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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, April 22, 2018
Senate GOP Twists Law to Gut Decades-Old Regs (Forever): 'BradCast' 4/20/18
Guest: James Goodwin of CPR: Also: DNC files Trump/Russia suit; Wells Fargo fined $1B; Memos reveal Trump wants to jail journalists...
Senate Confirms Climate Science Denier as NASA Chief: 'BradCast' 4/19/18
...and many more otherworldly reminders of the importance of elections...
'Green News Report' 4/19/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Puerto Rico power knocked out again; Studies find Gulf Stream slowing down; New climate lawsuits for oil industry, Florida; PLUS: Earth Day 2018 focused on ending plastic pollution...
Previous GNRs: 4/17/18 - 4/12/18 - Archives...
'Dark Lord of Coal Country' Rising, GOP Panicking Before WV U.S. Senate Primary: 'BradCast' 4/18/18
Guest: Bob Kincaid; Also: McConnell says no, Mattis got Trumped, Kobach in contempt...
'Corrupt Intent': 'BradCast' 4/17/18
Guest: Former Asst. US Attorney Randall Eliason on Trump, Cohen, Mueller, indicting a sitting Prez; Also: Tax cut support falls, GOPers keep heading for the exits...
'Green News Report' 4/17/18
Federal watchdogs say EPA violated law for Admin Scott Pruitt; Senate confirms coal industry lobbyist for deputy EPA chief; PLUS: Google and Apple go 100% renewable...
Trump's Unlawful, Evidence-Free 'Mission Accomplished': 'BradCast' 4/16/18
Congress acquiesces after second US attack on Syria; Hannity revealed as secret Cohen client; Callers ring in...
Sunday Toons: 'One Raid Begets Another'
It didn't take long after Donald Trump's friend, business associate and personal lawyer was raided by the FBI for Trump to unleashes the missiles, as the cartoonists observe in PDiddie's latest collection...
As Trump Goes Ugly, How Dems Can 'Fight Dirty' to Win for the Country: 'BradCast' 4/13/18
Guest: Author David Faris on radically reform-ing 'long-term barriers to progressive power'...
Mattis: U.S. Lacks 'Actual Evidence' of Syrian Chemical Attack: 'BradCast' 4/12/18
Also: Clueless Trump to rejoin TPP?; Sinclair's abuse of public airwaves; And, why local news matters...
'Green News Report' 4/12/18
Newly unearthed docs reveal Shell knew about warming since 1950s; Dems want Pruitt to resign; EPA docs under-mine his claims; PLUS: Obama EPA chief speaks out...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
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: James Goodwin of Center for Progressive Reform; Also: DNC files Trump/Russia 'conspiracy' lawsuit; Wells Fargo fined $1B; Comey memos reveal Trump wants to jail journalists...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2018 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As usual, the big headlines obscure the most disturbing ones. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

On Friday, the Democratic National Committee filed a surprise federal lawsuit against Donald Trump, his son Don Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, several other members of the Trump Campaign, as well as Russia and WikiLeaks, for what the DNC's characterizes in the complaint as a broad "conspiracy" to steal private documents and undermine the DNC and the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign in "an act of previously unimaginable treachery". If allowed to move forward, the suit could result in the President, and all of his men, being forced to turn over documents and give depositions under oath. (It could also set a troubling precedent for journalists.)

Also on Friday, Wells Fargo was slapped with a $1 billion fine by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for hoaxing more than half a million customers into purchasing car insurance they did not need. While it was the first major action by the CFPB since Trump muscled his own Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney into the dual role of Acting CFPB Director, the record fine is only a small percentage of what Wells is receiving from Trump's recent massive tax cuts.

Mulvaney, who, as a Tea Party Congressman had spent years trying to abolish the consumer bureau formed after the 2008 global banking and mortgage crisis, was upbraided by Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a recent hearing in the Senate, for his ongoing efforts to undermine the CFPB's critical assistance to consumers.

And, related to all of that, while the worst of the Trump/GOP's major legislative agenda under Trump was broadly considered to be behind us with Democrats believed likely to take over one or both chambers of Congress this November, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA, pictured above) recently came up with a scheme to twist the obscure Congressional Review Act (CRA), in order to gut decades of executive agency regulations with a simple majority vote in each house. While the CRA, only used once in its 21-year history before Trump took office, was meant as a way for Congress to roll back new formal rules enacted by executive agencies, it has been used over the past year to gut dozens of formal regulations enacted during the last 60 days of the Obama Administration.

Toomey, however, has now come up with a new interpretation of the law to allow Republicans to kill regulations from decades ago. This week, the GOP Senate began using his interpretation to do just that. They voted to kill a 2013 CFPB "guidance" document enacted to prevent racial discrimination in auto loans after hundreds of thousands of minority car buyers were found to have been charged higher interest rates for loans (resulting in more than $100 million in fines by the CFPB and money paid back to customers.)

Toomey's maneuver, however, allows such guidelines --- as opposed to only recently enacted formal rules --- to be killed under the CRA, which also prevents executive agencies from ever reinstating a similar regulation in the future. In the bargain, decades of established executive agency regulations could now be done away with, with simple majority votes, between now and the start of the next Congressional term in 2019.

We're joined today by JAMES GOODWIN of the Center for Progressive Reform to discuss this dangerous and insidious new scheme which has received disturbingly sparse media attention since its first time use this past week. Goodwin details what the CRA was meant to do, versus how Republicans have now decided to use, and the many ways in which the CRA might now be abused across the federal government with this new precedent. "One of the main dangers of this new precedent," he explains, "is we have all of these critical safeguards that we thought were in place, that now could simply vanish. And, really, the only limitation [Republicans] face is time."

Finally, the release of memos [PDF] written by fired FBI Director James Comey just after his several meetings with Donald Trump, confirm Comey's earlier descriptions of those bizarre encounters, and have received much coverage for the President's described concerns about Russian hookers and his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to felonies in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Less discussed, however, are the troubling details from the memos revealing that Trump was similarly obsessed with convincing the FBI Director to throw journalists in jail --- in stark violation of the First Amendment --- for reporting on embarrassing leaks coming out of his White House...

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

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Guest: Political scientist and author David Faris of Roosevelt University on radically reforming 'long-term structural barriers to progressive power'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/13/2018 6:41pm PT  

On one of the ugliest political days in recent memory (and they are likely to get still uglier --- and deadlier, as Trump launches a military attack against Syria moments ago), we fight our way on today's BradCast, out of the slime to look beyond the near horizon for how progressives can change structural impediments in our political system, just as soon as Democrats are able to regain majorities in both Congress and the White House. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first, we wade into the swamp long enough to cover Donald Trump's stunning pardon on Friday of former Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, a felon who was found guilty of having lied to federal investigators and obstructing justice after purposely leaking the highly classified identify of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame to the media during the run up to the Iraq War. That, as an enraged Trump took to Twitter on Friday to tar former Republican FBI Director James Comey as a "LEAKER & LIAR" and "slime ball" following the release of his new book.

But, as we strive today to look towards a brighter future somehow, we are joined by DAVID FARIS, political science professor at Roosevelt University and author of the new book out this week, It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics. Faris' book outlines a number of radical ideas for a progressive institutional restructuring of our democracy which, he argues, can and should all be carried out just as soon as Democrats regain control of the House, Senate and White House.

The "procedural proposals", as he describes them, include, among other things: statehood ("on Day 1") for Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico (and breaking California into several smaller states); transformation of our federal judiciary (by, among other things, doing away with lifetime tenures on the federal bench and a forced restoration of a Democratic majority on the Republican's stolen Supreme Court); and restructuring the U.S. House for proportional representation to help overcome the scourge of extreme partisan gerrymandering. All of which, Faris takes pains to note, can be done without the daunting task of amending the U.S. Constitution, and, as he argues, would be no more radical than ideas that Republicans have both been instituting for decades and plan to implement in the near future, unless they are prevented from doing so.

"Most of the ideas in this book I consider a process of rectifying existing injustices in our electoral system and our political processes, and then responding in kind to some of these Republicans escalations --- partly to convince the Republican Party that some of the things they are doing are deeply destructive, and that they will lead to retaliation," Faris tells me. "I think they are assuming things like holding a Supreme Court seat open for Neil Gorsuch will not get a reply from the opposition."

"Part of the purpose of the book," he continues, "is to outline a series of ideas that are actually the right thing to do. I don't consider them to be 'fighting dirty'. I think it will be perceived as fighting dirty, but I actually really believe in all these ideas as improving the long-term performance of our democracy overall."

Faris argues that "Democrats have to take some of these procedural issues and these electoral issues much more seriously. I think they need to take them as seriously as they take their policy proposals, and their intra-party battles over what the party's stance should be on certain issues. Because the reality is in national politics, in every election for the last twenty years, the Democrats have been fighting at a really significant disadvantage, due to things like felon disenfranchisement laws, like gerrymandering, like voter ID laws. And if they don't seriously rethink some of these things, they may come back to power in 2020, but they're going to kick it right back in 2022, or 2024, or 2026. Because these long-term structural barriers to progressive power are very poorly understood by the broader public. And, in all cases, they are an affront to the spirit of small-d 'democracy' as it should be practiced, and as it is practiced in most of the rest of the world."

I hope you'll tune in for the detailed discussion (and debate) on a number of Faris' fascinating proposals for reform on today's program --- and why it is that Democrats have shied away from them for too long --- before we then head back into Trump's swamp for a few more minutes at show's end.

Among those slimy stories to close out the week: The U.S. Senate confirms Andrew Wheeler as second in command to embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Wheeler was, until his nomination late last year, a very powerful coal industry lobbyist and will now take charge of the EPA if Pruitt is pushed out.

And, finally today, wealthy Trump and George W. Bush donor Elliot Broidy steps down as the RNC's deputy finance chair after revelations that he paid a Playboy playmate $1.6 million to keep quiet about an affair in which she was reportedly impregnated and had an abortion. The man who set up the hush money payoff for Broidy? Donald Trump's personal attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen, whose office and residences were raided at the beginning of the week in relation to, among other things, virtually identical schemes to prevent adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal from revealing their own affairs with Trump in the days just before the 2016 Presidential election...

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

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Callers ring in on all of the above and much more today!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2018 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We have a lot to catch up from over the weekend, and callers with lots of opinions to go with it. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, both a Republican federal court panel and the U.S. Supreme Court both rejected Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker's last ditch attempt to block a new U.S. House map forced upon them by the state Supreme Court in February after the previous map enacted in 2011 was determined to be an unlawful partisan gerrymander in violation of the state's Constitution. Those were the last chances for the state GOP to restore the unlawful maps --- which had given them a 13 to 5 advantage in U.S. House seats over the past three elections --- before the candidate filing deadline for the 2018 primary elections in the largely 50/50 swing-state.

At the same time, voters head to the polls in Illinois on Tuesday for the second primary of the crucial 2018 mid-terms. Among the contested races is a primary challenge by progressive Marie Newman to longtime, very right-wing Democratic Rep. Dan Lipinski in IL's 3rd Congressional district. The race is said to be statistically tied, as Lipinski fights for his political life, and as the winner of Tuesday's primary in the very "blue" area of Chicago will likely go on to win in November, since the GOP, literally, has only a proud neo-Nazi running on the ballot for the Republican nomination.

But concerns about Illinois' computerized voting, tabulation and registration system continue to haunt officials and undermine democracy and voter confidence --- justifiably. The state's voter registration system was breached during the 2016 election, and remains wildly vulnerable along with the state's voting and tabulation systems. Despite purported concerns of "Russian interference", little has changed in any of our nation's easily hacked, oft-failed electoral systems following the 2016 election.

Then: On last Friday's show, we noted that nobody in the Trump Admin had yet been fired that day. But, shortly after airtime, FBI Deputy Director and former Acting Director Andrew McCabe was fired just two days shy of receiving his lifetime pension after 21 years of service to the Bureau.

We discuss the reasons he was said to have been fired and the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions (who officially fired him) was supposed to have recused himself from the matter. Nonetheless, Donald Trump rejoiced at the news via Twitter --- since McCabe is a witness against Trump's apparent attempted obstruction of justice in the firing of FBI Director James Comey --- before turning his wrath back against Comey and, for the first time on Twitter, Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Is a newly emboldened Trump preparing again to fire Mueller? If he does, will Congressional Republicans do anything to block him? And what, for that matter, will the American people do --- if anything --- in response to what many (over-confidently) believe would be a Constitutional crisis? We open the phone lines to talk about all of that and much more on today's BradCast!...

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

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Guest: The Intercept's Jon Schwarz; Plus: Kobach loses in court; Battle over election results and control of VA House continues...
By Brad Friedman on 12/27/2017 5:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the GOP has made an industry out of protecting their power and their Presidents, from Richard Nixon right up through Donald Trump. And neither the Democrats nor the corporate media seem to have figured out how to counter the Right's radical transformation of the American political landscape over the past 40+ years. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first today, a bit of voting and election news: A federal judge on Friday, just before the Christmas holiday, found in favor of Maine's Democratic Sec. of State Matt Dunlap after he was forced to sue Donald Trump's so-called "Election Integrity" Commission headed up by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas' Republican Sec. of State --- and infamous GOP "voter fraud" fraudster --- Kris Kobach. Dunlap had sued because, even though he is on the Commission itself, Kobach and the other rightwing fraudsters on it had been withholding documents and keeping Dunlap completely out of the decision making process. While that was a loss for the Government, a separate lawsuit against the Commission, filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), was rejected by a federal Appeals Court on Tuesday, on the basis that the group did not have standing to sue.

Also today, an update on the November 7th, 94th District Virginia House of Delegates race where Democrat Shelly Simonds appeared to have unseated Republican David Yancey by one single vote, until one of the Republican election official judges decided, the day after a "recount" was completed last week, that a previously discarded over-vote ballot [JPG] was actually a vote for the Republican after all. A three-judge court panel of GOP-appointed judges agreed, which meant the race was tied and the winner would be determined --- along with the balance of control of the Virginia House, which had been controlled by the GOP for decades --- by a random draw. That draw, scheduled for Wednesday, was postponed late on Tuesday by the state's Election Commission at Simonds request, while she challenges the three-judge panel's ruling in court.

Then, with the calls intensifying from the Fox "News" rightwing for Trump to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, are Democrats doing enough to counter the Constitutional Crisis that would likely ensue if he did so? For that matter, how have we arrived at a moment in American history when an investigation by a Republican Special Prosecutor into the firing of a Republican FBI Director by a Republican President can be considered a partisan Democratic witch hunt?!

JON SCHWARZ of The Intercept joins us to discuss the historical chain of events, connecting the dots of lawless GOP Presidential administrations from (at least) Richard Nixon up through Donald Trump, to illustrate exactly how we got here. In his recent historical essay, he details a fairly direct line of actions taken by the right during and after Nixon, right up through the present, that has largely prevented real accountability for lawless Republican Presidents, while both the Democrats and the corporate media have continued to pull their punches for various reasons.

"The history of Watergate has been completely rewritten in the past 45 years," Schwarz explains. "The reality is that it just barely succeeded. All of the investigations, all of the obvious, blatant wrongdoing by Nixon was just barely enough to get him out of office. Under other circumstances --- if the Republicans had controlled Congress, if they'd had Fox News then, if they'd had decades of appointing people to the courts --- it's very likely that Nixon would have stayed in office, and people would remember it as just a minor blip."

As is, he tells me, Nixon still escaped accountability for the worst of his crimes including collusion with a foreign power which resulted in the deaths of thousands of Americans, and an untold number of others in Indochina. "It's kind of shocking how this has been completely kept out of history."

Nonetheless, during his administration, a young Nixon staffer by the name of Roger Ailes came up with "A Plan for Putting the GOP on TV News," which would eventually become Fox "News", while a separate if related scheme by a future Supreme Court Justice that became known as the "Powell Memo", helped to restructure the federal judiciary and paved the way for the corporate takeover of our electoral and political system. "It describes exactly what has happened for the last forty, forty-five years," Schwarz notes. "They laid out a plan and they executed it, and it worked."

And now, we live in a world where only Republicans allowed to be appointed to investigate Presidents, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, and only Republicans have ever been appointed as FBI Directors, even by Democratic Presidents. And, despite that, we now hear the ever-increasing drumbeat charging that Mueller's investigation is a "partisan Democratic witch hunt", leaving Dems fighting among themselves as to whether they should push for impeachment, and the media pulling punches when reporting on GOP Administrations.

"If Hillary Clinton were President and had done the things that Donald Trump has done," Schwarz argues, "everyone knows she would have already been impeached 97 times."

Finally, we close today with some related listener e-mail, a few more thoughts on the Powell Memo, and a few words of thanks to those of you who have stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate to help us try and continue BradCasting into the new year...

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: BuzzFeed News Journalist, 'FOIA Terrorist' Jason Leopold; Also: Trump says he was bluffing about audio tapes...but was he?...
By Brad Friedman on 6/22/2017 6:09pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Republicans in the U.S. Senate finally released a draft of their secret plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or 'ObamaCare', and the Dept. of Defense finally releases a redacted version of a damage assessment from 2011, examining the fallout to national security from the Bradley/Chelsea Manning leaks of 2010. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: The secret working group of white, male Republicans in the Senate finally revealed their new scheme, dubbed the "Better Care Reconciliation Act", to rewrite 1/5th of the U.S. economy by replacing ObamaCare with what Donald Trump has promised would be a healthcare plan "with heart" that was less "mean" than the version he celebrated after its narrow passage by Republicans in the U.S. House several weeks ago.

The release of the new Senate plan did not go well. Democrats, independents, and healthcare advocates alike --- not to mention elderly protesters in wheelchairs dragged away from outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell --- slammed the legislation for its massive tax cuts to the wealthy in exchange for deeply cruel cuts to federal Medicaid funding, and the promise of stingier premium subsidies for less generous health care policies.

A number of Republicans in the Senate also currently oppose the plan as written, because it doesn't repeal ObamaCare enough, but we'll see if they change their tune before the bill comes up for a vote next week, as promised by McConnell, before Congress leaves for the July 4th recess. The GOP can only afford to lose the support of two Republicans among their 52-seat caucus.

Then, we're joined by BuzzFeed News journalist and "FOIA terrorist" JASON LEOPOLD, to discuss the newly unearthed Dept. of Defense damage assessment of the hundreds of thousands of documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, as well as diplomatic cables, leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010.

During her trial, Government officials charged that the disclosures caused massive damage to national security and endangered counts lives of both U.S. personnel and our allies, but is that what the DoD's own secret 2011 assessment --- finally released this week in heavily redacted form in response to Leopold's Freedom of Information Act request --- actually found? We discuss that and the "passionate responses" he has received since publishing the assessment.

We also discuss the new White House ban on cameras during press briefings and how the Trump Administration compares to previous administrations on matters of government secrecy and document classification.

"In the overall picture, you have an administration that operates under intense secrecy that wants to limit access --- 'access' being the key word there --- that journalists depend upon. Access is really important, and it's really important to be able to confront government officials," Leopold tells me, while placing the news about the ban in context with the Trump Administration's secrecy and on-going battle with journalists elsewhere. "This type of behavior trickles down to various levels within the federal government and, I've seen, it also goes into local and state governments, as well. This intense secrecy, where elected officials who are accountable to the people are simply not interested in speaking --- and then try and set up some new rules that basically bars the press from confronting them."

Leopold goes on to cite the increased difficulty he is beginning to have prying documents loose via FOIA requests under the Administration, while noting that "some of these agencies are having trouble trying to figure out how to respond to requests, largely because you have a President now who is tweeting, who is arguably declassifying --- instantly declassifying --- information that would otherwise remain secret."

Speaking of which, finally today, Trump tweeted that, despite his previous suggestions, he has no audio tapes of his one-on-one conversations with now-fired FBI Director James Comey. But is he telling the truth, or bluffing yet again?...

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: Author, attorney Seth Abramson | Plus: Senate GOP plans to pass 'secret' health care bill; Energy Sec. Rick Perry is still dumb; much more...
By Brad Friedman on 6/20/2017 5:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast, given the reports that Donald Trump is now personally being investigated for obstruction of justice, we unpack the chaos that may soon come about if the Deputy Attorney General is forced to recuse himself (or is fired) from overseeing the Special Counsel's probe of Team Trump. [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

But, while all the madness of the DoJ's Trump investigations are going on, Senate Republicans indicated today that they will call for a vote on their secret Obamacare replacement bill before the July 4th recess next week. They also announced they will have the votes needed for passage. If they are right, the results are likely be devastating for millions of Americans, and not only the poor. One of out three elderly Americans in nursing homes, for example, rely on Medicaid to cover the costs, and the GOP is about to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the program in exchange for massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

We discuss that and, as record heat blasts the Western US, the unbelievably stupid explanation for climate change just offered by Energy Secretary Rick Perry (it's not CO2, he says, it's "the ocean waters and this environment that we live in"!) We also offer a very quick preview of the U.S. House Special Elections being held today on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machines in BOTH Georgia and South Carolina. (We'll have full results, whatever they are reported to be, on tomorrow's show).

Then we're joined by attorney, author, columnist and UNH asst. professor SETH ABRAMSON to step through his recent 50 tweet(!) tweetstorm detailing the 'bedlam' that is likely to ensue when and if (he insists "when") Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein is forced to recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Team Trump and, reportedly, obstruction of justice by the President himself in his firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The chain of events that could come about as the result of Rosenstein's recusal, as Abramson details on the show today, are amazing and could lead to a very real Constitutional Crisis and even completely separate obstruction of justice charges against Trump based on an entirely different investigation related to his February mass firing of all of the US Attorneys.

Lots of somewhat jaw-dropping 'bedlam' unpacked and explained and to be absorbed in detail on this front on today's show, including whether or not Rosenstein himself could come under investigation; who the next officials in line are to take his place (first, a friend of Ted Cruz' named Rachel Brand, then a man named Dana Boente) and what their conflicts are; how Trump could personally come to appoint the person overseeing the Special Counsel's investigation after we go through Brand and Boente; and why, if sitting Presidents cannot be indicted, as many argue, Mueller would be carrying out a criminal obstruction of justice investigation of Trump in the first place.

"Honestly, If I were to lay out the full complexity of the situation right now at the DoJ, which goes well beyond the question of Rachel Brand possibly becoming the Acting AG in the very near term, it would take --- and I am not exaggerating --- probably about 500 tweets," Abramson tells me. "We are in so many unprecedented situations and sub-situations at the DoJ, it is bewildering even for attorneys," he says, adding later: "This is the most complex and public litigation of probably the last 100 years in American political history."

Finally today, another heartbreaking story of yet another immigrant victim of Trump's, now facing deportation and separation from his family despite spending months in the clean-up efforts at Ground Zero after 9/11...

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Guest: Journalist David Dayen | Also: How to win young voters and the House Democratic caucus rift over impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2017 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the latest testimony you probably already know about, and the Republican/Trump schemes on banking regulations, infrastructure and healthcare that aren't receiving nearly as much media attention. [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in case you hadn't heard, testified before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee in open session on Tuesday, and pushed back strongly against what he described as the "secret innuendo" to smear him with the "appalling and detestable lie" that he colluded with Russia on behalf of Team Trump in any way. He said he did not violate his official recusal from the FBI's Trump/Russia investigation when he recommended that the President fire FBI Director James Comey, but then went on to refuse to answer a number of questions concerning his conversations with Trump, despite the fact that Trump has not invoked Executive Privilege for the conversations in question.

There were a number of heated exchanges with Democratic Senators on the Committee, including with one who accused Sessions of "obstructing" the Congressional investigation with his refusal to answer questions or provide a valid legal reason as to why. He also says that he is not aware whether there is a White House taping system that may have recorded Trump's one-on-one conversations with Comey, and that he has received no briefings as Attorney General on the allegations that Russian intelligence used cyberattacks to try and interfere in the 2016 elections.

We cover those hearings today, just completed before air time, before turning to a number of matters that have received far less attention by the media, with our guest DAVID DAYEN, author and prolific financial journalist for The Nation, New Republic, the Fiscal Times, The Intercept and elsewhere.

Among the topics we discuss: The stunning results of last week's UK elections and what it means for the UK, the US, and a what it may portend for a more progressive future for young voters in both countries ("The lesson is that you run on things that people can tangibly experience," says Dayen); The CHOICE Act ("A big ball of deregulation") passed by Republicans in the House last week to gut the modest banking regulations enacted in response to the 2007 global economic collapse (can it possibly pass in the Senate? And does the White House even want it to, given that they are already rolling back those same regulations on their own?); Trump's new scheme to invest in infrastructure, and how it's actually a very thinly veiled plan to privatize public assets, like the federal Air Traffic Control system ("Trump's plans for infrastructure are indistinguishable with privatization").

And finally today, more infighting among Democrats in Congress, as some members are the caucus move forward with a plan to impeach Donald Trump, as Dem leadership pushes back to kill, or at least slow down the process...

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And other things you've been distracted from by the Trump Circus...
By Brad Friedman on 6/9/2017 6:39pm PT  

We'll not be distracted by the Trump Circus (well, mostly), despite what he said in the Rose Garden and on Twitter today! On today's BradCast, just a little bit of Trump, but a whole lot of failed 'conservatism' from the American Heartland to Great Britain. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Thursday's elections in the UK resulted in disaster for Prime Minister Theresa May. Her Conservative Party took an absolute drubbing as young voters turned out to reject the conservative austerity agenda by casting a for change with the Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn.

Back here in the U.S., hard evidence of the utter failure of "conservative" policies is very much on display if you bother (or know where) to look. Republican-run states like Kansas and Oklahoma are facing desperate budget shortfalls following years of tax cuts that neither boosted the economy nor increased government revenues, as promised. Cuts to essential services like health care and public education have been implemented in hopes of making up for failed GOP economics. Yes, the young, the sick, the poor and the elderly pay the price in the bargain, as usual.

But voters last November and legislators this week in Kansas, at least, are striking back at Gov. Sam Brownback by reversing his failed GOP austerity policies. Given what school kids in Oklahoma are now facing after years of budget shortfalls due to tax cuts and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry by the state's GOP legislature and aptly-named Governor Mary Fallin, voters in the Sooner State will --- hopefully sooner rather than later --- reject similarly failed hard-right policies and elected officials just as Kansas has finally begun to do.

Later this month, at least in one part of Georgia, voters may also send a similar message in the upcoming U.S. House Special Election in a very "red" district, where the young, first-time Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is now said to be leading by 7 points, at least in one new poll, over Karen Handel, his "conservative" GOP establishment opponent. (She made the case against "conservatism" very nicely this week, when she said, during a debate, that she does "not believe in a livable wage", citing that as "the fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative".)

Meanwhile, millionaire Greg Gianforte, the Trump "conservative" who managed to eke out a win in the U.S. House special election in Montana last week after body slamming a reporter the night before the election, will now plead guilty to misdemeanor assault in the matter after buying his way out of a civil suit.

Back at the D.C. White House Circus today, the day after his fired FBI Director James Comey's sworn testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Donald Trump accused him of lying and suggested again that the White House may have tapes to prove it. The House and Senate Intelligence Committees have finally asked for copies of those tapes...if they exist. And, as you were distracted, Republicans in the House were quietly passing a bill to roll back the Dodd-Frank big banking reforms enacted after the 2007 global economic collapse and, in the Senate, quietly paving the way to repeal Obamacare, no matter how many millions of Americans will lose their healthcare in the bargain.

Finally, with more news of failed "conservative" policies in both practice and at the polling place, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report, before we close with yet another U.S. Supreme Court rejection this past week of a massive racial gerrymandering scam in yet another "red" state...

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By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2017 5:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's great to be back live at our flagship Los Angeles affiliate station, KPFK on the Pacifica Radio Network in Los Angeles after their recent fund drive. So we throw open the phones to listeners in celebration after several insanely busy news weeks! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first, former FBI Director James Comey released his prepared statement [PDF] in advance of his much-anticipated testimony on Thursday before the U.S. Senate Intelligence committee. In the remarks, Comey details a number of his one-on-one meetings with and phone calls from Donald Trump, including the infamous "loyalty dinner" at the White House in late January and the similarly-infamous early-February meeting in the Oval Office, the day after National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign, where Comey charges that he was asked by the President to end the FBI's investigation of Flynn.

We review the details of that prepared testimony, including Comey's confirmation that he did, in fact, indicate to Trump on three different occasions that he was not personally being investigated by the Bureau at the time. Trump's personal attorney cites that testimony to claim the President is "completely and totally vindicated" by it. Others, however, regard the testimony as "explosive" and as confirmation that Trump attempted to obstruct justice.

Also today, more on the leaked NSA analysis charging that Russian intelligence attempted to access the computers of election officials around the country after successfully sending spear-phishing emails to employees at a private voter registration firm. That rather rudimentary hacking effort just before last year's election, no matter who did it (as explained in much more detail on yesterday's show), may have allowed access for the intruders to the computers that program voting machines, results tabulators and voter registration systems around the country. Also, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's offers a response to the arrest of the alleged leaker, Reality Leigh Winner, and the charges filed against her under the 1917 Espionage Act.

Then, as just-retired Dir. of National Intelligence James Clapper charges "Watergate pales...compared to what we're confronting now," we take calls on all of the above and whether listeners believe Democrats should begin impeachment proceedings against Trump (as The Nation's John Nichols argued earlier this week on the show) or at least promise such proceedings if they are elected to the majority in Congress in 2018. We received some rather surprising answers to that question from callers, as well as in regard to the charges filed against Winner!

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report on the swift and global fallout following Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the historic Paris Climate Agreement...

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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!)

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By Ernest A. Canning on 5/22/2017 9:35am PT  

Faced with his own inept inability to control the antics of his American prisoners, the only defense for bumbling Luftwaffe POW camp guard Sergeant Schultz was to pretend he had no knowledge of events. Confronted with what he saw and was told in this classic Hogan's Heroes clip, Schultz proclaims: "I see nothing! I was not here! I did not even get up this morning!"

Last Thursday, we witnessed a version of the Sergeant Schultz defense. But it wasn't for laughs. It came from a source said to be "close to the [Trump] administration". According to an NBC News report (later echoed by a number of other outlets), the source claimed that "Vice President Mike Pence has been kept in the dark about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn's alleged wrongdoing"...

Earlier this year, Pence said he was not made aware of Flynn's discussions with Russian officials until 15 days after Trump and the White House were notified.

The source close to the administration, who requested anonymity as the White House denies the story, is now saying that Pence and his team were not made aware of any investigation relating to Flynn's work as a foreign agent for Turkey.

"It's also a fact that if [Flynn] told [Trump Transition attorney, now White House Chief Counsel, Don] McGahn that during the transition, it's also a fact that not only was Pence not made aware of that, no one around Pence was as well," the source said. "And that's an egregious error — and it has to be intentional. It's either malpractice or intentional, and either are unacceptable."

The source's claims are offered despite the fact that Flynn himself also served as one of Pence's vice-chairs on the Presidential transition.

The NBC report offers a plausible sounding explanation for Pence's seeming ability to be everywhere, yet know absolutely nothing about what happened, particularly given the number of occasions where Trump has swiftly thrown those defending his actions under the bus: e.g., when, one day after Pence said the President had simply complied with Assistant Attorney General Rob Rosenstein's "recommendation" when he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Trump acknowledged he'd made the decision to fire Comey before Rosenstein wrote the memo.

But there are a multitude of reasons why the "I know nothing!" defense doesn't really wash, particularly given Pence's penchant to quietly lie with a straight face, even when directly confronted by contradictory information and instances in which Pence has denied all knowledge of otherwise broadly publicized information...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




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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'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...

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

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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...

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

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