As the summer season winds down on The BradCast, the contrast between the two major parties, their respective leaders and their prospective near-term fortunes could hardly be more stark, as illustrated by a very lively conversation on today's program. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]
On Friday, all eyes were on the release of an unsealed, redacted version of the Dept. of Justice's 38-page affidavit [PDF] used to establish "probable cause" for their unprecedented search of Donald Trump's home, office and storage areas at Mar-a-Lago on August 8.
The bulk of the affidavit was redacted, due to what the DoJ has described as the need to protect "the safety and privacy of a significant number of civilian witnesses" and because "Disclosure of the government's affidavit at this stage would also likely chill future cooperation by witnesses whose assistance may be sought as this investigation progresses, as well as in other high-profile investigations."
What wasn't redacted were a few more specifics on what had largely already been publicly known about the nearly full year effort by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to retrieve highly classified documents that Trump had stolen from the White House upon leaving office. That eventually led to NARA's criminal referral to the DoJ and the FBI search warrant seeking "All physical documents and records constituting evidence, contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 793, 2071, or 1519". (Those statutes refer to the Espionage Act, obstruction, and violations of the Presidential Records Act, among other crimes Trump may have violated, despite a full year and a half of various warnings and polite, quiet attempts by both NARA and DoJ to retrieve the stolen material.)
The new specifics revealed today include that when NARA eventually received the first set of documents --- prior to a grand jury subpoena, a personal visit from the DoJ's top counter-espionage official, and eventually the FBI search in early August --- "FBI agents conducted a preliminary review of the FIFTEEN BOXES provided to NARA and identified documents with classification markings in fourteen of the FIFTEEN BOXES. A preliminary triage of the documents with classification markings revealed the following approximate numbers: 184 unique documents bearing classification markings, including 67 documents marked as CONFIDENTIAL, 92 documents marked as SECRET, and 25 documents marked as TOP SECRET." The unidentified agent who served as the affiant, noted: "Based on my training and experience, I know that documents classified at these levels typically contain NDI [national defense information.]"
Of course, that was all before Trump reportedly handed over another dozen or so boxes of sensitive records in June, following a subpoena and personal visit by DoJ officials, and then the eventual August search in which another 11 sets of highly classified documents were retrieved from "the STORAGE ROOM, FPOTUS's residential suite, Pine Hall, the '45 Office,' and other spaces within the PREMISES." The affiant notes: "I do not believe that any spaces within the PREMISES have been authorized for the storage of classified information at least since the end of FPOTUS 's Presidential Administration on January 20, 2021."
That news on Friday --- just the latest mind-blowing development in multiple concurrent criminal investigations of the former President of the United States --- followed (and, in many cases, over-shadowed) the extraordinary run of late summer successes by President Biden and the Democrats.
It also comes the day after Biden offered a 27-minute stem-winder of a rally speech for the DNC in Rockville, Maryland, leading many to wonder: "Hey, where has that guy been all this time?!" We share a wholly unsatisfactory 6 minutes or so today from his lengthy, barn-burner remarks, in which he detailed his accomplishments and unsparingly took on the "semi-fascism" of Republicans and the former President in no uncertain terms. ("Guess what? MAGA Republicans don’t have a clue about the power of women. ... Let me tell you something: They are about to find out.")
We're joined today to discuss all of this by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo. Earlier this summer, she served as our anchor panelist following all 8 of the hearings by the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and Trump's multiple attempts to steal the 2020 election. And yet, since her last appearance in July, it seems we've all learned about an entirely new and massive criminal scandal that Trump has completely brought upon himself!
"What in the world was he doing with these documents? What was the purpose of it?," she joins us and the rest of the world in still wondering. "Whatever he planned to do with this stuff, it's very, very dangerous stuff."
"Donald Trump apparently has now bought into his own hype that he is still the legitimate President, and he's basically like Napoleon in exile on Elba," quips Parton. "Somehow or other he convinced himself that that meant that he had the same protections he had as President, and that has given him this sense that they can't touch him because of his position."
But now, she observes, Trump is "just dancing as fast as he can." Parton explains why she believes that, of all the probes now closing in on him, the discovery of hundreds of pages of highly classified national security documents at Mar-a-Lago will be the worst for him. "And here's the reason: Nothing shows more chutzpah and gall than this man --- the man who led the 'Lock Her Up' chants for the last 5 years saying that Hillary Clinton needed to be put into jail for mishandling classified information --- the fact that this guy did what he did in light of that, it's almost to much to bear."
"On a political level," Parton adds, "I think this one hits him in a way --- it shouldn't be that way, it should be the coup --- but this one is simple, easy to understand, and it's so incredibly galling that he would have done this under the circumstances."
That, by way of contrast with our current, not-insane President and his party's, by any measure, historic achievements in recent weeks. "I don't know but it seems to me that Dark Brandon is rising here... [Digby explains that reference for those who may be unfamiliar with the latest social media meme by Biden fans] ...in light of all of the successes that he's had legislatively in the last few months, it's been a rather stunning success story, honestly. I'm not a big Joe Biden pat-on-the-back person, but I am really surprised that under very difficult circumstances, with a very, very narrow majority, dealing with divas like Sinema and Manchin, and having to come up against a very low approval rating and a rightwing that's gone completely nuts out-of-its-mind bonkers, this Administration has managed to pass a whole lot of really important, big legislation."
But, as she also writes about at Salon today, the Republicans' biggest problem is the backlash to their "very, very far right, radical anti-abortion zealotry" and the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade. That, she argues, has cost them dearly at the ballot box since the late June Dobbs decision. But, while Parton believes the GOP will pay a huge price for their anti-choice advocacy in "red" and "blue" states alike this November, she explains why it's also "going to haunt them for a long time to come."
All of that and much much more with Parton on today's program --- including thoughts on the GOP's attempted Jedi Mind Trick regarding Biden's landmark forgiveness of as much as $20,000 in student loan debt for tens of millions of low and middle-income Americans on Thursday!...
* * * NOTE: We will be standing down from The BradCast (and Green News Report) next week until after Labor Day for an attempt at some much-needed R&R before Congress reconvenes, more J6 hearings get under way, new indictments come down and midterm season begins in earnest. That means, of course, that there will most likely be huge, earth-shaking news occurring next week while we're gone. So, please buckle up and stay safe until our return!
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)