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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, July 20, 2019
Philly Election Advocates Win Review of Wildly Vulnerable New E-Vote Systems: 'BradCast' 7/19/19
Guest: Election, cybersecurity expert Kevin Skoglund on jaw-dropping Philly failure; More...
Gutting the Government: 'BradCast' 7/18/19
Admin cutting nuclear safety checks, killing scientific analyses, hollowing agencies from Int. to USDA; Also: Feds end Trump hush-money conspiracy probe, release damning docs...
'Green News Report' 7/18/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Heat wave broils most of U.S.; 'Off-the-charts' heat still to come; U.S. land burned by wildfires doubled in past 30 years; PLUS: Trump Admin moves to end local input on pollution limits...
Previous GNRs: 7/16/19 - 7/11/19 - Archives...
Justice Stevens RIP & Could That 'Ridic-ulous' Case Kill the ACA?: 'BradCast' 7/17/19
Guest: Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser on the GOP's Obamacare legal challenge and the passing of the 'last great conservative Justice'...
'Mass Confusion and Chaos': New Trump Rule Undermines Healthcare for Millions: 'BradCast 7/16/19
Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein: Also: House votes to condemn Trump 'racism'; MORE...
'Green News Report' 7/16/19
NOLA dodges bullet, but Barry's impacts are not over; US sees wettest 12-month period on record -- again; PLUS: NYC blackout exposes infrastructure vulnerabilities...
The Weekend Disasters That DIDN'T Happen (and Some That Did): 'BradCast' 7/15/19
Guest: KPFK News Dir. Ernesto Arce; Barry misses NOLA; L.A. immigrants take on Trump raids together; Callers!...
Sunday Underage Toons
PDiddie's weekly toons never get old...though they do tend to get just about as dark as our nation these days...
'When Harry Met Barry':
'BradCast' 7/12/19
Guest-host Nicole Sandler with actor/filmmaker Harry Shearer on NOLA disasters past (Katrina), present (Barry), future; WH journo Brian Karem on Rose Garden scuffle...
'Green News Report' 7/11/19
Barry may test NOLA levees; FEMA understaffed as storm season begins; Climate activist Steyer running for Prez; PLUS: World's most powerful oil cartel afraid of little girl...
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: Election tech and cybersecurity expert Kevin Skoglund; Also: Deadly heat wave continues; Who to believe in the US/Iran showdown?...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2019 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some potentially good news for Philadelphia voters (and, thus, voters across the entire country), after a citizen led effort has resulted in the state of Pennsylvania re-examining its certification of a shockingly vulnerable --- and wholly unverifiable --- new touchscreen voting system selected by the city earlier this year (under questionable circumstances) for use in upcoming elections. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up, before we get to our guest today and the astonishing election integrity nightmare against which he is working with a coaltion on the ground in Philly to try and save democracy there, a few quick news items to start the show. Those include the now-deadly, climate change-fueled heat wave bearing down on dozens of states and millions of Americans and the latest on the dangerously intensifying disputes in the Persian Gulf --- thanks to Trump pulling out of the landmark 2015 anti-nuclear deal.

Then, last May, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would mandate HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter in the country, to help hedge against the possibility --- some may say likelihood --- of manipulated or erroneous elections results, and to help assure that results are publicly verifiable after elections. His bill, the Protect America's Voting and Elections (or PAVE) Act of 2019 now languishes in the Senate, despite passage of a bill in the House that also mandates HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all, thanks to Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's vow to disallow a vote on any election-related bills that might make our democracy more secure and overseeable in advance of the 2020 Presidential elections.

The White House has been similarly disinterested in improving election security and oversight, though Trump-appointed Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, the nation's "top spy" announced a new initiative today said to help the Intelligence Community coordinate their response to potential election manipulation, at least from foreign threats. Domestic threats, including from election insiders --- such as contractors from the private vendors who run much of America's elections, as well as simple programming errors or other manipulation by elections officials --- remain both as serious and much more difficult to guard against. Election protection ultimately comes down to public oversight, at the local level, of verified election results.

To that end, an Election Integrity coalition in Philadelphia this week has successfully petitioned the state of Pennsylvania to reexamine the Commonwealth's previous certification of a wildly dangerous and vulnerable new computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) made by the nation's largest (and, arguably, most failed) private vendor, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S). The company's new ExpressVote XL is a 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMD system recently contracted for use by the Philadelphia Elections Board for use in upcoming elections, beginning with municipal elections this November and the Presidential contest next year.

We're joined today by KEVIN SKOGLUND, election integrity expert and Chief Technologist for the non-partisan Citizens for Better Elections, which, along with others in the Protect Our Vote Philly coalition petitioned the state for a re-examination of the ExpressVote XL. The costly voting and tabulation system --- one must be purchased for each voter voting at the same time in every precinct --- is described as a "universal" or "all-in-one" system, because one computer in the system is used to mark and print a voters ballot, and a second computer in the same system is then used to optically-scan and tabulate that ballot.

The system, chosen under a mysteriously truncated process by the Philadelphia Commissioners earlier this year --- "without any public or expert input" and with "no criteria for things like security, and resilience, and accessibility" as Skoglund tells me --- also violates state election code in numerous ways, as detailed in the citizen groups' petition to the state filed on Tuesday. Most alarmingly, however --- especially given the importance of Philly's one million votes to be cast in the crucial Keystone State during next year's Presidential election --- is a remarkable security design flaw in the ES&S ExpressVote XL.

In short (Skoglund offers more details on the show), the system allows the Ballot Marking Device's printer to change votes on the computer-printed ballot summary card before it is tallied but after the voter has already been given the opportunity to approve what was initially printed on the ballot summary card by the computer! In other words, of all of the terrible, 100% unverifiable BMD voting systems that Pennsylvania's Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia could have chosen, its City Commission chose the absolute most dangerous and unverifiable one.

"After this machine was certified in Pennsylvania, security researchers determined that there was a big flaw in these machines. That flaw is that they have a single paper path. It takes the blank piece of paper, it sends it to a printer, you make your selections on the screen, it prints those on the piece of paper, puts them back in front of the voter so that the voter can look at them and say whether or not they're happy with those selections. And once the voter says 'Yes, this is the ballot that I intend to cast, I am happy with these selections' and they press the button on the machine, it sends that card back through the same printer again before it goes to to the tabulator," Skoglund explains. "That means the machine has the opportunity to mark on that ballot --- potentially changing votes on it, invalidating votes on it, adding votes to it, basically changing what the voter cast." And, of course, the voter would never know.

While recent studies have found that most voters do not even bother to verify computer-marked paper ballots, and that of those who do, many do not notice if the computer has changed their selections, "The voter can do everything that's asked of them, do everything right, they can verify that ballot, and it still might not end up being the vote that gets cast. This is a violation of a fundamental principle of being able to audit these paper ballots. It's the whole reason we're going to paper ballots, to have good evidence of what the voter intended."

Skoglund explains, however, that it's not just Philadelphia preparing to use these systems in 2020. Other counties in PA are considering them as well, even though they are at least twice the price of a paper ballot system. Similarly states such as New Jersey and Delaware are moving to these same, horrible, unsecure systems. Elsewhere, jurisdictions from Georgia to Ohio to Kansas to Texas to Los Angeles are all preparing to move to only slightly less vulnerable (if equally unverifiable) BMD systems for 2020. That, instead of simpler, cheaper and actually verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems.

All of that is just part of what we discuss with Skoglund today that will likely leave your jaw hanging open as you wonder what the hell these people are thinking, and why it is that McConnell has disallowed Wyden's PAVE Act --- requiring HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all --- from becoming the law of the land long ago...

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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Court blocks Trump 'national emergency'; Congress sues for Trump taxes; FL Repubs gut landmark voting reform; Carter says Trump 'illegitimate'; 2020 dirty tricks now underway; Dems talk climate at first debate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/2/2019 6:30pm PT  

It's been a rough week in the federal courts for Donald Trump. Even the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court failed to grant at least one victory to the Administration in its loss last week over the fight to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. That loss, where Trump clearly expected a win from his cooked High Court, has resulted in the admission of another humiliating defeat for Republicans, but a huge victory for those of us who still support the idea of democracy...as fragile as it remains in the U.S. on the eve of our Independence Day holiday in 2019. There were other encouraging signs of hope from our courts this week as well, though there remains plenty to be concerned about as we head toward the crucial 2020 elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered, in addition to the breaking Census news, on today's BradCast...

  • Trump may be getting a few tanks for his corrupt 4th of July celebration at the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday, though they won't be rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue. Where they will be, according to some poor writing from CNN, is another matter. ("Trump later confirmed tanks would be present during remarks in the Oval Office.");
  • Heat records are shattering in the U.S. and around the world, resulting in mussels cooking in their own shells in normally cool Northern California and highways dangerously cracking and buckling in South Dakota. What happened in Mexico and Europe, however, we hold until today's Green News Report at the end of the program;
  • But, back to the courts, as the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the Administration for failing to turn over six years of Donald Trump's tax returns as required by federal law, in a case that Trump seems unlikely to win. A long legal fight, however, may help him to delay the inevitable, unless he is able to receive a helping hand to undermine the rule of law from his friends at the stolen and illegitimate SCOTUS;
  • But the lower courts, so far, have provided little help to Trump. Late last Friday, with surprisingly little notice, albeit in the middle of a ton of other news, a federal judge in California blocked Trump's phony "national emergency" declaration meant to steal billions of dollars from the military to build portions of his long-promised Southern border wall (which apparently Mexico is still not paying for.) The same judge in two different challenges to Trump's blatant attempted theft, ruled that Trump's use of military funds for this purpose was "unlawful" and in violation of Congress' Constitutionally-mandated control of federal purse-strings. The Administration, however, is expected to appeal both rulings;
  • Voters in Florida, in the meantime, will have to hope for good news from the courts in the days ahead after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis --- who was reportedly elected by less than one half of one percent of the vote last November --- quietly signed a controversial new law late on a Friday, without ceremony, the day before his deadline to sign it, which guts the state's reform of a 150-year old racist voting restriction. Despite passage of state Constitutional Amendment 4 last November --- by an astonishing nearly 65% of the electorate --- the new bill was passed along partisan lines in the GOP legislature to restore a restriction on the right of many former felons to vote. The new law, which went into effect Monday in the Sunshine State, requires former felons to pay off all court fines and fees before being allowed to vote, in contravention of the statewide ballot initiative which took effect on January 1 with no such restrictions. DeSantis had specifically pushed the GOP-controlled legislature to pass the bill, which will block many of the 1.5 million former felons --- including 1 out of 5 voting age African-Americans in the state --- from seeing their lifetime ban on the right to vote lifted. Voting rights advocates accurately describe the measure as an unconstitutional "poll tax" and have already filed suit to block it. The "conservatives" in the state will now have to spend millions in order to defend their new, unpopular law;
  • That's just one of the measures the GOP is beginning to take in order to boost their odds in 2020, as former President Jimmy Carter noted late last week that he doesn't believe Donald Trump is a legitimate President. Speaking Friday at a human rights forum hosted by the Carter Center --- which has served as a monitor of elections in third-world countries for decades --- the former President charged: "There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the elections and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016. ... He lost the election and he was put into office because the Russians interfered on his behalf." He said "yes", when asked by the forum's moderator if he believe Trump was an "illegitimate" President. Carter may be right or wrong. Shamefully, nobody knows for certain, since the public was never allowed to examine the ballots or the voting and tabulation systems following the 2016 Presidential election. That lack of public oversight, as we have long argued, continues to erode confidence in the legitimacy of American democracy. New, 100% unverifiable voting systems being put in place in advance of the 2020 race, unfortunately, (in states like Georgia and cities like Philadelphia and counties like Los Angeles) are likely to make that problem even worse;
  • But, speaking of how bad the 2020 cycle could be, the Trump Campaign has already begun their dirty tricks, according to a report in the New York Times. One of its "rising star" digital content producers has created a phony Joe Biden campaign website, meant to look like Biden's official campaign site, in order to smear the former Vice President. Neither the Trump campaign nor its staffer, Patrick Mauldin, who admits to having created the site, is noted on the page as being behind it. The fake campaign site, according to the paper, has received more visits than Biden's official website, and Mauldin has also "anomalously" created pages meant to undermine other current 2020 Democratic front-runners such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Do Dems have any plans on how to deal with this sort of thing in 2020? Right now, it appears that they do not. Unless Dems pull together somehow --- even across another rough and tumble nominating process --- a repeat of the 2016 disaster should not be a surprise to anyone;
  • Finally, speaking of 2020, Desi Doyen joins us for our Green News Report special coverage of last week's first Democratic Presidential Debate in Miami, where the planet's worsening climate crisis finally received at least a little bit of airtime from many of the Presidential hopefuls across the span of the much-watched two-night event...

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

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Guest: Journalist Steven Rosenfeld; Also: Trump threatens Iran, they laugh; Former Fox reporter rips channel's 'partisan misinformation'; Warren releases election plan for hand-marked paper ballots...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2019 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Are Democrats finally beginning to reconsider their incredibly ill-considered mandate to require remote voting for their 2020 Presidential caucuses via phone or Internet voting schemes? Our guest today says they may just be doing so! If so, that would be very good news and not a moment too soon! [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, speaking of "ill-considered", in an echo of his earlier posturing against North Korea, Donald Trump issued new militaristic threats and slapped new sanctions on Iran, including against its Supreme Leader, President, Foreign Minister and even the Islamic Nation's lead nuclear negotiator. The result is what Iranian officials describe as the "permanent closure" of diplomacy between the two countries. The new sanctions also resulted in the Iranian President mocking the measures as "outrageous and idiotic", "hilarious", "stupid and ugly", while charging the White House is suffering from a "mental illness".

Trump's new punitive measures come in response to Iran shooting down a U.S. drone, which they say entered its air space last week. The U.S. denies the charge, insisting that its spy plane was in international airspace over the Straight of Hormuz. And all of it comes in the wake of Trump pulling the U.S. unilaterally out of the 2015 treaty between seven world powers that prevented Iran from enriching enough uranium to create a nuclear weapon.

But now, as the Administration penalizes Iranian leaders --- who, by all accounts, have fully complied with the strict terms of the landmark accord struck under Barack Obama's Administration --- Trump and his team can't seem to understand why Iran is not interested in negotiating with them. They have, however, threatened Iran if they renege on the terms of the deal that Trump pulled out of, as Iran has now announced they intend to do. Of course, the possibility of, once again, touching off WWIII comes with Trump's threat today of "great and overwhelming force" and "obliteration" of Iran, just days after he reportedly cancelled a planned attack against them at the last minute last week.

All of which underscores the necessity of removing this dangerous menace from the White House, whether by impeachment or at the ballot box next year. Not that viewers of Fox "News", of course, have any idea of the facts behind these latest incidents, which all stem from Trump pulling out of the very good landmark agreement with Iran. In fact, even one of Fox' most beloved former reporters, "Campaign Carl" Cameron has now come out against the fake news channel's "partisan misinformation" in a video promoting his new news venture, Front Page Live, launched with progressives such as Joe Romm of Climate Progress.

As to removing the buffoonish, inept, unfit, dishonest Trump at the ballot box, that may not be as simple as it should be for Democrats, given both the proliferation of rightwing misinformation at Fox and other rightwing fake news outlets (such as the NY Post which removed its story on well-known magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll's new allegations that Trump raped her in a department store dressing some years ago) and the extraordinary vulnerability of our nation's voting, registration, and tabulation systems. To that end, 2020 Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren introduced a plan for election reform today which calls for, among other things, a mandate to replace the nation's easily-manipulated, oft-failed computerized voting systems with ones that allow every American to cast their vote by the safest, most verifiable method possible: HAND-MARKED paper ballots. Her measure is not unlike some of the provisions in HR-1 as passed by Democrats in the House and the PAVE Act, introduced in upper chamber by Sen. Ron Wyden, where it remains, along with all such election security bills, blocked by Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell.

But, where Democrats --- some of them anyway --- are coming around to the understanding that every voter in America must be allowed to cast their vote on a hand-marked paper ballot, the Democratic National Committee seems less than clear on the need for verifiable, publicly-overseeable election results. To that end, as we warned on the program some months ago, the DNC, following the 2016 election disaster, issued a mandate for all state Dem parties which choose to hold Presidential caucuses in 2020, rather than statewide primaries, to include some form of "remote voting" for party members who cannot attend in person.

That Democratic Party mandate, as our guest today Voting Booth's STEVEN ROSENFELD reported when we spoke with him back in March, has resulted in party officials in early caucus states such as Iowa and Nevada, scrambling to find private vendors willing to provide "remote voting" services that employee phone or Internet voting schemes. Today, Rosenfeld reports on what we'll call a moderately encouraging follow-up, finding that DNC officials may now be reconsidering that, frankly, insane mandate for unverifiable off-site voting systems.

"The thing about caucuses --- these are not government-run elections," Rosenfeld explains. "So this is really, really critical, because this means that all of the cybersecurity efforts --- of which there have been tremendous efforts made since 2016 to deal with trying to tighten systems --- those have all been in government election systems. These [caucuses] are private elections. So what the state parties will do in the caucus states is they have to rent a voting system. These do not have to be certified voting systems." That, of course, is an invitation to even less secure systems than those which already plague American elections, not to mention that cybersecurity experts consider Internet Voting schemes to be the most vulnerable of all such systems.

"So they're talking to different vendors who run these different systems. It's either going to be like using a telephone, to punch a button in to choose a candidate, or using an app, or using some kind of webpage." Rosenfeld, whose recent reporting on this includes discussion with the co-chair of the DNC's Rules & Bylaws Committee, says DNC officials plan to review state party plans this week, but may, in fact, not approve those plans after all.

Rosenfeld envisions a situation where, "in the first [Iowa] and third [Nevada] contests, the Democrats have a complete mess and Trump runs with it and yells and screams about 'stolen elections' all the way into the fall. The whole thing is just madness on top of madness."

Let's hope wiser heads prevail at the DNC, though I'm not holding my breath.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with Vice President Mike Pence's embarrassing weekend appearance on CNN, in which he was unwilling to acknowledge his own administration's scientific warnings about the national security threat posed by our worsening climate emergency. Also on today's GNR, the Trump USDA is burying scientific reports on climate change, a deadly heat wave and acute water shortages are ravaging India, and --- with some good news --- G.E. has announced plans to shut down a natural gas power plant in California twenty years earlier than planned because renewable energy options are now both cheaper and cleaner!...

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: Sestak jumps in; SCOTUS says trademark law is 'FUCT'; Pence defends squalid conditions for detained children; Even NC knows hand-marked paper ballots are needed, so why doesn't L.A. County?; Callers ring in on the Dem 'horse race' before this week's two-night Dem debate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2019 6:29pm PT  

We've largely stayed away from the "horse race" on the Democratic side of the 2020 Presidential race to date, preferring, as we're wont, to focus on more immediate issues, as well as the "track conditions" on which the horses are set to run next year. But on today's BradCast, we finally open the phones to turn to the horse race a bit, in advance of this week's first 2020 Presidential debates.

But first, a few news items of note. Among the stories covered today before we turn to the phones....

  • Were you thinking that 23 or 24 candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination just wasn't enough? Were you hoping one more white male from a swing-state might enter the race? Well, retired three-star Navy Vice Admiral, former Pennsylvania Congressman and failed U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak may be the man for you!;
  • In U.S. Supreme Court news, the Justices released an opinion today finding that the decades-old federal statute preventing the issue of trademarks to brands determined to have "scandalous" or "immoral" names is, in fact, an unconstitutional violation of the Free Speech clause. That will be good news to lifestyle brand FUCT which had been denied a trademark registration for years. In her opinion for the majority, Justice Elana Kagan also may have offered a preview, according to Mark Joseph Stern, of, at least, her opinion on the Court's upcoming crucial ruling on partisan gerrymandering, as she noted that free speech cannot be denied on the basis of viewpoints or ideas conveyed. The challengers in the two partisan gerrymandering cases pending before the Court --- with a decision due any day now --- are arguing that state political opponents are seeing their voting power diluted by the party in power on the basis of their political viewpoints when it comes to the partisan gerrymandering of maps for the U.S. House and state legislatures;
  • In a follow-up to our Friday program's segment focused on horrific conditions for migrant children detainees on the border, Vice President Mike Pence was on CNN Sunday, working very hard to filibuster and otherwise avoid Jake Tapper's direct questions about the Administration's argument --- offered last week in federal appeals court --- that denying soap and toothbrushes to children forced to sleep on freezing concrete under a single foil blanket in overcrowded facilities somehow qualifies as "safe and sanitary" conditions for those children, as required by federal courts. Late today, some good news on that front, as nearly 300 children at a "squalid" Texas facility --- featuring lice, the flu, kids who hadn't showered in weeks, and detained children asked to take care of infants and toddlers --- have now been transferred out of at least that horrific facility...at least for now;
  • Then, with one failure after another after another in North Carolina's elections in recent months and years, even the former counsel for the North Carolina state Board of Elections is now calling for HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter. So why isn't the state of Georgia? Why isn't the city of Philadelphia in the key swing-state of PA? Why is the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, now moving from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in advance of the 2020 Primaries? And why is Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate blocking any and all legislation that would increase election security by, among other things, mandating a hand-marked paper ballot for all voters? We discuss. Again;
  • Then, we open up the phone lines to callers, with the broad questions in advance of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential debate this week: What will our listeners be looking for in this Wednesday and Thursday's two-night face-off among 20 candidates? What is the most important factor they hope to find in a Democratic nominee? Who do they like so far and who do they not like? We offer the chance to advocate --- or bash --- any of the candidates callers may wish, along with the question: Would they vote for a nominee they may not like in the general election, rather than hand Donald Trump a nation- and planet-devastating second term? We got a lot of good callers and interesting thoughts from them along the way...

Please enjoy today's very lively show!...

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 Dep. Asst. AG Lisa Graves; Also: Acting SecDef withdraws nomination; S. America power grid collapse did not prevent voting; Swing district Rep. Porter calls for impeachment proceedings...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2019 6:24pm PT  

I've had a lot of legal questions swirling through my head in recent weeks as Trump and his minions have expanded their attempts at blocking all Congressional investigations of his many crimes. On today's BradCast, despite the unprecedented and ever-changing nature of what Trump is attempting, I get a bit of clarity from a guest with a long background in legal, legislative and executive matters regarding all three branches of the federal government. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, however, some quick news of the day. Donald Trump's Acting Sec. of Defense Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has withdrawn his formal nomination after reported difficulties obtaining a standard FBI background clearance due to a history of domestic violence with his former wife. Former Raytheon lobbyist and Trump's Sec. of the Army Mark Esper has been tapped, for now, as the new Acting SecDef.

The widespread --- and still-unexplained --- failure of the electrical grid in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay over the weekend that affected tens of millions in South America, did not, at least, prevent gubernatorial elections from continuing on Sunday in Argentina, where they wisely use HAND-MARKED paper ballots. The election was uninterrupted despite the outage, as voting was able to continue as usual, even if voters needed to rely on mobile phone flashlights in order to see their ballots while filling them out by hand. That, by way of contrast with the utter havoc and chaos that would result from a similar outage or cyber-attack on the U.S. power grid during an election next year, with dozens of states relying on computer voting systems and electronic poll books, including a number of jurisdictions such as Los Angeles County (the nation's largest), which are set to move from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential primary elections. What could possibly go wrong?

Freshman Democratic U.S. House Rep. Katie Porter announced on Monday night that, after weeks of careful consideration, she has decided to call for an official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. Her announcement is significant in that Porter narrowly won election last year in Republican-leaning Orange County, California, defeating her incumbent GOP opponent by just over three points. With more than 65 Democratic members in the House (and one Republican) now calling for impeachment proceedings, Porter is one of only two Democrats from closely divided swing districts where GOP incumbents were ousted last November to call publicly for beginning the Constitutional process of impeachment of our criminal President.

At the same time, the Trump Administration has spent months following the release of the damning, redacted Special Counsel's report from Robert Mueller [PDF], exercising all manner of legal schemes and Presidential tricks to try and obstruct the Congressional investigation of the many criminal obstruction offenses by Trump detailed in Mueller's report. The Administration, with the aid of his new Attorney General and fixer William Barr, has invoked so-called Executive Privilege over the entire report (even the already released material) in an attempt to prevent the unredacted report and its underlying evidence from being disclosed to Congress and the American public. They've also used Executive Privilege to try and block lawful Congressional subpoenas of current and former White House officials, many of whom cooperated as witnesses with the Mueller probe, in hopes of preventing them from testifying in the House or turning over subpoenaed documents. Barr's DoJ has gone so far this week as to offer a legal claim that the IRS need not turn over Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee in defiance of a decades-old statute requiring the IRS to do so. Trump's private attorneys have attempted to block Congressional subpoenas for the President's financial documents at his accounting firm Mazars and at Deutsche Bank, and, during a recent interview with ABC News, Trump said his own FBI Director was "wrong" for insisting that candidates contact the FBI if they are approached by foreign nationals with opposition research on their political opponents.

Those, of course, are just some of the ways that Trump continues to obstruct justice and defy the rule of law. But what are the chances that he will ultimately succeed in his attempts to obstruct Congress? We're joined today by LISA GRAVES, who has worked as a senior advisor in all three branches of the federal Government, to help us better understand some of the key elements of Trump's crimes and his attempts to invoke measures to block accountability for them.

Graves, the co-founder of the non-profit Documented, formerly served as Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the Dept. of Justice, General Counsel in the US Senate, and former Deputy Chief for the US Court system. On today's program, she explains the seriousness of obstruction crimes; how "Executive Privilege" has been invoked by Presidents (successfully or otherwise) in the past, and what the privilege really is and isn't (hint: it's not actually a statutorily or Constitutionally defined thing); whether it's actually possible or justifiable to prevent the disclosure of Trump's tax returns under the DoJ's new pretext; and whether she believes Trump should be impeached.

On criminal obstruction, says Graves: "The fact is that obstruction is a very serious crime. I suppose that if they really wanted to know how serious obstruction is, they could call Nixon back from the grave to ask him how serious this is."

On Barr's collusion with Trump: "It's truly a shame, quite frankly, that under the broken Senate led by Mitch McConnell, that Barr was confirmed to this role that he was most undeserving to hold. And that he now holds basically as a lapdog to this President, willing to his bidding, and to really subvert the true mission of this Justice Department."

On Trump's broad attempted use of Executive Privilege: "The idea that any President could somehow assert privilege over revealing evidence of his own potential obstruction of justice, the crime of obstruction, is simply astounding...There's simply no way that any reasonable interpretation of whatever that privilege might or might not be, would allow a President to hide from Congress --- which expressly has powers under our Constitution to impeach a President and to try a President --- to hide evidence from that Congress that has those express powers to hold a President accountable."

But, on that last point, she offers some "hesitation" thanks to "this Supreme Court which has been stacked by McConnell and the dark money which backs him." I'm also happy to hear her correctly note that "this court is not truly conservative, they are radically reactionary."

Graves also responds to my question about the recent statement from the chair of Federal Elections Commission, Ellen Weintraub, issued in response to Trump's assertion that he needn't contact the FBI if approached by a foreign national with dirt on a political opponent. Weintraub's statement clarified that "It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election." But, isn't that precisely what the Hillary Clinton Campaign (and a Republican primary campaign before it) did during the 2016 election by soliciting oppo-research on Donald Trump from former British spy Christopher Steele? I discuss that and much more with Graves today.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more details on Sunday's South American power grid failure, news of a reported U.S. cyber-offensive against the Russian power grid, bad climate change-related news for the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone", and some very good news from outgoing conservative British Prime Minister Theresa May who is vowing to commit the UK to the world's most aggressive targets to combat our climate crisis by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions while boosting the nation's economy at the very same time...

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Guest: NC elections expert Dr. William Busa ('DocDawg' of Daily Kos!); Also: Barr, Ross found in contempt by House Oversight; Big progressive wins in VA; New NATIONAL polls show Trump in trouble, Warren surging...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2019 5:10pm PT  

We've got some interesting follow-up on today's BradCast, following the disturbing story we broke on air earlier this week regarding the "master passwords" for North Carolina electronic voting systems --- and more --- found online, unprotected, and downloadable by anybody since at least early 2016, at the NC Board of Elections website. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up, some quick news updates: A second U.S. House committee has now voted to hold Donald Trump's new Attorney General and fixer William Barr in contempt. The House Oversight Committee on Tuesday voted to recommend holding both Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to turn over subpoenaed documents regarding the lies told by both Commerce and DoJ about adding a question on citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census. Ross previously claimed he was asked by DoJ to add the question to help better enforce the Voting Rights Act, but new documents from the hard drive of a recently deceased GOP gerrymandering operative reveal the real intent was to shift resources and Congressional districts to white Republican jurisdictions.

In other Constitutional Crisis news, Hope Hicks, Trump's former Communications Director and longtime aide --- before his run for office, during the campaign and transition, and while in the White House --- has reportedly agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee next week about her cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's two-year probe. Hicks was a key witness on a number of the criminal obstruction charges detailed in Mueller's report. She has agreed, however, to testify to Judiciary only behind closed doors next week, presuming the White House doesn't move to block her in some way.

In elections news, new Quinnipiac polling shows six of the current top contenders for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination --- Biden, Sanders, Harris, Warren, Buttigieg and Booker --- all handily defeating Donald Trump in a head-to-head match-up in NATIONAL polling, if the election were held today. That new poll and others out today still show Biden atop the pack in the primary contest, though slipping since he entered the race last month. Two new polls show Warren leaping into second place above Sanders since last week. We offer some thoughts and WARNINGS about all such polls today.

And then, some surprisingly good news for progressives in Virginia, where two criminal justice reformers ousted long time state prosecutors in elections on Tuesday.

Next, we're joined by Dr. WILLIAM BUSA of EQV Analytics, a Democratic campaign consulting and technology firm in North Carolina, though Busa is likely better known to many on the Internets as "DocDawg" from Daily Kos. Busa has been doing some excellent follow-up work on the startling recent disclosures by cyber risk researcher Chris Vickery, who explained on Monday's BradCast how he discovered "master passwords" for some of NC's electronic voting systems, and much more, on the state Board of Elections website last year. Hundreds of files and screenshots, he said, were all left vulnerable on the Internet, in a directory set as public, to anyone who felt like downloading them, at least since early 2016 in advance of that year's Presidential election and its stunning, razor-thin conclusion.

Busa, as a well known elections maven in NC, tells me he was contacted following Vickery's revelations this week by the SBOE's spokesperson with a vague explanation for the exposed files --- which were subsequently set to private after Vickery notified the Board about the vulnerability last year in advance of the 2018 mid-terms. But, as he documented at Daily Kos on Tuesday, the explanation by the Board's Public Information officer Pat Gannon only made the case "murkier". Gannon, according to an email he sent to Busa, claimed the files were old passwords that were no longer in use and that, in any event, they were encrypted when posted online. Busa studied the claims regarding encryption and finds them to be untrue based on evidence revealed by the unencrypted screenshot of the passwords posted by Vickery.

For his part, Vickery --- who previously told me he found evidence the passwords had been in other jurisdictions as well as the one county the state claims --- politely suggested that Gannon appears to be uninformed about the details of what was left online. "Both of these issues," Busa observes, "being told that they were encrypted when clearly they're not encrypted, being told they were posted in 2012 when pretty clearly they were posted in 2016 --- goes to the question of 'Are we being told what's going on?'"

Moreover, Busa hits on what he describes as "the most troubling part of this.". The larger question --- one that we've been trying to make clear since the night that Trump was supposedly elected: Nobody --- not the states, not Mueller, not the FBI, not the DHS --- nobody has done a forensic analysis of the computer voting and registration systems and tabulators used in 2016 to assure they were not manipulated in some way, despite the many claims made by the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Special Counsel's office that Russia attempted to interference with elections systems in as many as 21 states before the 2016 Presidential contest.

If "white-hat good guys like Vickery" were able to find these vulnerable files, surely black-hate bad guys could easily have done so as well. "If DHS didn't find those things, then DHS is not as good as Chris Vickery. And if it's not as good as Chris Vickery at finding the chinks in our armor, then it's certainly not as good as Russia's GRU is," notes Busa. So, why didn't the DHS --- which, the U.S. Government has claimed has taken unprecedented steps to work with states to help them protect our elections from vulnerabilities --- already find these files and notify the state about the serious breech long before Vickery did? Both Busa and I are still asking.

"With McConnell blocking any meaningful election cybersecurity legislation in the Senate, DHS's 'band-aid' approach to 'Well, we're going to consult with the boards of elections in the fifty states and give them some assistance, it really is just that --- a band-aid. It doesn't give me any confidence whatsoever, especially now with what we've seen from the Vickery information."

Also today, since we've been covering so much GOP corruption in NC of late, (Busa quips: "North Carolina has become such an embarrassment that South Carolina is considering changing its name to 'North Georgia'), the NC elections expert and campaign consult rings in with helpful insight on the crucial, upcoming, SCOTUS opinion expected anytime now regarding unlawful GOP partisan gerrymandering of the state's U.S. House districts ("we have very little voice in North Carolina today because of those gerrymanders"); two upcoming U.S. House Special Elections in the state (one in NC-03 to replace the late GOP Rep. Walter Jones and the other to fill the NC-09 seat, which is still vacant following last year's GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud scandal that left the state BOE unwilling to certify results last November); and an important project Busa developed last year at NCGoVote.org called "Reg Watch", to automatically notify voters if their registrations have been changed or deleted for some reason. It would be very nice to see that project scaled up to all 50 states if possible! We discuss...

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White House censors climate science; NC GOP lied to federal court about gerrymandering; FL Repubs solidify power by gutting state initiative process; Jon Stewart shames Congress for ignoring 9/11 victims...again...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2019 6:33pm PT  

We are far beyond politics and partisanship at this point. Our nation, and indeed our planet, is under threat from an entirely corrupt enterprise from top to bottom: the Republican Party. That doesn't mean that Democrats are wonderful. It means that the GOP may as well no longer exist as a political party. It is now no more than a wholly corrupt tool of corporate paymasters hoping to retain power and willing to take down an entire nation or planet with them in order to do it, if need be. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast...

  • Like China or North Korea or the old Soviet Union, the Trump Administration is finally just censoring science. The White House, according to the Washington Post, blocked a State Department intelligence analyst from delivering the written version of his opening testimony to a Congressional meeting last week after severely censoring his spoken remarks as well. Objections from several different corrupt White House agencies prevented Rod Schoonover, of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, from submitting his prepared testimony because it allegedly included just too much science from federal agencies such as NASA and NOAA, warning about the national security perils of unchecked climate change. In the oral version of his remarks, which he was allowed to deliver, he was forced to remove the words like "possibly catastrophic" from the phrase: "Absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant --- possibly catastrophic --- harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change." Our climate crisis in frightening enough. What is happening now at the very top of our federal government makes it all the more terrifying;
  • On yesterday's program, we featured my exclusive interview with cybersecurity researcher Chris Vickery, who discovered hundreds of sensitive documents available for download on the Internet at the North Carolina State Board of Election's website, including "master passwords" for voting systems used in the state. We hope to have some followup on that story in coming days, but, in the meantime, North Carolina Republicans seems to be in competition with the nearby states of Georgia and Florida when it comes to who is able to be the most corrupt and willing to blatantly game elections for partisan advantage the most.

    Setting aside Vickery's disturbing report for now, and setting aside the DHS finally beginning a forensic probe of potential corruption (or even foreign penetration) of the state's voter registration system during the November 2016 Presidential election, and setting aside the GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud scandal that derailed last November's U.S. House election in the state's 9th Congressional District, the state GOP's multiple attempts to unlawfully use both racial and partisan gerrymandering in their successful effort to prevent Democrats from winning elections at both the state legislative and U.S. House level is breathtaking.

    But it has now been revealed to be even worse than previously known, thanks to new documents found on the hard drive of the RNC's late redistricting expert which reveal the state lied to a federal court in at least one of three different lawsuits against them for unlawful gerrymanders. We try, with the help of Daily Kos' Stephen Wolf, to break down the three different gerrymandering cases (two in federal court over racial and then partisan gerrymanders of U.S. House seats, and an ongoing case in state court over the gaming of legislative districts) to help expose how breathtakingly corrupt and dishonest state Republicans have become and the lengths to which they have been willing to go in recent years to try and cling to power. That, as statewide elections have now resulted in Democratic victories for the top executive offices such as Governor and Attorney General, and a 6 to 1 advantage for Democrats on the elected state Supreme Court.

    Nonetheless, with the several illegal gerrymanders, the GOP has been able to hold on to super-majorities in both chambers of the state legislature until last November, when court-ordered fairer districts were used for the first time. But the lie that has now been exposed thanks to the dead GOPer's hard drive allowed the party to enjoy an extra year of veto-proof control and a bevy of bills and ballot measures were adopted that likely never would have been had democracy actually existed in state legislative elections;

  • Speaking of corrupt Republican state lawmakers, Florida is working hard to keep up with NC. After their legislature recently passed a measure to gut a state Constitutional amendment adopted by nearly 65% of Florida voters last year to restore voting rights to most former felons in the state after completion of their sentences, the Sunshine State's new Governor, Ron DeSantis (who reportedly won election last year by less than one half of one percent of the vote), insisted lawmakers gut the entire statewide ballot initiative process to make it nearly impossible for citizen-led initiatives to end up on the ballot at all. The new measure, as the Tampa Bay Times describes it, "will solidify Republican control in Tallahassee by eliminating one of the last threats to their power: the ballot box." They report that the legislation will "stifle the last area outside of statewide Republican control in Florida," noting "Republicans have dominated the Legislature, Cabinet and governor’s mansion for the last 20 years, and every member of the state Supreme Court has now been appointed by Republicans";
  • But where state GOP lawmakers are wholly corrupt, those at the federal level, setting the tone, are putting them to shame. We set aside today's Constitutional Crisis and Impeachment Update to bring you Jon Stewart's full testimony to a Congressional committee this afternoon, instead. Most Republican lawmakers didn't even bother to show up, despite the fact that it was a House hearing on renewing the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund which is said to be running out of money. The VCF covers health care costs of first responders such as police and firefighters who worked on and in the pile at Ground Zero on 9/11 and in the days that followed. Many of those victims have since died and are continuing to die due to long-term ailments related to breathing the air at Ground Zero. Shamefully, the GOP is, once again, fighting an extension of the program. Stewart blasts the lawmakers in moving, must-listen, sometimes tearful remarks that are alternately enraging and heartbreaking, citing "callous indifference and rank hypocrisy" of those who formerly used "Never Forget" as a political slogan supposedly in support of the same first responders who are now forced to show up on Capitol Hill to beg for healthcare as they fight for their very lives;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on one of those troubling days when the GNR, of all things, is the lightest, fluffiest segment we seem to be able to muster...

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Guest: In exclusive interview, cyber security expert Chris Vickery details his startling discovery of NC's exposed files before the 2018 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 6/10/2019 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got an exclusive interview with CHRIS VICKERY, Director of Cyber Risk Research at the cyber security firm UpGuard. Vickery revealed late last week on Twitter that he discovered files, including administrative master passwords for voting systems, at the North Carolina State Board of Elections website that were left vulnerable and available online for anyone to download, prior to the 2018 election. Today he explains the evidence that suggests these files may have been available as early as February of 2016, months before that year's controversial Presidential election. [Audio link to full show is posted at bottom of article.]

The files were found by Vickery unencrypted and with no password needed to retrieve them from the site. He tells me today that there were so many files and screenshots (see a redacted snippet from one of the password screenshots in the graphic above), that he's not even sure if they number in the hundreds or thousands.

The longtime cyber security researcher says he promptly notified state officials of the discovery last year, before the 2018 elections, and that the state, shortly thereafter, set the files in question and their directories to "private". In response to a commenter on his short Twitter thread revealing the potential security breech late last Friday, however, he notes that "someone would have had to actively choose to make the file repository available to the entire world. It is not unprotected by default."

He tells me today that he is "very concerned" about the exposure and would "like to know who the data was intended for. If you put it up somewhere, you're intending it to be accessed by somebody. So who did they aim this for? I would love to know that." Indeed, he also shared an email with me over the weekend that was posted in the same directory as the passwords screenshot, in which a State Board of Elections official notes: "The attached screen shots should show just about all of the settings you will need for contests and candidates" in the ES&S iVotronic Image Management program, part of the computer voting system which defines where candidates selected by voters are placed on the electronic ballots and optical-scan systems.

Vickery says he decided to go public with the disclosure following the Washington Post exclusive last week reporting that federal investigators at the Dept. of Homeland Security have finally agreed to work with NC on a forensic investigation of the state's voter registration computers which inexplicably failed during the 2016 Presidential Election, on Election Day, in parts of the state. That announcement via the Post comes on the heels of Robert Mueller's redacted report [PDF] (see Volume 2, page 50, "Intrusions Targeting the Administration of U.S. Elections"), in which the Special Counsel briefly details how Russian Military Intelligence operatives were able to penetrate the voter registration systems of "at least one" county in Florida. Just over a week ago, the new Republican Governor of Florida announced he was notified by the FBI that, in fact, two counties had, in fact, been penetrated via a spearphishing attack on VR Systems, the private vendor contracted to run those voter registration systems.

VR Systems also supplies similar systems in about half a dozen other U.S. states, one of them being North Carolina. But, as Vickery notes, the password files that he found exposed on the Internet last year were not for registration systems, but for the state's computer voting machines, scanners and tabulation systems made by private vendor ES&S (the nation's largest), as used across most of the state of North Carolina. And ALL of this comes after we have been trying to point out on The BradCast for the last two and a half years that nobody --- not the FBI, not DHS, not the states themselves, nor even Mueller's Special Counsel team, as he admits --- ever carried out a forensic investigation of the computer voting, registration or tabulation systems in use in any of the states in 2016, despite that election's surprise ending in which Donald Trump purportedly won by a razor thin margin.

In his first broadcast interview on these new revelations, Vickery explains how he discovered the files, how the state responded when he told them about the vulnerability last year, whether the DHS has contacted him since he revealed his findings on Friday, and how serious of a potential security breech this is, especially given the extraordinary effort that the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Mueller Report claim Russia expended in hopes of interfering in the 2016 Presidential election. "When you have computers, and software, and firmware updating passwords and modems all mixed in together, you have the capability to do a lot of crazy stuff," he says, in response to my question about whether these passwords could have been used to alter or upload false results. "It's not out of the realm of possibility, but I have no specific reason to believe that happened. But that is kind of a frightening concept to realize that all of the ingredients are there."

Disturbingly, Vickery's report is startlingly similar to one revealed last year by Kim Zetter at Politico in the state of Georgia, regarding a security researcher who found millions of voter registrations along with voting system administrative passwords online and vulnerable to download without a password, prior to the Peach State's 2016 elections.

Also today: The last many weeks of climate changed-fueled weather disasters move from the Central U.S. to the SouthEast, with a month's worth of rain falling in one day over this past weekend (yet the DNC still won't allow a 2020 Presidential candidate debate focused solely on climate change!); Donald Trump pretends that his backing off of a threat to tax Americans who purchase imported goods from Mexico is a great negotiation victory; And we take a few calls on our disturbing interview with Vickery, including from one listener who quips that NC "left the combination of the safe written on top of the door"...

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UT stuck with coal plant cleanup; UN equates anti-abortion with 'torture'; NC veto upheld; TX Guv vetoes domestic violence law; Dems to speed up contempt votes; Pelosi wants Trump 'in prison'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/6/2019 5:37pm PT  

It's an (almost) entirely Trump-free program today! You're welcome! If only he would always stay out of the country! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the many (largely) Trumpless stories on today's BradCast...

  • A 30-acre "coal-cleaning" facility has been left abandoned by its owners in Utah, with outstanding fines, unpaid taxes and a whole lotta toxic waste that tax-payers are left on the hook to clean up. Just another example of privatizing the profits and socializing the losses which the GOP has supported for years when it comes to the long-subsidized dirty fossil fuel industry;
  • The U.N.'s Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights blasts the recent spate of anti-abortion laws adopted by GOP-controlled U.S. states. She describes the epidemic as a "crisis," equating the new restrictions as akin to "torture" and "gender-based violence against women". She describes measures such as rightwing-backed, so-called "Born-Alive Abortion Survivor Protection Laws" supported by folks like Donald Trump (because Fox "News" told him to) as "an assault on truth, science and universal values and norms";
  • One such law, North Carolina's "Born-Alive Survivors Protection Act" was vetoed recently by the state's Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. The attempt to override the Governor's veto by the Republican-controlled state legislature failed on Wednesday, following the GOP's loss last November of the gerrymandered, veto-proof super-majority they've enjoyed for six years. Cooper, in his now-sustained veto message, said the bill was "needless" and would "criminalize...a practice that simply does not exist." Wisconsin's GOP-gerrymandered legislature also passed its own similar measure this week which that state's Democratic Governor has similarly vowed to veto;
  • And, in Texas, where new evidence published this week reveals that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott may have been behind a push to create a phony "non-citizen" voter roll purge, the Governor may have earned new ire from Republicans and Democrats alike on Wednesday, after vetoing a widely supported bill to protect domestic violence victims;
  • Meanwhile, in today's Constitutional Crisis and Impeachment Update, House Democrats are reportedly planning a vote next week to make it easier for Committees to bring contempt charges straight to court, without requiring a full House vote first, for Trump Administration officials who defy lawful subpoenas for documents and testimony. And, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continued to block her caucus from beginning an official impeachment inquiry against the criminal President of the United States, explaining that she'd prefer to see Trump "in prison". But nothing in the Constitution bars an impeached President from being indicted in a court of law after removal from office. In fact, it says just the opposite (see: Article I, Section 3, Clauses 6 and 7). So, Pelosi's claim only seems to muddy the waters as to what her strategy to continue investigation of the Administration --- but without an official impeachment inquiry, for now --- is actually meant to accomplish;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report detailing several new climate proposals from 2020 Democratic hopefuls, Trump's idiotic remarks regarding climate during his trip to the UK, and a disturbing new study about what will happen if the U.S. fails to meet the emissions reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Also, very quickly at the end of today's show, disturbing news on a record heat wave in India, where the mercury has topped 120 degrees Fahrenheit for a bunch of days in a row now, and a cheery warning from the U.S. Forest Service that some 1 billion acres are at risk of catastrophic wildfire this summer. (So, naturally, Trump wants to cut their fire fighting budget!)...

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Guest: DFA's Charles Chamberlain; Also: Trump does not understand climate change; Emails: TX Guv pushed for bogus 'non-citizen voter' list...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2019 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Is the dam Nancy Pelosi has erected against the tide of impeachment finally beginning to crack? Does Donald Trump have Woodsy Owl as his environmental advisor? Was the Governor of Texas behind a bogus voter purge list? [Audio link to our full show is posted below.]

First up, with Trump overseas we'd hoped to be able to ignore him as much as possible this week. But, after newly absurd comments made regarding climate change during an interview with Piers Morgan following Trump's meeting with Prince Charles on the topic, we couldn't hold our tongues

Trump made clear that he doesn't really even understand the climate crisis or how pollution from carbon emissions is endangering livability on Planet Earth. He claims the U.S. has "the cleanest climate" ever and seems to think that "clean air and clean water", as he describes it --- not understanding that carbon dioxide in excess is a dangerous pollutant --- is all that matters. (It's as if his top Environmental Advisor is Woodsy Owl, observes WaPo's Philip Bump.)

He also seems to have no clue that our air and water has gotten dirtier since he took office, and that dangerous greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise. But he is very able at newly parroting long-debunked Fox "News" talking points such as the notion that "it used to be called global warming, that wasn't working, then it was called climate change, now it's called extreme weather". Desi Doyen debunks the bunkery. (Hint: It was always called climate change --- the UN's IPCC or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was formed in 1988 --- and it was Republicans in the 2000s, during the George W. Bush Administration, who preferred that phrase over global warming which GOP wordsmith Frank Luntz found to be more "frightening" to voters!)

Then, Former Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid, who previously opposed impeachment, is now calling on Speaker Pelosi to begin an official inquiry in the U.S. House. And, on Tuesday, some thirty progressive groups who are usually allies to the Democrats published an open letter expressing "deep disappointment" in the Speaker for her blockade of impeachment proceedings against the President, citing her "refusal to use the full scope of your constitutional power to hold Trump accountable." The groups, which include CREDO, Indivisible, the Courage Campaign and Democracy for America among others, charge in their missive that "Voters gave Democrats control of the House of Representatives because they wanted aggressive oversight of the Trump administration" which requires "bold, moral leadership" they claim to be lacking. Though, they note, that Pelosi concedes "we are facing a constitutional crisis", they criticize her for failing to invoke the "remedy" handed to us by the Framers. "You have the power to ensure Congress exercises its constitutional obligation to hold this president accountable. But instead of using your power, you are giving us political excuses for why you shouldn't. Instead of leading, you and your colleagues have asked us to wait – wait for the Mueller report, wait for the unredacted Mueller report, wait for Mueller's testimony about the Mueller report, wait for more investigations, wait for bipartisan consensus, wait for impeachment to poll better, or wait for the 2020 election," the groups write in their open missive posted to WeCantWait.US.

We're joined today by CHARLES CHAMBERLAIN, Chair of progressive signatory Democracy for America, to discuss the letter and to respond to many of the reasons that Pelosi and other Democrats and strategists have cited for not taking action to begin official impeachment proceedings against this President. Is more information still needed from Mueller or his unredacted report before the House should begin? Are the multiple, ongoing investigations that Pelosi is encouraging in the House proving to be more helpful in detailing the high crimes and corruption of the Trump Administration? Should Dems wait until impeachment becomes even more popular among the public? Until more Republicans are willing to come on board? Would the effort endanger Democrats' chances of holding the House and taking back the Senate and White House in 2020? Should it be avoided because, as Pelosi claims, Trumps "wants" to be impeached? Or due to the conventional wisdom that, even if impeached, Senate Republicans would never vote to convict and remove Trump?

Chamberlain responds --- with gusto --- to all of those points and many other such excuses offered by party leadership for not (yet, anyway) beginning an official inquiry to consider Constitutional removal of this criminal President. He also discusses what you can do to help, and argues that impeachment will help, not hurt, Democratic chances in 2020. "It is our base that we need to be worried about. If Democrats don't follow through with what they were sent to do in 2018, then we have a high chance of them staying home," he tells me. "Let's be clear --- if there's one thing that helps people win politically, it's whenever when you're on offense, you're almost always winning. It's something that Republicans are experts at. It's something Donald Trump is expert at. And the more we can do it, the more likely we're going to win in 2020."

Finally today, newly published emails out of Texas reveal that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) appears to have been behind the push for a bogus list of some 100,000 "non-citizens voters" in the state which the Secretary of State used earlier this year to try and purge legal voters from the rolls and led the state's Attorney General to open criminal investigations. Thousands of voters on the list were, in fact, found to have been naturalized citizens and the list was withdrawn by court order, the Sec. of State (a former aid to and appointee of Abbott) was forced to resign, and the state is now paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements after being sued by several groups over the bogus purge list. Thanks to newly revealed details in the emails obtained and published this week by the Campaign Legal Center, it now appears that the Governor may have been behind the insidious voter suppression initiative the whole time...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Pause predicted after weeks of catastrophic climate changed-fueled storms in central U.S...
By Brad Friedman on 5/29/2019 5:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: For the first time before, during or since the completion of his two-year Special Counsel's probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election and Donald Trump's obstruction of that investigation, Robert Mueller offered a 9-minute statement at the Dept. of Justice today to announce his expected resignation and to clarify a thing or two...sort of. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Mueller made clear, as did his 448-page report [PDF], that while current Dept. of Justice guidelines prevent the indictment of a sitting President, he and his team of investigators would have cleared the President of wrong-doing if they could have. "If we had had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so," he explained, adding, "we did not, however, make a determination as to whether the President did commit a crime." Mueller noted that he was bound, from the beginning, by DoJ's guidance which finds that "the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing."

The statement, once again, both contradicts Trump's Attorney General William Barr and clearly places the matter of impeachment on Congress' doorstep. Whether Congress will take up that matter, however, still remains unknown. Following Mueller's remarks, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler offered his strongest condemnation of Trump to date, charging that "the Special Counsel has clearly demonstrated that President Trump is lying about the Special Counsel's findings, lying about the testimony of key witnesses in the Special Counsel's report and, above all, lying in saying that the Special Counsel found no obstruction and no collusion." He further said that "all options were on the table", regarding impeachment, and vowed that "no one, not even the President of the United States, is above the law."

Nonetheless, while Mueller took no questions after his statement, Nadler avoided direct answers to several questions from the press as to whether his Committee would finally begin a formal impeachment inquiry or even subpoena Mueller to testify. We share both statements in full today before we're joined for analysis and insight by award-winning opinion journalist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo. She charges that Mueller's statement, once again, highlights how Barr misrepresented the Special Counsel's efforts and findings. He "entirely contradicts what William Barr has told the American people," she says, before moving on to charge that "Democrats are dithering" in the face of clear and convincing evidence of criminal obstruction by the President of the United States.

We also discuss the recent, noteworthy commentary and actions by libertarian conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan on these matters. Amash, alone (so far) among Congressional Republicans, has offered a number of powerful, clear and to-the-point summary condemnations on Twitter of what he describes as Trump's "impeachable" behavior documented by Mueller and takes Barr to task for misrepresentations of those findings. Moreover, as evidenced by a clip from Amash's first town hall event since calling for impeachment, back home in Grand Rapids on Tuesday night, the Congressman, who was elected in the Tea Party wave election of 2010 and is an original founding member of the far-right Freedom Caucus in the House, is not backing down from his advocacy and calls for impeachment of the President.

Parton rings in with her thoughts on Amash and whether he should be considered for the job of House Manager (essentially, one of the "prosecutors") in any trial for conviction and removal of the President in the U.S. Senate, should the Democrats finally move to impeach in the House.

Also today: After several unceasing weeks of severe weather and at least 200 reported tornadoes wreaking havoc and death across more than half a dozen states, the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center predicts a few days of relative calm, finally, in the days ahead, as we head toward the weekend. Major flooding, however, is predicted to continue in many states throughout the central U.S. and, despite the months of catastrophic climate-changed fueled extreme weather, the federal government, headed by a scofflaw President and climate science denier, continues to otherwise ignore our worsening climate crisis...

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More Trump embarrassments abroad; More deadly tornado swarms; More rightwing buffoonery; More bad news from SCOTUS; Some good news for TX; And Mayor Pete doubles-down against 'draft dodger' Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 5/28/2019 6:44pm PT  

Someone needs to let the President of the United States know that Memorial Day is, at least in theory, a somber remembrance for the nation's war dead. It might have been nice if that someone had done so before Trump showed up in Japan over the weekend --- for talks with that nation's Prime Minister --- and wished U.S. troops stationed with our ally and former WWII foe a "Happy Memorial Day!" It certainly wasn't a happy one around many parts of the U.S. for a number of reasons. But, once again, we try to find the bright spots where we can.

Among the swarm of stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link posted below summary]...

  • The record swarm of tornado swarms continued on Memorial Day, with some 53 twisters touching down in eight different states on the same day. A man in Ohio was killed when a car flew into his living room and at least 130 were reportedly injured in the Buckeye State, where power was knocked out to more than 5 million residents as of Tuesday morning. "Catastrophic" destruction was seen across many states after Monday marked a record-tying 11th straight day with at least eight tornadoes in the U.S. according to NOAA. Whether media outlets connected the virtually unprecedented storms (and month of flooding in the Midwest and Central U.S. that preceded it) to our worsening climate crisis is another matter entirely;
  • Speaking of Ohio, at least before the storms, a KKK rally on Saturday brought out 9 Klansmen and between 500 and 600 counter-protesters. At least the folks in Dayton got that one right, if not some of their responses to emergency interruptions during their favorite TV programs as tornadoes swept through the state on Monday;
  • And, speaking of getting it wrong, there is the far-right evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the late, respected minister Billy Graham. Franklin, a Trump supporter who has attacked Indiana Mayor and 2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg for being both gay and a practicing Christian at the same time, used his tax-exempt religious pulpit to call for "Christian leaders" to declare a "day of prayer" next Sunday for Donald Trump, who, Franklin says, has been "attacked" by his "enemies" more than "any President in the history of this nation". President Abraham Lincoln dissents;
  • As the loony right rises, or tries to, we move out west to Fresno, California, which, as we reportedly exclusively back in 2013, single-handedly blocked an attempted statewide "recount" of Prop 37, a state ballot initiative that would have required the labeling of GMO foods. The wingnuttery in Fresno continued over the weekend, as its minor league baseball franchise, the Fresno Grizzlies, "celebrated" Memorial Day with a video tribute that featured a speech by Ronald Reagan and a montage of Americas "enemies" that included Kim Jong Un, Fidel Castro and....wait for it....New York's Democratic freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The team eventually apologized to AOC --- hours after their initial apology for the video itself --- though they never bothered to mention that, among other "enemies" shown in the 3 and a half minute video played at the ballpark, anti-fascism and anti-KKK marchers were also singled out. 'Happy' Memorial Day!;
  • In voting news over the long weekend....the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday put on hold two different earlier rulings from lower federal appeals courts finding that Republicans in both Ohio and Michigan had unconstitutionally gerrymandered their Congressional maps for the past decade. The high court's action was issued without comment as we await their pending decisions on two similar cases the Justices heard earlier this year regarding unlawful partisan gerrymanders in North Carolina and Maryland. That may be a bad omen for those two cases. But, for now, the SCOTUS order blocks the lower court orders to draw new, fair Congressional maps for 2020 in Ohio by June 14 and in Michigan (where new state legislative districts were also ordered) by August 1;
  • There was better news, for a change, in the state of Texas of all places. The state's legislative session ended on Monday without confirmation of the nomination of Gov. Greg Abbott's Secretary of State David Whitley, thanks to all Senate Democrats refusing to support him. Whitley was forced to resign without the confirmation, which was withheld after the unqualified former travel aid to Abbott had falsely announced in January that 100,000 non-citizens were registered to vote in Texas, with 58,000 of them having illegally cast votes since 1996. As it turns out, most of those voters had become naturalized citizens over that period. But that didn't prevent Whitley from instructing the state's County Clerks to purge voters in 30 days unless they could prove their citizenship or from referring the case to the TX Attorney General who promptly ordered criminal investigations for his own part in the attempted purge. The state was sued by three different voting rights groups and a number of naturalized citizens. They were forced to settle by changing voter roll purge rules for the future and paying some $450,000 to plaintiffs for their legal costs and fees;
  • Finally today, with at least 24 candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and debates set to begin next month, voters have been sizing up how the hopefuls might take on Donald Trump next year (presuming he's the GOP nominee) if they win the nod. Last week, during a Washington Post forum, South Bend, IN Mayor Buttigieg, who was deployed to Afghanistan in the Naval Reserves, cited Trump's draft dodging due to a claimed "disability" during the Vietnam War. When asked about his comments over the weekend on ABC's This Week, rather than backing off of them, Buttigieg doubled-down, revealing a) Trump was, indeed, a draft dodger who now pretends to revere the military, but who was willing to let someone else take his place in Vietnam and b) Mayor Pete is not afraid to stand up, at least rhetorically, to the bully who has become the President of the United States, even after some in the media attempted (as they do) to try and call him out for it...

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Guest: Eric Boehlert on media kid gloves for Barr, a country in crisis, impeachment, and why 'no one will break the glass on the alarm'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2019 6:29pm PT  

Before we get to the "crapshow" in D.C. today and much more related to it on today's BradCast, a few quick, important points. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, the St. Louis Blues, incredibly enough, are going to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 49 years. Okay, that's not all that important to most, but I've been waiting a really long time, so forgive me my momentary joy.

Second, and much more important (and disturbing): the City of Baltimore's computer networks have been crippled and shutdown by a ransomware attack for more than two weeks now, grinding all city services to a virtual halt and likely requiring a complete rebuild of everything from backup data onto new hardware. Baltimore is reportedly the 20th U.S. municipality to be hit by such an attack so far this year.

Among Baltimore city offices struggling to continue their work is their "dead in the water" Board of Elections, where all local computers are shut down with BOE employees now working remotely out of the State Board of Elections, as well as County Boards in Baltimore and Hartford. The ongoing disaster led the city Board of Elections' Deputy Director to opine: "Thank goodness it's not an election year." Um...yeah..."thank goodness" indeed. But what if it were? And shouldn't this be a much greater concern than, well, pretty much everyone is currently admitting, as city, county and state elections now rely, from top to bottom --- from voter registration to ballot programming to vote tabulation and election results reporting --- on similarly vulnerable computer networks? Without paper poll books at each precinct and HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all, it would be impossible to run an election under such circumstances. But...."thank goodness it's not an election year" and, otherwise, why worry about such crazy "conspiracy theories" as the ones we've been warning about for more than 15 years now?

In other, yes, related news: the Donald Trump Presidency continues to swirl still deeper into the bowels of its own disastrous making while the continuing stand-off with Congress intensifies and more bad news arrives from the federal courts for this President. Today, among too many other things, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Congressional Democratic leadership to discuss the growing cries for an official impeachment inquiry and emerged to declare that "the President of the United States is engaged in a cover-up". That completely unsurprising statement was used as a predicate for Trump to storm out of a planned meeting at the White House with Democratic leaders on an infrastructure bill after just three minutes. He then held what media falsely characterized as an "impromptu" news conferences in the Rose Garden where the President discussed "the i-word" and, with a straight face --- in front a pre-printed sign inaccurately declaring "No Collusion, No Obstruction --- claimed to be "the most transparent President, probably, in the history of this country" and that he doesn't "do cover-ups".

Hours later, his ongoing efforts to cover-up his financial records was dealt a second blow this week by a second federal judge who flatly rejected the Trump family's attempt to block Deutsche Bank and Capital One from turning over Trump financial records in response to a lawful Congressional subpoena. Earlier this week a different federal judge found similarly against Trump's attempt to cover up his financial records held by private accounting firm Mazars USA, which are also the subject of a separate lawful Congressional subpoena. And, all of that is related, as we explain, to the cover-up payments to Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen who was "directed" by Trump to give hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels just prior to the 2016 election to cover-up their alleged affair.

Of course, as Trump's administration continues to cover-up their own growing private email server scandals (remember that li'l problem they had with Hillary Clinton about that?), the man who has helped carry off Trump's greatest cover-up to date (at least that we know of, so far) is his new Attorney General, cover-up artist and personal fixer William Barr. Our guest today, author and media critic ERIC BOEHLERT argues Barr has not been appropriately held to account by the corporate media, even after being found in contempt by the House Judiciary Committee for failing to answer a lawful Congressional subpoena to hand over the full Mueller Report and its underlying evidence. Boehlert explains as he wrote this week, where and why he sees the corporate media dropping the ball.

"New York Times, Washington Post --- they haven't called for his resignation," Boehlert tells me. "It is inconceivable what Bill Barr could possibly do which would trigger major newspapers in this country to call for his resignation. People say, 'Well, who cares? He's not going to resign.' That's true, but, it sends this message that we are in a crisis. We are in a possibly defining crisis in American history. But these major news organizations don't want to go there. They don't want to raise the temperature."

The crisis he refers to, of course, has "been a problem since Inauguration Day 2017, [but] no one will break the glass on the alarm."

We also discuss whether Congressional Democrats are falling short as well, as the internecine debate among Democrats in the House over whether to begin a formal impeach inquiry continues to grow and intensify. Among the many points discussed in that conversation: whether the conventional wisdom that Senate Republicans would never vote to convict and remove Trump from office is actually true...

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Also: More GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud, this time in Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2019 6:05pm PT  

The Constitutional Crisis in D.C. continues to heat up on today's BradCast, following Monday's directive from the White House that former White House Counsel Don McGahn should defy a lawful Congressional subpoena to appear for testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and Monday's ruling by a U.S. District Court judge that Donald Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over financial documents from Trump within the next week, as subpoenaed by Congress. And we've got a new case of GOP election fraud tossed into the mix with everything else today, as well. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below.]

McGahn did not appear Tuesday morning at the Judiciary Committee, defying his subpoena and prompting a public upbraiding from the panel's Democratic Chair Jerry Nadler who declared "our subpoenas are not optional" and vowed the Committee would hear McGahn's testimony "even if we have to go to court to secure it." Nadler added that Democrats will not be deterred from their Constitutionally mandated oversight investigations and "will hold this President accountable, one way or the other."

The "other" way, of course, is via an official impeachment inquiry in the House, which is now being sought by more and more House members, including several both in Democratic leadership and serving on the Judiciary Committee, which would take the lead in such an inquiry. Proponents of an impeachment inquiry now reportedly includes Chairman Nadler himself. He is said to have made the case to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday night, while she reportedly maintains that such an inquiry would hold up both legislation as well as other investigations in the House. Nonetheless, calls for impeachment proceedings from House Democrats are getting louder and appear more inevitable with each passing day and each defied subpoena, even with court rulings favoring Democrats to date. That could change as Trump takes his cases to Courts of Appeal or the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court, as the Administration clearly hopes.

But, even conservative Republican Rep. Justin Amash (MI) is sticking to his guns following his weekend Twitter thread in which he declared the redacted report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller reveals that Trump "engaged in impeachable conduct," displaying a "pattern of behavior that meet[s] the threshold for impeachment." Amash pushed back against his fellow Republican critics in a new Twitter thread on Monday. The founding House Freedom Caucus member shot down a number of limp and uninformed defenses and excuses offered by Trump, his Attorney General Bill Barr and other apologists who wrongly claim the President could not have obstructive justice --- despite the mountain of evidence presented by Mueller of repeated instances --- because there was no "underlying crime" that Trump was attempting to obstruct. All of that, as Amash explains, is simply false from top to bottom.

Also today, more breaking news of yet another case of Republican absentee ballot election fraud, this time in Florida. The latest incident comes on the heels of a GOP absentee ballot fraud scandal that resulted in North Carolina calling a do-over election for this September after the State Board of Elections refused to certify last November's tainted contest in the 9th Congressional District. The newly exposed case was from earlier in 2018, in Miami, where a WhatsApp chat log obtained by the Miami New Times appears to reveal campaign supporters and organizers for a Republican running for a seat on the Miami-Dade's County Commission describing the theft and destruction of absentee ballots cast for their opponents. The incident offers yet more evidence that voting by mail --- unless absolutely necessary --- remains a terrible idea, as we have long argued (despite many Democrats, including lots of friends, readers and listeners in Oregon and other states with all Vote-by-Mail elections, who feel quite differently about it.)

Lastly today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as 67 tornadoes blew through half a dozen states over the weekend and at least another 21 continue to wreak over the past 24 hours in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri, where millions of Americans are now under flash flood warnings. Also on today's GNR, another coal company bankruptcy, a new scammy effort by BP and Shell to lobby for a carbon tax, and the introduction of comprehensive new plans to take on our climate crisis by two different 2020 Democratic hopefuls...

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A spate of GOP pol scams, indictments and inappropriate pardons from D.C. to GA to MI and beyond; Also: Are Congress and corporate media finally waking up to our woefully insecure, non-overseeable elections?...
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2019 7:04pm PT  

It's hardly breaking news at this point, but the GOP and its politicians now represent little more than a complete culture of corruption from top (Donald Trump) to bottom (find a state, pick an elected Republican). Among the tiny sampling of new stories covered on today's BradCast which bear that out. [Audio link to full show is posted below]...

  • The EPA's Office of Inspector General finds that disgraced former EPA chief Scott Pruitt owes tax-payers at least $124,000 for improper first-class flights and fancy hotels from during just 10 months of his reign before he was ultimately forced to resign. That, among nearly $1 million misappropriated for unnecessary, improperly approved security personnel and staff travel. The agency says it has no intention of asking Pruitt, who is now working for coal companies, to repay the money, of course;
  • But, since a fish rots from the head down, it's only appropriate to note that Donald Trump, on Wednesday evening, pardoned his billionaire pal and business partner, Conrad Black, who spent three years in jail on fraud and obstruction of justice charges after bilking millions from investors in his media company. But, he then said nice things about Trump in 2015 and has since written a book that fawns over the President titled Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. So, he's now officially pardoned by the President! Trump also pardoned Patrick Nolan, a former GOP leader of the California state assembly yesterday. Nolan was convicted on federal racketeering charges, but he recently criticized the Mueller investigation on behalf of the American Conservative Union, where he now works, so he gets a pardon too!;
  • The Republican Culture of Corruption hardly ends in D.C., however. On Tuesday, Georgia's newly elected Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck was indicted on 38 felony counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Before reportedly being elected on Georgia's 100 percent unverifiable voting systems last November, Beck allegedly used a fraudulent scheme to embezzle money from a state-run insurance association he ran through several private companies he ran and then to the Georgia Christian Coalition. He has refused to resign but, on Thursday, the state's new (and similarly corrupt) Republican Governor Brian Kemp "suspended" him, whatever that means, while Beck fights the 38-count federal indictment;
  • In Michigan on Wednesday, state Rep. Larry Inman was indicted on charges of attempted extortion, soliciting a bribe and lying to the FBI. (Trump better have plenty of ink in his pardon pen!) According to text messages included in the indictment, the GOP super-genius texted a union rep for contributions in exchange for his and his colleagues votes against a measure that would repeal a law requiring union wages, along with the text message: "We never had this discussion";
  • But, of course, there are dirty Dems as well. But Republicans are so corrupt these days, they are even letting THEM off the hook...for some odd reason. A high-profile law firm in Boston was found by Federal Elections Commission staff investigators to have unlawfully reimbursed its attorneys for campaign contributions to Democrats to the tune of more than a million dollars in donations. The FEC lawyers recommended a further investigation to the FEC Commissioners, but they voted 2 to 2 on party lines to end the case without any further probe. You'll be shocked to learn the 2 Republicans on the Commission voted AGAINST the further probe, while the Democrat and Independent appointees both voted in favor of it. FEC Chair Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, the lone Democratic appointee, told the Boston Globe: "In every case, it doesn't matter whether Democrats or Republicans are subject of the complaint, the Democrats want to enforce the law and the Republicans don't. It's an ideological opposition to enforcing the law." That sounds about right. It's a Republican Culture of Corruption;
  • Next, a bit of a follow-up to our interview yesterday with 30-year Leon County, Florida Election Supervisor Ion Sancho, after news broke this week that the election systems of two Florida counties were said to have been penetrated by Russian Intelligence prior to the 2016 Presidential election, according to the FBI. The Bureau is currently forbidding state officials, and now members of Congress, from informing the public about which counties those are and if, in fact, there are more of them. Florida's U.S. House delegation is hopping mad about it all, as was Sancho yesterday. It should also be noted here that Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was told about much of this last year, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but said nothing even as his fellow Senator from Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson, also then an Intel Committee member, was excoriated before last year's election for noting publicly that Russia had penetrated the Sunshine State's electoral system. He was right. But Rubio said nothing as Nelson was portrayed as an insane old conspiracist. In the bargain, Nelson ended up narrowly losing (according to FL's unverified results) to Rick Scott, the state's then Republican Governor;
  • All of this mess, at least, has resulted in at least a few Republican and Democratic officials suddenly becoming alarmed about the dangers posed by vulnerable computerized voter registration and tabulation systems that cannot be overseen by the public to assure they have not been manipulated by hackers and have reported election results as per the voters' intent. George W. Bush's former cybersecurity czar Richard Clarke appeared on yesterday's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell to make that case, and to warn about the dangers of electoral manipulation from foreign sources that awaits in 2020. We share a clip and note that it's not only foreign sources such as Russia we must be concerned about. But, hey, after more than 15 years of our yelling and screaming about exactly these issues, at least a few elected officials and folks in the corporate media are finally beginning to notice. A little. Whether they have any clue regarding what to do about it is a separate matter all together. So, we'll keep shouting;
  • Finally Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with disturbing news following last year's historic deadly fires in California, new evidence that our climate crisis is worsening (and that Exxon knew precisely about where we'd be today decades ago), and some other "impossible" news worth tuning in for...

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

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About Brad Friedman...
Brad is an independent investigative
journalist, blogger, broadcaster,
VelvetRevolution.us co-founder,
expert on issues of election integrity,
and a Commonweal Institute Fellow.

Brad has contributed chapters to these books...


...And is featured in these documentary films...

Additional Stuff...
Brad Friedman/The BRAD BLOG Named...
Buzz Flash's 'Wings of Justice' Honoree
Project Censored 2010 Award Recipient
The 2008 Weblog Awards



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