Really just blockbusters and bombshells from top to bottom on today's BradCast. From historic impeachment proceedings to game-changing disclosures to potentially big legal trouble for L.A.'s imperiled new touchscreen voting system. [Link to complete show is posted below summary.]
First up, the historic Impeach Trial of Donald John Trump got officially under way in the U.S. Senate today, with a solemn oath-taking ceremony administered by Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court John Roberts who will preside over the trial that could determine whether Trump remains President of the United States.
But before we even got there on Thursday, the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) came out with its finding that the Trump Administration did, indeed, violate federal law last year when it withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine as appropriated by a bipartisan vote of Congress. "Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," the decision says, finding that the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) "withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act." That matter is at the heart of Trump's impeachment.
But before the GAO findings were released on Thursday morning, or Senators could take their oath to do "impartial justice" as jurors on Thursday afternoon as the impeachment trial began, Rachel Maddow's Wednesday night blockbuster interview on MSNBC with Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born right-hand man to Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, shook up just about everything and everybody. Parnas, facing charges of campaign finance violations, sung --- and sung like crazy. On everybody. "Everybody was in the loop," he said.
He claimed Donald Trump knew from the jump about the scheme to strong-arm Ukraine to announce an investigation of Joe Biden to help his 2020 reelection bid. So did Vice President Mike Pence, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Congressman Devin Nunes and even Attorney General William Barr. We share a few clips from Maddow's jaw-dropping scoop of an interview --- with a recommendation that you go check out the whole thing (which is set to have a Part 2 on Thursday night), before we move on to a few blockbusters and bombshells closer to home out here on the west coast.
Earlier in the week, we broke exclusive details on the pending certification of a brand-new, $300,000,000 unverifiable touchscreen voting system set for first time use in Los Angeles County --- the nation's largest --- in this year's March 3rd Super Tuesday primary elections. As we reported, independent testers hired by the Sec. of State's office to carry out certification testing of the new systems discovered more than 40 violations of California Voting System Standards as the Public Comment period for certification of the County's "Voting Solutions for All People" or VSAP system ends this coming Monday. Given the enormous problems with the system set for use in the critical 2020 Presidential election, we have been urging voters to send public comments seeking a HAND-MARK paper ballot system instead of the failed, unverifiable new touchscreen systems, to the Sec. of State at VotingSystems@sos.ca.gov.
All the while, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has refused, for months, to respond to our serious questions about the systems or appear on the show. Well, we've got some new news today on all of that, including a potential lawsuit by the City of Beverly Hills, whose City Council, according to LAist's Libby Denkmann, has voted to approve a suit after discovering the effects of a serious design flaw in the system. The new VSAP tablets only display four candidates per race, before a voter must select a "MORE" button to be taken to a second page. That "MORE" button is right next to the "NEXT" button on the tablet voting system. And that "NEXT" button, takes voters to the next race on the ballot without voters ever even seeing the additional candidates in the race. This is a very serious flaw that is likely to cause havoc for candidates whose random positions on the ballot come as Number 5 or higher in any given race, including in the upcoming Presidential primaries. (If I'm Dean Logan today, I am praying that Bernie Sanders doesn't draw the fifth or later position on the March 3rd Democratic ballot!)
That matter is just one of several that Logan has either refused to speak to or has mislead on when I questioned him, or tried to, as I detail on today's program. But, given the noise we've caused over the past several days with this on The BradCast, Logan finally deigned to offer a Twittered response, excoriating our coverage of the certification testing failures. We share his misleading response in full on today's program, along with a number of the serious points that he either failed to respond to at all, or is attempting to mislead the public about in his tweeted answers. (For example, the fact that after a computer-marked ballot has been supposedly "verified" by the voter, it is sent back through the same printer path where it could be changed by the system with no way for the voter to ever know.)
Finally today, as if that's not enough blockbusters for you, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with our special coverage of Tuesday night's 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Des Moines, the last one before voting begins next month, and one in which our climate crisis, at long last, was front and center throughout much of the forum, happily enough...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)