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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, December 5, 2021
Partisan Gerrymander Fights in State Courts and Debating Tit-for-Tat Dem Redistricting: 'BradCast' 12/3/21
Guest: Univ. of KY's Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Media mislead again on new jobs numbers...
When Wingnuts Collide!:
'BradCast' 12/2/21
Trump grifters turn on each other from 'Stop the Steal' world to Congress, as legal probs and death threats mount and laughter ensues...
'Green News Report' 12/2/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
2021 hurricane season ends, and it was a costly; U.S. world's biggest plastic polluter; Big breakthrough on EV charging; PLUS: A ray of sunshine for monarch butterflies...
Previous GNRs: 11/30/21 - 11/18/21 - Archives...
SCOTUS Set to Cancel Abortion Rights; GOP Set to Steal 2024 Election:
'BradCast' 12/1/21
Guest: Kenny Bruno on 'DEFCON for Democracy'; Also: 4th student dies in MI...
NLRB Orders New Amazon Unionization Vote in AL: 'BradCast' 11/30/21
Guest: Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein of UCSB; Also: Federal Appeals Court hears Trump case for blocking 1/6 docs; Meadows now said 'cooperating' with 1/6 Committee...
'Green News Report' 11/30/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
While we were out -- 52 killed in Russian coal mine; Water scarcity unrest in Iran; Biden opens Strategic Oil Reserve; Seattle's wettest fall ever; PLUS: Much MUCH more...
Previous GNRs: 11/18/21 - 11/16/21 - Archives...
Worry, Don't Worry and/or be Thankful: 'BradCast' 11/29/21
We're back! Setting the record straight with REAL news on the economy, COVID, Ukraine and more. Plus: Callers on all of the above...
More Thanksgiving Leftover Toons
Overstuff yourself with PDiddie's still tasty SECOND HELPING of T-Day week toons!...
Leftover Turkey Toons
Delicious toons with all the trimmings in PDiddie's Turkey Day toon collection...
Sunday 'Friendsgiving' Toons
PDiddie's latest festive collection! Because that's what toons are for...
There'd Be No Trucker Short-age If Industry Took Care of Drivers: 'BradCast' 11/19/21
Guest: Nicolas Rivero of Quartz; Also: House passes BBB; VA school board unbans books; Recounts will determine control of VA House...
Digging Deeper Into the Case for Homicide Charges Against Both Trump AND Pence: 'BradCast' 11/18/21
Also: COVID rising again before holidays; OK clemency for Julius Jones...
'Green News Report' 11/18/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Deadly extreme flooding in Pacific Northwest; Admin's controversial oil and gas lease sale; F.T.C. to probe Big Oil corruption; PLUS: Biden promotes American-made EVs in Detroit...
Previous GNRs: 11/16/21 - 11/11/21 - Archives...
Deflating Inflation Panic: 'BradCast' 11/17
Guest: The Intercept's Jon Schwarz on how it's misreported, good for many workers, bad for big banks; Also: 3+ years for 'QAnon Shaman'; Gosar censured; Biden' Big Oil probe; Sanders on 'Defense'...
The Unmistakable Drumbeat of Authoritarianism: 'BradCast' 11/16/21
Ominous warnings: Gerrymanders continue; GOPers v. GOPers; More on the attempt to steal 2020; Book 'burning'; Trump's COVID cover-up...
'Green News Report' 11/16/21
U.N. climate summit ends with progress, compromise; Coal 'down' but not 'out' at Glasgow; PLUS: Biden signs landmark bipartisan infrastructure deal into law...
Long Roads to Accountability, Climate Action, Infrastructure: 'BradCast' 11/15
Bannon surrenders; COP26 concludes; Biden signs landmark, roads, bridges, enviro bill...
Sunday 'Big Bird, Little Bird' Toons
Flip on over to PDiddie's toon collection this week for the latest signs of the times...
Sports, Politics, Race and Florida:
'BradCast' 11/12/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with FL Guber-natorial Candidate Annette Taddeo and The Nation's Dave Zirin; Also: BANNON FINALLY INDICTED!...
'Green News Report' 11/11/21
COP26 crunch time; Surprise US/China climate deal; Big EV agreement; Renewables rise in U.S.; PLUS: Nations under-reporting emissions, new analysis finds...
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: Legal expert John Bonifaz of Free Speech for People; Also: GOP gerrymandering getting worse, Dems running out of time to stop it...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2021 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There is a long list of pretty clear crimes that Donald Trump and his cronies have committed and might have been charged with by now. So far, however, a full year since he lost the election and nearly eight months since Merrick Garland was sworn in as President Biden's Attorney General, there is little sign of accountability for the disgraced former President at the federal level. Citing what they describe as a failure to meet this critical moment for the nation, some legal and Constitutional experts are now calling for Garland to resign. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

It's not as though the U.S. Department of Justice hasn't been busy in the wake of Trump's four years of undermining both the rule of law and the DoJ itself. They have, to date, brought charges against nearly 700 rioters incited by Trump to attack the U.S. Capitol in hopes of stealing the 2020 election somehow on January 6th.

In recent days, the Department has also filed two federal lawsuits against the state of Texas for their new voter suppression law and their clearly unconstitutional new law banning most abortions in the state. They've also brought suit against the state of Georgia in recent months, challenging their new voter suppression law as well.

Meanwhile, active investigations into Trump's potential violations of law are underway by state and local prosecutors both in New York and Georgia. But, at the federal level, there seems to be nothing, at least in sight, despite a laundry list of legal transgressions by the former President and his accomplices, dating well before his term in office and continuing right up through the very end.

"Over the past thirty years, Merrick Garland served with distinction as a federal prosecutor and then as an appellate judge," a new statement [PDF] and campaign by the nonpartisan legal advocacy nonprofit Free Speech for People (FSFP) begins. "Unfortunately, as Attorney General for the past eight months, he has failed to take any meaningful action to hold accountable former president Donald Trump and his co-conspirators for attempting to overthrow the government on January 6, 2021 and a flurry of criminal acts in the months and years leading up to that date. Instead, he has adopted indefensible positions of the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) to protect Trump from accountability. Since Garland is unwilling to step up, it is time for him to step down."

Their statement this week concludes: "As long as Trump and his co-conspirators walk free, American democracy is in danger. We need an Attorney General who understands that danger and is willing to take action to protect democracy and the rule of law. Merrick Garland must resign."

In response to FSFP's campaign launched on Thursday, Laurence Tribe, Harvard Law School's renowned legal scholar and Professor Emeritus, tweeted out on Thursday night that while he was "not ready to join this movement", he believes it is "worth noting" as it comes from "serious and responsible" people. "DOJ must take note," he warned.

Joining us to discuss their call for Garland to step down is FSFP's "serious and responsible" Co-Founder and President, JOHN BONIFAZ, a longtime, well-respected Constitutional expert, author and accountability champion. Back in January, before Garland was even sworn in as Attorney General, FSFP led a campaign with nearly a dozen other good government groups and some 200,000 individuals who signed on, calling for the nation's top cop, once sworn in, to form an independent task force to investigate "any potential federal criminal or civil violations that may have been committed by President Trump, members of his administration, or his campaign, business, or other associates."

Now, months later, with no sign of any such task force OR investigation, FSFP has regrettably determined that Garland is not up to the task, with Bonifaz citing the apparent lack of charges --- at least so far --- against former Trump advisor Steve Bannon as "the last straw". Bannon was referred by the U.S. House for criminal Contempt of Congress to the DoJ two weeks ago. But as the group's statement observes, after detailing a panoply of apparent, if uncharged Trump-era crimes: "The last time that the House referred a contempt of Congress charge to DOJ, then-President Reagan’s prosecutors immediately brought the matter to a grand jury; it returned an indictment just nine days after the House vote."

In response to my questions as to whether federal probes could be ongoing at DoJ, but we simply don't know about them yet, Bonifaz cites the agency's prosecution of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for charges related to a criminal conspiracy the DoJ declared at the time was "directed" by Trump, and the ten or more instances of Obstruction of Justice by the then-sitting President, as cited by Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation. While it has been DoJ's (ridiculous) policy that sitting Presidents may not be indicted while in office, that excuse is long gone, Bonifaz argues. "The fact that there's been no action whatsoever on any of these offenses, including the ones that were well-established the moment that Garland took office as Attorney General --- that is deeply concerning, and signals that they ultimately do not intend to engage in holding him accountable. We're ready to be surprised, but at this point, nine months after he has taken office, we need new leadership at the Dept. of Justice, in our view, to ensure that the rule of law is enforced."

Does Bonifaz believe that Biden's DoJ may be trying to protect the office of the President itself from charges of political bias or from the DoJ being used as --- or being seen as being used as --- a political weapon? "What is at issue is that the Donald Trump Administration and Donald Trump himself used the Dept. of Justice as his own private agency to cover up. So what's critical now is that the Justice Department establish itself as an independent agency that's not going to carry out the political agenda of the President. If anything, doing what they're doing, in this particular instance, indicates somehow that they may have political considerations at stake," he contends. "That they may not want to engage in indicting a former President because of the impact it will have on the current President and his own political agenda --- that is just as wrong as a decision by Donald Trump to misuse the Justice Department for his own political purposes."

"There is no get-out-of-jail-free card because it's hard for the nation to handle it, or because we somehow need to come up with this fiction that the President is protected in a special way than others are," he asserts. "He's a former President, and if he engaged in these federal crimes, he needs to be held accountable."

There is, of course, MUCH more from Bonifaz today on all of this, including whether he thinks folks like Harvard's Tribe and other accountability groups may sign on to FSFP's effort) they are collecting signatures on a petition at GarlandMustResign.org); the outrage of actual legal protections the DoJ has been offering on Trump's behalf in court; and whether he believes that state prosecutors in New York and Georgia, at this point, are more likely to ultimately bring at least some accountability for at least some of Trump's many crimes.

Also on today's show, more troubling evidence of outrageously extreme partisan gerrymandering being enacted as we speak by Republican-controlled states around the country, and the need --- for the survival of democracy itself --- for Democrats to step up in response, whether by partisan gerrymandering states that they control or, preferably, by passage of federal voting rights and election reform legislation in Congress, such as the Freedom to Vote Act, to ban partisan gerrymandering in all 50 states prior to the 2022 midterm elections...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Const'l Attorney John Bonifaz on reversing 'the road to tyranny' (and also on how to get foreign corporate money out of U.S. elections)...
By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2021 6:46pm PT  

Writing at Washington Monthly today, asking "Why Is Merrick Garland Defending Bill Barr's Policies?," law professor and Free Speech for People (FSFP) Board Member Jennifer Taub quips: "This is Merrick Garland's Tylenol moment, and by which I mean he has more than a headache but a poisoning on his hands." Yup. Today's BradCast won't cure his headache, but it may offer an antidote for the poisoning...if he pays attention. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

The new Attorney General spoke at the Dept. of Justice on Tuesday about his national strategy to focus on the rise of domestic terrorism, particularly carried out by white supremacists in the wake of the Trump-incited January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Garland described such incidents as "attacks on all of us collectively, aimed at rending the fabric of our democratic society and driving us apart," adding: "We have an enormous task ahead, to move forward as a country, to punish the perpetrators, to do everything possible to prevent similar attacks and to do so in a manner that affirms the values on which our justice system is founded and upon which democracy depends."

Garland's remarks follow on his announcement Friday that he is doubling the number of DoJ attorneys focused on enforcing voting rights at the federal level in light of new vote suppression laws being adopted by Republicans in states around the country.

So, he seems to understand at least two major threats to the values "on which our justice system is founded and upon which democracy depends." But is he really prepared to punish all of the perpetrators?

Every day now it seems that stunning new information is revealed as to just how poisoned our Dept. of Justice had become under the Trump Administration, as the former President used the nation's once widely respected law enforcement agency for his own personal purposes, to protect himself from legal accountability (as in former AG Bill Barr's use of the department to block Trump from criminal accountability for obstruction following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's findings and from civil accountability in the defamation case filed by Trump's alleged rape victim, E. Jean Carroll, both of which Taub writes about today); to wield power against his perceived political enemies (as we learned last week, when it was revealed that the DoJ secretly obtained phone, email and text message records from Democratic lawmakers and several media outlets in 2018); and, in futile efforts to keep himself in power (as we learned today, based on emails obtained by the House Oversight Committee revealing Trump tried to order the DoJ to file briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of his evidence-free big lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him).

As more and more emerges, it's difficult to keep up with it all. But, sadly, what we know so far is likely only the tip of the iceberg. That's why, back in February, a group of non-partisan government watchdog groups penned a letter [PDF] to then Judge Merrick Garland, prior to his confirmation as AG, calling on him to form a task force at the DoJ immediately after being confirmed, "to investigate any potential federal criminal or civil violations that may have been committed by former President Trump, members of his administration, or his campaign, business, or other associates."

The letter, which has now been signed onto by more than 200,000 Americans, according to FSFP, asks Garland to convene the task force to probe Trump's "flurry of unethical, unconstitutional, and often criminal activity, culminating on January 6, 2021, with the seditious insurrection on the United States Capitol incited and encouraged by former President Trump and his allies."

"If we are to begin the process of restoring the integrity of the Department of Justice and the rule of law to our nation," the groups write --- before detailing at least five different categories of "potential offenses" by the previous administration --- "it is essential that the Department thoroughly investigate these actions and, where warranted and appropriate, hold accountable those who have violated the nation's laws."

That DoJ task force, however, has yet to be formed. And Garland, according to our guest today, Constitutional attorney and longtime voting rights champion JOHN BONIFAZ, co-founder and President of FSFP, has yet to reply to the February letter.

On today's show, Bonifaz explains why "it's critical" that this task force be stood up, and why such a group of prosecutors need to be convened in this matter, rather than an independent commission formed by Congress, a blue ribbon panel formed by the White House or even another Special Counsel investigation launched by DoJ.

While he supports Congressional oversight in general, he explains: "The reason why we believe a task force is the best way to go over a Special Counsel is we do think this should not be assigned outside of the Department to someone who then is seen, as Robert Mueller was, as the sole arbiter of this." While disagreeing, as many scholars do, with the notion that a sitting President cannot be criminally indicted, Bonifaz explains that Mueller's report "was very clear that once the President was out of office, he would be free to be prosecuted for those crimes."

"That's just one example of many as to why this task force needs to be created," he tells me. "There are multiple investigations that need to proceed, and potentially multiple prosecutions. It would be an outrage for this Administration to claim that it's going to turn the page, it's not going to conduct that kind of accountability for those that have engaged in such lawless behavior in the last Administration. That's what happens on the road to tyranny. If we're to protect our democracy and our Constitution, it's critical that we hold Donald Trump and his associates accountable for the violations of federal criminal law they may have committed."

We discuss a number of the already known issues currently crying out for real probes by federal prosecutors if the DoJ is ever to be restored; concerns about Trump associates still burrowed in at Justice; the many investigations known to have been shut down by Barr which should quickly be re-opened; and the question of "why is the Biden Justice Department continuing the work of the Barr Justice Department" when it comes to attacks on press freedoms via only-recently lifted gag orders on secret subpoenas of reporters' private records and "the intervention that the Barr Justice Department started in the E. Jean Carroll case --- both of these decisions were clearly made with Garland's knowledge."

I also ask Bonifaz for his opinion on whether he believes Garland is actually up to the gargantuan task of dealing with the ongoing and increasing problems that DoJ must now handle regarding all sorts of criminal and civil matters, even while bringing both accountability for the unprecedented corruption of the previous Administration and the necessary reforms at DoJ to avoid the same or worse abuse of the nation's top law enforcement agency in the future.

"I think this is a moment for the Department of Justice, but also for democracy and our Constitution. And they need to get it right," he explains.

In a separate matter, FSFP --- which was founded in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2010 'Citizens United' ruling that opened the floodgates to corporate money in American elections --- is now working at the state level to enact model legislation that would bar corporations with foreign investors (which is a whole lot of them!) from being allowed to spend money in state and municipal elections.

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen, as new temperature records are being smashed during the year's first major (and very early) heat wave, for our latest Green News Report. Beyond the bad news about climate change, we've got some very good news to close with today, particularly for folks up in Alaska...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: Ohio's $1M vaccine lottery; Greene bullies AOC in Congress; McGahn agrees to testify in House; Trump could soon face extradition...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2021 6:29pm PT  

We barely made it for today's BradCast, after a nightmarish computer crash. So, if today's show is an odd, disjointed mess that makes no sense at all, feel free to blame Microsoft. But if it's great, I'll take all the credit! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • Huge news today from the CDC! "This is a great day for America," President Joe Biden proclaimed in the Rose Garden, after his mask free meeting with vaccinated Republicans in the Oval. The fully vaccinated may now take off their masks in most places both indoors and out, and end social distancing protocols, according to the CDC's surprise announcement. There are a few caveats, as we discuss, and, of course, even though this weekend marks two weeks since the second COVID shot for Desi and me (and the "fully vaccinated" status that comes with it), we've still got a few reservations.
  • Even the friends on Fox and Friends admit they are all vaxxed up now! But even that hasn't kept them from continuing to pump disinformation about vaccines into the veins and brains of their horrifically misinformed viewers.
  • The quest continues to get shots into arms of the hesitant --- many of whom not-coincidentally-at-all happen to be Republican male and Fox "News" viewers. Some GOP state Governors are now coming up with clever incentives. West Virginia's Jim Justice is offering $100 savings bonds to residents age 16 to 35 who get their shots. Ohio's Mike DeWine announced on Wednesday that vaxxed up Buckeye Staters will be eligible to win 1 million dollars in a lottery, five weeks in a row! (But why not 10 winners each week of $100,000? We discuss.) In both cases, the payoffs are coming courtesy of the federal government, via Joe Biden and the Democrats' American Rescue Plan, which no Republicans voted for. But it's nice to see Republican Governors enticing their residents with "socialist" cash prizes!
  • And then there's Georgia's embarrassing Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene who "aggressively confronted" New York's Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday night in the halls of Congress. She followed her, stalked her, and called her a "terrorist" and a "chicken" for refusing, apparently, to debate her about...whatever. It was some top-notch 5th grade level bullying, but nothing new for the loathsome Greene. Her caucus, apparently, has no problem with her behavior, even as they voted this week to remove Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership position because she refuses to participate in the Big Lie about a stolen election and believes Donald Trump should be held accountable for inciting an insurrection on the U.S. Capitol.
  • And, yes, it was an insurrection, despite the attempts by House GOPers in recent days to pretend that it was not. (Here's some fresh video evidence if you need it.)
  • Speaking of accountability (or lack thereof), Politico offers a fascinating scoop today --- for some reason --- regarding extradition statutes in two different states in the event that, for example, someone who is staying at a resort in Palm Beach, Florida or Bedminster, New Jersey finds themselves criminally indicted by a District Attorney from Manhattan within the next few months. Hmmm....
  • And, speaking of a bit more accountability --- let's say, at the federal level --- on Wednesday night, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee struck a court-approved deal with the U.S. Dept. of Justice for Donald Trump's White House Counsel Don McGahn to finally answer his 2019 subpoena to testify about his starring role in the 448-page report [PDF] issued by Special Counsel Robert Mueller concerning at least 10 documented instances of apparent criminal obstruction by the disgraced former President. No extradition charges are needed for federal indictments...unless the perp flees the country.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report as the Colonial Pipeline restarts after a ransomware attack shut down the nation's largest pipeline network (and, yes, as I asserted in the GNR, we learned later today the company did pay a ransom to the hackers!); as gas hording Americans on the Eastern Seaboard have been panic-buying; as the Biden Administration greenlights the first major offshore wind farm in the U.S.; and as Tesla dumps Bitcoin due to its massive carbon footprint...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: L.A. Times' Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown details on 2016 election interference...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2021 7:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's nice to see hundreds of companies and corporate executives coming out in favor of democracy and voting rights. If only they actually meant it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, the Biden Administration announced a spate of new sanctions against Russian organizations and individuals in response to both the massive Solar Winds hack of top U.S. agencies, including including the Treasury, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security departments, as well as for what is described as interference in the 2020 election on behalf of Donald Trump.  At the same time, the Administration seems to be going out of their way to downplay the sweeping sanctions by suggesting that they are open to top level discussions to avoid further exacerbating growing tensions between the two nations.

But one of the 32 individuals sanctioned is of note today because the announcement from the U.S. Treasury Department refers to the 2016 election, charging that the individual, Konstanin Kilimnik shared proprietary polling information given to him by Trump's first campaign manager, Paul Manafort, directly with Russian Intelligence Services.  If true, that would be significant new information. Previous reports on Russia's involvement in the 2016 election from both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee cite the information Manafort is said to have given to his former business associate Kilimnik, a Russian and Ukrainian political operative linked to Russian intelligence. But neither of those voluminous report goes so far as to say that the data was subsequently given directly to Russian intelligence services.  Those reports acknowledge they were not able to learn what came of it after it was handed over to Kilimnik. Today's announcement of the sanctions by the Treasury, however, notes: "During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy."

As national security website Just Security observes: "The Treasury Department’s new statement raises questions about why this information is coming out now and why the Special Counsel’s office did not have access to it during its investigation. Was it not available then or did it exist but was not provided to the Mueller team?"   So, does this mean the Biden Administration has uncovered details on manipulation of the 2016 election that was previously hidden or withheld by the Trump Administration?  It looks like the "Clean up on Aisle 45" will be continuing for quite some time. There is a LOT to clean up.

In not entirely unrelated news, hundreds of companies and corporate CEOs issued a full-size, two-page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post and other papers this week, with a short statement purporting to declare "WE STAND FOR DEMOCRACY," and noting: "We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot."

Though the statement doesn't mention any specific states, it was issued in response to Republicans' recently enacted voters suppression law in Georgia and dozens of other states where similar restrictions on the franchise, in bills sponsored by GOP state lawmakers, are moving forward.  All of which is said to be in response to false claims by Trump and Republicans of massive fraud in 2020.  Georgia's new law, for example, makes it more difficult to vote by mail, limits the use of drop boxes, bans the distribution of food or water on long voting lines (which are all too typical in certain parts of the Peach State) and allows the partisan GOP state legislature to replace bipartisan County Election Boards with a single partisan person who will be able to unilaterally undermine elections or even overturn results.

While statements like the one issued this week in the two-page ad --- and, before it, by Atlanta-based companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines --- have resulted in good publicity for those signed onto them, they have also brought blowback from the right, leading Republicans (who pretend to abhor so-called "cancel culture") to demand boycotts of any company which stands up for voting rights.

I have railed in recent weeks about the absurdity of Republicans finally paying attention to concerns about new voter suppression laws only now that a number of corporations have come out in apparent opposition to such laws. Corporate entities, it seems, have far more sway with the GOP lawmakers who ignored weeks of complaints and protests about the new laws from actual voters before the GA law was passed.

But our guest today is seemingly even more cynical about these recent corporate declarations of fealty to democracy. We're joined today by MICHAEL HILTZIK, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and business columnist at the Los Angeles Times. He argued in his column this week that many of the "vague" declarations recently by large corporations are no substitute for actual action. He cites a host of companies, for example, which, following the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection, vowed to suspend donations to lawmakers who had voted to overturn the Electoral College results that same day. Despite those public pronouncements, he details one company after another --- from Jet Blue to AT&T to Toyota --- which, despite their previous public claims, have since given plenty of money to dozens of Republicans who voted against the certification of Biden's Electoral College victory.

In his column, he notes that while many companies and executives have come out in opposition of suppressive voting laws, almost none have gone on record to demand the passage of measures which would counteract them, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or H.R. 1, the For the People Act.

"It's not that unusual for businesses to affiliate themselves on the side of the angels when they feel a lot of popular pressure to do so.  But once again the question is, what are they going to do about it?," Hiltzik tells me today. "Let's face facts. Many of the companies --- if not all of them --- that signed on to these statements, these honeyed words, had been assiduous supporters of the politicians who are now out there introducing and passing laws that restrict the voting franchise."

Criticizing their failure to speak out before Georgia's law was adopted, for example, he says, "They didn't really put their reputations on the line when they didn't think they had to.  And, as a result, we have a law in Georgia that's going to be very hard to repeal because the more these companies come out and say this is wrong, the more the rightwing legislators who passed it are doubling down, saying 'We're not going to kowtow to these liberal leftwing corporations'.  So they lost their chance. They're trying to recover. But I don't think they really deserve a lot of credence just by signing a statement."

Moreover, he explains, many of these very same companies have been opponents of democracy within their own corporate organizations. "What's really hypocritical is that these same companies that have said 'We believe in democracy, we believe in everybody having a vote' --- they've actually gone to the Securities and Exchange Commission and asked for, and received, a tightening of the rules that makes it even harder for small shareholders to get resolutions on the annual meeting agenda, and to actually get votes on the resolutions that they submit."

There is plenty of cynicism on today's show to go around. And it extends to our discussion of the need for campaign finance reform, and several neat GOP tricks that have long been used to prevent such long-overdue efforts to keep corporations out of our elections altogether.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us once again for our latest Green News Report, which, as always, is chocked full of important news, including Japan's announcement that they intend to dump more than a million tons of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. And we close with a follow up to that story from the Guardian today, regarding Japan's ill-fated attempt to marginalize concerns from their own citizens and neighboring countries, by using a cartoon character dubbed "Little Mr. Tritium" to make the massive release of radioactive wastewater slightly more adorable than it actually otherwise is...

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Winning the Right to Vote; DeJoy to DeCongress; Repub Led Senate Report on Team Trump Lies About 2016 Russia Interference; Former DHS Official Calls Trump 'Terrifying', Lawless; Highlights from DNC Day 1...
By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2020 6:25pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, it is what it is. But we're here to cover it. And so we do. In the most information-packed broadcast you're likely to find anywhere. At least for the price. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among the MANY stories covered today...

  • It's been 100 years since women won the right to vote, as the 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18th, 1920. They were not granted the right. They fought like hell for generations and won it for themselves. Sadly, thanks to Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans, too many are still fighting like hell to keep it;
  • Over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi summoned lawmakers back to D.C. to pass a law this Saturday to roll back efforts by Donald Trump's donor and newly appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, to slow down mail delivery in advance of the November election. On Monday, he and U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors Chair --- and former RNC Chair --- Robert Duncan, agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee next week. Today, DeJoy also agreed to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday and, clearly under pressure and facing lawsuits by 20 different state Attorneys General, DeJoy agreed to pause his new directives at the USPS...if you believe him;
  • The Republican-led U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a damning, nearly 1000-page report today on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the Trump Campaign's cooperation with the effort. The bipartisan report, described as more expansive than the one by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, highlights, among many other things: Trump's criminal lies to Mueller about conversations he "did, in fact" have with convicted felon Roger Stone (and multiple other campaign staffers) concerning the publication of stolen emails by WikiLeaks before the 2016 election; convicted Trump Campaign Manager Paul Manafort's collusion with a Russian intelligence agent described as a "grave counterintelligence threat"; the Russian "influence operation" after the election to claim that it was Ukraine, not Russia, which interfered in 2016 on behalf of Hillary Clinton, not Trump --- a claim for which the Senate Committee found "no reliable evidence" despite more than 200 interviews over three years of fact-finding, including with Trump family members and top campaign officials;
  • Just hours before the Democratic National Committee's Convention was to convene on Monday night, the group Republican Voters Against Trump released a damning video featuring Miles Taylor, the former Chief of Staff at Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security, who describes Trump's incompetence as "terrifying", detailing frequently "illegal" orders from the President who, he says, often attempted to exploit the DHS for his own political purposes and personal benefit. Taylor said today we should expect more insiders coming forward with similarly disturbing revelations in coming days;
  • Then, we move to the first night of the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention with a few thoughts about the format (a "convention" without the actual convening part) and the high-profile Republicans --- including Ohio's former Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate John Kasich --- who spoke in support of Joe Biden on the Dems' opening night. We also share the segment featuring Kristin Urquiza, whose Trump-supporting father believed the coronavirus to be a hoax, until we was killed by it. We then play extended excerpts from former Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders' full-throated endorsement of Biden, making the progressive case for his Presidency, and finally an extended portion of the killer keynote remarks by former First Lady Michelle Obama, detailing Trump's irreparable failures as President and why the nation needs to replace him with Biden. Both Sanders and Obama made excellent arguments for why neither progressives nor Democrats nor the country nor the planet could endure four more years under the most inept, corrupt, dishonest, failed President in the history of the nation;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest, incredibly jam-packed Green News Report, as extreme weather broils the U.S., Greenland's ice sheet faces its final days, and the Trump Administration opens up the previously pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to commercial oil drilling...even though Donald Trump apparently does not even know what it is.

But, of course, it is what it is...

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Guest: Constitutional attorney Ben Clements of Free Speech for People; Also: New COVID records; Woolery deletes his Twitter account; RBG battling cancer again; Bowman declared 'winner' in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 7/17/2020 7:11pm PT  

It ain't over 'til it's over. And several well-respected Constitutional attorneys have just filed a motion arguing the Roger Stone case is not over at all. Not yet anyway. One of those attorneys joins us on today's BradCast to explain. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first, some other news of note today. It's becoming a broken record, but the U.S. broke yet another record for new, daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday. It's the 11th such record smashed in the first 16 days of July. With more than 75,600 confirmed new cases reported on Thursday alone, the U.S. is now quickly rushing toward the 100,000 cases per day that Dr. Anthony Fauci shocked the nation a week or so ago by predicting was likely coming soon.

Of course, why should anybody believe the nation's top infectious disease expert Fauci on these things? Former game show host turned rightwing genius Chuck Woolery certainly doesn't! Or didn't. Maybe he does now. Woolery unleashed an unhinged Twitter rant on Sunday calling news about COVID-19 "outrageous lies", and warning us that "The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors" are "lying" about it all. The President of the United State retweet that screed to much notice on the same day. The very next day, however, on Monday, Woolery tweeted again. This time "To further clarify and add perspective." What was his added perspective? His son had been diagnosed with COVID-19. That led the former "Love Connection" host to concede that the virus "is real and it is here." He deleted his entire Twitter account soon thereafter.

Yes. It's real and here, no matter how much Trump and his duped followers hope to pretend it away. And Woolery is just the latest wingnut to be hoisted on his own idiotic social media rantings suggesting the coronavirus is little more than hoax by the media and by Democrats to help them win the upcoming election and/or to allow Fauci and Bill Gates to control the world. Or something. Unlike so many other wingnuts, sadly, who've offered similarly dangerous public rants over the past several months, Woolery wasn't actually killed by the virus before his embarrassing social media spew revealed him to be an idiot. We send our best wishes for a healthy future to both him and his son.

Similarly, we send such wishes to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg who, after apparently overcoming an infection that hospitalized her overnight this week, announced that she, separately, has been undergoing twice-weekly chemotherapy since being diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer on her liver in May. She has, so far over the past decade, survived pancreatic, colon and lung cancer. She says her current cancer is "at bay" and that she is "able to maintain an active daily routine." In her statement today, she vowed to continue her work at the Court until she can no longer "do the job full steam," adding "I remain fully able to do that." In fact, according to NBC News, other than Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Ginsburg authored more opinions over the past term than any of the other Justices, even as she was undergoing treatment for cancer. Meanwhile, the nation will remain on pins and needles until a new President is sworn in.

Ginsburg's still-sharp mind may soon be needed on a number of landmark matters that could come before the Republican's stolen SCOTUS, as the Trump Presidency (hopefully) nears its ugly end over the next several months, even as he becomes more desperate, manic, narcissistic and reckless with each passing day. One such matter that could come before the Court is a ruling on the Constitutionality of Trump's grant of Executive Clemency to his long time pal, former Trump campaign official, and decades-long GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone.

On Wednesday this week, to little public notice, the non-partisan good government group Free Speech for People (FSFP) filed a motion [PDF] with U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who oversaw the Stone case and his eventual sentencing to 40 months in prison. Stone was found guilty by a jury of 7 counts of lying to Congress and federal investigators in their probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and of witness tampering (threatening to kill the witness and his dog) in his case. Jackson, in her closing remarks after sentencing Stone, said he "was prosecuted for covering up for the President."

That same President then granted Clemency to Stone by commuting his 3-year sentence to zero days late last Friday night, before Stone could even reported to prison as scheduled this past Tuesday. But a number of well-respected Constitutional legal scholars are now arguing that Trump's action on Stone's behalf was unconstitutional and should be overturned by Judge Jackson.

"This case isn't over," declared Ron Fein, Legal Director of FSFP in a statement announcing the motion filed with Jackson on Wednesday. "The Supreme Court has acknowledged that the pardon power is not unlimited, and the Constitution requires the President to exercise that power loyally and carefully in the public interest rather than in his own self-interest."

Joining us on the show today is BEN CLEMENTS, a former federal prosecutor, former Chief Counsel to MA Governor Deval Patrick and now Board Chair and Senior Legal Advisor for FSFP. Clements, with more than thirty years of expertise as a constitutional attorney in both the public and private sectors is co-counsel on the motion filed by this week with Judge Jackson.

"In the very clause establishing the Presidency itself, Article II of the Constitution, the framers included language making clear that the presidency is, in effect, a public trust. Its powers must be exercised for the benefit of the public, and not the personal benefit of the President," Clements tells me today. "They specifically provided that the President is required to take care that the laws be faithfully exercised and executed, and they required the President to take an oath to faithfully execute the office of President."

Clements goes on to explain that the Presidential pardon power, while "considerable" is "not absolute," and that the Supreme Court has recognized those powers "are subject to the textual constraints in the Constitution itself." In other words, as he details today, it can't be used in a criminal manner or with a corrupt purpose. He offers the example that it would be unlawful and unconstitutional for a convicted felon to pay bribe money to the President in exchange for a pardon.

"Granting a pardon or a commutation for a completely unlawful and illicit purpose is antithetical to [the President's] obligation to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed," Clements argues, adding, "There's ample public evidence that this was part of an illicit bribe. Stone agreed to protect the President by refusing to tell the truth, even lying to investigators investigating the role of Trump and his campaign in Russia's unlawful interference in the 2016 election. And Trump agreed, in exchange, to protect Stone from the legal consequences of his illegal conduct."

"At a minimum, the public evidence --- including statements from Trump himself throughout these last several years, and from the White House in describing the reasons for this commutation --- that evidence demonstrates that Trump's purpose in commuting [Stone's] sentence is to reward him for covering up for Trump, and to continue to protect Trump," according to Clement. "So, this is not 'faithful execution' of the laws as required by Article II. This is obstruction of the law, it's obstruction of justice, and it's obstruction of lawful investigations all for corrupt and self-interested purposes."

He says it is up to the court --- right now, Judge Jackson --- to consider the arguments presented and "if the judge agrees that the evidence is persuasive, to declare [the Commutation] constitutionally invalid and to order Roger Stone back to prison."

It's a fascinating twist --- or, at least, a potential one --- in the case. Clements goes on to offer his insight on how all of this may play out in the days ahead...including what may happen once, and if, the case reaches the High Court. You'll want to tune in for today's conversation for much more on this important filing, that has otherwise flown largely under the radar this week with everything else that is going on.

Finally, we end with some bonafide good news --- at least for progressives --- as 44-year old progressive African-American and first time political candidate, Jamaal Bowman, is declared the winner by AP over 16-term establishment U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel in New York's June 23rd Democratic primary. Bowman's reported victory in the 16th Congressional District mirrors Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' win over 10-term Democratic Congressman Joe Crowley in 2018. And, as with AOC's District next door, Bowman's is heavily Democratic as well, meaning the winner of this year's primary is, as AP reports, "virtually assured of victory in the general election in November."

So there's a bit more good news to take home with you this weekend, as we all limp together towards the hoped-for coming end of the Trump nightmare and all that has come with it...

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Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler of EmptyWheel; Also: COVID science censored by Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2020 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the gaslighting of the nation continues, from Flynn to Florida. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Two weeks ago, U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr's Dept. of Justice stunned the legal world by filing a motion to drop all charges against Lt. General Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's first National Security Advisor and one of his earliest supporters. Flynn had twice pleaded guilty before three different judges about lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador before Trump's inauguration. His guilty plea also included the admission that he was a paid agent for the nation of Turkey, which he failed to disclose even as he received highly classified briefings after Trump's election before going on to serve as the nation's top national security official in the White House.

Flynn initially lied to FBI officials in January of 2017 and was recently set to receive his sentencing in federal court when his new Fox "News" lawyers convinced him to try and withdraw his guilty plea. Before U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan was able to decide on that matter, Barr, Trump's new fixer, jumped in to try to make the prosecution go away completely, claiming that the initial interview during which Flynn lied to federal officials about his conversation with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, should never have happened in the first place. Barr argues the counterintelligence probe being carried out by the FBI at the time, looking into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 campaign and potential cooperation by the Trump Campaign, should also have never happened in the first place.

The problem is Barr's own DoJ --- just a few months ago, at the beginning of this year, in their sentencing recommendation memo [PDF] for Flynn --- argued the 2017 interview was "material to the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation to know the full extent of the defendant’s communications with the Russian Ambassador, and why he lied to the FBI about those communications." They called Flynn's false statements to the FBI "significant" and potential "evidence of links or coordination between the Trump Campaign and Russia."

Week's later, in the May 7 motion to dismiss the charges [PDF] against Flynn --- which all of the career prosecutors who worked on the case for years refused to sign --- Barr's DoJ claimed the exact opposite, that the January 2017 interview with Flynn was not "conducted with a legitimate investigative basis." Barr himself, during an interview with a former Fox "News" reporter explaining the unprecedented filing, argued that the FBI "did not have a legitimate basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn."

But Barr's DoJ argued the opposite case only weeks earlier and offered few details in the new filing about why they are now, suddenly, changing their legal position. Judge Sullivan is none to happy about any of it and has retained a retired prosecutor/federal judge to argue against the new filing now that the DoJ has literally joined forces with the Flynn defense team they were previously prosecuting.

The argument, as national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Empty Wheel recently reported, is now between the Barr DoJ's two different and conflicting positions on the matter and, she explains, should be covered as such by the corporate media seeking to "both sides" every issue.

Wheeler joins us today to explain the extraordinary, unprecedented mess, and how it is that Barr and his DoJ now find themselves, literally, on both sides of the issue, as the nation's top law enforcement official continues his partisan bidding for the President of the United States. "You can't, as the same party," says Wheeler, "stand before a court and say, 'I think 2 plus 2 is 4 and then the next day come in and say, 'I think 2 plus 2 is 17.' That's effectively what DoJ has done, given that Bill Barr's DoJ said in January this was material to a serious and legitimate investigation, and now he's saying this was not material because the investigation was not legitimate."

She also discusses whether the media are falling for Barr's bogus claims; whether Barr and the DoJ could, themselves, be sanctioned by Judge Sullivan; and whether Sullivan's new hire, Judge John Gleeson, may argue that Flynn, in this case, should be charged with contempt for his perjurious lies to the court.

Then, as Barr tries to gaslight the nation, the state of Florida, under the command of GOP Governor and Trump pal Ron DeSantis, is apparently trying to do the same amid the coronavirus pandemic. A new report from Florida Today finds that the state's lead Department of Health official who headed up the creation of Florida's highly lauded COVID-19 dashboard website, was recently removed from the job after refusing to censor key scientific data on coronavirus cases, spread and deaths in the Sunshine State while DeSantis is risking lives by "reopening" the economy there faster than health experts recommend.

The way in which Republicans are trying to deny, ignore and otherwise hide scientific data in favor of promoting the economy at all costs, as we discuss, is a perfect hyper-speed analog of how the same political party has attempted to deny, ignore and otherwise hide the science of climate change in favor of the economy, no matter the expense to the public and the death toll that folly similarly entails.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins for the latest Green News Report with more lessons we should learn from the COVID crisis about the climate crisis; news on the massive, climate change-fueled cyclone about to slam into one of the poorest regions on earth in the middle of the pandemic; and the Trump EPA's approval of rocket-fuel toxins in your drinking water...

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Guest: FOIA plaintiff Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed News; Also: Good elections news regarding both the White House and Senate...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2020 6:19pm PT  

We enjoy a brief pause from our wall-to-wall election coverage of late on today's BradCast (if not entirely) to revisit the ongoing unraveling of the rule of law as we know it at the U.S. Dept. of Justice under Donald Trump's fixer Attorney General Bill Barr. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

Late on Thursday, a long-time U.S. District Court judge appointed by George W. Bush issued a blistering --- and perhaps unprecedented --- opinion, essentially describing the U.S. Attorney General as a liar. Judge Reggie Walton described Barr's characterization of the Robert Mueller Special Counsel's Report on the investigation into Russia's influence on the 2016 election, as "distorted" and "misleading".

He cited "inconsistencies" between Barr's description of the findings in Mueller's 381-page report before it was released in redacted form last year, versus the often-damning evidence actually revealed by the Special Counsel's probe. Walton declared that Barr's "lack of candor" called into question his "credibility and, in turn, the department's" reasons for redacting portions of the report in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the full, unredacted text of the document.

"The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr’s statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary," Walton said.

The unusually blistering opinion by a federal judge of a sitting U.S. Attorney General, challenging the credibility of DoJ prosecutors who, he felt, might be lying about the reasons for redactions in order to protect Barr's earlier false claims (that Mueller found no evidence of collusion and was unable "to establish that the President committed an obstruction of justice offense" --- all lies) is being cited by former prosecutors as "indicative of the fabric of the justice system deteriorating".

Judge Walton has now ordered the DoJ to privately reveal to him what is under the redactions that the government is claiming are related to national security and other lawful exemptions from FOIA requests.

We're joined today by BuzzFeed News investigative journalist JASON LEOPOLD, who filed the FOIA request in question and has now been forced to sue with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) to challenge the validity of the DoJ's redactions. Leopold tells us he's filed "well over 3,500" such requests, having sued the government "70 times" to force them to follow the law, but says he has never seen anything like the response unleashed by Walton (who has presided over other suits brought by Leopold as well.)

In other similar litigation, Leopold explains, judges tend to simply defer to claims by prosecutors. If they say there is good reason to keep the material redacted, judges do not tend to question them. "It's rare, it's very rare that a judge will actually say 'let me take a look at this and make a decision'." But, Leopold tells me, he has noticed Walton increasingly losing patience with the Department in recent months. "He's become very, very frustrated and sees this as politicization...and therefore, he just can't take their word that these redactions are justified and followed the law."

When I ask if Walton's charge that Barr was "lacking in candor" is a polite way for the judge to say he may be lying, Leopold says "not 'may be' lying --- is lying!," according to his reading of the federal jurist's opinion.

"This is a very important opinion," he argues, "because you're going to see this opinion cited in other Freedom of Information Act cases, when they go to court to say that the withholding of records, that there's questions about whether there's politicization behind that, and that Barr is the person who presides over this department and simply doesn't have credibility." Leopold continues: "This doesn't just disappear. It doesn't just go away. This is in the record. This is a case that people can cite. Barr has really damaged the reputation of the Justice Department."

All of which serves as a helpful reminder of the importance of removing this dangerous Administration from office this November, no matter who ends up becoming the Democratic Presidential nominee. On that important point, and on the likelihood of Democrats winning back the Senate this year, we've got some encouraging news today --- presuming voters who oppose Trump can come together.

And, after that, some less encouraging news as we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report...

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Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Lisa Graves warns there is now 'a cancer on the Justice Department'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2020 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Once again, Donald Trump managed to step on a big night for Democrats, with what is turning out to be an unprecedented "break-the-glass-in-case-of-fire" crisis at the U.S. Department of Justice. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The unspeakably important fight to replace the most dangerous, unfit, authoritarian President this nation has ever seen continued on Tuesday night in New Hampshire, where a pleasantly smooth primary election resulted in a narrow win for Bernie Sanders, with Pete Buttigieg close on his heels yet again, followed by a surprise third place win for Amy Klobuchar. After double-digit percentages for those three, Elizabeth Warren came in a distant fourth, followed by an undoubtedly disappointing fifth place finish for Joe Biden.

The contest also resulted in three candidates dropping out of the race. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet hung it up, as did former MA Governor Deval Patrick (leaving no more African-Americans in the race) and previously unknown entrepreneur Andrew Yang (leaving Tulsi Gabbard, who finished a distance 7th, as the only person of color remaining in the Democratic nominating contest.) Sanders second popular vote victory in two weeks leaves him as the front-runner ahead of Nevada next week, South Carolina the week after, and Super Tuesday in more than a dozen states three days later, where voters will decide how long this contest will run, as several candidates remain more than viable after the two early outings.

We discuss, along with a reminder that all of New Hampshire voted, without apparent problem Tuesday, on hand-marked paper ballots, with citizen volunteers in some 40% of Granite State towns counting those hand-marked ballots by hand, publicly, with everybody watching, no apparent problems or delays, and results announced at each counting location upon completion. We call that Democracy's Gold Standard and thank the volunteers in those NH towns.

Unfortunately, that joyous exercise in public democracy and civic duty was marred by the quickly expanding crisis in Washington D.C. where four prosecutors running the case against Trump confidante Roger Stone, who was recently found guilty of lying to Congress and witness tampering, abruptly quit the case on Tuesday. One of them resigned from the Dept. of Justice entirely.

That stunning news on Tuesday came after a tweet from Trump, describing the sentencing recommendation as a "miscarriage of justice!", before an announcement by a senior official at DoJ that the line prosecutors' recommendation, based on federal sentencing guidelines, was "extreme and excessive and disproportionate to Stone’s offenses."

Further reporting throughout the day --- as Trump continued his Twitter tirade, even attacking the federal judge overseeing Stone's case --- revealed that it was not the only time in recent days that Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr appears to have interceded to soften sentencing recommendations for close friends of Trump found guilty of lying to federal officials during the Robert Mueller Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. NBC News reports that a recently installed Barr apparatchik also changed the DoJ prosecutors' sentencing recommendation for Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn last month. It was originally for 0 to 6 months in prison, but modified last month to nothing more than probation.

And, as all of that was unspooling, Trump pulled his nomination for a top post at the Treasury Dept. for the former U.S. Attorney for D.C., Jessie Liu. As USA, she had overseen Stone's case and a number of others related to the Mueller probe, until she was relieved of that post on the same day that the DoJ changed their sentencing recommendation for Flynn. Liu had been scheduled to answer questions in her Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday for the Treasury post, but that has been conveniently nixed with Trump's withdrawal of her nomination on Tuesday.

We're joined today to discuss these stunning --- and somewhat terrifying --- turns of event by LISA GRAVES, who previously served as Deputy Asst. U.S. Attorney General at the DoJ under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. She is also the former Chief Counsel for Nominations in the U.S. Senate and former Deputy Chief for the U.S. Court system. So, she has quite a bit of insight into many aspects of this. She, like us, is exceedingly disturbed by what one former, longtime DoJ senior official characterized as "a shocking, cram-down political intervention in the criminal justice process," declaring that "We are now truly at a break-glass-in-case-of-fire moment for the Justice Dept."

Graves, who recently founded the new watchdog group TrueNorthResearch.org, echoes that alarm today. "This is really a crisis," she warns. "And it's hard to say that, given that we are in the midst of an ongoing crisis based on what the Republicans in the Senate did this past month and what the President is up to. This is a crisis that is really unparalleled in the modern history of the Justice Department. It's a Constitutional crisis and really an existential crisis, because this is an active assault on the rule of law in this country."

She explains that "this is an absolute, confirmed and repeated breach of the independence of the Justice Department...I'm not sure how it can be fixed, given the fact that the Justice Department has been so corrupted by this President and by his willing hand-maiden, Bill Barr." Graves cites the upcoming election as our only way out, at this point, from "this sort of behavior turning America into a banana republic", before she borrows from the Nixon impeachment proceedings to describe the ongoing events as "a cancer on the Justice Department."

She also shares her thoughts on whether she believes the DoJ itself --- with the words "The place of Justice is a hallowed place" (ironically now?) etched above its door on Pennsylvania Avenue --- can ever be fully repaired after this breach, even after Trump is no longer despoiling the White House...

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

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

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

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

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Also: Federal Judge says McGahn must testify; GA SoS attempts to intimidate election experts; High profile resignation at Verified Voting; Callers ring in after blockbuster impeachment week...
By Brad Friedman on 11/25/2019 6:10pm PT  

Hmmm....That's interesting. With all of those pro-Trump callers we had last week after Week 1 of impeachment hearings, there were none willing to call in to today's BradCast to defend the President after the bombshells of Week 2. I wonder why. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Before we get to those calls today, a few other news headlines of note that we've been trying to get to for several days (and hope to cover more in coming days), but for our impeachment coverage over the past week. Among those stories...

  • Georgia's new Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger is attempting to intimidate election integrity and computer science experts by announcing official state investigations of their activities. The recently announced probes are of prominent experts, several of whom have appeared on The BradCast as guests multiple times. They have been critical of Raffensperger for installing new, hackable, unreliably and 100% unverifiable touchcreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems across the state before 2020, despite the new systems' disastrous performance failures in the counties which pilot tested them in the recent 2019 off-year elections;
  • The inventor of the Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, used by some jurisdictions to (supposedly) assure that computer tabulators correctly tallied voter intent when reporting election results, has resigned from the previously well-respected voting system watchdog group Verified Voting. Prof. Philip Stark of UC Berkeley has been critical of the group on which he served on their Board of Directors, for helping to validate what he describes as "meaningless" [PDF] post-election audits in jurisdictions --- such as Georgia and Philadelphia --- where unverifiable BMD systems are used to mark paper ballot summaries. He argues that only hand-marked paper ballots can be known to reflect voter intent, and that RLA's of computerized ballots is likely to offer a false sense of security in results produced on such systems. Stark sent a dramatic resignation letter over the weekend, blasting VV for "providing cover for inherently untrustworthy voting systems --- and the officials who bought them, the companies that make them, and any officials who might contemplate buying them in the future --- by conducting 'risk-limiting audits' of untrustworthy paper records, creating the false and misleading impression that relying on untrustworthy paper for a RLA can confirm election outcomes (and debasing the meaning of "RLA" in the process)";
  • In related-ish news, but far more hopeful news, the New Jersey Assembly voted to restore voting rights to some 83,000 people on parole & probation. The measure would overturn a law adopted in 1844, but must still be approved in the state Senate and sighned by the Governor;
  • And, in breaking news just as today's show began, a federal court judge has ruled that Donald Trump's former White House Counsel Don McGahn must respond to a lawful U.S. House subpoena for documents and testimony related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe, during which McGahn testified that Trump attempted to obstruct justice at least 10 different times. While the ruling is likely to be appealed by Trump's Dept. of Justice, the order to testify would also likely apply to a host of top Trump officials who have refused to answer Congressional subpoenas in the Trump/Ukraine affair for which he is currently facing an impeachment inquiry, after the Administration has claimed "absolute immunity" from Congressional oversight.

Speaking of which, we summarize last week's explosive impeachment hearings today, and cover a number of new, related stories which broke over the weekend before opening the phones to callers. Last week, when we did same after Week 1 of public testimony in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, we heard from a number of callers who remained strongly opposed to Trump's impeachment and removal. Today, however, when we opened the phones to listeners to take their temperature after the several blockbuster revelations of Week 2, those callers were nowhere to be found...Go figure!

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Special impeachment hearing coverage with guest Heather Digby Parton; Also: Stone found guilty on all counts; Giuliani reportedly facing federal criminal probe for Ukraine natural gas scheme...
By Brad Friedman on 11/15/2019 5:19pm PT  

Our special BradCast coverage of the ongoing impeachment hearings of Donald J. Trump continues today, as 33-year foreign service veteran, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch was sworn in as a witness in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee's public hearings. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Yovanovitch, whose parents fled both Stalin's Soviet Union and Nazi Germany offered riveting testimony about being ousted, without explanation, by Trump, amid a smear campaign against her, propagated by Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani, ousted corrupt Ukrainian officials and the President of the United State himself. The coordinated campaign against the virulently anti-corruption Ambassador appears to have been at the center of Team Trump's need to move her out of the way in April of this year so they could try to force Ukraine to announce state probes into Donald Trump's political rivals in exchange for $391 million in military assistance apportioned by Congress and unlawfully withheld from the embattled nation by the White House.

Even as the hearing on Trump's apparent high crimes and misdemeanors played out in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee on Friday afternoon, Trump seems to have added a new potential Article of Impeachment by attacking Yovanovitch on Twitter during her testimony. Committee Chair Adam Schiff, a former federal prosecutor himself, characterized the remarkably brazen attack on the longtime, well-respected Ambassador as attempted "witness intimidation". Even top Fox "News" reporters and anchors were stunned by Trump's attack.

We're joined today once again by award-winning opinion and analysis journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hulaballoo as we analyze, explain and try to make sense of Friday's hearing, along with the aid of several extended clips from the proceedings.

ALSO TODAY: Even as the hearings played out, Roger Stone, a longtime Republican dirty trickster and close Donald Trump ally, was found guilty on all 7 criminal counts for which he was facing trial in federal court as part of the Robert Mueller investigation into Russia, Wikileaks and Team Trump interference in the 2016 election. The charges Stone was found guilty of include lying to Congress and witness tampering and could net the 67-year old GOP operative up to 20 years in federal prison...unless he is pardoned by his friend Trump. He is the sixth top Trump associate to be found or have pleaded guilty to federal felony charges.

At the same time, the Wall Street Journal today is exclusively reporting that Giuliani --- who was at the center of the Yovanovitch smear campaign and what Democrats describe as the bribery scheme to force Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden and his son who served on the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma --- is himself now being criminally investigated by federal prosecutors in relation to a Ukrainian natural gas scheme.

Yes, it is all that insane, but we do our best to try and make sense of it today nonetheless...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Callers ring in on impeachment, the climate change 'hoax', the disastrous failures of new touchscreen vote systems last week in GA and PA, and in L.A. before next year's 2020 Presidential election...
By Brad Friedman on 11/11/2019 6:01pm PT  

Yes, everything, even wildfires in California, are now political, as proven over the weekend when I tweeted out a non-political video I captured of a fire that broke out on a hillside in the San Fernando Valley, threatening the iconic Hollywood sign just on the other side of the hill. Callers ring in today --- as we were able to open the phones for the first time in weeks --- on a bunch of stories covered on today's BradCast.

Among those stories...

  • Trump loses yet again in court as a federal judge on Monday dismissed his lawsuit filed in D.C. hoping to, preemptively, prevent Congress from using New York state's newly adopted law which allows the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee to request copies of the tax returns of New York residents (read: Donald Trump's). It was just another loss in the long list of frivolous lawsuits brought by Trump to try and keep his tax returns from becoming public, for some reason;
  • Over the weekend Republicans submitted a list of requested witnesses for the upcoming public hearings in the Trump impeachment matter regarding his attempt to extort Ukraine by withholding military assistance in exchange for his demand that Ukraine announce an investigation into Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a conspiracy regarding Ukraine interference in the 2016 election. The House GOP's request list includes both Hunter Biden and the whistleblower who first brought the Ukraine matter to light. Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chair of the Intelligence Committee holding the public hearings this week responded by saying that he will not allow the proceedings to be used to promote the already-debunked theories that Trump was attempting to force Ukraine to spread in his unlawful effort to strong-arm the nation's new President into helping Trump on his 2020 reelection campaign;
  • We review some of the remarkable comments I received over the weekend after I tweeted a completely non-political news video of a wildfire in Burbank which broke out while I was there. Did you know they were caused by socialist homeless pedophiles? Who knew? Trump fans on Twitter do, apparently!;
  • And, speaking of both fires in CA and the 2020 elections, I share the response I recently received from the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office seeking comment about their contingency plans to deal with preemptive power outages should they occur during the general election next year at the same time as the ones California power companies imposed this year in hopes of not sparking wildfires during climate change-fueled hot, dry and windy conditions.

    Now that Los Angeles is moving to 100% unverifiable electronic touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbooks, such an outage could prove disastrous for voters on Election Day and during early voting next year. Unfortunately, while the Registrar's office here replied to my queries on this (tune in to hear their response), they failed to reply to follow up questions;

  • All of this is decidedly NOT an academic issues, given the disasters that occurred last week during Off-Year municipal elections in George and Pennsylvania, where, for the first time, counties in those states deployed brand-new touchscreen voting systems akin to the ones that Los Angeles will be forcing voters to use at voting centers next year, rather than hand-marked paper ballots and paper pollbooks (neither of which require electricity or the Internet).

    The results were catastrophic in many PA and GA polling places with some voters unable to vote at all, many forced had to wait up to an hour during the sparsely attended off-year election, and computer-reported results showing some candidates receiving 0 votes at several precincts, even though they'd received thousands. And, yes, a power outage prevented voters from voting at one precinct. All of this serves as a chilling preview of what could well await the nation in 2020 during the most critical Presidential election in our nation's history.

Finally, we then open the phone lines, at long last, on all of the above. And our listeners have a LOT to say about it all, including a few who believe global warming is a hoax, and that the President should NOT be impeached for either extortion or obstruction of justice. Fun! Tune in for all of that and much more on today's very lively BradCast!

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AG Barr ordered to hand over grand jury transcripts, exhibits redacted from the Mueller Report to Congress by October 30
UPDATE 10/29/19: DC Circuit Court of Appeal Grants Temporary Stay of Order to Release Grand Jury Materials...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/28/2019 9:35am PT  

In her landmark, 75-page decision filed on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell did much more than simply grant a motion filed by the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) to compel the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide it with grand jury materials from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe that had been previously concealed. In that same order, the court systematically demolished every quasi-legal objection the DOJ and White House have raised in their specious efforts to interfere with an ongoing and lawful impeachment inquiry.

The core question raised by HJC's motion was whether the court should order the DOJ to release pertinent grand jury materials in accordance with Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Although grand jury testimony and exhibits are ordinarily kept secret, Rule 6(e) authorizes a court to order the disclosure of such materials "preliminarily to" or "in connection with a judicial proceeding" when there is a "particularized need" for disclosure.

Judge Howell suggested that a House impeachment inquiry, in and of itself, may be considered a "judicial proceeding". She concluded, however, that the court did not have to reach that issue because the HJC was correct in its assertion that its impeachment inquiry was "preliminary to" a judicial proceeding.

In her erudite decision, Howell cited historical practice, the Federalist Papers, the text of the Constitution, and both Supreme Court and binding DC Circuit Court of Appeals precedent. All of these make it abundantly clear: U.S. Senate impeachment trials are "judicial proceedings". Indeed, the DOJ's contrary position is not only at odds with the appellate decision in Haldeman v. Sirica (1974) but also with the DOJ's own legal position in that Watergate-era decision. The DOJ was unable to satisfactorily explain why, under Attorney General William P. Barr, it had changed its previous, long-standing legal position.

The "particularized need" to release the materials arises, in this instance, because Mueller, in deference to the opinions of the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that a sitting President may not be indicted,* refrained from reaching conclusions about the legality or illegality of the President's conduct. "This," the court observed, "leaves the House as the only federal body that can act on allegations of presidential misconduct." Yet, the court observed, "under the DOJ's reading of Rule 6(e), the Executive Branch would be empowered to wall off any evidence of presidential misconduct from the House by placing that evidence before a grand jury."

The DOJ's contentions were, thus, not simply wrong but untenable. "In carrying out the weighty constitutional duty of determining whether impeachment of the President is warranted," Judge Howell observed at the outset of her opinion, "Congress need not redo the nearly two years of effort spent on the Special Counsel's investigation, nor risk being mislead by witnesses, who may have provided information to the grand jury and the Special Counsel that varies with what they tell HJC."

Had she stopped there, Judge Howell's ruling would be significant. Her demolition of every argument against the validity of the impeachment inquiry that has been presented by the DOJ, by the White House and by some Republican members of Congress, however, was nothing short of breathtaking...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: Ann Ravel goes from FEC Commish to CA State Senate candidate, with some thoughts on many criminal violations by the President, and on our broken campaign finance system; Also: Giuliani snowballing...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2019 6:44pm PT  

In my exclusive interview on today's BradCast with ANN RAVEL, former Chair of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), we cover quite a bit of ground. From the reasons she has decided to run for office in California, to the apparent violations of federal election laws at the heart of the Trump impeachment inquiry into the quid pro quo with Ukraine, to the absurd campaign finance laws that allowed two now-indicted Rudy Giuliani associates to buy their way into the White House and directly effect U.S. foreign policy, to the Stormy Daniels affair, and to our shamefully broken FEC. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Ravel, who also previous served as Chair of California's Fair Political Practices Commission (or FPPC --- a more functional version of the FEC, but for the state of CA) and as Deputy Asst. Attorney General during the early years of the Obama Administration, is now running for State Senate in CA's 15th District, which includes San Jose in the Northern California Bay Area. After a lifelong career of public service, this is her first actual run for elected office.

We begin today's conversation with a few thoughts on the "local" issues regarding Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)'s preemptive blackouts for hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid their above ground power lines sparking wildfires. The bankrupt for-profit power utility, the state's largest, has been found liable for billions of dollars after several deadly recent fires, thanks to a failure to properly maintain or bury power lines amid increasingly warm and dry climate changed weather. We discuss whether the state should simply take over the company, following Gov. Gavin Newsom's scathing remarks on Thursday citing PG&E's many deadly failures, which he attributed to "dog-eat-dog capitalism and corporate greed meeting climate change."

Then it's on to many issues of national importance --- as highlighted of late by several matters related to Trump's ongoing impeachment inquiry --- regarding our broken FEC, which does not currently even have a quorum of Commissioners to either meet or vote as we head into the most critical election year in the history of our nation!

Ravel, who resigned as FEC Chair "in abrupt and dramatic fashion", according to the Mercury News in February of 2017, "declaring in a public resignation letter that the Federal Election Commission is on a gridlocked road to nowhere," offers her many insights on...

  • Campaign finance laws apparently violated by Trump in soliciting a "thing of value" from a foreign entity. That impeachable and criminal violation of law is at the heart of Trump's attempted withholding of military aid and the strong-arming of Ukraine in exchange for dirt on the Biden family and the 2016 election. "There is no question whatsoever that there was a crime at the heart of this," Ravel tells me. "And I'm appalled, having also been at the Department of Justice at the beginning of the Obama Administration, what has become of a Department that is supposed to be doing justice for the people";
  • Attorney General Bill Barr and the Dept. of Justices' failure to refer that matter, exposed by a whistleblower complaint, to the FEC for civil charges, as per a longstanding agreement between the two federal agencies. "That was the general understanding that always was the principal we operated by at the FEC";
  • The FEC's lack of ability to take immediate action on such a charge, even if it had been referred to them, given the FEC's current lack of a quorum. "Had it been referred as a complaint, that would begin the statute of limitations. And there is a five-year statute. So at some point, assuming there are other Commissioners appointed, ever --- by McConnell, or the Democratic Minority Leader, and assuming that the President makes the nominations --- it could, in the coming five years, actually take some action";
  • The obscene lack of campaign finance laws following Citizens United and other woeful "dark money" rulings from SCOTUS in recent years. Those High Court rulings have allowed men like Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to run an influence operation to purchase access to the White House and Republican members of Congress and actually effect U.S. foreign policy in the Ukraine matter in exchange for a few hundred thousands dollars (of unknown origin) given to Trump's SuperPAC, to Giuliani, and to other Republican officials and organizations. While Parnas and Fruman were recently indicted, their charges were based on lying to officials about the source of the money. Had they simply used their own, as we also recently discussed with Brendan Fischer of Campaign Legal Center (which filed the original complaint to the FEC about the pair's donations last year), the influence operation would have been perfectly legal under current law, she confirms. "And that is a whole other problem with our campaign finance system...That will only be fixed if there is a different Supreme Court";
  • Why isn't the case of Trump's hush-money payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels a bigger matter, given that Trump is known to have "directed" a campaign finance law felony conspiracy in making the payments, and then failed to report them to the FEC as required by law? To Ravel's consternation, Democrats in Congress, to date, have yet to make the matter a central point in their impeachment inquiry, and the short-handed FEC is otherwise unable to bring civil charges for Trump's willful violation of the law. She notes that fines levied against the Obama Campaign years ago were for far less serious violations of campaign finance law. "I often say, to much laughter, that I consider myself an expert in Stormy Daniels. I think this is scandalous. It is a campaign violation, without question, and it was being done at the behest of the President."

Those are just some of the many topics discussed on today's program with Ravel.

Finally, after some breaking news on a ruling late today by a federal judge ordering the DoJ to turn over unredacted grand jury testimony and other materials from the Robert Mueller probe to House Democrats working on impeachment, we take a quick look at the quickly snowballing fate of Rudy Giuliani, who finds himself in deeper and more embarrassing --- and potentially criminal --- straits by the hour. For now, Trump is standing by his man. But probably not for long. So, for a musical close to to the week, we turn to the inimitable Randy Rainbow, who recently threw Rudy entirely under a bus...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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