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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Critical Elections, Catastrophic Storm Bear Down: 'BradCast' 9/27/22
Poll workers needed!; Ian closing in on FL; Scofflaw TX A.G. flees process server; Congress nears Electoral Count Act update; Listener mail...
'Green News Report' 9/27/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Ian takes aim at Florida; Fiona broke records in Canada; Noru pummels Philippines; Winter fuel prices soar; PLUS: Pacific Island nations call for fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at U.N.
Recent GNRs: 9/22/22 - 9/20/22 - Archives...
'Gold Standard' SCOTUS Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Expansion of High Court: 'BradCast' 9/26/22
Also: Disinformationists; Fascism rising; Hurricane Ian threatens FL; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Heavy Traffic' Toons
Be sure to check PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons before crossing state borders. You're welcome!...
Trump, Lindell, Ginni Thomas --- Geniuses All!:
'BradCast' 9/22/22
GOP election conspiracists have bad lawyers; Also: Garland's moving (and telling) remarks at swearing-in of new American citizens...
'Green News Report' 9/22/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
U.N. Sec-Gen wants fossil fuel industry to pay up; New plastics initiative; Puerto Rico still lacking power and clean water; PLUS: Senate approves first climate treaty in decades...
Recent GNRs: 9/20/22 - 9/15/22 - Archives...
It's National Voter Registration Day!
(Who Knew?): 'BradCast' 9/20/22
Also: Beer shortage?!; More on DeSantis' migrant scam; Electoral Count Act reform news; Good (and bad) news for disabled voters; Much more...
'Green News Report' 9/20/22
Simultaneous storms, in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Japan; Climate change juiced Pakistan floods; Aussie energy turnabout; PLUS: Plastics plant blocked in LA...
Kidnapping is a Crime. Will DeSantis Be Held Accountable for It?: 'BradCast' 9/19/22
Also: Media still pulling punches on GOP; Elizabeth finally buried, so will CNN finally cover weekend's THREE hurricane landfalls?!; Plus, callers!...
Sunday 'Pawn' Toons
Make your move to PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Reagan's Big Government Gift to Big Pharma is Still Giving, Killing: 'BradCast' 9/16/22
Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: Trump's failed GA election theft; NH GOP Sen. nom flip-flops on 2020 denial; Patagonia gives away company to save planet...
More Good News for Ds; More Fraud Accountability for Rs: 'BradCast' 9/15/22
Biden approval up, strike averted; Trump NY fraud; Feds probe Lindell CO fraud; Fraud probe of MI GOP A.G. nom; NY Election Commish charged w/ absentee vote fraud...
'Green News Report' 9/15/22
U.N. says world in 'uncharted climate territory'; Summer 2022 hottest ever; Clean energy will save world $12 trillion; PLUS: Biden touts IRA, national EV charging network...
'Groundbreaking' Victory for CA's Half-Million Fast-Food Workers: 'BradCast' 9/14/22
Guest: TAP's Harold Meyerson; Also: Rail worker strike looms; Noteworthy primary results from DE, RI, NH...
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 analyst, author Dahlia Lithwick; Also: Lincoln Project begs Former Guy to sue them; Judge tosses Trump's ridiculous Clinton, Comey 'conspiracy' lawsuit; DoJ offers corrupt Mar-a-Lago judge an off-ramp...
By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2022 6:33pm PT  

For all of the legal experts on TV and Twitter helping the nation understand a flood of ridiculous rulings by corrupt, rightwing, Federal Society-approved judges and Justices, it might also be helpful if they started pointing out the desperate need for structural change in our federal judiciary. We can't lawyer our way out of this mess, but we can reform it. But we're gonna need their help. One of those legal experts joins us on today's BradCast to help make exactly that case. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, however, the Republican "Never Trumpers" of the Lincoln Project are back. And their latest ad is another doozie, pointing out how Trump's sleazy Save America PAC is little more than a "sucker's game" meant to scam his own supporters. "Trump told you the election was stolen to rip you off, to sucker you, to take your hard-earned money and shovel it into his pockets ... It was the biggest scam in political history. ... It was a sucker's game all along."

Apparently, Lincoln Project is running the ad on Fox "News" and it appears to be driving The Former Guy crazy. So much so that he's threatened to sue the Lincoln Project. And now the group's co-founder, Rick Wilson, is begging him to. We share the ad, Trump's pathetic (though hilarious) social media tantrum and Wilson's acerbic (though hilarious) response.

While Trump is unlikely to actually sue Lincoln Project --- and open up his corrupt Save America PAC to the discovery process! --- one of his most recent impotent lawsuits, filed against Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, and bunch of other folks at the FBI and DoJ claiming a "conspiracy" against him regarding Russia's interference in the 2016 election, spectacularly crashed and burned before a federal judge in South Florida on Thursday. It was a real judge. Not one that Trump appointed.

As to the federal judge in South Florida that Trump did appoint, Judge Aileen Cannon, who issued the absurd, unprecedented and completely unworkable order on Monday in response to the FBI's court-ordered seizure of thousands of government documents stolen by Trump and stored at Mar-a-Lago, the DoJ pushed back on Thursday night. On Monday, Cannon ordered an injunction against the DoJ's use of the stolen documents, many of them highly classified, in their criminal investigation of Trump's theft until a Special Master examined all of the documents for potential attorney-client and executive privilege conflicts. (There can be no executive privilege conflicts since Trump hasn't asserted it and, no longer the Executive, he is not entitled to any such privilege.)

In their filing [PDF] on Thursday night, however, the DoJ offered a compromise and an off-ramp to Cannon, before they otherwise plan to appeal her ruling in full to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals next week. Hopefully, Cannon takes the off-ramp to allow the critical criminal investigation and national security damage assessment to continue. But, otherwise, the DoJ may have a long slog before the appeals court which has now been packed with Trump-appointed judges.

All of this --- not to mention the unprecedented rulings by the packed, stolen and corrupted U.S. Supreme Court majority at the end of their term earlier this summer --- underscores how broken our federal judicial system has become. And while there is no shortage of well-meaning legal experts on TV and social media explaining how best to respond to corrupted rulings by corrupted courts, these are problems that the nation cannot litigate itself out of, as our guest argues today.

We're joined again by the great DAHLIA LITHWICK, longtime legal analyst at Slate, MSNBC contributor, podcast host, and author of the new book, LADY JUSTICE: Women, the Law, and the Battle to Save America.

Writing this week with our other legal reporter friend from Slate, Mark Joseph Stern, in an article headlined "The Solution to the Trump Judge Problem Nobody Wants to Talk About" the pair reference the court battle over the stolen documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago: "The problem is not just the extreme and heinous flaws in Cannon’s ruling. It’s also the Trump-shaped world in which Cannon operates, with impunity, which we will all have to endure for the foreseeable future. It’s the brutal reality that we may face a steady stream of depraved decisions like Cannon’s for the rest of our lives --- and the pain of hearing from every quarter that nothing can be done to remedy it."

"There are too many things wrong with the Cannon order to litigate," they conclude. "And there are too many things wrong with Trump’s judicial dominion of every part of our lives --- for years to come --- to litigate. So maybe it's time to stop litigating them and start fixing them."

How to start fixing them? Well, that's at the center of my discussion today with Lithwick, beginning with the need for "big-swing structural reform" of our courts and how to start making the noise needed to help make it happen.

Also, we discuss LADY JUSTICE, Lithwick's brand-new book --- hitting "shelves" in just a few days --- which "knits together these stories of extraordinary women lawyers" who "faced unbelievable odds" and "changed the world in the Trump era". Now, she argues, "they could do it again."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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New poll finds democracy now top issue for voters; Also: Latest Trump accountability news; Midterm election news; Callers ring in on why they're voting this November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/22/2022 6:24pm PT  

Longtime listeners of The BradCast know that we see democracy as pretty much the number one issue that makes pretty much everything else possible. Even the climate crisis comes second for that reason. Congressional Democrats, on the other hand, have yet to make the threat that democracy itself now faces in America, thanks to Donald Trump and his GOP, much of a campaign issue. That's both curious and troubling, particularly following a new poll out today finding that democracy is "the most important issue facing the country for a plurality of registered voters." [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the many stories covered on today's show --- followed by some great callers in the second half today...

  • On Sunday, a federal appeals court gave Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) a short reprieve from his scheduled testimony before the special grand jury in Georgia investigating the Trump-led criminal conspiracy to try and steal Georgia's 2020 election. Graham, who reportedly called the GA Sec. of State to see if it might be possible to toss thousands of lawfully cast votes, claims he was just doing his job as a Senator...from South Carolina...and has absolute immunity under the Constitution's "speech and debate" clause. His reprieve [PDF] from Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis' probe is unlikely to last for long.
  • A different federal appeals court ruled on Friday that the Justice Department must release a memo written by its Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) during the Trump Administration, regarding then-Attorney General Bill Barr's decision to not charge the former President for some ten instances of obstruction of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The DoJ claimed the memo, sought by a good government watchdog group under FOIA laws, was exempt from disclosure because it was part of the deliberative process in deciding whether or not to charge Trump. In fact, as a lower court previously determined, the memo was written after the DoJ had already determined they would not charge Trump.
  • Then, we move from the 2016 and 2020 elections back to the current one, now just 78 days away, when political pundits had long been telling us that Democrats would take a shellacking in Congress this November. But, as we've long noted, that Conventional Wisdom is by no means a certainty during these decidedly UNconventional times. Among the latest examples from 2022's UNconventional Times files, emotional remarks last week from a Republican South Carolina lawmaker who regrets his vote --- just weeks after casting it --- to restrict abortion in the state. He relates a disturbing story of a pregnant 19-year old woman whose water broke at 15 weeks, making the pregnancy unviable. But thanks to the state's new "fetal heartbeat" law, attorneys advised her doctors they could not extract the fetus until its heart stopped beating...two weeks later. She could have lost her uterus or even died during the interim. We share some of the state Rep's emotional response and his reasons for refusing to vote in favor of an even more draconian restriction on reproductive freedom now moving through the SC state legislature.
  • Still more today from the UNconventional Times file: Signs that inflation appears to be coming down on tons of products whose prices had surged last year. And signs, along with it, that pandemic supply chain snarls appear to finally be easing up as well.
  • Of course, all of that good news for American consumers is bad news for Republicans who have been hoping for a terrible economy to help them win back majorities in Congress this November. A new forecast from Fox "News" out today, however, finds that to be less and less likely as polling and other conditions continue to trend back in favor of Democrats. It's still an uphill climb for them in the gerrymandered House, but the GOP is clearly getting nervous. We discuss.
  • At the same time, in a lengthy deep-dive, Politico Magazine reported over the weekend that a number of old school Dems from the Carter Administration are concerned that Congressional Democrats are not making enough of a campaign issue out of the threat that Republicans now pose to American democracy itself. That, following Trump's January 6, 2021 U.S. Capitol insurrection and the boatload of bat-crap insane, Trump-endorsed 2020 election deniers who have been nominated for key positions to help decide the 2024 election in swing-states and non-swing-states alike this year. While Congressional Dems offer a reasonable argument for why they have been sticking with other issues this year --- "from energy and the environment to education, roads and infrastructure, abortion, health care, Trump and guns" --- rather than the threat posed by Republicans to democracy itself....
  • So, what do our listeners care most about this November? What issues are leading them to vote (or not vote)? We open the phones to find out and get some very good callers in response including a fun one from a confused Republican...

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: Journalist Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: Cheney loses in WY; Murkowski advances in AK, as Palin awaits Ranked Choice Vote count in U.S. House Special Election...
[UPDATED with link to full transcript of interview with Wheeler.]
By Brad Friedman on 8/17/2022 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What you need to know about the stolen national security documents retrieved by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago and the trouble Trump is in. And, about the known results of the strange-world-we-now-live-in primaries and special elections yesterday. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, those elections, as based on incomplete and/or unverified results in both states.

The biggest story of last night, of course, was conservative Republican Rep. Liz Cheney's loss to a Trump-backed GOP primary challenger in Wyoming for the state's single, at-large House seat. As expected, Cheney lost bigly to former Never Trumper turned MAGA 2020 election denier Harriet Hageman. What does it all mean going forward for Republicans who wrongly hate Cheney and Democrats who wrongly love her and for the Republican Party itself? Cheney offered some hints, as we discuss, in her graceful concession speech on Tuesday night, promising once again that she "will do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office."

Then, incomplete results from Alaska, where it has always taken a long time to tally them and will take even longer following election reform adopted by state voters in 2020. They now have an open primary system, where the top four vote-getters go on to general elections which become Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) contests among those candidates.

Like Wyoming, Alaska has just one at-large U.S. House district. But there were two elections for it on Tuesday following the death, earlier this year, of Republican Rep. Don Young. He held the seat for 49 years. One was a Special Election to fill the remainder of Young's term through the end of the year, the other was an open primary for a full term beginning in January.

On the Special, Democratic candidate Mary Peltola currently leads Republicans Sarah Palin (yes, that Sarah Palin) and Nick Begich with about 70% of votes tallied as of airtime. However, because it's an RCV election --- in which none of the candidates received more than 50% of first choice votes --- once the first round of counting is complete, the candidate in last place will be removed and their voters' second place choices will be redistributed to the other two candidates. The entire race is then tallied again. We are unlikely to know the final winner until the end of August, but if Peltola wins, she'd be the first Alaskan native to be elected to Congress.

In the open primary for the full House term beginning next year --- featuring nearly 30 candidates --- it appears that all three of the candidates in the Special will also advance to November's general election. The fourth candidate in that contest has yet to be determined as counting continues. In the state's U.S. Senate race, Republican Lisa Murkowski --- who, like Liz Cheney, voted against Trump in his second impeachment --- will advance to the November general, where she will face Trump-backed Kelly Tshibaka and two other candidates still to be determined, with just over 70% tallied.

Then, longtime, really smart, independent national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel returns to the show for the first time since the FBI's seizure of highly sensitive and classified national security documents at Mar-a-Lago last week, as stolen from the White House by Donald Trump upon leaving office last year.

As usual, we have a lot to cover with Wheeler, who was busy explaining on Twitter last week before anyone else that we know of --- before the unsealing of the FBI's search warrant detailing "probable cause" of three federal statutes violated by Trump --- that the Dept. of Justice was almost certainly investigating the former President for violations of the Espionage Act. As usual, after the warrant was unsealed, she was proven correct.

Also as usual when Marcy's on, you'll need to tune in for the full story. There is simply no way I can detail all of the critical insight and helpful information she has to offer here. But, among the points she helps clarify and explain along with key context from her years of covering similar cases dealing with the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and the theft of government documents...

  • What each of the three U.S. Criminal Code statutes cited in the warrant means, and the evidence that Trump appears to have blatantly violated each of them.
  • Were there, or were there not, documents including nuclear records found and/or sought in the search, as reported by Washington Post before the warrant and inventory list of retrieved items was unsealed.
  • Are documents sought by the National Archives and DoJ still missing after the search? And/or have they been mutilated or destroyed in violation of federal statutes?
  • Despite a signed declaration by one of Trump's attorneys that all of the highly classified documents and other material stolen from the White House had been returned to the government as of June, in fact, that was proven untrue. Who is the insider that tipped off the DoJ?

Wheeler argues that Trump is likely far more concerned about obstruction charges than even violations of the Espionage Act. Why? "We know that some of the documents that were responsive to subpoenas regarded January 6," she tells me, before suggesting reason to believe that some of the documents Trump was trying to withhold might be related to other crimes of his from farther in the past, such as: obstruction of justice in the Robert Mueller/Russia investigation; his attempt to bribe the Ukrainian President ("We know that the White House counsel didn't provide Congress the fullest version of the 'Perfect Transcript' of the Trump call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy. So that's an example of concealing a document that should have been released."); or the transcript regarding the classified Israeli intelligence that Trump gave to the Russian ambassador during an Oval Office meeting ("the documents got altered and disappeared.")

She has much more, including this fresh tidbit regarding obstruction: "There was a leak by one of the rightwing journalists [covering this story] that said, 'People close to Donald say he doesn't have to give [certain documents] over because the Archives will just give it to the January 6 Committee.' I'm like, 'That's a confession of obstruction! He just literally confessed to the elements of the offense for obstruction!' And honestly, Brad, this is something that virtually everyone is missing --- this is the one that Trump is terrified of."

There are many details we still don't not know and more disturbing revelations to come. As Wheeler notes several times, this all likely to get much much worse for Trump. But, she emphasizes, just based on what we already know it's already really really bad for him.

"Every half hour or so," she says, "this flash goes through my brain, and I go, 'Oh my God, Donnie has really, really screwed himself .' There are ways that I can imagine this snowballing that people aren't even grasping at this point. And that is all separate from the question of whether he's taken the nuclear codes and given it to [Saudi Crown Prince] Mohammed bin Salman. You don't really need to get ahead of the game here to figure out things are pretty bad."

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

Update 8/21/2022: Once again, our friend "Spocko" thought our interview with Marcy's was so important that he created a full text transcript of my interview with her. AI was used to do it, so it may have some inaccuracies in it. Nonetheless, I suspect it may be useful for easier access to the record.

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Guest Host Nicole Sandler with Emptywheel's investigative journalist on the Durham probe, Sussman acquittal, Jan. 6 hearings, more...
By Nicole Sandler on 6/1/2022 3:47pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER back with you, guest hosting the BradCast once more this week. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

On Tuesday, a jury in DC acquitted Michael Sussman, an attorney whose firm worked for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, of lying to the FBI. The failed prosecution comes three years after Donald Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr tapped U.S. Attorney John Durham to open a Special Counsel investigation into the origins of the FBI's probe into Russian interference in that election. Or, as the former guy demanded at the time: "They now go and take a look at the oranges of the investigation... the beginnings of the investigation, about the Mueller report."

The jury only deliberated for six hours before finding Sussman not guilty of lying to his FBI contact about working with the Clinton campaign when he tried to warn the federal agency about unexplained data transmissions between the Trump Organization and a Russian bank. Sad!

I'll admit that I have not followed this case or Durham's overall investigation very closely, despite many on the right desperately describing Durham's case against Sussman as a "BOMBSHELL!". But, that's probably because I don't watch Fox Not-News.

Investigative journalist MARCY WHEELER, on the other hand, has followed all of this very closely, takes her work very seriously and explains this insane prosecution and much more today. As she notes toward the end of the today's interview, "I've lived and breathed this stuff for 18 months now." She covers all of it in great detail at her somewhat eponymous website, Emptywheel.net.

So, Marcy is my guest whole hour. She's filled with details and stories, tells us all we need to know about this trial and Durham's overall (largely fruitless) investigation, which had no real predicate to begin with, other than Barr believing something didn't seem right about the original investigation into Russia's involvement in 2016.

Then we also look ahead to next week, as the U.S. House Select Committee's public hearings on the January 6, 2021 investigation begin next Thursday night...

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: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall D. Eliason; Also: Climate disaster in Rio; Retail sales boom under Biden; I.G. finds Trump Interior Sec. 'misused public office for private gain'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/16/2022 6:05pm PT  

The clean up on aisle 45 seems to never end on The BradCast. But a whole bunch of experts (including our guest today) suggests our disgraced former President is inching ever closer to some very bad news --- at least in New York. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

First up, some other news not getting enough coverage today...

  • Our climate emergency continues to worsen, as 10 inches of rain fell in three hours in a mountainous tourist area near Rio in Brazil on Tuesday. As of airtime at least 58 were confirmed killed by the downpour and the deadly mudslides it triggered. That comes on the heels of at least 40 killed in similar storms in Brazil last month, as the nation's President, Jair Bolsonaro, has allowed for the acceleration of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, contributing to our worsening climate crisis and resulting in these deadly, extreme weather disasters.
  • The Biden economic boom continues, despite corporate media's continuing obsession with inflation. On Wednesday, the Commerce Department reported consumer spending surged in January, and at much higher numbers than can be attributed to inflation. Retail sales nearly doubled what Dow Jones had previously estimated would be seen in January. A separate report today also found that industrial production spiked three times higher than estimates for last month.
  • Donald Trump's disgraced Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke, "misused his public office for private gain" and lied about it to government ethics officials, according to a report [PDF] released Wednesday by the Department's Inspector General. Despite vowing, upon his confirmation as Trump's Interior chief in 2017, to disassociate with a foundation he worked with and a related commercial venture while serving as Secretary, Zinke was found to have communicated with the group dozens of times via email and text; had private meetings with them in D.C.; and played an "extensive, direct, and substantive role" in a commercial development project that would also benefit a private commercial project of his own in Montana. The I.G. reportedly referred the matter to Biden's Dept. of Justice, which --- for reasons unknown --- declined to bring criminal charges against Trump's disgraced former Interior chief. And, because no accountability was ever brought over this matter --- or a host of other personal Zinke scandals revealed while he served under Trump --- the wildly corrupt Zinke is now running again for high office in Montana, hoping to win back his old U.S. House seat this year.

Then, it's on to our guest today, for insight on a number of related matters.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that Trump's longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, informed him and his family business last week that they would no longer be doing business with them. Moreover, they informed Trump that nearly 10 years of annual financial statements they'd prepared for him and the Trump Organization should no longer be relied upon to be accurate in any way, as it was based on faulty information supplied by Trump.

The company informed Trump that Statements of Financial Condition created from 2011 to 2020 were being retracted and that, due to a "conflict of interest", they would no longer be working for his company. The news came via a court filing on Monday by New York state Attorney General Letitia James in response to the attempt by Trump and his children to avoid depositions in James' civil investigation into alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by all of them. The Manhattan D.A. is also running a concurrent criminal probe into many of the same matters.

Since that news became public this week, a number of legal experts have explained that Mazars' "conflict of interest" almost certainly means the firm is now cooperating with New York prosecutors against Trump and his businesses. Longtime Trump investigative reporter David Cay Johnston told CNN on Tuesday that he believes Trump and his company and maybe even his kids, will, in fact, be indicted on racketeering charges in the state.

We're joined today by former Asst. U.S. Attorney RANDALL D. ELIASON, who spent years as Chief of the DoJ's Public Corruption/Government Fraud section in D.C. He's now a law professor at George Washington University Law School where he is an expert in white collar criminal law. Eliason offers helpful insight into Trump's increasingly serious New York troubles and discusses his recent opinion piece at Washington Post calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to explain himself in regard to the DoJ's probe (or lack thereof) into the 10 or more obstruction of justice allegations detailed by Robert Mueller in the report on his Special Counsel investigation.

On the New York matter(s), Eliason cites a recent comment he'd heard that Mazars' dumping of Trump suggests "the ship is leaving the rats." He charges that the financial firm is clearly "trying to distance themselves, and that suggests they see something bad coming down the road for their client." He concurs that "the most likely explanation for what's going on is that Mazars is now cooperating, either in the criminal case or the civil case, or both, and potentially testifying against Trump and the Trump Organization. That definitely creates a conflict of interest, to where they'd say, 'Well, I can't be your accountant anymore because now I'm actually a witness against you.'"

Eliason also offers a very helpful explanation of what racketeering charges actually are, and how, if Johnston is right, that might play into the New York state prosecutions and even the investigation by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis into Trump's conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in the Peach State. Eliason further helps us understand how both the NY state Attorney General and Manhattan D.A. could both ultimately bring charges for the same set of fraud crimes, but as a civil matter (resulting in fines and other such penalties) by the A.G. and as a criminal indictment (potentially resulting in prison time) by the D.A.

As to the curious case of Merrick Garland, as Eliason highlighted in his recent Post op-ed, he does not count himself among those who think that Biden's Attorney General is necessarily dropping the ball. But he does believe an explanation is warranted to the American people regarding any potential investigations of Trump on the many cases of obstruction painstakingly spelled out in Mueller's Special Counsel report on Russian interference in 2016 and Trump's related firing of FBI Director James Comey.

On Monday, the statute of limitations into the oldest such obstruction allegation cited by Mueller has now run out. (That, as Eliason detailed at the Post, was "Trump’s alleged request to then-FBI Director James B. Comey to drop the criminal investigation of disgraced former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Other acts of possible obstruction soon will be similarly time-barred.")

"This clock is ticking away," Eliason tells me today. "Given the size of the investigation, the seriousness of the investigation, the detail in that report, even though DoJ doesn't normally comment on cases that it's not going to bring, or that it's not prosecuting, in this case they should. They should tell us something about what's happened with that Mueller Report now that we have an administration in office that is not filled with Trump appointees."

Eliason spells out why he believes that, while the DoJ doesn't usually comment on such cases, "this is a unique case" where "a lot of people are really convinced that the evidence of obstruction was pretty overwhelming" and that "it's bad for the Department and bad for the country if that just is allowed to fade into the distance and nobody ever says, 'Hey, we did take a look at this, and here's what we decided.'"

In fact, Eliason believes there is evidence to suggest that Garland is carefully looking at Trump's potential criminal exposure in regard to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, but is less certain about his handling of the Mueller allegations and thinks "there should be some closure on that.".

All of this, of course, as the clock may also be ticking toward an announcement by Trump that he plans to run for President again in 2024. How would that affect any potential federal indictments against the twice-impeached former President? We discuss that matter --- "practically speaking, that gets really hairy --- as well.

Finally, in our closing few minutes, a few more thoughts on Trump's worsening New York woes from someone else with a unique perspective. George Conway, the longtime Republican attorney and husband of Trump's former Campaign Manager and White House aide Kellyanne Conway, tells CNN why he believes the Mazars news to be far worse for Trump than his two impeachments as President...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with the FBI's former chief counter-espionage expert and author Peter Strzok...
By Nicole Sandler on 2/4/2022 6:14pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER back with you, filling in for Brad and Desi today, guest hosting the BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

I'm somewhat afraid to get my hopes up about the idea of Donald Trump and his accomplices being held accountable for their crimes, despite seeing the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating Jan. 6 doing their work. I can't wait to see their hearings.

But I also remember being confident when Robert Mueller was investigating, knowing a report was on the way. And we know how that went. Trump's minions were able to preempt the release of the report and put out a completely fabricated synopsis of its findings.

I remember Peter Strzok, the FBI counter-espionage agent who first opened an investigation into Russian tampering into the 2016 election. And then watched Trump bully and eviscerate him after private texts with a coworker surfaced, allowing the entire narrative to be hijacked. The Washington Post put together adevastating supercut of Strzok's testimony before Congress, if you need a refresher --- or, for some reason, want to get really angry.

So, I'll be cautiously optimistic that good will prevail, even if I wouldn't bet on it.

My guest today is PETER STRZOK, FBI veteran and New York Times bestselling author of COMPROMISED: Counterintelligence and the Threat of Donald J. Trump. His book has just been released in paperback and includes a new afterword with fresh reporting on the flood of Trump intelligence revelations that have come to light since it was first released.

I really enjoyed our conversation, and wish he were still on the job.

We started the show with a bit of the latest news. And I figured, after being so serious with Strzok, we could end on a lighter note. So, I shared a couple of songs that deal with the Spotify/Joe Rogan/Neil Young issue. First, a new little ditty from Steven Page, former lead singer of Barenaked Ladies called "Choose Young". And we finish up with Lauren Mayer (who publishes wonderfully funny and topical song parodies on YouTube) and her song called " They Fought Spotify".

Until next time...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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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