On today's BradCast: Another guilty plea and more trouble for Donald Trump; More details from the newly revealed North Carolina election fraud mystery; And, Maine's first statewide Ranked Choice Voting election predictably results in a challenge, confusion and a "recount". [Audio link to full show follows below.]
First up, in a surprise new guilty plea in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe on Thursday. Trump's former personal lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen pleaded guilty today to lying to Congress multiple times last year about a proposed plan to build a luxury condominium complex in Russia. He said he did so to protect the President. In papers filed in federal court on Thursday, Cohen revealed that Trump's attempt to make a deal for a Trump Tower in Moscow continued until at least June of 2016, after Trump had already clinched the GOP nomination for President and many months later than previously known. That, despite Trump's repeated claims during the campaign and after that he had no business with Russia.
The President responded today by calling Cohen "weak", describing him as a liar, and pretending that these details were already publicly known. (They weren't.) But if the written answers Trump submitted just last week to Mueller in response to a series of questions in the Special Counsel's Russia probe are in conflict with the information and evidence detailed by today's guilty plea and court filing, it could raise serious new legal issues for his increasingly erratic and manic Presidency.
Then, we have a number of new details today in the stunning mystery regarding the U.S. House election in North Carolina's 9th District, which the State Board of Elections declined to certify earlier this week after an objection from a Democratic board member. Republican Mark Harris reportedly defeated Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes out of more than 280,000 cast in the contest. But the state board unanimously voted 9 to 0 to delay certification only in that House race, due to allegations of "unfortunate activities" which, the Board member charged, have been "ongoing for a number of years."
Today, we learn that state investigators are eyeing absentee ballot applications and envelopes in at least two counties in NC-9, one of which had an extraordinarily high rate of absentee votes, as well as absentee ballots that were never returned to the counties. Moreover, a new analysis finds "unusual" absentee numbers in the GOP primary as well, back in May, when Harris is said to have defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Robert Pittenger by just 828 votes. All of this in a state were Republicans, ironically enough, have long (falsely) accused Democrats of fraud and have worked for years (in repeated violation of federal law) to make it more difficult for them to vote.
Next, Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin has filed for a "recount" in Maine's 2nd Congressional District, after winning the first round of vote counting, but ultimately losing the election to Democratic challenger Jared Golden in the state's first Ranked Choice Voting election. Poliquin's campaign accurately charges that the tabulation relied upon a "black-box" voting system and "computer algorithm" that "no one is able to review".
They argue that the RCV scheme "confused and even frightened" voters who felt their votes "did not count due to computer-engineered rank voting". This predictable outcome, of course, is just one of the reasons we've long warned against the use of RCV, despite many progressives who support the virtually unoverseeable voting scheme which allows voters to rank their choices, and reassigns second choice votes to other candidates if nobody obtains a majority in the initial round of counting. (Feel free to leave your hate comments below. Though please look at Approval Voting first, as a workable, publicly overseeable, hand-countable and far less confusing alternative.) Poliquin's campaign says they've filed for "a traditional ballot recount conducted by real people". Due to the complicated nature of RCV elections, a multiple-round hand-count could take as long as a month, according to state officials, potentially delaying Golden's expected swearing in to the U.S. House on January 3.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with a new report from the U.N., finding the world is not on track to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, Amazon's new HQ is in a flood zone, House Dems introduce legislation for a price on carbon and Australia is now facing massive wildfires, heat, and flooding as our global climate crisis continues to worsen...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)