Lots of bad news on today's BradCast for Trump and the Republican's in Congress as they head home for their long summer recess. And several astonishing followups to major voting-related stories we broke earlier in the week out of North Carolina and Georgia. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]
First up, several big stories out of Congress today, none of them good for the President or Republicans...
- The GOP's only black U.S. House member, Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, says he won't run again in 2020. The stunning announcement Thursday night represents a huge pickup opportunity for Dems in a state slowing turning "blue", and just the latest in a quickly growing string of GOPers calling it quits in the House;
- On Friday, Donald Trump abruptly pulled his 5-day old nomination of TX Rep. John Ratcliffe to become the nation's next spy chief. Ratcliffe, after attacking former Special Counsel Robert Mueller during hearings in the House last week, was tapped by the President to replace Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who publicly contradicted Trump on Russian interference in U.S. elections, Iran compliance with the landmark nuclear pact that Trump violated and pulled out of, and on the national security threat of climate change, among other things. Ratcliffe, however, was revealed to have had no previous intelligence experience, as required by statute for the DNI role overseeing the nation's 17 intelligence agencies, and was found to have lied about past claims to have prosecuted terrorists;
- And, in more bad news for Trump on Friday, a majority of House Democrats have now publicly called for an official impeachment inquiry of the President. CA Rep. Salud Carbajal became the 118th out of 235 House Dems to publicly call for an inquiry to begin. With the majority of her caucus now supporting impeachment proceedings, it remains to be seen if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will finally modify her current position to allow Dems only to "legislate, investigate and litigate". House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler recently filed a court motion seeking grand jury information from the Mueller investigation which, for the first time, referenced a need for the documents due to Congressional consideration of impeachment proceedings.
Then, several (occasionally amazing) follow-ups to stories we broke earlier in the week regarding the citizen-led fights for publicly overseeable elections and hand-marked paper ballots in two key swing states.
First, on Tuesday's program we detailed what appeared to be a "win", if a short-lived one, by election integrity advocates in North Carolina, after they'd convinced the state Board of Elections, in a 3 to 2 vote, to adopt a resolution effectively blocking the certification of a 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Device made by ES&S, the nation's largest (and sleaziest) private voting vendor. That vote, if finalized next month, would likely result in hand-marked paper ballots across the entire state in next year's crucial Presidential election. The powerful ES&S is currently the only voting system vendor certified to do business in the closely divided battle ground state.
But, in reporting that story on Tuesday, we also broke the news that one of the three "yes" votes on the resolution blocking ES&S, Republican David Black, had changed his mind, leading to a new meeting --- and a revote on the resolution --- called for Thursday. Black's reversal would mean a 3 to 2 vote in FAVOR of ES&S' new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems for counties currently serving some 2.5 million voters whose current, older 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems are set to be certified, by state law, at year's end.
But, a funny thing happened before the Thursday revote, after the state Board's Chairman, Democrat Robert Cordle --- who had voted against the resolution on Monday --- told a wildly inappropriate joke to open a state conference of some 600 election officials. He was subsequently forced to resign by the Governor, resulting in Thursday's re-vote becoming a 2 to 2 deadlock, leaving the initial vote, which could lead to hand-marked paper ballots for all NC voters, in place.
There will be yet another vote --- the formal vote on the resolution --- on August 23rd, when whoever Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper names as the new Chair to the beleaguered 5-person Board, will be able to cast the decisive vote to determine if the key swing state will have verifiable elections in 2020 or not. And, yes, we share the "dirty joke" in question, about a woman and a cow, on today's program;
Then, we also have a follow-up to a story we broke on Monday's BradCast, regarding the federal lawsuit seeking to ban Georgia's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in favor of hand-marked paper ballots before the 2020 Presidential election. On Monday, plaintiff Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, joined us on the show to describe a revelation from a court hearing latest last week in which a witness from Georgia's Sec. of State's office revealed that all voting machines across the state in 2018 were programmed, without oversight, by three independent contractors working for ES&S out of their garages, using unsecured home WiFi.
Last night, the UK's Guardian picked up the story about the state's fully-outsourced elections, confirming our reporting from earlier in the week and adding a number of additional disturbing details. Among those new details: Georgia's entire voter registration system was similarly outsourced to a private company which even contractually disallowed the Sec. of State's office from having access to the network. More alarmingly, however, as the Guardian's Jordan Wilkie reports, during security penetration tests, a third-party (fourth-party?) cybersecurity company contracted by the state, found that it was able to "take over the entire network". Moreover, in November of 2018, a year later, in a second round of testing just before last year's midterms, many of the vulnerabilities discovered during the initial test remained unresolved.
Until last week's hearing, when much of this information was revealed on the stand for the first time during questioning of the Sec. of State's chief information officer, the state had completely misled the federal court about all of the above and more.
Finally today, some very grim news out of the Arctic, where Greenland, over the past week, has gone through an extraordinary melt event, with record high temperatures --- 10 to 30 degrees above the normal average --- resulting in the loss of some 10 billion tons of ice over the past day or two, with nearly 200 billion tons of water pouring into the Atlantic Ocean during the month of July. How's that for a cheery way to end the week? You're welcome!
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)