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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Republicans File Dubious Legal Challenge to California's Emergency Vote-By-Mail Order
Rightwing organization and GOP candidate Darrell Issa charge mailing ballots to every registered voter violates the U.S. Constitution...
Sunday Memorial Weekend Toons
Please maintain responsible social distancing, even while enjoying PDiddie's Summer kick-off toon collection. Thank you...
Transitioning to Greatness!*: 'BradCast' 5/21/20
* If 'Greatness' means record unemployment and tens of thousands of unnecessarily dead Americans...
'Green News Report' 5/21/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
MI dams fail, cause flooding, toxic threat amid pandemic; SuperCyclone slams India; Admin wants rent from renewable energy projects; PLUS: Emissions fell 17% during shutdowns...
Previous GNRs: 5/19/20 - 5/14/20 - Archives...
'A Historic Event Playing Out in the Midst of an Historic Event': 'BradCast' 5/20/20
Guest: Climate scientist Dr. Michael E. Mann; Also: OR Primary results; FL voter fraud criminal Trump threatens MI amid two concurrent disasters in the state...
Flynn-Flop! Bill Barr's DoJ v. Bill Barr's DoJ: 'BradCast' 5/19/20
Guest: EmptyWheel's Marcy Wheeler; Also: COVID science censored by Florida...
'Green News Report' 5/19/20
SuperCyclone to slam Bangladesh; Hurricanes intensifying; Trump EPA won't limit rocket fuel chemical in drinking water; PLUS: What Covid crisis should teach us about the climate crisis...
The Race To Stupid: 'BradCast' 5/18/20
Trump fires another IG, this one probing Pompeo; Amash nixes Prez run; MO allows absentee voting for all (sort of); CA relaxes reopen rules; Anti-lockdown protester threatens journo; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Maskuline' Toons
Stay safe and at home with PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection!...
The Bright Side of the COVID Crisis: 'BradCast' 5/15/20
Govt whistleblower slams Trump's COVID response; Dems ditch 'dark money' group give-away; WI Supremes endanger state again; Trump voters more at risk of virus...
The Return of Accountability!
(For Now. Sort Of.): 'BradCast' 5/14/20
Burr served; Barr blowback; Flynn's new 'prosecutor'; Trump overturned; Also: David Dayen on coronavirus economy, what Congress is/isn't doing about it...
'Green News Report' 5/14/20
'Unsurvivable' heat; Despite oil crash, Trump expands drilling on public lands; Air pollution increasing again; PLUS: Gas stoves a major source of indoor pollution...
Donald Trump is a Voter Fraud Criminal: 'BradCast' 5/13/20
Guest: Howie Klein on progressive Dem win in Nebraska, establishment Dem loss in California; Also: Trump voted illegally by absentee ballot in Florida and...'OBAMAGATE'!
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...


Dems and Reps charge Admin has no evidence of 'imminent threat' before Soleimani assassination; Ukrainian passenger plane believe downed by Iranian missile; New study confirms new computer BMD voting systems should not be used in 2020; Trump guts landmark environmental rule...
By Brad Friedman on 1/9/2020 4:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a whole lot of evidence as to why Desi Doyen calls us "your early warning system". [Audio link to show posted beneath summary below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • The deadly and dangerous fallout continues from Donald Trump's assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, with Democratic and Republican members of Congress from both the House and Senate, blasting the Administration for failing to provide evidence of an "imminent attack" which might have legally justified Trump's targeted killing of the second most powerful public official in Iran. Members who attended classified briefings by top Administration officials on Wednesday were outraged by the failure of those officials to provide the information they claimed they had regarding the killing. Without that information, Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's top military general was very possibly in violation of both domestic and international law. But are Democrats enraged enough to bring another article of impeachment over it?;
  • Not all Congressional members were upset by the classified briefing. Some, like Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL), charged that members such as Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), who claimed after the briefing that Trump "recklessly assassinated" Soleimani with "no evidence of an imminent threat or attack", was actually an "Ayatollah sympathizer" who was "divid[ing] our country" (Seriously. That's what he said. Rutherford's challengers this year are Donna Deegan and Christopher Eagle on the Democratic side, and 20-year Navy vet Dr. Erick Aguilar in the August Republican primary in the state.);
  • In related matters, as we surmised based on available evidence during yesterday's BradCast, U.S. officials today are now confirming their belief that the Ukrainian Airlines passenger jet that crashed minutes after takeoff from the airport in Tehran on Wednesday was, in fact, shot down by an Iranian missile. The crash killed all 176 on board just hours after Iran's non-lethal ballistic missile revenge attack on Wednesday in response to Trump's killing of Soleimani last week. Officials in the U.S., Ukraine and Canada (which lost 63 residents in the tragic disaster) believe Iran might have mistaken the passenger flight for a military response from the U.S. that night. Along with the 56 killed during a stampede amidst the massive funeral processions for Soleimani, the death toll of Trump's action has been extraordinary. How any of this has made Americans safer is anybody's guess;
  • In election news, a new, landmark study [PDF] was released this week by computer scientists, cybersecurity and voting systems experts at the University of Michigan. It finds that new, touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) --- which we have long been warning about, and which are now proliferating the country in advance of the critical 2020 Presidential election --- are "extremely unsafe" and vulnerable to undetectable hacking.

    Most alarming (at least to those who haven't heard the same loud warnings from BradBlog.com and The BradCast for many years now) is that the researchers found that in a mock election, where they had rigged the new voting systems to misprint a voter selection on the computer-marked paper ballot printouts, more than 93% of voters failed to notice that their vote had been changed by the computer! 93%!

    And yet, these all-new, vulnerable, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems are now being deployed to battleground states like Pennsylvania and Georgia and North Carolina, and even to the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, in advance of this year's elections! We explain the study's disturbing findings and what you can do to try and avoid having your vote lost to a touchscreen Ballot Marking Device in your home jurisdiction;

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some good news (coal plant shutdowns have save some 26,000 American lives!), scary news (new findings that Trump's EPA and FEMA are not prepared for disasters) and terrible news (the Trump Administration is announcing a new rule that would do away with most environmental impact studies before construction of major federal projects, such as roads, bridges and even oil pipelines!)...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs on the path toward de-escalation with Iran; Also: Lights out (again) for Puerto Rico...
By Brad Friedman on 1/8/2020 5:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast, while "all" is anything but "well", it may at least be a bit better than it was 24 hours ago at this time --- at least if the backing away from the likelihood of an apocalyptic military confrontation in the Middle East serves as any gauge. [Audio link to today's program is posted at end of summary.]

Shortly after air time on Tuesday, Iran launched a 22 ballistic missile fusillade at two Iraqi military bases housing thousands of U.S. troops in response to Donald Trump's assassination late last week of revered Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. And shortly after that, a Ukrainian Airliner made by Boeing fell from the sky and crashed after take off from Tehran's airport, killing everyone on board. While it's still early and unclear what exactly caused the disaster, some experts believe the plane could have been attacked either accidentally or on purpose. We discuss.

As to the Iranian attack on U.S. troops, thankfully there were no casualties, either American or Iraqi, as Iran announced there would be no more military reappraisals for Soleimani's killing, so long as America does not attack the nation again. What turned out to be a largely symbolic revenge attack for domestic consumption by Iran appears to have been an act of mercy to help deescalate a military confrontation touched off late last week by Trump that many feared had been spiraling out of control since the targeted drone strike against Soleimani.

After declaring "All is well!" on Twitter Tuesday evening, amidst the missile assault and deadly airliner crash, Trump offered mercifully brief remarks at the White House on Wednesday morning, flanked by the Vice President and top cabinet members and military officials, to suggest he was taking the off-ramp offered him by the grown-ups in Iran. In between several blatant lies told about the anti-nuclear pact struck with Iran and other leading nations during the Obama Administration and on other related matters, Trump promised new economic sanctions against Iran, but said the nation "appears to be standing down", that Iran and the US should "work together" against their mutual enemy of ISIS, and that the United States is ready to embrace peace."

Whether any of that turns out to be true, given a President of the United States who lies as easily as he breathes, is anyone's guess. But it may allow many of us to breathe a bit easier for the moment, at least until Trump's next unnecessary self-inflicted crisis.

We're joined today by former Deputy Asst. Secretary of State MICHAEL FUCHS, to try and help clear up much of the confusion and anxiety of the last 12 hours since Iran's attack and the six days since Trump's assassination of Soleimani. Among the questions discussed with Fuchs...

  • Was Iran's missile attack, in fact, an "act of mercy"?;
  • Should we take any comfort from Trump's response today?;
  • Will there be additional responses from Iran (including cyberattacks) against the U.S.?;
  • Why were there no grown-ups in either the State or Defense Departments to warn Trump off of his wildly ill-considered murder of Iran's second most powerful official?;
  • What can and should be done to keep a President from being able to do something as irresponsible and dangerous like this in the future?;
  • Haven't both Republicans and Democrats in Congress ceded far too much of their Constitutional war-making authority to Presidents of both parties in recent years?;
  • What can Congress do to prevent this President and future ones from acting so dangerously?;
  • While the deal with Iran to block their path to a nuclear weapon had been a success (Trump's demonstrable lies about it not withstanding), until he unilaterally pulled the U.S. from the deal, wouldn't Iran be within their rights, and indeed wise, to now pursue a nuclear weapon, given the behavior of the U.S.?;
  • With Iranian and Iraqi leaders both demanding that U.S. troops leave the region, and Trump pretending for years that he wants the same, wouldn't this be a great time to find common ground and finally pull out of our many decades-long disastrous adventures in the Middle East once and for all?;
  • Can U.S. diplomacy actually rise in the Trump Administration with his widly hawkish Sec. of State Mike Pompeo?;

Fuchs, a former senior State Department official turned Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and Guardian columnist, gamely offers insightful answers to all of those questions and many others at the (hopeful) end of another series of exhausting, unnerving and confusing days during the horrific Trump Presidency.

"It is entirely possible that Iran might respond more to this most recent series of events. They might use cyberattacks, they might use their proxies throughout the region, which is a little bit hands-off, allows them a little bit of plausible deniability in their mind to attack US interests," Fuchs tells me. "But even if there is no immediate other response from Iran, we are still in this very dangerous and precarious moment where tensions between the two countries are incredibly high. And neither side seems, frankly, to have the ability nor the interest, at the moment at least, to finding a sustainable solution to these tensions. So for the moment, we want to hope for a very quick de-escalation, but the bigger problem is still very much there."

Finally, with the ability to breathe just a bit easier (at least for now) for the first time since the turn of the New Year, we turn to some quick coverage of some stories we've had to put off during Trump's latest world-threatening tantrum, beginning with the fact that two-thirds of Puerto Rico has been without power, and hundreds of thousands without clean water, since a major (and unusual) earthquake on Tuesday took out the U.S. island's largest power plant...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: National security law expert Karen J. Greenberg; Also: McConnell says has votes to begin fixed impeachment trial; 'GNR' returns for 2020!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2020 5:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the world remains on edge in the wake of Donald Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's top military general Qassem Soleimani. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of summary.]

At least 56 mourners reportedly died during a stampede at funeral processions for the revered figured in Iran, were millions turned out to show their respects and to vow revenge against the U.S. Meanwhile, U.S. customs and border officials were reportedly detaining Iranian-American citizens for extended questioning as they re-entered the country; Trump's Secretaries of Defense and State each tried to walk back Trump's twice-threatened war crimes against Iran, should they dare to retaliate; And both Secretaries along with the White House continued to claim, without evidence, that an "imminent attack" that would have killed "hundreds" of Americans was prevented by the killing and served to justify the targeted drone strike against Soleimani and several Iraqi officials; Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell claimed to have the votes necessary to move Donald Trump's impeachment trial forward in the U.S. Senate (which Trump had clearly hoped to distract from with his attack on Iran) without allowing for either first-hand witnesses or subpoenaed White House documents to be presented as evidence; and the Foreign Minister of Iran described the assassination of Soleimani as "state terrorism" and President Trump as "lawless".

On that last point, and many related, we are joined today by KAREN J. GREENBERG, Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham University School of Law and the author of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State. Professor Greenberg, an expert on national security, terrorism, and civil liberties, detailed in a New York Times op-ed today headlined "Killing Qassim Suleimani Was Illegal. And Predictable.," how American Presidents have been expanding their own executive authority for "targeted killings" and assassination since the post-Watergate Church Committee in the Senate called for reforms to ban such activity by the Executive Branch in 1975. President Gerald Ford, in 1976, issued an Executive Order to ban all political assassinations by the U.S.

Over the years since, however, as Greenberg documents, Presidents from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama have each stretched the definitions of what amounts to an allowable "targeted killing" under certain restricted circumstances in order to prevent an "imminent attack". And while such killings eventually numbered in the hundreds under Obama (and included at least one U.S. citizen, albeit in a different country), Greenberg explains that no President, until Donald Trump, has broadened the definitions to include an out-and-out assassination of a state official, much less one as highly revered as Soleimani in Iran.

"President Obama attempted to expand the authority for targeted killing, excepting it from the category 'assassination', and giving many reasons --- including international law reasons --- for why this would be lawful. And tying it, however, to the War on Terror, which in a way, puts it in a different scenario than what we're now seeing. Because what we've seen this week is a successful attempt to attack a leading member of a sovereign state," Greenberg tells me. "It distinguishes in many ways from what the Obama Administration had done. But what the Obama Administration did was to open the window for that. They did it because they wanted to expand the targeted killing program of George [W.] Bush. Obama said it would cause less trouble, less reprisal on the ground, and therefore less violence against American troops. And they thought it would work in cases where they couldn't capture somebody who they thought was being tremendously detrimental to the United States."

The authority he and other Presidents granted to themselves, however, "essentially bypasses the idea of laws that restrain" and "comes down to 'trust me' government", in that the public must rely on classified evidence by the Intelligence Community --- and, hopefully, its review by members of Congress --- as legal justification for the actions. But Trump, she explains, while previously dismissing the assessments of the intelligence community as dishonest "Deep State" actors, is now citing what he claims to be their evidence and asking us to trust it.

The result of all of this is what Greenberg describes as "a lack of foresight to put in place policies, by any President or any administration that, should it get into the wrong hands, can prove truly dangerous. We've now crossed that threshold." She goes on to note that "The basic bottom line is this is not something that the United States has supported or allowed since the Church Committee" in 1975.

We discuss how Ford's Executive Order, the War Powers Act of 1973 (meant to constrain Presidents from acts of war without approval by Congress), and the Authorizations for Use of Military Force adopted by Congress after 9/11 and again before our invasion of Iraq, have all now been stretched to the point of near meaningless. At the same time, the U.S. has also pushed the boundaries of Geneva Convention restrictions against war crimes to fit its defensive/aggressive needs of the moment, with as little enforcement by international agencies as Congress has brought against U.S. Presidents from both major parties at home for violations of domestic laws and Constitutional mandates.

There is quite a bit in this conversation that can't adequately be summarized here, so I hope you'll tune in for much more.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of the new year, which, sadly, picks up with the continuing, record, devastating Australian wildfires which also led our last GNR of the year in 2019, some two and a half weeks ago...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Trump chooses deadly confrontation with Iran to distract from his impeachment, callers ring in on it; Also: Bolton willing to testify in Senate 'if subpoenaed'; A voter registration heads-up for California!...
By Brad Friedman on 1/6/2020 5:56pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a much needed holiday break! (Thanks to the great Nicole Sandler for helping us to sneak in some down time!) Sadly, things are much worse --- and more dangerous --- now than they were before the end of the new year, thanks to Donald Trump's targeted assassination of Iran's Major General Qassem Soleimani, placing the U.S. --- and the world --- on the brink of yet another potential war. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

The Germans were right last year. Donald Trump is the greatest threat to world peace. Far greater than Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin, or Iran's Ayatollah. By far.

The bulk of today's program is devoted to developments and fall-out since Trump's ill-considered attack on Soleimani late last week --- including the tens of millions of Iranians who Trump helped unify to turn out for Soleimani's funeral processions; Trump's threat of war crimes against Iran should they dare to retaliate against what is likely already a war crime; Iran's declaration that the 2015 anti-nuclear agreement which Trump pulled the U.S. out of is now all but dead; Iraq's Parliamentary resolution to throw all U.S. forces out of the country, and Trump threat of sanctions against them if they do; Trump's 2011 (and 2012 and 2013) false predictions that Obama would start a war on Iran to win reelection "because of his inability to negotiate properly"; and calls from listeners on all of the above.

Of course, the real reason Trump decided to kill Soleimani is almost certainly to distract from his end of year impeachment and upcoming trial in the U.S. Senate. On that front, we covered former National Security Advisor John Bolton's announcement today that he would testify as a witness in the trial, if subpoenaed by the Senate (which Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are still blocking, along with all first-hand eye witnesses requested by Democrats).

And also, a few heads-ups regarding voter registration in California (and elsewhere) in advance of March 3rd's Super Tuesday Presidential primaries. If you live in California, and are registered as a "No Party Preference" voter, you will either have to request a Democratic, Libertarian or American Independent Presidential ballot, or register yourself as a Republican, Green Party or Peace and Freedom Party member if you wish to vote in one of their primaries. Otherwise, in California, if you are a permanent Vote-by-Mail voter, you will receive a ballot in the mail without any Presidential options. Tune in to today's show for more details on that and what you need to do about it....very soon! (At least if you wish to avoid voting on 100% unverifiable touchscreens here in Los Angeles County and elsewhere on Primary Election Day!)

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guests: Author, political scientist David Faris; Columnist, opinion journalist Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2019 5:21pm PT  

The final 2020 Democratic Presidential debate of 2019 was held Thursday night in Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, just one day after the U.S. House approved two Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump. On today's BradCast, we have lively, smart (and, yes, occasionally snarky) special coverage of both, with returning champion guests DAVID FARIS, Associate Professor of political science at Chicago's Roosevelt University, The Week contributor, and author of It's Time to Fight Dirty; and HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, Salon columnist and award-winning opinion and analysis journalist from Digby's Hullabaloo.

As per DNC requirements for participation at the Thursday night's debate, co-sponsored by PBS Newshour and Politico, the included candidates were former Vice President Joe Biden; South Bend, IN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg; MN Sen. Amy Klobuchar; VT Sen. Bernie Sanders; Billionaire businessman Tom Steyer; MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

With ballots for early primary states going out to voters any day now, we should also note that NOT featured on Thursday's debate stage, though very likely featured along with the above candidates on 2020 Democratic primary ballots very soon, are: CO Sen. Michael Bennet; Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; former HUD Secretary Julián Castro; former MD Rep. John Delaney; HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; former MA Gov. Deval Patrick; and author Marianne Williamson.

We cover a lot of ground on today's special coverage program, beginning with the latest in the post-impeachment showdown between House Democrats and Senate Republicans and how the ongoing fight over sending the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate before a trial is likely to play out; what to make of Gabbard's "present" vote on those Articles; how the PBS/Politico debate format worked out on Thursday night; who should have been included but wasn't; why Warren has recently lost some of her momentum despite her many proposals and popular plan to tax millionaires (while also landing the line of the night!); why Buttigieg has picked up so much steam in Iowa; why Biden remains the national front runner, according to polling, over all of these months and despite his flaws; how Sanders hit on some key points Thursday night that nobody else did; how our Climate Crisis finally played a prominent role in the Thursday night forum; why Yang and Steyer are there at all (and whether that's a good thing or bad); and whether Klobuchar can somehow emerge as the Democratic centrists' option to take on Donald Trump.

Of course, those are just a few of the topics covered, along with a host of clips from the debate and no shortage of both snarky and insightful commentary along the way!

Also, please note: Desi and I will be taking a bit of a break to recharge batteries and spend some long-overdue family time over the upcoming holidays. Nicole Sandler will be filling in for us, along with a mix of a few days of various encore BradCasts until we're back in 2020. My thanks to all of you who helped us get through this very difficult year in one way or another. From your notes of support and well wishes, to your news tips, to your generous support via BradBlog.com/Donate to help us keep doing what we try to do five days a week over your public airwaves without corporate or political support, helping us to remain 100% listener-supporter radio! Thank you for all of that, and we'll see you --- for better or worse --- in the new election year!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Speaker holds back Trump impeachment articles to force McConnell to allow witness testimony; Also: Goods news for NJ, GA voters; Update on VerifiedVoting.org controversy; Two important new e-voting exposés...
By Brad Friedman on 12/19/2019 5:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As messy as the process of passing two Articles of Impeachment against rogue President Donald J. Trump was, the post-impeachment phase got messier still on Thursday, as Democrats stood strong --- at least so far --- in their fight for a fair impeachment trial in the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. We've also got some important election integrity and voting rights news, along with our final Green News Report of the year. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Before we get to today's impeachment standoff, we finish out a few points from shortly after we left air on Wednesday night, including a review of the late vote on those historic Impeachment Articles in the House --- and some thoughts on Tulsi Gabbard's less than courageous vote of "present" --- as well as the surprising emergence of the backbone being displayed at the moment by House Democrats.

In a blistering response to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's repeated admissions in recent days that he is working hand-in-glove with the White House and has no intention of serving as an impartial juror in the Senate trial to decide whether the President should be removed from office, despite his Constitutional mandate to do so, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday: "Our Founders, when they wrote the Constitution, suspected that there could be a rogue President. I don't think they suspected that we could have a rogue President and a rogue Leader in the Senate at the same time."

We do our best today to bring you up to date on the ugly and quickly moving story of what has come today from McConnell's --- and, shamefully, fellow juror, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)'s --- attempt to make a mockery of the Senate trial by rigging it in favor of the White House in refusing to allow first-hand testimony from witnesses of Trump's alleged high crimes and misdemeanors. That, despite Graham's own insistence from 1998, when he served as a House Manager for Bill Clinton's impeachment, that "in every trial that there has ever been in the Senate regarding impeachment, witnesses were called. When you have a witness telling you about what they were doing and why, it's the difference between getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

Those archival video-taped remarks came courtesy of an ad released on Wednesday from Republicans for the Rule of Law to call out Graham. It is in response to McConnell and Graham's refusal to allow testimony from a number of top Administration officials who were first-hand witnesses, but who failed to answer lawful subpoenas for testimony and documents in the U.S. House. The witnesses sought by Democrats and by a huge majority of Americans of all parties (including 64% of Republicans and 72% of independents) include Trump's acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, and former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Then, we move to some quick election integrity and voting rights news as the first votes in the 2020 elections are now just weeks away. In New Jersey this week, the Democratic Governor signed a bill to restore voting rights to 73,000 people across the state who are currently on parole or probation.

In Georgia, after Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger was allowed to purge more than 300,000 voters earlier this week amid an ongoing lawsuit to prevent the removal of at least 120,000 of them, his office was forced to admit today that at least 22,000 had been wrongly removed due to what Raffensberger's office describes as an error in the state's screening process. The Admission came just hours before another hearing in federal court, leading plaintiff Fair Fight Action to demand that "every voter purged this week" should be "reinstated immediately."

We also have a quick update on the recent internecine battle at e-voting watchdog VerifiedVoting.org after the courageous resignations of now two well-respected members of their Boards of Directors and Advisors. (We interviewed the first of those to quit, Prof. Philip Stark of UC-Berkeley on a BradCast last week, after which the resignation of the second, Prof. Rich DeMillo of Georgia Tech --- who we have also interviewed a number of times --- was made public as well.)

The public resignations were in response to Verified Voting's disturbing years of support for 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems now proliferating the country in advance of the critical 2020 elections, and their frequently misleading information about how post-election audits could be used to verify results on such unverifiable systems. This week, the group finally responded to the embarrassing and costly pushback they have been receiving from Election Integrity advocates.

There were also two very important stories published this week on the very serious concerns about e-voting systems in advance of 2020. The first, "How New Voting Machines Could Hack Our Democracy," by attorney and Twitter activist Jenny Cohn at New York Review of Books, is a disturbing and encyclopedic exposé on the dangers and failings of BMDs, the Election Integrity groups such as Verified Voting who have failed to adequately warn against their use in American elections, and the private vendor/election official revolving doors and payoffs that have brought us to this perilous moment.

The second investigative article, out today from NBC News, reviews the shady ownership and shadowy manufacturing processes that runs through China and the Philippines at the nation's largest electronic voting company, Elections Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) of Omaha, Nebraska.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report (our last one of the year!), with more disturbing news out of Australia, more bad news for our oceans, troubling news about the disturbing high costs of fracking and, shockingly, some kind words about global financial services behemoth Goldman Sachs!...

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Special Coverage with Heather Digby Parton of the U.S. House floor debate over 'Abuse of Power' and 'Obstruction of Congress', as the 45th President of the United States becomes 3rd in history to be impeached...
By Brad Friedman on 12/18/2019 5:06pm PT  

The President of the United States has now been impeached for only the third time in our nation's history. After 11 hours of debate on the U.S. House floor on Wednesday, a furious Donald John Trump was impeached on Articles of 'Abuse of Power' and 'Obstruction of Congress'. He also makes history as the first President to be impeached in his first term.

On today's special BradCast coverage, we share remarks from the House floor debate, both in favor and against the Articles of Impeachment, from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Representatives James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Justin Amash (I-MI), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Kathy Castor (D-FL), and Clay Higgins (R-LA).

We are joined, once again, for analysis on this historic day by our good friend and award-winning journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. We discuss the arguments (or lack thereof) offered on the House floor on Wednesday from Democrats and Republicans. We debunk a number of the false arguments offered by Republicans in lieu of any actual defense of what the President has been accused of. And we look toward what happens next when (and if!) the Articles are conveyed to the U.S. Senate for a trial on the removal from office of Donald J. Trump...

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Climate crisis; Impeachment madness; 2020 debates; GOP voter purges...
By Brad Friedman on 12/17/2019 6:45pm PT  

The gods must be angry. But they have very good cause. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show is posted below]...

  • At least four were killed and dozens injured as some 27 tornadoes reportedly ripped across the Deep South causing "total chaos" on Monday and Tuesday. In December. Is that normal?;
  • DNC Chair and former Labor Secretary Tom Perez steps in to help resolve a labor union dispute at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles that had threatened to derail Thursday's 2020 Presidential Debate. Now, it won't. And the union workers got a great deal out of it;
  • Nine Democratic Presidential candidates, led by Sen. Cory Booker (who did not qualify for Thursday's debate), petition the DNC to relax qualification thresholds for upcoming Presidential debates. The Party says it won't;
  • Another former Trump campaign officials is heading to jail. Rick Gates, Trump's former Deputy Campaign Chair and a top Transition official, receives 45 days in jail, three years of probation and a $20,000 fine for fraud and lying to federal investigators --- to which he pleaded guilty last year. His sentence comes despite prosecutors seeking no jail time after Gates had cooperated with federal officials in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe, by helping to to secure guilty verdicts against Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort and longtime Trump associate Roger Stone;
  • Donald Trump unleashed a bizarre, blistering, six-page, single-spaced, Donald Trumpian rant, disguised as a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi [PDF] on Tuesday, decrying his looming impeachment as a "perversion of justice" by Democrats. The jokes seem to write themselves here, but for how pathetically sad, dangerous and threatening to our Constitutional order the behavior of this President of the United States now actually is;
  • That threat continues to spread to Congress, where the House Rules Committee on Tuesday set terms for Wednesday's House Floor debate on the two Articles of Impeachment against the President, as Rep. Jim McGovern, Chair of the Committee said he looks at Trump's attempt to use Ukraine to help him win the 2020 election as "a crime in progress", with Democrats "trying to prevent the President from rigging the next election";
  • While over in the Senate, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused a request from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to subpoena the testimony of four top Trump officials who were first-hand witnesses to Trump's Ukraine extortion plot. The officials, whose testimony is sought for the almost certain upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate --- in which Senators are supposed to serve as impartial jurors to determine whether Trump should be removed from office --- include Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor;
  • As McConnell continues to rig the Senate trial on behalf of Trump, Plan B for the removal of this President involves the ballot box. There too, Republicans are attempting to rig next year's election results. In Wisconsin, which Trump reportedly won by just 23,000 votes in 2016, a Republican-appointed Circuit Court Judge ordered the removal of more than 200,000 voters from the voting rolls before the 2020 election. The voters were previously set for removal in 2021 as the Wisconsin Elections Commission had planned, and as the League of Women Voters had argued in favor of. A rightwing group sued to have them removed before 2020 instead, and the GOP-appointed judge agreed. Dems vowed today to re-register them;
  • In Georgia, a federal judge allowed the purge of more than 300,000 voters identified by the Republican Sec. of State for moving or failing to vote in recent elections. But voting rights advocates argue that approximately 120,000 of them should not be on the list at all. The judge allowed the mass removal to move forward on assurances from the state those voters can be quickly restored after further hearings on the matter;
  • But, it's not just rightwing controlled states where voter registration concerns are rearing their ugly (if expected) head before 2020. Due to what is being described as a "computer glitch" related to the state's new, automatic registration system, as many as 100,000 voters in California may have had their party preference incorrectly changed on their registration files in advance of next year's upcoming March 3rd Presidential primary. The state's rules for who can vote in which party primary are particularly confusing. So, its a very good idea for residents who believe they are registered to check their registration at VoterStatus.SOS.CA.GOV to make sure they are still registered, and for the party they think they are. Those who are registered as permanent "No Party Preference" vote-by-mail voters but who wish to vote for a Presidential candidate in a party primary on March 3rd, will need to make that request with their County Registrar very soon or will receive a vote-by-mail ballot with no Presidential candidate options!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the U.N. climate talks in Madrid end without an agreement, but with much disappointment and rancor, thanks in no small part to sabotage by the U.S., and a new report finds the Greenland ice melt is on track for scientists worst case-scenario predictions of catastrophic sea level rise by the end of the century.

The gods have very good reason indeed to be angry again today...

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Guest: NC Sen. Erica D. Smith; Also: Dems call for former Repub Amash to be named a House Manager, and other late impeachment updates...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2019 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: I've seen a lot of scams pulled off by the nation's largest (and, arguably, most failed) private voting system vendor over my more than decade and a half of covering Election Integrity in the U.S. But what ES&S is now trying to pull off in North Carolina may take the cake. It has also outraged a State Senator who is running for U.S. Senate in 2020 who joins us on today's show to discuss it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, however, a quick Impeachment update. Freshman Democrats --- both progressives and Blue Dogs --- have begun a campaign to have former Tea Party Republican-turned-independent Rep. Justin Amash serve as one of the House impeachment managers in the (most likely) upcoming impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate of Donald J. Trump. It's an excellent idea....which is why we originally suggested same as far back as May of this year.

Meanwhile, very late on Sunday night --- actually, very early Monday morning --- the House Judiciary Committee submitted its 169-page impeachment report [PDF] to the House Rules Committee, charging that Trump committed "multiple federal crimes" including bribery and wire fraud. The Rules Committee will pass that report on to the House Floor where a vote on two Articles of Impeachment on Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress is set to occur as soon as Wednesday. If all goes as generally planned, the Articles will be conveyed to the U.S. Senate for a trial to remove the President after the first of the year.

Over the weekend, Democrats, including House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, pushed back against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's recent admission on Fox "News" that he is coordinating "everything I do...with White House counsel" regarding impeachment. Nadler described McConnell's statements --- since Senators serve as supposedly impartial jurors in Senate impeachment trials --- as a "subversion of Constitutional order", noting that the Constitution requires Senators take an oath to do impartial justice before serving as jurors in such trials.

For his part, Schumer over the weekend sent a letter to McConnell requesting subpoenas for four Trump officials, including Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and former National Security Advisor John Bolton, to serve as fact witnesses during the trial. If Republicans will not allow witnesses in the trial, some have called for Dems to hold off the trial until the courts determine whether subpoenaed witnesses must testify to Congress, or until after next year's election, should Trump be reelected.

But speaking of the possibility of Trump's reelection, we have been covering in detail the insane deployment of 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in jurisdictions around the country in advance of 2020. Most notably, battleground states Georgia and Pennsylvania tried them out for the first time in last month's off-year election and the systems failed miserably, even during sparsely attended municipal elections, with some voters being forced to wait for an hour to cast their ballot. In Northampton County, PA machines the new ES&S ExpressVoteXL systems recorded zero votes for a candidate who, as it turned out, actually received tens of thousands. Last week ES&S issued an apology for the disaster, taking at least some responsibility for having misprogrammed and/or misconfigured the systems that were used for the first time last month in Northampton and Philadelphia.

At the same time last week, it was revealed in an excellent investigative exposé by Jordan Wilkie at Carolina Public Press, that ES&S, who is submitted one version of their ExpressVote BMD systems for state testing and certification in North Carolina in early 2017, only recently notified the state that they don't have enough of those machines to supply the needs of the state next year. Coming after a two year testing process which ended with certification in August, ES&S is now seeking "Administrative Approval" to skip the state certification and testing process on an updated version of the system. That, even as they had told many other states long ago, according to Wilkie, that the system being tested in NC would not be available for 2020.

Incredibly enough, last Friday, the NC State Board of Elections voted to allow the "Administrative Approval" sought by the company of the new system which many are describing as a "bait and switch" by ES&S. More incredibly, it was passed by the SBE on a 3 to 2 vote, with the Democratic-appointed Board Chair joining with the Board's two Republican members to greenlight the new, untested systems, now set for use in Mecklenburg County next year. Mecklenburg is the closely divided swing-state's largest and most Democratic-leaning county.

We're joined today by STATE SEN. ERICA D. SMITH who has been outspoken and outraged by ES&S's latest scam, along with the SBE's willingness to go along with it. She tells me that the "Administrative Approval" is in violation of state law that she helped pass, and that she intends to take action to try and reverse last week's vote by the Board.

"Unfortunately, they [the Board of Elections] once again supported a machine that has not been tried and tested," she says today. "We passed a law that de-certified all of the older voting machines and required re-certification of the new models. So, in my opinion, they have broken the law or circumvented the law, and have further created disintegration of the public trust in our free and fair and secure elections in North Carolina." Smith calls for hand-marked paper ballot systems to be used instead, and describes falling for ES&S' bait-and-switch scheme and subsequent use of BMDs at this point as "unfathomable".

Smith, a three-term Senator and an engineer by training, also explains that verifiable and more secure hand-marked paper ballot systems are far more inexpensive than the system ES&S is pushing and that both the state Board and Mecklenburg County appear to be falling for. "We should not be substituting convenience for election security," she warns. ES&S "waited until the absolute last opportunity to tell us in North Carolina that they were not going to be able to meet the demand. But they knew that at the time when they accepted the bid." Smith rails. "Once again, it shows that ES&S is indeed a bad actor in this. They have compromised the integrity of this process and we should not let them get away with it."

Smith, a progressive Democrat, is also running for the U.S. Senate nomination in NC next year, vowing to forego all corporate PAC donations and hoping to take on Republican U.S. Senator Thom Tillis in November. She currently leads her closest competitor, Cal Cunningham, for the nomination by 5 points, according to polling last month, and bested Tillis in a head-to-head match-up by 7 points, according to a poll taken earlier this year. And yet, both state and national Democrats have endorsed her opponent, Cunningham. We discuss ALL of these various outrages during a very lively interview with Smith on today's BradCast!...

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Guest: Prof. Philip B. Stark, inventor of post-election Risk-Limiting Audits on his resignation from e-vote 'watchdog' VerifiedVoting.org; Also: A tale of two KY Governors and one corrupt U.S. Senator...
By Brad Friedman on 12/13/2019 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we continue down the long and often-too-winding road toward democracy and justice. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

After some 14 hours of debate on Thursday, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee made history on Friday morning by voting along party lines to approve two Articles of Impeachment --- for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress --- against Donald John Trump. It is only the fourth time in America's 243-year history for such a "solemn and sad" event. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn't even wait for this morning's vote before declaring out-loud on Fox "News" Thursday night that he intends to rig the U.S. Senate's impeachment trial. The Kentucky Senator (who is up for re-election next year) and leader of the Senators who will serve as jurors in the impeachment trial to consider removal of the President early next year --- presuming the full House votes to adopt the Articles next week --- boasted that he has been colluding with the accused in order to assure the Senate trial will be anything but fair.

Speaking of Kentucky and the importance of uncorrupted democracy, on his way out the door, now thankfully-former Republican Tea Party Governor Matt Bevin, who narrowly lost reelection last month in the otherwise "red" state to Democrat Andy Beshear, pardoned and/or gave commutations to 428 convicted criminals. Among those granted clemency are a convicted child rapist, a man who hired a hit man to kill his business partner, and a third who killed his parents. Perhaps most appalling, however, was the pardon for a home-invasion murderer in the second year of his 19-year sentence, after the man's family threw a fund-raiser for Bevin's campaign just last year. (His two accomplices, whose families did not donate to the Governor, remain in jail.)

By way of contrast, the new Democratic Governor, on his second day in office this week, restored voting rights and the right to run for public office to some 140,000 non-violent former felons, leaving Iowa as the only state in the union which still bans all former felons from voting for life. Yes, voting and elections still matter.

But the right to vote and have that vote counted accurately, in a way that we can know it has been counted accurately, continues to be an ongoing fight for Election Integrity advocates across the country as we are weeks away from the start of voting in the 2020 Presidential race. On Friday, several such groups filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania to block the use of brand new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen Computer Ballot Marking devices made by ES&S, and set for use in the key battleground state next year, after the systems failed to correctly record tens of thousands of votes during last month's municipal elections. The suit seeks to block the new touchscreen systems from use and to require hand-marked paper ballots instead in at least 17 percent of the state, including Philadelphia. Failure in that much of the state next year would be more than enough to throw the results of the 2020 Presidential election one way or another in the critical swing-state.

After those new systems failed so catastrophically during their first use last month (as new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems did in Georgia on the same day), long-time, previously well-respected e-voting watchdog group VerifiedVoting.org seemed to help both elections officials and private vendors off the hook by endorsing so-called Risk-Limiting Audits of some of the computer-marked paper ballot summaries produced by the systems in both states.

That appears to have been the last straw for Verified Voting's Board of Directors member Prof. PHILIP B. STARK of UC-Berkeley. Stark, a math and statistics professor, as well as a Board of Advisors member on the US. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is the inventor of the post-election Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol. He has been trying, in recent months, to make clear to elections officials and vendors that RLA's of computer-marked (versus hand-marked) paper ballots are "meaningless" [PDF], because its impossible to verify that they reflect voter intent. With Verified Voting jumping in to publicly praise GA and PA's use of such tests to proclaim that reported results accurately reflected voter intent, Stark submitted a blistering resignation letter [PDF] to the group.

The missive, which he shared with me on the night he recently sent it, decries VV's "whitewashing [of] inherently untrustworthy elections by overclaiming what applying RLA procedures to an untrustworthy paper trail can accomplish." He accused the non-profit, non-partisan organization of "providing cover for inherently untrustworthy voting systems --- and the officials who bought them, the companies that make them, and any officials who might contemplate buying them in the future --- by conducting 'risk-limiting audits' of untrustworthy paper records, creating the false and misleading impression that relying on untrustworthy paper for a RLA can confirm election outcomes." His resignation letter charged that the result of VV's action was "security theater, not election integrity."

Stark joins us on today's program to discuss the response to his resignation from leadership at Verified Voting and the other well-respected, world-class cybersecurity and voting systems experts who serve on its Board (many of whom have appeared as guests on The BradCast and sources for BradBlog.com over the years). "Verified Voting retracted a tweet that had claimed that Risk-Limiting Audits, or audits to be conducted in Pennsylvania, would confirm outcomes when they suffered from the same flaw that the audits in Georgia did," he says. "I think in general, the board and I are sorry to part ways. I would gladly go back, if they revised their public position with regard to what audits of an untrustworthy paper trail can possibly accomplish."

[Update: No sooner did we get off air tonight, than the resignation of yet another, very well-respected VV Board Member, Prof. Rich DeMillo of Georgia Tech and former Chief Technology Officer at Hewlett-Packard, became public as well. DeMillo's most recent appearance on The BradCast is here. His resignation letter and a story about it is now posted here.]

Stark also explains --- as I've been very skeptical of the efficacy of post-election audits for many years, for reasons described on the program --- how RLAs work and/or don't. He tells me what type of voting systems he believes to be best for the secure and overseeable casting and counting of votes in American elections (hint: no computers necessary), and much more, including a conversation about just some of the many dangers of computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMD) proliferating the country for 2020, and the ability for voters to cause chaos with them by reporting --- either accurately or not --- that the systems have misprinted their votes on Election Day.

"They're completely vulnerable to crying wolf. Even if an election official trusts public complaints that their votes were altered or contests were missing, then their only recourse is to run a new election, and that opens the possibility for people colluding to cry wolf and have an election invalidated. In the other direction, the incentives are stacked in favor of election officials saying, 'well, it was probably just voter error, we're going to let it stand.'" That, argues Stark, is exactly what we saw last month in Northampton, PA, when elections officials and ES&S claimed that "just by re-tabulating the paper that was printed by technology that malfunctioned big time, they can figure out who really won. It's farce."

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Impeachment debate continues in House Judiciary, Newspapers are in support; First 2020 ballots go out in two weeks; St. Louis County, MO's easy move from touchscreen to hand-marked paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 12/12/2019 6:05pm PT  

Desi and I are back for today's BradCast --- (thanks for saving us over the past three day, Nicole Sandler!) --- as the House Judiciary Committee's debate over two Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump continues and with the first ballots for the 2020 elections set to be mailed out in just over two weeks. That, even as many jurisdictions around the nation are still choosing between gambling on faulty new electronic voting systems or moving to safe, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • Dems continue to make Trump's reelection easier for him with fresh compromises in Congress, including approval of his new Space Force military branch and expanded paid parental leave for millions of federal workers (as also supported by Trump);
  • The (so far) two-day markup of the Democrats' two Articles of Impeachment against Trump continued into Thursday after opening statements on Wednesday night. We share some notable and pointed clips from Democratic Reps. Steve Cohen (TN), on the President's attempts to undermine American democracy itself; Pramila Jayapal (WA), who accurately describes Trump as "the smoking gun"; and Veronica Escobar (TX) who offers a great analogy to explain how Trump's attempt to force Ukraine to help him in the 2020 election would have landed any other public official in jail;
  • In an attempt at fairness, we searched for hours (and hours) to find remarks from the Republican minority that were not comprised of blatantly false claims, wholly misleading information and/or out and out lies. We failed. We did find Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), however, apparently characterizing 2016 Green Party Presidential candidate Jill Stein as a "Democrat" and falsely claiming that she filed "a frivolous lawsuit...claiming voting machines were rigged in three states" in 2016. She did no such thing. Nor did anybody else to our knowledge. But that's the sort of knowingly fake news Republicans are now using to try and defend their President from impeachment. They are also claiming that "Abuse of Power" and "Obstruction of Congress" are not actually high crimes and misdemeanors (which would likely come as a delightful surprise to Richard Nixon);
  • Three years into his Presidency, major newspapers are now finally jumping in to support Trump's impeachment --- now that he is already being impeached. That, after many of those same courageous outlets called for Bill Clinton to resign from office within just days of a sex scandal that resulted in his own impeachment. But we do offer some well-deserved kudos to the American Conservative magazine, for their non-hypocritical support of Trump's impeachment, find the case to be "Overwhelming";
  • As to what We, The People, can do about all of this, the first ballots of the 2020 Presidential Primaries will be sent out as early as December 28, just two weeks from now, for military and overseas voters participating in New Hampshire's February 11 primary. And voters from more than a dozen states which are holding Super Tuesday primaries on March 3rd --- including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia --- will begin receiving Vote-by-Mail ballots in just over a month, as of January 18. That's before the Iowa Caucuses on Feb. 3 or the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 11;
  • Nonetheless, there are still many jurisdictions around the country fighting to determine exactly which voting systems they will be using at the polls in the 2020 elections. Recent failures of brand-new touchscreen voting systems in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Texas should spook officials and voters alike, even as officials in the battleground state of North Carolina are facing big problems with their plans to use similarly unverifiable systems.
  • Meanwhile, in Missouri, the most populous jurisdiction in the state, St. Louis County, was able to move seamlessly from unverifiable touchscreen systems to a brand new, completely verifiable, "Print-on-Demand" hand-marked paper ballot system last month with no complications, and at a saving of some $3 million for tax payers!;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for both good news and bad in our latest Green News Report, as Exxon is exonerated in a big climate fraud case, while 16-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg is named TIME Magazine's 2019 "Person of the Year"!...

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Guest: American Prospect's David Dayen on mag's landmark Green New Deal edition; Also: House GOPers jumping ship (several heading to jail)...
By Brad Friedman on 12/6/2019 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While many continue to insist the American economy is on a very strong footing, a few others are quietly warning that our climate emergency could break not only the U.S. bank, but the entire world economy --- again --- with a climate-fueled collapse that could make the 2008 Great Recession look like a picnic in comparison. At the same time, there's a whole bunch of Republican deniers in Congress who are getting out while they still can. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, despite claims that impeachment will be a "disaster" for Democrats, it appears to be GOPers who are jumping ship in advance of 2020. This week, three more House Republicans have announced they will not be running next year, with one, just before air, announcing his resignation at year's end after pleading guilty to a federal fraud charge.

As of this week, a total of 19 Republicans elected in 2018 will not be running again in 2020, with potentially more such announcements coming before the year is over, and one sitting GOP Congressman now potentially facing felony charges for voter fraud --- in Kris Kobach's Kansas!

Then, we're joined today by financial journalist, author and now The American Prospect's Executive Editor DAVID DAYEN, to discuss the politics, policy and possibilities of Green New Deal legislation. The magazine has just published a landmark special edition in which they devote all of their coverage (along with their website) to the issue from virtually every angle, as covered by more than 22 reporters, experts and climate leaders. Dayen, who took over the reins at the feisty, progressive non-profit just six months ago, explains why he was moved to devote their latest entire issue to this one matter. He notes the unprecedented breadth of their coverage has actually made him more hopeful, not less, about our ability to achieve the radical change called for by the GND, and the greener --- and safer, and more livable --- future it could bring.

While "the Green New Deal, as a slogan, has gotten us further than practically any climate initiative has in the previous several years," he tells me, "we thought there was a gap in translating it into policy, and showing that it's not only urgent, but it's practical, and it's feasible, and it not only can be done, it must be done." He adds: "We're talking about our planet. We don't have a choice but to make this work....We have the technology on hand today to move to a carbon-free economy. That carbon-free economy will not sink global GDP growth but actually enhance it. And it can equalize our economy. It can create jobs, especially those in places that were hardest hit by the toxicity of the environment to this point."

All of that unlikely optimism aside, Dayen's own recent coverage at The Prospect on the failure of U.S. financial regulators to seriously examine the extraordinary disruption to virtually all sectors of the economy of either a looming climate catastrophe or the costs of mitigating it, should be a wake up call for many. His report cites a new issue brief published by the center-left Center for American Progress warning that the U.S., led by both the fossil fuel industry and a financial sector heavily invested in it, is currently either ignoring the possibility of a potential climate-fueled financial meltdown or actively working to cover up the realities of what could be a damned-if-we-do, damned-if-we-don't reality of either living with or transforming from our current fossil fuel-based economy. As Dayen --- the author of an award-winning 2016 book about the 2008 global financial meltdown --- warns, "our financial system seems to be whistling past a climate graveyard."

We may, in fact, be heading toward "widespread suffering and potential catastrophe. And these risks could manifest at any time." He explains what regulators in the U.S. must do --- and hopefully will do, if Democrats regain a governing majority next year --- to appropriately respond to the many fiscal red flags that so many now warn are merited, with the serious, sober consideration they deserve.

"I hope that it won't take a financial catastrophe to get us to the point where we need to do this," he says. But the cautionary note serves to underscore the importance of the topics tackled by The American Prospect's new and important special edition...

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A day full of both historic and chilling news...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2019 6:28pm PT  

Today's BradCast offers some historic news and some chilling news. And some that may be both. [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she is directing House Democrats to move forward to draw up Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump. It is only the fourth time in our nation's history for such an action. We share Pelosi's somber announcement and the history lesson that it includes, as well as the reaction from the White House, from Trump himself, and the steps that lie ahead in the House Judiciary Committee as we move toward a trial in the U.S. Senate for removal of the President.

The historic action, which reportedly may include as many as four different Articles of Impeachment --- Abuse of Power, Bribery, Obstruction of Congress (in the Ukraine affair) and Obstruction of Justice (in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe) --- has become necessary, according to Pelosi, to save the republic in light of Trump's recently revealed attempts to undermine the 2020 election with help, once again, from a foreign nation.

Then, the Dept. of Justice on Thursday announced two indictments of Russian hackers --- whose whereabouts are currently unknown --- as part of what officials describe as one of the largest cybercrime sprees in U.S. history. The sweeping criminal conspiracy was allegedly led by the two men, who officials have tied to Russian security services. It involves malware designed to defeat anti-virus software distributed by a group named Evil Corp (seriously) and used to siphon more than $100 millions dollars from the bank accounts of companies and even school districts in at least 11 states. The malware phishing schemes reportedly even targeted a small organization of nuns in Chicago.

While that attack has been broad and ongoing over many months, a seemingly separate scheme, also tied to Russians criminals, crippled technology services to more than 100 nursing homes across the U.S. with a ransomware attack on the company that provides the tech services to those facilities. Following a successful emailed phishing attack on November 18, that someone within the company appears to have clicked on, the network of the Milwaukee-based firm was infected, leading the cybercriminals to demand $14 million for the restoration of access to at least 100 hijacked servers. Reporting over the Thanksgiving holiday suggests the company will rebuild their servers rather than pay the ransom. But, in the meantime, some of the nursing homes serviced by the company were unable to access patient records, use the internet, pay employees or order medications. AP reports that ransomware attacks of this kind have been on the rise in 2019, particularly those that target critical public services, with some 70 such attacks in the first half of the year targeting more than 50 cities.

Another victim --- and here's where it begins to get even more chilling --- was the state of Louisiana. They appear to have been attacked on the same day as the Milwaukee tech services company. What makes this attack far more unnerving is that it took place just two days after Louisiana's recent gubernatorial run-off election on November 16.

While the state was quick to stop the spread of the virus, they had to shut down vital state services at dozens of agencies, including the Office of the Governor, the Louisiana State Legislature, the Office of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Health and others, such as the Louisiana Secretary of State's office on the heels of the major runoff elections just two days earlier. Hundreds of computers were affected in the state overall, including those offering elections results to the public at the Secretary of State's website. Had the attack come just days earlier, it might have been devastating for the state's elections, which shamefully require all voters at the polls to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting systems. Had those been knocked out --- or the electronic pollbook systems required to use them --- chaos might have ensued in the closely watched statewide election.

Nonetheless, dozens of other states and counties around the country (many of them battlegrounds and/or highly-populated) are currently moving --- right now! -- to similar computer touchscreen voting systems that rely on working computer networks in advance of the critical 2020 elections. Those systems will be wildly vulnerable next year, where unhackable hand-marked paper ballot systems would not be. Are we insane?

Finally Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with even more chilling news. Though, in this case, it's about the warming of the globe and the GOP Senate confirming yet another lobbyist to a top Trump cabinet seat. Happily, there is a bit of good news in today's GNR as well, regarding California's ban on new fracking, and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's safe arrival back in Europe for this year's U.N. climate conference in Spain...

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Special coverage of the first official House Judiciary hearing on Trump's impeachable offenses, with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 12/4/2019 5:27pm PT  

As we try to tell you damned near everyday here on The BradCast, everything is ultimately about elections. All of it. Today's impeachment hearings, I'm happy to say, drove that point home yet again, particularly regarding concerns from our nation's founders about the corrupting nature of foreign influence on U.S. elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The House Judiciary Committee held its first official impeachment hearing on Wednesday, regarding the Ukraine scandal and, yes, obstruction of justice in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel's probe. Four academics testified on both the history and meaning intended by the founders of the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors" in the U.S. Constitution's impeachment clause, and on what at least three of the four scholars smartly described as clearly impeachable offenses committed by President Donald J. Trump.

"President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency," said Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School. We share some extended excerpts from his opening statement as well as his fellow esteemed Constitutional law professors Pamela Karlan of Stanford Law School and Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina School of Law. All three testified that the record is now clear that Trump committed impeachable offenses in his strong-arm bribery campaign to force Ukraine to announce an investigation against his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden in exchange for nearly $400 million in military assistance allocated by Congress but frozen by the White House in what Trump's own EU Ambassador described in a previous hearing as a "quid pro quo" scheme.

Today's hearing was surprising enlightening with the unusually lively and passionate academics answering sharp questions from both Democratic and Republican counsel and members of the Committee, as chaired by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Not all of those who testified, however, agreed that Trump should be impeached --- at least not yet. George Washington University School of Law professor Jonathan Turley --- the Republicans' witness, who testified in support of impeachment against Bill Clinton in 1998 because "he ha[d] deprived himself of the perceived legitimacy to govern" --- argued the record was still too "wafer thin" to move forward with Articles of Impeachment against Trump.

We discuss that point and many others, including the Democrats' reasons --- some good, some not --- for moving quickly on impeachment before voting begins in the 2020 primaries less than two months from today, with our ace Impeachment Hearing Correspondent HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo. Democrats appeared to be homing in on at least three, and maybe four, Articles of Impeachment, as both Digby and I read today's hearing, including Abuse of Power, Bribery, Obstruction of Congress (in the Ukraine affair), and Obstruction of Justice (in the Mueller investigation). But there was far more from today's eight hours of hearings and our coverage of it than I can possibly summarize here, so I'll just strongly suggest you tune in.

Also covered on today's program (as both stories also concern the importance of elections to the very heart of our republic): Georgia's illegitimate Republican Governor Brian Kemp names a new, wholly inexperienced "Ivanka Trump"-like U.S. Senator for the Peach State, and NATO world leaders are caught on video tape laughing (and laughing) at, not with, the President of the United States. Happy travels back from the NATO Summit, Mr. Trump!...

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Guest: Constitutional law, impeachment expert John Bonifaz; Also: Kamala is out; Another no good, very bad day in court for Team Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 12/3/2019 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was another very bad day in the federal courts for Donald Trump, though another very good one for the Rule of Law (for those who still care about such things), even as a new phase in the President's ongoing impeachment inquiry begins in the U.S. House. [Audio link to full show is posted at the end of this article.]

First up, some quick news of the day. California Senator and one time "top tier" 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate is dropping out of the race exactly two months before voting begins in Iowa in next year's nominating contest and just two weeks before the next Presidential debate set for her home state on December 19. We discuss the ramifications for the race and for the woman who might have been the first black female President (but who could very well still become the first such Vice President).

There was more bad news today for Trump and his family and his businesses in federal court on Tuesday, as a three-judge panel on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York agreed with the lower court ruling that both Deutsche Bank and Capital One must turn over Trump-related financial documents to two House committees which had subpoenaed them. Trump and his family sued the banks to block the disclosure of what could be a treasure trove of damning documentation detailing years of Trump's dubious financial history and the sources of his funding after several bankruptcies and denials for loans from banks other than the German-based Deutsche. Despite his many business failures, that bank, for some reason, reportedly loaned Trump and his businesses well over $2 billion. Now that he's lost in court again, he has been given seven days to decide if he wishes to appeal to the Republicans' stolen majority on the Supreme Court before the banks will be required to turn over the records to Congress.

Tuesday's serious legal blow follows another one for Trump on Monday, when U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson refused to place a Stay on her ruling from last week ordering Don McGahn to appear before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee regarding the former White House Counsel's testimony on Trump's many instances of obstruction of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. The judge ruled the Trump Dept. of Justice's claim that the Presidency would suffer "irreparable harm," if McGahn was allowed to testify was baseless. She did, however, determine that the House Judiciary Committee's ongoing investigation would be "unquestionably harm[ed]" without it, "and by extension" the lack of testimony by the former White House legal chief "would also injure the public’s interest in thorough and well-informed impeachment proceedings."

Speaking of which, the impeachment action moves from the House Intelligence Committee to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, with Judiciary's first public hearing on the Ukraine matter. They will work from a searing 300-page report released by the Intelligence panel on Tuesday, documenting serious abuses of power and obstruction of Congress by Trump that have been revealed during the past several weeks of public and private testimony regarding the President's campaign to withhold military assistance from Ukraine until they agreed to help him in the 2020 Presidential election. The Judiciary Committee's central aim, after the House Intelligence panel found Trump "placed his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States," will now be to determine if Articles of Impeachment are merited against the President.

Our guest today, who has written several books on impeachment and testified to Congress about "high crimes and misdemeanor" is Constitutional law expert JOHN BONIFAZ, Co-Founder and President of Free Speech for People. Bonifaz testified to House Judiciary Democrats during the George W. Bush era, explaining how the founders definition of "high crimes" was easily met by Dubya via his unlawful war in Iraq. He also favored impeachment of Bill Clinton back in the 90s, but tells us today that "nothing rises to the level of the kind of abuses of power we've seen under this President".

Bonifaz offers a preview of what four Constitutional law experts are likely to offer during their testimony at Wednesday's first hearing before the House Judiciary panel and explains how the Constitution's term "high crimes and misdemeanors" was meant to refer to abuses of office that were not necessarily defined as statutory crimes (since there were very few such crimes on the books when the Constitution was first adopted!) "This is not about demonstrating in a court of law that the President has committed x or y violations of the federal statutory code, a federal crime or state crime," he tells me. "This is about abuse of office, abuse of power, abuse of the public trust."

Bonifaz, whose latest book on impeachment with Ron Fein and Ben Clements is called The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump, argues that there is a long list [PDF] of abuses that merit the removal of this President. "We've laid out a number of Impeachment Articles that should be presented in Congress that go beyond the Ukraine scandal. They include racist abuses of power, the abuses of power at the southern border separating children and their families, violating their Constitutional rights. The abuse of the pardon power, in pardoning of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The list goes on," he says. "And this president need to be held accountable for the full range of his high crimes."

He also explains why he is critical of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats for not moving more quickly when they took control of the House in January, noting that had they initiated the various court battles over testimony and documents at that point, "we would be in a much different position today."

"We are where we are in part because of the unwillingness of the Democratic leadership in the House to do its duty the moment it assumed control of the House of Representatives. They ran on a platform in 2018 to be a check on this Presidency, and it took another nine months into their holding of the House control to start that process of being a check on this Presidency. And that's why we're in this predicament."

I also ask Bonifaz for his thoughts on the White House's legal claims of "absolutely immunity" (it "has no basis in the law," he tells me); whether Chief Justice John Roberts will find a way to block high profile witnesses, like Mulvaney and Bolton, when they are called by Democrats during an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate (Roberts may "apply the argument that 'these matters are still pending in the federal courts,' so he's not going to override that"); whether he concurs with Robert Reich's argument today that impeaching Trump (whether he's removed or not) makes him legally and Constitutionally "unpardonable"; and how it is up to we, the people, to "stay alert, awake and engaged in fighting for our democracy and our Constitution because we cannot rely on those in power to save us and to save our democracy. We have to fight to protect it, and fight to protect our republic."

Finally, beyond the fight to protect our republic, there is the fight to save our civilization itself. On that matter, we are joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report, as several disturbing new studies on "catastrophic" tipping points for the climate are published as the nations of the world convene in Madrid this week for the latest U.N. Climate Summit...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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