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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, July 20, 2017
Civilian War Deaths Skyrocket; CA Takes Bipartisan Climate Action: 'BradCast' 7/19/17
Guest: R.L. Miller, climate hawk Dem, on opposition to the CA bills; Also: Big Oil's big trouble; State Dept. war crimes office closing...
GOP's ObamaCare Repeal Collapses (Again. Twice.): 'BradCast' 7/18/2017
What's the next illegitimate plan for Trump and Congress?; Also: 2016 election hacking worse than known; Kobach commission's voter suppression efforts already a success...
'Green News Report' 7/18/17
  w/ Brad & Desi
Raging wildfires in British Columbia; Trump reduces royalties on offshore drilling; Energy Dept. study contradicts Energy Sec. claims; PLUS: Nuns block natural gas pipeline...
Previous GNRs: 7/13/17 - 7/11/17 - Archives...
With ObamaCare Repeal on Brink, Admin Ups Their Lies: 'BradCast' 7/17/17
Guest: Ned Resnikoff of ThinkProgress; Plus: You'll never guess what happened after TX cut family planning funding...
Sunday Toons of 'The Borscht Thickens' Moment
Trump White House 'nothing burgers' more rancid by the moment. Plus: Voter suppression, e-voting, and melting Antarctica in PDiddie's latest collection of the weeks' best toons...
Are They Liars? Or Just Incompetent? Or Both?: 'BradCast' 7/14/2017
Team Trump perfidy more breathtaking by the day. And GOPers in Congress aren't much better. Also: Espionage Act turns 100...
Why Do Georgia Election Officials Insist on 100% Unverifiable Elections?
The Peach State faces yet another contested election following more than a decade of failures, vulnerabilities, repeated warnings...
Nun Too Happy:
Catholic Order Builds Chapel to Block Massive PA Pipeline: 'BradCast' 7/13/17
Guest: Pastor Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck; Plus: What is Team Trump hiding? And why?...
'Green News Report' 7/13/17
Huge iceberg breaks off Antarctica; Tesla builds world's biggest battery; EPA reviving controversial Pebble Mine; PLUS: France nixing coal, internal combustion engine...
Kobach's 'Voter Fraud' Panel Facing Lawsuits, Suppressing Votes: 'BradCast' 7/11/17
Guest: ACLU's Theresa Lee; Also: Trump Jr.'s legal probs; Senate GOP health care repeal...
'Green News Report' 7/11/17
At G-20, world moves ahead w/o Trump; Admin to 'red team' climate science; Court nixes EPA methane rule roll back; Volvo goes electric; PLUS: CA trumps Trump...
Multi-Partisan Suit Seeks to Void GA-06 Special Elexn Results: 'BradCast' 7/10/17
Guest: Election integrity advocate, plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: World moves ahead w/o U.S. after G-20 summit...
'Terrorist Enabling' NRA May Have Crossed Line Between Free Speech and Incitement
Ernest Canning on the video that appears to encourage riots... while raising money...
Sunday Toons of the 'Pootie Poot' Moment
'PDiddie' misses Dubya's nicknames. Other than that, it's Trump and Putin, Trump and 'voter fraud' and others caught with pants down in this week's toon collection...
'The People's Business'? Not So Much: 'BradCast' 7/7/17
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ RJ Eskow on 'RussiaGate', Tom Nichols on 'Death of Expertise', Kelly Macias on HUD & other stories overlooked by MSM...
GOP v Health, Voters, & Healthy Voters: 'BradCast' 7/6/17
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ Ari Berman on Trump's 'Election Integrity' commission; David Atkins on CA Single Payer; Jared Yates Sexton on journalist intimidation...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Michael Slater of Project Vote | Also: Reason for (some) optimism regarding Trump and the UN Paris climate accord...
By Brad Friedman on 5/26/2017 6:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Trump-toxified GOP appears to have abandoned all pretense of "values" and "personal responsibility" to elect someone to federal office even after he violently assaulted a journalist on the Eve of the Election. And a longtime voting rights group announces they are forced to shutter their doors for lack of funding. What's wrong with this picture? [Audio link to show is posted below.]

On Thursday, after being cited on assault charges for "body slamming" a reporter from The Guardian the night before, Republican Greg Gianforte was nonetheless elected as Montana's next U.S. Congressman in the Special Election to fill the seat vacated by Donald Trump's Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. The At-Large seat for the state's only member of the House of Representatives has long been held by Republicans. And, though Trump won the state by more than 20 points last November (Zinke won his seat by 16 points), first time Democratic candidate Rob Quist was polling within single digits of Gianforte and thought to have a shot especially after the GOPer melted down on Election Eve.

Alas, it wasn't to be. We discuss what the Dem loss means going forward (they did swing the vote from GOP to Dem by some 10 points since November), why it likely happened (more than 72% of voters had already cast votes by mail before the meltdown, and many Republicans liked it anyway), Gianforte's apology (only after the election was over), how Trump's own threatening rhetoric has poisoned his party, and how House Speaker Paul Ryan could, Consitutionally, prevent the criminally-charged Gianforte from being seated in the House of Representatives, if he wanted to (and how you can help encourage that).

Next up, while partisan eyes remain on political candidates, and GOP-controlled states like New Hampshire and many others use phony "voter fraud" claims to try and make it harder for left-leaning voters to vote, non-partisan, non-profit voting rights groups are forced to fight for resources just to stay in operation. One such group, the decades-old ProjectVote.org, which has helped register millions of voters, trained voter registration groups around the country, helped to expose how a GOP scheme to promote fraudulent "voter fraud" claims led to the U.S. Attorney Purge during the George W. Bush Administration, and has otherwise filed lawsuits in more than a dozen states to ensure compliance with 1993's National Voter Registration (or "Motor Voter") Act, announced this week they are being forced to shut their doors at the end of the month due to a lack of funding.

Project Vote's President and Executive Director Michael Slater joins us today to discuss the sad and maddening news at a time that groups like his are needed more than ever.

We discuss some of Project Vote's many accomplishments, going back to their founding in the 80s, how the Right has created a "machine to develop propaganda to justify policy outcomes that are in no way in the interests of democracy", improvements (if not enough) in the media in shining a light on the GOP's "voter fraud" lies; and how "folks in the funder community" need to step up to make sure others can fill the void that will be left behind in Project Vote's absence.

"I would encourage people that make contributions to set a portion of those contributions aside for democracy work," Slater says. "There are a number of very good organizations that do democracy work that include Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Brennan Center, League of Women Voters, Common Cause --- there's a range of good organizations. The challenge, I often think, is that as an emergency comes up like what we've seen with the attacks on immigrant rights, people immediately put all of their available money into those programs or those emergencies, and they they forget about the ongoing work that we need to do on the democracy sector."

Yup. I would also argue, as I have for years, that many partisans seem to have no problem giving money to candidates and political parties, but only look to support "the democracy sector" after their candidate has lost an election and it is otherwise too late to do anything about it. Or, as in this case, after the folks doing the difficult democracy work are forced outta business.

Finally, to help get all of that our of my system, some encouraging news, believe it or not, concerning the Trump Administration's deliberations on whether to drop out of the landmark UN Paris Climate Agreement, and a musical moment guaranteed to leave you feeling groovy over the upcoming holiday weekend...sort of...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: Trump travel ban blocked by full Appeals Court; UK furious at Admin over intel leaks; Trump praises Philippines extrajudicial murders; More...
By Brad Friedman on 5/25/2017 5:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of the most amazing candidate meltdowns ever seen (or, in this case, heard) and how the Speaker of the House hopes to look the other way in the event that he wins anyway. But that's just the tip of today's news iceberg(s). [Audio link to show posted below.]

In one of the most remarkable Election Eve unravelings ever by a U.S. candidate for...pretty much anything, Republican U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte melted down on the eve of what should have been an easy victory in his statewide Special Election for Montana's only U.S. House seat against Democratic candidate Rob Quist. Instead, in an incident caught on stunning audio tape and witnessed by Fox "News" reporters, Gianforte "body slammed" a Guardian reporter, has been charged with assault, and saw his newspaper endorsements rescinded on the night before voters went to the polls on Thursday.

But many voters already cast their vote by absentee ballot by time of the Wednesday incident, and House Speaker Paul Ryan suggests he'll accept whatever results are reported from the election. That, as I explain today, conveniently ignores Congress's Article 1, Section 5 Constitutional right (and duty) to determine who is actually seated in the House of Representatives. It's a right they have exercised on a number of other controversial elections in the past, so surely Ryan is familiar with that. But, of course, we'll soon see (hopefully) who voters in Montana have decided they want for their only Representative in the U.S. House.

At the same time, it was another enormous news day in which Donald Trump's second attempted travel ban Executive Order was blocked, yet again, this time by the full U.S. 4th Circuit of Appeals. His Attorney General Jeff Sessions has announced he will appeal the case to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court.

Also today, yet another embarrassment for the Trump Administration, which was publicly taken to task by British Prime Minister Theresa May for leaking British intelligence to media regarding the UK's Manchester Bombing investigation. The leaks not only invoked the wrath of (and temporarily stopped intelligence sharing from) the United States' closest ally, but it was hardly the only highly sensitive information recently and inappropriately disclosed to friend and foe alike by Trump and/or his Administration in recent days.

And, in a (related) news item we didn't get to yesterday, after disclosing the whereabouts of two U.S. nuclear submarines, it appears Trump actually praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte during a recent phone call for the "unbelievable...great job" he has done on that nation's drug epidemic --- in which thousands of people have been murdered in a brutal extrajudicial campaign carried out by Duterte's police force.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with a jam-packed Green News Report, before still more news breaks at the buzzer, reportedly finding Trump's top adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner 'under FBI scrutiny' in the Bureau's ongoing Trump/Russia probe...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Journalist, health care reform advocate Jacki Schechner...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2017 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast, big wins for Democrats in very Republican districts, more trouble for the GOP as the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) finally scores the House healthcare bill, and trouble likely ahead for still-divided Democrats. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

As Republicans struggle to pass any major legislation in the wake of Donald Trump's continuing political and legal troubles, Democrats saw two different huge state-level electoral victories in "deeply red districts" in New York and New Hampshire during special elections on Tuesday. Both seats had been previously held by Republicans for years and, in NY, the former Bernie Sanders delegate who won the set, helped flip the district "an astounding 39 points" since the November election!

All of that comes in advance of a statewide special election for the U.S. House in Montana on Thursday, believed to be "closer than it should be" in a state that went for Trump last November by more than 20 points, and a U.S. House special election runoff next month in Georgia's 6th Congressional District which also went to Trump last year, but where the Democrat is now said to be leading his Republican opponent by 7 points.

The first-time Democratic candidates in both the MT and GA races are raising record-shattering money from small donors, though in Georgia, non-partisan election watchdogs are urging voters to cast absentee paper ballots by mail or, preferably, dropped off at County HQ, rather than via the 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems the state will once again, shamefully, force voters to use at the precincts on June 20th.

Then, just before airtime, the non-partisan CBO finally released its score of the Republicans' American Health Care Act (ACHA), which was narrowly adopted in the U.S. House three weeks ago. Like previous GOP versions of the bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), the CBO finds the latest version will result in more than 20 million Americans (23 million, in this case) losing their health care coverage over the next ten years, including 14 million next year alone.

Journalist and health care reform advocate Jackie Schechner joins us with details from the CBO's just-released report, and what it is likely to mean for the future of the GOP legislation in the House and in the U.S. Senate. (She believes the GOP will ultimately fail to pass a bill that both houses can agree upon, so Obamacare will stay in place for the foreseeable future.)

Schechner details how the GOP's House bill will imperil health care for those with preexisting conditions (the CBO found such people "would ultimately be unable to purchase...health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all"); the Senate GOP leadership's strange plan to create a competing bill in the upper chamber with a "group of 13 white men" and no Democrats or even industry experts taking part; how she believes Republicans and President Trump have purposely undermined Obamacare; and how Democrats and Republicans together could actually fix the problems in the Affordable Care Act --- if they actually wanted to.

"I think it's important that we take a step back and take the politics out of this, and start to focus on the policy of what we're trying to do," she tells me. "What we're trying to do is get people in this country access to health care, and to make it affordable. That's where the policy specifics need to come into play, and that's not going to happen if you got 13 white men who are crafting this behind closed doors who have no experience in health care policy."

We then close with a very lively discussion of a Democratic single-payer "Medicare for All" health care bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) in the House. The legislation, HR-626, for the first time ever, now has support from more than half of the Democratic caucus. Does that bill present a way forward for health care reform in the U.S. --- and for Democrats at the ballot box?

We discuss, debate and, hopefully, inform on that and much more on today's BradCast!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Former White House economic adviser Seth Hanlon | Also: Latest on Manchester Bombing, FBI Trump investigation, more...
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2017 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Trump Administration introduces what economists --- on both the Right and Left --- are describing as a massive 2 trillion dollar accounting error (or, less generously, 'fraudulent' numbers) in their new budget proposal introduced today. And we get caught up on the latest late updates on yesterday's Manchester Bombing and the FBI's ongoing investigation of Team Trump. [Audio link follows below.]

As Trump continues his overseas trip, the White House released his Budget Policy plan in full, including some $1 trillion in cuts to social programs, billions of dollars of increases in defense spending and what they describe as deficit reduction measures over the next 10 years. The plan, if enacted, would deeply slash programs from Medicaid to Social Security Disability Insurance to food stamps to financial student aid to agricultural subsidies relied upon by an enormous number of Trump voters.

But, aside from those cruel cuts, as our guest today, former Obama Administration tax policy adviser Seth Hanlon explains, the budget includes a huge, $2 trillion accounting error. Actually, Hanlon described it last night in a Twitter rant as '[Bernie] Madoff-level accounting fraud...designed to fleece vulnerable people'. Others today, including conservative budget experts, also describe the gimmick Team Trump uses to hide the decline in revenue as fraudulent --- or "impossible magic math" --- in that it counts the same (questionable) claims for increased revenues from massive tax cuts twice! Once to pay for the $5.5 trillion in tax cuts themselves, and then again to pay for $2 trillion in revenue in the Trump budget.

As Hanlon details, it's quite a trick! An impossible one, in fact, which he doesn't believe to be an accident, describing it as a "$7.5 trillion lie."

"In their budget," he explains, "they just pretend that this $5.5 trillion in tax cuts does not exist. And then at the same time...they say that the economy is going to grow by a full percentage point every year, so the economy is going to grow by 3% a year...And because of that extra economic growth --- and there's not much basis to think there would be that growth --- that brings in an additional $2 trillion of revenue. So they include that extra $2 trillion of revenue in their budget, while at the same time not including...the tax cuts that are supposedly producing that magic growth that results in the $2 trillion."

Hanlon, now a Senior Fellow at Center for American Progress, previously served as special assistant to President Obama for economic policy at the White House National Economic Council, coordinating the Obama administration's tax policy. He calls the Trump scheme "a deliberate decision simply to wave a wand and take the entire $5.5 trillion cost of the tax cuts out of the budget," adding that he "can't find anybody who actually defends it," including so-called conservative deficit hawks. We also discuss the cruel nature of many of the cuts, despite its unlikeliness to get very far as written, even in the Republican controlled Congress.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with details on the "slash and burn" environmental aspects of the budget plan and for some good news out of Switzerland. (We'll take it!)

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Two important election-related SCOTUS decisions and this week's U.S. House Special Election in MT...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2017 6:35pm PT  

The new Twin Peaks (which is excellent, by the way!) may be less surreal than the latest goings on inside our current White House. On today's BradCast, the latest news on the ever unfolding investigations into Team Trump and on his overseas trip (stories Trump already managed to conflate today), along with big election-related news from the U.S. Supreme Court and a quick preview of this week's upcoming U.S. House special election in the state of Montana. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Today, before we get to the latest in the David Lynchian tales of President Trump, two new and important election-related rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. One, being described by UC Irvine Election professor Rick Hasen as a very "big deal" and "a major victory for voting rights plaintiffs" deals with racial and partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina, with ramifications for a number of other similar Republican gerrymanders in several states. The other is a victory for campaign finance restrictions. Both cases feature surprising alliances between Republican and Democratic-appointed Justices following last month's confirmation of Neal Gorsich to fill the vacant seat stolen by Republicans after the death of Justice Anton Scalia.

And, speaking of elections, we also preview the U.S. House Special Election set to take place in Montana this Thursday, as populist first-time candidate and popular folk singer Rob Quist barnstormed the state over the weekend with Bernie Sanders. Republican establishment candidate Greg Gianforte is said to have a small lead in pre-election polls, despite being recently caught on tape supporting the GOP health care bill while seeking money from wealthy lobbyists, even while telling voters on the stump he hadn't made up his mind about it yet. In addition to providing a bellwether for the 2018 elections, it may also serve to shake up the current, very serious divide within the Democratic Party itself, depending on how the results shake out this week. That divide has been somewhat obscured by the madness of the Trump White House, but the bitter split between Bernie and Hillary partisans is still very much creating a rift among progressives and Democrats.

Then, we're joined by the great Heather Digby Parton of Salon.com and the Hullabaloo blog to try and make sense of ALL of the latest in the increasingly surreal Trump Administration investigations, and the ongoing troubles Trump ("the clear and present danger"), his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn ("something wrong with him"), his Vice President Mike Pence ("Involved up to his eyeballs"), and many others. In addition to all of that and whether or not it may be heading towards impeachment, Parton also shares thoughts on Trump's overlooked recently reported threat to lock up journalists (reminding us that AG Jeff Sessions is "by far the most dangerous, malevolent person in the Administration") and offers insight on a number of late-breaking stories related to all of the above, including: Flynn, reportedly, now taking the 5th to avoid self-incrimination in response to Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenas; Trump digging himself deeper in Tel Aviv during his 9-day jaunt overseas; and now he may have even have lost a few of his own supporters following his speech on Islam in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

If you watched the new Twin Peaks over the weekend, as I did (the first two hours all year that I haven't thought about Trump, frankly!), what's going on in this Administration is even more difficult to make sense of right now, believe it or not. So, enjoy!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Former Asst. DA Ames Grawert of Brennan Center...
By Brad Friedman on 5/19/2017 6:38pm PT  

So who is the "nut job" here? On today's BradCast, Trump appears to have dug himself even deeper into the Obstruction of Justice mire and, speaking of "justice", Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolls back bi-partisan gains on criminal justice reform made during the Obama Era. [Audio link for show follows below.]

A new report today from the New York Times alleges that, during his Oval Office meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister and Ambassador last week, the day after he'd fired James Comey, President Trump described the former FBI Director as "crazy" and a "real nut job". He reportedly explained that he'd been under "great pressure because of Russia," but that pressure had been lifted due to his firing. If accurate, the new report, said to have been based on documentation of the meeting from the White House itself, could serve as more evidence of Obstruction of Justice by the President, who has now departed for a nine day overseas trip.

Foreign diplomats are reportedly making special preparations to deal with Trump in the Middle East and Europe, including plans to compliment him on his Electoral College win, and by keeping presentations short enough for his, um, limited attention span.

But lost among the sturm und drang over the Comey firing and related dramas over the past week or more is the fact that Trump's executive agencies, such as the EPA, the Department of Interior and Department of Justice, are all moving ahead with some pretty troubling policies. Among them, Attorney General Jeff Sessions' harsh new guidelines requiring federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the "most serious" crimes possible in order to, among other things, force judges to impose mandatory minimum sentencing. This comes even while the U.S. has less than 5% of the world's population, but nearly one quarter of its prisoners.

The new Trump Administration policies, rolling back progressive Obama Era reforms, are being enacted despite decades of plummeting crime rates and broad bi-partisan efforts for criminal justice reform, both at the state and federal levels, according to my guest today, former New York Asst. District Attorney Ames Grawert, now counsel at the Justice Program for NYU's Brennan Center.

Grawert, co-author of the new report, A Federal Agenda to Reduce Mass Incarceration, speaks to the Trump/Sessions claims that crime is rampant and ravaging the nation, despite all evidence to the contrary. "Fear sells," he tells me. "He [Trump] and Sessions need something to convince people that there's a need to embrace these draconian blast-from-the-past policies on mandatory minimums."

About those policies, Grawert laments, "Whether you come to it as a conservative from a moral angle, a religious angle, or simply a budgetary common sense angle, there's a lot of Republicans who are willing to say that criminal justice reform is an imperative for the country. It's shocking that Sessions [when he served as U.S. Senator, blocking a bi-partisan reform bill] was not one of them."

Obama's Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates (yes, that Sally Yates), had issued a memorandum last year instructing federal prisons to end contracts with private prison corporations for a number of reasons supported by both Republicans and Democrats. "Sessions rescinded that very early in his tenure," Grawert notes, "with an ominous declaration that it was needed to meet the quote 'future needs of the federal correctional system.'"

"The problem is that when you have mandatory minimums like these, and when you have an order like the one Sessions just put out last week preventing prosecutors from deciding how they are going to charge a case, it takes a lot of the discretion out of the hands of prosecutors. So, rather than making sure that they, who know the case best of all, are able to help the judge fit the punishment to the crime, you have prosecutors with their hands tied, required to seek a draconian sentence that they, themselves, and that judges also may not feel is actually called for."

"The one thing we learned from the last thirty years or so, is that the federal government's power of the purse, and the tone set in Washington, they carry a lot of weight at the state level," he tells me. "So if you have an attorney general saying, look, we need to send more people to jail for longer, you shouldn't think for a minute that people in states, people running for D.A., people running for governor's house, won't listen to that and take their cues from that."

Please listen to the full show with much more on all of the above right here...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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'Chaotic darkness' at Trump's White House; Bipartisan agreement in Congress; Flynn and Pence go cold Turkey; Eye on McGahn; More unauthorized US war in Syria; MUCH more from today's news tsunami...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2017 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we do our best to surf today's news tsunami, with a focus on a few troubling and under-appreciated stories amid the political flood pouring out of Washington and around the world in the wake of the DoJ's appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Among the huge number of quickly moving and/or under-covered stories pieced together on today's show...

  • CA Assembly bill calls for Donald Trump's impeachment;
  • U.S. launches new airstrike on Syrian forces (despite Congressional failure to authorize attacks on a sovereign nation, which could result in war with Russia);
  • Michael Flynn blocked President Obama's planned offensive against ISIS, which was opposed by Flynn's secret client Turkey;
  • Trump Team was told of FBI investigation of Flynn long before inauguration;
  • VP Mike Pence, head of Trump Transition, still claims he knew nothing about Flynn's ties to foreign nations;
  • Suspicion grows over Team Trump attorney, White House counsel Don McGahn;
  • Senate Intel Chair offers two different stories on Flynn subpoenas;
  • House Oversight Chair announces he's quitting Congress next month;
  • Mueller's appointment receives mostly bipartisan support, as....;
  • ...White House turns 'chaotically dark', cancels Kellyanne Conway appearance on Fox 'News', before...
  • Trump turns against appointment of Mueller to describe it as 'unprecedented witch hunt', which 'divides the country', even as he begins to separate himself from 'Russia collusion' and prepares to throw campaign team under the bus;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with, among other things, a citizen call to action to save National Monuments set for possible repeal by the Trump Administration...

I wish our countries had "scandals" like this one instead...

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Guest: Former Asst. US Attorney Randall D. Eliason of GWU Law School...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2017 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, yes, like yesterday, more huge breaking news mid-show. [Audio link follows below.]

But before we get to that, today, controversial, extremist and, perhaps, insane Milwaukee Sheriff David C. Clarke claimed today that he has been appointed to a position in Donald Trump's Dept. of Homeland Security. If true, his appointment would be disturbing. Not only given the number of people who have died in his jail cells, but also because he has, literally, called for about a million people in the U.S. to be rounded up and shipped off to Gitmo, indefinitely, without attorney or trial. Really.

Then, the fallout from yesterday's huge mid-show breaking news concerning the report that, in February, Donald Trump asked then FBI Director James Comey to end the Bureau's investigation of Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Republicans, both last night and today on Capitol Hill, are having trouble grappling with and/or responding to the news, though at least one GOP Senator, John McCain, compared what's now going on to Watergate. And committees in both the House and Senate have now asked to see the Comey memos said to document his private meetings with Trump.

And, along with all of that, the phrase "Obstruction of Justice" is being heard more and more regarding Trump's apparent efforts to shut down the FBI's probe into his campaign associates alleged coordination with Russia during the 2016 Presidential election. So, we are joined today by former Asst. U.S. Attorney, now Professor Randall D. Eliason of George Washington University Law School to discuss what "Obstruction of Justice" actually means, in both the criminal sense (as it might apply in an indictment) and in the political sense (as it might apply in Articles of Impeachment) Eliason recently discussed both applications in a lengthy article at his Sidebars Blog.

"The important thing," he tells me today, "is to distinguish between Obstruction of Justice in the broader sense --- the way the term gets thrown around a lot --- and the more narrow criminal sense of an actual criminal violation that fits the Obstruction of Justice statutes. That's a much higher standard to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, all of the elements of an actual crime, as opposed to a more general claim that the President is kind of violating all these norms and rules and traditions that we have about not interfering with ongoing investigation, appearing to pressure the FBI Director, things like that."

The key issue, Eliason explains, is whether there was "corrupt intent" in the many different incidents that now appear as Trump's obstruction. "It's not enough if the President does something that just has the effect of hurting the investigation, as a kind of side effect. The prosecutor would have to show that was what he set out to do --- he had the wrongful and deliberate intent to try to thwart, in [the Flynn] case, the ongoing grand jury investigation."

As to the use of Obstruction of Justice as used in Articles of Impeachment against a President, there is a different standard, which Eliason also explains. We discuss the cases (and defenses) being built for both types of obstruction, whether a sitting President can actually be indicted on criminal charges, and also the meaning of another phrase being bandied about of late: "abuse of power".

In the course of the conversation we also discuss the likelihood of impeachment and the potential application of the 25th Amendment remedy as a way to remove Trump from power and the need for a Special Counsel to be named by the Dept. of Justice.

No sooner do we complete that conversation, than the huge news breaks late today that, indeed, former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been named by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein as Special Counsel to take over the the FBI's probe into "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump"...

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Guest: Brennan Center's Elizabeth Goitein says Trump may have violated the law during Oval Office meeting with Russians; And then... BREAKING: Trump said to have asked Comey to shut down Flynn probe...
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2017 5:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Coverage of the two (yes, two) most recent (yes, most recent) blockbuster reports regarding the President, as leaked out of the Oval Office. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today: Washington Post's explosive report from late yesterday detailing Donald Trump's alleged (and all but confirmed by Trump himself) sharing of highly classified information (reportedly now from Israel) during his recent meeting in the Oval Office with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and Ambassador Kislyiak. The White House, largely via National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, strongly denies any wrong doing.

We're joined to discuss that and what we know and don't about it all, by Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at NYU's Brennan Center for Justice. And, unlike those who are reporting that Trump broke no laws in his alleged disclosure of sensitive information regarding ISIS, Goitein argues the case is not so clear cut.

Classification and declassification of sensitive information is spelled out by Executive Order of the President. "The existing Executive Order was written by President Obama. It is still in force unless or until Trump revokes it or replaces it," Goitein explains. "But President Obama himself would not have been bound by his own Executive Order. President Trump is not bound by that Executive Order. I think it's problematic that Presidents are not bound by their own Executive Orders. Or, I should say, it's problematic they can secretly depart from those orders. Ideally we would have a classification Executive Order that says what the President can do, even if it's just 'The President is exempt from all of these rules.'"

However, Goitein suggests that even a President could face legal exposure via the Espionage Act of 1917.

"The Executive Order is not the only law that is at play here," she tells me. "Congress has also stepped in on various occasions, to regulate the disclosure of national security information. And there are several statutes in which Congress has done that. The statute that seems most relevant here is the Espionage Act. And this is the law that President Obama infamously used to prosecute national security whistle-blowers and others who leaked information to the media, rather than actual spies and traitors, which is whom the law was designed to address. But this law, on its face, prohibits the communication of information related to the national defense --- whether that information is classified or not --- to anyone not entitled to receive it, if there's reason to believe it could be used either to harm the United States or to aid a foreign nation. So on it's face, that statute would certainly seem to apply."

I discuss that and much more with Goitein about this entire fine mess today. It's worth tuning in for that alone. But then...

Breaking hard mid-show today: The New York Times' perhaps even more explosive report detailing a memo written by then FBI Director James Comey describing his February one-on-one meeting with the President in the Oval Office, in which Comey reportedly charges that Trump requested he drop the Bureau's ongoing investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. "I hope you can let this go," Trump said to Comey, according to the Times, in an account also vigorously denied by the White House, but which, if true, would amount to a very serious case of Obstruction of Justice by the President of the United States.

If only there was a taping system of some kind in the Oval Office so we could figure out who's telling the truth.

Finally today, after disembarking from that insane news roller coaster, if only for the moment, we finish up today with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, because the planet doesn't really give a damn about either national security or politics...

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Guest: David Roberts of Vox; Also: Good voting rights news for NC, more details on the thousands turned away from the polls in WI in 2016...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2017 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our friend David Roberts of Vox.com on making sense of Donald Trump's seemingly senseless decision making process --- and, somehow, learning to live with it and/or contain the damage. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, some good news! The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear North Carolina Republicans' appeal of the U.S. 4th Circuit Appeals Court ruling last year striking down what many have describes as the "Mother of All Voter Suppression" laws. The appellate court had found that state Republicans included provisions in the law that were intentionally discriminatory in that they were drafted in order to "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision".

But while that law was blocked last year in NC and will now remain blocked for the foreseeable future there, a similarly discriminatory Photo ID voting restriction was allowed to be used in Wisconsin last year, where Trump is said to have won by just 22,000 votes despite some 300,000 voters in the Badger State --- disproportionately African-American, poor, elderly and students --- who do not have the type of ID now required to vote under the GOP's restriction.

Last week, we detailed a new analysis of the affect of that law on the Presidential election results in WI last year, finding that some 200,000 otherwise legal voters may have been prevented from casting their vote. Today, we detail some of the specific voters who were prevented from voting last November, because of the discriminatory law, including, as AP reports: "The Navy veteran whose out-of-state driver’s license did not suffice, or the dying woman whose license had expired, or the recent graduate whose student ID was deficient", among others.

Then, we're joined by Vox' Roberts who, late last week, published a Tweetstorm in response to Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, in which he attempted to explain why it's so difficult, if not impossible, for journalists, politicians and the public to make sense of the President's decision making process. That is largely, Roberts detailed in his Tweetstorm and in a follow-up article at Vox and to me today, because Trump doesn't have any such process --- at least beyond what feels good at the moment he makes the decision based largely on whatever the last person he talked to told him about the issue.

Roberts' assessment, which cites psychological conditions such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder and something called "Theory of Mind", actually helps to illuminate the reasons for Trump's otherwise, seemingly, reason-free process.

"There's clearly something wrong with the dude," says Roberts. "From all indications he just doesn't have those beliefs and commitments that carry over from situation to situation. By all indications on the surface, what he's doing is: every situation is new. He gropes around for what makes him feel powerful or in charge, and then sort of lunges at that, with no thought of commitments that came before, or consequences that might come after, or how it relates to other things he's said, or other people he's committed to, or anything really!"

"I compare it to a goldfish. Every situation is new. Every day is new. And he's just this sort of bundle of impulses." But while that, Roberts explains, makes Trump so difficult to cover from a journalistic standpoint, or to understand from a political or voter's perspective, it's also what makes him exceedingly dangerous. "Imagine if there's a viral outbreak, or imagine if North Korea really tries to provoke him. Even his allies --- even the people in his administration --- have to be thinking 'Do I know what he's going to do in that situation?'"

While many try to explain Trump's decisions as some grand design, or even as an attempt to distract from one issue or another, Roberts argues it's usually far simpler (and more troubling) than that. He also speaks to what we --- journalists, politicians and citizens --- can all do now in hopes of minimizing the damage that he will be able to cause until he finally leaves office one way or another...

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The VP will now oversee Trump's sham 'Election Integrity' Commission; Also: Trump/Comey goes 'Godfather' and even more Nixon-like...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2017 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The story of Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey turns even more bizarre and takes a decidedly thuggish turn (don't worry, your President is 'not a crook') and Vice President Mike Pence gets tapped to head Trump's new "voter fraud" commission, despite his own (much overlooked) record of stoking false GOP allegations of "voter fraud" and helping to shut down a major registration drive in his home state, just before last year's Presidential election, while campaigning for Veep and serving as Governor of Indiana.

First, the Trump/Comey affair turns more insane and Godfather-like by the hour...or Nixon-like, if you prefer, now that Trump has hinted there may be audio recordings of his private conversation with the now-former FBI Director. We bring you up to date on the latest madness and lies on that quickly moving soap opera, which continues to tie the White House into knots.

We then turn to the Executive Order signed this week by the President amidst all the Comey fallout, which creates a new sham commission, by fiat, to examine Trump's false claims that as many as five million votes were illegally cast in the 2016 election. The so-called "Election Integrity Commission" --- which, according to the Order, is to look at only voter and voter registration fraud, rather than voter suppression, which is a far more extensive problem or concerns about the vulnerability of vote casting and counting systems --- is to be headed up by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas' notorious vote-suppressing Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

While many may be familiar, by now, with Kobach's years-long storied history of fraudulent 'voter fraud' claims, many are likely unaware of Pence's efforts last year during the campaign, while serving as Indiana's Governor, to suppress a major voter registration drive targeting African-Americans in Indiana, with false claims of "voter fraud" and the outrageously heavy-handed use of his State Police force.

On today's show, we detail how the offices of the Indiana Voter Registration Project were raided and shut down, with computers, cell phones and paperwork confiscated by Pence's cops, just days before the state's October 11, 2016 voter registration deadline. The effort (also aided and abetted by the state's Republican Sec. of State Connie Lawson, who is also set to serve on Trump's phony commission), served to shut down the major registration drive by a Democratic-leaning organization and resulted in the Marion County Prosecutor demanding an end to misleading and suppressing public statements from Superintendent of the State Police. It did not, however, despite claims of "thousands" of fraudulent forms, result in any arrests, and it was all quickly forgotten, as usual, after Election Day. In all, some 50,000 valid registrations may have been scuttled in the Hoosier State, thanks to the false claims of forged and fraudulent registration forms across dozens of counties in what Pence described to brain-addled supporters on the campaign trail as a "vigorous investigation into voter fraud".

Finally today: The White House lies about the number of new manufacturing and coal jobs created last month and North Carolina receives just 1% of their requested funding for Hurricane Matthew relief from Congress and the President...

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Guests: Carleton Bowekaty & Matthew Campbell of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition | Plus: The latest insanity from the Comey firing fallout...
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2017 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the fallout from the James Comey firing swirl further out of control, as I suspect it will for quite some time, while other disturbing Administration policies move forward with much less focus from either media or Congress. One such policy is Trump's recent Executive Order calling for the dismantling of National Monuments --- "public land grabs" and "outrageous abuses of power", as he has taken to incorrectly describing them --- on behalf of corporate drilling and mining interests. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The madness of King Donald continues to devolve at now breakneck speeds, as the White House and an increasingly enraged Trump continue their unsustainable spinning, flip-flopping and nonsensical rants concerning the President's sudden firing of the FBI Director earlier this week under an obviously phony pretext. The need to create fresh lies to cover up older ones is also creating fresh perils for those foolish enough to enter Trump's orbit, like Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. So, we've got the latest on all of that, including an interesting suggestion for Comey's permanent replacement, a bit of pushback from his Acting replacement, and some ill-considered admissions about the entire affair by Trump himself.

Meanwhile, as Trump keeps digging, and the media and Congress continue (justifiably) to obsess about and investigate it all, the Administration's other corrupt policy measures move forward with measurably less attention. Among those efforts is the unprecedented attempt to roll back National Monument designations by the three previous Presidents, including the Obama-designated Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah.

In response to an Executive Order signed in April, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is touring the area this week, where more than 1 million acres of land that is sacred to Native Americans and home to tens of thousands of archaeological sites, including ancient cliff dwellings, are now being reviewed on behalf of Trump, Congressional Republicans and corporate fossil fuel interests.

Joining us today to describe the local, tribal efforts to protect these native public lands --- and the Utah Congressional delegation's efforts to undermine them (literally) --- are Carleton Bowekaty, a Zuni Tribal councilman and co-chair of the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, and Matthew Campbell, attorney with the Native American Rights Fund.

They both explain the reasons why the Antiquities Act of 1906 was invoked by President Obama to protect the lands; speak to some recent "extremely offensive" comments by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT); and the absurdity of Trump describing these designation of federal lands as national monuments as "federal land grabs".

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the Green News Report, with news on the Administration's deliberations regarding the landmark UN Paris Climate Agreement, the latest on the nuclear emergency in Washington state, and much more...

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Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress Justice...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2017 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as you might have guessed, we pick up on the news that broke mid-show yesterday of Donald Trump's stunning and sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey, while the fallout and reeling continues in D.C. and across the nation today. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The pretext for that firing, which even some on Fox "News" describe as "almost inexplicable", was Comey's alleged mishandling last year of the Bureau's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while Sec. of State, according to a letter [PDF] written by new Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

A handful of Republican Senators (though some key ones) have expressed concern or "disappointment" over "the timing" of Trump's unprecedented firing of the FBI chief, which appears to have caught just about everybody by surprise, even as investigations continue at both the FBI and Congress into Trump and members of his campaign regarding allegations of undeclared ties to Russia and/or other foreign nations both during the campaign and after the election.

Democrats, meanwhile, are outraged by Comey's firing, despite their furor about the way he oversaw the Clinton probe last year during the run-up to the Presidential election. They are calling for a special prosecutor to be named by Rosenstein at the DoJ and an independent bi-partisan special committee to be named by Congress to investigate all of this. Many are comparing Trump's dismissal of Comey to Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" at the height of the Watergate investigation, others describing it as "a grotesque abuse of power by the President", while some Congressional Democrats are citing this moment as "a full-blown Constitutional crisis."

Joining us today to try and explain what is or isn't going on here, and whether it amounts to such a Constitutional crisis, full-blown or otherwise, is author and Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress Justice. He explains the legitimate complaints against Comey, while making the case that his firing was little more than an effort by Trump to disrupt the FBI's ongoing Russia probe.

"What is the emotion you're supposed to feel when the biggest villain in the United States fires the second biggest villain in the United States?," Millhiser wryly asks, before detailing the legal underpinnings for Trump's move, whether any of it is in violation of the law or the U.S. Constitution, and whether Rosenstein or his new boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, acted inappropriately in collusion with Trump and the White House.

"The story of the last nine years of American politics," he goes on to explain, "has been that people like Trump, and Jeff Sessions, and James Comey, and Mitch McConnell --- maybe I shouldn't lump Comey in with them because I don't know that he was necessarily acting in bad faith in the way that some of the other ones are --- but people have figured out that we don't have a system of rules that prevents you from doing a lot to blow stuff up, and that prevents you from engaging in a lot of sabotage. What we have are norms that people just didn't violate because they cared enough about the United States of America not to do so."

Those days, Millhiser argues today, appear to be over --- at least as of right now --- in these United States.

Finally, we close with a tiny bit of good news today --- thanks, in part, to the surprising vote of at least one Republican Senator --- regarding the GOP's continuing attempt to roll back Obama Administration fossil fuel-related regulations on public lands...

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And MUCH more today...
By Brad Friedman on 5/9/2017 5:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The stunning breaking news that FBI Director James Comey has been fired by Donald Trump hits smack dab in the middle of today's show.

Other than that, we also cover a whole bunch of other noteworthy stuff today, including...

  • South Korea elects liberal candidate who wants to open relations with North Korea as new President, Donald Trump about to get very confused;
  • Trump Campaign scrubs own website amid federal court hearing on 'unconstitutional' Muslim travel ban;
  • Sally Yates makes mincemeat of both hypocritical U.S. Senators from Texas during her Monday Senate testimony;
  • Vulnerable Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA) walks out of interview in a huff after being asked perfectly reasonable question;
  • New study finds GOP Photo ID voting restriction laws suppressed huge number of voters in 2016, including some 200,000 in Wisconsin (which Trump reportedly won by 22,700 votes);
  • Illinois Senate calls Republican Governor's bluff, advances bi-partisan bill for automatic voter registration;
  • Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report as France votes for climate action and climate change-fueled extreme weather turns deadly in Midwest and South East.

Oh, and did I mention Donald Trump suddenly fired FBI Director James Comey today?!!...

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Guest: Election integrity and IT expert Garland Favorito of VoterGA.org...
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2017 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A new technical analysis of the root causes of the Election Night tabulation disaster that halted counting during the U.S. House primary special election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District last month finds several "critical security flaws" in the computerized tabulation system that, the reports authors find, could affect both the highly contested upcoming June run-off, as well as other elections across Georgia and the rest of the nation. [Audio link to complete show posted at bottom of article.]

But, first today: Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates finally testified in the U.S. Senate on Monday about the concerns she relayed to White House legal counsel shortly after the January inauguration, that then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had lied about his conversations with a Russian diplomat and had, therefore, opened himself up to compromise and blackmail. We cover some of her Congressional testimony today, which was still ongoing at airtime.

In the meantime, voters who might wish to respond at the voting booth to the many concerns about the Trump Administration continue to face new obstacles placed in their way by new Republican enacted restrictions on voting. Another example comes out of Iowa, where, on Friday, the Governor signed a bill to require one of a small number of government-issued Photo IDs at the polling place, despite any evidence that such a restriction would have prevented any voter fraud in the Hawkeye State.

But even voters who are able to cast a vote continue to have legitimate concerns as to whether their votes are counted as cast. That's certainly the case in states like Georgia, which still forces voters to vote on 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems. On today's BradCast, Garland Favorito, co-founder of the non-partisan election integrity organization VoterGA, joins us to discuss his group's disturbing new preliminary Root Cause Analysis [PDF], published late last week, finding "critical security flaws" at the heart of the computer tabulation disaster that occurred on Election Night in Fulton County during last month's U.S. House Special Election primary in Georgia's 6th Congressional District.

Favorito, a long time career IT professional, explains the group's finding of a number of serious flaws, and his response to the state's Republican Sec. of State Brian Kemp who dismissed the problem, which halted vote counting for several hours on April 18th, as little more than "human error". Favorito also notes that, despite Kemp's promise of an investigation into the matter, public records requests have revealed that nobody has been assigned to carry out the probe as of last week when VoterGA issued their report.

Favorito explains that a memory card --- with results from a completely different election --- were allowed to be uploaded to the GA-06 contest on Election Night, and that the GEMS computer tabulation system (used across the state, but also used in hundreds of counties in other states as well, even on paper ballot optical-scan systems) failed to prevent the invalid data from being sent to the central tabulator.

"The system should have caught that," he tells me. "We found that to be almost amazing and we would consider those to be absolutely critical software flaws, that there was no validation" either at the remote location where results were uploaded, or at the main database server when they were received at county headquarters. "So, basically, that scenario could play itself out again almost any time." The real concern, he adds: "a bad guy could in fact legitimately change the results of an election through fraud" via these newly discovered security flaws.

When I asked Favorito whether I am right to characterize the state's Diebold touch-screen systems as "100% unverifiable," Favorito says: "You're 100% plus accurate. They are unverifiable. There is no way to detect whether or not fraud really occurred. We do not have verifiable elections in Georgia."

In hopes of avoiding another disaster, VoterGA is calling on voters to request absentee paper ballots for the much anticipated and hotly contested June 20th runoff election between Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff and his Republican opponent Karen Handel, the state's former Sec. of State, in what has already "smashed" the all-time record for the most money ever spent to win a single U.S. House election.

"You could actually conduct this race on Election Night and report the results, by paper, by hand [counting], faster than you could lugging all those expensive unverifiable machines to all the different precincts, and then going through the same upload process again just for this one race. It would be faster and cheaper. That's the irony of the whole situation," he says.

Favorito also explains what, if any, evidence of fraud was uncovered by the VoterGA analysis; SoS Kemp's failure to even respond to computer scientists and e-voting experts at Verified Voting who called for paper ballots in GA following a "massive data breach" in March at Kennesaw State University's Center for Elections, which is contracted to program all of the state's voting systems and electronic poll books; and some of the past election disasters in Georgia, such as a 2005 local tax referendum, with billions of dollars of taxes at stake in Cobb County, when hundreds of "blank" touch-screen ballots were reported in the results, despite the measure being the only item on the ballot during that special election. ("Why would voters take the time to drive to the polls, stand in line --- because it was a pretty hot issue --- sign in, go up into the voting booth, put their card in, and then decide not to cast their ballot after they got in there? That's just hard to believe. In fact, It's just unbelievable," Favorito insists.)

There's much more in today's, frankly, alarming conversation which should be of concern not just to voters of all political stripes in GA, but all across the country, given these latest findings revealing, yet again, that electronically tabulated results can be corrupted or manipulated in a way that would be virtually impossible for election officials, much less the public, to ever detect. Little wonder the latest Electoral Integrity Project report out today from Harvard and the University of Sydney, rate U.S. elections, once again, as the "worst among western democracies"...

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