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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, December 1, 2022
'Green News Report' 12/1/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
DoJ sues to clean up water supply in Jackson, MS; Mauna Loa shuts global CO2 monitor; New methane rules for drilling; PLUS: Int. Dept to help tribal communities escape rising seas...
Recent GNRs: 11/29/22 - 11/17/22 - Archives...
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...


And why all of that and still uncalled contests, very much matter...
By Brad Friedman on 11/14/2022 6:01pm PT  

Welp, Election 2022 continues into its second week of counting on today's BradCast. But it's our first chance to open up the phones to listeners after last week's historic midterm face-plant by Republicans and its associated very very good news for Democrats and American democracy itself. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we go to the phones today, a bit of a monster "rant" on the accomplishments of Joe Biden and the Democrats after two years in office; a few updates on races called since we signed off last Friday; what they all mean; and some of the races still being tallied (which will also determine, among other things, which party controls the House of Representatives next year.)

The big races called since our final show last week include the U.S. Senate contests in Arizona and Nevada, both of which went to the incumbent Democrats in each state (Sen. Mark Kelly in AZ and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in NV). Those victories ensure majority control for Democrats in the upper chamber of Congress once again in January. Dems will have at least a 50/50 majority with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie vote, even before the December 6 Senate runoff in Georgia between incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Herschel Walker (R).

But there are a ton of reasons for Democrats in GA to not let down their guard. Dante Atkins, over the weekend, detailed just some of the reasons why a 51-49 Senate is much better for Dems (and democracy) than a 50-50 Senate.

While Dems were celebrating retaining their Senate majority over the weekend, we were celebrating the fact that the last of the 2020 Election liars running for Secretary of State in battleground states were declared to have lost. In AZ, Democrat Adrian Fontes will become the new Sec. of State after defeating Trump-endorsed insurrection enthusiast and voting opponent Mark Finchem. And in NV, Democrat Cisco Aguilar was declared the winner over Trump-backed election liar Jim Marchant, founder of the "America First Secretaries of State coalition," featuring all of those Republican SoS candidates who, thankfully, were rejected by voters in last week's elections across the country in every single swing-state in which they ran. That alone will make the 2024 Presidential election indescribably safer.

Throughout the program, we also take care to call out a few of the folks from the Republican Party, the corporate media, and the even some on the lazy, knee-jerk far-left who ignored the available data and facts in order to misinform American voters that the GOP see a red wave, or even red tsunami, in last week's midterms. They didn't. They lost a seat in the Senate; will be lucky to win the narrowest of majorities in the House; lost Governorships in Maryland and Massachusetts (and, perhaps, Arizona, which is still close); took full control of both the Michigan and Minnesota state governments and may do the same in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, just to detail a few of the GOP's remarkable failures in a year that Conventional Wisdom suggests they should have owned the night.

Also, mid-hour today, we get an update in the tallies of the very right Los Angeles Mayoral race where progressive Rep. Karen Bass just got a big boost from the latest numbers in her contest against "former" Republican billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso.

Then, we turn to the phones for the first time since last week's midterms to get some thoughts from listeners on what the lack of "red wave" means for both Democrats and Republicans and whether any of it will help break the GOP's Trump Fever that is destroying both them and our democracy along with it (though not this week, at least!)...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Formalizing 2020's ad-hoc strategy, Republicans have organized nationally to create and unleash phony fraud claims, as needed, amid the havoc of next Tuesday's critical elections...
By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2022 6:49pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, we continue our focus on next Tuesday's critical midterm elections by picking things up, somewhat, from our conversation on yesterday's program. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

We were joined yesterday by longtime election and voting system expert Eddie Perez to discuss, among other things, what he has been writing about as the "manufactured chaos" that Republicans are creating to wreak havoc in the 2022 elections.

Today, we dive into broader details of that organized, manufactured chaos program that is emerging as a national strategy by the GOP to create enough havoc around the country to allow them a patina of "evidence" with which to challenge results of election outcomes they don't like.

A number of seemingly disparate efforts are actually now emerging as of a piece with a national strategy that you (and the Democrats and the media) need to know about before it all comes crashing down at once amid chaotic smoke and mirrors on Election Day and thereafter.

This is clearly an effort that echoes the less coordinated post-election chaos of 2020. Many of the same players are involved, including corrupt Trump attorneys John Eastman and Cleta Mitchell, as well as his convicted former aide Steve Bannon, the laughable billionaire pillow guy Mike Lindell, not to mention those in the far-right political media set to help execute the strategy as if it is legitimate, from Tucker Carlson on down.

The hope, as Josh Kovensky outlines at TPM today, is to sow the seeds of enough chaos to be able to create court cases and "thousands of sworn affidavits" (sound familiar?) to "credibly" point to (false) claims of "fraud" in virtually any election around the country next week, if and when they don't win it. "The chaos is the point," he writes.

We pull many of these threads together on today's program. One example is the seemingly isolated case of the campaign manager for Maryland's white nationalist Republican candidate for Attorney General who directed supporters at a rally last weekend to vote next Tuesday "as late in the day as possible," explaining that, "If everyone could stand in long, long lines at 6 o’clock, that would actually help us."

Then there are the door-to-door canvassers --- organized in part by folks like Eastman, Bannon, Lindell, Mitchell and others --- who, according to a Reuters report today, have been active in at least 23 states. They are dressing as if they are government officials --- sometimes armed and with badges --- intimidating voters with questions about who lives in their house, what their voting record is, etc. They appear to be collecting information to use to challenge voters on Election Day at the polls and/or in the post-election period, as required to create enough chaos to offer the appearance of fraud and/or uncertainty in the legitimacy of election results. And, yes, Fox "News" and the rest will be standing by to report all of these false accusations as if they are real.

Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. It's important that you --- not to mention the Democratic Party and everyone at legitimate media outlets --- understand what is going on before the fog of chaotic election war overwhelms all of us beginning next Tuesday.

In a not unrelated story today, we noted yesterday that AP has found more than 100 election lawsuits have already been brought this year related to the 2022 elections. Most have been filed by Republicans in efforts to make voting more difficult. We detailed several of those cases yesterday (in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada). Today we discuss one filed in Illinois that seeks to invalidate lawful absentee ballots that are cast on or before Election Day but do not arrive until afterward, in the two week period allowed by state law. A Republican Congressman is suing to block the counting of those votes, even though they are lawfully cast ballots that could include tens of thousands cast by members of the U.S. military stationed overseas. The complaint was originally filed in May of this year. But the Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing the case has yet to rule on it, for some reason, with Election Day less than a week away. Chaos in waiting.

Also, since we quickly waved at these Trump accountability stories at the top of today's show, some links for more deets for ya:

  • A judge has appointed an independent monitor to oversee Trump Organization finances in the civil fraud suit filed by NY A.G. Letitia James against Trump, his company and his three oldest kids.
  • The NY criminal tax fraud case against the Trump Organization is now under way.
  • Top Trump aide Kash Patel has been granted immunity to testify against him before a federal grand jury probing the documents Trump stole upon leaving the White House.
  • Trump settled the lawsuit against him for ordering his security goons to beat up protesters in front of Trump Tower in 2015, as jury selection was underway in the case.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with a whole bunch of climate related stories both good and bad as winter is coming...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Angela Peoples of Election Defenders; Also: Bannon sentenced; Trump subpoenaed; Graham appeals to SCOTUS; And, still more evidence of looming Trump accountability...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2022 5:48pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: There is a great deal to be concerned about between now and November 8, when American holds its first nationwide elections since Donald Trump tried to steal the last one. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Since then, his unrelenting lies that the 2020 election was stolen from him (ironically enough) have resulted in, among other things, newly restrictive voting laws adopted by GOP-controlled states, a shortage of poll workers following death threats from disinformed rightwingers, and concerns of both intimidation and the potential of violence at polling places (and ballot drop-boxes.)

But the Election Defenders vow to be out in force, as they were in 2020, attempting to make sure everyone can vote freely and fairly.

"One of my biggest concerns is the impact the attempts at intimidation may play on the electorate," my guest today, the group's Campaign Director, ANGELA PEOPLES, tells me. "In some places, these threats of violence are very real, and we're preparing folks to be responsive to those." But, she adds, "a lot of this is just talk, and attempts to create an atmosphere of fear. So we are planning to counter that fear with joy, with enthusiasm, to make sure that people can cast their ballot with safety and dignity."

Election Defenders is a coalition formed in 2020 by The Frontline, a joint campaign of the Working Families Party, the Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project, United We Dream and Rising Majority. They deployed some 2,000 volunteers trained in de-escalation techniques to polling places in all 50 states in 2020. This year, they hope to station about 1,250 in key battleground states including Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona.

"We are trained not only in de-escalation, but also in what we call Voter Care --- to support folks at the polls, making sure folks have information about what those new laws may be and how to make sure that, if they feel like they are denied their ability to vote, they have a chance to address that and to not be denied their ability to cast their ballot, whether it's provisional or otherwise, on Election Day," Peoples explains.

"We'll be making sure that things stay calm, stay joyful, stay energetic and are the type of experience that can keep people engaged all the way through to casting their ballot," she says. The group hopes to counter so many who have been lied into rage on the Right over the past two years. "A lot of their playbook is about intimidation [and] fear tactics. So we have really focused on the joy that we can bring to people and reminding folks that, as much as some may try to make voting seem like something that is privileged, or something only a few should be able to do, that everyone that has the right to vote in this country should be able to exercise that."

Critically, she adds, "we are reminding our volunteers that this Election Defense opportunity is something that we need to do from voting, to counting, all the way to certification."

And, yes, the group is still welcoming volunteers and helping to train them all over the country. If you'd like to join the effort, you can get more details and sign up for trainings here or text FRONTLINE to 20403.

Also today, the outer bands of the coming Trump Accountability Hurricane continue to blow in...

  • Steve Bannon was sentenced to 4 months in prison for Contempt of Congress after refusing to answer subpoenas for testimony and documents from the House January 6 Committee. He remains free for now pending appeal.
  • Donald Trump was sent his own subpoena by the same House Committee today, seeking documents from the disgraced former President by November 4 and under oath deposition testimony beginning on or about November 14. If he refuses, he could face similar charges to those Bannon has now been found guilty of and sentenced to prison for.
  • On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham was ordered by a three-judge panel (two of whom are Trump appointees) at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to testify to the Special Grand Jury in Atlanta set up by Fulton County, Georgia Prosecutor Fani Willis. She is investigating an alleged criminal conspiracy led by Donald Trump to force state officials to falsify the 2020 election results. Today, Graham, who has lost every court battle to avoid testimony so far, asked SCOTUS to intervene. Even though the denies any wrongdoing, it appears he really really doesn't want to testify to that end under oath for some reason.
  • Also this week, Trump was forced to testify under oath in the defamation case against him by author E. Jean Carroll, who alleges he raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s and then lied about both her and it while serving as President. But, because he can't help himself, Trump really screwed himself over regarding the only quasi-legit defense he had left to try and duck Carroll's defamation complaint. SAD!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Sue Wilson of Media Action Center; Also: DoJ recommend six months for Bannon; Rightwing '2000 Mules' fraudsters face FBI, IRS referrals from AZ's GOP A.G.; And, Could Grassley actually lose in IA?!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2022 6:55pm PT  

We are finally beginning to see the start of some real accountability for so many of the countless rightwing hoaxsters, fraudsters and scam artists who enjoyed their hey days during the Trump Era. Specifically on today's BradCast, we're beginning to see accountability for rightwing hoaxsters Steve Bannon, Alex Jones and the fraudsters calling themselves True the Vote. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

WE KICK THINGS OFF today with Donald Trump's former aide Steve Bannon, a guy willing to allegedly hoax millions of Trump's own supporters to raise money to build a border wall, while secretly keeping millions for himself and his fellow hoaxsters. He will face trial for those charges in New York. But this week he's facing sentencing after being found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to respond to subpoenas for documents and testimony from the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and Trump's failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election. The DoJ is recommending 6 months of prison time and a $200,000 fine. The sentencing hearing will be before a Trump-appointed federal judge this Friday.

NEXT UP, we're joined by award-winning broadcast journalist turned media activist SUE WILSON of Media Action Center to discuss the dangerous lies of rightwing hoaxster Alex Jones. Last week in Connecticut, Jones was ordered to pay $965 million in damages to parents of children killed in 2012's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Jones was previously held liable in Texas in a separate defamation suit by other parents who also lost children in the mass shooting that resulted in the murders of 20 first graders and 6 adults.

Jones, as Wilson reported at The BRAD BLOG last week, denied that anyone was ever killed at Sandy Hook, claiming the parents of the children were "crisis actors" and that it was all a hoax by those who support gun safety measures. After years of using our public airwaves to repeat those false claims, many of the parents in question were traumatized, confronted by Jones' supporters and were forced to move, thanks to continuous harassment from some of Jones' deranged fans.

But the critical point Wilson asked in her piece was why it is that Jones is still broadcasting over our public airwaves at all? She notes today that some activists have complained to radio stations to successfully have his show removed from the air. But, she says he still remains on about 25 stations which are licensed to broadcast in exchange for "serving in the public interest". As Wilson details on today's show, there are still FCC regulations on the books barring the use of our public airwaves to promote hoaxes that involve crimes such as murder. Nevertheless, no action has been taken by the federal government against Jones or the stations who air him. We discuss why that may be, how listeners can take action to change that and the First Amendment issues surrounding the matter.

THEN, we've spent too much time on past shows already detailing how the GOP "voter fraud" fraudster group calling itself True the Vote (TTV) attempted to hoax the nation by creating a fake documentary with fellow hoaxster (and convicted election fraudster) Dinesh D'Souza called 2000 Mules.

The premise of the film is that TTV claims to have purchased third-party cellphone geolocation data that supposedly reveals thousands of phone users repeatedly visiting absentee ballot drop-boxes in multiple battleground states in 2020 to cast hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes. Moreover, the group claims they have thousands of hours of surveillance camera video footage revealing the same "mules" visiting these drop-boxes over and over to cast the phony ballots.

The film was thoroughly debunked as nonsense almost immediately upon its release earlier this year. In fact, it includes no actual footage of anybody casting fraudulent votes. But certain rightwing dupes, including the former President, falsely insist that it does. Just last week, for example, in response to the House J6 Committee voting to subpoena Trump, he responded with an absurd 14-page reply [PDF] citing dozens of (long-ago debunked) instances of fraud in the 2020 election. He cited TTV's 2000 Mules film, claiming the group "collected over 4 million minutes of ballot drop box video, showing ballot stuffing at a level not seen before." The result, he falsely asserted, proved that "millions of ballots were stuffed...an Election-changing number many times over."

All of it, of course, is nonsense. And, as it turns out, even the office of Arizona's far-right, voter-suppression friendly Attorney General Mark Brnovich has now noticed. On Friday, the Criminal Division in his office referred TTV to the FBI and IRS for investigation. The AZ A.G. explains in their two-page referral letter [PDF] that, despite multiple meetings with the group's founder Catherine Engelbrecht and researcher Greg Phillips, who both claimed to have video evidence of fraud they promised to turn over, they never actually did. Furthermore, as the letter explains, the pair also met with FBI officials in Phoenix and claimed to have turned over the data to Brnovich's office. They later met again with Brnovich's office and claimed they gave the data to the FBI!

"Given TTV's status as a nonprofit organization," the Chief Special Agent in Brnovich's criminal division office wrote to the FBI and IRS on Friday, "it would appear that further review of its financials may be warranted."

FINALLY, on one of our programs last week, I broke down the five Republican U.S. Senate seats (in PA, OH, WI, NC and FL) that appear to have a plausible possibility of flipping to Democratic in November's critical midterm elections, and the two Democratic seats (in GA and NV) that could plausibly flip to Republican. But over the weekend, the Des Moines Register poll --- considered the Gold Standard for political polling in Iowa --- released an eyebrow raising survey finding that the state's 89-year old seven-term Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, now running for his eighth term, is only three points ahead of his Democratic challenger, retired U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Franken, among likely voters. The poll shows Grassley leads with 46% of the vote to Franken's 43%. Could that seat really be up for grabs in the Hawkeye State next month?!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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Queen Elizabeth RIP; Bannon indicted again; Feds probe scammy Trump PAC; MI GOP teaches poll workers to cheat; MI Supreme Court approves abortion rights ballot measure blocked by Republicans...
By Brad Friedman on 9/8/2022 6:29pm PT  

Since I kept my whining about the endless heat wave out here in Southern California to a minimum for a change on today's BradCast, I'll do so here instead. The record heat continues. And with no air conditioning at BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters, I only have the strength to muster up some quick links to some of the many stories covered on today's show. Tune in for details! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

  • Britain's longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is dead at age 96 after her 70-year reign.
  • A new Reuters poll find a large majority of Americans (nearly 60%) regard Trump's MAGA movement as a threat to the nation's democratic foundations. But only about 25% of Republicans agree.
  • Trump's sleazy former advisor, MAGA swami, and convicted federal criminal Steve Bannon is indicted on 6 criminal counts in New York for money laundering, conspiracy and fraud related to siphoning hundreds of thousands of dollars from the nonprofit "We Build the Wall" campaign. The campaign was supposedly created to construct some border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Bannon and the group's founders promised they wouldn't take a penny. They lied. Bannon was pardoned by Trump on his last day in office for similar charges at the federal level brought by Trump's own Department of Justice.
  • The federal grand jury investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has now reportedly widened its probe to include Trump's scammy Save America PAC. While the political action committee has raised more than $130 million from its duped donors, theoretically to contest the results of the 2020 election, most of the money has gone unspent or, apparently, into the pockets of Trump and his family.
  • The same federal grand jury has also now subpoenaed Trump's 31-year old personal aide, William Russell, who worked with him at the White House and has continued to do so since the disgraced former President left office. He is very close to Trump. He likely knows a lot of stuff.
  • CNN's investigative unit on Wednesday published a detailed, lengthy story on GOP leaders in Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan caught on video tape teaching pollworkers how to break the rules on behalf of Republicans. We share the version of the story from CNN's Drew Griffin which ran last night on the cable net.
  • BREAKING mid-show: Michigan's Supreme Court will allow an initiative on this year's midterm ballot for a state Constitutional amendment that would protect abortion rights in the state. Republican members of the state canvassing board had blocked the proposal --- which had been supported by a record 750,000 signatures --- from the November ballot because, they claimed, there wasn't enough spacing between words on the petition. Seriously. That, after Republicans pretended to believe, following the corrupt Republican U.S. Supreme Court majority overturning Roe v. Wade earlier this summer, that reproductive rights should be decided by the people of the states.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on the historic heat wave in the U.S. West; new threats by Russia to shut off energy exports to Europe; a massive climate change-fueled humanitarian crisis in Pakistan amid record flooding; and more...

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Special Coverage with Heather Digby Parton of Salon, Richard 'RJ' Eskow of 'The Zero Hour'; ALSO: BANNON FOUND GUILTY OF CONTEMPT...
By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2022 5:59pm PT  

On January 6, 2021, then President Donald Trump wound up his supporters, who he knew to be armed, with lies about a stolen election, which he knew to be false, at a rally near the White House. He then pointed them toward the U.S. Capitol with the instruction to "fight like hell". They did. People died. And during the more than three hours of violent attack, as five people would lay dead, hundreds of law enforcement officials injured, and Trump's MAGA mob coming within feet of fleeing lawmakers --- including the Vice President --- the Commander-in-Chief holed up in the dining room near the Oval Office in White House, ordered that no photographs be taken, watched the carnage on TV, and did nothing to stop any of it.

In fact, as the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the insurrection and Trump's many other failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election made clear on Thursday night's Day 8 --- and as we discuss on today's BradCast Special Coverage --- he wasn't bothered in the least by the carnage. It was all part of the plan. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The then-President was informed that the riot was under way at the Capitol just minutes after returning to the White House after his speech to rile up the insurrectionists. He spent the next several hours ignoring his sworn duty and oath of office to defend the nation and Constitution, while rejecting scores of entreaties from advisers, friends, top staffers and legal aides, refusing to take any action to quell his angry, dangerous, armed and disinformed mob. But he did, as the Committee laid out in minute-by-minute detail, call friendly U.S. Senators (some of them, such as MO's Josh Hawley, who were fleeing for their lives after firing up the mob themselves) in hopes of encouraging them to further his plan to steal the election from its rightful victor, Joe Biden, during the joint session of Congress to confirm the Electoral College vote.

"Trump didn't fail to act," Republican Committee member and Iraq and Afghanistan combat vet Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) charged, "he chose not to act." That, after turning his supporters "love of country into a weapon," as Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney (R-WY) asserted, adding: "Donald Trump made a purposeful choice to violate his oath of office."

It was, according to the evidence presented, the greatest "dereliction of duty" ever committed by a sitting U.S. President. By far.

The hearing was incredibly information-dense. With compelling evidence and testimony --- both live and on video tape --- from dozens of former aides, military and national security officials, White House attorneys, staffers and family members, all detailing Trump's hours-long lack of action. No calls to the military or national security or law enforcement agencies. The violence was the plan all along. He did not want to stop it.

Even the next day, as seen in raw footage from the White House, the loser Trump could not declare that the election was over during a brief, scripted, video-taped address to the nation, in which his emotional instability and seething anger was, at times, laid bare for all to see. (Everyone but Fox "News" viewers anyway. Fox didn't show it to them, choosing to run Sean Hannity's show instead, making fun of Joe Biden for having COVID, even as the Committee was revealing Hannity's own texts to Trump's Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, begging him to get the President to take action to stop the attack on the Capitol.)

Perhaps the most chilling moment of the night was the video-taped testimony from an unidentified national security official, his or her voice disguised, detailing how members of VP Mike Pence's Secret Service detail were calling family members, as the mob attacked, to say goodbye, as the officials believed they may not live through the day.

We're joined today by two excellent guest panelists, both old friends and old school bloggers. One, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo, has been with us for every one of the Committee's summer series of hearings. (They now promise more in September.) And the other is RICHARD "RJ" ESKOW, longtime columnist and host of The Zero Hour on radio and TV.

The conversation, as always with these two, was spirited and insightful. Eskow has some complaints about the Committee, Parton thinks they are doing a superb job. Both have smart thoughts about what we've learned from the hearings so far, including last night, what we still need to learn much more about in the weeks ahead, and what it all may mean going forward.

And, oh yeah, on Friday, just before airtime, a federal jury found Trump's former aide and campaign chair, Steve Bannon, guilty on both criminal counts of Contempt of Congress, for having ignored lawful subpoenas from the J6 Committee for testimony and documents regarding what he knew about Trump's insurrection. He now faces anywhere from 60 days to 2 years in prison, presuming he isn't able to squirm out on appeal between now and his sentencing in October. Parton explains why she thinks today's verdict may actually become a win for Bannon, who she describes as "MAGA Mandela." We'll see if she's right about that.

Lots to cover on today's lively Special Coverage. Please tune in!...

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GOP election denier wins MD Guv primary; Bipartisan Senators unveil electoral reform bills; Bolsonaro plays Trump card; GA D.A. cracks down on Giuliani, Graham, fake electors; House Dems play hardball; Biden unveils actions for climate crisis...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2022 6:57pm PT  

There were almost too many clear and present dangers to fit into today's BradCast. But we did our best. Buckle up. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among them...

  • Trump-endorsed 2020 election denier, Dan Cox, named as winner of Maryland's GOP gubernatorial primary. Democrats rejoice...but should they?
  • A bipartisan team of U.S. Senators, lead by Maine Republican Susan Collins and West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, strike a deal to reform the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to clarify, in theory, that Vice Presidents may not steal elections during joint sessions of Congress to confirm Electoral College votes. We are, let's say, skeptically optimistic.
  • Brazil's far-right autocratic President Jair Bolsonaro --- loved by Trump and Tucker Carlson of Fox 'News' alike --- goes full Trump in declaring that his re-election contest in about 75 days, in which he is predicted to lose by a landslide, will be marred by massive fraud requiring military intervention to sort out.
  • It's not looking good for Steve Bannon in his Contempt of Congress trial. It is looking much better, however, for those who believe in accountability and the rule of law.
  • It's also not looking good for a whole passel of conspirators who attempted to help Trump steal the 2020 Presidential election in Georgia, including Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose attempts to quash their subpoenas have failed so far, and 16 GOP fake electors now designated by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis as "targets" in the special grand jury probe.
  • GOPers in the House and Senate are squirming today, as House Democrats play some excellent hard ball (for a change) by calling votes on the Respect for Marriage Act, to give federal statutory protection to both same-sex and interracial marriage, and the Right to Contraception Act. Republicans are outraged --- OUTRAGED! --- that they're being forced to take a public stance on these issues during an election year, after SCOTUS recently made clear those previously Constitutionally-established rights may now be on their chopping block as well, following their corrupt overturning of Roe v. Wade.
  • Following the corrupt SCOTUS majority gutting the ability of the EPA to regulate carbon, and the corrupt Joe Manchin gutting Joe Biden and the Democrats' critical climate change agenda, the President announced plans for Executive Actions to take on the crisis which he describes (correctly) as a "clear and present danger"...

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Guest: National security journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel.net...
[UPDATED with link to full transcript of interview with Wheeler.]
By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2022 6:34pm PT  

The big time former federal prosecutors are only just now beginning to catch up to what our guest on today's BradCast has been saying all along: Merrick Garland's Department of Justice is, in fact, on the job and Donald Trump is, in fact, in their sights. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

At The Atlantic today, Ronald Reagan's former Deputy Solicitor General and George H.W. Bush's Deputy Attorney General, Donald Ayer, along with former Asst. Attorney General for the Civil Division at DoJ, Stuart M. Gerson, and former federal prosecutor and Chief Asst. City Attorney in San Francisco, Dennis Aftergut, declared that, after seven public hearings by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 insurrection and Trump's multiple attempts to steal the election, "The evidence is now overwhelming that Donald Trump was the driving force behind a massive criminal conspiracy to interfere with the official January 6 congressional proceeding and to defraud the United States of a fair election outcome."

The three prosecutors, two of whom served in Republican Administrations, observe that "This was Trump's project all along" and there is now more than enough evidence to prosecute the disgraced former President. "The damage to America’s future that would be inflicted by giving him a pass far outweighs the risks of prosecuting him," they write, "And the tradition of not prosecuting a former president must yield to the manifest need to protect our constitutional form of government and to assure that the violent effort to overthrow it is never repeated."

At New York Times earlier this week, Andrew Weissman, a long time federal prosecutor of high profile criminal conspiracies and a senior prosecutor on the Special Counsel team that investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election, argues that Garland's "bottom up" investigation --- working the way up the food chain from the hundreds of dupes on the ground on January 6, through the rightwing extremist militia group participants like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, now facing seditious conspiracy charges, to those in Trump's inner-circle --- is too slow, difficult and ultimately too narrow. He calls instead for a "hub and spoke conspiracy" probe, now that it's clear Trump was at the "hub" of multiple criminal "spokes" in his attempts to steal the 2020 election. January 6 was just one such "spoke".

Our guest today, however, who has perhaps been following every single indictment, federal court filing, and shred of available evidence as close or closer than anyone on the planet, has long been arguing that Garland's DoJ has been doing all of the above, and for some time --- whether the big time former federal prosecutors have finally gotten around to noticing or not.

MARCY WHEELER, the prolific independent national security journalist from Emptywheel.net, is a long time friend who has been joining us on the show for many months now, often to counter the many critics of Garland. She has long argued the DoJ is, in fact, on the case, and has a number of criticisms of Weissman's much-cited critique of the Department's probe.

She argues DoJ has long been carrying out a very broad investigation of the sort that Weissman is now calling for. In addition to the hundreds of grunts on the ground and dozens of seditious conspirators from the militia groups already charged, the Department has also been deliberately collecting a wide swath of critical evidence from members of Trump's inner-circle --- from Rudy Giuliani to Roger Stone to Michael Flynn to Sidney Powell to John Eastman to Mark Meadows and beyond.

Today's conversation, as usual with Wheeler, is complex and far-reaching. We discuss where folks like Weissman have been missing the big picture, and we discuss what she has learned from the Select Committee's hearings and where they still have information to learn themselves.

But the bottom line is this: Wheeler believes "there is plenty of evidence to prove that Donald J. Trump conspired and, himself, did obstruct the vote certification on January 6th," but that the DoJ "will not charge it...until they get a couple of more things in place." Those things, namely, are "four people," one of whom, she notes, the Trump camp itself believes "is about to go to prison."

Tune in to find out who those people are, and when Wheeler believes charges for Trump are likely to come down --- from someone who has been far ahead of the curve on all of this for the past year and a half or so. (Oh, and yes, she tells us that Steve Bannon, whose trial on criminal Contempt of Congress charges begins next week, is indeed in trouble too. "Probably more trouble than he knows.")

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Update 7/21/2022: Our friend "Spocko" was so impressed by Marcy's commentary in this episode that he created a full text transcript of my interview with her. He says he used AI to do it, so I can't vouch for the accuracy of it, but thought it might be helpful to some if I posted that link to it here for archival and posterity purposes.

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GOP TX Reps threaten law firm for out-of-state abortions; Facing contempt trial, leaked Bannon audio reveals Trump scheme to steal 2020; DoJ sues AZ for vote suppression; WI's GOP Supremes ban drop-box voting; GA GOP Senate nom's sad climate change remarks...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2022 6:24pm PT  

We've got a grab bag of news items on today's BradCast, though almost all of it ends up making the same case: 'Both sides' are decidedly not the same. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We kick off with some listener mail, critical of our recent show discussing why it's so deadly important to elect Democrats in 2022 in order to have any chance of saving American democracy itself --- and much more along with it --- before 2024. The listener argues that, in fact, democracy no longer exists in the U.S. following 2010's Citizens United ruling by the Supreme Court. He argues that "both of the two major parties" are now so corrupted that "the chances of non-corporate funded candidates" being elected to national office are now "equivalent to nil". While that may come as a surprise to folks like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, just to name a couple, there are many other reasons our correspondent couldn't be more wrong. We explain why.

The bulk of the news items in the rest of today's program underscore why that lazy "both sides are the same" notion (while founded in fragments of cynically misreported truths) is dangerously wrong. They also underscore how those on the Left who buy into that self-defeating nonsense are being played as assuredly as Donald Trump and his MAGA buddies have played their own gullible supporters.

Among those news stories covered today...

  • Elected Republicans members of the Texas state House, ironically calling themselves the "Texas Freedom Caucus," have sent a letter to a Dallas law firm threatening them with legal "consequences" including "felony criminal prosecution and disbarment" for reimbursing their own employees for out-of-state travel as needed to obtain an abortion, now that Texas Republicans have ended such rights and personal freedoms for residents of the Lone Star State.
  • A Donald Trump-appointed federal judge has laughed Steve Bannon's attempt to delay his pending federal trial out of the courtroom. The trial, on two counts of Contempt of Congress in response to the former Trump aide's unlawful refusal to respond to subpoenas from the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and Trump's many failed attempts to steal the 2020 election, is scheduled to begin next week and could result in up to two years in prison for Bannon.
  • At the same time, Mother Jones has obtained leaked audio of Bannon speaking to supporters of his Chinese billionaire pal/funder three days before the 2020 election, explaining that Trump planned to declare victory, whether he won the election or not, and pretend to be the victim of fraud. "He's gonna say they stole it...he's not going out easy...Trump is gonna do some crazy shit," Bannon promised (sound familiar?), as they all laughed about what would become the most dangerous assault on American democracy in our history.
  • DoJ has sued Arizona for violations of the National Voter Registration Act and Civil Rights Act, following the signing of a new voter suppression law earlier this year. Adopted by the state's GOP-dominated state legislature and signed by its Republican Governor, the new measure would block voters from voting in the 2024 election without first presenting documents proving their citizenship.
  • Wisconsin's GOP-dominated state Supreme Court finds absentee ballot drop-boxes are now illegal in the Badger State. Donald Trump declares the ruling to be proof that he actually won Wisconsin in 2020! (He didn't.) And a Republican state lawmaker running for Governor vows to reverse the state's election results in response.
  • In Georgia, a pathetic audio clip from the Republican Party's U.S. Senate nominee, Hershel Walker, discussing climate change --- ("Since we don't control the air, our good air decided to float over to China's bad air. So when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move. So it moves over to our good air space. Then...now we got we to clean that back up.") --- underscores, once again, the sad, cynical (and ill-considered) scheme by GOPers to push this seemingly mentally ill former football star as their candidate to run against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock this fall.
  • And finally, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, as wildfires once again threaten California's iconic Giant Sequoias; Utah's Great Salt Lake is drying up; and offshore wind power is booming...in China...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Special Coverage with Heather Digby Parton of Salon, David Faris of Roosevelt University...
By Brad Friedman on 7/12/2022 6:43pm PT  

It was Day 7 of public hearings for the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee probe of Donald Trump's January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and his multiple failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential Election. We've got full Special Coverage once again on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

If you've been turning away over the past week or so, we've got a quick recap of "our story so far" at the top of today's show, summing up the key elements of the six previous public hearings by the Committee. In short, to sum up that summary, Donald Trump knew everything and was personally involved in everything. He knew there was no fraud of note in the 2020 election, as all of his top advisers and legal experts told him as much, but he continued to lie about it anyway. He knew that his efforts to reverse election results to steal the election from Joe Biden in various swing-states and at the joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021 were unlawful and/or Constitutional. Again, we've been shown that all his top advisers told him as much. He relentlessly pushed for it anyway. And he knew that calling his supporters to D.C. on January 6 and directing them to march on the Capitol would result in violence led by armed extremist groups. He was advised against it, but he did it anyway.

Today's hearing picked up on Trump's "call to arms" to his supporters. It came in the middle of the night in his now-infamous "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!" tweet, issued just hours after an insane, "unhinged", hours-long December 18, 2020 White House meeting with his personal crackpot attorneys Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani, his felonious former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne (for some reason) and a bunch of White House attorneys. The latter angrily tried to derail the MAGA coup plotters plans to have the President issue an Executive Order to seize the nation's voting machines and install Powell as a Special Counsel to investigate fraud and issue arrests. Even Trump loyalist and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone --- who finally testified to the Committee last Friday --- said he "vehemently opposed" the "terrible idea." That, after repeatedly asking for any evidence of fraud and being shown none at all.

That bonkers meeting, and its fallout --- resulting in the tweet that "electrified and galvanized" his supporters immediately thereafter --- was detailed in the first part of today's hearing, with mountains of evidence and video-taped testimony. The second part covered what happened next, as the extremist groups which supported Trump, including the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers (the leaders of which have already been indicted for seditious conspiracy), descended on D.C., planning for the violence --- and much worse --- that eventually occurred.

The Committee shared video of Trump's media supporters, immediately after his "will be wild!" tweet, calling on their own followers to join them in D.C., including rightwing conspiracy radio host Alex Jones and others. One called for "storming right into the Capitol," noting "the rules of engagement: If you have enough people, you can push down any fence or wall." Another vowed "There are gonna be a million, geeked-up armed Americans" coming to occupy D.C. in response to Trump's call.

All of that, weeks before Trump eventually directed them to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6 in what, the Committee showed through several draft tweets and speeches, was absolutely not a spontaneous ad-lib made by Trump during his remarks on the Ellipse. The armed march on the Capitol was the plan all along.

On the night before the attack, according to White House call logs obtained and revealed by the Committee today, Trump's disgraced former aide Steve Bannon took to his "War Room" podcast just after a conversation with the then President to declare: "All hell is going to break lose tomorrow. It's all converging and now we're on the point of attack. It's not gonna happen how you think it's going to happen. It's gonna be quite extraordinarily different and all I can say is strap in."

One witness at the end of today's hearing were Jason Van Tatenhove, an independent journalist turned self-described Oath Keepers propagandist, who says he left the group 5 years ago after seeing them become more and more racist and violent. The other was Stephen Ayers, a January 6 rioter and Trump believer. He was not tied to any of the extremist groups. He was just a guy, "a family man" who answered Trump's call to come to D.C. and "fight like hell" to "save the country" as he believed Trump needed him to do. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct at the Capitol and now regrets every part of it, believes it was all a con, but has since lost his job and much more after having fallen for Trump's Big --- violent, deadly --- Lie.

Today's hearing came to a close with another Liz Cheney cliff-hanger. This time she revealed that Trump had attempted to contact one of the Committee's witnesses following their last hearing. "We will take any effort to influence witness testimony very seriously," vowed the Committee's Republican Vice Chair, adding that the Justice Department had been notified about the apparent witness tampering by the disgraced former President.

Joining us to make sense of all of this today are, once again, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullaballoo, joined this time by DAVID FARIS, Associate Professor of Political Science at Roosevelt University and a contributor to both Newsweek and The Week.

"They've been setting up the various strands," Parton explains, describing today's hearing focused on Trump's directives to his violent supporters, as she cited Andrew Weissman's recent "'hub and spoke' conspiracy" op-ed at NYTimes. "There were a number of different spokes going out from the Oval Office, which included the 'voter fraud,' the fake electors, the DOJ, Mike Pence. This was one of the spokes, and it's a huge one, because it is the spoke that leads from the White House and the Oval Office to the insurrection on January 6th. That part of the whole coup plot, the conspiracy to keep Trump in office come what may, that was a huge one."

"Big picture, I think these hearings have a number of different purposes. One is to provide concrete evidence of a systematic and sustained effort to extra-constitutionally overturn the results of the 2020 election," Faris observes. "Stealing the election. That's a coup. We've learned a lot more during these hearings about the mechanics of the coup. The bottom line is that the people who were putting these plans into motion knew perfectly well that they were illegal."

He also notes that he believes these hearings are likely to spur the DoJ into action. "There are a lot of little Trump lieutenants running for office who are planning to do things like manipulate the vote in 2024, or use extra-constitutional procedures to install a Republican candidate for President into office," Faris tells us. "There are a lot of people who are contemplating committing crimes in another conspiracy against the United States, and if you do not show them there are consequences to the people who did it the first time, I don't see how those people can draw any other conclusion then that they'll get away with it. I wish that we were not in this position where we have to talk about indicting a former President. It's not great. But I don't think he can be allowed to skate without really jeopardizing our democracy."

Lots more on today's show, of course, from the hearing itself and via smart analysis from Parton and Faris as, yes, the walls continue to close in on Donald J. Trump...

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Guest: Executive Director Marianna Treviño-Wright; Also: Cawthorn ballot woes worsen in NC; Trumpy CO County Clerk arrested; National Archives refers Trump Presidential records theft to DoJ...
By Brad Friedman on 2/9/2022 6:40pm PT  

Three years ago this month on The BradCast, we spoke with the Executive Director of the National Butterfly Center in deep south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley as Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security was busting locks on the 100-acre wildlife sanctuary to roll in heavy construction equipment to build Trump's dopey border wall. Last week, the Center was forced to temporarily shut its doors due to worsening violent threats and menacing from Trump's MAGA mob. Last night, she met with the FBI. Today, the Center's Executive Director joins us again to discuss the increasing madness of what is going on down there now, more than a year after Trump was tossed out of office. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

BUT FIRST, a couple of amusing and/or encouraging updates to other stories we've been covering in some detail on this program.

We have new news out of North Carolina, where Republican MAGA Congressman Madison Cawthorn's eligibility to run for reelection is being challenged at the State Board of Elections by state voters working with the Constitutional law experts at the non-partisan Free Speech for People good government group. The complaint to the SBE alleges that Cawthorn, who participated in the January 6 rallies and their planning, is ineligible to run for federal office in the state, based on Section 3 of the Constitution's 14th Amendment which bars from federal office those who previously took an oath to defend the Constitution and then "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against it. Rather than defend himself in a Board hearing, as required by state law, Cawthorn filed suit last week in federal court charging the state Board has no right to determine whether he meets eligibility requirements for the ballot. In their response to the suit this week, CNN reported last night, the Board disagrees. Their motion explains that "States have long enforced age and residency requirements, without question and with very few if any legal challenges. The State has the same authority to police which candidates should or should not be disqualified per Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment."

The case obviously has serious implications for a number of other MAGA Caucus members of Congress who participated in the January 6th insurrection and huge implications for Donald Trump's ability to be on the ballot in 2024 in the critical swing-state, if he decides to run again. We discuss that and a few more follow up details on the heels of today's update, following on our in-depth conversation last week about the original complaint with Constitutional law expert John Bonifaz, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech for People.

NEXT, following up on a story we covered in great detail last year, the disgraced and very Trumpy Mesa County, Colorado County Clerk, Tina Peters, was arrested on Tuesday. And the video of her being taken into custody by law enforcement officials is pretty hilarious. You may recall that, in 2020, in the middle of the night, Peters snuck into the secured room where voting equipment is kept in her County with an unauthorized person. They turned off the security cameras and made copies of hard drives containing the critical Election Management System (EMS) software on the county's Dominion Voting Systems machines. That proprietary software was subsequently leaked onto the Internet as Peters participated in a loony "Cybersecurity Forum" with "Stop the Steal" conspiracist and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell just days before the same critical software was to be used in several California counties during the GOP's failed attempt to recall the state's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Peters was removed from her duties by the state's Secretary of State and is now being investigated by the state's Attorney General. But her arrest on Tuesday was reportedly related to her use of an iPad to unlawfully record a court hearing for one of her deputies who was also removed from office in relation to the software theft. And, yes, the video of Peters' arrest, as you'll hear, is kinda hilarious.

THEN, we're joined by MARIANNA TREVIÑO-WRIGHT, Executive Director of the National Butterfly Center in far south Texas, which was forced to close its doors indefinitely last week. The sad --- but, hopefully temporary --- news comes on the heels of increasingly violent threats and targeting by Trump's MAGA mobsters over the past three years. She explains how those threats have worsened during that time and in recent days, ever since the Center attempted to sue the Trump Administration in 2017 to stop construction of his border wall on and near the Center's property on the banks of the Rio Grande River in the city of Mission. (We interviewed Treviño-Wright about that on this program in February of 2019.)

The targeting that the Center has endured, as she explains today, includes "outrageous lies" beginning in the fall of 2019, when Steve Bannon and supporters of his fraudulent "We Build the Wall" project (for which he was indicted and later pardoned by Trump) claimed that the wildlife preserve and study area was actually "a cartel front and engaged in human trafficking, that we were selling women and children in to sex slavery [and] that there were dead bodies and terrorists on the property."

"They tell these lies because they work," Treviño-Wright tells me today, citing the QAnon "Pizzagate" lie that almost turned deadly and the 2019 massacre at a Walmart in El Paso, just days after a nearby "We Build the Wall" rally. Two weekends ago in Mission, there was a "We Stand America" rally featuring Trump's disgraced National Security Advisor and QAnon hero Michael Flynn, which coincided with a physical altercation at the Center with a MAGA Congressional candidate from Virginia. There were also a number of rightwing media outlets who shot videos outside the sanctuary, suggesting that the Center was a way-point for human traffickers.

After the 2019 targeting, Treviño-Wright says, "the militia arrived, and a whole bunch of angry people unleashed a torrent of hate, of threats --- by mail, by phone, email, you name it. They came here to tell us to our face what despicable human beings we were, how we should be hanged and burned and all of that."

But menacing "indirect threats" have worsened in recent days, leading to her meeting on Tuesday night with the FBI to discuss a neo-Nazi who, she explains, has "gone to federal prison three times, most recently for his role in inciting the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre," who has recently moved to Texas. "He has been posting online messages using my photo and workplace, and urging the members of his church in his holy war to find out where I live, and everything they can about my children," Treviño-Wright details. You may or may not be shocked by what she says she was told last night by the FBI.

In the meantime, she tells me that the Board of Directors at the North American Butterfly Association, which runs the Center, "is actively seeking to engage licensed security professionals to do the assessments necessary and make the recommendations for training, for physical assets that we need on the property, and maybe even for additional personnel, so that we can re-open safely." But, she laments, "armed guards at a nature center is not at all the kind of look we are going for."

Citing the Lone Star State's Republican Gov. Greg Abbott's policies allowing for indiscriminate, unlicensed open or concealed carry of firearms, Treviño-Wright describes charges it's "the wild wild West down here," though not due to "the things that Fox News and other are saying" about some sort of "crisis" at the border. "The call is coming from inside the house," she asserts. "That's where we are in the United States now. The terrorism is home-grown, and it's our own neighbors and relatives."

Treviño-Wright goes on to offer a timeline for when the Center may be able to re-open to the public; how members of the public can help in the meantime (a membership with the Center, she explains, "comes with benefits for people across the United States" and will help to continue paying employees during these weeks they are forced to remain closed); the status of the Center's ongoing lawsuit to stop the nearby construction on the river, which she says the Biden Administration is continuing under the guise of "levee repair"; and much more --- including some actual good news on butterfly survival if you can imagine such a thing!

She is a fantastic guest and, frankly, a great American. Please tune in for our conversation today.

FINALLY, we close with late breaking word from WaPo that the National Archives has reportedly asked the Dept. of Justice to investigate whether Trump's mishandling of Presidential records --- including absconding to Mar-a-Lago with some 15 boxes of them --- is a criminal violation of the Presidential Records Act. (Which, of course it is. The question is whether Merrick Garland's DoJ will do the right thing and take action on it. Don't hold your breath...)

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Jan 6. Comm seeks McCarthy interview; Fulton County, GA D.A. closing in on Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 1/12/2022 6:39pm PT  

Well, we start today's BradCast with some encouraging news. At least until our guest arrives. [Audio link to full, must-listen show follows this summary.]

First up, the investigators are closing in. In Congress, the House Select Committee investigating Trump's January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol are now "requesting" an interview and documents from House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, centered on his communications with Donald Trump "before, during and after" the insurrection.

Meanwhile, down in Georgia, Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fanni Willis also appears to be closing in on Trump and his fellow conspirators regarding their attempt to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. In an interview with AP published on Monday, Willis said her team is making "making solid progress, and she’s leaning toward asking for a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid the investigation." She also believes a decision will soon be made on whether to indict Trump and several others. (Meadows? Giuliani? Lindsey Graham?) “I believe in 2022 a decision will be made in that case,” she told AP. “I certainly think that in the first half of the year that decisions will be made.”

And on Tuesday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported "that attorneys for former President Donald Trump have now met in person with the Fulton County District Attorney's office in Georgia." The meeting reportedly took place last month, around the same time that Trump issued an unhinged, seemingly out-of-the-blue statement that few knew what to make of: "All the Democrats want to do is put people in jail. They are vicious, violent, and Radical Left thugs. They are destroying people's lives, which is the only thing they are good at...their DA's, AG's, and Dem Law Enforcement are out of control." Suddenly, his remarks makes a lot more sense.

Welp...That's about it for today's encouraging news, before we are then joined by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist for Slate on what appears to be Steve Bannon's dream of the "deconstruction of the Administrative State" about to come true.

Last Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on challenges to two separate COVID-related Biden Administration mandates. One applies to businesses with more than 100 employees, requiring them all to either get vaccinated or take weekly tests for the virus. The other requires vaccination for all workers at health care facilities that accept money from either Medicaid or Medicare. Both rules were set to take effect as the Omicron surge has led to record pandemic hospitalization numbers. The first was issued by way of regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the second via the Health and Human Services Administration (HHS). Both are based on authorities granted to the Executive Branch agencies via statutes adopted by Congress. Though none of those statutes, passed years ago, include the word "COVID" in them. So now they are both being challenged by Republican state Attorneys General as unconstitutional over-reaches by the Administration.

Based on tea leaves read during Friday's oral arguments --- with two of the challenging attorneys infected with COVID and arguing remotely --- Stern believes it's possible the employer mandate could survive, but that the health care mandate is likely to be struck down.

But buckle up for today's conversation with Stern about all of this, because these cases are a much much larger than simply about the COVID mandates, even though they are likely to save hundreds of thousands of American lives unless struck down by the Court. These challenges squarely target the so-called "Administrative State" which, as you'll recall, Trump's disgraced Senior Political Adviser Bannon vowed in 2017 that they planned to "deconstruct". That may finally be about to happen, thanks to Trump's stolen and packed Supreme Court.

We dive too far into the legal and Constitutional and political weeds to adequately summarize here, but the argument comes down to who has the Constitutional right to "protect the general welfare" of the citizenry on matters of public health (and much more). Is it Congress, which has no expertise in these matters? Or the Executive Branch agencies created by Congress and filled with such experts? Ironically, the ultimate body who will make this decision is going to be the Judicial Branch, which, like the Legislative Branch also has no expertise in these issues.

All of the COVID mandate challenges are based on legal doctrines such as the "major question doctrine" and the "nondelegation doctrine" (both explained by Stern) which, unlike the General Welfare clause, do not actually appear anywhere in the Constitution at all.

"There is nothing (in the Constitution) that requires these principles, and certainly nothing that gives the federal judiciary the power to decide what the Executive Branch gets to do and not do under Congressional delegations," Stern explains. "All of this stuff has been made up. It was made up a long time ago, and used to block New Deal programs under FDR, then immediately abandoned and discarded for nearly a century. Only in the last few years has it been revived by so-called 'originalists' who are seeking to box in Democratic Presidents and prevent them from issuing any kind of policy."

"We are talking about a really recent revival," he continues. "Because as recently as the early 2000s, the Supreme Court unanimously disclaimed any real version of the non-delegation doctrine, and a majority opinion written by Antonin Scalia [of all people!] basically said 'We don't have any expertise, it's not our job to tell Congress what it can and cannot entrust the Executive to do'. We are only about two decades out from that, and the entire conservative legal movement has turned on a dime and decided that, in fact, the courts have this intense obligation to police the boundaries between these branches, even though there's nothing in the Constitution that permits it, much less requires it."

The Scalia majority opinion in question, which Stern "encourage[s] everyone to read" is 2001's Whitman vs. American Trucking. "It is a very clear explanation of why the federal courts have absolutely no business mucking around in this kind of cooperation and negotiation between Congress and the Executive Branch. Twenty-one years later, everyone has decided to ignore that opinion on the Right and pretend like it never happened."

So, what will it mean if the Court now decides that experts at Executive agencies mandated by Congress to exercise their expertise may not do so? The fallout could be enormous and terrifying and go well beyond COVID and these two cases. By way of one example, Stern notes, next month the Court is about to hear a case where "the Biden EPA wants to restrict carbon emissions at power plants. While federal law gives the EPA vast authority to regulate and restrict all kinds of toxic and harmful emissions from power plants, it doesn't explicitly say 'carbon'. It says the EPA needs to decide what counts, and we will defer to their expertise."

But, Stern notes later in our conversation, "this does not start or stop with carbon. This goes to every toxic chemical on the planet, which Congress simply does not have the time or expertise to list. So, anytime you're thinking about the amount of benzene, or methane, or whatever horrific chemical you want to talk about in the water supply, the air supply, that stuff is regulated by the EPA, not directly by Congress. And if this Supreme Court goes as far as I fear it will, we are going to have a lot more unnecessary deaths because of a horrific amount of pollution that the President is going to be told that he simply cannot curb."

And, yes, even that is only the tip of the melting iceberg. It also goes farther than the EPA, to dozens, if not hundreds of other federal agencies and regulations on labor rights and much more, as Stern details. "But that is what these Justices seem to want, and that is the road that we are already following down," he warns. "We live in a juristocracy, my friend, and we are only just beginning to see the downstream consequences of it."

As noted, buckle up for this one...

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Also: We finally got boosted!; And, another deadly climate change fueled disaster devastates Midwest...
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2021 6:26pm PT  

We've got a lot to catch up with on today's BradCast, after a weekend lost to recovery from our Moderna booster shots. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, we discuss how things went following Friday boosters for both Desi and myself. For me, as after the second shot, not so good (though much better than actual COVID!) For Desi...it was pretty much business as usual beyond a bit of fatigue. Either way: Go get your shots! Also, just before air, California announced they are re-instituting a statewide mask mandate for indoor, public spaces amid another surge in COVID cases.

Next, 74 people are now confirmed dead in Kentucky alone, and more than a dozen were killed in four other Midwestern states on Friday night after a swarm of very late season tornadoes devastated an eight-state area, as unusually warm December air met with a cold front. Predictably, a climate change-fueled disaster ensued as the states, particularly Kentucky, now wrestle with mass power and water outages amid freezing temperatures for tens of thousands of residents while trying to sift through rubble and continue recovery efforts. Desi details the extreme weather's known connections to climate change and how (and if) corporate media are bothering to cite the causes for yet another deadly, intense, out-of-season extreme weather event.

Then, also breaking over the weekend, the release of a PowerPoint document called "Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for JAN 6". It was obtained by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating January 6, from Donald Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. The document was turned over to the Committee as part of a tranche of email and text message documents from Meadows before he decided he would stop cooperating with them. He will now almost certainly face federal criminal contempt charges, just as Trump's former aide Steve Bannon is now facing for also failing to answer lawful subpoenas from Congress.

This latest "smoking gun" document --- a 38-page version of which was circulated after the election last year, and a very similar 36-page version dated on Jan. 5 --- further cements the details behind the broad criminal conspiracy to steal the 2020 election from Joe Biden and the American people by Donald Trump and his minions. In this case, those cronies include the bulk of his Campaign staff and attorneys, much of his White House staff, members of the Dept. of Justice and a whole bunch of elected officials both in Congress and in the states.

We walk through a number of the evidence-free assertions made in the PowerPoint presentation which, according to Meadows, was to be shared with people "on the Hill" on January 5. Among those assertions, that China and Venezuela had "systematically gained control over our election system constituting a national security emergency," after "electronic voting machines were compromised."

Of course, there is zero evidence included in the document for those extraordinary claims. And those referencing Venezuela are known to be nonsense, since they are directly based on my own exclusive reporting at The BRAD BLOG from 2008 to 2010, which Team Trump subsequently lifted, twisted, mangled and bastardized to somehow support their false, easily-disproven and evidence-free narrative.

As to the "national security emergency" cited by the document, Trump was encouraged to declare one in order to then order ballots collected by the National Guard and U.S. Marshalls in all 50 states, to be counted by them once "invalid" and "fraudulent" ballots were somehow removed. Those same National Guard members, Meadows' documents also assert, according to the House Committee, were also to be tasked to "protect pro Trump people" on January 6 during the attack on the U.S. Capitol after Pence refused to go along with the plan to declare the Electoral College votes invalid. The last effort by Team Trump to steal the election was, as we all know, to hurl thousands of his gullible supporters at the Capitol itself in hopes of preventing the Constitutional certification of Joe Biden's legitimate election victory. The subsequent deadly attack was exactly what Bannon blatantly teased on his "War Room" podcast on January 5th. They were all in on it, including a bunch of members of Congress, as the Jan 6 Committee has recently been suggesting.

We explain much more detail on what is revealed by the ridiculous claims in the PowerPoint presentation on today's program, and how the guy --- retired U.S. Army Colonel Philip Waldron --- who reportedly circulated it among the dupes on the Right, actually met with Meadows at the White House as many as 10 times in the run-up to January 6th.

But the main point is this: Donald Trump and his minions employed a coordinated attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election. It was not haphazard and it was not just low level operatives. And it was not, as media and many Dems still mis-describe it, an attempt to overturn or reverse or question or subvert the results. It was not an attempt to ferret out "voter fraud" or "election fraud". Donald Trump tried to STEAL the 2020 election and this was the "Rosetta Stone" road map for it. It would help the nation understand how close we came to losing what is left of our democracy entirely if it was described in those simple, basic and absolutely accurate terms.

What do about it? That will, no doubt, be the subject of future programs. But, at least today, hopefully, you will understand what happened and what didn't --- along with what they tried to do, and what they failed to do --- so we can all take action to make sure, somehow, something like this can never happen again...

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Guest: Activist, author Kenny Bruno on 'DEFCON for Democracy'; Also: Fourth student dies after MI high school gun massacre...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2021 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's a grim day in America. But it's one that every American should be paying very close attention to nonetheless. [Audio link to full show posted at the end of this summary.]

First up today, a fourth student, a 17-year old, has died following Tuesday's mass shooting by a 15-year old at Oxford High School in Michigan. The other three victims who were killed, as well as seven other students who remained in the hospital overnight after being shot, were all aged 14 to 17. The shooter used his father's new semi-automatic pistol purchased just last Friday to carry out the massacre. There were still seven more bullets in the weapon when he surrendered to authorities. But, that's "freedom" for ya in 2021 America, apparently.

On Wednesday morning, the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court majority met to consider removing the previously long-settled freedom for a woman to determine her own reproductive rights in all 50 states. The case heard at SCOTUS was Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi, where legislators have adopted a law that would ban all abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The measure was overturned in lower courts after being found a clear violation of the nearly 50-year old Roe v. Wade precedent set in 1973 and reaffirmed as settled law in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

When MS filed their initial appeal at the Supreme Court they sought approval for their then-radical 15-week ban. It was only after last year's death of abortion rights champion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and her subsequent replacement on the Court by the far-right Amy Coney Barret just eight days before the 2020 Presidential election, that the state decided to also ask the court to strike down Roe in its entirety.

Little, if anything, has changed legally since 1992 regarding the reproductive rights Constitutionally guaranteed by Roe and reaffirmed by Casey. But the make-up of the High Court itself has changed radically. Its majority has been stolen by Republicans who cancelled the filibuster in the Senate in order to pack three, hard-right Donald Trump appointees onto it. That fact, made clear by MS legislators themselves, led Justice Sonia Sotomayor to aptly ask the state's Republican Attorney General today: "Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?"

Good question. Of course, the answer is that those on the political Right don't actually care. As the twice federally indicted Steve Bannon recently noted on his War Room radio show/podcast, Republicans are only interested in "taking over" --- from school boards to the White House --- and whether or not their hardball methods result in "a Constitutional crisis," they really don't care. "We're a big and tough country and we can handle that," he preached to his followers.

To that end, Republican officials across the country are, right now, hoping to break American democracy itself, by installing loyalist Trump party apparatchik in key election administration positions, from precinct judges to county clerks to canvassing boards to Secretaries of State, as Washington Post reported in great detail on Monday. The Plot to Steal the 2024 Election is underway RIGHT NOW. Ignore these warnings at all of our peril.

We're joined today by longtime progressive activist and author KENNY BRUNO who offered a similarly chilling --- and even more direct --- warning at Truthout over the weekend, spelling out how Trump and the GOP have already "laid the groundwork for assuming the U.S. presidency regardless of the result of the 2024 election." He details today how "most of the conditions they would need to execute [their plan] is already in place."

"Often you see it covered, or you see various aspects covered, as if they were disparate things," Bruno explains, "like the treatment of Liz Cheney, the sham audit in Arizona, the repetition of the Big Lie, the new voter suppression laws in 19 states --- covered as if they are disparate things. But the simplest explanation is that they are all part of a plan," he charges, before spelling out exactly how that plan is meant to work between now and the certification of state electors on January 6, 2025.

To "undermine faith in elections" in order to steal a Presidential election, Bruno argues, "you would want radical state legislatures, especially in swing states. You would want a majority of states with a majority of loyal members of Congress. You would want to purge moderate representatives and election officials who might not go along with ending democracy, who might not play ball. You'd want a compliant Supreme Court. You'd want to intimidate the election officials who are left. I could go on...These are things that you need in place. If you look now at Trump and the GOP, most of those boxes are already checked. And they're part of a comprehensive plan."

What --- if anything --- can be done about it? Well, the options in response, as also spelled out by Bruno in his op-ed and on today's program, are not great. But knowing and understanding what is going on is a critical first step. While we have been warning and reporting on this stuff seemingly forever (for example, while the actual attempt to steal the 2020 election was underway in advance of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol), it seems the warnings are not being adequately amplified by either corporate media or Democrats, as Bruno sees it.

He goes on to note that his originally suggested title for his Truthout piece was "DEFCON for Democracy," before the headline was somewhat softened by editors. "I think if you understand the threat to be that severe, then you have to take drastic action. Unless you're talking about it, and preparing people for drastic action, they're not going to understand why it's justified," cautions Bruno. "This is a real threat, it's a real plan. The evidence is that it's being carried out. And if you want to stop it, you might have to take some drastic action."

"I would love to be wrong about the whole thing, to be honest," he concedes. "I think the most important thing at the moment is to talk about it, to call it out. Because if you don't socialize people to the idea that this steal, subversion, gaming of the Electoral College is underway, they won't be ready to accept your actions to defend it."

As noted, it's a grim day and a grim show today, but one that we hope will be well worth your time to listen in full...

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Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UC Santa Barbara; Also: Federal Appeals Court hears Trump case for blocking release of Jan 6 docs; Meadows now said 'cooperating' with Jan 6 Committee...
By Brad Friedman on 11/30/2021 5:53pm PT  

The accountability train and unionization train are both chugging forward on today's BradCast. So, that's a good thing! And we've also got a news-packed catch-up episode of the Green News Report following our week off last week. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, after losing at the U.S. District Court level, Donald Trump had his day before a three-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday. He is still attempting to block the release of his White House documents related to the attack on the U.S. Capitol which he incited on January 6th in his desperate, last ditch effort to steal the 2020 election. The former President is claiming "executive privilege" to block the release of hundreds of documents, even though he is no longer President or, as the lower court judge declared just weeks ago: "Presidents are not kings and plaintiff is not President". The current President, Joe Biden, has rejected Trump's plea to invoke executive privilege to block the release of the White House records subpoenaed by the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack. We detail today's hearing and the arguments made in court on both sides.

Next, in related news, Trump's former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, has also been subpoenaed for both documents and testimony by the House Select Committee. Like Steve Bannon before him, Meadows previously ignored those subpoenas, also claiming "executive privilege". But now that Bannon has been indicted on two federal counts of Contempt of Congress for having done so, Meadows appears to be having second thoughts. The Committee now says Meadows is cooperating and plans to sit for a deposition. The question remains as to how much he will actually share with the Committee, which still seems prepared to pull the "Contempt" trigger against him, if necessary.

Also coming up in related accountability news this week: A likely Contempt referral for low-level DoJ Trump lackey Jeffrey Clark, who the disgraced former President almost elevated to Attorney General just prior to January 6th attack, due to his willingness to lie to state legislatures that the DoJ had found fraud in the 2020 election. They didn't. Now, Clark has been refusing fully respond to the Committee's subpoenas and will hopefully pay a price for it in the coming days.

Meanwhile, in some good labor news on Monday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found in favor of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)'s complaint that retail giant Amazon unlawfully gamed a unionization vote at its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse earlier this year. The NLRB has now ordered a re-vote for workers this Spring, after they voted against unionization by a 2 to 1 margin following months of pressure, weekly mandatory meetings with anti-union consultants, and all other forms or propaganda from the company during the initial election.

We're joined to discuss the (seemingly) good news from the NLRB by longtime labor historian, author and Distinguished Professor at UC Santa Barbara, NELSON LICHTENSTEIN, who joined us earlier this year to discuss the initial, now nullified unionization vote in Bessemer.

The colorful Lichtenstein explains the history of similar revotes, how frequently they are ordered by the federal labor board and what the odds are of the union winning this time, given the nearly 100 percent turnover in workers at the e-commerce giant's Alabama fulfillment center since the initial vote last March. He also explains that while the NLRB found a number of violations by the company, most of the egregious stuff they did to intimidate workers --- including one-on-one pressure sessions, anti-union propaganda posted in restrooms, offers of $1,000 to quit --- is almost all actually legal under current federal law.

"Once Amazon realized that probably the election would be overturned, they once again began to hold these captive audience meetings," says Lichtenstein. "These are meetings that are called by the company as they lecture to the workers why a union is a bad thing. They're really closer to Maoist re-education camps or Stalinist coercion methods than anything else. That is happening as we speak. Plus, Amazon is also keeping tabs on who the union activists are."

"All this," he argues, "points out that we really need a completely fundamental and radical change in the labor law. And more than just the labor law --- in the whole ethos that surrounds the idea of workers having rights, a voice, and having a union."

As it turns out, there is a new labor law, the Protect the Right to Organize (or PRO) Act, currently pending in Congress. "It would make illegal these captive audience meetings, which are very, very intimidating and authoritarian. It would eliminate that. It would also increase the penalties --- the financial penalties --- on companies for violating the labor law," notes Lichtenstein, the author of some 16 books related to these issues. "Right now, how much does Amazon have to pay for its violation of the labor law, which is creating this new election? Zero. The penalties are utterly trivial."

But the odds for passage of the PRO Act at this time remain long, Lichtenstein concedes. That said, he also notes that both the recently signed bipartisan infrastructure bill and Joe Biden's still-pending Build Back Better social safety net and climate action proposal have quite a few measures that support union labor.

As the "Great Resignation" continues for workers who are finding opportunities with better pay and benefits elsewhere, while the nation tries to move on from the pandemic, Lichtenstein (who recently compared the situation to opportunities for former slaves during the Civil War reconstruction era in a Washington Post op-ed) does suggest a potential way forward for anti-union companies that now face threats of being broken up by Biden's aggressive appointees at federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission.

"What needs to happen is this," Lichtenstein advises, "you need to make management come to the conclusion that the lesser evil, the lesser problem in their business model, would be recognizing the union rather than facing the ire of either an aroused public or government action." He tells us that Amazon, Facebook and other Silicon Valley firms are facing a "re-invigoration of anti-trust law in the Biden Administration," which he describes as "actually very pro-labor."

Those companies, he notes, could use some friends, "and an essential ally is labor." Lichtenstein details how such alliances prevented the breakup of big chain stores under anti-trust laws in the 1930s and even at General Motors in the 1950s. "Companies like that said to the labor movement, 'Well, we'll recognize you, if you let us stay big.' And that happened!"

Finally today, Desi Doyen jams about 20 minutes (or more!) of environmental news into our latest 6-minute Green News Report in hopes of getting us at least partially caught up on so much that we missed after taking the last week off for the holiday...

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