On today's BradCast, a close look at the scheme that Kentucky's Republican Governor may now be trying to pull off in hopes of stealing last Tuesday's election from the apparent Democratic winner. [Audio link to show follows below.]
But, first up today, paper tiger Donald Trump, after vowing he'd never settle the case by New York Attorney General against his fraudulent "charitable" organization called the Trump Foundation, agreed to settle today after all. A state judge fined the President of the United States $2 million after finding he misused the foundation, repeatedly and illegally, to further his own political and business interests. Trump admitted to the wrong doing detailed in the settlement.
Moreover, the remaining $1.7 million in the organization's bank account will be donated, along with the $2 million fine, to several different charities, including the United Negro College Fund and U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Trump and his three children who sat on the Foundation's board will be restricted in their ability to sit on the boards of charitable organizations in the future. And while one might think that being forced by a court to pay up nearly $4 million after admitting to using a charitable foundation to rip people off would be grounds for impeachment, given the indescribably unending criminality of Donald Trump, it seems unlikely this matter will even come up in the U.S. House's ongoing impeachment proceedings against him.
To that end, House Dems have announced the schedule for the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry to kick off next Wednesday, featuring two of Trump's top State Department officials who will testify to his politically motivated extortion plot against Ukraine. One of those officials, Deputy Asst. Sec. of State George Kent, is said to have taken copious contemporaneous notes after becoming concerned that the White House's attempted quid pro quo was "injurious to the rule of law, both in Ukraine and the U.S," according to a transcript of Kent's recent closed-door Congressional deposition made public on Thursday.
But, of course, we are still covering the ongoing fall-out from Tuesday's off-year elections, in which Dems flipped the Virginia House and Senate "blue" for the first time in decades, and as brand-new touchscreen voting machines deployed in Pennsylvania and in Georgia failed disastrously on their initial trial run before 2020.
Today, we focus on the potentially disturbing developments in Kentucky, where the state's unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is said to have lost by just over 5,000 votes (out of some 1.4 million cast) to Democratic challenger Andy Beshear on Tuesday. Since then, Bevin has refused to concede, citing "well-corroborated irregularities" including what he described on Wednesday as "'thousands of absentee ballots that were illegally counted," reports of voters being "incorrectly turned away" from the polls, and "a number of machines that didn't work properly." He has yet to offer actual details on those serious allegations, but has formally requested a "recanvass" of tallies. That, according to KY's Sec. of State, will be carried out next Thursday, in a state with a very recent history of serious election rigging --- at least by very powerful insiders.
However, while the Bluegrass State has rules to resolve contested elections with recounts, those statutes specifically do not apply to gubernatorial races, oddly enough. And that's where things get quite murky in the state. Contested gubernatorial races are settled by a vote of both Houses of the General Assembly. Both chambers in the state (which Trump won by some 30 points in 2016) are currently controlled by Republicans. The last time a gubernatorial contest occurred in the state --- in 1899 --- it ended with an assassination.
While a GOP scheme to steal the election from a Democrat this way seems ridiculously far-fetched at first glance, a number of normally quite conservative election law experts are taking the matter quite seriously, given Bevin's current playbook which, some of them suggest, mirrors that of his close pal Donald Trump and what he may do in 2020 if things don't go his way.
We're joined by one of the nation's top experts on all of this today, University of Kentucky College of Law's JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, to explain what happened on Tuesday; why Bevin's scheme and potential help from GOPers in the state legislature could augur very darkly for our democratic system; what all of this means for Mitch McConnell (the other similarly unpopular statewide Republican who just happens to be on the 2020 ballot); and what --- if Bevin turns out to be the same paper tiger that Trump is --- we should expect from the new Democratic Gov. Beshear's administration in an otherwise still very "red" southern state.
"There is danger," Douglas tells me today. "but it's not about irregularities. It's about the Governor's rhetoric and his allegations of 'voter fraud' and problems without any evidence whatsoever. I think that's really dangerous for our democracy, because it can undermine the public's confidence in our electoral system. I have not seen any evidence whatsoever that there were any problems in the way that Tuesday's elections were run. In fact, it was a fairly quiet Election Day [and] I usually hear about things that might be concerning. The danger here is really Gov. Bevin's allegations without any evidence, and Republican leaders' failure to call him out on that point."
"It's very concerning for what could happen in 2020 if Trump does not win re-election, and he also refuses to concede defeat by peddling theories of 'voter fraud' without any evidence," says Douglas.
Tune in for much more!
Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the 999th edition of our Green News Report! And it's at least as disturbing as the previous 998. Next week: GNR1000! And thanks to those of you who make our nearly 11 years of climate coverage possible with your much-needed donations at BradBlog.com/Donate!
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)