Guest: Wisconsin author, journalist John Nichols of 'The Nation'; Also: Stunning overnight legal developments in Trump stolen documents case...
By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2023, 5:41pm PT  

In what appears to be a momentary pause (of sorts) in the Indictment Watch this week for our disgraced former President, we take the opportunity on today's BradCast to make sure you're up to date with what our guest today describes as "the most important election of the year." [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Before we get to that guest today, even with the momentary break from the likely criminal indictment for Donald Trump in New York, there was quite the extraordinary flurry of activity overnight (literally) in Special Counsel Jack Smith's federal grand jury investigation of the thousands of documents --- many highly classified --- that Trump stole from the White House upon leaving office.

Last week, D.C.'s Chief District Court judge Beryl Howell, in a sealed ruling, ordered Evan Corcoran, one of Trump's attorneys in the Mar-a-Lago stolen documents case, to give both documents (reportedly including transcripts of audio tapes!) and testimony to the grand jury. Corcoran had previously invoked attorney-client privilege to avoid testifying about his conversations with Trump. But Howell reportedly viewed evidence leading her to determine there was a prima facie case that Trump used Corcoran in the furtherance of yet another crime, thus piercing the attorney-client privilege with the fraud-crime exception to it.

Trump appealed Howell's Friday order to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal which, last night, issued an administrative stay while ordering Team Trump to submit their brief in the appeal by midnight last night! They further ordered the DoJ's response to it by 6 a.m. this morning! Longtime attorneys and prosecutors were stunned by the unheard of speed in the court's scheduling. Some suggested that may be a sign that federal judges are fed up with Trump's stalling tactics. Others suggest the emergency order signaled "an urgent issue of National Security" was at stake or even "potential espionage." Yikes! We discuss.

In any event, late this afternoon, the three-judge Appeals Court panel lifted the stay on Howell's ruling and ordered Corcoran to both turn over the documents in question and testify to the grand jury. Trump could still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it's believed he'll be no more successful there on this motion. Much more to come in this case.

Next, we're joined by longtime progressive journalist, author and Wisconsin native JOHN NICHOLS, National Affairs Correspondent at The Nation and Associate Editor at Madison WI's Capitol Times, to discuss this bizarre moment in Presidential accountability history and the extraordinarily heated, expensive and important WI state Supreme Court election now underway. Early voting began this week for the April 4 contest that may finally flip control of the state's high court to liberal jurists for the first time in 15 years.

Nichols explains why the supposedly non-partisan race --- between liberal Milwaukee County Circuit judge Janet Protasiewicz and far-right former state Supreme Court Justice Daniel Kelly --- is so critical to both Wisconsin and to the rest of the nation in advance of the 2024 Presidential election in the battleground state.

The Protasiewicz camp has accused Kelly, who was unseated from the high court in 2020 after being soundly defeated, of receiving $120,000 from the Republican Party to advise them on overturning that year's Presidential election results in the Badger State, via the failed "fake electors" scheme. Protasiewicz also describes Kelly, who is endorsed by several anti-abortion rights groups as a "radical" "extremist".

For his part, Kelly's campaign characterizes Protasiewicz as "soft on crime", "woke", and several other standard GOP smears that may not be quite as effective as Republicans think, according to Nichols.

That said, there are ton of issues likely to come before WI's high court in the coming months and years that will have a huge impact on both Badger State residents and the rest of the nation, including the validity of the state's 1849 abortion ban "that Republicans want to reanimate," as Nichols explains; the state's recent "anti-labor laws that [former Gov. Scott] Walker" enacted; "a chance to undo gerrymandering to make sure that voting rights are protected and elections are fair," not to mention rulings that could determine who ends up winning the 2024 Presidential election in the state, where, Nichols notes, "four of our last six Presidential elections in Wisconsin were decided by under 25,000 votes" out of more than 3 million votes cast.

"Bottom line is," Nichols tells me, "if you end up with a 4-3 liberal majority on this court that actually looks at cases in a fair and reasonable way," there are myriad rulings from the last 15 years of far-right state Supreme Court control that could finally be reversed.

Among other topics discussed with Nichols today: Whether, after well over a decade of covering WI Supreme Court elections, we will finally see it flip on April 4; a point of disagreement regarding whether judges should be forced to compete in elections at all, much less in so-called "non-partisan" ones like those in WI; and his new best seller, just published with co-author Bernie Sanders, titled It's Okay to be Angry About Capitalism.


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