Lots of breaking news on today's BradCast, and a look at the real reasons the Trump Administration has now added a new question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. But, don't worry. It all ends with a song! [Audio link to today's show follows below.]
First up: the never-ending Executive Branch shakeup continues as Trump fires embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and announces his intention to replace him with White House physician Ronny Jackson.
Then, Trump's never-ending legal woes continue to quickly mount and worsen on several fronts beyond the Special Counsel probe (where he is still having trouble finding attorneys willing to represent him, after his latest lead attorney quit last week.) Porn star Stormy Daniel's has now added a defamation charge against Trump business partner and lawyer Michael Cohen, to her civil suit against the President, and is now seeking to depose both Cohen and the President under oath.
That, on the same day a federal judge in D.C. allowed a case filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia against Trump to move forward based on claims that the President's continued ownership of the Trump International Hotel in D.C. violates the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, barring gifts from states and foreign nations.
Up in Wisconsin, in the meantime, the GOP received its second rebuke from a state court in less than a week, for attempting to avoid calling Special Elections for two vacant seats in the state Senate. Gov. Scott Walker was ordered a second time by the court on Tuesday to call those elections immediately. Republicans in the state legislature, however, were hoping to convene a special session in order to change the law which Walker was found to have violated, as they try to avoid calling the elections in two GOP districts they fear they may lose to Democrats. (An appeals court, later on Wednesday, has now also rejected a motion to overturn the initial ruling.)
Then, we're joined by Mother Jones' Senior Reporter ARI BERMAN to discuss the GOP's war on judges who find against them, and the Commerce Dept. Secretary Wilbur Ross' approval this week of a new, last-minute, untested question on citizenship, to be added, by request of the Dept. of Justice, to the 2020 U.S. Census.
Critics, including the last five directors of the U.S. Census Bureau among others, charge the question will unlawfully depress responses to the Constitutionally-mandated decennial survey of all U.S. residents (whether they are citizens or not), as Berman reports in his new feature article for MoJo.
The DoJ, Commerce and White House all falsely claim that the new question is "necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters [and] comply with the Voting Rights Act". Berman, author of the recently published Give us the Ballot, the landmark book on the history of the VRA and the long struggle for voting rights in the U.S., scoffs at those claims and details what he sees as the real reasons for the change, and the decade-long effect on the nation that it will have if it is not blocked by the courts. California has already sued to block the question from being included, and more than a dozen other states and advocacy groups are expected to file complaints as well.
On the GOP's war on courts following adverse rulings against them in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, Berman says: "There's a very disturbing trend going on. When Republicans don't like court rulings that constrain their power, they try to nullify those rulings...What I think is so noteworthy about this is that everyone always says how much of an outlier Donald Trump is within the Republican Party. But if you just look at what Republicans are doing, in Wisconsin or North Carolina or Pennsylvania, they're following the Trump playbook, which is if you don't like a law, just ignore it."
On the Census controversy, he tells me: "We are seeing the rigging and corruption of one of the most important, mandated tasks in our Constitution...If you decide to rig the Census, then you've essentially rigged everything that follows" for the next decade. He adds: "The bigger picture here is that a failed Census is going to hurt everybody."
Finally, after a bit more late breaking news on Trump's recently-resigned attorney John Dowd having reportedly floated the possibility of Presidential pardons to two indicted former Trump officials (Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort) in the Special Counsel's Trump/Russia probe, we enjoy a brand-new song written by singer, songwriter and BradCast listener Matt Sircely, attempting to make sense of a mountain of Trump-related scandal in one jaunty country/folk song! (You can download the song for free right here, and check the lyrics you may have missed right here [PDF].)
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)