Guest: Researcher Victoria Cadostin on 'Citizens for Sanity'; Also: Giuliani arraigned with fake electors in AZ; Defense rests in NY Trump trial; More...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2024, 6:42pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after an unavoidable extended weekend due to a family funeral. We've got a lot to get caught up on today. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we get to today's guest, a few quick headlines from over the weekend and through today...

  • Iran's President and Foreign Minister were killed over the weekend in a helicopter crash in foggy conditions in the northern part of the country.
  • The top prosecutor at the International Criminal Court is seeking arrest warrants for Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as three Hamas leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity in both Gaza and Israel.
  • A British court has granted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange the right to appeal his extradition to the U.S. on 17 espionage charges and one for computer misuse related to the publication of classified U.S. documents 15 years ago.
  • The New York Times revealed last week that rightwing Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito flew an upside down American flag --- a MAGA "stop the steal" symbol --- at his home for several days following the Trump-incited January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Nonetheless, the corrupt Alito has failed to recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 election, including the Court's pending opinion on "Presidential Immunity" which has held up Trump's federal trial for months in his indictment on multiple failed attempts to steal the 2020 election.
  • Rudy Giuliani and 11 others, including Kelli Ward, the former chair of the Arizona Republican Party, were arraigned on Tuesday in Phoenix for their roles in attempting to steal the state's 2020 election for Trump. Giuliani and the others face multiple counts each (nine in Rudy's case) related to conspiracy, forgery and fraud.
  • The Defense rested on Tuesday in Donald Trump's 2016 election interference trial in New York, where he is facing 34 felony charges related to the falsification of documents to hide a hush-money payment to a porn star just before that year's election day. The disgraced former President, who repeatedly vowed that he would testify in his own defense at the criminal trial, did not do so. As expected. Closing arguments are next week.
  • Voters headed to the polls on Tuesday for down-ballot primaries and special elections in Kentucky, Oregon, Georgia and California on Tuesday. We'll have any available noteworthy results and problems reports on tomorrow's BradCast.

Then we're joined by VICTORIA CADOSTIN, researcher and writer at the non-profit watchdog organization DOCUMENTED to explain who is behind the new Trump-aligned extremist group known as "Citizens for Sanity". In a weekend article at The Guardian, Cadostin and her colleague Brendan Fischer break down details from newly obtained filings by the dark money group revealing they spent more more than $90 million dollars in the final few months of 2022 alone on a flood of what have been described as "vile, racist and transphobic" ads designed to disinform, terrify, divide and incite the voting public.

"They were one of the biggest election spenders in the last election cycle," Cadostin explains. "What's really alarming about it is that our records show that Citizens For Sanity is housed at the Conservative Partnership Institute, which has been characterized as the 'nerve center' of the rightwing." She describes the group as the homebase for the Trump Administration in exile, as it's led by former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows as well as one of his former attorneys (and election fraudsters) Cleta Mitchell. It also shares the same leadership with American First Legal, a rightwing extremist lawfare organization headed up by Trump's MAGA anti-immigrant henchman Stephen Miller.

"CPI represents the creation of MAGA political infrastructure," says Cadostin. "These are all folks who are in the MAGA world very deeply, and who have a lot of power in that world, who are pushing out this messaging and pushing out extremism."

The group spent tens of millions of dollars from unknown donors on ads that air heavily in battleground states and swing districts, and even during highly-viewed mainstream events such as the World Series.

The organization uses racist messaging against Blacks and Latino immigrants in its ads, even while it also targets those same communities with different ads in hopes of suppressing their voters. "It's really a targeted effort to stoke racial hostility and suppress the vote however they can for the base that they don't think will vote Republican or conservative," she says. "While at the same time pushing out messaging that will move a conservative base, a white American base, to show up at the polls. It is very sinister, the way they are twisting this, using this information to mobilize one particular base against another."

"These divisive ads and the spreading of misinformation in order to sway folks in swing districts have a real impact outside of just voting," argues Cadostin. "This kind of messaging supports the rise of anti-trans legislation and violence against trans folks, as well as the rise in anti-immigrant sentiment, legislation and violence. Powerful folks are throwing money around to manufacture racial and gendered hostility in the voting population. And it's also further evidence that attacks on equality and democracy are often coming from the exact same place."

What can be done about any of it, since, as disgusting as it all is, it's all largely been legalized by a string of rightwing SCOTUS decisions over the years? We discuss that as well on today's BradCast...


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