On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's D.C. swamp isn't getting any less swampy, but it all does make chants of "Lock her up!" over Hillary Clinton's personal email server appear quite quaint. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Among the many stories covered on today's program...
- It's Election Day in a number of places today, including for a very important state Supreme Court seat in Wisconsin, where the results will have ramifications (for the state and nation) for the next decade. And voters are also at the polls near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania today for a special election for that state's Senate in a contest which may serve as a bellwether before the 2020 elections. We'll have reported results and other analysis of that and others contests, no doubt, on tomorrow's program;
- More disaster today near Houston, Texas where yet another deadly chemical fire broke out, killing one as of airtime, with two others airlifted to hospitals. Emergency officials issued shelter-in-place warnings to schools and residents within a 1-mile radius, advising residents to stay indoors, turn off all ventilation systems and seal all doors and windows. It's the second major toxic chemical plant explosion near Houston within as many weeks. Given the state's shameful history with chemical facilities --- and a dangerous, years-long lack of transparency, even for first responders --- the latest tragic incident is, sadly, not all that surprising;
- Donald Trump's latest nominee to head the Dept. of Interior is near confirmation in the U.S. Senate after his confirmation hearing last week in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But David Bernhardt --- currently Deputy Secretary and Acting chief of the agency following the resignation of Trump's first disgraced and corrupt Secretary Ryan Zinke --- is a longtime, top lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and has been instrumental since arriving at the agency in 2017 in reversing loads of environmental regulations long opposed by the fossil fuel and chemical industry.
In fact, as a recent investigative report by Reveal illustrated, at an executive meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA), a top industry group, after Bernhardt was tapped to be the top Deputy at Interior in 2017, the hundred or so oil industry executives at the conference were caught on tape laughing and applauding after the IPAA's CEO bragged about Bernhardt as "the guy that actually headed up" their legal team challenging federal endangered species rules being "now the No. 2 at Interior," adding, "So that's worked out well." Now Bernhardt will be No. 1 at Interior.
We share some of the audio from last week's Senate Committee hearing in which Bernhardt said he would decline to recuse himself from issues at Interior involving companies for whom he lobbied, because, he said, he'd be "basically handcuffed and not in the game for the American people if I am recusing myself" and prevented from unleashing his awesome "skillset" on behalf of "the American team". Bernhardt, of course, is just one of many deeply-conflicted swamp creatures now inhabiting Trump's "drained" swamp;
- Speaking of which, a whistleblower with 18 years of experience in the White House Personnel Security Office, where she worked for Democratic and Republican administrations alike, has stepped forward to expose what she describes as at least 25 Trump appointees who failed security clearance checks, but were ultimately granted clearances anyway after intervention by more senior officials. According to Tricia Newbold's recent testimony to the U.S. House Oversight Committee, many Administration security clearances had been rejected for a number of reasons including "foreign influence, conflicts of interest, concerning personal conduct, financial problems, drug use, and criminal conduct."
She testified that two currently-serving Senior Officials in the White House were granted clearances despite failing their background checks. Though the names of the officials whose security clearances were granted only after intervention were not specified, House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings has sought "adjudication summaries" from the White House for Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, his daughter Ivanka Trump, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, currently National Security Advisor John Bolton and a host of other top appointees.
On Tuesday, the Committee voted to subpoena Carl Kline, Newbold's superior, believed to be behind a number of the questionable approvals. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders today described the Congressional oversight of the matter in partisan terms, bizarrely characterizing it on Fox "News" today as "sad and shameful" and, somehow, ironically enough, "dangerous" to national security;
- That statement came just hours before court documents were released today revealing that the Secret Service arrested a Chinese national at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, during the President's latest visit to his Palm Beach resort, with four cell phones, two Chinese passports, a hard drive, and a computer thumb-drive said to contain "malicious malware". Court documents describe the woman telling the Secret Service, after she had initially been allowed inside the resort, that she was sent there by a Chinese friend who instructed her to travel from Shanghai to make contact with a member of Trump's family. But, why worry about security checks for those family members, eh?;
- Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on Bernhardt's enormous conflicts of interest, the White House's latest unprecedented scheme to jump start the stalled Keystone XL pipeline, more bad news for Trump's environmental rollbacks in federal court, and the Green New Deal has its first town hall discussion...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)