Before we get to our Constitutional Crisis update on today's BradCast, we offer an update on our Climate Crisis, which the rogue Trump Administration has been busy exacerbating in the Arctic this week, to the horror of other Arctic nations. And, yes, our continuing national Gun Crisis returned to the headlines (did it ever leave?) with breaking news of another school shooting today in suburban Denver. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
Among the many stories covered on today's program...
- Trump Sec. of State Mike Pompeo stunned fellow Arctic Council members in Finland on Monday, with a speech in which he appeared absolutely giddy about economic opportunities emerging from the quickly thawing Arctic. Without once mentioning the phrase "climate change" in his 2,400 word speech, Pompeo cited "opportunity and abundance" for those able to exploit previously frozen and untapped oil and mineral reserves in the otherwise pristine Arctic, not to mention "fisheries galore" and thawed "passageways" for travel and commerce that could turn the Arctic into a "21st century Panama Canal". The remarks, reportedly, came as a shock to other representatives of the Council's nations, there to discuss protection of the melting Arctic from political and economic threat.
But on Tuesday, things got worse as the U.S. refused, for the first time, to sign a group agreement on challenges facing the Arctic due, according to Reuters, to discrepancies in the agreement over climate change wording, jeopardizing cooperation among participating countries as the Arctic continues to warm at nearly twice the pace as the rest of the planet;
- Back in D.C., Donald Trump stunned the legal and military community with the Monday night pardon of a former U.S. Army lieutenant sentenced by a 2009 court marshal to 25 years in prison for the murder of an Iraqi civilian in 2008. Michael Behenna was granted Executive Clemency by Trump for the gruesome killing in which Behenna was found, according to military prosecutors, to have taken "the victim out into the desert in Iraq, stripped him naked, interrogated him while he had his Glock piston pointed at him, shot him in the head, shot him in the chest, killing him at that time," all outside of a combat zone and in defiance of both orders and the military code of justice. So, Trump has moved from sending political messages with the pardons of those who obstruct federal court orders, like the disgraced former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to granting Executive Clemency to murderous war criminals. Got the message?;
- Before we move on to today's Constitutional Crisis update, an interesting background development, as Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department announced over the weekend that it had arrested and charged a Virginia man who served as an FBI linguist on counts of "obstructing a federal investigation and making multiple false statements to FBI officials". Of course, Barr has been famously arguing of late --- in regard to President Trump --- that, since Special Counsel Robert Mueller did not find enough evidence of criminal cooperation between the Trump Campaign and Russia during his investigation into 2016 election interference, Trump could not possibly be guilty of obstructing that investigation. With no underlying crime, Barr's legally unsupportable theory goes, there can be no obstruction of the investigation into those crimes. In the case of the FBI's cunning linguist, however, obstruction charges were filed with no underlying crime, according to a former federal and state prosecutor;
- In related news, there are now some 500 former federal prosecutors (actually, over 700 now, since checking after the show), both Republican and Democratic, who have signed onto an open letter declaring that, based on the evidence revealed by the redacted Mueller Report, Trump would have been charged with multiple counts of felony obstruction, had he been a private citizen;
- Then, the latest news in the multiple Constitutional showdowns between the Administration and Congress, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's refusal to answer the Ways and Means Committee's statutory demands for the IRS Commissioner to turn over several years of Trump's tax returns and Barr's refusal to respond to a lawful Congressional subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to turn over Mueller's unredacted report and its underlying evidence. With a vote on contempt by the AG still scheduled for Wednesday in the Committee, it seems a good time to look back at the case made by House Republicans in 2012 for a contempt vote against President Obama's then-Attorney General Eric Holder, including speeches from a number of GOP lawmakers incensed at the time for the DoJ's failure to turn over subpoenaed documents, which they then described as unlawful disdain for both the rule of law and the Constitution. But that was then;
- And, with both Mnuchin and Barr facing potential contempt citations, it was former White House Counsel Don McGahn's turn in the barrel today, as the White House stepped in to block his production of subpoenaed documents that he had long ago shared with the Special Counsel --- thus waiving the White House's opportunity at the time to invoke Executive Privilege to block the release of the documents now along with McGahn's testimony, according to largely every legal expert who doesn't work at the White House. (Though even some of those lawyers, according to WaPo, see the Administration's belated attempt to invoke the privilege now as legally dubious.) As that legal wrangle plays out, McGahn's next difficult decision will come on May 21, when he has been subpoenaed by the Judiciary Committee to appear for testimony as a witness to numerous incidents of criminal obstruction by the President as detailed in the Special Counsel's redacted report;
- Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report focused on the alarming landmark study released by the U.N. this week finding that human develop, consumption and exploitation is now threatening the extinction of some 1 million plant and animal species, a report that was released before Pompeo even arrived in the Arctic this week to dance on --- and plunder --- its melting grave...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)