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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Trump's Continuing Crimes and Consequences:
'BradCast' 8/15/22
Fallout from retrieval of stolen, classified docs at Mar-a-Lago; Also: 'Unprecedented' FBI threats; Giuliani now a 'target', Graham must testify in GA 2020 theft probe; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'A Fifth of Outrage' Toons
We've got nothing to say about PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons that wouldn't incriminate us...
Before FBI Search, Grand Jury Subpoenaed NatSec Docs Trump Stole from WH: 'BradCast' 8/11/22
RW political violence after Trump's Mar-a-Lago lies; Also: Midterms trend toward Dems...
'Green News Report' 8/11/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
South Korea latest victim of deadly flash floods; Repub state treasurers coordinate to block climate action by private companies; PLUS: Mexico emergency over drought protests...
Recent GNRs: 8/9/22 - 8/4/22 - Archives...
'If You're Innocent, Why Are You Taking the Fifth?' Great Question!: 'BradCast' 8/10/22
Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney, Randall D. Eliason; Also: Inflation slowing?; Noteworthy primary results from CT, MN, VT, WI (and WA)
What We Know (& Don't) About the FBI Search at Mar-a-Lago: 'BradCast' 8/9/22
Also: Late AZ, WA primary results; MI's GOP A.G. nominee facing criminal probe; Federal judges approve release of Trump taxes...
'Green News Report' 8/9/22
GNR Special Coverage: U.S. Senate Democrats pass landmark climate legislation, the first in U.S. history...
Pennsylvania's Supreme Court Rejects Yet Another GOP Challenge to Absentee Voting
Ruling is good news for democracy and, perhaps, state Democrats...
Sunday 'Woke' Toons!
Wake up and smell PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons!...
'Green News Report' 8/4/22
Back-to-back storms show U.S. not ready for impacts; Climate change raising humidity; Big biz targets Dem climate bill; PLUS: Nat'l EV charging network begins...
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: WI's John Nichols; Also: McConnell 'nukes' Senate rules again; House to subpoena 'Mueller Report', request Trump tax returns from IRS...
By Brad Friedman on 4/3/2019 6:52pm PT  

There were a number of important elections held around the country on Tuesday, so on today's BradCast, we've got some of the reported results from the key races, including both good and bad news for Democrats and progressives. Oh, and some stuff happened in D.C. today as well. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We start with the good news out of Chicago, where former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot will become the Windy City's first black female Mayor, as well as the city's first openly gay chief executive. Lightfoot, who has never held elective office, ran as a progressive reformer to clean up Chicago's notorious old-school, insider politics after Democratic Mayor Rahm Emmanuel chose not to seek a third term. She is said to have easily bested Toni Preckwinkle, another African-American woman and a longtime elected official. by a nearly 50-point margin in Tuesday's final runoff contest.

There was still more good news for Democrats in the key swing-state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, where Democratic Navy vet and former Dept. of Veterans Affairs official Pam Iovino is said to have defeated Republican D. Raja in a special election for a state Senate seat representing a suburban district outside of Pittsburgh. Republicans have held that seat for most of the past half-century, and the district (which uses 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems) reportedly went to Donald Trump by 6 points in 2016, when he took the state's 20 electoral votes for the first time since 1988.

Iovino's 4-point victory over Raja is being regarded as a potential bellwether for next year's Presidential contest when Democrats will need to win back Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin --- all of which went to Trump in 2016 before electing Democratic Governors during statewide elections in 2018 --- if they hope to take back the White House.

While there was good news for Dems in Pennsylvania, the news out of Wisconsin on Tuesday was decidedly less good...at least as of this hour. Progressive-aligned state Supreme Court candidate Judge Lisa Neubauer had been widely expected to win the seat of a retiring progressive-aligned state Justice, but appears to have fallen just short against GOP-aligned Judge Brian Hagedorn, according to unofficial results.

Hagedorn, who has likened homosexuality to bestiality, derided Planned Parenthood as a "wicked organization" and called the NAACP a "disgrace to America", declared victory in the early Wednesday morning hours after computer tallies gave him a lead of just under 6,000 votes out of just over 1.2 million cast across the state. Neubauer's campaign announced the race was "too close to call" and "almost assuredly headed to a recount", stating that "Wisconsinites deserve to know we have had a fair election and that every vote is counted".

With the margin less than 1% (it is currently one-half of 1%), she will be entitled to request --- and pay for --- such a "recount". State law, however, currently leaves it up to local jurisdictions to decide whether they wish to tally the state's mostly hand-marked paper ballots manually or simply run them through the same computer scanners that tallied them (correctly or incorrectly, who knows?) on Election Night.

Tuesday's state Supreme Court contest in the Badger State was particularly important for Democrats who, even if they had won, would have retained a 4 to 3 minority on the state's high court. But, with a conservative-aligned Justice retiring next year and the replacement election to be held on the same day as the state's 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary, they had hoped to finally flip the court to a more Dem-friendly 4 to 3 majority next year for the first time in years. That majority would be particularly important following the 2020 census and the inevitable subsequent court battles over redistricting in one of the most extremely GOP-partisan gerrymandered states in the country, not to mention hopes for rolling back a host of rightwing initiatives enacted under Republican Gov. Scott Walker now that voters sent him packing last November.

We're joined today by Wisconsin's own JOHN NICHOLS, Washington Correspondent for The Nation and associate editor of Madison, Wisconsin's Capital Times, to help us make sense of Tuesday's stunning reported results that appear to have taken both Democrats and Republicans alike off guard.

How and why did it happen, given Neubauer's huge fund-raising advantage over the toxic, Koch-supported former Walker protege who many Republicans chose to stay away from? Did a last minute infusion of out-of-state Republican cash make the difference? While turnout increased for both parties compared to the state's last Supreme Court election in 2018 (when the Dem-aligned candidate won by a full 12 points!), why did turnout appear to increase more for the GOP this year? And what happened that dampened turnout in Milwaukee?

Does a potential "recount" have any chance of reversing the currently reported results? And what should all of this --- an objectionably flawed rightwing candidate seen as having little chance of winning in Wisconsin, before he then goes on to narrowly win the state --- tell Democrats as they head into the crucial 2020 Presidential election looking to flip WI back into the D column? We discuss all of that and much more with the ever-wise Nichols today, who offers this "number one lesson" to progressives: "Do not assume Donald Trump is doomed."

Finally, there was also a lot of stuff that happened in Congress today for a change as well: The House Judiciary Committee voted to approve subpoenas for the Department of Justice to require Trump's Attorney General William Barr to turn over the full, unredacted Mueller Report, including its exhibits and underlying evidence; In the Senate, GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unilaterally invoked the so-called "nuclear option" to change Senate rules, after failing to do so via regular Senate votes, in order to reduce the time needed to install Trump appointees to executive agencies and lifetime positions on the federal bench. The new rule will now require just 2 hours of debate, rather than 30, before holding a vote on such appointees; And, late in the day, the Democratic U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal sent a letter to the IRS formally requesting the past 6 years of Donald Trump's tax returns as well as those for eight of his business entities. The House actions are certain to face challenges from the White House and likely end up being decided in court...

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Guest: Theresa Cardinal Brown of the Bipartisan Policy Center; Also: More Trump losses in federal court on the environment; Callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2019 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The "national emergency" may be fake, but the crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border is real and getting worse...and new Trump policies are doing the opposite of helping. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Last week, Donald Trump threatened to shutdown the border with Mexico entirely. Over the weekend, he announced he was ending aid programs to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras (which are not in Mexico, Fox "News"!) because, as he claimed, "they haven't done a thing for us." All of that, as an actual humanitarian crisis --- if not a pretend "National Emergency" --- grips a number of U.S. towns along the Mexico border, thanks to an unprecedented wave of migrant families and children coming, mostly, from Central American countries in strife.

We're joined today by THERESA CARDINAL BROWN, Director of Immigration and Cross-border Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center to try and make sense of what is and isn't happening at the border right now, how Trump's policies are affecting it, and what Congress needs to do try to ease what she acknowledges is, indeed, a crisis, if not the "emergency" that Trump has declared in order to build his long promised wall.

Brown, a former policy advisor in the Office of the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection during both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama Administrations, confirms that the influx of migrants streaming up from Central America is unprecedented and now overwhelming detention facilities and shelters built for previous waves of migrants --- such as the record number which flowed in during 2000, largely comprised of mostly men from Mexico who could be deported more quickly than the families now claiming asylum after crossing the border. (Brown notes that even a wall would not prevent such asylum claims, as it would be build on the U.S. side of the border, allowing asylum seeking immigrants to make their claim even before making it to the other side of the wall, since they are already on U.S. territory by that time.)

Brown suggests Trump's termination of U.S. aid for Central American would serve to make the problem worse, as much of those funds go to non-governmental organizations trying to improve the living conditions in countries under duress from poverty and violence. She also details the economic disaster that would likely accompany the closure of the Mexican border threatened by the President ("this may be a threat aimed at Mexico, but it would also significantly impact the United States"), and explains why "the wall will do absolutely nothing to address this current flow of people." That, she describes, as a problem due to U.S. Customs and Border Protection becoming "overstretched" because they do "not have facilities that are appropriate for anyone --- families or kids --- for the length of time they're having to be held there."

We must "address our asylum system. And that means, back to front, starting with the immigration courts" which are similarly overwhelmed and insufficiently funded, she argues, resulting in cases that stretch for years before asylum is determined one way or another. "Ultimately, what we need to do is deal with what's going on in the sending countries," she tells me. "What are the push factors that are driving migration? You have instability of government, you have people who don't feel that they have personal safety because there's impunity and corruption in their governments. They are threatened with gangs and violence and extreme poverty. What can we do to help in that situation? That's the longer term solution, but it needs to be also worked at the source. So we've got to look at this from multiple places."

Next up today, Trump's multiple losses in federal courts last week on several fronts where he's tried to undermine the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") may have been matched by his multiple losses in federal court last week on the environmental front, including a ruling from a federal Judge in Alaska late on Friday who determined that the Administration's reversal of Obama-era protections against off-shore oil drilling in the Arctic and parts of the Atlantic Oceans violate federal law. She has ordered some 128 million previously-protected acres that Trump's Admin has hoped to lease for drilling, once again off-limits to exploration and exploitation. The ruling is at least the fourth setback over the past two weeks for Trump environmental policy, where federal courts have blocked Trump agency rollbacks of nearly two dozen Obama-era conservation policies over the past two years.

Finally, we open up the phone lines to listeners today on much of the above and even a few callers with some thoughts on 2020 and more...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: NYTimes finally discovers they were scammed on 'Mueller Report'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/28/2019 6:42pm PT  

It may not be our most hilarious show of all time, but I think it's a very important one and includes more than a few righteous rants. [Audio link to full show is at end of article.]...

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

  • The New York Times finally figures out, almost a week later, that they may have been duped by Trump Attorney General William Barr's 4-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's long-awaited report, as the incurious "paper of record" confirms the full report from Mueller runs at least 300 pages. Nonetheless, Trump and his cult-member Republicans in Congress are running with the Times' original false and/or misleading assertions published the day after Barr's deceptive summary was released on Sunday. For example, the Times' top-of-page, ALL-CAPS screaming headline "MUELLER FINDS NO TRUMP-RUSSIA CONSPIRACY" and "A Cloud Over Trump's Presidency is Lifted".

    Of course, we still have no idea how many pages are in Mueller's confidential report delivered to Trump appointee Barr last Friday, or what it actually says about the two-year probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's potential cooperation with them, or Trump's apparent attempts to obstruct the probe. But the summary compiled in less than 48 hours by Barr and then inaccurately reported by many to have somehow "exonerated" Trump, after being written by a man appointed to the job specifically because of his expressed opposition to the Special Counsel, should have been viewed much more skeptically by the Times and many others in the corporate media --- as we've been pointing out since Monday.
  • Among the fall-out from the Times' (and others') terrible and irresponsible coverage on all of this, GOP members of the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday demanded Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) step down as Chair and Trump is demanding his resignation from Congress. Schiff, however, is (appropriately) having none of it;
  • Speaking of not-particularly-funny behavior from Congressional Republicans, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) held a sham stunt vote earlier this week on the Green New Deal resolution [PDF] proposed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) in the Senate and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the House. Their landmark resolution calls for a wartime-like effort to move the U.S. economy from fossil fuels to zero-carbon energy over a decade, while creating millions of jobs in the clean energy sector and supporting those in legacy industries like coal mining to ensure new jobs and protection of their pensions from bankrupt, predator coal companies. During "debate" for McConnell's mock GND vote --- on an issue which would greatly help many coal mining constituents in Kentucky and Utah alike --- Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) offered an embarrassingly unfunny speech that mocked the resolution, dismissed climate change as a concern, argued the Green New Deal is somehow "part of the problem" and that the real solution to deadly and ever-more costly global warming was "churches" and "babies";
  • Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) was not amused, as his own small coastal state directly faces a very serious threat posed from global-warming fueled rising sea levels which threaten to turn Rhode Island "into an archipelago" in coming years. "As a small state, we don't have a lot to give back to the ocean," Whitehouse rails on the Senate floor. "This is deadly serious for us."
  • But, if you think Whitehouse sounded angry, wait until you hear Ocasio-Cortez' response to the belittling of climate change concerns from Republicans in the House during an epic rant in the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, after Rep Sean Duffy (R-WI) mocked the GND as "an elitist fantasy";
  • Underscoring how NOT funny all of this is, a recent, heart-breaking special report from AP detailed how Trump, McConnell and the coal industry have conspired to allow a small tax on coal to expire, which, since the 1970s, has helped to cover the extraordinary healthcare expenses of miners suffering from deadly Black Lung Disease, as well as support for their widows. A new Black Lung epidemic has been striking younger and younger coal miners in recent years, and Republicans, including Trump, allowed the tax that funds the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund to expire during the Government shutdown at the beginning of the year.

    That, despite promises from McConnell (who represents the coal state of Kentucky) and from Trump (who has used miners endlessly as props during political rallies, while claiming to "love" them) to ensure the crucial Trust Fund doesn't go broke. Instead, both men have broken their promise and appear to be siding instead with the coal industry owners who have donated millions to them, and do not wish to see the life-saving and now-lapsed tax renewed. All of this, of course, on the same week that Trump reversed positions to support killing the Affordable Care Act entirely, while claiming "Republicans will soon be known as the party of health care";
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which touches on a number of those maddening topics and more...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Suzanne Almeida of Common Cause; Also: Lack of campaign finance charges against Don Jr., Manafort threaten 2020 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/27/2019 6:02pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Something seemingly very interesting may have occurred at Tuesday's oral arguments on two separate, if related, partisan redistricting cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. The results, believe it or not, could change the outcome from what many voting rights advocates had previously predicted following the resignation of Justice Anthony Kennedy and the subsequent seating of his far-right replacement Justice Brett Kavanaugh. [Audio link to complete show is posted at end of article.]

The scourge of state legislative and Congressional maps drawn for partisan advantage by the party in power after a decennial Census has crippled democracy and the voting power of citizens for decades in the U.S. But the GOP dramatically upped the stakes following the 2010 Census when they employed highly sophisticated computer mapping techniques to ensure themselves huge electoral advantages over the ensuing ten years by drawing extremely partisan maps that "packed" Democrats into a small number of districts or "cracked" them among several in order to dilute the voting power of non-Republicans.

It's a practice that Democrats have carried out as well, if not to the same extreme as Republicans who took over many statehouses in the 2010 "red wave" election. A new analysis from AP finds that 2018's "blue tsunami" election, for example, would have been much larger for Congressional Democrats, were it not for many extremely partisan GOP-drawn maps in a number of key states, including North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas. The AP study finds "Republicans won about 16 more U.S. House seats" than they would have under fair maps. Similarly, "Republicans' structural advantage might have helped them hold on to as many as seven [state legislative] chambers that otherwise could have flipped to Democrats."

While the U.S. Supreme Court has long found gerrymanders on a racial basis to be unconstitutional, they've yet to affirm the many lower court rulings finding partisan gerrymanders to be similarly unconstitutional. Last term, when many believed SCOTUS was prepared to do so, the Court punted instead on several cases of extreme partisan maps in Wisconsin, North Carolina and elsewhere, before Justice Kennedy --- thought to have been the likely swing-vote in favor of ending the odious practice --- announced his retirement.

On Tuesday, one of those cases, Common Cause v. Rucho --- where a federal appeals court determined (twice!) that North Carolina's Congressional maps were unlawfully skewed for Republicans (they've held a 10 to 3 advantage in their Congressional delegation for the past decade, despite the state being almost evenly divided between Republican and Democratic voters) --- was heard again at SCOTUS. Another case, Benesik v. Lamone, in which a single Congressional district in Maryland was drawn by Democrats specifically to remove an incumbent Republican, was heard as well.

And while many voting rights advocates have not had high hopes for either case, given the even farther-right leaning majority on the court following Kennedy's retirement, there were some surprises during oral argument, particularly from Justice Kavanaugh whose decision in one or both of the cases could change history by delivering a major win for voting rights.

We're joined today to discuss these potentially encouraging developments with SUZANNE ALMEIDA, Redistricting and Representation Counsel for Common Cause, the lead plaintiff in the NC case. She was in the Court on Tuesday for both hearings and explains what seems to have happened, offers insight on what could now occur, decries why these cases are so important, and what may happen when SCOTUS finally delivers it's crucial opinion in June in advance of both the crucial 2020 elections and the subsequent redistricting of all 50 states that will follow the 2020 Census.

"The North Carolina case is a particularly egregious case, for a couple of reasons," Almeida tells me. "One is that we have an admission. On the floor of the General Assembly, Representative Lewis leaned into a microphone and said, 'This is a partisan gerrymander. I wanted to this map to be 10-3 because it couldn't be 11-2.' That's not the way that map-drawing should work, and that's not the way representation should work in America." She also discusses, for example, how one district line drawn by the GOP in North Carolina actually splits an historically African-American college in two, so that its voters are diluted into two separate Republican-leaning districts.

As to the matter concerning Kavanaugh, who was reportedly disturbed by his own district in Maryland, where he lives, being gerrymandered by Democrats to prevent Republican representation, Almeida confirms that he seemed to want to find a standard that could be used by courts to determine if districts were unlawfully gerrymandered on a partisan basis. She says she shares "the characterization that Justice Kavanaugh has a personal interest in the Maryland case ... And he was pushing back quite strongly against the advocate for the state."

Almeida also pushed back at the notion from Justices on the right that Courts should simply stay out of these matters, and leave them to voters and the legislators who drew the maps to keep themselves in power in the first place, she tells me: "This idea that the Court has that somehow this is self-correcting, or will fix itself through the magic of the political process, just doesn't work. And that's because gerrymandering is about power, and people in power staying in power. And when the people in power have that power to make the rules and draw the lines, that's what they're going to keep doing."

She adds that comments from Kavanaugh and even Chief Justice Roberts during the proceedings on Tuesday are "reason to be optimistic". But I'll wait until the opinions come out in June before popping any champagne bottles on what could be, according to Mark Joseph Stern at Slate the "most important voting rights victory of the century so far."

Also on today's program: Speaking of 2020, some curious questions about why nobody from Team Trump --- particularly Donald Trump Jr. or campaign chair Paul Manafort --- has yet been charged with campaign finance violations regarding "soliciting" and/or "accepting" a "thing of value" from a foreign government, as clearly occurred in relation to the now-infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a number of Russian nationals. Election law expert Rick Hasen argues that the lack of indictments brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in this matter does not bode well for the Dept. of Justice's plans to enforce election laws that bar "foreign governments from sharing information --- even information obtained from illegal hacking --- with campaigns, for the purposes of influencing the 2020 election...and beyond"...

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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: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Trump border 'emergency' survives override vote; DoJ moves to kill ACA; Senate holds 'sham' vote on GND...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2019 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The coverage by the corporate media --- and response by many Democrats --- to Attorney General William Barr's terse, misleading 4-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report after two years has, by and large, been atrocious in innumerable ways. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We're joined today by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, who has been covering the corrupt Trump Presidency for years now, including its various Russia-related storylines and other criminal probes at Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. Among our several related topics of discussion today: Shameful failures by the media and others to demand independently verifiable evidence of speculative allegations both before the confidential Mueller Report was finally delivered to Barr and the subsequent failure by many of the same organizations and individuals in their credulous reporting of Barr's bare-bones, "very, very clever political document" summarizing the sprawling, two-year probe.

Rather than learning from mistakes, many in the media seem to be repeating them all over again in the wake of Barr's memo, which some justifiably regard as a "whitewash" or "cover-up" by a man who was selected by Trump, in no small part, for his previously stated opposition to the probe and to the very notion that any President can legally be charged with Obstruction of Justice. There's much more related conversation here today --- including on the substance of Barr's letter, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein's curious complicity, and the GOP's premature victory laps --- but you'll have to tune in to listen.

Also on today's program: Though Democrats led a decisive 248 to 181 vote today (with 14 Republicans) in hopes of overriding Trump's veto of the resolution blocking his phony "national emergency" declaration, the effort fell 38 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed. In the Senate, where 12 Republicans previously voted with Democrats, 59 to 41, to block the President previously, no override vote will now be held since a two-thirds majority vote is required in both chambers. AP described Trump's overwhelming loss in both chambers as a "victory" for the President today, and it will now be left to challenges in court to block Trump's order diverting billions appropriated by Congress to the military to instead build his border wall. Mexico is still not paying for it.

Then, in a major reversal of their previous legal position, Trump's Dept. of Justice filed documents in an appeals court Monday to support striking down the entire Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") as unconstitutional. While Jeff Sessions served as Attorney General, DoJ had "only" supported gutting provisions that limited premium prices insurers could charge for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Under Barr, however, the Administration now seeks to kill the entire landmark healthcare law. If successful, as many as 30 million Americans would lose their access to affordable healthcare coverage;

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest very busy Green News Report, as fossil fuel-related climate related disasters continue in the U.S. and around the world, while the Trump Administration plows billions of tax-payer dollars into troubled nuclear plants and the Senate GOP carries out a "sham" vote on the Green New Deal, in hopes of mocking the initiative...

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But Trump and the White House couldn't be happier to lie about how his conflicted Attorney General helped get him off the hook (for now)...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2019 6:12pm PT  

So what did you think we'd be talking about on today's BradCast? [Audio link to full program is posted below.]

On Sunday, Donald Trump's new Attorney General William Barr issued a four-page letter [PDF] summarizing the long-awaited, nearly two-year Special Counsel investigation by Robert Mueller into Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 Presidential election, Team Trump's cooperation in that effort, and Donald Trump's attempts to obstruct the probe. Mueller's effort resulted in some 35 indictments, including more than 20 Russian individuals and entities, as well as indictments, convictions or guilty pleas from six top Trump associates and staffers. It has also spawned a number of other probes and indictments, including what Barr describes as "several matters" referred "to other offices for further action."

Nonetheless, based on Barr's summary report, issued less than 48 hours after receiving what is likely to have been tens of thousands of pages from the Special Counsel, the White House, the President and his fellow GOPers are falsely characterizing the terse summary as reflecting Mueller's "complete and total vindication" of Trump. That, despite Mueller's express and specific finding (according to one of the very few passages directly quoted by Barr) that the Special Counsel's report "does not exonerate" Trump of obstruction of justice crimes. That did not prevent the White House from falsely describing Mueller's findings as "a total and complete exoneration of the President of the United States." That is the opposite of what little we know the report to have found.

If fact, while Barr claims Mueller's "investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities" (the matter which media, Democrats and Trump alike have long described as "collusion"), Mueller left the decision on whether to prosecute Trump on obstruction up to the Attorney General, according to Barr, for reasons that still remain unknown and will likely stay unknown until and if Mueller's report is actually publicly released. Congressional Democrats are justifiably demanding as much.

While we've shared no small measure of healthy skepticism over the years about what Russia did or didn't do during the 2016 election, along with what Team Trump's involvement with it may or may not have been, there is no legitimate question about Trump's attempt to obstruct Mueller's investigation of it, beyond whether or not the obstruction rose to something that was prosecutable or impeachable and whether a sitting President can be indicted under the DoJ's dubious guidelines which say he or she may not.

Of course, just about everyone seems to have an opinion about Barr's report on Mueller's report. But it should be made clear that everything we currently know is based only on Barr's own summary, compiled in less than 48 hours. It should also be made clear that Barr is wildly conflicted in this matter, as he "auditioned" for the job as Trump's new AG by sending an unsolicited 19-page memo [PDF] to DoJ last year explaining why he believed Mueller's probe was "fatally misconceived" and that, essentially, a President cannot be held criminally accountable for any "exercise of core discretionary powers within the executive branch." (That would include, for example, Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey due to "the Russia thing," as he admitted out loud.)

That Barr and similarly-conflicted Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein were left to determine Trump's fate on this point --- and did so in less than 48 hours after a two year investigation --- is anything but what any American should consider to be "justice". But, as Mark Joseph Stern argues today at Slate, "William Barr Did What Donald Trump Hired Him to Do".

Today, we focus on the very few FACTS revealed by Barr's memo and open up our phone lines for listeners to offer a bunch of interesting takes on the events of the past 24 hours...and, as you might have guessed...even of the past three years...

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Guest: NatSec, cybersecurity and voting system journalist Kim Zetter; AND BREAKING: MUELLER GIVES REPORT TO ATTORNEY GENERAL...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2019 6:54pm PT  

Today's BradCast kicks of with the breaking news of the announcement, just minutes before air, that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally wrapped up his two year investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, cooperation in the effort by Team Trump and any obstruction of that probe by the President of the United States. Though that may be the least troubling news on today's show. [Audio link to complete shows is posted below article.]

Mueller's confidential report has now been delivered to Attorney General William Barr, as per statute, and Trump's new AG promptly notified Congress [PDF] to say he plans to release a summary of the report as soon as possible, potentially as early as this weekend. We share what we know (and don't) from that freshly breaking news at the top of today's program. Then it's back to, at least some of, our previously scheduled program...

On the day that Jimmy Carter officially becomes the longest living President in U.S. history, we're reminded of a warning he issued while serving as co-Chair, with Bush Family consigliere James Baker, of the so-called "Commission on National Election Reform" formed by a group of Republican operatives after the highly disputed 2004 Presidential election in Ohio. The Blue Ribbon panel was, ostensibly, formed to make recommendations on how to improve elections after the second disastrous Presidential election in a row, following the 2000 debacle in Florida. But while the Republicans who created the private commission had hoped for a recommendation for photo ID voting restrictions at the polling place, the one we've cited most often over the years is the Commission's unambiguous finding that the greatest threat posed to elections comes from insiders, such as election officials and private voting system vendors. "There is no reason to trust insiders in the election industry any more than in other industries," the Carter/Baker panel warned in their final report.

That warning is particularly trenchant today, with, as we recently reported, the Democratic National Committee now calling for some form of remote or online voting during their 2020 Presidential nominating caucuses next year and what has just happened with the online voting system that Switzerland has used for some time in parts of the country.

The Swiss had planned to roll out their system nationally this year, but as longtime cybersecurity and voting system journalist KIM ZETTER of MotherBoard and the New York Times reports, things did not go as well as planned.

Zetter joins us to discuss the alarming story of what happened when Switzerland, last month, opened up a month-long public hack challenge for the system which, they previously boasted, had easily passed many regular internal security checks and even several they had contracted from KPMG, an international auditing giant.

But, as Zetter recently detailed at MotherBoard, the Swiss system, designed by Barcelona-based Scytl --- "a leader in developing various internet and other voting solutions for national or regional elections in 42 countries, including at least 1,400 counties in the US" --- was almost immediately found by independent researchers to feature "a critical flaw in the code that would allow someone to alter votes without detection ... in a part of the system that is supposed to verify that all of the ballots and votes counted in an election are the same ones that voters cast." That flaw, Zetter details, "could allow someone to swap out all of the legitimate ballots and replace them with fraudulent ones, all without detection."

As she tells me today, the failure is even more troubling than that, as it allows for a single insider to exploit a "back door in the cryptography scheme, that would allow someone to alter votes but make it look like the votes haven't been altered at all." In other words, "the system is supposed to have a check in it that's designed to ensure that the ballots that go into that encryption process and come out of that de-cryption process are the exact same ballots. But there's a flaw in that proof that verifies that those ballots are the same. Therefore, that would allow someone to swap out the votes and ballots while the proof still seemed to show that the ballots were the same."

Swiss Post, which runs the system, and Scytl who sells it, claim the exploit could "only" be carried out by an insider, so why worry?

So how are those plans coming for remote voting in the DNC's 2020 Presidential caucuses next year? And how can it be that we keep attempting these same unworkable electronic and online voting schemes from private vendors and election officials who swear by the "certified" security of their systems, only to find they are anything but secure once independent experts are allowed to test them in any way?

"We should have a voting system where we're not required to trust anyone --- we're not required to trust election officials, we're not required to trust the vendors, we're not required to trust the voting machine itself," Zetter, who has been covering electronic voting and tabulation systems on her national cybersecurity beat for more than a decade, tells me. "We should have a system that can be audited independently of all of those parties in order to verify the election results. That's really in the best interests of everyone." What such a system should be, of course, is another matter, which we also discuss, and even debate a bit, on today's important program...

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Also: Beto jumps in to 2020; Still more evidence that WI's Photo ID voting restrictions were meant only to prevent Democrats from voting...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2019 6:39pm PT  

They were just baby steps. Though perhaps notable ones. Time will tell. But Thursday may prove to be a landmark in a potential and greatly-overdue claw back of Congressional powers ceded long ago --- long before Trump --- to the Executive branch. Whether the actions taken by Congress (including no small number of Republicans) on three separate issues today signal a sea change in the way Congress regards its own Constitutionally co-equal mandates and powers remains to be seen. But their rebukes of President Trump were surprisingly clear. Three different Congressional votes on three different matters covered on today's BradCast underscore this issue. [Audio link to show follows below.]

1) On Wednesday night, the GOP-controlled Senate voted once again in support of a resolution to end financial and military support to the U.S.-enabled, Saudi-led war on Yemen that has resulted in an unparalleled humanitarian crisis. The effort amounts to the first Congressional rebuke of a President under the War Powers Resolution since its adoption in 1973. But the invocation of a resolution under the legislation which cedes Congress' sole Constitutional power to declare war may not be enough to prevent the Trump Administration's promised veto and continued support of war-making with the murderous Saudi regime and its Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

2) On Thursday morning, the Democratic led U.S. House voted unanimously(!), 420 to 0, on a resolution to demand the public release of the final report by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whenever that may happen, after it's delivered to Attorney General William Barr. The statute guiding the duties of the Special Counsel was adopted by Congress in 1999, but mandates only that the Special Counsel deliver a "confidential" report to the AG. Congress failed to specify whether that report must ever be released to the full Congress, much less the public.

3) After recent passage in the Democratically controlled House, the U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 59-41 --- including all Democrats and 12 Republicans --- to reject Trump's "National Emergency" declaration to steal money appropriated by Congress to the military in order to build his southern border wall. It's the first time since the National Emergencies Act of 1973 that Congress has exercised its option to try and block such a declaration. The effort comes after a week of intense lobbying of Senate Republicans by the White House to block the resolution, and by Senate Republicans to convince Trump to accept a compromise alternative or face an embarrassing rejection from his own party. Nonetheless, Trump has vowed to veto the resolution and there are not currently the two-thirds of members in each chamber to override Trump's veto. The matter will most likely be settled in court and, as we argue today, very likely in favor of the President, given the way the Act was written (also ceding more Congressional powers to the Executive Branch.)

If the nation is lucky, however, today could mark a turning point after decades of Congress giving away its powers. But our nation hasn't been very lucky of late.

Also on today's news-packed program...

  • Beto O'Rourke jumps into the 2020 Democratic Presidential free-for-all. We discuss.
  • And, in Wisconsin, still more (shameful) evidence that Republican Photo ID voting restrictions were adopted as little more than a (successful) scam to suppress the Democratic-leaning vote in the Badger State. A new report from all of Wisconsin's county election clerks finds just 24 cases of potential voter fraud out of some 2.7 million votes cast over the past year. ZERO of those cases, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, would have been prevented by the state's Photo ID voting restrictions. On the other hand, as we learned back in 2017, some 23,000 legal voters in just two WI counties alone were deterred from voting by the suppressive law in 2016. That was the year that Donald Trump reportedly won the state by 22,748 votes.
  • Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report on the Trump Administration's wasted billions in taxpayer dollars in rolling back climate policy regulations and how school strikes by kids around the globe and the recent introduction of the Green New Deal is now forcing fossil fuel industry executives to rethink their loathsome, planet-killing business strategies...

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Guest: Former U.S. House General Counsel Stanley M. Brand; Also: NC-9 GOP election fraud follow-up; Trump pal, Patriots owner in prostitution, human-trafficking sting; The President's musical 'Border Lies'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2019 7:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some maddening facts about what awaits when Robert Mueller's Special Counsel report is handed over to the Attorney General and what will and won't likely be in it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today...in "lighter" news...some followup to our detailed coverage yesterday of the remarkable events leading up to the unanimous 5 to 0 vote by the North Carolina State Board of Elections for a new election in the state's 9th Congressional U.S. House District. The action was in response to what the board described as a "coordinated, unlawful, substantially resourced absentee ballot fraud scheme" in last November's election by the campaign of Trump-endorsed Baptist minister Mark Harris. The decision followed on stunning surprise testimony against Harris by his own son at the Board's public hearings on the matter this week.

Among our follow-up coverage today: the (not-at-all-shocking if wildly-hypocritical silence from GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters who've made their living for years lying about phony fraud to encourage laws that suppress the Democratic-leaning vote, while hoaxing Fox "News" brain-addled clowns like Donald Trump into believing there's an epidemic of Democratic voter fraud, rather than the insider election fraud which can easily flip the results of an entire election --- as seen in North Carolina. It was also nice to hear the NC Democratic Chairman finally explain the difference between "voter fraud" and "election fraud" to NPR's Steve Inskeep on today's Morning Edition. We'll see if NPR can remember that difference in the future.

And, speaking of GOP hypocrisy, long-time Trump-supporting billionaire and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was charged today by Florida police for two instances of soliciting prostitution, as he was caught amidst a probe into human sex trafficking. Ironically enough, human trafficking has long been disingenuously used by Trump to support his "National Emergency" declaration to steal money from the military for use in building his border wall with Mexico. The news of the warrant for Kraft's arrest today raises a panoply of interesting issues which Desi and I take a few minutes to discuss.

Then, with several media outlets reporting this week that a report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be coming as soon as next week (and, at least one outlet today reporting that's not so), the question of what happens whenever that report is finally delivered to the Attorney General is coming to the forefront.

My guest today, Professor STANLEY M. BRAND, Distinguished Fellow in Law and Government at Penn State University, recently argued in a column at The Conversation that those hoping the public may see this report after it's turned over, by statute, to Trump's newly-minted AG William Barr may be in for some disappointment. Brand, who formerly served for eight years as General Counsel to the U.S. House, now teaches a course on the Independent Counsel at Penn State, explains how it differs from the Special Counsel statute that replaced it after the Clinton era. He suggests the public may never see any of Mueller's "confidential" report.

More frustratingly, he tells me why he believes that Mueller is unlikely to indict the President or recommend such an indictment and how the by-the-book prosecutor is similarly unlikely to recommend impeachment in his report. Unlike the old Independent Counsel statute in effect under Nixon and Clinton, the new statute, he explains, as written by a Democrat, is limited to criminal matters only (not legislative matters such as impeachment) and requires Mueller largely to issue a "confidential" report with little more than details on who was prosecuted and who was not, and what, if any, actions were blocked by the Attorney General overseeing the probe. What Barr then does with that report, he explains, is a separate matter.

Brand, who says he has worked with both Mueller and Barr in the past, says "you may see portions of it, or you may see selected excerpts, or representations of what it contains, if Bill Barr --- and I take him at his word --- wants to be as transparent as he can within the rules and regulations."

In somewhat more comforting comments, he also contends, in response to my query about the curious timing of Barr being seated just days before news (accurate or not) of the report's imminent release: "I have no notion why it's wrapping up --- if it is --- at this particular point, but I have confidence that, if it is wrapping up, it's because Mueller has decided he's finished." He adds, "Nobody is going to push Bob Mueller around. So if there's a conclusion to this, it's because Mueller has determined in his judgment that it's time and he has no further actions to bring."

Brand also offers his insight on whether Mueller would testify to Congress, if subpoenaed, about what was in the report if it's not released to the public or even to Congress. The central frustration at the core of this conversation, at least for me, is that Brand essentially argues that Mueller can't indict Trump (thanks to very debatable, if long-held DoJ "guidelines") and wouldn't cite evidence of impeachable offensives in his report, since that is not part of the new statute's mandate, as written in the wake of "excesses" under the old statute.

"Leon Jaworski, who was the Independent Counsel in the Nixon case, decided that he had sufficient evidence to indict but determined it was not something he should do, given the ongoing investigation into impeachment by the House of Representatives," Brand explains. "Ken Starr, for his part, determined that he could indict a sitting President but determined as a matter of discretion not to do that, because the statute provided a specific mechanism for referring that type of evidence to the House for impeachment, which he did, and which resulted in an impeachment proceeding of President Clinton."

But now, If Mueller can't indict or recommend impeachment, how is this current process supposed to bring accountability for a scofflaw President? There is a lot more to dig into in our discussion, as maddening as it may be at times. It does, however, raise the clear need for a long-overdue Congressional Hearing in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee into whether a sitting President can, under the Constitution, be criminally indicted (a hearing that would, on its own, likely bring some accountability for our current Executive). It also raises the question of why the hell Democrats are waiting for the Mueller Report to be issued before taking action to bring accountability through impeachment, especially since even they may never see this report! If not this President, then what President would ever merit impeachment proceedings in Congress?!

Finally, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced that a vote will be held in the U.S. House on Tuesday to block Trump's "National Emergency" declaration under the National Emergency Act. It'll likely pass in the Democratic-controlled House, but what are its chances in the GOP Senate, which much also hold a vote within 18 days of a resolution being adopted by the House? And, will EITHER chamber be able to overcome an almost-certain veto by the President?

That all remains to be seen, but satirist Randy Rainbow has a few musical thoughts on Trump's "Border Lies" to play out us out today at the end of another impossible week...

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Trump's own Commission shuts coal plants in KY, TN; Barr confirmed; Funding bill approved, fake 'National Emergency' to come; Freshmen light up Committee hearings; GOP Green New Deal freak-out...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2019 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Seriously, coal miners should have voted for Hillary, as we learn once again today. But those who voted for progressives in Congress are getting their money's worth already! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Leading off today's rather lively show: The federal utility board known as the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), now dominated by Donald Trump appointees, voted today to shut down the last remaining coal-fired power plant in Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, once the heart of "Coal Country" as the nation's top producer. The move is expected to save some $320 million dollars for 10 million rate-payers in the region, not to mention the resulting cleaner air and water and lower medical expenses in the bargain.

The decisive 6 to 1 vote (which includes 4 Trump appointees) to close the dirty, inefficient decades-old plant comes despite pleas to the board from Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, Trump himself and one of his top donors (Robert Murray of Murray Energy) who owns the nearby mine that supplies the plant. The TVA also voted to close another coal plant in Tennessee.

Several hundred of jobs will be lost in the bargain, which gives us the opportunity to remind listeners of Hillary Clinton's 2016 plan to invest $30 billion for support and retraining of miners and others effected by coal's inevitable end. It was while describing that plan when Clinton correctly, if infamously, noted that "we're gonna put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business". The phrase was then opportunistically taken out of context by Fox 'News', Republicans and Trump himself to endlessly blast her during the campaign, even though she had been explaining the need to help those effected Coal Country miners and families to survive. Those miners, most of whom fell for the dishonest Rightwing smears and voted for Trump, will soon be out of work without the help Clinton had tried to offer them.

In other news: The U.S. Senate confirmed William Barr, largely along party lines, as the next U.S. Attorney General at a crucial moment in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe.

The Senate also voted to approve a $330 billion compromise bill to fund the Government, including $23 billion for border security, but just $1.4 billion for Trump's border wall, less than he would have gotten had he accepted the deal offered last December. Instead, he shut down the federal government for a record 35 days. The House just approved it as well, though a small group of progressive freshman Congresswomen vowed to vote against the measure due to its increased funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The spending bill is expected to pass the House nonetheless and, Ann Coulter's ALL-CAPS Twitter threat notwithstanding, McConnell has said that Trump intends to both sign it and then declare a "National Emergency" in order to steal tax-payer funds from elsewhere to fund his border wall. That move, if it happens, will be vigorously challenged in court and is even opposed by many Republicans.

Also today, a few quick words about Daily Beast's report that DHS is allowing two teams created in 2016 to help protect elections from foreign influence wither away in advance of the 2020 President election, in favor of moving resources toward border and immigration efforts. (More on that matter, hopefully, at a later date.);

Then, we share a couple of killer Q&A's from recent Congressional hearings by two of the aforementioned freshman Congresswomen. The first is a colloquy in the House Foreign Affairs Committee between Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and disgraced diplomatic operative Elliot Abrams, who has been pulled out of mothballs to serve as Trump's Special Venezuela Envoy. That, despite his having pleaded guilty to withholding documents from Congress during the 1980's Iran-Contra Scandal probe and his subsequent pardoned by then President George H.W. Bush. Omar calls him out on that, noting that she "fail[ed] to understand why members of this committee of the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful", and asking if he stood by his 1982 Senate testimony dismissing a massacre by U.S. backed troops in El Salvador.

Then, in another brilliant round of questioning, this time from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the House Oversight Committee, the shameful lack of campaign finance laws and ethics rules for members of Congress accepting funding from corporate interests is laid bare. We share both rounds of Committee questioning in full today.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the hilariously panicked Fox "News"/GOP freak-out and lie-fest regarding AOC's Green New Deal proposal (in which, among other things, they charge that the legislation would result in banning cars, cows, ice cream and cheeseburgers), some very bad news about insects, and some very good news about the City of Los Angeles, which has already dumped coal-fired power plants, and is now moving to get rid of natural gas-powered electricity in favor of 100% renewable power....

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Guest: Climate/energy reporter David Roberts of Vox; Also: Witless Whitaker's remarkable House Judiciary testimony...
By Brad Friedman on 2/8/2019 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast, thanks in no small part to a new progressive class of Congress members, general calls for a "Green News Deal" are finally beginning to take some shape, as an official proposal was introduced in Congress on Thursday. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

But, first up today, some of the remarkable testimony this afternoon from the nation's wildly unqualified top law enforcement official. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker answered and/or evaded questions in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Friday, as the new Democratic majority sought to learn whether he discussed Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe with the President before or after being appointed to temporarily replace former AG Jeff Sessions, and whether he has interfered in any way with the investigation he currently oversees as Acting AG. Whitaker's remarkably evasive and, at times, arrogantly obnoxious testimony included remarks that lit up the hearing room with laughter as he attempted to inform the Committee's Chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), that his five minutes of questioning had expired!

Then, we're joined by one of the nation's smartest climate and energy journalists, DAVID ROBERTS of Vox.com, to discuss Thursday's unveiling of a non-binding Green New Deal resolution [PDF] in Congress, as introduced by progressive freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and veteran Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), along with a host of Democratic co-sponsors.

Roberts breaks down the broad proposal for a "10-year national mobilization" to grow thousands, if not millions of jobs by transitioning the nation toward 100% "clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources". (That language, he notes, allows the debate between climate hawks on the left over nuclear energy to put off for a while.)

The measure --- modeled in scope after FDR's New Deal, LBJ's Great Society and even JFK's successful effort to send a man to the moon and back in less than a decade --- also includes a number of aspirational goals to help ensure "frontline and vulnerable communities" who face the worst impacts of climate change are also among the first beneficiaries of a national effort to tackle our increasingly dire global climate crisis.

Roberts details what the resolution --- the first to begin defining what a Green New Deal should actually look like --- calls for now and puts off until later (for example, how it will be paid for); how it places its focus on solving the problem while growing the economy, rather than on specific "markets and technologies" at the center of previous efforts to combat global warming; and how the introduction of the landmark resolution itself serves to force the issue to the top of matters to be litigated during the 2020 campaign. Already at least 6 current or potential Democratic Presidential candidates (Booker, Gillibrand, Harris, Warren, Sanders and Klobuchar) have indicated their support for the proposal.

"If you can solve the greatest challenge that's ever faced the species with a program that creates prosperity and creates jobs, and puts people to work, and gets the US back toward good-paying jobs, union-protected jobs, and does the same sort of middle-class creation that the original New Deal did, why wouldn't you do those together? Why wouldn't you do it all at once?," Roberts observes.

Rather than focus on schemes that might somehow bring so-called "conservatives" on board --- a tactic which has utterly failed in the past --- this new effort, he explains, appeals to voters to put pressure on their elected officials to support programs that a majority of Americans are behind.

"Dems, up until really recently, would have said, yes, you have to have some bipartisan support, there's no other way to get stuff passed," Roberts explains. But, he says, Trump has "stripped away all remaining pretense and made very clear [that] there just is no bipartisan cooperation to be had. It's getting farther away. Environmentalists have been begging, watering down policies, watering down their rhetoric, tiptoeing around, echoing this fiscal responsibility BS that they hear on the Washington Post editorial page, trying so hard to lure a few conservatives over. And it just isn't happening."

"So, the other take is, stop watering down your policies. Be up front and clear about the scale and severity of the problem, and the scale of the solutions, and offer a solution that engages people and that people can play a role in --- get a job from, make money from, be excited about --- then you give it political momentum. So instead of persuading Republicans into going on, you frighten them into coming along. You show that this is a giant political snowball that's rolling downhill, gathering weight, gathering momentum, and if you get in the way and push the other way, you'll get crushed. That's how you persuade a politician. Not through the sweet light of reason. It's fear. A movement that is strong enough that you will be scared to buck it."

Of course, this is about both policy and politics. So, we also discuss the amusing, over-the-top freak-out now on display from the Right, with Fox "News" and other fossil-fuel industry propagandists and apologists falling over themselves to both slam and completely misrepresent what is otherwise a series of very popular, populist, progressive and long-overdue ideas to help lift the economy, wages, the middle class and, yes, help save the world in the bargain.

"The full-on, 100% ranting, 'It's socialism!', red-faced BS --- that response is automatic to anything. So what Dems should take from this is not 'Oh no! There's going to be rightwing backlash!' Of course there is! There's rightwing backlash to literally anything you try. And it's always maximal. It's always pegged in the red. So why not, given that, be as ambitious as you want to be? You're going to get the same reaction no matter what you do, so just go for it."

There is, of course, lots more where that came from on today's program. Enjoy!...

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Guest: Former Dep. Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs; Also: Trump fails SOTU 'unity' vow; Inaugural Comm. slapped with federal subpoena...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2019 5:49pm PT  

So, a 30-year old, landmark nuclear arms agreement between the U.S. and Russia is now history. Just like that. And, beyond a few short hours of media coverage, it now seems all but forgotten. No big deal at all. Our guest on today's BradCast, however, strongly disagrees. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary.]

But first, a few quick items to kick off the show, including...

  • The Trump Administration vows that Tuesday night's State of the Union address will be a call for unity and bipartisan cooperation, before the Second Stupidest Man on the Internet (yes, Trump) attacks Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for not winning enough seats in last year's midterm elections;
  • And federal prosecutors in New York file a subpoena seeking a massive amount of documents from Trump's 2017 Inauguration Committee, looking at virtually every aspect of the record $107 million raised, whether any of it unlawfully came from foreign sources, whether anything was unlawfully offered in exchange for donations, whether even more more was unlawfully paid directly by donors to vendors (and thus, unlawfully undisclosed to the FEC), and where all of that money (legalized bribes, in fact, a disgrace for all modern Presidents) actually went. It all amounts to more seemingly criminal chaos from anything Trump touches, from his inaugural committee, to the Trump Organization (his main private company), to the Trump Foundation (his phony, self-dealing slush-fund and "charity"), to Trump University (his fraudulent scam that settled several cases for $25 million just before he took office), to the Trump Campaign (facing myriad criminal probes and several convictions, guilty pleas and indictments), to the Trump Administration and everyone involved in it --- all being investigated by multiple state and federal probes at this point, at the very same time.

Then, we're joined by former Deputy Assistant Sec. of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs under President Obama, MICHAEL FUCHS, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, to discuss the Trump Administration's announced withdrawal over the weekend from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement struck between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The historic pact had been the first to ban an entire class of nuclear weapons, ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles.

With the Administration charging that Russia was in violation of the accord (which Fuchs confirms), Trump simply announced the U.S. pull-out, which was answered almost immediately by Russian President Vladimir Putin's own declaration in response that his country would now do the same. In the bargain, Fuchs explains, the U.S. has lost its ability under the agreement to inspect hundreds of nuclear missile sites and other weapons facilities.

What did we gain in return? Well, pretty much nothing, says Fuchs, who calls this "a very big deal", joining me in astonishment that coverage of this historic move to end such an important anti-nuclear proliferation treaty has all but disappeared from the corporate media within hours amidst continuing Trump-induced chaos. "In the age of Trump, nuclear weapons, climate change, things that could potentially end life on earth as we know it only merit fifteen minutes in the news cycle," Fuchs notes.

He goes on to detail what has been lost with the dissolution of "perhaps one of the biggest agreements ever reached as far as reducing the potential threat of nuclear weapons destroying us" and whether Trump's claims that this is all necessary to stand up against a supposedly growing military menace from China is actually true. We also discuss the real reasons that this "gift to Vladimir Putin" seems to have come about, how Trump's dangerous National Security Advisor John Bolton appears to oppose any and all international accords that tie the hands of the U.S. in any way, shape or form, and whether Trump's planned second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can possibly bear any realistic denuclearization fruit --- particularly on the heels of Trump again sending the message to the world that treaties between the U.S. and other nations are meant to be broken at the whim of an angry, brain-addled, and clueless President of the United States.

"The major problem here with throwing out this treaty is that, it is equivalent to basically throwing the baby out with the bathwater," Fuchs tells me. "Right now Russia is violating this treaty in a specific way, but a lot of the benefits of the treaty are still intact. Which includes the ability of the United States to actually conduct inspections and do verification of a number of different aspects of Russia's compliance with the treaty. By taking ourselves out of treaty, we are taking away our ability to inspect the other things that the Russians are doing here. And not only does that allow Russia to potentially start violating it even more, posing more danger to the United States, but it's giving a giant gift to Vladimir Putin."

Finally, Desi Doyen returns to "cheer us all up" with the latest Green News Report on hellish global warming-related nightmares from Australia to the U.S. to Antarctica; the oil lobbyist now nominated to be the next Interior Secretary; and the Administration's imminent plans to bulldoze the National Butterfly Center wildlife refuge to make way for a new border wall on the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Callers ring in on Trump's shutdown cave, and what happens next...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2019 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: how Florida Republicans are brazenly stripping elected Democratic election officials of power (their jobs, in fact!) in advance of the 2020 election, and callers ring in on Donald Trump's shutdown capitulation and what happens next. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Florida's new Secretary of State Mike Ertel, appointed at the end of last year by the state's new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, was forced to resign late last week after photos of him dressed in blackface at a 2005 Halloween party, making fun of Hurricane Katrina disaster victims in New Orleans, were surfaced by a Florida newspaper.

But, far more troubling is that two elected county Supervisors of Elections have now been suspended and forced out of their job in the two most Democratic areas of the state. Former Governor Rick Scott pushed out Broward County's Brenda Snipes last year, after the midterm elections. And a week or so ago, the new Governor DeSantis subsequently suspended longtime Palm Beach County Supervisor Susan Bucher. Both suspensions used false pretexts.

Scott falsely claimed that Snipes added fraudulent ballots to the totals last November. DeSantis claimed that Bucher's failure to deliver results on time from last year's unprecedented four statewide "recounts" (including ones that Scott won for the U.S. Senate and DeSantis won for Governor) justified the removal of the popular --- and elected! --- Supervisor Bucher. [DeSantis and Scott are pictured above with Trump.] While Snipes has had a number of failures as Broward's elections chief over the years, Bucher is one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable election officials in the nation.

As we reported before Florida's ridiculously short deadline for machine "recounted" elections last year, the older tabulation system still used in Palm Beach was simply, and physically, incapable of re-tallying ballots from four different statewide races in the 5 days or so allotted by state law. Bucher's removal, as described on today's program in detail, is nothing short of an outrageous GOP power-grab.

As the Palm Beach Post editorial board described in a scathing editorial, the removal of Bucher "plunged a dagger into the election process". They argue it "smacks of overreach and an abuse of power". Bucher, the board accurately notes, is "highly respected by her peers," has been "a hard-working public servant," before concluding: "[S]he has never shown anything but dedication and integrity to the voters of this county. She doesn't deserve this blatantly partisan bum's rush from a fledgling governor."

But, it's not just a Florida outrage. It should be a national one, given that two Republican lackeys have now been installed by Republican Governors to oversee elections in the two most Democratic-leaning areas of the closely divided Sunshine State in advance of the 2020 Presidential election. And, in both cases, they were removing officials who were (small-"d") democratically elected by their constituents!

Also today...

  • The billions lost to the U.S. economy, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, thanks to Trump's shutdown;
  • How federal contract workers are currently screwed without promises for back-pay, unlike furloughed federal employees;
  • The population of monarch butterflies has absolutely plummetted in California (and elsewhere). Not a good sign.
  • And callers ring in on why they believe Trump finally decided to fold on the shutdown on Friday --- at least for three weeks, until it may happen again, or he decides to declare a fake "national emergency" to justify stealing billions of tax-payer dollars allocated to military spending in order to build his unnecessary and unwanted southern border wall...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: The Intercept's Akela Lacy on Admin approval for religious discrimination; Also: Kushner was rejected for top secret clearance, but granted it anyway; Stone arrested and charged in Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why Donald Trump finally buckled in his demand for border wall funding and how the unprecedented government shutdown helped distract all of us from the Administration's new policy that endangers children by officially allowing blatant religious discrimination --- at least against religions other than Protestant. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, Trump caved. He finally agreed to reopen the federal government --- at least temporarily --- after five weeks and the longest shutdown in U.S. history. He pretended he'd made a "deal" with Democrats. In fact, he simply agreed to continue funding the government at its previous levels until February 15. He received zero dollars for his border wall in the bargain, while suggesting during bizarre, inaccurate and, at times, graphic remarks at the White House that, without some sort of "deal" for a wall, he would either shut the government down again in three weeks or declare a "national emergency" to take the money to build it from elsewhere.

There were many reasons Trump finally buckled today, including increasing anger from lawmakers in his own party, plummeting poll numbers, news that the IRS was in "panic mode" without enough workers as tax season begins, and flight delays up and down the Eastern Seaboard thanks to a shortage of Air Traffic Controllers, according to the FAA. But there were at least two stories that the Administration, no doubt, was eager to get off the front pages today and over the weekend.

One, a stunning report from NBC News Thursday night that Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner had been rejected for top secret clearance in 2017, for a host of reasons, by two career security professionals at the White House, only to have that security recommendation overruled (along with similar rejections for "at least 30" others!) and granted to him by a Trump appointee. Also, Trump's longtime supporter and dirty trickster Roger Stone --- who helped lead the "lock her up!" charge against Hillary Clinton with the release of hacked emails by WikiLeaks --- was arrested in Florida on Friday morning by FBI officials and charged with seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice by a grand jury convened as part of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Following the GOP's fake "outrage" about national security concerns related to Clinton's private email server, which Stone helped amplify, there's no small amount of irony here with his arrest on the heels of news that the Trump Administration appears to have forgone top level security concerns altogether in order to allow Kushner and others access to the nation's most closely guarded intelligence materials.

Trump's "deal" to temporarily reopen the government may have served to change the news cycle for a few hours, but it didn't endear him to Republican extremists like Ann Coulter, whose critiques late last year led Trump to break his agreement with lawmakers and demand $5.7 billion for a southern border wall resulting in the five week shutdown. Today she deried him as "the biggest wimp ever to serve as President."

While all of these nightmares have been unfolding in recent weeks, few noticed that the Trump Administration's Health and Human Services Department quietly approved a very controversial waiver to allow a Protestant South Carolina group called Miracle Hill Ministries to discriminate against Muslims, Jews, Catholics and atheists in the placement of foster care children. We're joined by criminal justice reporter AKELA LACY of The Intercept today to explain this very real and disturbing outrage which very few have noticed, and how the Administration's partnership with "Religious Right" Republicans under the guise of "religious freedom" is now officially sanctioning religious discrimination in the U.S.

"South Carolina is saying that the foster care statute in HHS rules and regulations does not specify religion as a characteristic on which they are not allowed to discriminate. They say that the foster care program statute says that agencies that receive federal funding can't deny parents based on race, color or national origin, but that because that statute does not specify religion, the request that Miracle Hill accept these families is outside of the law," Lacy tells me, noting that state law in South Carolina bars this sort of discrimination, as do federal non-discrimination laws that the Administration appears to be ignoring.

"The other really scary part of this," she notes, "is that, aside from these individual waivers, eighty Republican lawmakers signed a letter to the President in May asking for even further repeal of these federal protections against discrimination. So this is not just something that is being advocated for on a state-by-state basis. This is a quiet effort from the right to change these rules in the interests of mostly Christian organizations."

Describing a similar waiver request from Texas --- which also seeks to allow discrimination against LGBTQ families as well --- she says (real) advocates of religious freedoms and civil liberties fear the South Carolina precedent is likely now to spread to other states, other federal agencies, and other matters that reach well beyond foster care while much of the media continue to be distracted with the ongoing Trump chaos...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler: Also: SCOTUS allows Trump's cruel trans ban to proceed, makes no moves (yet) on DACA...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2019 6:29pm PT  

We pick up on today's BradCast, somewhat near where we left off on Friday, following BuzzFeed News' blockbuster report charging that Donald Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to federal investigators in order to obscure their work on a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow even as Americans were voting during the 2016 Presidential election. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

The explosive reported allegations that the President of the United States had suborned perjury led to calls on Friday for Trump's impeachment, only to be dampened by a very rare --- and very carefully worded --- response from Robert Mueller's office, disputing "Buzzfeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's office" and the "characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office."

My guest today, legal and national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel, says those words were carefully selected by Mueller's office and for a very specific reason. Given all the confusion following both the report and Mueller's unusual statement late last week --- not to mention conflicting remarks from Trump's TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani over the weekend --- Wheeler helps us try to make sense of what is now known and unknown on all of this, why Mueller's office chose to speak out in response to it, and whether or not he was encouraged to do so directly by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, the White House or someone else on Trump's legal team.

"Buzzfeed offered some particular details that match exactly with details that Mueller has offered," Wheeler explains, while noting that the news outlet "made a news claim that Trump had ordered this lie. What Mueller is pushing back against is a legal claim." She tells me how the two interests are different, even as they may be describing much of the same events and documentation.

Moreover, she argues, "there's abundant evidence that Trump has ordered people to lie, and that subsequent to his orders to tell lies, his people have continued to tell those lies...and that's illegal. That should be a no-brainer and the press needs to start telling that story."

Wheeler, who has long been covering all things related to the Trump/Russia probe as close --- or closer --- than virtually anybody in the nation, offers much insight today on all of the above, including details on Buzzfeed's sourcing for their report (which they continue to stand by "100%"), based on information from two unnamed "federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter," as well as "multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents."

Also today, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5 to 4 vote, allows Trump's ban on transgender members of the military to move forward, even as ongoing cases in several lower courts have blocked his cruel directive, and even as at least one legal obstacle remains.

In slightly more encouraging --- and certainly less cruel --- news from SCOTUS today, despite pleas from the Administration the Court made no announcement of plans to hear argument on any of the many ongoing lower court cases challenging Trump's reversal of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Obama's DACA order was meant to help prevent the deportation of more than a million undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents as children many years ago. Should the Court decide to hear one of the cases, it would now most likely not happen until the session that begins in October, with an opinion coming months later. Temporary protection under DACA for so-called "Dreamers" was used over the weekend as an attempted bargaining chip by Trump, as part of an offer to Democrats in exchange for the $5.7 billion he has demanded for a border wall, leading to the longest (and still ongoing) federal government shutdown in U.S. history.

And, finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the tragic pipeline explosion in Mexico over the weekend, toxic coal ash groundwater contamination discovered in 22 states, and how the government shutdown is setting the table for a dangerous wildfire season, even as its temporarily protecting aquatic wildlife from seismic testing during offshore drilling exploration in the Atlantic...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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