On today's BradCast: Given the unprecedented breadth of the late-breaking news on Monday, we know remarkably little so far about what actually happened at Donald Trump's Florida estate and why it happened. Not that that has prevented anyone in these United States from speculating about it since then. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
The news of the FBI's Monday search of Mar-a-Lago literally broke about one second after we signed off from Monday's show and, like the rest of the nation, we've been trying to make sense of it ever since. But, before we get there today, a few other news items of note that are being buried under all of the rest of the news items of note.
Today was primary election day in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. Happily, so far, we've heard few reports of problems for voters at the polls. As usual, we'll have noteworthy results on tomorrow's show.
There are, however, several important results from last week's primaries in several states that were "called" by the media over the weekend, and some that are still too close to call. Most noteworthy is the weekend call for the GOP Gubernatorial nomination in Arizona, where far-right, Trump-endorsed 2020 election denialist and former TV news anchor Kari Lake was declared the winner. She'll now face off with Democratic nominee, Sec. of State Katie Hobbs in November. Like AZ's Republican nominee for Sec. of State, Mark Finchem --- and despite all counts and recounts confirming Joe Biden's victory there in 2020 --- Lake has said she wouldn't have certified the state's electors in 2020 for the guy who voters actually chose. That makes both her race for Governor and Finchem's for SoS among the most critical contests in the nation this November, in advance of the 2024 Presidential election. (Finchem will face the Democratic nominee, former Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes in the SoS contest in the fall.)
The entire top of the ticket in Michigan is similarly perilous this year, with Republicans having nominated Trump-endorsed 2020 election deniers and conspiracy loons to take on all three Democratic incumbents for Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State. Reuters, however, broke the exclusive news this week that the state's GOP Attorney General nominee, Matthew DePerno, "led a team that gained unauthorized access to voting equipment while hunting for evidence to support former President Donald Trump’s false election-fraud claims." That now places DePerno --- seeking to become the state's chief law enforcement officer --- squarely at the center of Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel's criminal probe of several such incidents in MI following the 2020 election, as based on criminal referrals by Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson. It also means Nessel will now likely need to recuse herself and her office from probing her own November challenger. Over the weekend, at a CPAC rally in Dallas, Trump praised DePerno, ironically vowing that "he's going to make sure that you are going to have law and order and fair elections."
The reported unlawful breach of sensitive voting system software by DePerno is now added to a growing list of similar incidents across the country, such as Mesa County, Colorado Clerk, Tina Peters (who has been charged with 7 felonies and 3 misdemeanors related to her own election fraud related breach of her county's voting system software) and the GOP Board of Elections in Coffee County, Georgia (who allegedly allowed a similar breach of the voting system there, followed by an apparent cover-up of the incident by Georgia's Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger.)
Then, we get to Trump's no good, very very bad week, as news broke this afternoon that a three-judge federal appeals court panel in D.C. decided unanimously that, yes, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee may indeed have access to Trump's tax returns. This is part of a years-long legal battle, where Trump now has just two appeals options left.
But that problem likely pales in comparison for the disgraced former President to what happened at Trump's South Florida home on Monday, while he was in New York to give a sworn deposition to the state Attorney General, Letitia James, who is investigating him, his kids and his Trump Organization for tax, bank and insurance fraud.
As you've heard by now, the FBI, headed by Trump-appointee Christopher Wray, executed a warrant from a federal judge to search Mar-a-Lago. For what? We do not actually know, though there has been much reporting that it is related to Trump taking at least 15 boxes of Presidential Records, much of them reportedly highly classified, with him to Florida after leaving office.
Most of what we know about what happened Monday comes from either Trump himself or "sources" most likely very close to him, likely describing the matter in the best possible light for him. Trump himself was among the first to confirm the news of the search, misleadingly describing it as a "raid" and declaring Mar-a-Lago "under siege", thanks to "prosecutorial misconduct" and "the weaponization of the Justice System."
"Such an assault," he wrote in his lengthy statement, "could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries. Sadly, America has now become one of those Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before." Naturally, the entirety of the rightwing media and elected Republicans simply took his word for it, vowing to exact revenge on Attorney General Merrick Garland, Joe Biden and Democrats in general. Fox "News" headlined some of its fair and balanced coverage this way: "Raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago home by Biden's politicized FBI means US now a third world country".
Today, we try to break down what is actually known and mostly still unknown about what happened; what kind of trouble Trump could potentially be in, based on the few known facts; and how he could easily prove his (clearly false) claims about it all by simply releasing the search warrant that he would now have, showing why law enforcement was able to obtain the warrant, what they were looking for, and what criminal laws there is "probable cause" to believe he has committed.
What we absolutely do know: This is either a blunder of historic proportions or, far more likely, a matter of monumental criminal importance. Investigators would have had to demonstrate serious probable cause evidence of a very serious crime under way or about to happen --- otherwise Wray, Garland and a federal judge would not all have signed off on the unprecedented action of issuing a warrant to execute a search of the home of a former President of the United States.
What we also now know (as we've been trying to tell you for some time): Garland appears to be doing his job and the walls are continuing to close in on our indescribably corrupt and criminal former President.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us today for our latest Green News Report, with special coverage of the other biggest story of the week (now largely big-footed by the "siege" at Mar-a-Lago), Senate Democrats' long-overdue, unified passage of historic climate change legislation...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)