Well, we're back after a much-needed break last week on The BradCast. (Thanks to Nicole Sandler for covering for us for a few days!) As it turns out, disappointingly, news didn't stop just because we were gone!
First up today, some very good news from over the weekend and from this afternoon...
According to Exit Polling (which tends to accurately report on Europe's various hand-marked, hand-counted balloting) on Sunday, center-right French President Emmanuel Macron defeated far-right extremist Marine Le Pen to win a second five-year term. The European Union and democracy-lovers everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief following the apparently failed third try by Le Pen --- a supporter of Trump, Putin and other far-right autocrats and an opponent of NATO, the EU and immigrants --- to win the Presidency. It was the first time in 20 years that a French President has won a second term. Macron did so by a comfortable 17 points, based on Sunday surveys. Le Pen's far-right coalition will now shift their efforts to Parliamentary elections coming up in June.
More good news today, this time out of New York, where the Judge overseeing state Attorney General Letitia James' civil probe of alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by Donald Trump, his kids and the Trump Organization has found him in contempt. Trump is now being fined $10,000/day until he adequately answers the AG's subpoenas for documents. "Today, justice prevailed," James said in a statement following following the Judge's order. “For years, Donald Trump has tried to evade the law and stop our lawful investigation into him and his company’s financial dealings. Today’s ruling makes clear: No one is above the law." But, in potentially even better news, Asst. Attorney General Kevin Wallace is quoted by AP as saying "We plan to bring enforcement action in the near future". Translation: Trump is about to face serious civil litigation in NY that could ultimately break up and/or bankrupt his company, if successful.
At the same time, the Manhattan District Attorney's criminal investigation into many of the same matters, regarding Trump committing fraud over many years by lying on his annual financial statements, continues as well.
The quest for accountability in the wake of our failed former President's attempt to steal the 2020 also continues elsewhere. On Friday, Georgia's far-right Republican U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene became the first sitting member of Congress to answer questions under oath about involvement in the January 6th, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Her testimony in an Atlanta courtroom, following a ruling to allow it by a federal judge, came in response to a ballot eligibility challenge filed by several voters in her 14th Congressional District. They charge Greene is ineligible for office based on Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment. The so-called Insurrection Disqualification Clause bars from office those who, after previously taking an oath to defend the Constitution, subsequently "engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same" or have "given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof."
Greene was just one of the members of Congress who was neck-deep in the attempts by Trump and his MAGA Mob to block the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 election victory. She even went so far, as video produced by the plaintiff revealed, as to threaten violence to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to the new President. On Friday, Greene sat for several hours of questioning from attorneys at Free Speech for People (FSFP) who are representing voter-clients in Georgia, as well as several other states where voters are challenging the eligibility of elected officials who "engaged in insurrection" or gave "aid or comfort" to those who did.
Today, we step through her prevaricating testimony from Friday, in which she attempted to lie about charging that Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had committed treason ("punishable by death," Greene noted in the video she initially tried to pretend did not exist) and about expressing approval for a comment on her own Facebook page calling for a "bullet to the head" of the Speaker.
Much of Greene's testimony consisted of dozens of "I don't recall" and "I don't remember" responses to the plaintiff attorneys, even as her memory was suddenly razor sharp when it came to remembering tweets, comments and other social media posts and videos cited by her own defense attorneys. While Greene claimed she never called for violence, the clear record proves otherwise.
We're joined today by JOHN BONIFAZ, Co-founder and President of FSFP, the group working with voters bringing the challenges to Greene in GA, as well as Rep. Madison Cawthorn in North Carolina, Reps. Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs in Arizona, and against far-right AZ State Rep. Mark Finchem, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for Secretary of State.
Bonifaz offers his reaction to Friday's hearing and Greene's attempt to evade accountability for her role in the 2021 insurrection. He also offers updates on the appeals filed in federal court in North Carolina (where a Trump-appointed judge rejected FSFP's challenge to Cawthorn's candidacy on a rather remarkable basis, as discussed) and in AZ, where a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge on Friday dismissed FSFP's challenge to Gosar, Biggs and Finchem. In that case, as Bonifaz details, the judge rejected the Constitutional challenge not on the merits, but on the claim that private citizens have no right to sue under the 14th Amendment. Bonifaz, a longtime, well-respected Constitutional law expert, explains why he believes the AZ judge is wrong (for example, he observes, it would allow a 14-year old or Vladimir Putin to run for Congress!) and the basis for which his organization is appealing that ruling.
Meanwhile, back in Georgia, the state administrative law judge who oversaw Friday's testimony, Charles Beaudrot (a corporate tax attorney who was initially appointed by a Republican Governor), will soon give his recommendation to Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger as to whether Greene should be disqualified from the mid-term ballot. Raffensperger will then decide whether to accept Beaudrot's recommendation or not.
No matter how it all shakes out, Bonifaz tells me today, the federal court ruling which allowed the challenge to go forward in the state last week is a victory in and of itself.
"Independent of what happened in the hearing on Friday," Bonifaz says, "what's happened is the door has now been opened for somebody like Donald Trump --- or anyone else who took an oath of office and engaged in insurrection --- being held accountable in Georgia. That door is now open because the precedent is there for voters to be able to challenge them based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. Assuming its upheld by the 11th Circuit (Greene's attorney, who also works for Trump, is appealing the U.S. District Court Judge's ruling) that means there will be a challenge, I think, to Donald Trump appearing on the Georgia ballot in 2024."
There's lots more in today's conversation with Bonifaz! Please tune in...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)