Aftermath of the Trump Administration, December 2023


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Friday, 1 December 2023:


Federal Judge Tanya Chutkan Rejects Trump’s Claims That He Enjoys Absolute Immunity From Criminal Charges Accusing Him of Seeking to Reverse the 2020 Election. The ruling is likely to spark a series of appeals that the former president’s lawyers hope will push the trial on election interference charges past the 2024 election. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 1 December 2023: “A federal judge on Friday rejected claims by former President Donald J. Trump that he enjoyed absolute immunity from criminal charges accusing him of seeking to reverse the 2020 election, slapping down his argument that the indictment should be tossed out because it was based on actions he took while he was in office. The ruling by the judge, Tanya S. Chutkan, was her first denying one of Mr. Trump’s many motions to dismiss the election interference case, which is set to go to trial in Federal District Court in Washington in about three months. It offered a sweeping condemnation of what Judge Chutkan called Mr. Trump’s attempts to ‘usurp the reins of government’ and cited foundational American texts like the Federalist Papers and George Washington’s farewell address. Mr. Trump’s lawyers had expected the immunity motion to fail. They have, in fact, been planning for weeks to use the defeat to begin a long-shot strategy to put off the impending trial. They intend to appeal Judge Chutkan’s ruling all the way to the Supreme Court if they can, hoping that even if they lose, their challenges will eat up time and keep the case from going in front of a jury until after the 2024 election…. The former president’s lawyers essentially claimed that all the steps he took to subvert the election he lost to President Biden were not crimes, but rather examples of performing his presidential duties to ensure the integrity of a race that he believed had been stolen from him. Judge Chutkan had little patience for such arguments, saying on Friday evening that neither the Constitution nor American history supported the contention that a former president enjoyed total immunity from prosecution. ‘Whatever immunities a sitting president may enjoy, the United States has only one chief executive at a time, and that position does not confer a lifelong get-out-of-jail-free pass,’ Judge Chutkan wrote. ‘Former presidents enjoy no special conditions on their federal criminal liability. Defendant may be subject to federal investigation, indictment, prosecution, conviction and punishment for any criminal acts undertaken while in office.’ She added, ‘Defendant’s four-year service as commander in chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens.'” See also, Federal judge Tanya Chutkan rejects Trump immunity claim in January 6 criminal prosecution. Chutkan’s ruling sets the clock ticking on whether the Supreme Court will agree and allow Trump to face federal trial in Washington before the 2024 election. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hus and Rachel Weiner, Friday, 1 December 2023: “A federal judge on Friday rejected Donald Trump’s claim of ‘absolute immunity’ from criminal prosecution for actions taken while he was president, setting the stage for a legal battle over presidential power probably headed to the U.S. Supreme Court and starting the clock ticking on whether the justices will agree to allow him to face trial in Washington before the 2024 election. U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan denied Trump’s request to toss out his four-count August indictment on charges of conspiring to defraud the federal government’s election process, to obstruct Congress’s certification of the vote on Jan. 6, 2021, and to disenfranchise American voters.” See also, Federal judge Tanya Chutkan rules that Trump is not immune from election-subversion prosecution. ‘A former President’s exposure to federal criminal liability is essential to fulfilling our constitutional promise of equal justice under the law,’ Chutkan ruled. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Friday, 1 December 2023: “Donald Trump is not immune from prosecution for his attempt to subvert the 2020 election, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled Friday, concluding that his term as president does not serve as a shield against charges that he sought to defraud and disenfranchise millions of Americans. ‘Defendant’s four-year service as Commander in Chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens,’ Chutkan ruled in a 48-page opinion, sweeping aside Trump’s most intricate attempt to derail the case against him.”

Federal Appeals Court Rules That Civil Lawsuits Seeking to Hold Former President Donald Trump accountable For the Violence That Erupted at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Can Move Forward For Now. The court left open the possibility that the former president could still prevail in his effort to claim immunity from civil cases seeking to hold him accountable for the violence. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Charlie Savage, Friday, 1 December 2023: “A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that civil lawsuits seeking to hold former President Donald J. Trump accountable for the violence that erupted at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, can move forward for now, rejecting a broad assertion of immunity that Mr. Trump’s legal team had invoked to try to get the cases dismissed. But the decision, by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, left open the possibility that Mr. Trump could still prevail in his immunity claims after he makes further arguments as to why his fiery speech to supporters near the White House on Jan. 6 should be considered an official presidential act, rather than part of his re-election campaign. The Supreme Court has held that the Constitution gives presidents immunity from being sued over actions taken as part of their official duties, but not from suits based on private, unofficial acts. The civil cases brought against Mr. Trump have raised the question of which role he was playing at the rally he staged on Jan. 6, when he told supporters to “fight like hell” and urged them to march to the Capitol. Essentially, the appeals court ruled that at this stage of the case, that question has yet to be definitively answered. It said Mr. Trump must be given an opportunity to present factual evidence to rebut the plaintiffs’ claims that the rally was a campaign event — scrutinizing issues like whether campaign officials had organized it and campaign funds were used to pay for it.” See also, Federal Appeals Court rules Trump doesn’t have presidential immunity from civil lawsuits related to the January 6, 2021, US Capitol riot, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz and Holmes Lybrand, Friday, 1 December 2023: “Former President Donald Trump can be sued in civil lawsuits related to the January 6, 2021, US Capitol riot in a long-awaited, consequential decision from the federal appeals court in Washington, DC. The decision will have significant implications for several cases against Trump in the Washington, DC, federal court related to the 2020 election. The decision arises out of lawsuits brought by Capitol Police officers and Democrats in Congress. The opinion, written by Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan, states that not everything a president does or says while in office is protected from liability.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson wrote foreword for book filled with conspiracy theories and homophobic insults, CNN Politics, Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, Friday, 1 December 2023: “Speaker of the House Mike Johnson wrote the foreword and publicly promoted a 2022 book that spread baseless and discredited conspiracy theories and used derogatory homophobic insults. Written by Scott McKay, a local Louisiana politics blogger, the book, ‘The Revivalist Manifesto,’ gives credence to unfounded conspiracy theories often embraced by the far-right – including the ‘Pizzagate’ hoax, which falsely claimed top Democratic officials were involved in a pedophile ring, among other conspiracies. The book also propagates baseless and inaccurate claims, implying that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was subjected to blackmail and connected to the disgraced underage sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.” See also, House Speaker Mike Johnson Wrote the Foreward for a Racist, Homophobic, Anti-Poor Book That Endorsed Pizzagate and Denigrated a Prisoner of War, Vanity Fair, Bess Levin, Friday, 1 December 2023: “With George Santos’s expulsion drama taking up all the attention in Congress this week, you might have forgotten that the new leader of the House, Mike Johnson, has a history of deeply homophobic remarks that have come out on a near-daily basis since he was elected, as well as equally shitty takes on things like abortionmass shootings, and democracy. But he does! And on a whole bunch of other stuff as well. CNN’s KFile reports that Johnson wrote the foreward for and then promoted a 2022 book written by Scott McKay called The Revivalist Manifesto, which: 1. Says poor voters are ‘unsophisticated and susceptible to government dependency’ and easy to manipulate with ‘Black Lives Matter defund the police pandering’; 2. Describes Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg as the ‘queer choice’ for the Cabinet job, calls him ‘openly, and obnoxiously, gay,’ and refers to him as ‘Gay Mayor Pete Buttigieg’; 3. Claims the Biden administration purposely let undocumented immigrants into the US for voting purposes; 4. Says Barack Obama’s ‘chief selling point was that he was black’; 5. Writes of the debunked conspiracy theory that Democratic officials ran a pedophile ring out of a pizza shop: ‘The Pizzagate scandal was born, and though some of the most outlandish allegations made in it were clearly disproven, other elements were not; the whole thing just seemed to be dismissed as debunked, and no explanation was ever given”; 6. Suggests Supreme Court Chief justice John Roberts had ties to sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein; 7. Declares John McCain used five and a half years as a prison of war during Vietnam ‘as a political get-out-of-jail-free card.'”





Even though the Trump administration is no longer in office, I am continuing to post summaries of the daily political news and major stories relating to this tragic and dangerous period in US history. I try to focus on the differences between the Trump administration and the Biden administration and on the ongoing toxic residual effects of the Trump administration and Republicans. I usually post throughout the day and let the news settle for a day or so before posting.

I created Muckraker Farm in 2014 as a place to post muckraking (investigative) journalism going back to the 19th century. I hope to return to this original project soon. You can find these muckraking pieces under the Home Page link at the top of this site. Thanks for reading!




Aftermath of the Trump Administration, November 2023


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Wednesday, 1 November 2023:


If Trump Wins, His Allies Want Lawyers Who Will Bless a More Radical Agenda. Politically appointed lawyers sometimes frustrated Donald Trump’s ambitions. His allies are planning to install more aggressive legal gatekeepers if he regains the White House. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Charlie Savage, and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 1 November 2023: “Close allies of Donald J. Trump are preparing to populate a new administration with a more aggressive breed of right-wing lawyer, dispensing with traditional conservatives who they believe stymied his agenda in his first term. The allies have been drawing up lists of lawyers they view as ideologically and temperamentally suited to serve in a second Trump administration. Their aim is to reduce the chances that politically appointed lawyers would frustrate a more radical White House agenda — as they sometimes did when Mr. Trump was in office, by raising objections to his desires for certain harsher immigration policies or for greater personal control over the Justice Department, among others. Now, as Trump allies grow more confident in an election victory next fall, several outside groups, staffed by former Trump officials who are expected to serve in senior roles if he wins, have begun parallel personnel efforts. At the start of Mr. Trump’s term, his administration relied on the influential Federalist Society, the conservative legal network whose members filled key executive branch legal roles and whose leader helped select his judicial nominations. But in a striking shift, Trump allies are building new recruiting pipelines separate from the Federalist Society. These back-room discussions were described by seven people with knowledge of the planning, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. In addition, The New York Times interviewed former senior lawyers in the Trump administration and other allies who have remained close to the former president and are likely to serve in a second term.”

Donald Trump Jr. Denies Responsibility for Company Business Statements. The former president’s son began the Trump family’s parade to the witness stand in the civil fraud case. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich and Kate Christobek, Wednesday, 1 November 2023: “Donald Trump Jr. testified on Wednesday that he had no direct involvement in annual financial statements that his family’s business gave banks and insurers despite language in the statements themselves suggesting that he was partially responsible for them. His contention, which came during the trial of a civil fraud lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general, capped an afternoon of otherwise unremarkable testimony from Mr. Trump, who is the first of his family members to testify about the case. Asked whether he worked on one such statement, from 2017, Mr. Trump was clear: ‘I did not. The accountants worked on it. That’s what we pay them for.’ He soon clarified that his conversations with others at the company may have informed the financial statement. The attorney general, Letitia James, has said such papers were filled with fraud that helped the company, the Trump Organization, gain favorable treatment from lenders.” See also, Donald Trump Jr. testifies and deflects responsibility in New York business fraud case, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Mark Berman, Wednesday, 1 November 2023: “Donald Trump Jr. testified Wednesday afternoon in a multimillion-dollar civil case that accuses him, his father and other Trump Organization executives of cheating in business deals, saying he was not directly involved in the production of financial statements. The former president’s son is the first member of his family to be called as a witness by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) in its $250 million fraud lawsuit against the family and the company. James’s lawsuit accuses Donald Trump and his executives of inflating his financial statements to secure better terms. During his testimony, Trump Jr. said the responsibility of preparing financial statements rested with Mazars USA, the company’s longtime accounting firm.” See also, Donald Trump Jr. testifies he never worked on the key documents in his father’s New York civil fraud trial, Associated Press, Michael R. Sisak and Jennifer Peltz, Wednesday, 1 November 2023: “Donald Trump Jr. testified Wednesday that he never worked on his father’s financial statements, the documents now at the heart of the civil fraud trial that threatens former President Donald Trump’s real estate empire. The ex-president’s eldest son is an executive vice president of the family’s Trump Organization and has been a trustee of a trust set up to hold its assets when his father was in the White House. At least one of the annual financial statements bore language saying the trustees ‘are responsible’ for the document. But Donald Trump Jr. said he didn’t recall ever working on any of the financial statements and had ‘no specific knowledge’ of them. The lawsuit centers on whether the former president and his business misled banks and insurers by inflating his net worth on the financial statements. He and other defendants, including sons Donald Jr. and Eric, deny wrongdoing.” See also, Live From Trump Fraud Trial: Donald Trump Jr. Takes the Stand, Forbes, Dan Alexander, Wednesday, 1 November 2023.

Before he became a politician, House Speaker Mike Johnson partnered with an anti-gay conversion therapy group, CNN Politics, Andrew Kaczynski, Wednesday, 1 November 2023: “Speaker of the House Mike Johnson closely collaborated with a group in the mid-to-late 2000s that promoted ‘conversion therapy,’ a discredited practice that asserted it could change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian individuals. Prior to launching his political career, Johnson, a lawyer, gave legal advice to an organization called Exodus International and partnered with the group to put on an annual anti-gay event aimed at teens, according to a CNN KFile review of more than a dozen of Johnson’s media appearances from that timespan. Founded in 1976, Exodus International was a leader in the so-called ‘ex-gay’ movement, which aimed to make gay individuals straight through conversion therapy programs using religious and counseling methods. Exodus International connected ministries across the world using these controversial approaches. The group shut down in 2013, with its founder posting a public apology for the ‘pain and hurt’ his organization caused. Conversion therapy has been widely condemned by most major medical institutions and has been shown to be harmful to struggling LGBTQ people.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, November 2023:

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, October 2023


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Sunday, 1 October 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden and Republican lawmakers vow to send Ukraine aid after Congress leaves it out of funding bill, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Leo Sands, and Nick Parker, Sunday, 1 October 2023: “President Biden sought to reassure Ukrainians on Sunday that the United States would not abandon its support for the war-torn nation after a funding bill that averted a government shutdown this weekend did not include anticipated aid. ‘We cannot under any circumstance allow America’s support for Ukraine to be interrupted,’ Biden said in a news conference Sunday afternoon. Republican lawmakers also said Ukraine would receive aid in the coming weeks, though they said it would need to be packaged with spending on U.S. border security. Ukrainian officials sought to minimize the snub, though some observers worried that support could be waning. Biden said he expected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to support funding for Ukrainians ‘as they defend themselves against aggression and brutality.’ Biden touted ‘overwhelming’ bipartisan support for Ukrainian aid, and he said he hoped Republican leaders would ‘keep their word’ on further funding it. McCarthy said he’ll support sending Ukrainian troops ‘the weapons that they need,’ though a potential challenge to his leadership could further complicate plans for the aid. McCarthy, speaking on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ said he wanted to include efforts for U.S. border control in the next Ukraine-aid legislation. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham said Sunday morning that Senate Republicans would soon come out with a bill that would provide as much as $70 billion for Ukraine. ‘I’m not worried about the next six weeks,’ Graham (R-S.C.) said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation,’ referring to the time period covered by the short-term spending bill passed this weekend. ‘I’m worried about next year. We will produce in the United States Senate Ukraine funding $60 or $70 billion … to get them through next year.’ Graham also tied the next potential Ukraine aid to border funding. Ukraine’s envoy to Washington expressed optimism that funding guarantees for Kyiv would be secured. There is time, there are resources, and there is bipartisan support for Ukraine in Washington, Ambassador Oksana Markarova said in a Facebook post. An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed confidence in U.S. aid Saturday. There has been no change in U.S. support, Andriy Yermak said on Telegram before the Senate vote, and Ukrainian leaders discuss the support often with Democratic and Republican officials. Aid for Ukraine had been a key issue as the United States headed toward a potential government shutdown. House Republicans, with late help from Democrats, pushed through a short-term bill to fund the government through Nov. 17 and avert a shutdown. Though the Senate ultimately approved the bill as well, the vote was at first delayed by Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), who expressed concern over the lack of additional aid to Ukraine. Slovakia’s parliamentary election has the potential to complicate the Western response to Ukraine. Nearly complete results showed that Robert Fico, a populist former prime minister whose campaign has been laced with pro-Russian and anti-American discourse, defeated his progressive rival. Fico said Sunday that his party would do ‘everything we can’ to promote immediate Ukraine-Russia peace talks. Zelensky has said he would allow peace talks only once Russian troops have left Ukraine; the Kremlin has said it must hold on to the five areas it has illegally annexed since 2014. Drones were spotted above Russian regions overnight into Sunday morning, local authorities said. Flights into Sochi International Airport were temporarily redirected as a result, the Black Sea resort city’s mayor, Alexei Kopaigorodsky, said early Sunday — adding in a Telegram post that a drone was shot down. Farther north, the governor of Smolensk region, bordering Belarus, said three drones were suppressed. NATO jets are monitoring part of its eastern flank ‘in the wake of Russian drone strikes near NATO territory,’ the defense alliance said. NATO’s X account said Sunday that Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) surveillance jets that arrived in Siauliai, Lithuania, last week ‘can detect aircraft and missiles hundreds of kilometres away.’ Romania detected ‘a possible unauthorized’ breach of the its airspace, the Defense Ministry said Saturday. In a separate instance a few weeks earlier, it said it found fragments of a suspected Russian drone in Romania.”


Monday, 2 October 2023:


Trump’s New York Civil Fraud Trial Starts With His Attacks on Attorney General Letitia James and Judge Arthur Engoron. Trump appeared in court as lawyers for New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, painted him as a fraudster. His lawyers said she was out to get the former president. The New York Times, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, and Kate Christobek, Monday, 2 October 2023: “The trials of Donald J. Trump began Monday in a New York courtroom, where the former president arrived to fight the first of several government actions — a civil fraud case that imperils his company and threatens his image as a master of the business world. The trial’s opening day brought Mr. Trump face-to-face with one of his longest-running antagonists: the attorney general of New York, Letitia James, who filed the case against him, his adult sons and their family business. If her office proves its case, the judge overseeing the trial could impose an array of punishments on Mr. Trump, including a $250 million penalty. Outside the courtroom, Mr. Trump fired a fusillade of personal attacks on Ms. James and the judge, Arthur F. Engoron. He called the judge ‘rogue’ and Ms. James ‘a terrible person,’ even suggesting that they were criminals. Inside, Mr. Trump sat in uncomfortable silence as Ms. James’s lawyers methodically laid out their case. The attorney general’s office accused the former president of inflating his riches by more than $2 billion to obtain favorable deals with banks and bragging rights about his wealth.” See also, Key Takeaways From the First Day of Trump’s Civil Fraud Trial. New York’s attorney general Letitia James filed the lawsuit accusing the former president of inflating the value of his assets. She seeks a $250 million penalty and other punishments. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, Monday, 2 October 2023. See also, New York’s $250 million civil fraud trial against Donald Trump gets underway, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Mark Berman, Jonathan O’Connell, and Wesley Parnell, Monday, 2 October 2023. See also, Trump attended his civil fraud trial in New York court, The Washington Post, Monday, 2 October 2023: “A civil trial in which former president Donald Trump and his company are accused of committing rampant fraud began Monday in a Manhattan courtroom, with a sharp dispute playing out over the property valuations at the center of the case. New York Attorney General Letitia James’s lawsuit accuses the former president and his company of committing fraud by inflating the value of his real estate empire. Trump, who is running for president, has denied any wrongdoing and defended his business. James’s office said Monday in court that Trump and his business schemed to overestimate his assets for financial gain. Trump’s defense responded that there was ‘no fraud,’ saying there were multiple ways to value a real estate asset. The trial could last for weeks or months, and Trump is expected to testify. Proceedings concluded late Monday afternoon and are expected to resume Tuesday morning. New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who is presiding over the trial, issued a pretrial decision last week saying that fraud was broadly committed by the Trump Organization and its executives. James is seeking a $250 million financial penalty for Trump and restrictions on his ability to operate a business in New York state. Engoron, in his decision, revoked Trump’s New York business licenses, which could cause the former president to lose control over dozens of properties worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” See also, Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York begins Monday. Here’s what to know. The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Monday, 2 October 2023.

Exclusive: John Kelly goes on the record to confirm several disturbing stories about Trump, CNN Politics, Jake Tapper, Monday, 2 October 2023: “John Kelly, the longest-serving White House chief of staff for Donald Trump, offered his harshest criticism yet of the former president in an exclusive statement to CNN. Kelly set the record straight with on-the-record confirmation of a number of damning stories about statements Trump made behind closed doors attacking US service members and veterans, listing a number of objectionable comments Kelly witnessed Trump make firsthand. ‘What can I add that has not already been said?’ Kelly said, when asked if he wanted to weigh in on his former boss in light of recent comments made by other former Trump officials. ‘A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as POWs are all “suckers” because “there is nothing in it for them.” A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because “it doesn’t look good for me.” A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family – for all Gold Star families – on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are ‘losers’ and wouldn’t visit their graves in France…. A person who cavalierly suggests that a selfless warrior who has served his country for 40 years in peacetime and war should lose his life for treason – in expectation that someone will take action. A person who admires autocrats and murderous dictators. A person that has nothing but contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution, and the rule of law. There is nothing more that can be said,’ Kelly concluded. ‘God help us.’ In the statement, Kelly is confirming, on the record, a number of details in a 2020 story in The Atlantic by editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, including Trump turning to Kelly on Memorial Day 2017, as they stood among those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery, and saying, ‘I don’t get it. What was in it for them?’ Those details also include Trump’s inability to understand why the American public respects former prisoners of war and those shot down in combat. Then-candidate Trump of course said in front of a crowd in 2015 that former Vietnam POW Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, was ‘not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.’ But behind closed doors, sources told Goldberg, this lack of understanding went on to cause Trump to repeatedly call McCain a ‘loser’ and to refer to former President George H. W. Bush, who was also shot down as a Navy pilot in World War II, as a ‘loser.'” See also, John Kelly’s full-throated confirmation of Trump’s ugliest comment, parsed. Kelly finally went on the record to make clear that, yes, Trump did say those things about veterans and wounded soldiers. The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 2 October 2023: “Among the many controversies Donald Trump has courted during his time in politics, perhaps none engender the kinds of emotions as his comments — and reported comments — denigrating veterans and the war-wounded. But some of the most serious reports about what he’s said have gone largely unconfirmed by key players. That changed in a major way on Monday. Former Trump White House chief of staff John F. Kelly delivered a blistering statement to CNN’s Jake Tapper that, for the first time, served to confirm years-old comments attributed to Trump and for which Kelly was present. Kelly, like many former top Trump administration officials, has criticized Trump somewhat in the past, but his new statement takes things to another level and fills out the picture of some of Trump’s ugliest alleged comments.” See also, John Kelly, a Former White House Chief of Staff, Confirms Trump’s Disparaging of Veterans. In a statement to CNN, Mr. Kelly corroborated reporting from 2020 that he declined to confirm at the time despite pressure from friends and associates to do so. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, published on Tuesday, 3 October 2023: “John F. Kelly, the onetime chief of staff to former President Donald J. Trump, confirmed on Monday some of Mr. Trump’s most startling comments about service members and veterans, reeling them off in a statement in which he said his onetime boss had ‘contempt for our democratic institutions, our Constitution and the rule of law. A person that thinks those who defend their country in uniform, or are shot down or seriously wounded in combat, or spend years being tortured as P.O.W.s are all “suckers” because there is nothing in it for them,’ he told CNN. He went on: ‘A person that did not want to be seen in the presence of military amputees because “it doesn’t look good for me.” A person who demonstrated open contempt for a Gold Star family — for all Gold Star families — on TV during the 2016 campaign, and rants that our most precious heroes who gave their lives in America’s defense are “losers” and wouldn’t visit their graves in France.’ The mention of ‘a Gold Star family’ was a reference to Mr. Trump’s 2016 attacks on the parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq, which he made after they criticized him. Four years later, he suggested that Gold Star families might be to blame for infecting him with the coronavirus. Mr. Kelly’s statement confirmed reporting from The Atlantic in 2020, which he declined to confirm at the time despite pressure from friends and associates to do so. The attitude he described also matched an account last month from Gen. Mark A. Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said Mr. Trump had chastised him for choosing an Army captain who lost a leg in Afghanistan to sing ‘God Bless America’ at a ceremony because ‘no one wants to see that, the wounded.’ In his final speech as chairman last week, General Milley said — without naming Mr. Trump — that American troops took an oath to the Constitution, not ‘to a wannabe dictator.'” See also, Trump Says Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers.’ The president has repeatedly disparaged the intelligence of service members, and asked that wounded veterans be kept out of military parades, multiple sources tell The Atlantic. The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg, published on Thursday, 3 September 2020: “When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that ‘the helicopter couldn’t fly’ and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true. Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, ‘Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.’ In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as ‘suckers’ for getting killed.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, October 2023:

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, September 2023


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Friday, 1 September 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. says Ukrainian forces advance in Zaporizhzhia, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Victoria Bisset, Robyn Dixon, Natalia Abbakumova, Miriam Berger, Karen DeYoung, and Serhiy Morgunov, Friday, 1 September 2023: “White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Friday that Ukraine has achieved ‘notable progress’ in recent days in its counteroffensive to retake territory in the southern Zaporizhzhia region. ‘They have achieved some success along that second line of Russian defenses,’ he said at a news conference. It ‘is not beyond the realm of the possible that Russia will react’ to Ukraine’s push, he said. Kirby declined to comment on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s claims overnight that Kyiv had used new domestically made long-range missiles to hit a target at some 435 miles distance. Zelensky did not offer specifics, including whether they were used in a test or against an enemy target. Hours later, the head of Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, said that Moscow’s new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads, had after months of delay been put on combat alert. Ukraine’s apparent advance came after several weeks of near stalemate, which has prompted concern, including within the administration, about Ukraine’s military strategy. Russia’s Ministry of Justice branded Nobel laureate Dmitry Muratov a ‘foreign agent’ on Friday. Muratov, the editor in chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, has been a frequent critic of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The ‘foreign agent’ designation imposes rules and restrictions relating to finances and public disclosures. The underlying law has been used to harass and burden human rights organizations and journalists in Russia. Zelensky said Kyiv’s new long-range weapons were produced by the Ministry of Strategic Industries and, according to Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, have been under development since 2020. The Washington Post could not immediately verify the Ukrainian claims. Kirby referred all questions about Ukrainian capabilities to Kyiv and reiterated the administration’s policy of not encouraging or enabling Ukrainian strikes inside Russia’s borders. ‘We are focused on making sure Ukraine can win back its own territory,’ Kirby said. Yuri Borisov, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos, announced the deployment of the Sarmat missile complex on Friday, three months after Russian President Vladimir Putin initially said it would be ready, Russian state news agency Interfax reported. The Kremlin, which has claimed that it can breach ‘any missile defense’ system, successfully test-launched one of the intercontinental ballistic missiles in April. At the time, Pentagon said it was not a significant threat to the United States or its allies. Russia said Friday that any weapons facilities in Ukraine could become a target, a day after Zelensky’s office announced that Britain’s largest defense contractor, BAE Systems, will open an office in Kyiv to streamline support for Ukrainian forces. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday that the development would not ‘fundamentally change the situation,’ but warned: ‘Any weapons production facilities, especially if these weapons are fired at us, become the object of special attention by our military forces.’ BAE has been providing Ukraine with weapons such as the L119 and M777 artillery systems, Zelensky said. Putin said Friday that he would meet ‘soon enough’ with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who the Russian president called ‘his friend’ and ‘a person who does a lot for the development of Russian-Chinese relations.’ The two leaders most recently met in March and held three days of talks in Moscow — a symbolic joint stand against the United States and its Western allies. Xi and Putin agreed to expand economic ties, which have become a lifeline for Russia under Western sanctions. Ambassadors from Russia and Belarus will be allowed to attend this year’s Nobel Prize award ceremony and banquet, after the foundation behind the prize said it would invite all countries with diplomatic representation in Sweden. Both countries were uninvited from last year’s ceremony in Stockholm — which awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to a trio of Kremlin critics and human rights defenders in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia — following the invasion of Ukraine. ‘The achievements recognised by the Nobel Prize require openness, exchange and dialogue between people and nations,’ the organization wrote in a statement Thursday, adding that it wished to reach out ‘even to those who do not share the values of the Nobel Prize.’ A Pentagon spokesman, Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, urged North Korea not to negotiate with Russia or provide it with arms, describing the arms in question as ‘essentially artillery ammunition’ in a briefing with reporters. The previous day, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Russia and North Korea are ‘actively advancing’ negotiations for weapons that would be used in the war in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday. The announcement comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan. are expected to meet in Moscow to discuss a proposal to send Russian grain to Turkey with the financial help of Qatar, as an alternative to the Black Sea grain deal. The grain would be processed in Turkey and exported to countries ‘in need,’ the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Military exercises involving more than 2,500 soldiers from Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan began Friday in Belarus, and are set to last through Sept. 6. Armenia, which is part of the same military alliance of post-soviet states, declined to participate. Ukraine and Poland said they were strengthening protections at their shared borders with Belarus. Poland’s internal affairs minister, Mariusz Kaminski, said that all Belarusian crossings with the European Union will be immediately closed should any provocations arise.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine’s Offensive Makes Progress. Washington acknowledges Kyiv’s counteroffensive has advanced in the past three days. The New York Times, Friday, 1 September 2023:

  • Ukraine’s counteroffensive has made ‘notable progress’ in the last 72 hours, the White House says.
  • Russia claims its Sarmat intercontinental missile is on ‘combat duty.’
  • A U.S. official meets with a Ukrainian delegation to discuss Kyiv’s anti-corruption efforts.
  • Russia brands a Nobel Peace Prize-winning journalist a ‘foreign agent.’
  • Putin and Erdogan will meet as grain talks appear stalled.
  • Ukrainian students begin a new school year in the shadow of war.
  • New Russian high school textbooks seek to justify the war in Ukraine.

Two Proud Boys Sentenced in January 6 Sedition Case. Ethan Nordean, a ground commander of the far-right group, got 18 years, matching the longest January 6 sentence so far. Dominic Pezzola, among the first rioters to enter the Capitol, received 10 years. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, Friday, 1 September 2023: “Two more members of the Proud Boys were sentenced to prison on Friday for their roles in the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, with a ground commander in the far-right group, Ethan Nordean, given 18 years, and Dominic Pezzola, the man who set off the initial breach of the building by smashing a window with a riot shield, getting 10 years. The sentences imposed on Mr. Nordean and Mr. Pezzola were the third and fourth to have been handed down this week to five members of the far-right group who were tried in May for seditious conspiracy and other crimes in one of the most significant prosecutions to have emerged from the Capitol attack. While Mr. Pezzola’s sentence was only half of the 20 years the government had requested, Mr. Nordean’s was the stiffest penalty issued so far in any case related to the Capitol attack and was the same as term given in May to Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia, who was also found guilty of sedition in connection with Jan. 6.”

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, August 2023


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Tuesday, 1 August 2023:


Trump Is Indicted in His Push to Overturn the 2020 Election. The former president faces three conspiracy charges and a count of attempting to obstruct an official proceeding in his campaign to use the levers of government power to remain in office. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump was indicted on Tuesday in connection with his widespread efforts to overturn the 2020 election following a sprawling federal investigation into his attempts to cling to power after losing the presidency. The indictment, filed by the special counsel Jack Smith in Federal District Court in Washington, accuses Mr. Trump of three conspiracies: one to defraud the United States; a second to obstruct an official government proceeding, the certification of the Electoral College vote; and a third to deprive people of a civil right, the right to have their votes counted. Mr. Trump was also charged with a fourth count of obstructing or attempting to obstruct an official proceeding. ‘Each of these conspiracies — which built on the widespread mistrust the defendant was creating through pervasive and destabilizing lies about election fraud — targeted a bedrock function of the United States federal government: the nation’s process of collecting, counting and certifying the results of the presidential election,’ the indictment said. The charges signify an extraordinary moment in United States history: a former president, in the midst of a campaign to return to the White House, being charged over attempts to use the levers of government power to subvert democracy and remain in office against the will of voters. In sweeping terms, the indictment described how Mr. Trump and six co-conspirators employed a variety of means to reverse his defeat in the election almost from the moment that voting ended. It depicted how Mr. Trump promoted false claims of fraud, sought to bend the Justice Department toward supporting those claims and oversaw a scheme to create false slates of electors pledged to him in states that were actually won by Joseph R. Biden Jr. And it described how he ultimately pressured his vice president, Mike Pence, to use the fake electors to subvert the certification of the election at a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, that was cut short by the violence at the Capitol.” See also, The Trump January 6 Indictment, Annotated. The Justice Department unveiled an indictment on Tuesday charging former President Donald J. Trump with four criminal counts. They relate to Mr. Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, which culminated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol by a mob of his supporters. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Here Are the Charges Trump Faces in the January 6 Case. The former president is charged with three conspiracy counts and the corrupt obstruction of an official proceeding. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Judge In Trump January 6 Trial Is Known for Tough Capitol Riot Sentences. A judge with a liberal background and significant criminal trial experience, Tanya S. Chutkan swiftly ruled against the former president in his 2021 attempt to keep White House papers secret from the congressional inquiry. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023. See also, The Indictment Says Trump Had Six Co-consiprators in His Efforts to Retain Power. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “The indictment of former President Donald J. Trump mentions — but does not identify by name — six co-conspirators who prosecutors say worked with him in seeking to overturn the 2020 election. It is not clear why the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, decided to seek only Mr. Trump’s indictment for now, though it is possible that some of the co-conspirators could still face charges in the weeks ahead…. Among those people central to the inquiry were Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer who oversaw Mr. Trump’s attempts to claim the election was marred by widespread fraud; John Eastman, a law professor who provided the legal basis to overturn the election by manipulating the count of electors to the Electoral College; Sidney Powell, a lawyer who pushed Mr. Trump to use the military to seize voting machines and rerun the election; Jeffrey Clark, a Justice Department official at the time; and Kenneth Chesebro and James Troupis, lawyers who helped flesh out the plan to use fake electors pledged to Mr. Trump in states that were won by President Biden.” See also, Four Takeaways From the Trump Indictment. The indictment of the former president for trying to subvert democracy was issued by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia. It’s the third set of charges that he faces. The New York Times, Jonathan Swan, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: See also, Keeping Track of the Trump Investigations, The New York Times, updated Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Trump indicted on 2020 election charges after January 6 investigation, The Washington Post, Perry Stein, John Wagner, Amy B Wang, Mariana Alfaro, Maegan Vazquez, Jacqueline Alemany, Amy Gardner, Isaac Arnsdorf, Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Niha Masih, and Lyric Li, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “A grand jury has indicted former president Donald Trump for multiple alleged crimes stemming from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. The four-count, 45-page indictment accuses Trump of three distinct conspiracies, and charges that he conspired to defraud the U.S., conspired to obstruct an official proceeding and conspired against people’s rights. Trump, who is seeking to return to the White House in next year’s election, denied all wrongdoing. Special counsel Jack Smith, in a brief appearance, said his office would seek a speedy trial.” See also, Trump charged in investigation of January 6 efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The indictment alleges four different crimes and describes six unnamed, uncharged co-conspirators. The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu, Perry Stein, Josh Dawsey, and Jacqueline Alemany, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “A grand jury indicted former president Donald Trump on Tuesday for a raft of alleged crimes in his brazen efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s election victory — the latest legal and political aftershock stemming from the riot at the U.S. Capitol 2½ years ago. The four-count, 45-page indictment accuses Trump, who is again running for president, of conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, attempting to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiring against people’s civil right to have their vote counted. The maximum potential sentence on the most serious charge is 20 years in prison. ‘The attack on our nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy,’ special counsel Jack Smith told reporters after the indictment was filed. ‘It was fueled by lies, lies by the defendant.’ Smith also praised the law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol, saying that they ‘did not just defend a building or the people sheltering in it. They put their lives on the line to defend who we are as a country and as a people.'” See also, Read the full text of the 45-page Trump January 6 indictment document, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, Tuesday, 1 August 2023. See also, Here are the Trump co-conspirators described in the Department of Justice indictment, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, Rachel Weiner, Amy B Wang, and Isaac Arnsdorf, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “In criminally charging former president Donald Trump for his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss, federal prosecutors allege that Trump enlisted six co-conspirators to ‘assist him in his criminal efforts to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election and retain power.’The co-conspirators were not charged on Tuesday and are not named in the indictment, but five of them can be identified using the detailed descriptions provided by prosecutors.” See also, Trump has been indicted before. Historians say this time is different. Scholars say the new charges of attempting to overturn the 2020 election pose a unique test for the rule of law and go to the core of the threat to democracy. The Washington Post, Kevin Sullivan, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023: “When Donald Trump was indicted in Manhattan in March, it was the first time in U.S. history that a president or former president had faced criminal charges. On Tuesday, it happened to Trump for the third time in just over four months — and he may face even more charges before the summer is done. Historians and legal scholars say the new indictment, brought by federal special counsel Jack Smith, is fundamentally more consequential than the earlier ones, which related to hush money paid to an adult-film actress and the alleged mishandling of classified documents. While those are serious allegations, Tuesday’s indictment accuses a former president of the United States of attempting to subvert the democracy upon which the nation rests. And with Trump again running for the White House, the charges he faces pose an extraordinary test to the rule of law, experts say.” See also, 4 things that stand out from the Trump January 6 indictment, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023. See also, Judge Tanya Chutkan is a tough Trump critic and the toughest January 6 sentencer. Trump’s trial judge in D.C. is a former public defender and was one of the first U.S. judges to reject his executive privilege claims to withhold January 6 White House records. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Tom Jackman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “With U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan as the trial judge overseeing his case in Washington, Donald Trump’s legal troubles in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack come near full circle. Trump’s federal criminal indictment on charges of attempting to subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election was randomly assigned Tuesday to Chutkan, 61, who nearly two years ago became one of the first federal judges in D.C. to reject the former president’s efforts to use executive privilege to withhold White House communications from Jan. 6 investigators, in that instance from the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot.” See also, Trump indicted for efforts to overturn 2020 election to block transfer of power, Associated Press, Eric Tucker and Michael Kunzelman, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “Donald Trump was indicted on felony charges Tuesday for working to overturn the results of the 2020 election in the run-up to the violent riot by his supporters at the U.S. Capitol, with the Justice Department acting to hold him accountable for an unprecedented effort to block the peaceful transfer of presidential power and threaten American democracy. The four-count indictment, the third criminal case against Trump, provided deeper insight into a dark moment that has already been the subject of exhaustive federal investigations and captivating public hearings. It chronicles a months-long campaign of lies about the election results and says that, even when those falsehoods resulted in a chaotic insurrection at the Capitol, Trump sought to exploit the violence by pointing to it as a reason to further delay the counting of votes that sealed his defeat. Even in a year of rapid-succession legal reckonings for Trump, Tuesday’s indictment, with charges including conspiring to defraud the United States government that he once led, was stunning in its allegations that a former president assaulted the ‘bedrock function’ of democracy. It’s the first time the defeated president, who is the early front-runner for next year’s Republican presidential nomination, is facing legal consequences for his frantic but ultimately failed effort to cling to power.” See also, The New Trump Indictment and the Reckoning Ahead. With the former President still far ahead of the rest of the Republican field, the American electorate is headed for a crucial test. The New Yorker, David Remnick, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “To read the stark criminal indictment, returned by a federal grand jury on Tuesday, charging Donald Trump with conspiring to steal the 2020 Presidential election is to realize more deeply than before that the country is headed for a great reckoning—in the courts and at the ballot box. It suggests a question that cannot be escaped: Will the American electorate show itself capable of overlooking a conspiracy to undermine democratic rule and return the chief conspirator to power? The third and latest indictment against Trump sets out four charges and makes the case against him in the plainest terms. ‘Despite having lost, the defendant was determined to remain in power,’ the introduction to the forty-five-page document reads—and where have you seen a more succinct summary of criminal intent?” See also, Trump charged with 4 felony counts for attempt to overturn the 2020 election, NPR, Carrie Johnson, Ryan Lucas, Jaclyn Diaz, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “Former President Donald Trump was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on four counts related to efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, according to court documents. Trump was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, witness tampering, conspiracy against the rights of citizens, and obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding. The charges were unsealed two weeks after the former president said he had learned he may be indicted by a federal grand jury investigating the siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. That’s when protesters loyal to Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent then-Vice President Mike Pence from performing his ceremonial role of certifying the presidential election in favor of the winner, Joe Biden.” See also, 5 things to know about the latest charges against Donald Trump, NPR, Emily Olson, Jaclyn Diaz, Ximena Bustillo, published on Wednesday, 2 August 2023.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Moscow says drone hits skyscraper again; Kherson and Kharkiv report strikes, The Washington Post, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Ellen Francis, Natalia Abbakumova, Serhiy Morgunov, and Eve Sampson, Tuesday, 1 August 2023: “A drone hit the same Moscow skyscraper — which houses offices and ministries — for the second time in days, the city’s mayor and Russia’s Defense Ministry said early Tuesday, blaming Ukraine. Kyiv has not claimed responsibility, but Ukrainian officials have described targets in Russia as legitimate. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak suggested early Tuesday that the drones meant that Moscow was ‘rapidly getting used to a full-fledged war.’ Ukrainian officials said Russian attacks a day earlier killed at least 10 people, including a 10-year-old girl and her mother, and injured at least 100 in the southern city of Kherson and in Kryvyi Rih, the hometown of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Russian shelling Tuesday hit a medical facility in Kherson, killing a doctor, injuring a nurse and damaging a surgical department there, the regional governor, Oleksandr Prokudin, said in a statement. International humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders confirmed that it maintains a partnership with the hospital that was attacked. Russian air defenses thwarted ‘several drones’ trying to reach Moscow, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said Tuesday. He said the facade of the building’s 21st floor was damaged, that it was the same skyscraper hit on Sunday and that there was no information on casualties. UNESCO has verified damage to 274 locations in Ukraine, including religious sites, museums, monuments and libraries, during nearly a year and a half of war, the U.N. organization said. Russian drones struck Kharkiv and destroyed two floors of a dormitory, the mayor of the northeastern city, Ukraine’s second-largest, said overnight. Belarusian helicopters violated Polish airspace during a training exercise Tuesday, Poland’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. The Belarusian Defense Ministry refuted the claims, calling them ‘far-fetched.’ Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak ordered more soldiers along the border, the ministry said. Britain imposed sanctions on six Russian nationals involved in the trial of British-Russian dual national Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was sentenced to 25 years in a penal colony on treason charges. Kara-Murza has publicly denounced Russia’s war on Ukraine and was sentenced on ‘bogus charges,’ British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said. The sanctioned Russian citizens include three judges, two prosecutors and an expert witness. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan is slated to attend a Ukrainian-backed peace summit that Saudi Arabia is planning, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive planning. Ukraine’s foreign minister said he discussed the possibility of using Croatian ports to export grain during a meeting Monday with his Croatian counterpart. Russia’s withdrawal from a U.N.-backed grain deal last month has blocked the flow of Ukrainian grain exports via Black Sea routes.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Drone Again Hits a Moscow Building Housing Russian Ministries. Ukrainian officials have become more open in their view that targets inside Russia are legitimate. The New York Times, Tuesday, 1 August 2023:

  • Central Moscow is hit for the second time in two days in a drone attack.
  • In Moscow, some residents worry after recent attacks while others move on.
  • UNESCO says 274 cultural sites have been damaged in Ukraine since February last year.
  • A Ukrainian doctor is killed in a shelling attack on his first full day at work, authorities say.
  • Ukraine’s stepped-up attacks on Russia aim at the Kremlin’s military logistics.
  • Ukraine is moving to export grain through Croatia’s ports.
  • Extensive minefields impede Ukraine’s counteroffensive, military experts say.

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, August 2023: 
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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, July 2023


My daily chronicle of news about the Trump administration (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021), Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence continues. I am still posting important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration and ones that address the toxic legacy of the Trump administration and Republicans. However, I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on this site in the coming months. Thanks for reading!


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Saturday, 1 July 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: C.I.A. Director William Burns says Wagner’s mutiny is a sign of the war’s ‘corrosive’ effect on Russia, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Adela Suliman, Nick Parker, and Karen DeYoung, Saturday, 1 July 2023: “Russia’s ‘mistakes’ in Ukraine have laid bare its military weaknesses and damaged its economy for years to come, CIA Director William J. Burns said Saturday. Speaking in a lecture at Britain’s Ditchley Foundation, Burns reiterated the Biden administration’s insistence that the United States ‘had and will have no part’ in last week’s rebellion by Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his Wagner Group. The impact of Prigozhin’s ‘scathing indictment of the Kremlin’s mendacious rationale’ for the Ukraine invasion and the conduct of Russia’s military leadership in the war ‘will play out for some time, a vivid reminder of the corrosive effect of [President Vladimir] Putin’s war on his own society and his own regime.’

  • ‘Disaffection with the war will continue to gnaw away at the Russian leadership’ and create a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ for U.S. intelligence, said Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia. ‘We’re not letting it go to waste,’ Burns said Saturday. Intelligence initiatives have included the unprecedented release of classified information on Putin’s war plans before the invasion and subsequent intelligence sharing with allies and Ukraine, and the use of social media through the Telegram channel ‘to let Russians know how to contact us safely on the dark web,’ he said. ‘We had 2.5 million views in the first week, and we’re very much open for business.’
  • Burns made a secret visit to Ukraine last month, when officials revealed an ambitious endgame for the war, The Post has reported. The strategy aims to retake Russian-occupied territory and open cease-fire negotiations with Moscow by the end of the year, officials familiar with the visit said.
  • The Biden administration is weighing whether to supply Kyiv with cluster bombs. Senior U.S. administration and defense officials have contacted lawmakers to assess their comfort with sending the munitions, people familiar with the matter told The Washington Post. The Biden administration has concerns about the optics of the move and the potential for long-term harm to civilians because the munitions can leave behind unexploded bomblets that remain deadly for decades.
  • A U.S. official told The Post that the United States has seen an ‘increasing need’ for cluster munitions, which could help address ammunition shortages in Ukraine. ‘We’ve always said our security assistance would evolve as battlefield conditions have evolved, and that continues to be the case,’ the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity about the sensitive issue. The United States is not among the more than 120 nations that have signed an international convention banning the use, transfer or production of cluster munitions, which international rights groups and other governments have long condemned as inhumane.
  • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he offered Wagner troops an abandoned military base in Belarus, the country where Prigozhin, the mercenary group’s leader, relocated this week, although he has not made a public appearance there yet. Satellite imagery captured Friday showed what could be the rapid construction of a new camp in Belarus to house Wagner forces, according to local media and experts. The Post could not independently verify the reports.
  • Lukashenko signed a law allowing the ban of media outlets based in countries that he deems unfriendly to Belarus. The longtime authoritarian leader has a history of fomenting media criticism and protests.
  • Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez arrived in Ukraine on Saturday to meet with Zelensky, as his country takes over the rotating presidency of the European Union council. Sánchez tweeted: ‘I wanted the first act of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the E.U. to be in Ukraine,’ as he expressed European solidarity. Zelensky tweeted his appreciation after a joint news conference, thanking Spain ‘for supporting Ukraine on the way to joining the European Union.’
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modiexpressed understanding and support’ for Putin’s efforts to solidify power after the failed Wagner revolt, according to the Kremlin’s readout of their phone conversation Friday. The United States, Ukraine’s largest backer, has close ties with India, hosting a recent state visit for Modi, who has not condemned Russia’s invasion.
  • Japan said it spotted two Russian Navy ships in the waters near Taiwan and Japan’s Okinawa islands over the last four days, according to its Defense Ministry. Tokyo said last month that repeated Russian military activity near Japanese territory posed a ‘serious concern’ for the country’s national security, Reuters reported.

Trump pressured Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to overturn 2020 election, The Washington Post, Leigh Ann Caldwell, Josh Dawsey, and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Saturday, 1 July 20223: “In a phone call in late 2020, President Donald Trump tried to pressure Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) to overturn the state’s presidential election results, saying that if enough fraudulent votes could be found it would overcome Trump’s narrow loss in Arizona, according to three people familiar with the call. Trump also repeatedly asked Vice President Mike Pence to call Ducey and prod him to find the evidence to substantiate Trump’s claims of fraud, according to two of these people. Pence called Ducey several times to discuss the election, they said, though he did not follow Trump’s directions to pressure the governor. The extent of Trump’s efforts to cajole Ducey into helping him stay in power has not before been reported, even as other efforts by Trump’s lawyer and allies to pressure Arizona officials have been made public. Ducey told reporters in December 2020 that he and Trump had spoken, but he declined to disclose the contents of the call then or in the more than two years since. Although he disagreed with Trump about the outcome of the election, Ducey has sought to avoid a public battle with Trump.”


Sunday, 2 July 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Wagner Group pauses hiring during move to Belarus, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Leo Sands, Shera Avi-Yonah, Ben Brasch, and Kyle Rempfer, Sunday, 2 July 2023: “Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s Wagner Group will pause hiring mercenaries for a month as its forces move to Belarus, scaling down the group’s activities after it aborted a mutiny attempt outside Moscow last month. A Telegram channel the company uses for hiring said Wagner’s forces won’t fight in Ukraine as they shift operations from Russia. Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez visited Kyiv this weekend as his country took the helm of the rotating European Council presidency. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the visit as symbolic, saying it showcased a ‘new reality’ amid the Russian invasion.

  • The Wagner Group will stop recruiting new mercenaries for a month while its forces move to Belarus, and it has paused activities in Ukraine, according to a post on a Telegram channel the company uses for hiring. Prigozhin agreed to move his forces to Belarus last month as part of a deal brokered to stop his mutiny attempt. Wagner has used social media to mount a global hiring campaign in more than a dozen languages, the disinformation research group Logically told Politico Europe. Russia has also shut down several media outlets connected to Prigozhin, Reuters reported.
  • Sánchez’s visit to the Ukrainian capital underscores ‘the priorities of the Spanish presidency and our cooperation,’ Zelensky said in his nightly address after the Saturday visit. ‘It was always impossible to imagine our common European home as complete without Ukraine. And now we have achieved at the political level that European affairs are no longer considered without Ukraine.’
  • CIA Director William J. Burns said Russia’s ‘mistakes’ in Ukraine have revealed its military weaknesses and damaged its economy. He also reiterated that the United States had no part in the armed rebellion in Russia by Wagner Group founder Yevgeniy Prigozhin. Discontent in Russia during the war has created a ‘once-in-a-generation opportunity’ for U.S. intelligence, said Burns, who is also a former U.S. ambassador to Russia. Last month, he made a secret visit to Ukraine, where Ukrainian officials conveyed their goals for the war’s endgame.
  • President Biden will travel to Lithuania and Finland for diplomatic conferences this month, the White House announced in a news release Sunday. He will attend an annual NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11 and 12, and a U.S.-Nordic summit in Helsinki on July 13. Ukraine continues to seek fast-tracked NATO accession, a step British Defense Minister Ben Wallace said this week the alliance should consider. Some NATO members have been cool to that idea. The European Union is also considering Ukraine’s membership bid and may formally discuss it in December, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola said Thursday.
  • Russia’s Maks air show has been postponed until 2024, organizers confirmed. The biennial show, which was last held in 2021 and was scheduled to take place this month, bills itself as the hallmark of Russia’s aerospace industry. According to Britain’s Defense Ministry, ‘the show has probably been canceled largely due to genuine security concerns, following recent uncrewed aerial vehicle attacks inside Russia.’
  • The first direct flight from Russia to Cuba in over a year took place this weekendRussia’s state-run Tass news reported SundayPublicly available flight data showed the 13-hour flight, operated by Aeroflot’s Rossiya Airlines, bypassed European airspace with a route over the Arctic and south over the Atlantic. According to Reuters, flights from Russia to Cuba, Mexico and the Dominican Republic were suspended in February 2022 after Western countries blocked Russian flights from using their airspace.
  • Satellite imagery captured Friday showed what could be the rapid construction of a new camp in Belarus to house Wagner forces, according to experts and local media. The Post could not independently verify the reports. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he offered Wagner troops an abandoned military base in the country. Prigozhin, the leader of the mercenary organization, also relocated to Belarus this week but has not yet made a public appearance there.
  • Poland will bolster security along its border with Russian ally Belarus by deploying an additional 500 police officers, Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said Sunday on Twitter. Kaminski described the situation on the border as ‘tense.’ Since Prigozhin’s relocation to Belarus last week, the Russian ally’s E.U. neighbors have grown increasingly wary of instability in the country spilling beyond its borders.
  • Viktor Bout — the Russian infamous arms dealer traded for WNBA megastar Brittney Griner in a prisoner swap — is running for a seat in a Russian regional legislature as an ultranationalist candidate, state news agency RIA reported Sunday. Bout was serving a 25-year prison sentence after being arrested in a U.S. sting operation in Thailand. Griner, the two-time Olympic gold medalist, was serving nine years in a Russian prison for carrying vape cartridges containing cannabis oil.

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, July 2023:

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, June 2023


My daily chronicle of news about the Trump administration (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021), Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence continues. I am still posting important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration and ones that address the toxic legacy of the Trump administration and Republicans. However, I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site in the coming months. Thanks for reading!


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Thursday, 1 June 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden hails unity of ‘energized’ NATO; 3 killed in Russian strike on Kyiv, The Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt, Niha Masih, Annabelle Timsit, and Miriam Berger, Thursday, 1 June 2023:  “A series of attacks rocked a Russian town four miles from the Ukrainian border throughout the day Thursday. The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region accused Kyiv of the attacks on Shebinko, where local residents and officials described intense rocket fire and shelling and where a plume of smoke rose above an apartment building. Kyiv has denied involvement in the drone strikes and incursions on Russian soil in recent days. Later in the day, the governor of Russia’s Kursk region said in a Telegram message that air defense systems had shot down several drones that he said had come from Ukraine. The developments in Russia unfolded after an early-morning airstrike on Ukraine’s capital killed three people, including a child, officials said. Preliminary information suggests that Russia used cruise and ballistic missiles in the attack, authorities said, and there was little time for citizens to seek shelter after an air raid alarm sounded. At least one of the victims died after finding the nearest bomb shelter locked.

  • The Pentagon disclosed Thursday that it signed a contract to provide SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service in Ukraine, nearly eight months after Elon Musk, the company’s mercurial owner, threatened to terminate access unless the U.S. government paid for it. The Defense Department withheld virtually all details about the agreement, including how much it will cost U.S. taxpayers and when the contract was signed.
  • President Biden said ‘NATO is more energized and more united than it’s been in decades.’ In commencement remarks at the Air Force Academy, Biden said: ‘It’s now even stronger with the accession of our newest ally, Finland, and soon Sweden, to the alliance as soon as possible. It will happen. I promise you.’ Sweden’s request to join has been held up by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who won reelection in a runoff on Sunday.
  • Kyiv residents were jolted awake shortly before 3 a.m. when air raid alarms went off, and the first explosion was heard within minutes. Although Ukraine’s air defense systems destroyed the targets, falling debris caused casualties and damage, Serhii Popko, the head of Kyiv’s military administration, said on Telegram. In Desnyansky district, a children’s hospital was damaged by falling debris. Authorities said an investigation was launched after a woman was killed when she and other local residents found their nearest shelter inexplicably closed. ‘It was chaos. My daughter was screaming. Everyone was screaming,’ her husband said in an interview.
  • The airstrikes came as Ukraine was ushering in Children’s Day, normally a joyful celebration in many former Soviet countries. But the death of a 9-year-old girl in the overnight attack, which injured one other child, caused ‘pain for all of us,’ Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska wrote on Twitter. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said all Children’s Day events planned in the city had been canceled. At least 483 children have been killed and 989 wounded since the war began, Ukraine’s general prosecutor said Thursday, citing confirmed casualty figures. The true toll is expected to be much higher, authorities say.
  • The town of Shebekino in Russia’s Belgorod region was shelled multiple times in the early-morning hours, regional governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram. Eight people were injured, he later said, and a residential building was hit and caught fire. On Wednesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the wider situation in the region as ‘quite alarming.’ Russia’s Defense Ministry said Thursday in a Telegram post that over 50 attackers in Belgorod had been killed, and multiple combatants’ vehicles destroyed.
  • The United States ‘fully anticipate[s]’ that Sweden’s accession to NATO will be complete by next month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday in Oslo. Turkey and Hungary have so far held up Sweden’s accession, even as they allowed applicant Finland to join the defense alliance. After meeting with NATO foreign ministers, Blinken said Ukraine can expect ‘a strong package of support’ to be unveiled at the alliance’s summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for security guarantees for Ukraine while in Moldova for a summit of 47 heads of state and government. ‘I think security guarantees are … also important for Moldova, because Russia is carrying out aggression in Ukraine and there is a potential threat of aggression in other parts of Europe,’ Zelensky said, according to a readout from his office. Moldova, a tiny republic bordering Ukraine, has accused Russia of plotting to overthrow its government, and Russia occupies the Moldovan breakaway region of Transnistria.
  • Foreign ministers representing BRICS countries — including Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov — at a meeting Thursday in South Africa called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine. The meeting comes ahead of a summit in August, when Russian President Vladimir Putin could make a rare wartime trip outside Russia. This has prompted questions about whether South Africa would extend immunity to the Russian president, who is the subject of an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in war crimes in Ukraine. South Africa’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it was ‘standard’ practice to confer immunity ‘for all international conferences and summits’ held in the country — though it added that such immunity would not ‘override any warrant that may have been issued by any international tribunal’ against a conference participant. Putin has not yet said whether he will attend the summit.
  • The U.S. State Department announced countermeasures to Russia’s ‘violations’ of the New START Treaty. Putin announced that Russia would be suspending its participation in the treaty in February, saying that Western inspections of Russia’s nuclear arsenal ran counter to its strategic interests. On Thursday, the State Department outlined its response: the U.S. will withhold data and inspection access from Russia. ‘The United States continues to abide by the treaty’s central limits, and to fulfill all of its New START obligations that have not been included within these countermeasures,’ reads the State Department announcement.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Missile Strike Kills 3 Seeking Shelter in Kyiv. Two women and a child were killed by debris as they tried to get into a clinic door that was locked. Air defenses intercepted the missiles just six minutes after alarms sounded, leaving people little time to react. The New York Times, Thursday, 1 June 2023:

  • The overnight attack left very little time for residents to take shelter.

  • Even on an especially tense day in Kyiv, a children’s hospital pauses to try to create some fun.

  • The U.S. follows Russia’s move on a nuclear treaty and ends the notification of many exercises.

  • Kyiv opens investigations into bomb shelters amid concerns that many are kept locked.

  • Macron says the Moldova meeting shows unity in support for Ukraine but that joining NATO has to wait.

  • At least 20,000 Russian troops died fighting to take Bakhmut, a Western official says.

  • Kyiv cancels some Children’s Day events as Ukraine loses another young life.

Senate Passes Debt Limit Bill, Staving Off a Calamitous Default. The final vote on Thursday night came after leaders put down a revolt by some senators who raised concerns that the debt-limit package would under-fund the Pentagon. The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Thursday, 1 June 2023: “After weeks of political impasse, tense negotiations and mounting economic anxiety, the Senate gave final approval on Thursday night to bipartisan legislation suspending the debt limit and imposing new spending caps, sending it to President Biden and ending the possibility of a calamitous government default. The approval by the Senate on a 63-to-36 vote brought to a close a political showdown that began brewing as soon as Republicans narrowly won the House in November, promising to use their new majority and the threat of a default to try to extract spending and policy concessions from Mr. Biden. The president refused for months to engage with Speaker Kevin McCarthy but finally did so after the California Republican managed in April to pass a G.O.P. fiscal plan, spurring negotiations with the White House that produced the compromise last weekend.” See also, Senate passes debt ceiling bill, sending it to Biden to sign into law, The Washington Post, Rachel Siegel, Marianne LeVine, John Wagner, and Leigh Ann Caldwell, Thursday, 1 June 2023: “The Senate passed a bipartisan bill late Thursday to suspend the debt ceiling and curb federal spending, sending the legislation to President Biden to sign into law in time to avert an unprecedented U.S. government default. The deal cleared the House on Wednesday night and is now on track to take effect by Monday, when the government would no longer be able to pay all of its bills without borrowing more money. Senators scrambled to vote before the weekend, even as a handful of frustrated lawmakers pushed for votes on amendments that risked slowing the process. None of the amendments was adopted. But in an effort to alleviate concerns from defense hawks that the debt ceiling bill would restrict Pentagon spending too much, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) issued a joint statement saying the ‘debt ceiling deal does nothing to limit the Senate’s ability to appropriate emergency supplemental funds to ensure our military capabilities are sufficient to deter China, Russia, and our other adversaries.'”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, June 2023:

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, May 2023


My daily chronicle of news about the Trump administration (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021), Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence continues. I am still posting important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration and ones that address the toxic legacy of the Trump administration and Republicans. However, I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site in the coming months. Thanks for reading!


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Monday, 1 May 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. says Russia has suffered 100,000 casualties since December, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit, and Adam Taylor, Monday, 1 May 2023: “The United States estimates Russia has suffered 100,000 casualties since December, including more than 20,000 killed in action, the National Security Council said Monday. Roughly half of those killed, NSC spokesman John Kirby said, were working with the Wagner mercenary group, often ex-convicts who had been recruited from prison. The figures were first shared by Kirby on a call with reporters Monday; NSC deputy spokesman Sean Savett said later that the casualty count referred to Russia’s losses across Ukraine since December. The numbers are based on ‘some information and intelligence that we were able to corroborate over a period of some time,’ Kirby said. He declined to discuss Ukrainian casualties. ‘That’s up to them to speak to,’ he said. Russia targeted Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities with a ‘massive’ wave of missiles overnight, Ukrainian officials said. The assault on the capital lasted several hours early Monday, but no casualties were reported, as local authorities said air defenses worked to intercept most of the missiles. Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed that it carried out strikes against facilities that produce ammunition and weapons for Ukrainian troops. Ukraine said residential areas were hit. The attack followed a weekend drone strike by Ukrainian forces on an oil depot in Russian-occupied Crimea, as Ukraine prepares for an anticipated counteroffensive.

  • Russian strategic bombers launched 18 Kh-101 and Kh-555 cruise missiles against Ukraine’s territory in an attack that began around 2:30 a.m. Monday, according to the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny. Zaluzhny said the attacks were launched from the Caspian Sea and from the Murmansk region in northwestern Russia. He said that 15 of the missiles were destroyed.
  • Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed the strikes, saying in a statement Monday that its armed forces ‘carried out a group missile strike with long-range airborne and sea-based high-precision weapons against the facilities of the Ukrainian military-industrial complex.’
  • The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine criticized the overnight attack. Bridget A. Brink tweeted, ‘Russia again launched missiles in the deep of night at Ukrainian cities where civilians, including children, should be able to sleep safely and peacefully.’
  • An explosion Monday morning caused a freight train to derail in Bryansk in western Russia, the regional governor said. Alexander Bogomaz said that an ‘unidentified explosive device’ went off around the train tracks near Russia’s border with Ukraine and Belarus. He did not specify who might be responsible. State-owned operator Russian Railways said that ‘unauthorized persons’ illegally interfered with the railway’s operations. The Washington Post couldn’t independently verify the claims.
  • A power line was blown up in Russia’s Leningrad region early Monday near the border with Estonia and Finland, regional governor Aleksandr Drozdenko said. According to Drozdenko, the power line in the Gatchinskiy district blew up shortly after midnight, and an unidentified object, ‘presumably an explosive device,’ was found on a second power line. He said emergency crews and government investigators were at the scene.
  • At least 34 people, including five children, were injured in overnight missile strikes against Pavlohrad in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region, regional governor Serhii Lysak said. The strikes caused ‘significant damage’ to the energy network infrastructure in Dnipropetrovsk and the Kherson region, leaving thousands of households without power, Ukraine’s energy minister said.
  • Ukrainian officials said the attack on an oil depot in Sevastopol was part of the buildup to Kyiv’s counteroffensive. Natalia Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern command, told local television that undermining Russia’s logistics helps prepare for the ‘broad full-scale offensive that everyone expects.’ Saturday’s strike in Sevastopol, which is home to the Russian navy’s Black Sea Fleet, destroyed more than 10 tanks holding some 40,000 tons of oil products intended for the fleet, according to Ukrainian officials.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a ‘meaningful conversation’ with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday, Zelensky’s office said. The leaders discussed French military aid to Ukraine and the upcoming NATO summit in Lithuania, according to a Ukrainian readout of the call. Zelensky has expressed hope that NATO members will agree at the summit to formally invite Ukraine to become a member of the alliance. But leaders of the alliance have avoided giving Kyiv any guarantees on its membership prospects.
  • Pope Francis said the Vatican is involved in a secret peace mission. ‘I think peace is always made by opening up channels; it can never be accomplished by closing [doors]. I’m always urging [everyone] to have new rapports, friendly connections,’ the pope told reporters on a weekend flight back from a three-day trip to Hungary, according to Italian news agency ANSA.
  • President Biden said he is ‘working like hell’ to bring home Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich. At the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner Saturday night, Biden promised Gershkovich’s family, present in the audience, to work to secure the journalist’s release from prison in Moscow, where the State Department says he is being wrongfully detained on espionage charges. ‘Evan went to report in Russia to shed light on the darkness that you all escaped from years ago. Absolute courage,’ Biden said. ‘We all stand with you.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: White House Sets Russian Troop Losses at 100,000 Over Last 5 Months. Of the Russia soldiers no longer on the battlefield, 20,000 were killed, according to John Kirby, a White House spokesman. Half of them were Wagner mercenaries. The New York Times, Monday, 1 May 2023:

  • The U.S. estimates more than 100,000 Russian casualties in recent months.

  • Both sides report attacks before an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.

  • McCarthy, the House’s top Republican, publicly pledges continued support for Ukraine.

  • An explosion derails a freight train in a Russian border area, according to a local governor.

  • In the midst of war, a half-marathon brightens Kyiv.

  • Battlefield Update: Russia and Ukraine each claim gains in Bakhmut.

  • Ukraine’s human rights chief tells civilians in occupied areas to get Russian passports ‘to survive.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: May Day is another war day as Russia strikes Ukrainian cities, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 1 May 2023: Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: As much of the world marks the May 1 Workers’ Day holiday, Ukraine tried to fend off a new barrage of Russian strikes in the 14-month-long war. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization launches its Global Report on Food Crises on Wednesday. Last year it predicted the war in Ukraine would exacerbate already severe food insecurity in different countries. Moscow is preparing for a military parade dress rehearsal for Russia’s Victory Day celebration of defeating Nazi forces in 1945. What happened last week: Chinese leader Xi Jinping called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in their first known contact since the Russian invasion last year. Zelenskyy appointed an ambassador to China. And China said it would send a special envoy to work toward a political settlement to the conflict. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went to New York to chair debates at the U.N. Security Council, over which Russia holds the rotating presidency. In attendance was Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia. Russian missiles struck an apartment building in Uman, central Ukraine, killing more than 20 people, including children. Ukraine likely conducted drone attacks in Sevastopol, Crimea, including on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet on April 24 and an oil storage facility on April 29, conflict analysts said. A Ukrainian journalist was killed and Italian reporter injured in an apparent Russian sniper attack, their employer La Repubblica newspaper said. The European Union provided $1.65 billion to Ukraine as part of an annual financial assistance package, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. President Biden and others at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner called for Russia to release Evan Gershkovich, the U.S. citizen and Wall Street Journal reporter jailed in Russia.

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, May 2023:

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, April 2023


My daily chronicle of news about the Trump administration (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021), Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence continues. I am still posting important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration and ones that address the toxic legacy of the Trump administration and Republicans. However, I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site in the coming months. Thanks for reading!


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.


Saturday, 1 April 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia takes U.N. Security Council presidency for the month of April; calls mount for release of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables and Adela Suliman, Saturday, 1 April 2023: “Russia took up the presidency of the U.N. Security Council on Saturday, a rotating role that it will hold for one month. Moscow last held the position in February 2022 — the month it invaded Ukraine.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said this week that ‘a country that flagrantly violates the U.N. Charter and invades its neighbor has no place on the U.N. Security Council,’ but added that there is ‘no feasible international legal pathway’ to change Moscow’s status in the organization. Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba called Russia’s presidency ‘a stark reminder that something is wrong with the way international security architecture is functioning,’ while Andriy Yermak, the Ukrainian president’s chief of staff, said it was a ‘symbolic blow.’ Pressure is mounting on Moscow to release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, a U.S. citizen who was detained in Russia this week on espionage charges. The Journal denied the charges and said the ‘minimum’ it expects of the Biden administration is to expel Russia’s ambassador and Russian journalists working in the United States. Biden called on Russia to ‘let him go,’ but told reporters expelling diplomats is ‘not the plan right now.’

  • The Wall Street Journal accused Russia of taking Gershkovich hostage on ‘phony espionage charges.’ He is the first U.S. journalist arrested in Russia on spying allegations since the Cold War and his detainment has drawn condemnation from governments and organizations around the world including The Washington Post. Reporters Without Borders called for Gershkovich’s release and said there was no indication he was ‘doing anything other than legitimate investigative reporting.’
  • Ukrainian officials lambasted Russia’s U.N. Security Council presidency. Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s permanent representative at the United Nations, likened the decision to an April Fool’s Day joke. Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said ‘an entity that wages an aggressive war, violates the norms of humanitarian & criminal law, destroys the UN Charter, neglects nuclear safety can’t head the world’s key security body.’
  • Finland will formally join NATO ‘in the coming days,’ the alliance’s head Jens Stoltenberg said, finalizing what he described as ‘the fastest ratification process in NATO’s modern history.’ Finland and Sweden applied for membership on the same day last year, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but Turkey and Hungary are holding out on Sweden’s bid. Stoltenberg said he hopes Sweden can join ‘as soon as possible.’
  • The International Monetary Fund approved a $15.6 billion economic program for Ukraine, allowing around $2.7 billion to be immediately disbursed to Kyiv, the organization announced Friday. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in a statement that the four-year program ‘will support economic growth, strengthen good governance and anti-corruption efforts, and set the foundation for longer-term reconstruction.’
  • Russia will boost munition supplies to its forces on the front line in Ukraine, its Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Saturday, Reuters reported. ‘The volume of supplies of the most demanded ammunition has been determined. Necessary measures are being taken to increase them,’ he said. Shoigu has faced criticism from Russian mercenary group Wagner for a lack of support and supplies to front-line troops.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new ‘foreign policy concept,’ bolstering ties to China and India. The 42-page document strikes a confrontational tone regarding the West and says the measures aim to eliminate ‘rudiments of domination’ by the United States and other ‘unfriendly countries in world affairs.’ Moscow will also work to ‘counter Russophobia,’ it adds.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron in an hourlong conversation, he said on Twitter. The two leaders discussed the Ukraine-France ‘defense interaction’ and Zelensky ‘briefed in detail on the situation at the front,’ he said.
  • Wimbledon has reversed its ban on Russian and Belarusian tennis players and will allow them to compete under a neutral flag. The ban — which was also imposed in other sports — came into effect after Russia’s invasion last year. Earlier this week, the International Olympic Committee recommended that athletes from Russia and Belarus also be allowed to return to competition, a move that angered Ukraine.
  • Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez encouraged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to discuss peace plans with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Reuters reported. Speaking at a news conference in Beijing, Sánchez said he told Xi — who carried out a grand state visit to Moscow in March — that Madrid supported Zelensky’s peace proposals, including restoring Ukrainian territory to borders predating Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Trump’s Republican Rivals, Shielding Him, Reveal Their 2024 Predicament. Many of Donald Trump’s potential opponents snapped into line behind him, showing just how hard it may be to persuade Republican voters to choose an alternative. The New York Times, Michael C. Bender and Maggie Haberman, Saturday, 1 April 2023: “Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida took a measured dig at Donald J. Trump by publicly mocking the circumstances that led New York investigators to the former president. ‘I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a porn star to secure silence over some type of alleged affair,’ Mr. DeSantis said. But as soon as Mr. Trump was indicted this week, Mr. DeSantis promptly vowed to block his state from assisting a potential extradition. In a show of support for his fellow Republican, Mr. DeSantis called the case ‘the weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda.’ In the hours after a grand jury indicted Mr. Trump, many of his potential rivals for the Republican presidential nomination snapped into line behind him, looking more like allies than competitors. All passed on the opportunity to criticize him, and some rushed to his defense, expressing concerns about the legitimacy of the case. The turnaround by some prospective contenders was so swift and complete that it caught even the Trump team off guard. One close ally suggested to Mr. Trump that he publicly thank his rivals. (As of Friday evening, he had not.) The reluctance to directly confront Mr. Trump put his strength as a front-runner on full display. His would-be challengers have been sizing up political billiard balls for the possibility of an increasingly tricky bank shot: persuading Republican voters to forsake him, while presenting themselves as the movement’s heir apparent. In one reflection of Mr. Trump’s durability, his team said it had raised more than $4 million in the 24 hours after the indictment was made public by The New York Times.”

Sunday, 2 April 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinkin calls for release of U.S. journalist Evan Gershkovich; explosion kills pro-Russian military blogger, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Leo Sands, and Maham Javaid, Sunday, 2 April 2023: “Washington has called on the Kremlin to immediately release American journalist Evan Gershkovich, a State Department spokesperson said Sunday. The United States is gravely concerned about the Wall Street Journal reporter’s ‘unacceptable’ detention, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, during a phone call Sunday morning. Gershkovich was detained last week in Russia on espionage charges. The White House and the Journal have denied those allegations. Meanwhile, an explosion at a cafe in St. Petersburg killed prominent Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky and injured 16 others, the Russian Interior Ministry reported Sunday.

  • Blinken also urged the Kremlin to ‘immediately release wrongfully detained U.S. citizen Paul Whelan,’ according to a statement from State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel. Whelan, a former U.S. Marine, was convicted in Russia on espionage charges in 2020. His attorney said Whelan was set up.
  • Lavrov asked Blinken to ‘respect the decisions of the Russian authorities,’ according to a Russian Foreign Ministry statement. Lavrov said Gershkovich’s arrest was in accordance with the law and international obligations of the Russian Federation, according to the Foreign Ministry.
  • The U.S. government is moving quickly to designate Gershkovich as ‘unlawfully detained,’ the Journal’s editor in chief, Emma Tucker, said in an interview Saturday with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. The designation would speed the process to try to free him, she said. Measures such as expelling Russia’s ambassador to the United States — which the Journal’s editorial board has called for — are ‘not the plan right now,’ Tucker said.
  • St. Petersburg police are investigating the cafe explosion, according to the Russian Interior Ministry. Tatarsky, one of the most prominent pro-Kremlin military bloggers, had more than 560,000 followers on his Telegram page that chronicled and promoted Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • A Ukrainian court has placed the head of Kyiv’s most prominent monastery under house arrest on charges of justifying Russia’s armed aggression, the latest escalation in a long-simmering conflict between Ukrainian officials and a local branch of the Orthodox Church they say has ties to Moscow, The Washington Post reported. Metropolitan Pavlo, the head of the Lavra monastery, has denied the charges.

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, April 2023:

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Aftermath of the Trump Administration, March 2023


My daily chronicle of news about the Trump administration (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021), Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence continues. I am still posting important articles, especially ones that reflect the differences between the Biden administration and the Trump administration and ones that address the toxic legacy of the Trump administration and Republicans. However, I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site in the coming months. Thanks for reading!


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!

For a newsletter about the history behind today’s politics, subscribe to Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter, Letters from an American.



Wednesday, 1 March 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: ‘Winter is over’ Zelensky says, praising effort to maintain energy and heat, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Bryan Pietsch, John Hudson, and Adam Taylor, Wednesday, 1 March 2023: “Winter ‘was very difficult, and every Ukrainian without exaggeration felt this difficulty,’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a speech marking the first day of spring after a winter at war. ‘But we still managed to provide Ukraine with energy and heat.’ Ukrainians celebrated the day. ‘They wanted to freeze us and throw us into darkness. We survived!’ said Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. The besieged city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine is facing the ‘most difficult situation’ in the country as the battle for control of the front-line city intensifies, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in remarks Wednesday. ‘The intensity of fighting is only increasing,’ and Russia is exerting ‘insane pressure’ on Ukrainian forces by sending troops ‘to constantly storm our positions’ without regard for their lives, he said.

  • Finland’s Parliament voted to speed up the country’s accession to NATO, bringing the Nordic nation closer to joining the transatlantic military alliance. The bill passed on Wednesday by a vote of 184-7. The move to accelerate the accession could lead Finland to join the alliance before Sweden; the tightknit pair often coordinate on security and had planned to join NATO together, but Turkey has dragged its feet on approving Sweden’s bid over concerns around Stockholm’s approach to groups that Ankara considers to be terrorists.
  • Hungary’s president urged lawmakers to move urgently to allow Finland and Sweden to join NATO. All 30 NATO members must agree to admit new states to the alliance, but legislation to approve the accessions of Finland and Sweden has stalled in Hungary’s legislative body, with some lawmakers accusing the Nordic nations of insulting Hungary in recent years, the Associated Press reported. Hungarian President Katalin Novak said Wednesday that ‘the accession of Sweden and Finland is justified,’ urging the National Assembly to ‘make a wise decision as soon as possible.’
  • Russia is not interested in ‘meaningful diplomacy,’ Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. He urged neutral countries preparing to attend this week’s Group of 20 meeting in India to reject the terms Moscow has outlined for negotiating an end to the war in Ukraine. Blinken said the Kremlin’s position that Ukraine must accept Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian territory as a precondition for negotiations should not be accepted by any nation. ‘That’s obviously a nonstarter and should be a nonstarter, not just for Ukraine and for us, but for countries around the world,’ Blinken said.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would host Chinese President Xi Jinping in Moscow, state media outlets reported. It was not clear when such a visit would occur. China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, visited Moscow last week. Blinken has warned that China will face sanctions if it supplies lethal support to Russia. China has denied any such plans and in recent days has been positioning itself as a potential peacemaker in the conflict.
  • Ukrainians have been celebrating the arrival of spring on social media, posting photos of flowers and hailing their survival as a victory over Russia. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, said Wednesday: ‘Putin suffered another major defeat. Despite the cold, darkness, and missile strikes, Ukraine persevered and defeated his winter terror.’
  • Finland is building a fence along its border with Russia to address the ‘changed security environment.’ The border fence is set to span nearly 125 miles of its more than 800-mile-long border with Russia, according to Finland’s Border Guard, which announced the move Tuesday. It noted that while Russia controls outbound traffic into Finland, ‘Finland cannot rely on the effectiveness of Russian border control.’ Large numbers of Russians have fled since the start of the war. Those with visas have fled to Finland or elsewhere in Europe, while others have escaped to nearby countries such as Armenia and Kazakhstan.
  • The war in Ukraine is due to dominate conversations at the Group of 20 summit in India, where foreign ministers from the world’s most powerful economies, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, are gathering on Wednesday. Blinken is also due to attend the summit this week.
  • Blinken has ‘no plans’ to meet his Russian and Chinese counterparts at the G-20 gathering, the top U.S. diplomat said Wednesday. Washington, Beijing and Moscow are at odds over the war in Ukraine, but Blinken said he does not intend to hold bilateral meetings with Lavrov or China’s Qing Gang, who will both be in New Delhi at the same time. Blinken said he suspects he will be in ‘group sessions’ with his two counterparts, however, ‘at one time or another.’
  • Denmark is scrapping a national holiday in a bid to create greater tax revenue for military spending, despite public opposition. Lawmakers voted on Tuesday to end the celebration of Great Prayer Day, a religious holiday that had been commemorated since the 17th century, next year. The government has estimated that ending the holiday will add about $430 million to the government budget. The government says this money could be added to the Danish military spending in the hope of meeting NATO targets set at 2 percent of a member state’s total economic output.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kyiv Sends Reinforcements to Besieged Bakhmut. The battle for the eastern city has become a crucible in the war. The New York Times, Wednesday, 1 March 2023:

  • Ukraine is sending reinforcements after the Russians surrounded Bakhmut on three sides.
  • There’s ‘zero evidence’ that Putin is ready for peace talks, Blinken says.
  • China’s leader meets with the president of Belarus, a Putin ally.
  • Russia says a Ukrainian drone outside Moscow was carrying explosives.
  • Artillery fire near the Zaporizhzhia complex deepens security concerns, the U.N. nuclear watchdog says.
  • Finland approves laws needed for NATO membership, though Hungary and Turkey may delay approval.
  • Zelensky treads a careful line with China, even as efforts to reach out come up empty.
  • Europe is struggling to provide Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Prosecution’s Witness at Proud Boys Trial Shows Complexities of the Case. Jeremy Bertino, a former Proud Boy, provided some of the government’s best evidence so far, but he also offered an unusual description of a criminal conspiracy. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, Wednesday, 1 March 2023: “As the testimony of Jeremy Bertino, the government’s star witness in the Proud Boys sedition trial, came to an end this week, there was a moment that crystallized the challenges the prosecution has faced throughout the marathon proceeding. For five days, Mr. Bertino — a former Proud Boy from North Carolina — told the jury how the far-right group fell into a kind of collective panic after the 2020 election and ultimately sought to keep Joseph R. Biden Jr. from taking power by serving as the ‘tip of the spear’ in the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. On Tuesday evening, prosecutors sought to punctuate his testimony by asking his final thoughts on the chief allegation in the case: that the five Proud Boys on trial had reached an agreement to use physical force to stop the transfer of presidential power. Over the course of several questions, Mr. Bertino — who was at home in North Carolina on the day of the attack — acknowledged that he was never privy to the Proud Boys’ plans for Jan. 6. And yet he said he knew the group’s objective: to stop Mr. Biden from becoming president. He arrived at this conclusion, he went on, not through any specific dealings with his compatriots, but rather through ‘cumulative conversations’ leading up to the attack.”

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