It also helps pays down the deficit and a bunch of other things.

It was passed in both chambers of Congress, where Democrats hold the thinnest of majorities in each, without one single Republican vote, as the President took pains to note during his White House signing ceremony today.

"Let’s be clear," Biden said, "In this historic moment, Democrats sided with the American people, and every single Republican in the Congress sided with the special interests in this vote — every single one. In fact, big drug companies spent nearly $100 million to defeat this bill. A hundred million dollars. And remember: Every single Republican in Congress voted against this bill."

"We’re delivering results for the American people," the President boasted. "We didn’t tear down; we built up. We didn’t look back; we looked forward. And today offers further proof that the soul of America is vibrant, the future of America is bright, and the promise of America is real and just beginning."

"I know there are those here today who hold a dark and despairing view of this country," Biden said. "I’m not one of them. I believe in the promise of America. I believe in the future of this country. I believe in the very soul of this nation. And most of all, I believe in you, the American people."

As to those who do "hold a dark and despairing view of this country," many of them have been showing their true, dark colors over the past week since the FBI obtained a lawful warrant to search Donald Trump's Florida compound for highly classified and sensitive national security documents that he stole from the White House upon leaving office last year.

After Trump revealed the search publicly last week, using rhetoric seemingly chosen to incite violence --- falsely citing "prosecutorial misconduct," "weaponization of the Justice System," describing the U.S. as a "broken, Third-World Country" --- there has been what the DHS and FBI described in a bulletin last week as an "unprecedented" number of "violent threats" against federal law enforcement, courts and government personnel and facilities.

"These threats are occurring primarily online and across multiple platforms, including social media sites, web forums, video sharing platforms, and image boards," the bulletin warns. It was published the day after a Donald Trump supporter was killed following his attempt to attack an FBI field office in Ohio with a nail gun and an AR-15, and as another Trump supporter was taken into custody and charged for issuing graphic calls to "slaughter" federal officers on several different social media cites.

And while threats on far-right, neo-Nazi Internet sites reportedly spiked following Trump's announcement of the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, it has also spiked on "mainstream" Rightwing media outlets like Fox "News", where the rhetoric --- from many of its prime time hosts and elected Republican officials alike --- has become hauntingly similar to that found on the darkest, far-right cesspools of the Internet.

We're joined today by STEPHANIE FOGGETT, a Research Fellow at The Soufan Center and Director of Global Communications at The Soufan Group, where her areas of expertise include terrorism, online extremism and the rise of white supremacy. She has a great deal of perspective to offer on this issue.

"This rhetoric is alarming, but it is not surprising, especially given the online spaces and activity that I watch every day," she tells me. "I monitor the darkest and most violent corners of this information ecosystem, and I really think, above all, it's important to know that these threats and attacks on law enforcement, they're not coming out of a vacuum."

Indeed, as Matt Gertz at Media Matters observed last week "Fox and other right-wing outlets describe the search as 'the worst attack on this republic in modern history,' part of a 'preemptive coup' to prevent Trump’s reelection, and a sign the country is now a 'tyranny.' They say the FBI is acting like 'the East German Stasi in the Cold War' and the Nazi 'Gestapo,' and call its agents part of a 'lawless criminal organization' that 'planted evidence,' bugged Trump’s bedroom, and may be planning his 'assassination.'"

"And they are quick to tell their viewers that they should fear their own persecution in the wake of the search," Gertz writes. "According to right-wing outlets, 'the real target of this investigation is you'." Just last night, Tucker Carlson, the most popular host on the nation's most popular cable "news" outlet, told viewers that President Biden is now "declar[ing] war on his own population."

"It's rinsing and repeating narratives and concerns that we saw with the Stop the Steal campaign and things like that," Foggett explains. "It's really tapping into this narrative on the far-right that if they can go after a President they will be able to come after you one day."

She worries even more "about what comes next," while offering both historical context for this current moment --- in which "every agency in America, from intelligence agencies to law enforcement agencies [have] come to the assessment that the far-right and domestic extremism is the greatest threat that America is facing today" --- and ways in which responsible Americans can respond in hopes of decreasing the threat.

"It is tricky, and there is no silver bullet. There's no one single thing that can be done to address this," Foggett asserts, before describing how individuals can be mindful of what they share online --- stuff that is meant to go viral with misleading messages --- and how "it's really about individuals in positions of power to be much more careful about the things that they say, and how they interact with the violence that this movement promises."

In short, solving this problem won't be easy, and things may get much worse before they get better. But there are ways to educate Americans about these now main-streamed extremists and ways to "isolate them by rejecting them, by ignoring them, and by denouncing them."

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on the Democrats' historic climate bill and several alarming new reports underscoring how the measure has finally become law not a moment too soon...

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Fallout from FBI retrieval of stolen, classified docs at Mar-a-Lago; Also: FBI, DHS warn of 'unprecedented' threats; Giuliani now a 'target', Graham must testify in GA election theft probe; Report: Trump Org CFO to plead 'guilty' in NY; Callers speculate on Trump's theft of NatSec docs...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2022 6:06pm PT  

At this point on The BradCast we can barely keep up with it all, as the years-long (and continuing) Trump Crime Spree continues to collapse and implode onto itself. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the too many stories covered on today's program...

  • Author Salman Rushdie off ventilator, able to talk, and still in critical condition, but "on road to recovery", according to his agent, following his stabbing on Friday in western New York state.
  • Federal court rejects Sen. Lindsey Graham's attempt to avoid grand jury subpoena for testimony in Fulton County, Georgia's probe of Trump's 2020 election theft conspiracy in the Peach State. Unless he can wriggle out of it somehow, he is scheduled to be deposed next Tuesday.
  • FBI and DHS issue joint bulletin over the weekend citing "unprecedented" threats to law enforcement and other government officials from the far-right Trump World following last week's warranted FBI search at Mar-a-Lago and retrieval of stolen, highly classified national security documents stolen from the White House by Trump.
  • Congressional Republicans, now unable to defend Trump's theft of documents, demand instead that DoJ release the sealed affidavit from last week's federal court-approved warrant finding "probable cause" that Trump may have violated at least three federal laws (retaining or destroying federal documents; obstructing government proceedings; violating the Espionage Act).
  • In Monday court filing, DoJ argues against release of the Mar-a-Lago affidavit, arguing "Disclosure of the warrant affidavit would irreparably harm the government's ongoing criminal investigation" and would "likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations." [Emphasis mine.]
  • Over the weekend, NYTimes reported that a Trump lawyer signed a certification in June that all classified materials taken by Trump had been returned. That was not true, as the 11 sets of classified documents retrieved last Monday revealed. The false assertion by a Trump attorney came after nearly a year and a half of discrete efforts by the National Archives and DoJ to retrieve the documents. The paper also reported security camera footage from inside Mar-a-Lago revealed that, just after Team Trump was contacted by the DoJ, boxes were moved into and out of the storage area where Trump unlawfully kept the classified records in a basement storage area at the hotel.
  • Mid-show, NBC reported that the Trump Organization's longtime Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, was preparing to plead guilty in the Manhattan District Attorney's criminal fraud charges filed against both him and Trump's family business last year. NYTimes is now reporting that, under the plea agreement, Weisselberg will face just 5 months in prison and will not be cooperating with the prosecution against Trump or his family.
  • Finally, callers ring in with their own speculation on why they believe Donald Trump was hording those national security documents and refusing for a year and half to give them back. Also, on whether he will finally be held accountable for that and the rest of his endless criming...

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Guest: Climate and energy journalist David Roberts of Volts...
By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2022 5:21pm PT  

On some days, there is more huge news than others. This is about 10 of those days. With not one, but two absolute blockbuster stories jammed into today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show posted below this summary.]

On Friday, a federal judge unsealed the warrant obtained by the FBI and DOJ to search Trump's Mar-a-Lago compound for classified documents earlier this week. We have now learned that law enforcement officials collected some 11 sets of classified documents from the former President's Florida residence on Monday. Several of them were marked "TOP SECRET/SCI" (Sensitive Compartmented Information), the highest level of security classification. That's an even higher level of secrecy than merely "Top Secret". In all, agents collected four sets of "top secret" docs, three sets of "secret" docs and three marked "confidential", the lowest classification. (The latter, akin to the classification level of a handful of emails sent to Hillary Clinton's private email server when she served as Sec. of State.)

It is currently unknown if any of the sensitive and highly classified documents regarded nuclear secrets or not, as Washington Post reported exclusively on Thursday night.

But the arguably larger blockbuster part of this news is the specific crimes detailed in the warrant, for which DOJ officials sought it in the first place and for which they were required to show "probable cause" to the federal judge. Specially, the warrant reveals that Trump was being investigated for at least three different violations of the United States criminal code. As the Times' Charlie Savage summarizes: "Section 793, better known as the Espionage Act, which covers the unlawful retention of defense-related information that could harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary; Section 1519, which covers destroying or concealing documents to obstruct government investigations or administrative proceedings; and Section 2071, which covers the unlawful removal of government records."

"Notably," Savage adds, "none of those laws turn on whether information was deemed to be unclassified." That is important, of course, because the Trumpers have been claiming over the last day or so that the disgraced former President declassified all the materials before he stole them from the White House. In fact, whether he did or didn't (and that is likely to be of MUCH dispute), it may not matter when prosecuting the Espionage Act, as well as Obstruction, and the Unlawful Removal of Government Documents.

For the record, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were put to death in 1953 for violations of the Espionage Act.

While all of that is blockbuster enough for one show, receiving much less coverage today is a another of arguably even greater consequence: Democrats (and ONLY Democrats) in the U.S. House on Friday passed the Inflation Reduction Act, including a landmark $370 billion investment to battle climate change. It is the largest such single investment in history by any nation. Moreover the Act includes a ton of other longtime progressive priorities, such as the ability to negotiate Medicare drug prices with Big Pharma, price caps on prescriptions for the elderly, the expansion of Obamacare premium subsidies, new taxes on hugely profitable corporations currently paying zero in taxes and much more. It even puts hundreds of billions toward deficit reduction.

The historic measure, the central pillar of Joe Biden and the Democrats' economic agenda, was passed last weekend in the Senate, also with zero Republican votes, and now heads to the President for his signature.

We are joined today by the great DAVID ROBERTS, who has spent too many years writing about the confluence of politics, climate and energy for many different publications. He now publishes the Volts newsletter and podcast after having joined us at various times over the past 15 years or so to discuss climate matters and what, until now, had been a bevy of failed federal climate and energy policies. Today, however, for the first time, we've got something very real to celebrate which, he suggests, is likely to be a game changer in the fight to mitigate climate change.

"The shortest way to put it," he tells me, in response to my request for his top-line reaction to this bill, "If you recall Obama's stimulus bill, it contained about $90 billion for clean energy. That bill is responsible for kicking off an absolute firestorm of growth in both those markets [solar and wind], basically helping to bring their costs down below fossil fuels and revolutionizing the US energy landscape. That was $90 billion mostly on wind and solar. Now we're talking about $370 BILLION on wind, solar, hydrogen, batteries, go on down the list. So just the math of it, this is going to spur another revolution in US energy."

We discuss the various mechanisms by which this sprawling new law will reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 which he sees as likely a minimum of cuts in the deadly pollution driving our worsening climate crisis. All of which, he describes as "miraculous," given the surprising way it all came about just days ago.

"As you know, about a week ago we were staring in the face of a big goose egg from Congress, a big nothing," Roberts recalls. But that changed when Majority Leader Chuck Schumer struck a deal after secret negotiations with, of all people, Sen. Joe Manchin from the coal state of West Virginia. "So this really is the difference between almost total failure on climate and something very close to the level of success that I would have hoped for and dreamed for."

Roberts walks through several of the key points in the bill that he believes will make the greatest difference in our efforts to cut emissions at the federal as well as state and local level.

"One of the most important aspects of this bill is the transformative effects it's going to have on our political economy. It's going to change politics," he argues. "I like to draw the analogy with the defense industry in the US. They are horrific and evil, but they are very savvy in one way, which is that they spread their investments across all 50 states. So then you have 50 states defending defense spending --- which is obnoxious, but it's a good strategy." It's one that he believes will now be echoed in the renewable energy industry, making it much harder to kill in the future, even in --- and, perhaps especially in --- "red" states.

Roberts also concurs with the explanation climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann offered on this show earlier this week, when explained how the bill's incentives work, largely by turning "carrots" (financial incentives) to encourage renewable energy production into "sticks" that will ultimately take down the deadly fossil fuel industry now that they will face real, cleaner and cheaper competition.

"It's a giant bag of carrots," Roberts quips. "The idea, the theory of change, is that these carrots will accelerate the development of renewable energy even further, even faster, and it's going to undercut the economics of fossil fuels even further, even faster. And so fossil fuels are just going to lose on the market." He goes on to add this key point: "One of the things the models find is this bill is going to cause a net reduction in US demand for oil and gasoline for the first time ever. Ever!"

Of course, there are some progressives who have been critical of the bill's giveaways to the fossil fuel industry, included in the 755-page measure in order to win the needed 50th vote in the Senate of Joe Manchin. Those measures "suck," Roberts concurs, even as many on the left have been (purposely?) misinformed about some of those provisions.

"In the grand scheme of things, in the big picture, they are relatively marginal compared to the massive, massive boost that this is going to give clean energy, and the massive amount of emissions it's going to reduce. There is no credible argument otherwise. This is absolutely a net win."

So, yeah. An absolutely historic day --- on at least two remarkable stories...

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Rightwing political violence stirs after former Prez lied about 'siege' at Mar-a-Lago; Also: Midterm elections continue to trend toward Dems...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2022 6:13pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: We are now learning even more about what Trump didn't bother to tell his followers when he played the victim card on Monday following the FBI's search at his Mar-a-Lago compound in Florida. It's becoming difficult to avoid the pretty clear conclusion that he is now simply hoping to foster political violence as the walls, the truth, and accountability close in on him. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up today, here's the original video version of the Lincoln Project's amusing new ad, hoping to get inside Trump's head and make him wonder who must be the reported "insider" that tipped off investigators about stolen national security documents Trump was believed to have been keeping at Mar-a-Lago.

Before diving fully back into the latest news following Monday's Mar-a-Lago search and the reasons for it, we've got just a bit of encouraging news for Democrats and democracy lovers amid these decidedly UNconventional times. Today, a brief look at polling numbers trending toward Dems in this November's mid-terms, particularly for the U.S. Senate, and how best to make sense of that data.

Then, after days of media speculation and parroting of misleading claims sourced largely Trump and his attorneys, some clearer, more plausible and better sourced details are finally beginning to emerge from several outlets regarding what actually happened at Mar-a-Lago, and why the FBI decided they needed to obtain a warrant from a federal court to execute their search of Trump's property.

CNN sums much of it up well. But, long story short, after days of Trump and his gullible minions (including, shamefully enough, a bunch of top elected Republican officials) whining that the DoJ should have first taken less aggressive and invasive steps to get at whatever they were looking for, it turns out, DoJ very much already did!

Following a criminal referral from the National Archives in January, charging that incredibly sensitive national security documents had been stolen by Trump when he left office, a grand jury subpoenaed him for those documents in June. Top DoJ officials also visited Mar-a-Lago to meet with Trump and his attorneys around the same time to get the documents back. But while some were reportedly returned, others were not, according to both an insider and security surveillance video from inside Mar-a-Lago, reportedly turned over by the Trump Organization.

Documents that were withheld from the National Archives, and said to be of a highly classified nature, were also reportedly stored in the unsecured basement at Trump's South Florida resort.

All of that, as Trump has been out-and-out hoping to scam the public and his supporters (I know, shocking!) by falsely portraying himself as the victim of outrageous "prosecutorial misconduct," "the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats." All part of little more than a "political witch hunt" which has resulted in the U.S. having become a "broken, Third-World Country."

Except, if he wanted to prove any of that to be true, as we discussed yesterday with former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason, he could have simply released the warrant he was given by the FBI on Monday, detailing what they were looking for and what crimes they believe may have occurred, along with a full inventory that he was given, listing the documents and other materials that the FBI retrieved from his residence.

Trump could have done all of that. He did none of it.

On Thursday, however, Attorney General Merrick Garland offered brief remarks to announce that DoJ has now asked a federal judge to unseal the warrant, while declaring his support the men and women of the DoJ and FBI who have now been mercilessly targeted by Team Trump over the past week.

The selective release of at least part of the warrant by Trump's attorneys, including the name of the federal magistrate judge who signed it, has resulted in anti-Semitic slurs and calls for extreme violence against the judge and his family. Some have even been posted to Trump's own social media outlet.

It's difficult to believe that political violence isn't the whole point of what the disgraced former President is now doing, as the walls continued to close in on him. An attempted attack at an FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio today, by a man with body armor, a nail-gun and an AR-15, would seem to underscore that. (Shortly after airtime, it was reported that the man, injured in a gunfight as he fled but still on the run as of airtime, had been killed by authorities. Also, that the man had attended Trump's January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.)

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the deadly effects of our climate emergency quickly worsen around the world; elected Republican officials in the U.S. are found to have been conspiring to punish private companies working to curb carbon emissions; and at least one country with a long history of denialism among its rightwing elected class (other than the U.S.), is finally getting on board to cut greenhouse gas emissions after voters recently elected non-deniers to take control of its government...

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney, Randall D. Eliason; Also: Inflation slowing?; Noteworthy primary results from CT, MN, VT, WI (and WA)...
By Brad Friedman on 8/10/2022 5:57pm PT  

Remember during the 2016 Presidential election when Donald Trump repeated over and over how only mobsters plead the Fifth Amendment? Yeah, so does he, as discussed on today's BradCast . And yet, he repeatedly took the Fifth for some four hours in a row during his deposition in New York today. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Before we get to those details and the related story of the FBI search at Trump's home in Florida on Monday...Good news for Americans is, of course, bad news for Republicans. According to new numbers released by the Department of Labor on Wednesday, inflation may now be slowing, along with gas prices which fell in July by roughly 20%. Obviously, that is completely thanks to the brilliant policies of President Joe Biden. (It's not, but since the GOP blamed him for inflation and the rise in prices at the pump, it seems only fair to give him all the credit when the numbers go the other way.)

Next, our highly selective and curated coverage of noteworthy results from Tuesday's primary elections in four states --- Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. (And one last noteworthy race called from last week's primary in the state of Washington.) Here too, good news for far-right MAGA Republican voters may turn out to be very bad news for them in November. If not, it's likely to be very bad news for American democracy in advance of the 2024 elections. Many of Trump's endorsed candidates, all of whom are 2020 election deniers, are winning GOP nominations for offices likely to be critical during the 2024 Presidential election, if those candidates are successful in the 2022 election. We cover a bunch of them today, with appropriate warnings, along with a number of the encouraging Democratic victories on Tuesday.

Then, Trump's horrible, no good, very VERY bad week continues to get worse. Of course, that is good news for the bulk of Americans who actually do believe in law and order and accountability and stuff. On Wednesday, Trump finally sat down for the under oath deposition he has fought so hard against in New York Attorney General Letitia James' civil probe into his and the Trump Organization's years of apparent bank, tax and insurance fraud. For four hours, he repeatedly exercised his Constitutional Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, despite claiming for years --- or, at least while he was running for President in 2016 --- that doing so is "horrible, horrible, horrible" and "disgraceful" because "if you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?"

(As it turns out, Trump invoked the Fifth nearly 100 times during his 1990 divorce deposition as well. His own kid, Eric, one of the titular heads of the Trump Organization while Trump was in office, invoked the privilege more than 500 times when he was deposed in the James' probe back in 2020. And, over the past several days, two of his other kids, Don Jr. and Ivanka, were also reportedly deposed. Any guess what they might have done?)

All of this, of course, comes on the heels of the FBI executing a search warrant at Trump's Mar-a-Lago home on Monday, though we still don't actually know what they were looking for nor which of the several federal criminal investigations Trump is the focus of it pertained to. Trump does. It says as much on the warrant he has in his possession. He's just not telling anyone, while describing the matter (as usual) as a "political witch hunt" and declaring that it means the U.S. is now a "broken, Third-World Country."

We're joined today for some really helpful insight into both of these ongoing cases by former Asst. U.S. Attorney in D.C. and chief of the DoJ Public Corruption/Government Fraud section, RANDALL D. ELIASON.

As usual, Eliason, who now teaches law with a focus on white collar crime at George Washington University Law School, is able to offer clear, straight-forward facts on what much of cable news has been speculating about over the past 72 hours or so.

For example, what's the difference between a "raid", as Trump and many on the Right are describing what happened in South Florida on Monday, and the lawful exercise of a search warrant, approved by a federal judge? "I'm not sure if there is a universally agreed-upon definition of a raid," he explains, "but I think the most likely definition is it's a raid if it happens to you."

In response to the reports of Trump pleading the Fifth in his NY fraud case, Eliason doesn't think it's "terribly surprising, given what we know" about both the case and the former President, but he goes on to lay out both the difference between a civil case (such as the James') and a criminal probe, and how the Fifth Amendment can be used against Trump in the former, but not the latter, even if it may help criminal prosecutors, like the Manhattan District Attorney, identify where the disgraced former President himself believes he has potentially committed a crime.

Eliason explains what material would be revealed by the portion of the FBI search warrant from Mar-a-Lago that is now in Trump's possession, even as he is refusing to disclose it. "It has to cite the statutes that the investigators believe might have been violated," he says, while noting that there is nothing that legally prevents Trump from releasing it tothe public. Also, he asserts, Trump would, by now, "have an inventory of what was seized" by the FBI, even if he has also failed to release that information as well, despite his many claims of innocence and being a victim.

We also discuss the hurdles that would have to have been cleared by Trump-appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray, Biden-appointed U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, as well as the federal magistrate judge who finally approved the Mar-a-Lago search warrant. (Eliason also breaks down the difference between a federal judge and a federal magistrate judge, who Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio suggested on Fox "News" last night, isn't actually a real judge.)

"Given the outcry that you know was going to result from this, and that we've actually seen, you'd want something far beyond just 'probable cause'," argues Eliason, a contributing columnist at the Washington Post and at his own Sidebars Blog. "The DoJ is not going to do this in a marginal case. Before taking this kind of extraordinary, unprecedented step, they're going to really be sure they've got substantial proof, and that it's something really important that they're going after."

As far as what they're "going after"? Well, nobody --- other than Trump, his attorneys and the FBI, DoJ and a federal judge --- actually knows at this point. There has been much TrumpWorld-sourced reportage that this all has something to do with the more than 15 boxes of Presidential Records, many of them highly classified, according to the National Archives, that Trump absconded with to Florida after leaving the White House. But none of that is actually confirmed.

I convince the usually quite careful Eliason to offer his own speculation about what the FBI could be looking for that would involve such a monumental and politically fraught step as obtaining a search warrant for the home of a former President. "Most people are speculating about these crimes that involve Presidential Records," he says. "If that's all it was, and it was relatively routine stuff, I would be surprised that they'd take this kind of step. That makes me think either the documents themselves are something extraordinarily sensitive, and potentially dangerous to national security, or that there's something else going on."

What might that "something else" be, according to Eliason? For that, you'll need to tune in...

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Also: Important late results from last week's AZ and WA primaries; MI's GOP A.G. nominee facing criminal probe; Federal appeals court approves release of Trump tax returns to Congress...
By Brad Friedman on 8/9/2022 7:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Given the unprecedented breadth of the late-breaking news on Monday, we know remarkably little so far about what actually happened at Donald Trump's Florida estate and why it happened. Not that that has prevented anyone in these United States from speculating about it since then. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The news of the FBI's Monday search of Mar-a-Lago literally broke about one second after we signed off from Monday's show and, like the rest of the nation, we've been trying to make sense of it ever since. But, before we get there today, a few other news items of note that are being buried under all of the rest of the news items of note.

Today was primary election day in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. Happily, so far, we've heard few reports of problems for voters at the polls. As usual, we'll have noteworthy results on tomorrow's show.

There are, however, several important results from last week's primaries in several states that were "called" by the media over the weekend, and some that are still too close to call. Most noteworthy is the weekend call for the GOP Gubernatorial nomination in Arizona, where far-right, Trump-endorsed 2020 election denialist and former TV news anchor Kari Lake was declared the winner. She'll now face off with Democratic nominee, Sec. of State Katie Hobbs in November. Like AZ's Republican nominee for Sec. of State, Mark Finchem --- and despite all counts and recounts confirming Joe Biden's victory there in 2020 --- Lake has said she wouldn't have certified the state's electors in 2020 for the guy who voters actually chose. That makes both her race for Governor and Finchem's for SoS among the most critical contests in the nation this November, in advance of the 2024 Presidential election. (Finchem will face the Democratic nominee, former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes in the SoS contest in the fall.)

The entire top of the ticket in Michigan is similarly perilous this year, with Republicans having nominated Trump-endorsed 2020 election deniers and conspiracy loons to take on all three Democratic incumbents for Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State. Reuters, however, broke the exclusive news this week that the state's GOP Attorney General nominee, Matthew DePerno, "led a team that gained unauthorized access to voting equipment while hunting for evidence to support former President Donald Trump’s false election-fraud claims." That now places DePerno --- seeking to become the state's chief law enforcement officer --- squarely at the center of Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel's criminal probe of several such incidents in MI following the 2020 election, as based on criminal referrals by Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson. It also means Nessel will now likely need to recuse herself and her office from probing her own November challenger. Over the weekend, at a CPAC rally in Dallas, Trump praised DePerno, ironically vowing that "he's going to make sure that you are going to have law and order and fair elections."

The reported unlawful breach of sensitive voting system software by DePerno is now added to a growing list of similar incidents across the country, such as Mesa County, Colorado Clerk, Tina Peters (who has been charged with 7 felonies and 3 misdemeanors related to her own election fraud related breach of her county's voting system software) and the GOP Board of Elections in Coffee County, Georgia (who allegedly allowed a similar breach of the voting system there, followed by an apparent cover-up of the incident by Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger.)

Then, we get to Trump's no good, very very bad week, as news broke this afternoon that a three-judge federal appeals court panel in D.C. decided unanimously that, yes, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee may indeed have access to Trump's tax returns. This is part of a years-long legal battle, where Trump now has just two appeals options left.

But that problem likely pales in comparison for the disgraced former President to what happened at Trump's South Florida home on Monday, while he was in New York to give a sworn deposition to the state Attorney General, Letitia James, who is investigating him, his kids and his Trump Organization for tax, bank and insurance fraud.

As you've heard by now, the FBI, headed by Trump-appointee Christopher Wray, executed a warrant from a federal judge to search Mar-a-Lago. For what? We do not actually know, though there has been much reporting that it is related to Trump taking at least 15 boxes of Presidential Records, much of them reportedly highly classified, with him to Florida after leaving office.

Most of what we know about what happened Monday comes from either Trump himself or "sources" most likely very close to him, likely describing the matter in the best possible light for him. Trump himself was among the first to confirm the news of the search, misleadingly describing it as a "raid" and declaring Mar-a-Lago "under siege", thanks to "prosecutorial misconduct" and "the weaponization of the Justice System."

"Such an assault," he wrote in his lengthy statement, "could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries. Sadly, America has now become one of those Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before." Naturally, the entirety of the rightwing media and elected Republicans simply took his word for it, vowing to exact revenge on Attorney General Merrick Garland, Joe Biden and Democrats in general. Fox "News" headlined some of its fair and balanced coverage this way: "Raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago home by Biden's politicized FBI means US now a third world country".

Today, we try to break down what is actually known and mostly still unknown about what happened; what kind of trouble Trump could potentially be in, based on the few known facts; and how he could easily prove his (clearly false) claims about it all by simply releasing the search warrant that he would now have, showing why law enforcement was able to obtain the warrant, what they were looking for, and what criminal laws there is "probable cause" to believe he has committed.

What we absolutely do know: This is either a blunder of historic proportions or, far more likely, a matter of monumental criminal importance. Investigators would have had to demonstrate serious probable cause evidence of a very serious crime under way or about to happen --- otherwise Wray, Garland and a federal judge would not all have signed off on the unprecedented action of issuing a warrant to execute a search of the home of a former President of the United States.

What we also now know (as we've been trying to tell you for some time): Garland appears to be doing his job and the walls are continuing to close in on our indescribably corrupt and criminal former President.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report, with special coverage of the other biggest story of the week (now largely big-footed by the "siege" at Mar-a-Lago), Senate Democrats' long-overdue, unified passage of historic climate change legislation...

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Guest: Penn State climate scientist, author, Dr. Michael E. Mann on long-overdue passage of $370 billion to combat global warming...
By Brad Friedman on 8/8/2022 5:55pm PT  

We've been joined countless times over the years on The BradCast by renowned Penn State climate scientist DR. MICHAEL E. MANN. Given the circumstances, he is always remarkably optimistic. Today, there was really something for him to be optimistic about. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The U.S. Senate held its first hearings on climate change 36 years ago --- led by a Republican Senator from Rhode Island at the time --- and attended by a then new Senator from Tennessee by the name of Al Gore. They were warned, as Washington Post's front page reported at the time, that pollution from the burning of fossil fuels would result in a "greenhouse effect" that would cause the globe to warm "to a level which has not existed on Earth in the past 100,000 years."

Two years later, in 1988, they were warned again by NASA scientist, Dr. James Hansen, that evidence was found that the warming had already begun. "The global warming is now large enough that we can ascribe, with a high degree of confidence, a cause and effect relationship to the greenhouse effect."

"There is no longer any significant difference of opinion within the scientific community about the fact that the greenhouse effect is real and already occurring," Gore made clear at the time, following a conference held in 1985 in Austria which concluded that "as a result of the increasing greenhouse gases it is now believed that in the first half of the next century (21st century) a rise of global mean temperature could occur which is greater than in any man’s history."

Long story short, pretty much everything the scientists warned about has come to pass, much of it even sooner than predicted. And yet, over the ensuing decades the fossil fuel industry has fully captured the Republican Party to the extent that not a single one of them voted over the weekend for the most substantive climate bill ever adopted by the U.S. Senate. The only such bill ever adopted by the Senate, in fact. It only took 36 years, and a tie-breaking vote from the Democratic Vice President, but they did it.

On Sunday, after 16-hours of overnight debate and attempted amendments, the Senate passed the dubiously-named Inflation Reduction Act, so named largely to win the vote of coal state Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin. The spending bill will do a lot, including allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices; put a $,2000 annual cap on prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare; put a $35/month cap on insulin costs for those on government insurance who have diabetes (Republicans forced Dems to kill that provision for those with private insurance); add a new 15% minimum tax on corporations whose annual profits are more than one billion dollars; tax major corporations for buying back their own stock instead of investing in their companies; and it will also pay down the deficit by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next ten years.

But, most importantly, the Act will invest at least $370 billion to combat climate change with incentives for individuals, states and business alike. It will, according to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Manchin --- and several independent analyses --- cut the greenhouse gas emissions we were warned about decades ago, by about 40% by 2030.

"It is a good day, let's not make any bones about that," says Mann today on the show. "This is, by far, the most aggressive climate legislation --- in fact, the only meaningful climate legislation that has ever passed the U.S. Senate."

"Let's be clear: this isn't the solution. It's not like we've solved the climate crisis. There's a whole lot more work that's left to be done," the author of more than160 peer-reviewed and edited scientific publications and author of more than half a dozen books on the climate crisis tells us. "We need at least 50% reductions by [2030] if we are to stay on course to keeping warming below a really catastrophic 3 degrees Fahrenheit. So there's a lot more work to be done, and there are some things in the bill that some of us wish weren't there. There are some incentives for fossil fuel interests when it comes to drilling leases and pipeline construction, a few bones that were thrown in to get the support of a coal-state Democratic Senator in Joe Manchin." Nonetheless, the bill --- which still must pass the Democrat-controlled House on Friday --- "represents significant progress."

"If you want more progress, if you want more aggressive legislation --- and I certainly do and I think we should expect it --- then we need a larger majority in the U.S. Senate that can pass more aggressive climate legislation," Mann explains. In fact, not one single Republican voted for the measure. It was passed with the barest of majorities. All 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats (and who, shockingly, stayed unified), plus the vote of the Vice President Kamala Harris.

Mann discusses both the upsides and downside of the bill, including the measures that could expand the use of fossil fuels in order to win the vote of Manchin. But, he asserts, the "carrots" to get off of fossil fuels, as included in the bill, are likely to become "sticks". "If the carrot works, it becomes a stick. Which is to say, if we incentivize renewable energy enough, then fossil fuel energy is no longer competitive."

Of course, he's got much more insight on the measure and what needs to be done moving forward. But it's a start that is "real" and "tangible." he argues. And it only took 36 years to get here --- not a moment too soon.

We open up the phones to some thoughts from callers on all of this today and, of course, our own Desi Doyen has a few as well. A "good day" indeed. We'll take it.

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Guest: Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4), on his bills to expand the Court, impose term limits and ethics rules for 'unaccountable', 'corrupt' Justices; Also: TN's Thursday primaries and unverifiable voting systems...
By Brad Friedman on 8/4/2022 6:49pm PT  

I suspect you'll get much more out of listening to today's BradCast than I can possibly share in this summary. Hearing my conversation with the Congressman --- who has a very dry wit --- is also much, much funnier than reading about it. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

But, before we get there today, voters in Tennessee were voting in their midterm primaries on Thursday. Yes, on a Thursday! In a state where the right-wingers who run it aren't all that interested in democracy, apparently. Otherwise, they would hold primaries on a normal Tuesday, and they wouldn't have upended a state law passed years ago --- when Democrats held the legislative majority there --- to move from unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. A story today out of one of their counties where a touchscreen system appears to have failed for one of their voters (described misleadingly in the report as "a rare glitch") underscores this point and my continuing, expanding, years-long nightmare.

Then, we're joined by REP. HANK JOHNSON, Democrat from Georgia's 4th Congressional District and Chair of the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Courts, for a detailed and lively discussion about his ongoing attempts to bring accountability to what he describes as the "corrupt system" embodied by today's U.S. Supreme Court.

In April of last year, Johnson introduced the Judiciary Act of 2021, a simple, single paragraph bill [PDF], co-sponsored by a number of House colleagues and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) who declared, at the time, that when "Republicans stole the Court’s majority" they "undermined its legitimacy, and threatened the rights of millions of Americans". Over a year later, with little progress for the measure, after a full term with the Republicans' packed majority now having run roughshod over longstanding Constitutional rights and Court precedents --- on everything from the rights of voters to those of detainees, to gun safety and the environment and, of course, privacy rights and reproductive freedoms --- the bill's sponsors held another press event last month in front of the Capitol to try and bring focus to the need to, as Johnson describes it today, "re-balance the Court away from this current 6-3 rightwing extremist majority that was packed by Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, and the Federalist Society."

This week Johnson also introduced another measure --- this one, just three pages [PDF] long --- called the Supreme Court Tenure Establishment and Retirement Modernization (TERM) Act of 2022, to introduce term limits for Justices and mandating that new appointees shall be appointed solely by each President in the first and third years of their terms.

"It would establish an 18-year term limit for Supreme Court Justices, if that legislation passes --- and it needs to pass along with the Judiciary Act to expand the Court. We don't really need Justices letting the grass grow under their feet, becoming insulated and removed from accountability from the public", Johnson charges. "You can appoint a conservative judge, but that judge's views would have to end up being subject to being replaced by another judge at the end of that judge's tenure. So, in this way, we give every President the opportunity to appoint new blood into the Supreme Court. Keep the Supreme Court from getting old, stale, and rotten, as it is now...starting with the Honorable Clarence Thomas. "

The Georgia Congressman has also introduced the Supreme Court Ethics, Recusal, and Transparency (SCERT) Act of 2022 [PDF], recently marked-up in the Judiciary Committee to bring ethics reform to the High Court, where Justices currently are allowed to police themselves and are exempt from the judicial ethics rules and requirements which govern the rest of the federal judiciary. That, he asserts, has brought us to the "corrupt system" we have to today.

"The Supreme Court can simply decide to ignore all of the cases it chooses to ignore, and cherry-pick cases that have been inserted into the legal pipeline by activists who are intent on getting their way in the United States Supreme Court," says Johnson. "These are the same activists that have these same Supreme Court Justices traveling to exotic locations to be wined and dined, to deliver a speech to the assembled audience, who happen to be stakeholders in one position or another, that they want to insert into the Court and have the Court decide it their way."

"This is the system that we have now, with the Court being able to select a few cases in the pipeline, for that pipeline to be packed with issues that are ripe for these rightwing Justices carefully indoctrinated through their law school years with Federalist Society 'free market' thinking," the Congressman continues. "They have gotten the jobs with the law firms and with the prosecutors' offices that put them on a track to be nominated by a Republican to a judgeship. And they preside over the judgeship and then they get elevated to the United States Supreme Court, after being recommended by the same Federalist Society that indoctrinated them from law school and secured the job for them. These Justices are primed to rule in favor of the rightwing, 'free-market' capitalist interests that put them in the pipeline. It's a corrupt system that we have at this point, and Congress definitely is in position to do something about it."

Johnson has created a website called CourtReformNow.com to detail these measure and many others in order "to do something about it."

That said, many of these long-overdue reforms have had trouble gaining traction in Congress. I ask the Congressman if there is any reason, for example, that his Subcommittee couldn't call in Justice Thomas (who he describes as "ethically bankrupt") to discuss years of impropriety, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars those same activist groups have given his wife Ginni. (She was also recently revealed to have been a key player in helping Donald Trump to try and steal the 2020 Presidential election.) In response, Johnson offers a fascinating --- and amusing --- insight into how the House and its leadership work. That alone is worth tuning in for. But, the central point is that Committee and Subcommittee Chairs don't necessarily have the final say on what those committees may do and who they may call in for testimony. Moreover, as Johnson collegially chafes against some of those restrictions, he also underscores the need to "educate my colleagues about the power that we have and the need for us to use the power."

At "a political moment when the future of our democracy, our freedoms, are at risk," he notes, pressure from the public "has a lot of bearing" on what Committees and the Party itself in Congress are able and allowed to do.

As mentioned, tune in for this one for a much more expansive and colorful explanation on all of this.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with a very "sexy" close to today's show...

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Critical lessons (and warnings) from primary results in AZ, KS, MI, MO, WA, OH; Also: IN Rep. Walorski killed in crash; A farewell to Vin Scully...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2022 6:07pm PT  

Look at the faces in that photo. Those are the faces of people grappling to understand a profound truth that they simply had no idea about prior to Tuesday night. Those faces should serve as inspiration for every Democrat and/or progressive on the ballot in every race in all 50 states between today and November 8. And as a warning for every Republican.

On today's BradCast, selective, noteworthy, curated results --- or what is known about them, unofficial, incomplete or otherwise --- from Tuesday's primary elections in six states, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Washington and Ohio. (And several problems for voters in Pinal County, AZ.) [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Of course, the biggest news from Tuesday, hands down, was the stunning landslide rejection of a state constitutional amendment in Kansas that would have allowed the state's Republicans to restrict and/or ban abortion rights. (That's what the folks in that photo were just learning about.) It was the first statewide vote on the matter anywhere in the nation since the newly extremist, far-right, radical, activist, corrupt, Republican U.S. Supreme Court majority overturned 50-years of Constitutionally protected rights and freedoms by striking down 1973's Roe v. Wade decision.

Even in the theoretically "conservative" state of KS, voters soundly rejected that proposed Amendment with their "NO" votes by a stunning 18 points over "YES" as of airtime. The "NO" vote did well in large and small, rural and urban, Democratic and Republican counties alike. Turnout, thanks to this measure --- in a midterm primary where Republicans assumed few would notice --- was enormous and at levels normally seen in Presidential primaries or even mid-term general elections in the recent past.

The question now is whether Democrats will finally have the confidence and courage to run on this issue, following the overturning of Roe in June, in every state in the country and for virtually every office on the ballot from Governor to Attorney General to District Attorney to County Sheriff to state Judge to state Supreme Court Justice. And, whether Democrats will be able to capitalize on Josh Marshall's "Roe and Reform" campaign that he's been pushing hard at Talking Points Memo, calling for a very specific promise to voters from Democrats on the federal level: Let us hold our House majority and give us two more seats in the Senate and we vow, come January 2023, to reform the Senate filibuster to codify the protections of Roe into federal law, guaranteeing privacy rights and reproductive freedom in all 50 states.

Nothing short of that very specific "You give us that, we'll give you this" promise will do, as Josh has smartly been explaining for weeks now. We have long argued ourselves that candidates must give voters something very clear and specific to vote for. When they do, as proven on Tuesday in Kansas --- where the stakes were crystal clear, and voters knew exactly what they would get from their one single vote --- they will respond in large numbers.

Of course, all of this also further underscores the argument I've been making for months that Democrats and progressives must ignore the "conventional wisdom" from so-called political professionals about the historical odds of impending doom this November. These are decidedly UNconventional times, proven once again in KS yesterday.

Beyond that very encouraging news on Tuesday, there was still more good news in both the Secretary of State and Attorney General races in KS; Somewhat disappointing news in the MO race to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. Roy Blunt; Potentially concerning news out of MI's Republican gubernatorial contest, where a well funded, Trump-backed loon will run against the state's popular Democratic Governor; And wildly troubling news out of AZ on the Republican side in the contests for the Gubernatorial and Sec. of State nominations, in what could turn out to be two of the most critical races in the nation this November.

All of that and many other races covered and explained, with context, on today's busy show.

Finally, we close with some tragic news on the death this afternoon of Indiana's 58-year old Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and two of her young staffers in an automobile accident. And, some pleasant thoughts following the passing on Tuesday night of Hall of Fame broadcasting legend Vin Scully at age 94. He served as the inimitable and nationally recognized voice of Dodger baseball --- in both Brooklyn and Los Angeles --- for 67 incomparable years...

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Guest: George Beebe of the Quincy Inst. for Responsible Statecraft...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2022 5:58pm PT  

While voters were at the polls for primary elections in six states (Arizona, Kansas, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri and Washington) on Tuesday, we take the moment to turn to foreign affairs for a hot minute on today's BradCast.

Happily, few problems were reported for voters at the polls in those six states --- at least that we could find so far today --- beyond another predictable failure of electronic poll books, this time across Mohave County, AZ, for about six hours when polls opened. More issues may reveal themselves before tomorrow, or thereafter, of course. Meanwhile, there are a whole bunch of far-right, Trump-backed, 2020 election deniers on the ballot today, with several running for critical offices such as Governor, Sec. of State and the U.S. Senate. All of which, if those candidates win on Tuesday and again this November, could cause very serious problems for democracy itself in 2024. We'll pick all of that up on tomorrow's show, with whatever noteworthy reported results may be available by then.

But today, we had the opportunity circle back to Russia's ongoing war with it's sovereign neighbor Ukraine, now entering it's sixth horrific month following Russia's invasion on February 24. If you follow most Western media, Ukraine's military is making valiant if deadly headway in pushing back at over-extended and exhausted Russian troops in the South, while Russia presses its offensive in the East.

If you follow Kremlin-controlled media, this is a war special military operation that can never be won by Ukraine, and continues to threaten expansion into a global conflict, including the use of nuclear weapons, as Russia takes great pains to note --- on an alarmingly regular basis.

But, it's not only Russian-controlled media suggesting the war is ultimately unwinnable for Ukraine. A number of foreign policy-centered Western media outlets and think-tanks have long argued similarly in a push for peace talks and a ceasefire in the now war-torn nation of Ukraine.

There was some good news this week, in that an agreement brokered by Turkey and the U.N. between the two warring nations last month has resulted in ships carrying Ukrainian grain finally able to leave port to deliver food around the world. Russian ships will also be allowed to do so through safe corridors established amid mined waters in the Black Sea. If the agreement holds, millions of tons of grain and other agricultural products will finally be able to flow from "the breadbasket of Europe" to help ease rising global food prices and the threat of hunger and political instability in developing nations.

The first ship to leave port on Monday was "loaded with two commodities in short supply: corn and hope," as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described it. Beyond that, there is not much to be hopeful about in the protracted conflict.

Writing at The National Interest over the weekend, veteran foreign policy experts and former U.S. National Security officials Steven Simon and Jonathon Stevenson made the case for diplomacy. They called on the U.S. to help encourage a negotiated settlement by making clear to Ukraine that "Neither side can fulfill its maximal war aims" and they must find opportunities for peace talks and, if possible, a cessation of hostilities, despite Vladimir Putin's apparent disinclination to negotiate.

"It is well and good for the United States and its NATO allies to keep arming Ukraine. But it is also time to encourage both sides to start exploring possibilities for a political solution before escalation puts diplomacy even farther from reach," the pair conclude. "And unless the United States and NATO condition military assistance on Ukraine’s constructive political engagement, they will lack the leverage to work effectively towards a stable objective."

But is such a demand appropriate or even possible under the current conditions in the war torn nation? Isn't it up to Ukraine --- which has lost so much in blood, treasure and sovereign territory --- not the U.S. or NATO, to decide when and if Ukraine is ready to negotiate an end to the war?

Those are just some of the difficult and nuanced questions we discuss with our guest today, GEORGE BEEBE, Director of Grand Strategy (yes, I know, an ominous sounding title!) at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, one of our go-to think-tanks for smart, no-nonsense foreign policy solutions.

Beebe's is the author of 2019's The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Nuclear Catastrophe. He served over two decades in the U.S. government as an intelligence analyst, diplomat, and policy advisor, including as director of the CIA’s Russia analysis and as an advisor on Russia to Vice President Dick Cheney. (Yes, we discuss both of those ominous matters --- his work with the CIA and for Cheney --- as well!)

Among the questions and issues Beebe speaks to today: His concern that there is no real exit plan for our current strategy, not unlike the lack of a U.S. plan when we launched the Iraq War in 2003; Is it true that there is no way for Ukraine to "win" this war? That the only way is via diplomacy?; Should it be up to the U.S. and NATO, who are supplying much-needed armaments to help Ukraine defend itself, to decide when Ukraine should negotiate towards a settlement? Or should that remain Ukraine's sole decision?; Does Russia even have an interest in negotiations?; What should we learn from their repeated reminders that a continuation of the war could lead to a potentially nuclear expansion?; And, since it's actually a somewhat related matter, what does Beebe make of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial visit on Tuesday to Taiwan, and what effect is that likely to have on the Russia/Ukraine conflict?

"This is a very complex issue," Beebe tells me on the matter of the United States' own culpability in the matter. "Most foreign policy issues don't have single factor origins. They're usually the result of a confluence of different forces. What's happened in Russia's invasion of Ukraine is that it is the culmination of a series of developments, missteps on the part of a lot of different players over time, that all contributed to the situation that we're facing today."

"That doesn't excuse the Russians and it doesn't excuse Putin from making the choice to invade Ukraine. I think he is fully responsible for that choice, regardless of what preceded it. It didn't have to happen," he argues. But "Russia certainly has what I regard as understandable security concerns...That doesn't mean that the invasion was justified [or] that the manner in which this operation was carried out was at all justifiable."

"But I also would not say that Putin simply woke up in February and said, 'Hey, I would like to invade Ukraine.' There was a lot that went into shaping that decision, and I think a lot of blame on both the Russian and the Western sides."

As you can tell, there is much to discuss and try to make sense of with the Director of Grand Strategy at the Quincy Institute today. I hope you'll tune in for it!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report, with more on the potentially "game changing" compromise bill hashed out by Senator Joe Manchin with Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer last week, to invest an historic $370 billion in incentives to help us move from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy in hopes of mitigating our worsening climate emergency; And, on the latest deadly costs of that ongoing emergency across the U.S., as Big Oil --- whose product, and decades of lies about it, are at the heart of the crisis --- declare their most profitable quarter in history...

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Can Dems finally pass the critical Schumer/Manchin compromise bill to save the climate (and maybe themselves)?; Also: Biden's 'rebound'; KY's death toll; Tuesday's primaries; And callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2022 6:16pm PT  

In our opinion, on today's BradCast, the scaled back, surprise "Build Back Better" spending bill compromise (now renamed the "Inflation Reduction Act" to help win over West Virginia's rightwing Democratic Senator) comes not a moment too soon. And, even "scaled back", it's still chocked full of so much stuff that if each of its provisions were passed in separate bills over the past 18 months, we'd likely be discussing Joe Biden as having one of the most successful first two years of any President in history. That said, the bill has not yet been passed, and it could still be a very bumpy ride in the coming days to see it through to the President's signature. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to that today --- and some callers on same --- a few other headlines covered on today's show...

  • Minutes before airtime, news broke that the U.S. killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan over the weekend in a successful drone strike, in which no civilians are said to have been killed. President Biden was to give remarks about what happened on Monday evening.
  • Speaking of Biden, he tested positive for COVID again over the weekend, in what White House officials are describing as a "rare rebound" case after finishing his 5-day course of the anti-viral drug called Paxlovid. Well, it can't be ALL that rare, because last week, when the White House announced Biden had tested negative and was cleared to leave isolation, we warned about the possibility of such a rebound, as many Paxlovid users have experienced same. The Pfizer drug has very good results at preventing serious cases and hospitalization, but many patients have experienced a second --- non-fatal --- COVID infection shortly after using it. That is, apparently, the case with Biden. His White House doctor says he has few if any symptoms and will likely be fine, despite needing to isolate again.
  • Deadly flash flooding continues in parts of Kentucky today, and warnings for more of the same have been issued for the next several days from Tennessee to Kentucky to West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina. 37 have so far been confirmed to have died from the horrific flooding in Eastern Kentucky. Governor Andy Beshear believes that toll will continue to rise, as hundreds are still unaccounted for in a number of Appalachian mountain towns after recent, and ongoing, deluges. That, as our climate emergency continues with record heat predicted again this week from the Dakotas to the East Coast.
  • On Tuesday, voters will head to the polls in six states: Ohio, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state for primary elections. And there are a lot of 2020 election deniers (and worse) on the GOP ballots. We quickly preview just a few of those insane races today and will have noteworthy reported results, of course, on Wednesday's program.

Then, it's on to the so-called Inflation Reduction Act --- a scaled down version of the Build Back Better Act that Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema killed last year. If successfully adopted this time, it would increase federal revenue by some $750 billion over the next ten years, allowing for some $450 billion in spending on a bunch of several long-overdue programs. Most of them have been progressive priorities for years.

Only Democrats in the U.S. Senate will be needed to pass it under Senate reconciliation rules, but all 50 will have to be there (not out with COVID) and vote yes. Sinema has yet to comment on the measure, even as Manchin has been taking to media over the weekend to try and sell her on it.

If passed, the 725-page measure [PDF] will: Allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices; Cap out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs for seniors at $2,000 per year; Expand federal subsidies for premiums for individuals who purchase health insurance on the federal Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) exchanges; Set a minimum 15% tax for corporations who make more than $1 billion in profits per year; Increase policing of tax cheats; and, perhaps most critically, invest some $369 billion in climate and energy projects to cut deadly greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 through investments that hasten the nation's move from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.

What the bill won't do is raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year, as Biden has long promised. That, despite blatant lies from Republicans such as Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) who, when announcing he tested positive for COVID today, lied about the bill, declaring on Twitter that he will "continue to fight Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin's massive tax increase on working families." That is a lie. There is no "massive tax increase on working families" in the bill. Republicans hope you are dumb enough to be duped to the contrary.

In order to win over Manchin, whose family and campaign have long been propped up by fossil fuel interests, the bill does mandate oil and gas lease sales on federal lands be auctioned off in exchange for the approval of on- and off-shore wind and solar projects. Even there, however, oil and gas companies will be required to pay higher royalties on whatever they extract, and will be fined for failing to prevent methane leaks that exacerbate global warming. So, yeah. Art of the compromise. But, according to most climate experts we've read, heard from or spoken with, it's a compromise well worth taking..and comes not a moment too soon, as our climate emergency worsens by the day.

We've got much more on all of the above on today's show, and we open up the phone lines to callers to get some of their thoughts on the "Inflation Reduction Act" as the world melts down, and the 2022 primary general election is now less than 100 days away...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Alissa Jean Schafer of Energy and Policy Inst.; Also: OAN deathwatch; Trump's CNN 'Big Lie' threat; Stewart slams GOP Senators...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2022 6:41pm PT  

On today's BradCast: When you're a monopoly power company --- especially in Florida --- they let you do it, I guess. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Before we get to the massive scandal(s) unspooling this week in Florida, a few other notes about corrupt media and corrupt power brokers. Donald Trump's favorite "Big Lie" fake news network, One American News (OAN), looks to be on the brink of going out of business, after Verizon joined AT&T to stop carrying their programming this weekend. Sad! At the same time, Trump is threatening to sue actual news network, CNN, because they repeatedly reported on his "Big Lie" attempts to steal the 2020 election. Good luck with that.

Then, it's on to the mind-blowing story out of the Sunshine State this week, where a leak of thousands of documents from a consulting firm in Alabama, has revealed all sorts of corruption by Florida Power & Light (FPL), the state's monopoly public utility company. The Florida papers are having a field day as they comb through the documents, publishing damning exposé after damning exposé on the dirt they are finding, which goes all the way up to FLP President and CEO, Eric Silagy, who, according to our guest today, incredibly enough, still has his job!

The documents were released amid a power battle over Montgomery, AL-based Matrix, LLC, a "powerful but little-known political consulting firm that has operated behind the scenes in at least eight states," according to the Guardian. They reveal a boatload of corruption by FPL, its CEO and many of its executive, including running "ghost candidates" in elections, mounting disinformation campaigns to maintain their monopoly (for example, to oppose residential solar power in the Sunshine State!) and secretly taking over pretty much full control of an "independent", right-leaning "news" site in Tallahassee called The Capitolist.

The website (which is still online, also incredibly enough) has been influential for years among Florida lawmakers. Its editor and founder is a guy by the name of Brian Burgess, the former Communications Director for FL's former Governor, now U.S. Senator Rick Scott. According to a deep dive from the Miami Herald, Burgess was being paid some $12,000 a month by FPL --- via a web of third parties cut-outs, including the consulting firm Matrix --- to publish its propaganda, push its preferred (sometimes fake) candidates, and ruthlessly attack its opponents, including both elected officials and reporters who dared publish stories the power company didn't like.

For insight into this (these) still unfolding scandal (scandals), we're joined today by ALISSA JEAN SCHAFER, the FL-based Research and Communications Manager for the Energy and Policy Institute, a non-profit "watchdog organization working to expose attacks on renewable energy and counter misinformation by fossil fuel and utility interests". Her organization certainly has its work cut out for it with this gobsmacking "web of scandal," as Schafer describes it.

"If you are a Floridian," she notes, "you have no choice who your power company is. We are in a monopoly market. So if you have Florida Power & Light, you're stuck with them. You're paying that bill every month. If you're seeing these headlines, I don't know understand how you can NOT be furious."

"It's kind of a crazy state. People like to make fun of us," concedes Schafer. "But at the end of the day, there are a lot of folks that are being impacted by this nonsense. We have elections coming up, and how are people supposed to know that their votes aren't being manipulated by these fake candidates that are being propped up by dark money. It's a very real concern."

Among those fake candidates, as the Herald reports, was one who was "running" against state Senator José Javier Rodríguez, who proposed legislation to allow landlords to sell cheap rooftop solar power directly to tenants. "I want you to make his life a living hell … seriously,” wrote FPL’s CEO Silagy in a 2019 email to two of his vice-presidents. They then ran a third-party candidate with the same last name as Rodriguez, who split the vote. The state Senator was pushed out of his job by just 32 votes. FPL's "ghost candidate" later admitted he had been bribed to put his name on the ballot.

There is a lot to discuss today with Schafer on all of this, including how FPL is claiming they broke no laws; their ridiculous claim that rate-payer money wasn't actually used to hoax rate-payers through these schemes; and how The Capitolist's editor Burgess is able to claim with a straight face that he has "never pitched nor solicited feedback from FPL executives on any story or business venture" and has "never received a story pitch from any FPL executive." (Of course not. That's what Matrix was for! And they were in near daily communications with FPL execs, according to the leaked documents.)

"If we take a step back and look at our investor-owned utilities across the country, whether they are working with Matrix or not, this is a playbook that we do see time and time again," Schafer explains. "You have a consulting firm as the middle-man to do some of the dirty work, because utilities don't want their name on it. They want to be able to say, 'I never spoke to XYZ.' They can say that because they spoke to the consultant who then spoke to XYZ. You have similar trends of setting up shell companies to pass money through, so that it looks like the utility is just being a utility and not actually a political operative."

Finally today, Mitch McConnell is apparently furious at being out-foxed by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on this week's surprise agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin for a major tax, healthcare and climate deal called the Inflation Reduction Act. McConnell and his fellow Senate Republicans decided to take it out on sick combat veterans who were exposed to deadly chemicals and toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan by voting against healthcare protections for them. Former Daily Show host and actual supporter of America's veterans, Jon Stewart, had a word or two for those Republican Senators at the Capitol on Thursday morning, including: "If this is America First, then America is fucked."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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