The walls are closing in very quickly now --- even throughout our hour today --- on the man who President-elect Joe Biden correctly, if generously, described today as "not fit to serve" and "one of the most incompetent Presidents in the history of the United States of America." As we go to air, Donald Trump is still in office. We can't tell you for certain if that will still be the case by the time you hear today's BradCast. [Audio link is posted at bottom of article.]
On Thursday night, U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick succumbed to injuries sustained during the attempted coup at the Capitol on Wednesday, as incited by Trump. He was the fifth person to have died amid the mayhem wrought by our outgoing criminal President. Sicknick's death, which Trump didn't bother to mention today, may add yet another crime --- conspiracy to incite murder or manslaughter --- to Trump's quickly growing rap-sheet.
On Friday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued an ultimatum. Either Trump resigns now or new Articles of Impeachment will be filed on Monday. That, as the Administration rats continue to flee his sinking ship, with more resignations and the welcome news that sore loser Trump will not attend Biden's inauguration and plans to leave D.C. as of the day before. "Good riddance," we say, in echoing the two word statement issued by the American Federation of Teachers last night upon the news that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was also quitting (though only after four convicted murderers and war criminals who worked for her brother received Presidential Pardons.)
More on Trump's growing legal perils and calls for accountability with my guest today, but first a few words on the news that Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.3 billion lawsuit against Team Trump attorney and his fellow perpetual liar and con-artist Sidney Powell. The private voting systems vendor charges Powell led a campaign to spread "wild" and "demonstrably false" claims about the company, including lies about their voting systems being developed with communist money in Venezuela by the late Hugo Chavez and, with the help of George Soros and China and Cuba, being used to steal the election for Biden.
(Her absurd Venezuela/Chavez claims are bastardized and re-imagined versions of my detailed, accurate, exclusive investigative reporting at The BRAD BLOG from approximately 2008 to 2010. And, while I've been wildly critical for many years of Dominion's unverifiable voting systems, as deployed by Georgia's Republican Sec. of State, there is nothing to support Powell's fantastical claims, including her evidence-free assertions that the state's SoS and Governor received kickbacks from the company to deploy their machines in the Peach State, for the first time, in 2020.)
Dominion, which previously warned they were likely to sue for slander and defamation if Powell did not retract her false claims (she refused and "doubled down" instead, according to the 124-page complaint [PDF]), also has sent similar warnings to other Team Trump liars such as Rudy Giuliani, Fox "News", Newsmax and One America News. They suggest they may even sue Trump himself. We'll hope they do, even if I'm called to testify by the private election vendor which should have no place in our public election system.
But, for now, according to our guest today, Constitutional expert and former federal prosecutor BEN CLEMENTS, Board Chair and Senior Legal Advisor of the non-partisan government accountability group, Free Speech for People (FSFP), it's accountability for the "seditious" President of the United States that is of the greatest immediate concern.
Clements, along with FSFP's John Bonifaz and Ron Fein, filed an op-ed in the Boston Globe on Tuesday --- the day before the Trump-instigated insurrection at the Capitol on Wednesday --- calling for Trump to be immediately impeached for a second time.
"At the time we wrote the op-ed, we were only dealing with the first major set of felonies that the President committed this week, in the effort to falsify the Georgia election results in his favor," he tells me today, referring to last Saturday's phone call by the President to GA's Sec. of State, cajoling and threatening him to "find" enough votes to steal the election for him there. (Yes! That was just this past week as well!) "At this point, we obviously have a second set of felonies in connection with his incitement of a seditious mob on Congress, which creates an even greater urgency."
But the reason Clements is calling for a second impeachment this late in Trump's term is because, as he explains: "There is really, for the most part, only one sure way to ensure that Donald Trump is not permitted to again run for office in this country...And that way is through the impeachment power. If the Senate convicts, an official can be removed, but they can also be disqualified from ever holding federal office again. Aside from removal, which is now needed more urgently than ever, there is the need to disqualify him, to prevent him from running in 2024, or from running for anything else at any time in the federal government."
With just 12 days left before Biden's Inauguration, is there even enough time for such a proceeding? As Clements, who authored a book with Bonifaz and Fein called The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump, details that impeachment and a Senate trial can happen even after an official is out of office. Indeed, as he (and his op-ed) recounts, there is even historical precedent for it.
We also discuss whether the Constitution allows for a Presidential self-pardon, whether Trump will try to execute one, whether lawful or not, and as FSFP called for yesterday, the need for Joe Biden's Attorney General-designate, Judge Merrick Garland, to immediately empanel an independent task force, once confirmed, to coordinate and investigate "any potential federal criminal or civil violations that may have been committed by President Trump, members of his administration, or his campaign, business, or other associates." Clements argues that, without public pressure, Democratic Administrations have had a tendency in the past, when taking office "after a corrupt and sometimes lawless Republican administration" to make a "a quick call to 'turn the page.'"
"We are hearing those calls broadly already," he says. But "if we really want to move forward, if we really want to restore the integrity of the Department of Justice, there must be accountability for the crimes of this Administration and particularly of Donald Trump. And there must be accountability for the destruction that he created to our democracy and to the Department of Justice. The reason we're calling for this is there is a risk that there will be this temptation to say 'he's out of office and let's move on.' And I think that would be a GRAVE mistake that will invite more lawless activity, that will invite more of the kind of activity that we saw on Wednesday with the attack on the Capitol."
As we chatted, news came in that Alaska's Republican Senator, Lisa Murkowski, is now calling for Trump to resign, declaring "I want him out" and threatening to leave her party if they continue to align with him. And Twitter finally did the right thing (years belatedly) by permanently banning Trump, citing the risk of further incitement of violence.
It's going to be a very dark weekend for Trump. But, for us, we close a dark week today with a long overdue, brand new and hilarious parody tune for the seditious moment, from the great Randy Rainbow! Enjoy!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)