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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, July 17, 2019
'Mass Confusion and Chaos': New Trump Rule Undermines Healthcare for Millions: 'BradCast 7/16/19
Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein: Also: House votes to condemn Trump 'racism'; MORE...
'Green News Report' 7/16/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
NOLA dodges a bullet, but Hurricane Barry's impacts are not over; US sees wettest 12-month period on record -- again; PLUS: NYC blackout exposes infrastructure vulnerabilities...
Previous GNRs: 7/11/19 - 7/9/19 - Archives...
The Weekend Disasters That DIDN'T Happen (and Some That Did): 'BradCast' 7/15/19
Guest: KPFK News Dir. Ernesto Arce; Barry misses NOLA; L.A. immigrant community faces down Trump raids together; Plus callers!...
Sunday Underage Toons
PDiddie's weekly toons never get old...though they do tend to get just about as dark as our nation these days...
'When Harry Met Barry': 'BradCast' 7/12/19
Guest-host Nicole Sandler with actor/filmmaker Harry Shearer on NOLA disasters past (Katrina), present (Barry), future; WH journo Brian Karem on his Rose Garden troll scuffle...
He's Running!:
'BradCast' 7/11/19
Guest-host Nicole Sandler w/ 2020 Presidential hopeful, Sen. Mike Gravel; Also: Trump's Census 'cave' and more...
'Green News Report' 7/11/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Barry may test NOLA levee system; FEMA is understaffed as storm season begins; Climate activist Steyer running for Prez; PLUS: World's most powerful oil cartel is afraid of a little girl...
Previous GNRs: 7/9/19 - 7/2/19 - Archives...
Barr Grants Self Imperial Power Over Immigration Courts: 'BradCast' 7/10/19
Guest: Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce; Also: Barr's power grabs continue elsewhere; Gulf storm aims at already-flooded NOLA...
Counting Coal Mine Canaries:
'BradCast' 7/9/19
Trump Twitter blocks blocked again; Perot dies; Steyer's in; Amash blasts Pelosi; Judge blocks DoJ lawyer swap; Dems subpoena Trump Org, set subpoena 'blitz'...
'Green News Report' 7/9/19
Trump touts his environmental accomp-lishments. Yes, that really happened; PLUS: Record heat waves in Europe and the Arctic make June 2019 the hottest ever recorded...
San Fran Promotes Smoking, Death With E-Cig Sales Ban: 'BradCast' 7/8/19
Guest: David Pasch of Voices for Vaping; Also: A mountain of news from over the holiday weekend...
Sunday 'America's Greatness' Toons
Celebrate the end of the holiday weekend and all-out USA awesomeness, with the great PDiddie's latest, greatest weekly toon collection...
Happy Independence Day Toons
"Until we are all free, we are none of us free." A friendly reminder in a bonus holiday toon collection from the very patriotic 'PDiddie'...
'Green News Report' 7/2/19
GNR Special Coverage: Climate change finally gets air time in the first 2020 Dem Presidential Debate in Miami; PLUS Extreme weather wreaks havoc around the world...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce; Also: Barr's power grabs continue elsewhere; Hurricane Barry takes aim at already flooded NOLA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2019 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's Attorney General continues to make extraordinary, unprecedented moves at the Dept. of Justice as he takes power for himself on all manner of things. And only some of those moves are receiving the attention they deserve. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, just two days after nearly 4 inches of record rainfall in one hour resulted in flash flooding and a number of high-water rescues in the nation's capital --- on the very same day Trump was delivering a ridiculous, rambling speech on his (horrific) environmental record --- an even worse downfall slammed New Orleans on Wednesday. What lies ahead this week for NOLA, however, may be far worse. A tropical storm spun up quickly off the Gulf Coast following the downpour, and now threatens to become a hurricane that could, as soon as this weekend, over-top levees that protect the city. The Mississippi River at New Orleans is already at 16 feet, just below flood stage, thanks to historic spring flooding in the central U.S. But Hurricane Barry could bring a storm surge of several feet of ocean water and as much as 18 inches of rain that could test the city's 20-foot high levees. The National Weather Service is now projecting the river could crest at that same height by Saturday, depending on which way the winds blow. That may happen despite the failure of science denier and corrupt fossil fuel swamp-dweller Trump to utter the words "climate change" during his environmental speech earlier this week.

Meanwhile, back in D.C., Trump's Attorney General and personal fixer William Barr continues to exercise extraordinary, unprecedented powers in his role as the nation's chief law enforcement official. So far, the federal courts have held off a fair amount of his attempted power grabs, including a federal court in New York which has, for the moment, blocked his latest move to replace all of the Dept. of Justice attorneys previously assigned to defend legal challenges to the Administration's effort to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. Another federal judge in another legal challenge on the same matter in Maryland is now considering whether to block those replacements as well.

At the same time, however, Barr is also reportedly instructing former members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team to not appear before Congress to give testimony next week on the same day Mueller is currently scheduled to do so.

But a recent, little noticed move over the 4th of July holiday week to grant himself the power to establish precedent on immigration laws, overriding decisions by immigration judges, needs much more attention. Last week, a federal court blocked Barr's decree to disallow bond hearings for asylum-seekers who successfully demonstrate a "credible fear" of return to their home countries. But for a ruling by the federal court in Washington state last week, Barr's decree would have resulted in immigrant asylum-seekers being held for months or even years in already horrific, overcrowded detention facilities as they await their official hearings in immigration court. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled that detaining asylum-seekers indefinitely is "unconstitutional".

The day before her ruling, however, Barr quietly signed yet another new regulation --- without the traditional public comment period --- that restructures the way immigration courts have handled appeals for years. Previously, while tens of thousands of decisions are made on cases by the Board of Immigration Appeals each year, only a small number of them, about 30 per year, are published in order to establish them as precedent. Under current law, unpublished decisions are not binding on the entire system and are only published if a majority of the 21 member Board votes to do so. But last week, relying on a public comment period from about 15 years ago concerning a regulation proposed (but rejected) by the George W. Bush Administration, Barr granted himself unilateral power to selectively publish any such decisions that he likes. The move, in effect, will allow him the authority as Attorney General to set immigration law precedent that must be followed during this Administration as well as future ones, at his own whim.

We're joined today by SARAH PIERCE, immigration attorney and Policy Analyst for the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute to explain both the encouraging news on Barr's temporarily blocked bond hearing rule, first decreed back in April, as well as his move last week to reign as king over U.S. immigration policy by using the abandoned "zombie regulation", as Pierce describes it, on appeals court precedents first proposed by the Bush Administration. She describes the latter as "alarming", noting that "under this new regulation, the Attorney General will have his pick of whatever issue he wants, and really, whatever plans on the issue he wants, when deciding whether or not to make some of these decisions precedent." Pierce warns that these could be "decisions on what kinds of crimes makes someone deportable from the United States," for example, adding that "the possibilities are really endless when he has so many decisions before him to choose from."

She argues that the way immigration courts are currently structured, under the control of the DoJ, not the Judicial Branch, results in unconfirmed and even unqualified people being appointed as immigration judges without Congressional confirmation or oversight. They all serve at the pleasure and whims of the Attorney General. "This is a huge problem with our immigration court that we have this political appointee who is in charge of effectively the legal well-being of our immigration system. That's a huge problem and a huge conflict of interest," she tells me.

We also discuss the mountain of recent reports of overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary conditions at detention centers on the border; why we are seeing this influx of families seeking asylum in the U.S.; why this Administration is handling it all so poorly, despite the number of immigrants and asylum seekers being far larger during previous administrations; and how the system itself needs to be reformed, with immigration courts placed under an independent body.

Finally today, with all of the coverage in the media and focus by Democrats on the 2020 Presidential race, the need to win back a majority in the U.S. Senate no matter who wins the White House has taken a back seat, unfortunately. But Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer was able to claim at least one recruiting victory this week, with Marine combat aviator Amy McGrath, who narrowly lost a U.S. House race last November in Kentucky, declared her intention of taking on Republican Majority Leader and democracy villain Mitch McConnell during his reelection bid in the Bluegrass State next year. We share McGrath's announcement video and ponder why the hell more big name Democrats --- including many who have chosen to run for the Presidential nomination instead --- aren't stepping up to the equally-as-important task of winning back the U.S. Senate for their party in 2020...

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

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Dems pass $4.5B emergency funding for border - with strings; Mueller to testify in open hearings; Kellyanne Conway subpoenaed by House; NRATV finally shuts down...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2019 5:11pm PT  

Before our guest joins us on today's BradCast --- and in advance of the Democrats' first two-night 2020 Presidential Candidate Debate in Miami (which we'll be covering over the next two BradCasts), some very quick news headlines today. [Audio link to complete show is posted below]

  • House Democrats have called Donald Trump's and Republicans' bluff by passing a $4.5 billion supplemental spending bill to cover border-related costs for children and other migrants being held in squalid, overcrowded conditions, with children not even being given soap or toothbrushes and forced to sleep on cold cement floors. The House bill also places some restrictions on how that funding can be spent, unlike the Senate version of a similar emergency supplemental spending measure for $4.6 billion. Some on Team Trump have called for vetoing the House version. The conflicting bills will somehow need to be reconciled before final passage, though it's unclear how that can happen before lawmakers leave town for their week-long July 4th recess;
  • On Tuesday night, the Chairs of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees announced that former Special Counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to appear --- after being subpoenaed --- for testimony in open sessions to both House panels, one after the other, on July 17th. He is expected to give answers to lawmakers about his two-year probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, the Trump Campaign's cooperation with that effort, and Donald Trump's repeated, unlawful (and impeachable) attempts to obstruct the Special Counsel's federal investigation;
  • Speaking of House testimony, the Oversight Committee voted on Wednesday to subpoena Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway for testimony following a recent finding from the Trump-appointed head of an independent federal watchdog agency recommending Conway be fired for multiple violations of the federal Hatch Act. That Federal law bars public officials from using their office for partisan campaign purposes. Conway failed to show up voluntarily on Wednesday, so will now face a subpoena forcing her to do so --- at least in theory. Trump has refused to fire Conway, despite her repeated violations of the law, and his White House has, so far, taken extraordinary (and likely unlawful) measures to block Congressional testimony by White House officials;
  • Oh, and it was announced today that NRATV is finally shutting down amid internecine fighting, scandal and criminal probes of the terrorist-supporting NRA, which appears to have really shot itself in the foot. We send them our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time;

Then, we're joined once again today by the great MARK JOSEPH STERN, Slate's ace legal reporter and, as the end of SCOTUS' term wraps up before summer, our ever-insightful Supreme Court correspondent! There were a bevy of opinions issued by the Court over the past week, even as most received little fanfare or attention by the media. Trump's war-mongering with Iran and worsening child detention problems on the border are just some of the reasons for that. But also, the biggest expected rulings --- on whether a citizenship question may be added to the 2020 Census, despite Trump Administrations lies about it, and on whether states may employ partisan gerrymandering for electoral advantage --- are still to come at any moment now. In the meantime, while the many opinions issued over the past week, in and of themselves, may not have been marquee rulings, many, as Stern explains, have serious consequences.

More importantly, however, as we discuss today, the new rulings offer some pretty HUGE SCREAMING RED SIRENS about the direction that the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court now intends to go, with their far-right majority now firmly ensconced. A number of opinions in several of the cases offered some pretty clear projections that this Court intends to overturn decades, if not centuries, of legal court precedent, case law, and even thousands of federal laws in the bargain.

Among the many decisions we discuss in some detail today:

  • A contorted ruling that allows a 94-year old religious monument to fallen WWI soldiers to remain on government property despite being a clear violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause separating Church and State;
  • The case of an African American man whose death sentence was, thankfully, overturned after a state prosecutor in Mississippi repeatedly excluded African American jurors from sitting on the six different trials the man has, so far, faced for a case of multiple murders that it seems quite likely he had nothing at all to do with;
  • An opinion that overturns decades and perhaps centuries of property rights case law;
  • Another that comes within a hair's breadth of striking down hundreds, if not thousands of federal laws passed by Congress over our nation's history;
  • And a decision that overturns decades of trademark law which the court found to be FUCT. (We explain on the show, while avoiding any potential FCC language violations in the bargain! You're welcome!)

In all, we cover quite a bit of ground today, with some important details --- far more than I can cover here --- that you should definitely tune in for, if only so that you can't later say nobody warned you!

"This is the term when the Justices pretty much rip up stare decisis," explains Stern, citing the legal term for the custom of respecting court precedent, "or at least get out their lighters and lay the kindling. In a number of cases the conservative Justices have just decided that they've had enough with precedent, they're ready to make the Constitution say what they want it to say. Doesn't matter what previous courts have ruled."

Stern warns: "For the most part, the Justices have been swinging for the rafters. They do not feel hemmed in by many limitations. You're seeing unbridled exercise of judicial power --- the kind of thing that [Chief Justice] Roberts said during his confirmation hearings he would never resort to."

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

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Trump lauds socialism at 'campaign kickoff'; WH, DoJ nix Hicks testimony in House; Trump EPA to help kill thousands with new roll back of Obama coal regs...
By Brad Friedman on 6/19/2019 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after what seems like a too-long absence, we're joined again today by Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN for insight on the first batch of U.S. Supreme Court opinions issued at term's end this week. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first today, mercifully brief coverage of Donald Trump's re-election campaign launch in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday night. While the rally followed the same tired pattern of pretty much all of the campaign rallies he's held non-stop since becoming President --- (Remember when the GOP and Fox 'News' used to complain that Obama was holding campaign rallies as President, rather than governing? That was darling.) --- the usual recitation of Trump lies and nonsense also included a fascinating reference to Republican opposition to "socialism" just one mere breath before Trump (falsely) touted GOP support for protecting much-beloved socialist programs such as Social Security and Medicare. The irony, no doubt, was lost on most of his brain-poisoned followers on hand or watching via the Fox "News" disinformation channel.

On Capitol Hill today, Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee finally heard testimony from a former Trump official in the aftermath of the damning Robert Mueller Special Counsel report. Longtime Trump aid Hope Hicks --- who worked with him before his campaign, during it, during the transition and in the White House --- cooperated with the Mueller probe and is cited within it as a witness about 180 times. She agreed to testify today, though only behind closed doors, with a transcript to be released later. However, White House and DoJ Attorneys were also on hand to continue what Committee member Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) described as "obstruction of justice in action". The lawyers issued objections to any and all questions related to Hicks' service with Trump as President, asserting "absolute immunity" from such questions. That is a newly invented "privilege" from the White House and DoJ which Lieu described as "not a thing. It doesn't exist." Lawmakers suggest the result will be court action to force Hicks' testimony on her time at the White House, now that she is a private citizen (who works for Fox "News"). Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who is still opposed to opening an official impeachment inquiry, reportedly described the new White House offensive as "obstruction of justice", which --- in case she needs a reminder --- is one of the offenses included in the Articles of Impeachment for both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton.

Also in D.C. today, the Trump Environmental Protection Agency, now headed by "former" coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, officially replaced President Obama's Clean Power Plan, meant to curb global warming greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, with a new rule that makes the reduction of emissions optional for states. Even while coal plants have been shutting down across the country over the past two years in favor of cheaper, cleaner natural gas and renewable energy production, the Administration is implementing the new rule which, according to the EPA's own analysis, will result in thousands of unnecessary deaths per year. The new rule parallels a similar effort by the Trump Administration to roll back new mileage standards implemented by Obama with the cooperation of the auto industry, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says will save thousands of lives as well. So, yes, Trump is now purposely killing Americans and lying about it by claiming U.S. air and water has never been cleaner. That, according to actual findings from the Government, is also untrue, as pollution has increased over the past two years since Trump became President.

We're then joined by Slate's Stern for a review of this week's SCOTUS rulings and an explanation for some of the "strange bedfellow" partnerships found in several of them. Among the opinions discussed today...

  • A Supreme Court "punt if I've ever seen one," according to Stern, on a case involving yet another bigoted baker, this time in Portland, who refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple. The Justices sent that case back down to the lower court for review, though Stern suggests they are largely buying time before being forced to determine, once and for all, whether discrimination against LGBTQ people is Constitutional. "The Court can't duck this forever," says Stern;
  • The largely good news ruling of the week is for voters in Virginia, where a 5 to 4 majority opinion results in new, fairer, more competitive legislative districts in advance of the Commonwealth's statewide elections this November. The Justices held that the GOP-gerrymandered House of Delegates did not have standing to appeal new legislative maps implemented by lower courts to correct 11 districts found to have been unlawfully and unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered following the 2010 Census. Only the state's Attorney General, a Democrat, who initially challenged the ruling on behalf of the state but later declined to appeal the lower court's ultimate ruling, has such standing, the majority determined.

    But the majority opinion, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was joined, unsurprisingly, by Justices Elana Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, and much more surprisingly by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch! Moreover, the minority dissent, penned by rightwing Justice Samuel Alito was also joined by the normally progressive Stephen Breyer. Stern offers an explanation for what appears to be very strange bedfellows on this opinion, and whether the ultimate outcome --- while very good news for Democrats who hope to take control of one or both chambers in the VA legislature this November --- will be good news or bad news for Democrats and Republicans in the future;

  • We then move to what Stern describes as "a tough but interesting case", for his explanation of the Court's affirmation of what has long been considered a loophole in the U.S. Constitution allowing an exception to its restriction on double-jeopardy cases. In fact, as the Court held in a 7-2 decision, virtually identical indictments may be brought against the same person, for the same crime, so long as they are brought in separate State and Federal jurisdictions, which are considered to be "separate sovereigns". On the minority in this case was another odd couple, Ginsberg and Gorsuch, while Thomas --- who previously decried the Double-Jeopardy Loophole by calling for a "fresh examination" of it --- chose not to vote for ending it when he had the opportunity. He did, however, take the opportunity to write a concurrence in the case, calling for reversing other long-held SCOTUS precedents, such as those which allow women the right to choose to have an abortion. "He used his opinion to launch into this crazy attack on precedent, that was clearly laying the groundwork for an attack on cases like Roe. vs. Wade" and marriage equality;
  • Finally, Stern offers some thoughts on the Court's expected opinion, due any day now, regarding the Administration's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. That determination is still expected, despite evidence unearthed after oral argument that proves the Administration lied about their reasons for adding the question, which, according to the Census Bureau itself, will reduce participation. That, in turn, is expected to radically shift government funding and citizen voting power from Democrats and minorities toward white Republican jurisdictions. We discuss that bizarre matter --- and how SCOTUS can possibly rule on the case now, given the new evidence revealed from the hard drive of a now-deceased GOP gerrymandering expert following the Court's hearing months ago --- and a few of the other expected important decisions to come in the next two weeks before the Justices leave town for Summer vacation...

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

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Guest: Former Dep. Asst. AG Lisa Graves; Also: Acting SecDef withdraws nomination; S. America power grid collapse did not prevent voting; Swing district Rep. Porter calls for impeachment proceedings...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2019 6:24pm PT  

I've had a lot of legal questions swirling through my head in recent weeks as Trump and his minions have expanded their attempts at blocking all Congressional investigations of his many crimes. On today's BradCast, despite the unprecedented and ever-changing nature of what Trump is attempting, I get a bit of clarity from a guest with a long background in legal, legislative and executive matters regarding all three branches of the federal government. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, however, some quick news of the day. Donald Trump's Acting Sec. of Defense Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has withdrawn his formal nomination after reported difficulties obtaining a standard FBI background clearance due to a history of domestic violence with his former wife. Former Raytheon lobbyist and Trump's Sec. of the Army Mark Esper has been tapped, for now, as the new Acting SecDef.

The widespread --- and still-unexplained --- failure of the electrical grid in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay over the weekend that affected tens of millions in South America, did not, at least, prevent gubernatorial elections from continuing on Sunday in Argentina, where they wisely use HAND-MARKED paper ballots. The election was uninterrupted despite the outage, as voting was able to continue as usual, even if voters needed to rely on mobile phone flashlights in order to see their ballots while filling them out by hand. That, by way of contrast with the utter havoc and chaos that would result from a similar outage or cyber-attack on the U.S. power grid during an election next year, with dozens of states relying on computer voting systems and electronic poll books, including a number of jurisdictions such as Los Angeles County (the nation's largest), which are set to move from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential primary elections. What could possibly go wrong?

Freshman Democratic U.S. House Rep. Katie Porter announced on Monday night that, after weeks of careful consideration, she has decided to call for an official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. Her announcement is significant in that Porter narrowly won election last year in Republican-leaning Orange County, California, defeating her incumbent GOP opponent by just over three points. With more than 65 Democratic members in the House (and one Republican) now calling for impeachment proceedings, Porter is one of only two Democrats from closely divided swing districts where GOP incumbents were ousted last November to call publicly for beginning the Constitutional process of impeachment of our criminal President.

At the same time, the Trump Administration has spent months following the release of the damning, redacted Special Counsel's report from Robert Mueller [PDF], exercising all manner of legal schemes and Presidential tricks to try and obstruct the Congressional investigation of the many criminal obstruction offenses by Trump detailed in Mueller's report. The Administration, with the aid of his new Attorney General and fixer William Barr, has invoked so-called Executive Privilege over the entire report (even the already released material) in an attempt to prevent the unredacted report and its underlying evidence from being disclosed to Congress and the American public. They've also used Executive Privilege to try and block lawful Congressional subpoenas of current and former White House officials, many of whom cooperated as witnesses with the Mueller probe, in hopes of preventing them from testifying in the House or turning over subpoenaed documents. Barr's DoJ has gone so far this week as to offer a legal claim that the IRS need not turn over Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee in defiance of a decades-old statute requiring the IRS to do so. Trump's private attorneys have attempted to block Congressional subpoenas for the President's financial documents at his accounting firm Mazars and at Deutsche Bank, and, during a recent interview with ABC News, Trump said his own FBI Director was "wrong" for insisting that candidates contact the FBI if they are approached by foreign nationals with opposition research on their political opponents.

Those, of course, are just some of the ways that Trump continues to obstruct justice and defy the rule of law. But what are the chances that he will ultimately succeed in his attempts to obstruct Congress? We're joined today by LISA GRAVES, who has worked as a senior advisor in all three branches of the federal Government, to help us better understand some of the key elements of Trump's crimes and his attempts to invoke measures to block accountability for them.

Graves, the co-founder of the non-profit Documented, formerly served as Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the Dept. of Justice, General Counsel in the US Senate, and former Deputy Chief for the US Court system. On today's program, she explains the seriousness of obstruction crimes; how "Executive Privilege" has been invoked by Presidents (successfully or otherwise) in the past, and what the privilege really is and isn't (hint: it's not actually a statutorily or Constitutionally defined thing); whether it's actually possible or justifiable to prevent the disclosure of Trump's tax returns under the DoJ's new pretext; and whether she believes Trump should be impeached.

On criminal obstruction, says Graves: "The fact is that obstruction is a very serious crime. I suppose that if they really wanted to know how serious obstruction is, they could call Nixon back from the grave to ask him how serious this is."

On Barr's collusion with Trump: "It's truly a shame, quite frankly, that under the broken Senate led by Mitch McConnell, that Barr was confirmed to this role that he was most undeserving to hold. And that he now holds basically as a lapdog to this President, willing to his bidding, and to really subvert the true mission of this Justice Department."

On Trump's broad attempted use of Executive Privilege: "The idea that any President could somehow assert privilege over revealing evidence of his own potential obstruction of justice, the crime of obstruction, is simply astounding...There's simply no way that any reasonable interpretation of whatever that privilege might or might not be, would allow a President to hide from Congress --- which expressly has powers under our Constitution to impeach a President and to try a President --- to hide evidence from that Congress that has those express powers to hold a President accountable."

But, on that last point, she offers some "hesitation" thanks to "this Supreme Court which has been stacked by McConnell and the dark money which backs him." I'm also happy to hear her correctly note that "this court is not truly conservative, they are radically reactionary."

Graves also responds to my question about the recent statement from the chair of Federal Elections Commission, Ellen Weintraub, issued in response to Trump's assertion that he needn't contact the FBI if approached by a foreign national with dirt on a political opponent. Weintraub's statement clarified that "It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election." But, isn't that precisely what the Hillary Clinton Campaign (and a Republican primary campaign before it) did during the 2016 election by soliciting oppo-research on Donald Trump from former British spy Christopher Steele? I discuss that and much more with Graves today.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more details on Sunday's South American power grid failure, news of a reported U.S. cyber-offensive against the Russian power grid, bad climate change-related news for the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone", and some very good news from outgoing conservative British Prime Minister Theresa May who is vowing to commit the UK to the world's most aggressive targets to combat our climate crisis by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions while boosting the nation's economy at the very same time...

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Bizarre day in the Conway household; Remarkable GOP excuses for ignoring Mueller; MI drops Flint water crisis indictments; Plus: A long-overdue musical tribute to the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2019 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got quite a bit of hard news, though we have to start off with a brief personal note. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • My much-beloved hometown hockey team, the St. Louis Blues, are now Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in the franchise's storied if oft-frustrating 52-year history! After going from last place in the NHL in January to win the Cup in Game 7 in Boston, it seems only fair I'm allowed a short, if long-overdue, victory lap on today's program --- along with a bumper music tribute to the team I grew up with throughout today's show. (And no, Blues fans, it's probably not the music you expect!);
  • In somewhat more substantive, if less pleasant, matters (kicked off by a Daily Kos BradCast commenter who deserves credit for an appropriate invocation of the word "paracosm" today), life in the Conway household must be getting more bizarre by the day. On Thursday, the Trump-appointed head of the federal government watchdog Office of Special Counsel (not to be confused with Robert Mueller's Special Counsel's Office) recommended that Kellyanne Conway, one of Donald Trump's top advisers and apologists, be fired for "repeated violations" of the Hatch Act. The federal law bars federal officials from using their official offices for political purposes, yet Kellyanne repeatedly used hers to bash Democrats running for office while promoting Donald Trump and other Republicans. Scoffing at the watchdog's recommendation, of course, the corrupt White House is all but certain to ignore the multiple violations of federal law by one of its top officials;
  • Meanwhile, at the other end of Chez Conway, Kellyanne's husband, longtime Republican attorney and activist George took to the pages of Washington Post to file a scorching op-ed with Barack Obama's former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, slamming Trump's latest legal appeal in the President's attempt to block Congressional subpoenas for financial documents from his accounting firm Mazars. Conway and Katyal deride the President's claims that Congress is Constitutionally barred from investigating criminal matters, and that only the Executive Branch may do so. "The idea that only the president can investigate the president is an argument for autocrats, not Americans," the pair write, arguing that Trump's legal argument seems to invite an official impeachment proceeding by Congress. "Every principle behind the rule of law requires the commencement of a process now to make this president a former one," they conclude, in what must make for some very chilly dinner conversation at the Conway household;
  • In not-at-all unrelated news, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, the only sitting Republican member of Congress to call for impeachment proceedings against Trump, continues to maintain is not planning a run for President on the Libertarian ticket, though he said he has not "ruled anything out". He also lobbed back a pretty impressive response to an attempted Twitter shot by Donald Trump, Jr. (Of course, given the information-starved Trump supporters, it may be one they don't even understand.) Earlier this week, Amash officially resigned from the hard-right "House Freedom Caucus" (formerly known as the "Tea Party Caucus") which he had co-founded, having split with the group whose members have now become amongst the most virulent defenders and apologists for Trump in Congress. He also voted yesterday with Democrats in the House Oversight Committee to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross in contempt for defying a subpoena to turn over documents related to false Administration claims regarding the addition of a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census;
  • Of course, the reason Amash is currently the only sitting GOPer to call for Trump's impeachment is because he may be the only Republican in the House who actually bothered to read the Mueller Report, which details multiple instances of criminal obstruction by the President for Congress to consider for impeachment proceedings. This past week has brought some remarkably original excuses from GOP House members as to why they are willing to overlook and excuse multiple, well-documented federal crimes by the President, who Mueller found to have committed some of the very same unlawful actions for which articles of impeachment were brought against both Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. For example, Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot, who as a member of the Judiciary Committee in 1998 voted for impeachment against Clinton, now says Donald Trump never swore on a bible, so there's nothing to impeach him for. Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall fell all over himself with some remarkable, false and contradictory statements while trying to explain why he proudly refuses to even read Mueller's report at all! But while Republican members of Congress might be excused --- under the world's most generous interpretation possible --- for being clueless when it comes to the Rule of Law, no such generosity can possibly excuse the jaw-dropping response to the Mueller Report's findings from the state of Louisiana's chief law enforcement officer, Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry;
  • Finally today, stunning news out of Michigan, where the state's recently appointed Solicitor General, tapped earlier this year by newly-elected Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel, announced that state prosecutors were dropping all criminal charges against eight people indicted in the Flint lead poisoning water crisis and starting the probe over from scratch after an expansive new body of evidence was reviewed. Prosecutors say they may recharge some of the previously indicted individuals, but that new evidence reveals former Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette's three-year investigation failed to properly examine large swaths of material evidence, some of which is said to be tied to former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. We try to make some sense of that news as we close out today's show...and musical tribute to my favorite underdog hometown team...

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Guest: NC elections expert Dr. William Busa ('DocDawg' of Daily Kos!); Also: Barr, Ross found in contempt by House Oversight; Big progressive wins in VA; New NATIONAL polls show Trump in trouble, Warren surging...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2019 5:10pm PT  

We've got some interesting follow-up on today's BradCast, following the disturbing story we broke on air earlier this week regarding the "master passwords" for North Carolina electronic voting systems --- and more --- found online, unprotected, and downloadable by anybody since at least early 2016, at the NC Board of Elections website. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up, some quick news updates: A second U.S. House committee has now voted to hold Donald Trump's new Attorney General and fixer William Barr in contempt. The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend holding both Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to turn over subpoenaed documents regarding the lies told by both Commerce and DoJ about adding a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. Ross previously claimed he was asked by DoJ to add the question to help better enforce the Voting Rights Act, but new documents from the hard drive of a recently deceased GOP gerrymandering operative reveal the real intent was to shift resources and Congressional districts to white Republican jurisdictions.

In other Constitutional Crisis news, Hope Hicks, Trump's former Communications Director and longtime aide --- before his run for office, during the campaign and transition, and while in the White House --- has reportedly agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next week about her cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's two-year probe. Hicks was a key witness on a number of the criminal obstruction charges detailed in Mueller's report. She has agreed, however, to testify to Judiciary only behind closed doors next week, presuming the White House doesn't move to block her in some way.

In elections news, new Quinnipiac polling shows six of the current top contenders for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination --- Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren, Buttigieg and Booker --- all handily defeating Donald Trump in a head-to-head match-up in NATIONAL polling, if the election were held today. That new poll and others out today still show Biden atop the pack in the primary contest, though slipping since he entered the race last month. Two new polls show Warren leaping into second place above Sanders since last week. We offer some thoughts and WARNINGS about all such polls today.

And then, some surprisingly good news for progressives in Virginia, where two criminal justice reformers ousted long time state prosecutors in elections on Tuesday.

Next, we're joined by Dr. WILLIAM BUSA of EQV Analytics, a Democratic campaign consulting and technology firm in North Carolina, though Busa is likely better known to many on the Internets as "DocDawg" from Daily Kos. Busa has been doing some excellent follow-up work on the startling recent disclosures by cyber risk researcher Chris Vickery, who explained on Monday's BradCast how he discovered "master passwords" for some of NC's electronic voting systems, and much more, on the state Board of Elections website last year. Hundreds of files and screenshots, he said, were all left vulnerable on the Internet, in a directory set as public, to anyone who felt like downloading them, at least since early 2016 in advance of that year's Presidential election and its stunning, razor-thin conclusion.

Busa, as a well known elections maven in NC, tells me he was contacted following Vickery's revelations this week by the SBOE's spokesperson with a vague explanation for the exposed files --- which were subsequently set to private after Vickery notified the Board about the vulnerability last year in advance of the 2018 mid-terms. But, as he documented at Daily Kos on Tuesday, the explanation by the Board's Public Information officer Pat Gannon only made the case "murkier". Gannon, according to an email he sent to Busa, claimed the files were old passwords that were no longer in use and that, in any event, they were encrypted when posted online. Busa studied the claims regarding encryption and finds them to be untrue based on evidence revealed by the unencrypted screenshot of the passwords posted by Vickery.

For his part, Vickery --- who previously told me he found evidence the passwords had been in other jurisdictions as well as the one county the state claims --- politely suggested that Gannon appears to be uninformed about the details of what was left online. "Both of these issues," Busa observes, "being told that they were encrypted when clearly they're not encrypted, being told they were posted in 2012 when pretty clearly they were posted in 2016 --- goes to the question of 'Are we being told what's going on?'"

Moreover, Busa hits on what he describes as "the most troubling part of this.". The larger question --- one that we've been trying to make clear since the night that Trump was supposedly elected: Nobody --- not the states, not Mueller, not the FBI, not the DHS --- nobody has done a forensic analysis of the computer voting and registration systems and tabulators used in 2016 to assure they were not manipulated in some way, despite the many claims made by the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Special Counsel's office that Russia attempted to interference with elections systems in as many as 21 states before the 2016 Presidential contest.

If "white-hat good guys like Vickery" were able to find these vulnerable files, surely black-hate bad guys could easily have done so as well. "If DHS didn't find those things, then DHS is not as good as Chris Vickery. And if it's not as good as Chris Vickery at finding the chinks in our armor, then it's certainly not as good as Russia's GRU is," notes Busa. So, why didn't the DHS --- which, the U.S. Government has claimed has taken unprecedented steps to work with states to help them protect our elections from vulnerabilities --- already find these files and notify the state about the serious breech long before Vickery did? Both Busa and I are still asking.

"With McConnell blocking any meaningful election cybersecurity legislation in the Senate, DHS's 'band-aid' approach to 'Well, we're going to consult with the boards of elections in the fifty states and give them some assistance, it really is just that --- a band-aid. It doesn't give me any confidence whatsoever, especially now with what we've seen from the Vickery information."

Also today, since we've been covering so much GOP corruption in NC of late, (Busa quips: "North Carolina has become such an embarrassment that South Carolina is considering changing its name to 'North Georgia'), the NC elections expert and campaign consult rings in with helpful insight on the crucial, upcoming, SCOTUS opinion expected anytime now regarding unlawful GOP partisan gerrymandering of the state's U.S. House districts ("we have very little voice in North Carolina today because of those gerrymanders"); two upcoming U.S. House Special Elections in the state (one in NC-03 to replace the late GOP Rep. Walter Jones and the other to fill the NC-09 seat, which is still vacant following last year's GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud scandal that left the state BOE unwilling to certify results last November); and an important project Busa developed last year at NCGoVote.org called "Reg Watch", to automatically notify voters if their registrations have been changed or deleted for some reason. It would be very nice to see that project scaled up to all 50 states if possible! We discuss...

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Guest: In exclusive interview, cyber security expert Chris Vickery details his startling discovery of NC's exposed files before the 2018 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2019 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got an exclusive interview with CHRIS VICKERY, Director of Cyber Risk Research at the cyber security firm UpGuard. Vickery revealed late last week on Twitter that he discovered files, including administrative master passwords for voting systems, at the North Carolina State Board of Elections website that were left vulnerable and available online for anyone to download, prior to the 2018 election. Today he explains the evidence that suggests these files may have been available as early as February of 2016, months before that year's controversial Presidential election. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of article.]

The files were found by Vickery unencrypted and with no password needed to retrieve them from the site. He tells me today that there were so many files and screenshots (see a redacted snippet from one of the password screenshots in the graphic above), that he's not even sure if they number in the hundreds or thousands.

The longtime cyber security researcher says he promptly notified state officials of the discovery last year, before the 2018 elections, and that the state, shortly thereafter, set the files in question and their directories to "private". In response to a commenter on his short Twitter thread revealing the potential security breech late last Friday, however, he notes that "someone would have had to actively choose to make the file repository available to the entire world. It is not unprotected by default."

He tells me today that he is "very concerned" about the exposure and would "like to know who the data was intended for. If you put it up somewhere, you're intending it to be accessed by somebody. So who did they aim this for? I would love to know that." Indeed, he also shared an email with me over the weekend that was posted in the same directory as the passwords screenshot, in which a State Board of Elections official notes: "The attached screen shots should show just about all of the settings you will need for contests and candidates" in the ES&S iVotronic Image Management program, part of the computer voting system which defines where candidates selected by voters are placed on the electronic ballots and optical-scan systems.

Vickery says he decided to go public with the disclosure following the Washington Post exclusive last week reporting that federal investigators at the Dept. of Homeland Security have finally agreed to work with NC on a forensic investigation of the state's voter registration computers which inexplicably failed during the 2016 Presidential Election, on Election Day, in parts of the state. That announcement via the Post comes on the heels of Robert Mueller's redacted report [PDF] (see Volume 2, page 50, "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), in which the Special Counsel briefly details how Russian Military Intelligence operatives were able to penetrate the voter registration systems of "at least one" county in Florida. Just over a week ago, the new Republican Governor of Florida announced he was notified by the FBI that, in fact, two counties had, in fact, been penetrated via a spearphishing attack on VR Systems, the private vendor contracted to run those voter registration systems.

VR Systems also supplies similar systems in about half a dozen other U.S. states, one of them being North Carolina. But, as Vickery notes, the password files that he found exposed on the Internet last year were not for registration systems, but for the state's computer voting machines, scanners and tabulation systems made by private vendor ES&S (the nation's largest), as used across most of the state of North Carolina. And ALL of this comes after we have been trying to point out on The BradCast for the last two and a half years that nobody --- not the FBI, not DHS, not the states themselves, nor even Mueller's Special Counsel team, as he admits --- ever carried out a forensic investigation of the computer voting, registration or tabulation systems in use in any of the states in 2016, despite that election's surprise ending in which Donald Trump purportedly won by a razor thin margin.

In his first broadcast interview on these new revelations, Vickery explains how he discovered the files, how the state responded when he told them about the vulnerability last year, whether the DHS has contacted him since he revealed his findings on Friday, and how serious of a potential security breech this is, especially given the extraordinary effort that the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Mueller Report claim Russia expended in hopes of interfering in the 2016 Presidential election. "When you have computers, and software, and firmware updating passwords and modems all mixed in together, you have the capability to do a lot of crazy stuff," he says, in response to my question about whether these passwords could have been used to alter or upload false results. "It's not out of the realm of possibility, but I have no specific reason to believe that happened. But that is kind of a frightening concept to realize that all of the ingredients are there."

Disturbingly, Vickery's report is startlingly similar to one revealed last year by Kim Zetter at Politico in the state of Georgia, regarding a security researcher who found millions of voter registrations along with voting system administrative passwords online and vulnerable to download without a password, prior to the Peach State's 2016 elections.

Also today: The last many weeks of climate changed-fueled weather disasters move from the Central U.S. to the SouthEast, with a month's worth of rain falling in one day over this past weekend (yet the DNC still won't allow a 2020 Presidential candidate debate focused solely on climate change!); Donald Trump pretends that his backing off of a threat to tax Americans who purchase imported goods from Mexico is a great negotiation victory; And we take a few calls on our disturbing interview with Vickery, including from one listener who quips that NC "left the combination of the safe written on top of the door"...

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Guest: DFA's Charles Chamberlain; Also: Trump does not understand climate change; Emails: TX Guv pushed for bogus 'non-citizen voter' list...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2019 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Is the dam Nancy Pelosi has erected against the tide of impeachment finally beginning to crack? Does Donald Trump have Woodsy Owl as his environmental advisor? Was the Governor of Texas behind a bogus voter purge list? [Audio link to our full show is posted below.]

First up, with Trump overseas we'd hoped to be able to ignore him as much as possible this week. But, after newly absurd comments made regarding climate change during an interview with Piers Morgan following Trump's meeting with Prince Charles on the topic, we couldn't hold our tongues

Trump made clear that he doesn't really even understand the climate crisis or how pollution from carbon emissions is endangering livability on Planet Earth. He claims the U.S. has "the cleanest climate" ever and seems to think that "clean air and clean water", as he describes it --- not understanding that carbon dioxide in excess is a dangerous pollutant --- is all that matters. (It's as if his top Environmental Advisor is Woodsy Owl, observes WaPo's Philip Bump.)

He also seems to have no clue that our air and water has gotten dirtier since he took office, and that dangerous greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise. But he is very able at newly parroting long-debunked Fox "News" talking points such as the notion that "it used to be called global warming, that wasn't working, then it was called climate change, now it's called extreme weather". Desi Doyen debunks the bunkery. (Hint: It was always called climate change --- the UN's IPCC or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was formed in 1988 --- and it was Republicans in the 2000s, during the George W. Bush Administration, who preferred that phrase over global warming which GOP wordsmith Frank Luntz found to be more "frightening" to voters!)

Then, Former Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid, who previously opposed impeachment, is now calling on Speaker Pelosi to begin an official inquiry in the U.S. House. And, on Tuesday, some thirty progressive groups who are usually allies to the Democrats published an open letter expressing "deep disappointment" in the Speaker for her blockade of impeachment proceedings against the President, citing her "refusal to use the full scope of your constitutional power to hold Trump accountable." The groups, which include CREDO, Indivisible, the Courage Campaign and Democracy for America among others, charge in their missive that "Voters gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives because they wanted aggressive oversight of the Trump administration" which requires "bold, moral leadership" they claim to be lacking. Though, they note, that Pelosi concedes "we are facing a constitutional crisis", they criticize her for failing to invoke the "remedy" handed to us by the Framers. "You have the power to ensure Congress exercises its constitutional obligation to hold this president accountable. But instead of using your power, you are giving us political excuses for why you shouldn't. Instead of leading, you and your colleagues have asked us to wait – wait for the Mueller report, wait for the unredacted Mueller report, wait for Mueller's testimony about the Mueller report, wait for more investigations, wait for bipartisan consensus, wait for impeachment to poll better, or wait for the 2020 election," the groups write in their open missive posted to WeCantWait.US.

We're joined today by CHARLES CHAMBERLAIN, Chair of progressive signatory Democracy for America, to discuss the letter and to respond to many of the reasons that Pelosi and other Democrats and strategists have cited for not taking action to begin official impeachment proceedings against this President. Is more information still needed from Mueller or his unredacted report before the House should begin? Are the multiple, ongoing investigations that Pelosi is encouraging in the House proving to be more helpful in detailing the high crimes and corruption of the Trump Administration? Should Dems wait until impeachment becomes even more popular among the public? Until more Republicans are willing to come on board? Would the effort endanger Democrats' chances of holding the House and taking back the Senate and White House in 2020? Should it be avoided because, as Pelosi claims, Trumps "wants" to be impeached? Or due to the conventional wisdom that, even if impeached, Senate Republicans would never vote to convict and remove Trump?

Chamberlain responds --- with gusto --- to all of those points and many other such excuses offered by party leadership for not (yet, anyway) beginning an official inquiry to consider Constitutional removal of this criminal President. He also discusses what you can do to help, and argues that impeachment will help, not hurt, Democratic chances in 2020. "It is our base that we need to be worried about. If Democrats don't follow through with what they were sent to do in 2018, then we have a high chance of them staying home," he tells me. "Let's be clear --- if there's one thing that helps people win politically, it's whenever when you're on offense, you're almost always winning. It's something that Republicans are experts at. It's something Donald Trump is expert at. And the more we can do it, the more likely we're going to win in 2020."

Finally today, newly published emails out of Texas reveal that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appears to have been behind the push for a bogus list of some 100,000 "non-citizens voters" in the state which the Secretary of State used earlier this year to try and purge legal voters from the rolls and led the state's Attorney General to open criminal investigations. Thousands of voters on the list were, in fact, found to have been naturalized citizens and the list was withdrawn by court order, the Sec. of State (a former aid to and appointee of Abbott) was forced to resign, and the state is now paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements after being sued by several groups over the bogus purge list. Thanks to newly revealed details in the emails obtained and published this week by the Campaign Legal Center, it now appears that the Governor may have been behind the insidious voter suppression initiative the whole time...

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Northam calls special session in VA; GOP's 'Mexican standoff'; Hicks' nix fix; 2020 Dems seek climate solutions, Admin offers 'freedom gas'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2019 6:25pm PT  

As usual, on today's BradCast, everything you need to know --- whether you want to know it or not --- in 57 minutes or less...or your money back! [Audio link to full show follows below.]

  • First up today, Virginia's Democratic Governor Ralph Northam announces a plan to convene a special session of the state legislature this summer to respond to last Friday's massacre at a municipal building in Virginia Beach which killed twelve people. Republicans, who have long controlled both chambers of the gerrymandered state legislature, have nixed a panoply of popular gun safety measures year after year in subcommittees, such as measures to place limits on extended magazines like the type used in Friday's shooting, barring the purchase of more than one hand-gun per month, and background checks for all gun sales. Northam says he is asking for "votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers" from state lawmakers just months before the entire General Assembly will be on the ballot for the Commonwealth's November 2019 off-year elections;
  • The GOP establishment appears to be pushing back hard today against Donald Trump's promised new tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico, which Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) recently predicted Trump won't actually implement. "He 's been known to play with fire, but not live hand-grenades," Kennedy opined regarding a new 25% tax that Americans would have to pay on all products from Mexico under the President's promised new scheme to, somehow, stop immigration across the southern border. Even members of his own Administration, however, don't appear to understand how Trump's proposed trade war would lead to an end of migration. But, in London today, Trump said it would be "foolish" to try and stop his plan to declare another "national emergency" to unilaterally impose the tariffs. Republicans are indicating they may have enough votes to override a Presidential veto. (We'll believe it when we see it.);
  • Meanwhile, our Constitutional Crisis continues, as the White House has now instructed former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and former White House Counsel Chief of Staff Annie Donaldson to defy a Congressional subpoena for documents by claiming Executive Privilege over materials that have already been shared with Special Counsel Robert Mueller (and thus, have already had Privilege waived). With the persistent drumbeat calling for an official impeachment inquiry growing louder each day against the scofflaw President while the White House fights "all of the subpoenas" as per Trump's instructions, Democrats are preparing a number of votes in a number of Committees to hold current and former Administration members in contempt. In addition to possible votes of contempt in a number of committees, Dems have votes scheduled next week for the full House to declare both Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn in contempt;
  • In 2020 Presidential election news today, Joe Biden released a 22-page, $5 trillion climate plan that includes $1.7 trillion in federal spending over the next ten years, to be paid for by reversing the GOP's 2017 $1.5 trillion tax cut and ending subsidies for fossil fuel companies. We share Biden's introductory video for the plan, which vows to create millions of jobs and protect the retirement and pensions of fossil fuel industry workers. And we compare it to those of other 2020 candidates, including Elizabeth Warren who released her own "aggressive" $2 trillion plan to take on our climate crisis today as well. Biden's new proposal to make America carbon neutral by 2050 is receiving mostly high marks from environmentalists and comes in the wake of a much-derided recently reported comment from a campaign spokesperson claiming that the former Vice President was seeking a "middle ground" on climate that might be joined by Republicans. Climate hawks and supporters of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' Green New Deal resolution characterized Biden's new proposal as an encouraging response to activism and pushback from their ranks;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news of Republican obstructionism finally giving way to a long-awaited $19 billion disaster relief package in Congress, the Trump Administration's newest scam to try and suppress climate science, Colorado's new plan to go big on renewable energy, and....yes...the Administration's promise of "freedom gas" for the world!...

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Guest: MIT nuclear proliferation expert Vipin Narang; Also: Flooding, evacuations in AR, MO; GOP pushback against Trump's new Mexican tariff scheme; The necessity of continuing to talk about impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2019 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we really tried to talk about something other than impeachment...and we mostly did! You're welcome! But don't expect it to last. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, as predicted, during a very brief pause in the record severe weather that's been afflicting the central U.S. for weeks, flooding continues to be a major problem today and is getting worse. Mandatory evacuations are now in place in both Arkansas and Missouri after levees have breached, been topped or may do so soon both states. Thousands of homes are threatened there and elsewhere as some 80 different river gauges in 10 different states indicate the highest category of major flooding, with more severe weather predicted in the days ahead for rain soaked Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, Louisiana and other Midwestern states.

In politics today, Republicans and major business groups are pushing back at Donald Trump's surprise announcement on Thursday evening that he plans to impose unilateral new taxes on all goods coming in from Mexico, in hopes of forcing our southern neighbor --- in some fashion --- to stop the flow of migrants coming into the U.S. from Central America. The new tariffs --- which are taxes paid by American importers and consumers (despite the President mischaracterization) --- would begin at 5%, and increase by the same amount until reaching 25%under Trump's scheme. A number of GOP lawmakers, particularly in farm states such as Iowa, are blasting the proposal, and warning that it is likely to derail Congressional ratification of Trump's updated NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada. It is also likely to cost billions to American businesses --- particularly in the automobile and agriculture sectors --- and threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, calls for official impeachment proceedings to begin against the President get louder each day following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's statement this week clarifying the evidence in his report of serious obstruction of justice crimes by the President and a need for Congress to take action. A stunning reported comment from an attendee at a town hall held this week in Grand Rapids by Michigan's Republican Rep. Justin Amash underscores the necessity to continue informing the public about Mueller's findings. (So, yeah, we're gonna have to continue doing so. Sorry.) Amash remains the only Republican member of Congress, so far, to call for impeachment proceedings and, perhaps, clearest and most effective voices among Rs or Ds in Congress as to why taking action to hold the President accountable is so crucial.

But outside of Congress, a group of former high-level GOP attorneys are also making their voices heard, with a new video detailing several of Trump's obstruction crimes highlighted by Mueller. The group, Republicans for the Rule of Law, says they plan to begin airing a shorter version of their new ad on TV outlets such as Fox "News", where --- at least according to that attendee at Amash's town hall --- only fake news, falsely claiming Mueller exonerated Trump, is being heard.

Finally today, after several months of relative calm during negotiations with Trump, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un began testing missiles again in early May. While Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton has described the tests as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and South Korea sees the tests as a potential violation of recent agreements between the two Koreas, Trump has continued to downplay --- or completely deny --- Kim's actions.

At the same time, as the North fires ballistic missiles and continues to amass nuclear weaponry, Trump --- who spent the Memorial Day weekend in Japan to discuss this and other matters --- still seems more obsessed with Iran, who does not have nuclear weapons, but is now said to be increasing their fissile material enrichment program in the wake of Trump pulling out of the seven-nation anti-nuclear agreement struck during the Obama Administration. Trump now says he'd "like to make a deal" with Iran, but Iran says they see "no prospect" of such a deal with this American President.

We're joined today by VIPIN NARANG of MIT's Security Studies Program to try and make sense of what is or isn't going on on the Korean peninsula, and how the Trump Administration is or isn't responding to both North Korea and Iran. That, after Trump sided with Kim, while on foreign soil in Japan last weekend, to attack former Vice President and 2020 Presidential hopeful Joe Biden --- and amidst unconfirmed reports from South Korean media that Kim has executed his top nuclear negotiator and four other senior Foreign Ministry officials following the failed summit between him and Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam last February.

Among the very clarifying information from Narang on North Korea, he warns: "The risk now is that by [Trump] green-lighting North Korean tests short of ICBMs, it may encourage or embolden Kim Jong Un to continue testing more frequently, and maybe longer-range missiles. We've seen Trump flip very quickly, so if Kim Jong Un makes a mistake of pushing the line just a little bit too far, or testing one missile too many, President Trump can flip and feel betrayed very quickly." He adds: "If you get a missile test that really pushes a line, then we could end up back [like] in 2017 [with threats of 'fire and fury'], but without the possibility of a diplomatic off-ramp."

Narang, who focuses at MIT on nuclear proliferation, strategy and South Asian security, is the author of the award-winning Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era. Among the insights he offers regarding Trump's on-again, off-again chest thumping against Iran: "It's very difficult to envision a deal with Iranians that is better than the JCPOA ... You're not going to get everything you want in a deal, and that's what the Iranians were willing to accept. And then you have to ask yourself, is a world with the JCPOA in that incarnation better than a world without? And I think it was. It was working."

In both cases, in North Korea and Iran --- as well as the United States --- Narang warns that "dysfunction within the [Trump] Administration" is allowing hardliners to gain the upper-hand against peace initiatives. "The irony is that the hardliners in the United States that want to press Iran, and press North Korea, forget that those countries have hardliners, also." Our actions, he cautions, are now serving to embolden them.

"The horse is out of the barn in North Korea. You're not going to take away their nuclear weapons. The aim should be to avoid a war," he argues. "In the medium term, the risk with this strategy is that North Korea miscalculates, or that Iran miscalculates, and then Trump flips...In the long run, the problem is if this dysfunction isn't sorted out, we are setting ourselves up for crises in both areas."

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Good-ish news from NH and Israel; Trump unhinged after Mueller statement; Bombshell docs unearthed regarding Census citizenship question scam; And many more reasons to impeach this President...
By Brad Friedman on 5/30/2019 6:40pm PT  

We begin, at least, on today's BradCast, with a bit of what we'll call good-ish news, as things get necessarily darker from there. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Among today's stories...

  • New Hampshire's legislature overrides a veto by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu to finally abolish capital punishment. The Granite State becomes the 21st in the union to ban the death penalty which is, as one state Senator accurately describes it, "archaic, costly, discriminatory and violent";
  • More good-ish news from Israel, where a historic second election has now been called after rightwing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a governing coalition after what appeared a Likud party victory in April, when both they and the centrist Blue and White party both won 35 seats in the Knesset. With a new election now set for September, it may be even more difficult for the hard-line Netanyahu, already facing felony indictments, to win what he thought would be an historic 5th term as Prime Minister;
  • Meanwhile, back here at home, the dispute over our own elections, two and a half years ago in 2016, continue, with our President seemingly growing more unhinged now by the day and the need --- and calls from Democrats --- to begin an official impeachment inquiry in the House, becoming louder by the hour following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's remarkable statement at the Dept. of Justice on Wednesday. As discussed in detail on yesterday's program, in his brief remarks, Mueller appeared to completely contradict earlier claims by Donald Trump's Attorney General William Barr that the DoJ's (absurd) guidelines barring criminal prosecution of a sitting President had nothing to do with Mueller's failure to file charges against Trump. In fact, as Mueller made clear (as he also did in his 448-page report [PDF], for those who bothered to actually read it), the Special Counsel's team of prosecutors never even considered criminal charges against the President, due to that dubious Departmental policy. Instead, they gathered evidence of criminal wrongdoing to be considered by Congress for purposes of potential impeachment. However, as Mueller said on Wednesday: "If we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so";
  • Among the most persuasive and clarion voices to lay out the case in favor of impeachment in the U.S. House, ironically enough, is the only Republican who has come out in favor of such proceedings. Conservative Michigan Republican Rep. Justin Amash has been making the case for impeachment in a number of Twitter threads over the last week or so. We review another recent such thread today, in which Amash calls out Barr for having "deliberately misrepresented key aspects of Mueller's report" to Congress and the American people. That recent instructive commentary from Amash concludes by charging that "Barr has so far successfully used his position to sell the president’s false narrative to the American people," and warns: "This will continue if those who have read the report do not start pushing back on his misrepresentations and share the truth." While it's unclear if he's speaking to either his Democratic or Republican colleagues (or both) with that statement, it's also good advice for all Americans. We try do just that today (and every day, for that matter);
  • To that end, we both respond to BRAD BLOG commenter "DonL", who seeks some clarity on the impeachable actions by this President, as well as rebut Trump's unhinged press avail on the White House lawn today where he manically contradicted one of his own tweets from earlier in the day when he claimed that he "had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected." While the tweet was the first known instance of Trump conceding, as the Special Counsel detailed, Russia's efforts to support Trump's 2016 election, he quickly reversed his position when asked about it by media this morning, shouting "No, Russia did not help me get elected! You know who got me elected? I got me elected!" He then went on to respond to a question about whether he thought he would be impeached by claiming he couldn't "imagine the courts allowing it." ("The courts" play no part in impeachment proceedings beyond the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court presiding in the U.S. Senate over a trial for removal from office, should it come to that.) Trump also described "the word impeach" as "a dirty, disgusting, filthy word" as he stalked back and forth while parrying reporter's queries;
  • All of which seems to underscore the need to impeach the criminal and unfit President, despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's increasingly unsupportable arguments against it. Following Mueller's statement on Wednesday and Trump's variously unhinged statements and lies in response to it, there are now about half a dozen 2020 Democratic contenders (many of them Senators) calling for impeachment proceedings, along with at least 50 Democratic members of the House (including 11 members of the House Judiciary Committee and a number of Committee chairs), along with Amash, the lone House Republican to favor impeachment;
  • And, as if still more reasons are needed to bring impeachment proceedings against not only Trump, but other administration officials as well, new "bombshell" documents came to light on Thursday from the hard drive of a now-deceased, longtime Republican operative revealing that the Trump Administration's case for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was built on lies from the jump. Experts say the addition of such a question would serve to disenfranchise urban and immigrant communities in favor of white Republican communities over the next decade, and the newly unearthed documents from the GOP operative say the same thing. The documents, found on the hard drive of the late GOP gerrymandering operative detail how such a question was needed by Republicans because it "would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats" and "advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites." The newly explosive evidence also reveals that Trump officials at the DoJ and Commerce Department (which oversees the Census Bureau), including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, lied to both Congress and prosecutors about their reasons for wanting to add the question. (They absurdly claim it is meant to help the DoJ better enforce the Voting Rights Act.) But with the Republican majority on the stolen U.S. Supreme Court already appearing to favor the addition of the question following recent oral argument, and their decision on the matter due next month, its unclear how the new evidence will be presented to or considered by SCOTUS;
  • Finally, to finish where we started --- with a little bit more good-ish news (very little) --- we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report as the relentless extreme weather begins to ease in the central U.S. and as climate protesters in Europe helped to see big gains for Greens in last weekend's elections for the EU Parliament...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Pause predicted after weeks of catastrophic climate changed-fueled storms in central U.S...
By Brad Friedman on 5/29/2019 5:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: For the first time before, during or since the completion of his two-year Special Counsel's probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and Donald Trump's obstruction of that investigation, Robert Mueller offered a 9-minute statement at the Dept. of Justice today to announce his expected resignation and to clarify a thing or two...sort of. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Mueller made clear, as did his 448-page report [PDF], that while current Dept. of Justice guidelines prevent the indictment of a sitting President, he and his team of investigators would have cleared the President of wrong-doing if they could have. "If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," he explained, adding, "we did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime." Mueller noted that he was bound, from the beginning, by DoJ's guidance which finds that "the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing."

The statement, once again, both contradicts Trump's Attorney General William Barr and clearly places the matter of impeachment on Congress' doorstep. Whether Congress will take up that matter, however, still remains unknown. Following Mueller's remarks, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler offered his strongest condemnation of Trump to date, charging that "the Special Counsel has clearly demonstrated that President Trump is lying about the Special Counsel's findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the Special Counsel's report and, above all, lying in saying that the Special Counsel found no obstruction and no collusion." He further said that "all options were on the table", regarding impeachment, and vowed that "no one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law."

Nonetheless, while Mueller took no questions after his statement, Nadler avoided direct answers to several questions from the press as to whether his Committee would finally begin a formal impeachment inquiry or even subpoena Mueller to testify. We share both statements in full today before we're joined for analysis and insight by award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. She charges that Mueller's statement, once again, highlights how Barr misrepresented the Special Counsel's efforts and findings. He "entirely contradicts what William Barr has told the American people," she says, before moving on to charge that "Democrats are dithering" in the face of clear and convincing evidence of criminal obstruction by the President of the United States.

We also discuss the recent, noteworthy commentary and actions by libertarian conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan on these matters. Amash, alone (so far) among Congressional Republicans, has offered a number of powerful, clear and to-the-point summary condemnations on Twitter of what he describes as Trump's "impeachable" behavior documented by Mueller and takes Barr to task for misrepresentations of those findings. Moreover, as evidenced by a clip from Amash's first town hall event since calling for impeachment, back home in Grand Rapids on Tuesday night, the Congressman, who was elected in the Tea Party wave election of 2010 and is an original founding member of the far-right Freedom Caucus in the House, is not backing down from his advocacy and calls for impeachment of the President.

Parton rings in with her thoughts on Amash and whether he should be considered for the job of House Manager (essentially, one of the "prosecutors") in any trial for conviction and removal of the President in the U.S. Senate, should the Democrats finally move to impeach in the House.

Also today: After several unceasing weeks of severe weather and at least 200 reported tornadoes wreaking havoc and death across more than half a dozen states, the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center predicts a few days of relative calm, finally, in the days ahead, as we head toward the weekend. Major flooding, however, is predicted to continue in many states throughout the central U.S. and, despite the months of catastrophic climate-changed fueled extreme weather, the federal government, headed by a scofflaw President and climate science denier, continues to otherwise ignore our worsening climate crisis...

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

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Guest-hosted by Angie Coiro w/ David Levine, Elizabeth Cobbs and Kate Kendall...
By Angie Coiro on 5/24/2019 5:25pm PT  

I'm Angie Coiro of In Deep Radio, here on today's BradCast to give Brad and Des a breather. They're back post-holiday!

As I note in the show (audio link below) you don't have to agree with Nancy Pelosi's tactics and goals --- hell, you don't even have to like her --- to still doff your cap to her rhetorical skills. Her press conference this week gives a sentence-by-sentence master class in piercing your opponent with a smile, undermining his bombast with grace, and evincing humility while kicking him where it hurts. I walk you through her best-landed blows in today's show.

Then I go over Trump's court losses this week, the specter of impeachment, and even the possibility of Trump pardoning himself with DAVID LEVINE of UC Hastings Law. Spoiler about the self-pardon: no one knows how that would play out, because it's never happened before.

Putting this week's slam on Harriet Tubman into perspective is ELIZABETH COBBS of Stanford. Bottom line: she was a better person and patriot than he could ever pretend to be.

Finally, I have some time with someone I deeply admire. KATE KENDALL did powerhouse work at the head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights for twenty-two years. Now she's heading up Pack the Courts, formed to expand the number of SCOTUS seats to give justice a fighting chance. She explains it all in depth, including that choice of 'potentially-inflammatory name'...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Guest: Eric Boehlert on media kid gloves for Barr, a country in crisis, impeachment, and why 'no one will break the glass on the alarm'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2019 6:29pm PT  

Before we get to the "crapshow" in D.C. today and much more related to it on today's BradCast, a few quick, important points. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, the St. Louis Blues, incredibly enough, are going to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 49 years. Okay, that's not all that important to most, but I've been waiting a really long time, so forgive me my momentary joy.

Second, and much more important (and disturbing): the City of Baltimore's computer networks have been crippled and shutdown by a ransomware attack for more than two weeks now, grinding all city services to a virtual halt and likely requiring a complete rebuild of everything from backup data onto new hardware. Baltimore is reportedly the 20th U.S. municipality to be hit by such an attack so far this year.

Among Baltimore city offices struggling to continue their work is their "dead in the water" Board of Elections, where all local computers are shut down with BOE employees now working remotely out of the State Board of Elections, as well as County Boards in Baltimore and Hartford. The ongoing disaster led the city Board of Elections' Deputy Director to opine: "Thank goodness it's not an election year." Um...yeah..."thank goodness" indeed. But what if it were? And shouldn't this be a much greater concern than, well, pretty much everyone is currently admitting, as city, county and state elections now rely, from top to bottom --- from voter registration to ballot programming to vote tabulation and election results reporting --- on similarly vulnerable computer networks? Without paper poll books at each precinct and HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all, it would be impossible to run an election under such circumstances. But...."thank goodness it's not an election year" and, otherwise, why worry about such crazy "conspiracy theories" as the ones we've been warning about for more than 15 years now?

In other, yes, related news: the Donald Trump Presidency continues to swirl still deeper into the bowels of its own disastrous making while the continuing stand-off with Congress intensifies and more bad news arrives from the federal courts for this President. Today, among too many other things, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Congressional Democratic leadership to discuss the growing cries for an official impeachment inquiry and emerged to declare that "the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up". That completely unsurprising statement was used as a predicate for Trump to storm out of a planned meeting at the White House with Democratic leaders on an infrastructure bill after just three minutes. He then held what media falsely characterized as an "impromptu" news conferences in the Rose Garden where the President discussed "the i-word" and, with a straight face --- in front a pre-printed sign inaccurately declaring "No Collusion, No Obstruction --- claimed to be "the most transparent President, probably, in the history of this country" and that he doesn't "do cover-ups".

Hours later, his ongoing efforts to cover-up his financial records was dealt a second blow this week by a second federal judge who flatly rejected the Trump family's attempt to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One from turning over Trump financial records in response to a lawful Congressional subpoena. Earlier this week a different federal judge found similarly against Trump's attempt to cover up his financial records held by private accounting firm Mazars USA, which are also the subject of a separate lawful Congressional subpoena. And, all of that is related, as we explain, to the cover-up payments to Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen who was "directed" by Trump to give hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels just prior to the 2016 election to cover-up their alleged affair.

Of course, as Trump's administration continues to cover-up their own growing private email server scandals (remember that li'l problem they had with Hillary Clinton about that?), the man who has helped carry off Trump's greatest cover-up to date (at least that we know of, so far) is his new Attorney General, cover-up artist and personal fixer William Barr. Our guest today, author and media critic ERIC BOEHLERT argues Barr has not been appropriately held to account by the corporate media, even after being found in contempt by the House Judiciary Committee for failing to answer a lawful Congressional subpoena to hand over the full Mueller Report and its underlying evidence. Boehlert explains as he wrote this week, where and why he sees the corporate media dropping the ball.

"New York Times, Washington Post --- they haven't called for his resignation," Boehlert tells me. "It is inconceivable what Bill Barr could possibly do which would trigger major newspapers in this country to call for his resignation. People say, 'Well, who cares? He's not going to resign.' That's true, but, it sends this message that we are in a crisis. We are in a possibly defining crisis in American history. But these major news organizations don't want to go there. They don't want to raise the temperature."

The crisis he refers to, of course, has "been a problem since Inauguration Day 2017, [but] no one will break the glass on the alarm."

We also discuss whether Congressional Democrats are falling short as well, as the internecine debate among Democrats in the House over whether to begin a formal impeach inquiry continues to grow and intensify. Among the many points discussed in that conversation: whether the conventional wisdom that Senate Republicans would never vote to convict and remove Trump from office is actually true...

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

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Guest: Dave Daley of FairVote: Also: Tornado swarms erupt across U.S. amid climate crisis; Ford to fire thousands of workers...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2019 6:58pm PT  

Our guest on today's BradCast, argues that representative democracy is facing a "major crisis." And he wasn't even talking about the Constitutional Crisis we are now seeing as Trump turns up his obstruction measures against the U.S. Congress to 11. But partisan gerrymandering underscores that crisis as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, however, much of Texas and Oklahoma are under tornado watches and warnings today, as 10 million Americans were under flash flood warnings as of airtime today, following as many as 67 tornadoes over the weekend in in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas and Nebraska. That, after more than a month of record flooding along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in many states. There is good reason that the UK's Guardian newspaper updated its style-guide last week to reflect the existential climate crisis humanity now faces, thanks to the burning of fossil fuels. The Guardian is now recommending "climate change" be referred to by its journalists as "climate emergency, crisis or breakdown", and that "global warming" is better described as "global heating", with "climate science denier" to be used instead of the inaccurate "climate skeptic". It will be nice when US media decides to do the same.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Ford Motor Co.'s CEO --- who personally received a 6% raise last year, bringing his total compensation package to nearly $18 million --- announced plans for a "smart organizational redesign process" on Monday. That's a nice way of describing the company's decision to lay off as many as 7,000 workers by the end of summer. So much for the $1.5 trillion GOP tax cut assuring jobs, jobs, jobs and putting our economy "on rocket fuel", apparently, as Trump promised.

But the biggest news over the weekend, no doubt, comes from conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, who announced and explained on Twitter why he believes "President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct" and why even the redacted version of the Mueller Report reveals Trump "engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment."

The courageous, staunch libertarian Tea Party Republican and co-founder of the hard right Freedom Caucus in Congress, also charges that Trump's new Attorney General William Barr "deliberately misrepresented Mueller's report", that "partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances," and that "the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ [impeachment] as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct." He went on to warn, as we long have as well, that "When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law --- the foundation of liberty --- crumbles."

Trump's impressive response was to call Amash "a total lightweight" and "loser". Ours is to bestow him with our much-sought after, if rarely bestowed, Intellectually Honest Conservative Award

Of course, there are other reasons that so few (exactly zero, at the moment) other Congressional GOPers have joined Amash in standing up for what they used to pretend to believe in. One is that Democrats have yet to present the case for impeachment to the American public, even as the Trump Administration invokes every form of unlawful obstructive measure to try and keep them from doing so. (Breaking news during today's program, for example, includes a federal judge finding Trump's accounting firm Mazars must turn over Trump's financial documents as lawfully subpoenaed by Congress, despite a lawsuit from Trump attempting to block them from doing so; and news that the White House has now ordered former White House Counsel Don McGahn to defy a Congressional subpoena requiring him to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.)

The other reason many Republicans in Congress feel no need to hold Trump to account is that the GOP's extreme partisan gerrymandering in state after state following the 2010 census has resulted in members of Congress who feel --- with no small amount of justification --- that they cannot be removed from office by voters in a general election. The radical imbalance of such obscene district maps have resulted, for example, in Democratic House candidates winning almost 50% of the vote last year in North Carolina, but ultimately taking just 3 of the state's 13 U.S. House seats. In Ohio, essentially 50/50 splits by voters for members of Congress have resulted in just 4 of 20 seats going to Democrats, year after year, over the past decade. We've similar stories in other key states such as Wisconsin, Maryland and Pennsylvania, with courts finding House Districts and state legislative districts alike to have been unconstitutionally gerrymandered, and orders by federal courts to draw new, fairer maps repeatedly blocked by the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court.

That decade-long scam, as our guest today, DAVID DALEY of FairVote argued last week at New Republic, is precisely why GOP-controlled state after GOP-controlled state in recent weeks, have been able to adopt radical, extremist and even unpopular anti-abortion restrictions. Daley, author of the book RATF**KED: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, lays out his argument, updates us on the recent partisan gerrymandering cases in North Carolina and Maryland now before SCOTUS (with a ruling due next month), and why, as he argues, the fight for fair maps, fair elections and democracy itself "is not going to be saved in this country by any given election," but needs to be "engaged and fought every single day" as we are now in "a war for the future of this country"...

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

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