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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, February 22, 2024
'Green News Report' 2/22/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
EPA's 'Good Neighbor' pollution rule at SCOTUS; Bizarre heat in Japan; Near-universal global public support for climate action; PLUS: Biden Admin cleans up nation's drinking water...
Previous GNRs: 2/20/24 - 2/15/24 - Archives...
DeSantis' Anti-Labor Law Now Nixing Unions for 1000s of FL Workers: 'BradCast' 2/21/24
Guest: Rich Templin of FL's AFL-CIO; Also: NY A.G. may seize Trump building to cover fines; Biden forgives another $1.2B in student loans...
Wisconsin's Decade-Long Un-Democracy Finally Undone. (Almost.): 'BradCast' 2/20/24
Guest: WI's John Nichols of 'The Nation'; Also: 2020 Team Trump attorneys lose again at SCOTUS; And a word on the 'victims' of Trump's decades-long NY real estate fraud...
'Green News Report' 2/20/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record ocean heat decimating FL's coral reefs; Plastics industry's 50-year recycling scam; PLUS: Nearly half of world's migratory species in decline, U.N. study finds...
Previous GNRs: 2/15/24 - 2/13/24 - Archives...
After Navalny:
'BradCast' 2/19/24
Also: Massive election fraud alleged in Pakistan; Final death blow for GOP fraudsters' phony election fraud film, '2000 Mules'...
Sunday 'Partying With Putin' Toons
Can someone let Tucker know that Vlad got another one? It's our latest collection of the week's best toons...
In Memoriam: Alexei Navalny (1976-2024)
So, remind me again how wonderful Vladimir Putin is...
Guns Again, Trump as Ever, Media Failure and the Way Forward: 'BradCast' 2/15/24
Also: Special Counsel probing Hunter Biden indicts informant who lied about 'bribes' to the Bidens from a Ukrainian energy company...
'Green News Report' 2/15/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Mysterious oil spill in Trinidad and Tobago; Big changes as Greenland gets greener; Wildfires reversing hard-won gains against air pollution; PLUS: Climate change comes for chocolate...
Previous GNRs: 2/13/24 - 2/8/24 - Archives...
New Chesebro Docs Detail Trump's Failed 2020 'Legal Coup': 'BradCast' 2/14/24
Guest: TPM's Josh Kovensky; Also: Another huge night for Dems in NY, PA; WI gets closer to fair maps; MI 'fake elector' says GOP lied...
Stewart Return to 'Daily Show' Not a Moment Too Soon!: 'BradCast' 2/13/24
Also: GOP takes mulligan on Mayorkas impeachment; Sen. passes Ukraine bill; Media's epic fail on Hur's obnoxious vindication of Biden in classified docs probe...
'Green News Report' 2/13/24
Culture shift from fossil fuels in Super Bowl EV ads; Big Oil/Gas spending big on Trump; PLUS: Climate scientist wins $1 million defamation suit against rightwing deniers...
Russia, If You're Listening, Trump Says 'Do Whatever the Hell You Want' to NATO Allies: 'BradCast' 2/12/24
Also: Last week's GOP Caucuses in NV, V.I.; Special Election in NY-3; Callers ring in...
Super Sunday 'Borderline Insanity' Toons
Just a few too many tokes over the line in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
Biden Should Federalize TX National Guard Amid State's Defiance of SCOTUS Order
POTUS must address, expose 'moral crisis' of GOP hypocrisy, cruelty, dehumanizing anti-immigrant propaganda...
'Green News Report' 2/8/24
EPA cracks down on deadly soot pollution; January was hottest ever recorded on Planet Earth; PLUS: Hurricanes are getting so intense, scientists propose a 'Category 6'...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Rich Templin of Florida AFL-CIO; Also: NY A.G. may seize Trump building to cover fines; Biden forgives another $1.2B in student loans...
By Brad Friedman on 2/21/2024 6:54pm PT  

Don't forget to laugh out loud next time you hear a Republican pretending to oppose "Big Government regulations" or acting as if they give a damn about "forgotten working folks". Those are two of the biggest lies in the GOP toolbox, as discussed on today's BradCast, and actively demonstrated down in Emperor Ron DeSantis' Republic of Florida even as I write. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST... A few cheerier pieces of news to kick things off. The size of the fines against Donald Trump, his company and two of his sons in the New York fraud verdict against them is more staggering than you may realize following Judge Arthur Engoron's ruling [PDF] last Friday. Most outlets have cited the $355 million that Trump must cough up. But that doesn't include another $100 million or so already tacked on in interest to cover the fraudulent inflation of assets going back as far as 2019 or so. In truth, he now owes NY about $455 million, with some $87,000 in new interest accruing each day that he fails to pay up. But don't worry. He'll pay. NY A.G. Tish James said yesterday that she is prepared to seize his assets, including buildings, if he fails to do so.

While the corrupt former President's life is on the precipice of ruin, the not-corrupt current President, Joe Biden, was busy today forgiving another $1.2 billion in student loans for some 153,00 borrowers. That brings the total to nearly 4 million Americans who have seen some or all of their student debt wiped out by the Biden Administration, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Biden's original plan to forgive debt for 40 million borrowers. (That, even though the corrupt rightwing SCOTUS allowed Trump to change loan terms for borrowers under the very same law Biden tried to use.)

THEN... On yesterday's program with my guest John Nichols of The Nation, we discussed the possibility of rolling back the notorious anti-union law, known as ACT 10, in Wisconsin. The measure, which gutted most public sector unions (if not right-leaning police and firefighter unions) was muscled through to law more than a decade ago by the state's far-right then Gov. Scott Walker and his gerrymandered GOP toughs in the state legislature. Now that a newly liberal state Supreme Court has allowed Democratic Governor Tony Evers to implement fairer, non-gerrymandered legislative maps for the 2024 election, its conceivable Dems could finally return to power and restore collective bargaining rights to state workers next year.

Nichols cited neighboring Michigan as a role model for repealing Republican anti-union measures in a previously gerrymandered state, after its Democratic Governor and now Democratically-controlled state legislature rolled back that state's union-busting laws last week.

So, good news in the North this week...but really bad news down in Ron DeSantis' Florida, where a hastily-enacted 2023 law by the GOP legislature, passed in hopes of buttressing the Governor's ill-fated run for President, may now, literally, wipe out the very existence of hundreds of local public sector unions, with tens of thousands of workers, across the entire state.

Thousands of teachers, civil engineers, state and local clerical workers, mechanics, city park workers, those that answer 911 calls (but not police, firefighters or correctional officers, whose unions support DeSantis and are thus exempted from the law) are now seeing their unions decertified and dissolved by the state under Senate Bill 256, or are now on the brink of seeing that happening.

We're joined today by RICH TEMPLIN --- Legislative and Political Director of Florida AFL-CIO, the state's largest labor organization, representing more than 500 local unions --- to explain what is going on here, and what, if anything can be done about it.

None of this should be happening, he explains, because decades-old provisions in Florida's state Constitution protect the right to collective bargaining for public sector workers. But, "Constitutional Conservatism" is apparently for lefties and liberals now down in the Sunshine State, where Templin describes this attack on unions as "a sordid, complicated tale," that began "when Ron DeSantis decided to run for President."

"He was rewarding his biggest donors. Not only past donors but future donors he could count on for the campaign," Templin says, detailing how the wannabe President was "catering favor with national organizations that can provide national endorsements and national money. That's how we got sucked up into it. The extensive Koch Brothers network...He did this for them."

"When the bill was passed," Templin asserts, "there was no constituency group asking for it. There was no public sector employers asking for it. There were no public sector employees asking for it. It was 100% driven by billionaire out-of-state think tanks who the Governor was currying favor with for his Presidential run, and a legislature that was all too willing to turn their constituents over to his political ambitions."

At its heart, SB256 takes away the option for union members to voluntarily have their dues taken out of their paychecks each month. (Most unions anyway. Remember, police and firefighters unions are exempt from SB256.) Then the measure simply decertifies unions that do not have more than 60% dues-paying membership, even though Florida is a so-called "Right to Work" state where all workers must be allowed to "freeload" off of union contracts without being paying members of the union. They "took away the ability for members to conveniently pay their dues, and then they say, 'If there's not enough of you paying dues, you lose your union altogether.'"

While DeSantis didn't win the Koch Network endorsement or money --- or GOP Presidential nomination --- "he has really destroyed the state of Florida," in his failed attempt, according to Templin. "We are in shambles. It is going to take us a decade to dig out from what he's done."

SB256 is already a disaster, and not just because it was hurriedly pushed through the state legislature without regard to existing protections in the state constitution. But because nobody really knows how to implement it. How can unions be recertified after they've become decertified? What happens to existing union contracts?

Templin spoke to us today from the capital building in Tallahassee as a measure to try and fix some of SB256's most egregious disasters may come to the floor, and he is hoping to see amendments added to correct some of the law's most unworkable elements.

"This has been a time of great chaos," Templin laments. "There's a whole bunch of other bureaucratic hurdles that have been established to make it impossible for public sector unions to exist. They did this 'death by a thousand paper cuts' because the constitution doesn't allow them" to simply end collective bargaining for public sector workers as then Gov. Walker did in Wisconsin over a decade ago.

Templin has much more to say about all of this today, on the legal challenges to the measure, and how voters can help to turn things around in the state after years of rightwing autocracy, especially under DeSantis.

For some of the horrifying details on the ongoing effects of SB256 across the state, as it has fully taken effect as of the first of the year, be sure to check out investigative journalist Daniel Rivero's excellent and exhaustive recent article at South Florida's public radio outlet, WLRN.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: WI's John Nichols of 'The Nation'; Also: 2020 Team Trump attorneys lose again at SCOTUS; And a word on the 'victims' of Trump's decades-long NY real estate fraud...
By Brad Friedman on 2/20/2024 6:03pm PT  

Yesterday was a very good day for democracy in Wisconsin. On today's BradCast, we take a few minutes to celebrate. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

We have been covering the GOP's autocratic takeover of the state following the 2010 elections for some 13 years at this point. After the 2010 Census, state Republicans implemented one of the most extreme gerrymanders in the nation at both the legislative (state Senate and Assembly) level as well as for their U.S. House districts.

The gerrymanders were so extreme that, despite Democrats winning 14 of the past 17 statewide elections in the Badger State, Republicans have maintained super-majority or near super-majority control of both chambers of the Legislature for more than a decade. Meanwhile, WI's 8-seat U.S. House delegation includes just 2 Democrats in the very closely divided Presidential battleground state.

With no fear of losing their legislative majorities, Republicans ran wild. They stripped labor unions of their right to collective bargaining, loosened gun safety laws, suppressed voters, etc. over the past decade. But, as of last year, everything finally began to change when voters finally won back a progressive majority on the state Supreme Court. The day after the liberals 4 to 3 majority was seated, voters filed a challenge to the Constitutionality of the state's legislative gerrymanders and they won. The Court ordered that new maps must be drawn up in time for the 2024 elections.

On Monday, after declaring, "Folks, it's a new day in Wisconsin, and today is a beautiful day for democracy," the state's Democratic Governor Tony Evers signed legislation adopted by the gerrymandered Assembly and House last week, approving new fairer legislative maps that Evers' office itself had drawn up for the state. Those maps will now take effect for this year's elections and democracy may, at long last, be at least partially restored to the Badger State.

We're joined today by our old friend, longtime Wisconsin native and progressive journalist and author, JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation, to discuss all of this very good news --- not for Democrats, per se, but for voters and democracy itself.

"The Republicans tried everything" to prevent this from happening, he tells me. "They threatened to impeach one of the Supreme Court justices. They tried all sorts of stunts." But, on the verge of the high court handing down its own maps, which would arguably have been worse for Republicans, "the very wily Speaker of the State Assembly, Robin Vos, decided he had no options, so he passed the Governor's maps."

Those maps, notes Nichols, are "not a particularly good set of maps for Democrats. In fact, Democrats have a little hill to climb in order to win." He explains, however, that "if it's a good year for the Republicans, it's very likely the Republicans are going to control the legislature. If it's a good year for the Democrats, there's a decent chance that Democrats will control the legislature." That, of course, is how representative democracy is supposed to work, after all.

As Evers declared before signing the measure on Monday: "When I promised I wanted fair maps --- not maps that are better for one party or another, including my own --- I damn well meant it." He added, "Wisconsin is not a red state or a blue state --- we’re a purple state, and I believe our maps should reflect that basic fact."

Interestingly enough, Democrats in the Legislature voted against the Democratic Governor's maps...before celebrating their adoption. We discuss why. But, Nichols also notes this bottom line: "If the Democrats take both chambers of the legislature" this year with the Democratic Evers in the Governor's mansion, "they will be able to, in a matter of weeks, reverse" more than a decade of GOP power grabs and union stripping, not to mention the state's 1849 anti-abortion law and much more. "Every disappointment that Democrats have had over the last twelve, thirteen years could be undone," Nichols argues, and almost as quickly as Republicans implemented their regressive policies (even while they had to bulldoze the rule of law to do so.)

"Look to Michigan," advises Nichols. "Because Wisconsin is still in process. Wisconsin is still struggling to get there. Michigan got there. They got independent redistricting which drew fair maps after the 2018 election. In 2022 they had fair maps, finally, after a long process. They elected a Democratic state assembly [and] a Democratic state senate. On Tuesday, the laws officially went on the books eliminating their anti-labor 'right-to-work' law, expanding collective bargaining rights for teachers and graduate students, restoring all sorts of wage protections for construction workers. Michigan has now gone --- just a couple of years ago --- from being one of the more anti-labor states in the northern part of the country to having probably the best, or very close to the best, labor laws in the country. That's what you get when you don't give up. You get to actually transform it."

We also discuss who gets credit for this long-fought win in WI, from the state's indefatigable Democratic Party Chair Ben Wikler who declared on Monday that "the long, dark night of ultra-partisan gerrymandering is over, and a new day for democracy now dawns in the Badger State," to the progressive grassroots activists who, says Nichols, deserve "the most credit."

And the lesson for other states to take from Wisconsin, as litigation continues in more than a dozen of them over both legislative and the U.S. House districts (including in WI, where that gerrymander could also soon be ended by the state Supreme Court): "Don't give up," urges Nichols, echoing the words, by the way, of the late Russian dissident Alexei Navalny.

ALSO TODAY:

  • The U.S. Supreme Court rejects an appeal from Trump attorneys Sidney Powell and six others, of the $150,000 in legal sanctions they were forced by a judge to pay for abusing the court system in Detroit via Powell's sham, post-2020 "Kraken" lawsuit, challenging the results of MI's election that year.
  • A bedtime story to help you understand the propaganda now coming from Trump supporters claiming there were "no victims" in the New York civil lawsuit against Trump and his company and two eldest sons for inflating the value of their assets to the tune of more than $2 billion each year over the past 11, to receive better rates on bank loans and lower taxes. Last Friday, NY Superior Court Judge Arthur Engoron ruled [PDF] Trump and his eldest sons must pay nearly $400 million in penalties for their decades-long fraud.
  • And finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, to bunk our high over all of today's good news (as usual!) with some chilling reports on Florida's disappearing coral reefs; the plastics industry's 50-year recycling scam, and nearly half of the world's migratory species now in decline thanks to climate change, according to a new U.N. report...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Massive election fraud alleged in Pakistan; Final death blow for GOP fraudsters' phony '2000 Mules' election fraud documentary...
By Brad Friedman on 2/19/2024 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast we mark the Presidents' Day holiday honoring the birthdays of both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, with a quip from our friend Marcy Wheeler, independent national security journalist at Emptywheel, who tweeted: "Happy President's Day, America, a holiday celebrating the guy who said Presidents should not be kings and the guy who said insurrectionists should not be President." [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our stories covered in that spirit today...

FIRST: During a stunning, hastily called news conference over the weekend in Pakistan, a top official alleged that the nation's recent parliamentary election was littered with fraud. He claims to know because, he says, he was in charge of it in one of the country's largest provinces. The official now claims to be ashamed of what he did, "stabbing the country in its back", and announced that he was both resigning and turning himself in to law enforcement. "We converted losers into winners, reversing margins of 70,000 votes of independent candidates for 13 national Parliament seats," he said on Saturday, as fraud allegations stemmed from, among other things, Internet and cell service that was shut down on Election Day, as polling locations were moved at the last minute.

THEN: Contrast that potentially very real election fraud, announced by a real whistleblower who expects to be thrown in prison for his crime, with the endless phony allegations of "election fraud" by Donald Trump and his duped supporters following the 2020 election. Those claims, shamefully, continue all the way up through today. Just last year, when Trump was again asked for evidence of fraud in the 2020 election, he cited an oft-debunked documentary film released in 2022 called 2000 Mules. It was a film made by convicted (and Trump-pardoned) election fraudster Dinesh D'Souza in partnership with the long-ago discredited Rightwing Texas-based "election fraud" group called True the Vote, as headed up by a woman named Catherine Engelbrecht.

Trump told CNN that the group had "found millions of votes on camera, on government cameras, where they were stuffing ballot boxes.” We already knew all of that was a lie. The much-debunked 2000 Mules film actually showed no such thing to anyone actually paying attention to it. But last week, it was reported that True the Vote was forced to admit in a court filing to the state of Georgia --- which is suing the group for information on their so-called "whistleblowers", who they had claimed were insiders to massive Democratic fraud in 2020 --- that they actually have no such information. They have no documentation, records of any conversations, or even contact details for the so-called "whistleblowers" and "informants" they said they had built their case on in their phony "documentary".

FINALLY: On Friday, Russia's democratic hero and Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny died in an Arctic penal colony. He had been a prisoner of Vladimir Putin's on trumped-up charges since returning to Russia in 2021 after an assassination attempt (stunning details of which are revealed "live" in the extraordinary 2022 documentary Navalny). His death at 47-years of age stunned supporters, many of whom had assumed he would one day unseat Putin to become "Russia's first George Washington", it's first truly democratic leader. Instead, as one lamented, he will be their "Martin Luther King", as a moral example that will inspire generations of freedom seeking Russians.

On Monday, Navalny's widow Yulia Navalnaya again demanded the return of his body, which she charges Russia will keep long enough to hide allow any traces of the nerve agent she believes was used to kill him to dissipate. She also vowed to continue his fight against the Kremlin.

World leaders, including President Biden, upon word of Navalny's death, condemned Putin. Our own disgraced former President, however --- a huge Putin fan --- waited for three days before issuing an unhinged rant on his social media in which, after mentioning Navalny's name, quickly became a lengthy screed about his own legal problems.

In a chilling --- if inspiring --- portion of the documentary film Navalny, when asked by the filmmaker for a message to supporters if he is killed upon his then-planned return to Russia. He says, in English, "My message is very simple: don't give up." The filmmaker then asks him to respond directly to the camera in Russian.

"Listen, I've got something very obvious to tell you," Navalny quips. "You're not allowed to give up. If they decide to kill me, it means that we are incredibly strong. We need to utilize this power --- to not give up, to remember we are a huge power that is being oppressed by these bad dudes. We don't realize how strong we actually are."

Navalny then adds a familiar quote: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. So don't be inactive."

Putin is expected to win his fourth term as Russia's leader in Presidential "elections" next month. He faces no real opposition given that any such candidates have now been either jailed, killed or forced to live in exile.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Special Counsel probing Hunter Biden indicts informant who lied about 'bribes' from Ukrainian energy company to Joe and Hunter Biden...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2024 6:30pm PT  

We covered so much territory on today's BradCast that I'm having trouble writing about all of the seemingly disparate pieces in a cogent narrative here. So I won't try. I'll give you the pieces, and hopefully you will listen to the show to see how it all ties together (or doesn't). [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

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

  • Wednesday's mass shooting at the Kansas City Chief's Super Bowl victory rally; Wednesday's mass shooting at an Atlanta high school; President Biden's official response.
  • Special Counsel Jack Smith's speedy filing [PDF] at SCOTUS in response to Donald Trump's continuing attempt to further delay his federal trial related to his attempts to steal the 2020 election with his absurd claim that Presidents enjoy "absolute immunity" for any and all crimes committed while serving in office.
  • New York State Judge Juan Merchan on Thursday confirmed Trump's trial will begin on March 25 on 34 criminal felony charges related to hush-money payments made to a porn star to help him win the 2016 election. The judge rejected Team Trump's argument that sitting for a trial related to cheating to win the 2016 election will hamper his efforts to win the 2024 election. The trial is expected to last for six weeks.
  • A salacious sidebar to the 13 criminal felony counts Trump is facing in Georgia for his failed conspiracy to steal the state's 2020 election played out in a Fulton County courtroom on Thursday. A defiant District Attorney Fani Willis responded on the witness stand to charges from one of Trump's 18 alleged co-conspirators that the D.A.'s romantic relationship with one of the prosecutors on the case was either inappropriate or somehow a conflict of interest effecting the charges brought against Trump and his co-defendants. Willis was defiant in her response to questions and her testimony will continue on Friday.
  • BREAKING DURING SHOW!: A former FBI informant named Alexander Smirnov was arrested and charged with lying to government officials in the summer of 2020 about Joe Biden and his son Hunter receiving millions of dollars in bribes from Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company. Those lies have been a central part of Trump and Rudy Giuliani and House Republicans' phony, years-long attempts to smear the Biden family and impeach President Biden. Today's felony charges were filed by Trump-appointed Special Counsel David Weiss, who was tapped by Trump A.G. Bill Barr five years ago to try and find dirt on the Bidens. He found it instead on those spreading the dirt.
  • A few thoughts on how corporate mainstream media headlines, social media posts and mobile phone alerts can dangerously distort news.
  • A few thoughts on how Phoenix, Arizona media outlets 3TV and CBS 5 are seemingly doing the bidding of the fossil fuel industry while pretending to be consumer advocates. We details some of their dishonest and misleading coverage of the cost of battery replacements for hybrid Electric Vehicles. Sadly (and shamefully), they are not the only media outlets undermining humankind by doing the bidding of Big Oil in misreporting on EVs in America.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with sad news on a mysterious and massive oil spill on the pristine beaches of Trinidad and Tobago; big changes happening in Greenland as it continues to get warmer and greener; and how climate change is now coming for your chocolate...

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, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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Guest: Investigative journalist Josh Kovensky of Talking Points Memo; Also: Another huge Special Election night for Dems in NY, PA; WI inches closer to fair legislative maps; MI 'fake elector' says GOP lied to him...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2024 6:24pm PT  

A tranche of newly unearthed documents offer a clearer understanding of Team Trump's failed attempt to steal the 2020 election on today's BradCast, in which we also cover yet another better-than-expected Special Election Day for Democrats on Tuesday. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First, some of the breaking headlines on today's horrific mass shooting at the end of the victory rally for Superbowl champs, the Kansas City Chiefs. Not much is known as of airtime, beyond one dead, more than 15 injured and two (now three) said to be in custody, according to Missouri state officials.

Then, the House GOP, on behalf of the disgraced, twice-impeached former President was finally successful on Tuesday in passing Articles of Revenge Impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The do-over vote follows their embarrassingly botched effort at same last week. This week, they were able to pass the Articles by one single vote, 214-213, against three Republican defectors and a unified Democratic caucus for "charges" that are not even close to the "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" mandated by the Constitution. Both Articles are expected to die, one way or another, over in the Senate, where even Republicans have shown little interest in the charade.

GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson had to get those Articles passed yesterday, however, given what New York voters did on Tuesday, when the seat in the state's 3rd Congressional District, formerly held by disgraced, expelled and indicted con-artist, Rep. George Santos, was flipped from "red" to "blue" by former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi. He easily defeated Republican Mazi Pilip by almost 8 points in Tuesday's hotly-contested Special Election, according to the latest reported numbers. That was almost twice the margin predicted by even the most optimistic pre-election polls. The Dem victory in New York (and another in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night --- by 36 points!), again underscores the dearth of issues that Donald Trump's dysfunctional Republican Party has to run on or offer voters this year. Had House Repubs waited just one more day to vote on Articles of Impeachment, they would have lost again.

More apparent good news for voters and Democrats this week in Wisconsin, as the Republicans who control the wildly gerrymandered state Senate and Assembly have passed legislation to adopt new legislative district maps in advance of the 2024 elections, as ordered by the state's Supreme Court. The new maps are ones created by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. And though they don't promise a Dem majority for this year's elections, they do appear to be much fairer for voters. For more than a decade the GOP's gerrymandered maps resulted in nearly twice as many Rs as Ds in the state legislature in the otherwise very closely divided state. State Republicans approved Evers maps because they fear if the High Court selects a map it will be even worse for them. Evers has suggested he plans to sign the legislation.

Meanwhile, as Democrats continue to out-perform in 2024 elections, Republicans are busy in court defending their criminal efforts to steal 2020. A fake elector in Michigan on Wednesday testified that he was lied to by party officials that state legislators could select the phony Trump slate of electors over those for Biden, who state voters actually chose. This particular fake elector has decided to cooperate with prosecutors while 15 others are now facing serious jail time for their alleged conspiracy to forge phony Elector certificates.

And this week, we've got new news from the man who invented the fake electors scheme in the first place. A massive trove of emails, text messages and other documents have been turned over to Michigan prosecutors by former Team Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro and obtained by our guest today, investigative journalist JOSH KOVENSKY of Talking Points Memo. He has been detailing the documents in a new multi-part series this week at TPM which explores the attempted coup, hoped-for chaos, and the plan to pressure friendly members of SCOTUS.

Chesebro first dreamt up the fake elector plot for his own home state of Wisconsin in 2020, before he was asked by Team Trump attorneys, such as the disgraced John Eastman and Boris Ephstyn, to apply the same scam for phony electors in about seven swing-states following Trump's loss in November. They would be instrumental to the Trump team's failed legal efforts to steal the election.

The Chesebro documents shed new light on the failed "legal coup" which, as Kovensky reports, was not meant to be a one-day insurrection on January 6th, 2021, but to result in enough legislative chaos and trumped-up "questions" about the veracity of certified election results to force the U.S. Supreme Court to eventually settle the election themselves, ala Bush v. Gore twenty years earlier.

"What they really wanted was a stalemate in Congress" on January 6th, Kovensky explains. "And in that time, they would have used that stalemate to draw the country's attention to Congress, and then use that attention to put forth the campaign's completely nonsensical theories of voter fraud. That was the idea."

"If you talk to people who were around this, they'll say, 'Yeah, the invasion of the Capitol on January 6th destroyed that plan. Because it did draw attention to Congress, but there were no members of Congress there to make the case that there was voter fraud in the election," he tells me.

"The way the legal coup was meant to proceed was by halting the count," as detailed in the new docs obtained and reported out by Kovensky. "That's the key similarity between what the rioters on Jan. 6 ended up achieving by violent means and what the lawyers were trying to achieve just by procedural means. Which was that the count would have been stopped, [but] it would have been stopped indefinitely until potentially the Supreme Court stepped in to act and appoint Trump the winner."

So how did Chesebro --- who, until now, has not appeared, at least, to be a hard-right partisan ideologue along the lines of Eastman and Ephsteyn --- find his way into the vortex of Team Trump and the "legal coup" they were hoping to pull off? What is he hoping to accomplish by turning over these documents to prosecutors in MI and elsewhere since pleading guilty to one felony charge with no jail time in Georgia last year in exchange for testifying against his fellow conspirators? Will Trump be able to use Chesebro's documents and testimony to help himself in his own trials regarding his attempt to steal the 2020 election?

All of those questions and many more asked and answered about "The Cheese" and his documents on today's BradCast...

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Also: GOP House mulligan on Mayorkas impeachment; Senate passes Ukraine aid bill; Media's epic failure in coverage of Special Counsel Hur's obnoxious vindication of Biden in classified docs probe...
By Brad Friedman on 2/13/2024 6:03pm PT  

Once again today, we try to stuff a 10-pound show into a 5-pound BradCast. Wish us luck! [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our many stories for your listening pleasure, amusement and outrage today...

  • Jon Stewart is back on The Daily Show! At least on Monday nights. At least for this year. And, boy howdy, was he missed. Other than looking about 20 years older, he literally hasn't missed a step over the 9 years since he's been away from the show, both comically and, more importantly, politically. His first night back included an epic opening monologue that framed the various concerns among Democrats about Joe Biden's age in a way that nobody else has or could. Hopefully, it helps to kick off the serious conversation that Democrats need to start having amongst themselves to begin coming to terms with the fact that one of the most effective and, yes, oldest Presidents of our lifetimes (or ever) will be running for re-election this November. We've got lots to say here. But, much more importantly, so did Stewart last night.
  • Battling a massive Nor'easter and racing the clock against whatever may happen in the Special Election for U.S. House in New York's 3rd Congressional District tonight, in the contest to fill the expelled Rep. George Santos' seat, House Republicans take a do-over on Tuesday after their embarrassing failed effort last week to Revenge Impeach the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. The first impeachment ever of a sitting cabinet members is not for any actual "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" as required by the Constitution, but for...something something ...border policy...something something. (And because they haven't been able to figure out yet how to Revenge Impeach Joe Biden.)
  • After insisting that any new aid package for Ukraine must include a massive new package for the U.S. Border Security. And then after striking a bipartisan deal with Democrats for that Border Security bill they insisted on. And then after insisting that any new aid for Ukraine not include a massive new package for the U.S. Border because Donald Trump told them to kill the Border provisions, because he needed an issue to run on in November....Senate Republicans (some of them anyway) joined Democrats after an all-night filibuster to pass a foreign aid bill for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. House Speaker Mike Johnson, however, has already said he'll do everything he can to keep this National Security measure from ever being allowed up for a vote on the House floor. Because Donald Trump told him to.
  • In the greatest tradition of Banana Republic strongmen, Donald Trump is reportedly planning to install his own daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-Chair of the Republican National Committee and the Chair of his own Campaign as the RNC's Chief Operations Officer. The GOP takeover by a twice-impeached, four-time criminally indicted, one-term failed President is now all but officially complete.
  • And then we finally get to the Hur Report today and the corporate mainstream media's epically failed coverage of it's release by Special Prosecutor Robert Hur, who was appointed by Trump to the DoJ. Last week, the Dept. unsealed the full, unredacted, nearly 400-page report [PDF]. Hur was tapped by Attorney General Merrick Garland to probe the small number of classified documents that Joe Biden's attorneys discovered at one of his old office spaces and in his home.

    The headline for the report's release should have been "Special Prosecutor Fails to Find Evidence of Crimes in Biden Classified Docs Probe", at least if one bothers to read what Hur actually detailed in the bulk of his report.

    That, as Hur himself points out, by way of contrast to the many reasons that 40 criminal felony counts were brought against Trump under the Espionage Act after he stole tens of thousands of pages of highly classified documents upon leaving office and then refused to return them to the Government.

    "Most notably, after being given multiple chances to return classified documents and avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite," writes Hur on page 11. "According to the indictment, he not only refused to return the documents for many months, but he also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then to lie about it. In contrast, Mr. Biden turned in classified documents to the National Archives and the Department of Justice, consented to the search of multiple locations including his homes, sat for a voluntary interview. and in other ways cooperated with the investigation."

    The report went on for hundreds of pages, laying out exculpatory evidence after exculpatory evidence, as former DoJ prosecutors Andrew Weissman and Ryan Goodman detail. That, even as Hur rifled through Biden's personal diaries searching for evidence of a crime, as brilliantly highlighted by national security journalist Marcy Wheeler.

    But the screaming HEADLINE NEWS!!! that our corporate media took away from all of it in dozens and dozens of stories was that the Trump-appointed Hur included remarks in the report having nothing to do with whether Biden should be charged with a crime or not, but that Hur, not a medical professional, describes as the President having a "poor memory" and "diminished faculties".

    And you wonder why our country is going to hell in a handbasket?

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with coverage of a new type of Super Bowl EV ad; The big investment into the Trump campaign by Big Oil and Gas this year; and a jury award of $1 million to Pulitzer Prize-winning climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann in his defamation case against two far-right climate science liars and harassers...

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Also: Last week's GOP Caucuses in NV, V.I.; This week's U.S. House Special Election in NY-3; Callers ring in on Trump's threat to NATO allies...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2024 6:25pm PT  

Some days these days on The BradCast, it's hard to believe we're covering what we are covering. I'd say that's the case on most days, these days. Today is, yet again, one of those days. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

FIRST, we try to bring you up to date following Donald Trump's rigged GOP Caucuses in Nevada last week. Given that he and some guy named Ryan Binkley were the only two on the ballot, Trump won with Saddam Hussein-like or Vladimir Putin-like numbers, taking 99.1% of the vote and all of the state's available RNC delegates in the bargain. Nikki Haley, having competed in the state-run Primary just two days earlier, was not allowed to participate in the state's GOP-run Caucuses.

The Virgin Islands also held a GOP Caucus on the same day. Trump won there as well, defeating Haley (who was allowed to be on that ballot) by about 74% to 26%. Only about 250 voters bothered to show up, so don't read too much into it.

On the Dem side of the aisle, Joe Biden's only noteworthy competitor on the Nevada Primary ballot last Tuesday (which he handily won), was self-help guru Marianne Williamson. She dropped out of her run for the Democratic nomination the next day.

Tomorrow, however, expect an actual contest in the 3rd Congressional District in New York, where voters on Republican-leaning Long Island will select a replacement member of the U.S. House for the recently expelled pathological liar and Republican con-artist, Rep. George Santos. The polls suggest a close race for the seat between conservative Democrat and former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi and his Republican opponent, the Ethiopian-born Israeli-American Mazi Pilip. The winning party will explain why the contest in the district should be seen as a bellwether for November's elections. The losing party will insist that it isn't.

THEN, it's back to the last few mad days since we last spoke, during which Trump (just before airtime today) filed his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping that his friends and appointees on the High Court will agree, unlike anyone on the lower courts, that U.S. Presidents have complete immunity to commit any crime they like while in office; Robert Hur, a former Trump-appointed DoJ prosecutor tapped by A.G. Merrick Garland to be a Special Counsel, ended a year-long nearly 400-page investigation [PDF] by finding there were no crimes to charge President Biden with concerning his possession and return of some classified documents following his two terms as Vice President. But, Hur took pains to also note, Joe Biden is old; and, our disgraced former President attacked Haley, his final GOP opponent, because her husband, Maj. Michael Haley is in the Horn of Africa for a year-long active duty deployment with the South Carolina National Guard. (No word on the whereabouts of Trump's wife Melania. Though it's a safe bet that she, like the entirety of the Trump family going back generations, is not out serving her country as a member of the military.)

But it was Trump's remarks about NATO at that very same South Carolina rally over the weekend that have, appropriately, received the most coverage since then. (If nothing near the absurd coverage that the corporate media has given to Special Counsel Hur's inappropriate insinuations regarding Biden's mental fitness.)

Trump relayed a story at the rally in which he claims that, when he was President, he told the leader of a NATO nation that, if they hadn't "paid their bills" to NATO, and were attacked by Russia, the U.S. would NOT come to their defense. That, in defiance of the NATO Treaty's Article 5 agreement that states that if one member is attacked, “each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked".

NATO nations, however, don't "pay" to be in NATO. In 2014, President Obama led an agreement among the treaty's 30+ member nations to work toward each spending a minimum of 2% of their annual GDP on defense. That's the "bill" for which Trump (who has been sued thousands of times personally for not paying bills) claims that many of those countries are "delinquent".

Making matters worse --- unimaginable just a few short years ago, in fact --- Trump also claims to have told that NATO leader that while the U.S. would not come to their defense, he would also encourage Russia "to do whatever the hell they want" to such countries.

NATO's Secretary-General, as well as the governments of several NATO nations, including Germany and Poland, issued unusual and harsh rebukes on Sunday in response to Trump's astonishing --- once unthinkable --- remarks.

FINALLY today, we open up the phone lines to listeners to get their thoughts on all of the above and anything else they may wish to ring in on today. And so they do. And so we're delighted, as always, to hear from those listeners who may not agree with us. Those are always the best calls after all, right?...

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Guests: Former Dep. Asst. AG Lisa Graves and attorney Keith Barber on today's oral argument on the 'Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2024 5:15pm PT  

We've been telling you for years on The BradCast that most rightwingers who claim to be "Constitutional Conservatives" --- such as the corrupted bunch now packed onto the Republican U.S. Supreme Court supermajority --- are nothing of the sort. Today's oral argument at SCOTUS, on whether Donald Trump must be disqualified from the 2024 ballot under the very clear text of the Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause", appear set to prove that point yet again. [Audio link to full program is posted below this summary.]

In December, the SCOTUS Appears Set to Ignore Text of Constitution's 'Insurrectionist' Clause: 'BradCast' 2/8/2024 found Trump had violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars from office public officials who, after taking an oath to support the Constitution, "have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same". The mandate applies, according to the actual text of the clause, to "any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any State". The Colorado Supremes compiled an airtight, 200+ page ruling [PDF] that was both "textualist" (adhering to the simple text of the clause) and "originalist" (carefully hewing to the original intent of its post-Civil War framers) in order to appeal to the legal principles supposedly most important to the Republican majority at SCOTUS.

The CO court, finding that Trump had indeed "engaged in insurrection" and was thus barred from holding the office of President of the United States, disqualified him from the state's 2024 Presidential ballot. Trump appealed their ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard the case on Thursday. (Transcript, audio)

While we can't know for certain from questions asked at the hearing, the Justices appear set to simply ignore the clear meaning of the text of 14.3 in order to allow Trump to run for President this year. Arguments put forward today for doing so --- some of them preposterous and in direct conflict with the framer's intent, according to the Congressional Record at the time the 14th Amendment was adopted --- include that the President is not an officer of the United States; that 14.3 bars insurrectionists from holding office, but not from running for office; and that the clause, unlike every other section of the 14th Amendment, is not "self-executing". Rather, Congress must create legislation before it can be used against a federal official. (Never mind its history over the past 150 years or so.)

We're joined today to somehow make sense of all of this by former U.S. Deputy Asst. Attorney General LISA GRAVES, now of True North Research, and retired attorney KEITH BARBER, who writes on legal and Constitutional matters as 'KeithDB' at Daily Kos. They both joined us just after Trump filed his appeal to the High Court earlier this year and do so again today to discuss how it all appears to be working out for him.

A fair amount of time during Thursday's hearing was spent on the argument that Section 3 allows Congress, by a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber, to waive disqualification for insurrectionists. Thus, the argument goes, Trump can still run for President, even if he cannot "hold" the position if elected. That's because Congress could, ya never know, decide to grant him amnesty after he is elected and before he is sworn in to office.

Graves characterizes the argument as "absurd", describing it as "counter to the plain-language, commonsense argument on its face." It could also, as the attorney for the challengers (a group of Republican and independent voters), noted today, result in the same Congressional chaos on January 6, 2025 that we saw in 2021. If Trump were to win, but Congress fail to grant him an insurrectionist's waiver, he would be barred, according to 14.3, from actually being sworn in to office. SCOTUS seems to be begging for this scenario based on much of today's questioning.

Barber suggests it is likely "that challenges are raised in the electoral certification process" if Trump wins in November, "saying that Trump is not eligible for the office, and any Electoral College votes for him must not be counted for that reason."

"The meaning" of Section 3 of the 14th "could not be clearer in the intent of the drafters," argues Graves. "These supposed 'originalists,' these supposed 'strict constructionists' claim to be so devoted to it when striking down access to abortion, marriage equality, our ability to regulate corporations. But here, suddenly they're confused. It's not confusing if you look at the history and read it."

Indeed, the Justices --- including at least two of the Court's liberals --- appear set to come up with a reason or set of reasons that the Constitution doesn't say what it actually says. Why, for example, does Section 3 --- unlike the other sections of the landmark 14th Amendment, such as the requirement for Due Process under the law for all U.S. persons --- suddenly require a law to be written by Congress before it can be executed? (But only against Trump, apparently. It's been used without issue many times in the past.) "In this case, it's because the Supreme Court needed it to be," says Barber, a former lifelong Republican. "I don't have a better explanation than that."

"Are we living under the Constitution or not?," asks Graves. "It seems we are, only to the extent that this faction of the Court wants to impose it. And when it doesn't, it does not apply."

We discuss much more on all of this today's, including why Clarence Thomas (and, perhaps three other Justices on the Court) have not recused themselves from this case given their extraordinary conflicts of interest; whether there is a "grand bargain" in the works to strike down the CO Supreme Court's mandate while upholding the D.C. Court of Appeals' ruling this week on "Presidential Immunity"; and how the attorneys arguing on behalf of Colorado voters missed the opportunity to underscore that, as bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress have already voted, Donald Trump is an insurrectionist.

ALSO TODAY: Brighter news, believe it or not, in our latest Green News Report with Desi Doyen! Yes, another one of them shows where the GNR actually offers more encouraging news than the rest of the program. Apologies in advance!...

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GOP chaos, faceplants and dysfunction in House, Senate, everywhere else; Also: Haley loses to 'none' in NV; O'Keefe forced to admit to fake 2020 'fraud' story; Listener mail on hand-marked ballots and Taylor Swift...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2024 6:31pm PT  

I'd say Tuesday was a high (or low?) watermark for GOP failure, but on The BradCast, we think it wise to never under (or over?) estimate them. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among our many stories covered today...

  • Nikki Haley lost the one-person Republican Presidential Primary in Nevada by more than 30 points. (To be fair, it's not entirely her fault. Donald Trump rigged it. And he's setting up Republicans in the state for failure this November regarding the state's voting systems.) Joe Biden reportedly won his mostly one-person Democratic Primary in the state on Tuesday with nearly 90% of the vote.
  • With three different swing-state GOP state Chairs (in Florida, Arizona and Michigan) ousted in recent weeks in scandals related to allegations of rape, bribery, or financial impropriety (and Nevada's GOP Chair heading to criminal trial in a few weeks for forgery as a fake 2020 elector), Trump's once-favored Chair of the RNC, Ronna Romney McDaniel, is being pushed out in the middle of a Presidential election year. Why? Trump's MAGA faithful are trying to find someone, anyone ... anyone but him ... to blame for their repeated, post-2016 election humiliations. Why not Ronna?
  • But the humiliation continued on Tuesday, as newly tapped and freshly failed GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson engineered what Wall Street Journal described as "an embarrassment for the party", Punchbowl called "one of the most embarrassing days in recent House GOP history" (which is saying quite a lot!), and WaPo raved: "a stunning rebuke" for a months-long impeachment probe by Republicans hoping to identify "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" by Dept. of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. Turns out, they couldn't even convince their full caucus that he'd committed any, and one heroic Dem showed up from his hospital bed amidst chaos on the House Floor to deliver Johnson and Marjorie Taylor Green's phony impeachment scheme an embarrassing final blow. At least for Tuesday night, in the first impeachment vote ever against a sitting member of the Executive Branch.
  • Actually, it wasn't the final blow on Tuesday night for House Republicans. Johnson held a subsequent vote for aid to Israel. It also went down in humiliating flames.
  • All of that comes on the heels of Congressional GOP insistence that they would block any aid package for Ukraine --- now facing a very real existential crisis and invasion from a hostile neighbor --- unless the bill included a massive amount of money for the U.S. southern border, where Trump and Republicans pretend there is an ongoing "existential crisis" and "invasion". So, Dems gave in and agreed with Senate Republicans to add a very hard-right border deal to the aid package --- only to see Trump throw a fit at a possible real solution for the only real(ish) election year issue he seems to have left. So now House Republicans are vowing they will only consider an aid bill for Ukraine (and Israel and Taiwan) if it doesn't include money for the U.S. southern border. Seriously. It's as insane and stupid and dysfunctional and embarrassing as it sounds. And, it might even be hilarious, but for the fact that democracy remains on the brink in Europe, as the near-entirety of the Republican Party now cowers to the personal whims of their four-time indicted cult leader.
  • Popular Republican criminal, pretend fake "pimp", and definitely fake "journalist" James O'Keefe quietly issued a tweet on Monday night, admitting that his reporting on 2020 election fraud in Pennsylvania was "wrong" and that he is "aware of no evidence or other allegation that election fraud occurred in the Erie [Pennsylvania] Post Office during the 2020 Presidential Election.” It took him four years and a begrudging lawsuit settlement to "correct" his false story about supposed massive mail ballot fraud by the USPS. Trump continues to fraudulently pimp that nonsense to this day. All of this on the heels of O'Keefe being pushed out of his own fake news organization, called Project Veritas, last year amid allegations of financial malfeasance and abuse of employees. Or, as his partner in the 2010 fake ACORN "pimp" hoax videos described it when quitting the group herself in December: "an unsalvageable mess --- one wrought with strong evidence of past illegality and financial improprieties."
  • Finally today, some listener mail with an important coda to our mind-blowing interview on Tuesday with Susan Greenhalgh, election integrity advocate and consultant on the just-completed civil suit trial by Marilyn Marks and the Coalition of Good Governance against the State of Georgia and its Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger. The suit seeks to move the state from easily-hackable, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to verifiable hand-marked paper ballots; And, some email on Taylor Swift and the Superbowl, which I thought we decided we wouldn't be discussing this week on The BradCast?!!...

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Guest: Attorney Ernest A. Canning on that and this week's 'Insurrectionist Disqualification' hearing at SCOTUS; Also: Relentless rain continues drench SoCal; Trump's rigged NV GOP Primary/Caucuses...
By Brad Friedman on 2/6/2024 6:38pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Bad news from the DC Court of Appeals for the disgraced former President, though things could get much worse this week depending on how things go at SCOTUS on Thursday. [Audio link to full program follows this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • The unrelenting downpour in Southern California continues for a third straight day, as Los Angeles alone reports more than 300 mudslides since the atmospheric river began pouring in on Sunday, resulting in continuing flash flooding and evacuations throughout the region. Thankfully, there have been no deaths or major catastrophes yet reported, though three were killed in Northern California where strong winds toppled trees as the storm blew ashore on Sunday. It's not yet over, but we're told the sun may finally reappear again in SoCal, at least for a time, on Wednesday.
  • Today was the last day to vote in Nevada's all vote-by-mail 2024 Presidential primaries, though few may have bothered. On the Democratic side, President Biden faces little or no competition. On the Republican side, Donald Trump helped rigged the state in his favor with the help of NV state party officials. He's not on the NV Primary ballot, since he objected to the all-mail process created by the state. He demanded caucuses instead. So Nikki Haley will be on the primary ballot, but Trump won't. While Haley won't be participating in the Thursday caucuses, but Trump will. Republican Delegates, however, will only be awarded to the winner of the rigged GOP Caucuses.
  • Welp, it took nearly a month, but a three-judge panel on the D.C. Court of Appeals finally released their long-awaited ruling on whether Presidents have immunity against any and all criminal charges for crimes they carry out while serving as President. That is what the four-time indicted former President is arguing. And, to the shock of pretty much nobody, the court ruled in a unanimous, very thorough 57-page decision [PDF] today, that, nope, a President may not avoid criminal consequences for, by way of an example Donald Trump's attorney defended in court last month, ordering Seal Team 6 to murder a political rival. While the ruling was not surprising, it was successful for Trump, at least in part, by delaying his previously scheduled March 4th federal trial on four felony counts [PDF] related to his many attempts to steal the 2020 election. The D.C. panel struck down every single argument made by Trump and ordered the case to be returned to the trial court unless the defendant appeals the ruling to SCOTUS by Monday. Of course he will. The only question for the moment is: will there be enough votes at the corrupted rightwing SCOTUS to bother even hearing this dumb case.
  • Then, we're joined by BRAD BLOG's longtime legal contributor ERNEST A. CANNING to discuss both today's Immunity ruling and the arguably far more consequential matter that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday. The Supremes will hear oral argument for and against the case for disqualifying Donald J. Trump from the ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause". The specific case, Trump v. Anderson, is named for the 91-year old Republican, Norma Anderson, who is one of six Republican and independent voters that sued under 14.3 in the state of Colorado to bar Trump from the state's Presidential ballot. They were successful. The CO Supreme Court barred Trump in a very well argued (and very conservative) ruling [PDF] late last year, pending a decision from SCOTUS. In the month since the Justices agreed to hear the case, as Canning writes this week, no fewer than 50 amici (friend of the court) briefs have been filed both for and against the Constitution's post-Civil War ban on insurrectionists serving in public office.

    Canning cites several key points offered in the various briefs from a host of scholars and experts, and we preview the questions likely to be up for debate during this Thursday's landmark hearing. The eventual opinion issued by SCOTUS could determine whether Trump is barred from the Presidential ballot in all 50 states. And what might happen then?

    Canning argues that if you follow conservative "textualist" and "originalist" doctrine, "what the intent was, what the actual language was" by the framers of the 14th Amendment, "there's no way you can come to a decision other than the fact that Donald Trump is disqualified within the meaning of the statute."

    That largely matches conventional wisdom suggesting the Constitutional case for banning Trump from office is pretty rock solid legally. Nonetheless, most of those media pundits and legal experts also tend to argue that the former President's friends and appointees on the High Court are likely to conjure up some sort of jiggery-pokery and pure applesauce to allow him to remain on the ballot this year anyway. "That could very well happen here," Canning tells me, before adding: "But I wouldn't bet the farm either direction."

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with more on the climate change-related causes of California's historic downpour, Chile's deadly heat and wildfires, and Spain's persistent drought. She also reports on how Europe has avoided Vladimir Putin's energy blackmail, and how Republicans plan to turn back the clock on the Biden Administration's landmark climate achievements if they succeed in winning back the White House in November...

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Guest: Plaintiff advisor Susan Greenhalgh of Free Speech for People; Also: Trump case delays; U.S. retaliation in Middle East; Deluge in SoCal...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2024 6:28pm PT  

The long-awaited trial over Georgia's vulnerable voting systems has finally come to a close. As reported on today's BradCast: Last month, one of the plaintiffs' experts demonstrated in court that the state's vulnerable touchscreen voting systems can be hacked in about 5 seconds by one person, with nothing more than a ballpoint pen. And the state, for its part, defended itself by demonstrating that apparently nobody --- nobody! --- is in charge of cybersecurity for the statewide computerized voting systems used by every voter at every polling place in the critical battleground state. [Audio link to full story follows below this summary.]

After a few quick news updates at the top of the show --- including on the climate change-fueled atmospheric river raining down on us out here in Southern California today --- we're joined LIVE in studio by Free Speech for People's Senior Advisor on Election Security, SUSAN GREENHALGH, on the heels of the three-week civil trial in federal court that finally wrapped up late last month.

The case, originally filed way back in 2017, is called Curling v. Raffensperger. Plaintiffs are election integrity experts (real ones, not pretend Trump ones) challenging the use of Georgia's touchscreen voting systems, hoping to force the state to move from vulnerable, unverifiable touchscreens to verifiable hand-marked paper ballots before the 2024 Presidential election. Greenhalgh has been advising plaintiffs in the case for a number of years. She was in the courtroom in Atlanta last month for much of the trial which began on January 9 and ended just over a week ago. (Daily court transcripts for each day of the trial are now posted here.)

The suit is led by the Coalition for Good Governance, a non-partisan election watchdog group headed up by frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks. It was during the course of pre-trial discovery that Marks discovered that Trump-lawyer Sidney Powell, and others on Team Trump, actually organized a scheme to breach the statewide voting systems in the Coffee County, GA elections office beginning on January 7th, 2021. The were given access to the systems by the local elections supervisor at the time and proceeded to copy its sensitive software before distributing it to parts unknown across the Internet. The unprecedented breach of GA's touchscreen voting systems and the central Election Management System (EMS), was never actually investigated by Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's office. It did, however, result in criminal charges against five co-conspirators among the 18 others charged along with Donald Trump in Fulton County, GA's broad felony indictment for his failed attempt to steal the state's 2020 Presidential election.

This civil case, however --- filed in federal court long before Trump pretended to have won the 2020 election --- seeks only to end the use of the state's vulnerable Dominion touchscreen systems. During the course of the trial, the plaintiff's expert, Dr. Alex Halderman, long time cybersecurity and voting system expert from the University of Michigan, demonstrated how he could take over control of one of the voting machines with little more than a ballpoint pen, without violating any of Georgia's security protocols or so-called "tamper evident security seals." In just seconds, Halderman revealed to the court how he could achieve "Super User Access" on the machines, allowing a bad guy to insert malware or take over any other number of system functions in that administrative mode. (Halderman has made clear he has found no evidence of fraud in GA's 2020 election.)

During the course of the trial, as Greenhalgh reports today, the state's Election Director conceded he didn't even know such a hack was possible, despite a detailed report Halderman submitted in the case several years ago. The State Election Director, apparently, never bothered to read it.

The State, however, for its part, maintains their systems are completely secure, despite a mountain of expert evidence to the contrary. Sec. of State Raffensperger is responsible for mandating the use of these machines for every voter at every polling place in the state. That, after the same judge in the same case, back in 2019, banned the use of the state's 20-year old touchscreens made by Diebold. Rather than move to hand-marked paper ballots, Raffensperger ignored the advise of cybersecurity and voting system experts and replaced the old Diebold touchscreens with new ones made by Dominion, with many of the same (and additional!) security flaws as the old systems.

During the course of the trial, as Greenhalgh breaks down today, nobody from the Office of Sec. of State was willing to identify who was in charge of cybersecurity for the 35,000 voting machines used across Georgia. "There was a bit of a 'Who's On First' routine" during the trial, she explains. The State Election Director, for example, testified that cybersecurity was the job of the State's Chief Information Officer (CIO). The CIO, however, testified that wasn't part of his portfolio, pointing back at the State Election Director. Raffensperger's office finally seemed to have settled on Dominion as the ones who were in charge of cybersecurity for Dominion voting systems in GA, the same company who created the vulnerable systems in the first place. "The Fox guarding the hen-house," quipped Greenhalgh.

Nobody from Dominion testified during the trial, she explained. And Raffensperger was similarly allowed to avoid testimony after appealing the District Court's mandate to do so up to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which allowed him off the hook just days before the trial finally got underway. That, as his offices refuses to apply security patches urgently recommended by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) based on the information in Halderman's report on GA's voting systems.

During the course of the trial, the judge, says Greenhalgh, cited "inconsistent candor" of state officials. As to the Coffee County Breach, she notes, the Sec. of State's "investigator got up on the stand and, under oath, said, 'I was told to hold off and not investigate.' He was asked specifically: 'So, did you perform any investigation activities?' 'No.' 'Did anyone else?' 'No, not to my knowledge...No, there was no investigation.'"

As you can tell, there is much to discuss with Greenhalgh on today's sorta mind-blowing edition of The BradCast, after the State's Defense rested and we now await a verdict from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg. That ruling could finally come...well, whenever. No rush. The Presidential Primary in Georgia is on Super Tuesday, March 5, exactly one month from today. Is it possible a ruling could come in time to save the 2024 general election this November?

We discuss all of that and much more with Greenhalgh on today's program. Buckle up...

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Also: Trump loses in court again; 10 GOP state Senators barred from OR's 2024 ballot; U.S. House passes bipartisan bill; Biden Admin climate and clean energy triumphs you probably haven't heard about...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2024 6:40pm PT  

Legislation is hard. It involves compromise and stuff. But the bulk of Republican state Senators in Oregon won't have to worry about that anymore. At least for a few years. Also, stealing money from your duped political donors to cover your mountain of legal fees to defend your law breaking appears to be very easy if you are the disgraced former President. And, a whole bunch of landmark climate and energy successes under Joe Biden that you likely haven't about, but should have. Those are just some of the many news stories covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among them...

  • As of airtime, we're still waiting for (sorta overdue) key rulings on Donald Trump's ridiculous "Presidential Immunity" claims at the DC Court of Appeals and on how much Trump and company (and sons) will have to pay up in New York's $370 million bank fraud suit against them. In the meantime, Trump has lost again today in court on an entirely different matter. This time in London, where his lawsuit against the Steele Dossier's author was summarily dismissed by a UK judge (just as the similarly absurd suit filed by Trump against Christopher Steele, Hillary Clinton and top FBI officials was rejected by a U.S. judge in 2022.)
  • All of those failed lawsuits, and defending himself against civil cases and four criminal felony indictments is costing Trump's gullible dupes/supporters a lot of money. New FEC filings released today reveal that Trump spent/blew $27 million of his donors' money on personal legal bills in the second half of last year, bringing the total amount of campaign donor money used for legal fees in 2023 to about $50 million. That number is expected to be much higher in 2024, giving the phrase "chump change" a whole new meaning.
  • The Oregon Supreme Court, on Thursday, determined that 10 Republican state Senators may not run for office in 2024, after violating a 2022 state Constitutional Amendment adopted by voters in a 36-point landslide that year. The measure bans state lawmakers from running in the next election after they've accrued more than 10 unexcused absences. The GOP state Senators in question walked out for a record 6-weeks in 2023 in hopes of blocking legislation on abortion rights, LGBTQ rights and gun safety, delaying or killing hundreds of other bills in the bargain. The state Senate currently has only 12 Republicans. Ten of them, including the chamber's minority leader, are now barred from running for reelection this year.
  • The U.S. House passed a bipartisan bill! It is compromise tax legislation. Republicans agreed to offer modest tax relief to low income families with children, so long as Democrats agreed to extend huge tax breaks to wealthy corporations and small businesses. Nobody got everything they wanted, and the legislation, adopted on Wednesday by a lopsided 357-70 House vote, will almost certainly change or be killed altogether in the Senate. But that's how legislation works. Or is supposed to work. Or used to work. And, for one day this week, incredibly enough, it did again. We discuss why it did.
  • "Government, in a large, wealthy, functional modern democracy, is pretty boring. Lots of bureaucracy, lots of agencies, lots of complexity, lots of rules, mostly incremental change. It's not particularly dramatic," noted our friend climate and energy journalist David Roberts on Twitter on the last day of the year. "That makes it a very poor fit for the dynamics & demands of modern media, especially social media. Drama, outrage, sweeping counterintuitive generalizations --- these are the coin of the realm. No one gets clicks by celebrating the workaday operation of the gov't machine," he continued. "Consequently, boring democratic governance --- perhaps the greatest advance in collective human welfare in history --- has no day-to-day defenders. Basically everyone is incentivized to take it for granted."

    Of course, we are defenders of that "boring democratic governance" and we don't take it for granted. Roberts was linking to a lengthy --- and wildly enlightening --- thread from former professor turned White House clean energy policy advisor Costa Samaras, who detailed a stunning year-end list of positive, landmark environmental actions and initiatives undertaken by the Biden-Harris Administration in the wake of passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act (adopted only by Democrats). If you think Biden has done little for climate and clean energy you may want to review Samaras' list.

    Just one of dozens of examples: "The Inflation Reduction Act & @POTUS' agenda have supercharged U.S. grid-scale energy storage. Before the Biden-Harris Administration, grid-connected energy storage was basically zero. This year there will be 9 Hoover Dams worth of batteries on the grid. Next year: 16 Hoover Dams."

  • Finally, Desi Doyen is here with our latest Green News Report, as the Saudis nix expanded production (and lower gas prices) in time for this year's Presidential election in the U.S.; Millions of Americans are found at risk of toxic chemical freight train disasters; EU phases out dirty heavy-duty diesel trucks by 2040; and the Biden Dept. of Energy issues new rules to save gas stove users thousands of dollars in efficiency improvements (while taking no one's gas stove away from them, Fox "News"!)...

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Guest: Chris Geidner of Law Dork; Also: Did Trump TV network unlawfully obtain and distribute voting machine company passwords after 2020?...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2024 6:26pm PT  

If, by now, you don't realize that Republicans are attacking both democracy and the rule of law itself in this country, I don't know what world you live in. But on today's BradCast we've got two fresh --- and disturbing --- examples/warnings. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

FIRST UP today: Did the far-right, pro-Trump propaganda outlet called One America News (OAN) obtain passwords for employees of voting system vendor Smartmatic and then share them with Trump attorney Sidney Powell after the 2020 election? That appears to be what Smartmatic is charging in recently filed court documents, according to CNN, as part of its billion dollar defamation lawsuit against the fake Trump TV "news" outlet.

OAN was just one of many such rightwing outlets that echoed and forwarded Team Trump's false claims of election fraud in 2020. OAN was particularly aggressive in their evidence-free mission to hoax viewers into believing that systems made by Smartmatic and Dominion, another voting system vendor, flipped votes to help Joe Biden that year. The claims against Smartmatic were particularly absurd, given that the company has just one contract in the U.S. for voting systems. That is here in Los Angeles County, were Biden reportedly defeated Trump in 2020 by nearly 2 million votes.

As explained today, however, the reason that the pretend "election integrity" advocates who emerged on the right following 2020, only to offer evidence-free claims and falsely tie Smartmatic to Dominion (and Venezuela's dead former President Hugo Chavez), is likely thanks in no small part to some exclusive reporting we did on the two companies here at The BRAD BLOG, circa 2008 to 2010, which was cited and bastardized by Powell and others on the right after 2020. You're welcome!

NEXT UP: A new legal chapter in a story that deserves much more coverage than it has received to date. In one respect, it's not surprising that it hasn't received much coverage, given that it is based on an absurd legal premise --- one already rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court --- that few thought would ever advance beyond the Trump-appointed U.S. District Court judge who initially gave it credence in a redistricting lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of the NAACP against the state of Arkansas in 2022.

In short, the case was dismissed [PDF] before reaching the merits by U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky on the novel grounds that neither voters nor private organizations like the NAACP have the right to sue to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Only the U.S. Attorney General may do so, according to the Rudofsky. That news must have come as a great surprise to the hundreds of private plaintiffs who have successfully hundreds of such cases since adoption of the landmark Act in 1965. It also may come as a surprise to the U.S. Supreme Court which, as recently as last June, ruled in favor of private litigants in a redistricting lawsuit against the state of Alabama. Congress is likely shocked as well, given they have reviewed, rewritten and reauthorized the VRA several times since 1965, without ever noticing there was no private right of action to enforce the law.

While the initial ruling was ridiculous enough, a split decision by a three-judge panel on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in November, incredibly, allowed the lower court ruling to stand. But it got even more absurd this week, when, on Tuesday, the full en banc 8th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 7 to 3 deny a rehearing of the matter, upholding the original lower court's radical, unprecedented ruling. The ACLU described the ruling as "appalling and unjustified," after "More than 400 Section 2 cases have been litigated in federal court in the past four decades to protect the voting rights of racial and language minorities. Private plaintiffs have brought the vast majority of them."

The 8th Circuit, comprised of 10 Republican appointees and one appointed by a Democrat, is not even considered the most radical in the nation. That would be the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals which has recently rejected the notion --- along with SCOTUS --- that there is no right to private action for voters to sue under Section 2.

We're joined today by CHRIS GEIDNER, longtime legal journalist at Law Dork, to explain this gob-smacking series of rulings and what they mean moving forward, as the matter almost certainly will head to the U.S. Supreme Court. For now, the ruling is the law of the land "only" in the seven states that comprise the 8th Circuit (Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota). That could change, however, once the notoriously anti-VRA High Court gets a crack at this case.

Geidner decries the "out-of-control" appeals courts which seem to no longer believe it is necessary to follow long-standing precedent, if it regards laws that they don't like. "And then things go up to the Supreme Court," he charges, "and it's almost a win-win for the conservatives on the Supreme Court because if they reverse one or two of every three ridiculous decisions, they are able to set themselves up as a 'moderating' force that pulls back the extremes, while they are still letting one of every three extreme rulings go through."

"One of the underlying bases for a legal system is stability," Geidner tells me today. "When you have a legal system that is in such upheaval that lower courts have been told from the Supreme Court that 'No precedent is too sacred. We will overturn any precedent if we decide it should be overturned,'" that leads appellate courts to think that "if there's a chance that their opinion can lead to a revisiting of a precedent that they think is wrong, why wouldn't they go for it?"

"The answer," he notes, "is the rule of law, and they shouldn't. That's up to the Supreme Court, and until the Supreme Court does it, they need to follow precedent. But that's not the world in which we are living."

We also get some thoughts today from Geidner on the curious, now nearly month-long delay by a three-judge panel on the U.S. District Court of Appeals in D.C. to issue their ruling in response to Donald Trump's ridiculous claim that he is immune from criminal prosecution for any actions he performed while serving as President. A ruling was expected by many to have been issued by now. The case was heard on an emergency basis, as Trump's scheduled March 4 federal trial for attempting to steal the 2020 election is currently on pause in the bargain. But, Geidner notes that "the fact that we are quickly approaching a month" since the case was heard by what appeared to be three skeptical jurists, it is now beginning to look like "a dereliction of duty" and "a failure on the D.C. Circuit's part."

Stay tuned...

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RNC rigging nomination for Trump; Also: Luttig's 'textualist' SCOTUS brief argues Trump 'disqualified himself'; More bad news for Bannon; Court nixes Musk's $56B pay package; Biden pauses new NatGas terminals...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2024 6:11pm PT  

Be sure to put on your mud boots for today's BradCast. You're gonna need 'em. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • American Presidential Primaries and Caucuses were always confusing for voters. This year, they are even more so. That, however, suits Donald Trump just fine in advance of next week's Nevada Primary (on Feb. 6) and Caucuses (on Feb. 8 ), which have been rigged by Team Trump to assure he cannot lose a single delegate to Nikki Haley, his last remaining challenger for the 2024 GOP Presidential nomination.
  • The day after the New Hampshire Primary last week, Trump supported an RNC executive resolution to officially declare him to be party's "presumptive 2024 nominee for the office of President of the United States." That, after nominating contests in only two states (Iowa and NH) where he won just 32 of the 1,215 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. Two days later (perhaps after receiving some sage legal advice) the desperate former President came out against the resolution, so the RNC promptly killed it. We what actually appears to have happened.
  • Well-respected and very conservative former U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Michael Luttig filed an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief [PDF] with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, arguing that the Justices must adhere to the "textualist" approach that rightwingers on the High Court have claimed to follow in recent years, as they weigh whether Donald Trump is eligible for the 2024 ballot under the U.S. Constitution's "Insurrectionist Disqualification Clause." Trump has "disqualified himself" for the office of President under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, Judge Luttig and others argue in the brief, after having "engaged in insurrection" on January 6, 2021, when he "sought to prevent the vesting of the authority and functions of the Presidency in the newly-elected President." That, the brief contends, may be even worse than when South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860 to "prevent the newly-elected President Lincoln from governing only in that State." The Justices must not construct an artificial "off-ramp" to avoid their Constitutional mandate, the brief asserts. The matter will be heard by SCOTUS on Thursday next week.
  • Disgraced former Trump White House advisor and campaign Chair turned podcaster and con-artist, Steve Bannon, may be in more trouble than you know. He has already been convicted and sentenced to four months in federal prison for Contempt of Congress for his refusal to answer subpoenas from the House Select Committee investigating January 6. While free on appeal, he has also been charged by New York state for massive fraud in the "We Build the Wall" campaign which siphoned millions from duped Trump supporters. And now his former attorney in that case is gunning for Bannon's bank accounts after he was found to owe the law firm nearly half a million dollars in unpaid legal fees. Bannon's latest attempt to block his banks from turning over documents to the firm claims that doing so "poses a significant risk of compromising Mr. Bannon’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination." Sad!
  • BREAKING DURING SHOW: A Delaware court judge has voided Tesla CEO Elon Musk's nearly $56 billion compensation package, ruling it was unlawfully dictated by Musk himself to a non-independent Board of Directors in sham negotiations. Also sad!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as President Biden puts a pause on approvals for new Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals; new reports find Canada tar sands are up to 6000% more toxic than previously known and that climate change made Brazil's Amazon rainforest draught 30 times more likely; and China, as it turns out, built more new solar power in 2023 alone than the U.S. has in its entire history...

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Guest: Reformed 'Ultra-MAGA' member Rich Logis on 'Leaving MAGA'; Also: Is this the week the tide finally begins to turn against Trump?...
By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2024 6:06pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Escaping MAGA and whether real accountability for the former President's many crimes and civil verdicts might finally begin to bend the curve against him from within his own party and from his own supporters. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On Friday, a nine-member federal jury in New York ordered Donald Trump to pay an additional $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll, who an earlier 9-member jury determined last year that he had sexually assaulted and repeatedly defamed. The original verdict cost him $5 million, but wasn't enough to stop the repeated defamation of Carroll.

All of this comes on the cusp of a completely separate verdict in a state case in NY where the judge has already determined Trump committed massive fraud by falsely inflating his assets to receive more favorable rates on bank loans, insurance and taxes. The State A.G. has asked that the judge now find Trump and his companies and his top executives (including his two eldest sons) liable for at least $370 million. That ruling is likely to come any day now.

A hundred million here, a hundred million there, and, before ya know it, you're talking about real money. Even for a "billionaire" like Trump. But will any of it make a difference to Trump's most ardent supporters? How about the few Republicans left who are neither Never Trumpers nor hardcore MAGA? Will they finally take notice? Might these rulings begin to make a difference in GOP primary polling, as the disgraced former President continues to be the party's front-running nominee for the 2024 Presidential election?

For thoughts on all of that and much more, we're delighted to be joined again today by RICH LOGIS, a former hardcore MAGA member himself who voted for Trump in both 2016 and 2020, before eventually coming to terms with the fact that he had become captive to what is a far-right political cult. (Our first conversation with him, with more details on that, was in October last year.)

Logis now runs PerfectOurUnion.us, devoted to "healing political trauma" and "building diverse, pro-democracy alliances". Today, he offers his insight, as a reformed MAGA member and former Republican pundit, on whether any of the recent verdicts against Trump --- and/or those that are still to come in the four separate criminal felony cases he is facing this year --- might finally begin to turn the tide away from the GOP's cult leader.

We also discuss Logis' thoughts published recently at Salon, on why the MAGA crowd is so gullible to mythologization and race-baiting, and how even Nikki Haley is now tapping into the same bloodstream to capitalize on a party that has long been captured (well before Trump) by racist polarization and "White fright".

Logis is now creating a new organization specifically devoted to "Leaving MAGA" and we begin the important discussion of how to help those captured by MAGA find their way out, and what friends and family members may be able to do to begin helping their loved ones find their way home.

"As someone who was in MAGA for seven years," he tells me, "Most MAGA voters are good people, deep down. But, unfortunately, the relationship between most MAGA Americans and Donald Trump is a very toxic one. While I don't defend ignorance, MAGA Americans have been traumatized by Trump and the rightwing and the Republican Party. They just have a skill set at keeping MAGA Americans desperate and panicked."

But, he insists optimistically, "if someone got into MAGA, they can get out of it." His own catalyst came after coming to terms with the fact that his own Governor, Ron DeSantis, who he had previously supported, was willing to let people die by lying to them about COVID vaccines in 2021.

"If someone who is very pro-MAGA speaks to someone who is very anti-MAGA, I guarantee, if they speak long enough, they're going to find some issues that they have some common ground and agreement on." He cautions, however, that vilification doesn't work. If it did, "everybody would have left at this point."

"It's going to take time," Logis insists. But he believes "there are more out there who are in the nascent stages of remorse. Because ultimately the strength of the numbers in Leaving MAGA will be in how many we can encourage and empower to leave and tell their stories publicly."

Until his new organization is formally unveiled, he asks folks to contact him at his website. This conversation will continue, I hope. Because it must...

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