Aftermath of the Trump Administration, February 2022


My daily chronicle of news about the Trump administration (20 January 2017 – 20 January 2021), Republicans, Democrats, corporations, courts, resistance, and persistence continues to wind down. 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. I hope to devote more of my time to posting muckraking articles on my site and to working with my local activist group in pursuit of progressive change and a stronger democracy. 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.


Tuesday, 1 February 2022:


New York Attorney General Letitia James subpoenaed the General Services Administration for information about how the agency selected former president Donald Trump’s business to lease the historic post office where he developed his D.C. hotel. The request sought information about whether Trump used false information to secure the hotel lease, according to people familiar with the inquiry. The Washington Post, Jonathan O’Connell, Josh Dawsey, and Shayna Jacobs, Tuesday, 1 February 2022: “The inquiry, part of a civil investigation into Trump’s business, sought information about whether Trump inflated his net worth to secure the lease, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing legal inquiry. The documents James sought included a scorecard GSA used to rank Trump’s bid against those of other developers who proposed leasing and redeveloping the federally owned Old Post Office Pavilion downtown. That information could fit into James’s broader effort to show a pattern of Trump giving false information to business partners, banks and insurers to secure loans and other deals. James’s request appears to differ from previous inquiries into Trump’s hotel, which largely focused on whether he should have been allowed to retain the deal while in office. After Trump was elected, he ignored calls from Democrats to sell his stake in the lease to avoid conflicts of interest. Trump is now working to sell that lease, in a deal that could net his company $100 million in profits, and the negotiations have coincided with renewed scrutiny from lawmakers and prosecutors.”

Trump’s Words, and Deeds, Reveal Depths of His Drive to Retain Power. Donald Trump said he wanted Mike Pence to overturn the election, dangled pardons for January 6 rioters, and called for protests against prosecutors. Now, it turns out, he had discussed having national security agencies seize voting machines. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher, Tuesday, 1 February 2022: “A series of new remarks by Donald J. Trump about the aftermath of the 2020 election and new disclosures about his actions in trying to forestall its result — including discussing the use of the national security apparatus to seize voting machines — have stripped away any pretense that the events of Jan. 6, 2021, were anything but the culmination of the former president’s single-minded pursuit of retaining power. Mr. Trump said on Sunday that Mike Pence ‘could have overturned the election,’ acknowledging for the first time that the aim of the pressure campaign he focused on his vice president had simply been to change the election’s result, not just to buy time to root out supposed fraud, as he had long insisted. Those efforts ended at the Capitol with a violent riot of Trump supporters demanding that Mr. Pence block the Electoral College vote. Over the weekend, Mr. Trump also dangled, for the first time, that he could issue pardons to anyone facing charges for participating in the Jan. 6 attack if he is elected president again — the latest example of a yearslong flirtation with political violence. And, ignoring what happened the last time he encouraged a mass demonstration, Mr. Trump urged his supporters to gather ‘in the biggest protests we have ever had’ if prosecutors in New York and Atlanta moved further against him. The prosecutor examining Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election in Georgia immediately asked the F.B.I. to conduct a ‘risk assessment’ of her building’s security. The events of Jan. 6 played out so publicly and so brutally — the instigating speech by Mr. Trump, the flag-waving march to the Capitol, the violent clashes with the police, the defiling of the seat of democracy — and have since been so extensively re-examined that at times it can seem as if there were little more to be discovered about what led up to that day. Then, The New York Times reported this week that Mr. Trump himself had directed his lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, to ask the Department of Homeland Security whether it could legally seize voting machines in three key swing states. Mr. Trump also raised, in an Oval Office meeting with Attorney General William P. Barr, the possibility of the Justice Department’s seizing the machines. Both ideas quickly fizzled. But historians say the episodes and Mr. Trump’s new comments acknowledging his determination to stay in power — and his effective embrace of the Jan. 6 rioters at the Capitol, who he said must be treated ‘fairly’ — have newly underscored the fragility of the nation’s democratic systems.”


Wednesday, 2 February 2022:


Just Over Two Weeks After Election Day 2020, Lawyers Working With the Trump Campaign Set Out a Rationale for Creating Alternate Slates of Electors as Part of an Effort to Buy Time to Overturn the Election Results. Memos show the roots of Trump’s focus on January 6 and alternate electors. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, and Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “Fifteen days after Election Day in 2020, James R. Troupis, a lawyer for the Trump campaign in Wisconsin, received a memo setting out what became the rationale for an audacious strategy: to put in place alternate slates of electors in states where President Donald J. Trump was trying to overturn his loss. The memo, from another lawyer named Kenneth Chesebro, may not have been the first time that lawyers and allies of Mr. Trump had weighed the possibility of naming their own electors in the hopes that they might eventually succeed in flipping the outcome in battleground states through recounts and lawsuits baselessly asserting widespread fraud. But the Nov. 18 memo and another three weeks later are among the earliest known efforts to put on paper proposals for preparing alternate electors. They helped to shape a crucial strategy that Mr. Trump would embrace with profound consequences for himself and the nation. The memos show how just over two weeks after Election Day, Mr. Trump’s campaign was seeking to buy itself more time to undo the results. At the heart of the strategy was the idea that their real deadline was not Dec. 14, when official electors would be chosen to reflect the outcome in each state, but Jan. 6, when Congress would meet to certify the results. And in that focus on Jan. 6 lay the seeds of what became a pressure campaign on Vice President Mike Pence to accept the validity of a challenge to the outcome and to block Congress from finalizing Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory — a campaign that would also lead to a violent assault on the Capitol by Trump supporters and an extraordinary rupture in American politics.” See also, Read the November 18 Memo on Alternate Trump Electors, The New York Times, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “This memo is among the earliest known efforts to put on paper proposals for preparing alternate slates of Trump electors in Biden-won states and helped to shape a crucial strategy President Donald J. Trump’s lawyers embraced in his efforts to overturn his election loss.”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, February 2022:

Alexander Vindman sues Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani, alleging retaliation over first Trump impeachment proceedings, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “Alexander Vindman, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and former White House national security aide, is suing several allies of former president Donald Trump, alleging that they intimidated and retaliated against him while he was a key witness during Trump’s first impeachment. According to the 73-page complaint, Vindman’s lawsuit ‘seeks long-overdue accountability for unlawful actions knowingly undertaken by close associates and allies’ of Trump, alleging that they ‘engaged in an intentional, concerted campaign of unlawful intimidation and retaliation against [Vindman] to prevent him from and then punish him for testifying truthfully before Congress during impeachment proceedings against President Trump.’ Those named as defendants in Vindman’s lawsuit include Donald Trump Jr., Trump’s eldest son; former Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani; former White House deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino; and former White House deputy communications director Julia Hahn. The complaint alleges that the defendants violated the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which makes it unlawful to conspire to interfere with a federal official’s ability to carry out the duties of their office or to interfere with any witness’s ability to testify.” See also, Alexander Vindman sues Trump allies for alleged intimidation over impeachment hearing, NPR, Rachel Treisman, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “Retired Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is suing Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani and two former White House staffers for allegedly seeking to prevent and later punish him for testifying in the first impeachment of Donald Trump. In his civil lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Washington, D.C., Vindman accuses the defendants of engaging in an ‘intentional, concerted campaign of unlawful intimidation and retaliation’ against him for testifying before Congress in 2019. Vindman, an Iraq war veteran who served as a Ukraine expert on the National Security Council in the Trump White House, emerged as a key witness in the impeachment proceedings against then-President Trump. He testified about a phone call Trump had with Ukraine’s president — a call that was central to the allegations against Trump.” See also, Alexander Vindman, Key Figure in First Trump Impeachment, Alleges Retaliation in Lawsuit. The former Army colonel, who worked on the National Security Council, said in a lawsuit that Donald Trump Jr. and others carried out a campaign of intimidation against him. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “Alexander Vindman, the Army colonel who was a chief witness in President Donald J. Trump’s first impeachment trial, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against Mr. Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.; Rudolph W. Giuliani; and two other top Trump White House aides, accusing them of running a coordinated intimidation and retaliation campaign to stop him from testifying. The suit, which was filed in federal court in Washington, said that the defendants had spread false claims that Mr. Vindman was a Ukrainian spy, leaked classified information to undermine his credibility, falsely accused him of perjury and had him and his twin brother fired from their White House positions. ‘This campaign of intimidation and retaliation has had severe and deeply personal ramifications for Lt. Col. Vindman,’ the suit said, adding that Mr. Vindman had sustained ‘significant financial, emotional, and reputational harm’ for testifying against Mr. Trump at the impeachment trial. The suit, which did not say how much money Mr. Vindman was seeking, added: ‘It also left a stain on our democracy.'”

Who Are the Key Figures of Interest in the January 6 Inquiry? The list of names being scrutinized by the House committee for their role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol keeps growing. The New York Times, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “A House select committee has been formed to scrutinize the causes of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. The riot occurred as Congress met to formalize Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s election victory amid efforts by President Donald J. Trump and his allies to overturn the results. [This article covers] some of the key people and groups included so far in the panel’s investigation.”

Conspiracy charges are possible for filing bogus Trump election slates, experts say. The Justice Department is investigating at least two states that sent alternative Republican slates, even though Biden won the vote in those states. NBC News, Pete Williams, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “The Justice Department could pursue criminal charges related to the filing of Electoral College votes for Donald Trump from states that actually voted for Joe Biden in 2020, according to several experts on election law. Certificates purporting to be from Trump electors were sent to Washington by Republicans in seven political battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But because Biden won the popular vote in those winner-take-all states, only electoral votes for him could officially be submitted and counted. Attorneys general from Michigan and New Mexico last month referred the results of their own investigations to the Justice Department and suggested that submitting the Trump slates might have been illegal. Lisa Monaco, the deputy attorney general, told CNN that the allegations are under review.”

Trump calls Senate ally Lindsey Graham a Republican in Name Only (‘RINO’) over differences in pardoning January 6 rioters, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “Former president Donald Trump castigated Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), one of his closest allies in the Senate, as a ‘RINO’ for disagreeing with him over whether some Trump supporters being prosecuted in relation to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection deserve presidential pardons. ‘Well, Lindsey Graham’s wrong. I mean, Lindsey’s a nice guy, but he’s a RINO,’ Trump said in an interview aired Tuesday night on Newsmax, using the acronym for ‘Republican in name only,’ a term used by Republicans to insult those they don’t believe belong in the party. ‘Lindsey Graham doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about if he says that,’ Trump added later in the interview, during which he continued to advocate for pardons for many Jan. 6 rioters, calling some of them ‘patriots.’ In a statement Wednesday, Graham made no mention of Trump but stood by his position that he does not favor pardons.”

The National Butterfly Center in South Texas is shutting down due to right-wing harassment, NPR, Sharon Pruitt-Young, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, has announced that it’s closing its doors ‘for the immediate future’ after ongoing harassment directed at employees and the center itself. The center, a nonprofit nature reserve nestled near the U.S.-Mexico border, unwittingly became the subject of conservative conspiracy theories and political conflict in recent years, having been locked in a years-long legal battle with the Trump administration and We Build the Wall regarding a planned border wall.” See also, National Butterfly Center in South Texas closes after repeated threats stemming from false sex-trafficking claims, The Washington Post, Marisa Iati, published on Thursday, 3 February 2022: “The National Butterfly Center in South Texas will be closed ‘for the immediate future’ because of baseless attacks stemming from a clash over immigration enforcement at the nearby U.S.-Mexico border, the organization said Wednesday. The nonprofit center in Mission has endured a firestorm in recent years amid an ongoing lawsuit against the former Trump administration, which sought to build part of a border wall on its property, and the fundraising organization We Build the Wall. Right-wing groups have falsely claimed the butterfly center illegally smuggles people into the United States and facilitates sex trafficking. Leadership of the 100-acre butterfly preserve said they chose to shut their doors out of concern for the safety of visitors and their staff, whom they will continue to pay. ‘We look forward to reopening, soon, when the authorities and professionals who are helping us navigate this situation give us the green light,’ Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association, which runs the center, said in a statement. The indefinite closure comes shortly after the center shut down for three days last weekend, citing ‘credible threats’ from a former state official regarding a nearby border-security rally. The We Stand America event in McAllen featured Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, and other Trump administration officials.”

January 6 committee member Pete Aguilar says Trump is ‘absolutely’ tampering with witnesses as he continues to dangle pardons, CNN Politics, Chandelis Duster, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “A member of the House panel investigating the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol on Wednesday accused former President Donald Trump of tampering with witnesses by vowing to pardon those involved in the riots if reelected in 2024. Trump’s comments over the weekend added fresh urgency to the committee’s work as the prospect of Republican control of Congress in 2023 and a potential reelection bid by Trump threaten to derail the investigation into the riot. ‘Absolutely,’ Rep. Pete Aguilar of California told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on ‘New Day’ when asked if Trump was tampering with witnesses by dangling pardons in front of January 6 defendants. ‘And I think the question is more from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, you know where — where are they? Do they support this? When is enough enough?’ The comments from Aguilar, a Democrat, come as the House panel continues to hone it’s investigation as it speaks with former members of the Trump administration and obtain documents related to the riots.”

Republicans to field more than 100 far-right candidates this year. Anti-Defamation League list includes at least a dozen with links to white supremacists, anti-government extremists, and Proud Boys. The Guardian, Sergio Olmos, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “More than 100 far-right candidates are running for political office across the country as Republicans this year according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a non-profit that monitors hate groups. Aside from those expressing extremist rhetoric and far-right views, the ADL has found at least a dozen of the candidates had explicit connections to ‘white supremacists, anti-government extremists and members of the far-right Proud Boys.’ It includes primary challengers running to the right of some sitting Republicans.”

Biden officials push to hold up $11.3 billion USPS truck contract, citing climate damage. The Environmental Protection Agency warns Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to halt his plan to replace the aging delivery fleet with thousands of gas-powered vehicles. The Washington Post, Anna Phillips and Jacob Bogage, Wednesday, 2 February 2022: “The Biden administration launched a last-minute push Wednesday to derail the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to spend billions of dollars on a new fleet of gasoline-powered delivery trucks, citing the damage the polluting vehicles could inflict on the climate and Americans’ health. The dispute over the Postal Service’s plans to spend up to $11.3 billion on as many as 165,000 new delivery trucks over the next decade has major implications for President Biden’s goal of converting all federal cars and trucks to clean power. Postal Service vehicles make up a third of the government’s fleet, and the EPA warned the agency last fall that its environmental analysis of the contract rested on flawed assumptions and missing data. The EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality sent letters to the Postal Service on Wednesday that urge it to reconsider plans to buy mostly gas-powered vehicles and conduct a new, more thorough technical analysis. The EPA also asked the Postal Service to hold a public hearing on its fleet modernization plans, a request the agency had rejected when California regulators made it Jan. 28.”


Thursday, 3 February 2022:


Memo circulated among Trump allies advocated using National Security Agency (NSA) data in attempt to prove the election was stolen. The proposal to seize and analyze ‘NSA unprocessed raw signals data’ raises legal and ethical concerns that set it apart from other attempts that have come to light. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Rosalind S. Helderman, Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, and Jacqueline Alemany, Thursday, 3 February 2022: “The memo used the banal language of government bureaucracy, but the proposal it advocated was extreme: President Donald Trump should invoke the extraordinary powers of the National Security Agency and Defense Department to sift through raw electronic communications in an attempt to show that foreign powers had intervened in the 2020 election to help Joe Biden win. Proof of foreign interference would ‘support next steps to defend the Constitution in a manner superior to current civilian-only judicial remedies,’ argued the Dec. 18, 2020, memo, which was circulated among Trump allies. The document, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, laid out a plan for the president to appoint three men to lead this effort. One was a lawyer attached to a military intelligence unit; another was a veteran of the military who had been let go from his National Security Council job after claiming that Trump was under attack by deep-state forces including ‘globalists’ and ‘Islamists.’ The third was a failed Republican congressional candidate, Michael Del Rosso, who sent a copy of the memo to Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), who confirmed to The Post he received the document from Del Rosso. An aide to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) also said his office received the document but declined to say who sent it. Del Rosso did not respond to repeated requests for comment. The previously unreported proposal, whose provenance remains murky, in some ways mirrors other radical ideas that extremists who denied Biden’s victory were working to sell to Trump in the weeks between the November 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021, siege of the U.S. Capitol. Many of those proposals centered on using government powers to seize voting machines.”

Colorado’s top election official demands answers from third Republican county clerk on alleged election server copying. Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz is the third Republican county clerk under investigation by the Secretary of State’s Office after allegedly copying their election system hard drives. Colorado Sun, Thursday, 3 February 2022: “Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold on Thursday ordered Douglas County Clerk Merlin Klotz to answer questions and turn over information about a copy of his county’s election system that was allegedly made. Klotz is one of three Republican county clerks being investigated by Griswold’s office for making copies of their election system hard drives. ‘My office became aware of a potential unauthorized imaging of a Douglas County voting equipment server,’ Griswold, a Democrat, said in a written statement. ‘The Douglas County Clerk has failed to respond to an email request requiring disclosure of information about this potential breach in election security protocol. To ensure the security of Douglas County’s voting equipment, I am issuing an Election Order requiring the Douglas clerk to disclose information regarding the imaging of the election equipment server.'”


Friday, 4 February 2022:


Republican Party Declares the Violent and Deadly January 6 Attack on the Capitol by Trump Supporters “Legitimate Political Discourse.’ The Republican National Committee voted to censure Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for participating in the inquiry into the deadly riot at the Capitol.  The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman and Reid J. Epstein, Friday, 4 February 2022: “The Republican Party on Friday officially declared the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and events that led to it ‘legitimate political discourse,’ and rebuked two lawmakers in the party who have been most outspoken in condemning the deadly riot and the role of Donald J. Trump in spreading the election lies that fueled it. The Republican National Committee’s voice vote to censure Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois at its winter meeting in Salt Lake City culminated more than a year of vacillation, which started with party leaders condemning the Capitol attack and Mr. Trump’s conduct, then shifted to downplaying and denying it. On Friday, the party went further in a resolution slamming Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger for taking part in the House investigation of the assault, saying they were participating in ‘persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.’ After the vote, party leaders rushed to clarify that language, saying it was never meant to apply to rioters who violently stormed the Capitol in Mr. Trump’s name. ‘Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger crossed a line,’ Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, said in a statement. ‘They chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.’ But the censure, which was carefully negotiated in private among party members, made no such distinction, nor is the House committee investigating the attack examining any normal political debate. It was the latest and most forceful effort by the Republican Party to minimize what happened and the broader attempt by Mr. Trump and his allies to invalidate the results of the 2020 election. In approving it and opting to punish two of its own, Republicans seemed to embrace a position that many of them have only hinted at: that the assault and the actions that preceded it were acceptable. It came days after Mr. Trump suggested that, if re-elected in 2024, he would consider pardons for those convicted in the Jan. 6 attack and for the first time described his goal that day as subverting the election results, saying in a statement that Vice President Mike Pence ‘could have overturned the election.’ On Friday, Mr. Pence pushed back on Mr. Trump, calling his assertion ‘wrong.’ ‘I had no right to overturn the election,’ Mr. Pence told the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization, at a gathering in Florida.” See also, Republican National Committee votes to condemn Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for serving on House committee investigating January 6 attack on the Capitol by pro-Trump mob, The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Felicia Sonmez, Friday, 4 February 2022: “In an extraordinary rebuke, the Republican National Committee on Friday voted Friday to condemn Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the two Republican members of a House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. The censure resolution passed overwhelmingly on a voice vote without debate or discussion, with the whole process taking about one minute. The party said the behavior of Cheney and Kinzinger ‘has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic.’ In addition to Friday’s formal censure at the party’s winter meeting in Salt Lake City, the RNC also made plans to fund a primary challenge against Cheney in Wyoming — after state Republican leaders passed a special rule to recognize Harriet Hageman, her challenger, as the party’s presumptive nominee.” See also, In censure of Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the Republican National Committee calls events of January 6 ‘legitimate political discourse,’ CNN Politics, Gabby Orr, Friday, 4 February 2022: “In a resolution formally censuring GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the Republican National Committee on Friday called the events surrounding the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol ‘legitimate political discourse.’ A copy of the resolution obtained by CNN claimed that the two lawmakers were ‘participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse’ from their perches on the House select committee, which has conducted interviews with close to 400 individuals — from members of former President Donald Trump’s inner circle to organizers who helped plan the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally on the morning of January 6. The RNC later tried to clarify the inclusion of the term ‘legitimate political discourse’ in the resolution, issuing a new statement to CNN from Chair Ronna McDaniel that drew a distinction between those who did not commit violence on Jan. 6 and those who did. ‘Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger crossed a line,’ McDaniel said. ‘They chose to join Nancy Pelosi in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.’ Those final words — ‘that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol’ — were not in the resolution adopted Friday. The move to censure Cheney, of Wyoming, and Kinzinger, of Illinois, is unprecedented, and marks the first time the national party has rebuked an incumbent congressional Republican — much less two — with a formal censure backed by its members. When the resolution was introduced Friday to all 168 RNC members, it was described as a motion ‘to no longer support [Cheney and Kinzinger] as members of the Republican Party.'” See also, Opinion: The Republican Party formally declares that truth is fiction and patriots are traitors, The Washington Post, Editorial Board, Friday, 4 February 2022: “The Republican Party on Friday took an official stand — against truth and democracy. At the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Salt Lake City, party leaders censured Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and moved to aid her primary opponent, Harriet Hageman, who is former president Donald Trump’s preferred candidate for Wyoming’s lone congressional seat. The Orwellian censure resolution accuses Ms. Cheney and fellow GOP dissident Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) of engaging in behavior ‘destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic.’ Her transgression? Co-leading the House committee investigating the Capitol invasion, an act of political violence Mr. Trump inspired when he was a sitting president charged with protecting the nation from enemies foreign and domestic. The investigation, the censure resolution claimed, is ‘a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.’ When in recent memory has the House been more threatened as when members had to barricade the doors to the chamber against a dangerous mob screaming for their blood? By insisting on a full probe and accountability for one of the country’s lowest moments since the Civil War, Ms. Cheney is waging what, within her party, is an increasingly lonely battle against those seeking to pervert the U.S. system of government for personal gain. Over the past year, Republican leaders have chosen a different course, putting in their lot with the insurrectionists.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence Said in a Speech on Friday That He Had No Right to Overturn the 2020 election, as the Former President Has Falsely Claimed, The New York Times, Lisa Lerer, Friday, 4 February 2022: “Former Vice President Mike Pence on Friday offered his most forceful rebuke of Donald J. Trump, saying the former president is “wrong” that Mr. Pence had the legal authority to change the results of the 2020 election and that the Republican Party must accept the outcome and look toward the future. Speaking to a gathering of conservatives near Orlando, Fla., the former vice president said he understands ‘the disappointment so many feel about the last election’ but repudiated Mr. Trump’s false claims that Mr. Pence could reject the Electoral College results and alter the outcome last year. ‘President Trump is wrong,’ said Mr. Pence, in his remarks before the Federalist Society, a conservative legal organization. ‘I had no right to overturn the election.’ The comments marked the strongest rejection of Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election by his former vice president. Mr. Pence refused to give in on Jan. 6 to Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign to change the results. Since then, he has remained relatively quiet about that decision, largely declining to directly attack Mr. Trump or assign him any blame for inciting the deadly siege on the Capitol. In public appearances last year, Mr. Pence defended his role in resisting Mr. Trump but did not go further than saying that the two men will never ‘see eye to eye about that day.’ But tensions between them have been rising in recent days. As Mr. Pence positions himself for a possible presidential bid in 2024, Mr. Trump has pushed more intensely a false narrative aimed at blaming his former vice president for failing to stop President Biden from taking office.” See also, As the Republican Party censures Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, Former Vice President Mike Pence says: ‘President Trump is wrong.’ The battle for the future of the Republican Party played out in elite rooms in Florida and Utah, with remarkable moves supporting and opposing the former president. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, David Weigel, and Mariana Alfaro, Friday, 4 February 2022: “The ongoing battle over the future of the Republican Party erupted into open view Friday as former vice president Mike Pence said it would have been ‘un-American’ for him to overturn the election at Donald Trump’s insistence and the party’s grass-roots members overwhelmingly voted to censure two Republicans for investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Trump loomed over the day’s action, though he was absent as the party’s top activists and donors huddled in Utah and a prominent conservative legal group hosted Pence and some of the party’s top figures in Florida. In both cases, grappling with Trump’s repeated false attacks on the 2020 election results — and the pro-Trump mob that ransacked the Capitol one year ago — was the source of discord at a time when the party is trying to remain united ahead of the midterm elections. In Utah, where activists and donors gathered for the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting, the party took the unprecedented step of formally condemning two Republican lawmakers, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, for their work on the House Jan. 6 committee — and made moves that would allow the party to send money and political help to Cheney’s primary opponent. The censure was pushed by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and the vote was overwhelming, passing without any public debate. It took all of one minute. There was no pretense that the punishment was about anything other than the investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection — the most serious attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812 — and what happened before and after the riot. In Florida, Pence, Trump’s ever-loyal vice president, took his most explicit shots at the former president, saying ‘President Trump is wrong’ when he called for Pence to overturn the election by rejecting electors from several states who supported Joe Biden when Congress gathered on Jan. 6 to certify the election. He drew raucous applause from the crowd of conservative lawyers at the Federalist Society conference.” See also, Pence says ‘Trump is wrong’ to say that he (Pence), when vice president, had the right to overturn 2020 election, CNN Politics, Steve Contorno and Eric Bradner, Friday, 4 February 2022: “Former Vice President Mike Pence called out his former boss by name on Friday, saying that “President (Donald) Trump is wrong” in claiming that Pence had the right to overturn the 2020 election on January 6, 2021. Speaking at the Federalist Society Florida Chapters conference near Orlando, Pence delivered his strongest response yet to Trump’s ongoing efforts to relitigate the 2020 presidential election, calling it ‘un-American’ to suggest one person could have decided the outcome. Pence warned against conservatives who continue to insist the vice president can alter an election, and said it could be a problematic position for Republicans in the next presidential contest. ‘Under the Constitution, I had no right to change the outcome of our election, and (Vice President) Kamala Harris will have no right to overturn the election when we beat them in 2024,’ Pence said.”

Newly obtained records show Trump and Jim Jordan spoke at length on the morning of January 6, 2021, CNN Politics, Ryan Nobles, Annie Grayer, and Zachary Cohen, Friday, 4 February 2022: “The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection is now in possession of White House records that provide new details about a phone call Donald Trump made to Republican Rep. Jim Jordan on January 6, 2021 — as the investigation drills down on the former President’s communications that day and questions have long swirled around calls between him and lawmakers. Two sources who have reviewed the call records tell CNN that Trump spoke on the phone at the White House residence with Jordan for 10 minutes on the morning of January 6. That afternoon, Jordan took to the House floor to object to the certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College win, and pro-Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol. A key focus of the committee’s investigation has been on the runup to the insurrection and the myriad ways Trump and his allies, including those in Congress, tried to overturn the election results. The new details about the morning phone call come as the committee is debating whether to move forward with a subpoena for Jordan after he refused to voluntarily appear for an interview.”

North Carolina Supreme Court Says Republican Political Maps Violate State Constitution. The court said maps of the state’s 14 House districts and state legislative districts violated guarantees of free elections, speech, and assembly. The New York Times, Michael Wines, Friday, 4 February 2022: “The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday upended Republican efforts to lock in political dominance in the state, saying that congressional and state legislative maps were partisan gerrymanders that violated the State Constitution. The ruling requires the Republican-controlled legislature not only to submit new maps to the court, but to offer a range of statistical analyses to show ‘a significant likelihood that the districting plan will give the voters of all political parties substantially equal opportunity to translate votes into seats’ in elections. The requirement rebuffed the argument against redrawing the maps that the legislature offered in oral arguments before the court this week: that the court had no right to say whether and when political maps cross the line from acceptable partisanship into unfairness. The justices’ 4-3 decision, split along party lines, not only sets a precedent for judging the legality of future maps in the state, but could play an important role in the struggle for control of the House of Representatives in elections this November. The Republican-drawn maps had effectively allotted the party control of at least 10 of the 14 House seats the state will have in the next Congress, even though voters statewide are roughly equally divided between the two parties. It was a challenge to earlier partisan maps in North Carolina and Maryland that led the U.S. Supreme Court to end decades of federal debate over the constitutionality of partisan gerrymanders, ruling in 2019 that they were political issues beyond its jurisdiction. The justices said then that Congress and state courts should rule on the question, and lawyers for the plaintiffs in the case said on Friday that the new ruling carried out that mandate to the letter.” See also, North Carolina Supreme Court rejects redistricting map as unconstitutional, The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield, Colby Itkowitz, and María Luisa Paúl, Friday, 4 February 2022: “The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled Friday that political district maps drawn by Republican lawmakers are unconstitutional and must be redrawn, a significant victory for Democrats in a state almost evenly divided politically. In a 4-3 decision divided by party lines, the state’s highest court found that Republican lawmakers drew maps that deprived voters of their ‘substantially equal voting power on the basis of partisan affiliation,’ according to the 40-page order. The ruling is the latest in consequential redistricting wins for Democrats that could determine whether they hold on to their razor-thin majority in the House — amid all-out war in courtrooms over partisan gerrymandering and voting rights. The Republican-drawn maps created last year would have given the party control of as many as 11 of the state’s 14 House seats ahead of what is expected to be a strong Republican election cycle. Voting rights groups argued in court that the maps eliminated competitive districts and were overall skewed for political gain. Democrats accused the other side of rigging elections as well as disadvantaging Black voters. In the map drawn by Republicans, Rep. G.K. Butterfield’s district replaced Black voters with rural White voters. Butterfield (D), who is Black, decided not to run for reelection, saying the plan was ‘racially gerrymandered.’ The court’s Democratic majority wrote that the GOP plans violated the state constitution’s free elections clause, the equal protection clause, the free speech clause and the freedom of assembly clause. With North Carolina’s primaries scheduled for May 17, the court ruled the legislature must redraw the map by Feb. 18 and submit it to a panel of three trial judges with an explanation of what data they relied on and methods they used to determine that their districting plan is constitutional. The panel last month ruled in favor of the GOP-controlled legislature, saying that while the map was drawn pro-Republican, it did not violate the state constitution.”

Trump reviewed draft order that authorized voting machines to be seized. Then president, during contentious December 2020 meeting, also agreed to appoint Sidney Powell as special counsel to investigate fraud. The Guardian, Hugo Lowell, Friday, 4 February 2022: “Weeks after the 2020 election, Donald Trump reviewed a draft executive order that authorized the national guard to seize voting machines and verbally agreed to appoint Sidney Powell, a campaign lawyer and conspiracy theorist, as special counsel to investigate election fraud. The two previously unreported actions of the former president – which is certain to interest the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack and Trump’s efforts to overturn his defeat – came during a contentious White House meeting on 18 December 2020. Trump never followed through with issuing a formal executive order authorizing the seizure of voting machines or appointing a special counsel. But four sources with detailed knowledge of what transpired during the 18 December meeting described to the Guardian how close he came to doing so. The draft executive order Trump reviewed was one of the final versions Powell had prepared. An early version of the document was published by Politico. Another version, obtained by CNN, empowered the Department of Homeland Security instead of the Department of Defense. But all versions included language that would have allowed Trump to appoint a special counsel to investigate claims of foreign interference in the 2020 election, which the Department of Justice had already determined were without foundation.”

Rusty Bowers, Speaker of the Republican-Controlled Arizona House, Killed a Bill that Would Have Given the Republican-Controlled Legislature the Power to Unilaterally Overturn the Results of an Election, The New York Times, Blake Hounshell and Leah Askarinam, Friday, 4 February 2022: “It is a dark time in the life of the American experiment. The world’s oldest democracy, once assumed to be unbreakable, often appears to be coming apart at the rivets. From his Florida exile, a defeated leader, whose efforts to overturn the last election are still coming into view, is working to place loyalists in key offices across the country, and his followers are racing to install themselves at the controls of future elections. Yet in Arizona this week, the unlikeliest of characters just stepped forward with a palm raised to the forces of Donald J. Trump. When right-wing lawmakers there pushed a bill that would have given the Republican-controlled Legislature the power to unilaterally reject the results of an election and force a new one, Rusty Bowers said no. For decades, Bowers, the unassuming speaker of the Arizona House, has represented die-hard Republican beliefs, supporting the kinds of low-tax, limited-government policies that made the state’s Barry Goldwater a conservative icon. Bowers could have sat on the bill, letting it die a quiet death. Instead, he killed it through an aggressive legislative maneuver that left even veteran statehouse watchers in Arizona awe-struck at its audacity.”

January 6 Defendant Seeks to Subpoena Trump as Witness at Trial. The request to have the former president testify faces an uphill fight, but it illustrates efforts by defendants to place him at the center of their cases. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 4 February 2022: “Almost from the moment that the first rioters were arrested in connection with the violent attack on the Capitol last January, defendants have tried in various ways to blame former President Donald J. Trump for their behavior. Some have attempted to get out of jail on bail by claiming that they stormed the building because Mr. Trump said they should. Others have sought reduced sentences by arguing that they only joined the riot because they believed Mr. Trump had authorized them to do so. On Friday, however, one Jan. 6 defendant took a different and much bolder step in seeking to pull Mr. Trump into the center of his case: He and his lawyer asked a federal judge for permission to subpoena the former president and several of his allies to testify as witnesses at his trial.”


Saturday, 5 February 2022:


‘He never stopped ripping things up’: Inside Trump’s relentless document destruction habits. Trump’s shredding of paper in the White House was far more widespread and indiscriminate than previously known and–despite multiple admonishments–extended throughout his presidency. The Washington Post, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, and Jacqueline Alemany, Saturday, 5 February 2022: “President Donald Trump tore up briefings and schedules, articles and letters, memos both sensitive and mundane. He ripped paper into quarters with two big, clean strokes — or occasionally more vigorously, into smaller scraps. He left the detritus on his desk in the Oval Office, in the trash can of his private West Wing study and on the floor aboard Air Force One, among many other places. And he did it all in violation of the Presidential Records Act, despite being urged by at least two chiefs of staff and the White House counsel to follow the law on preserving documents. ‘It is absolutely a violation of the act,’ said Courtney Chartier, president of the Society of American Archivists. ‘There is no ignorance of these laws. There are White House manuals about the maintenance of these records.’ Although glimpses of Trump’s penchant for ripping were reported earlier in his presidency — by Politico in 2018 — the House select committee’s investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection has shined a new spotlight on the practice. The Washington Post reported that some of the White House records the National Archives and Records Administration turned over to the committee appeared to have been torn apart and then taped back together. Interviews with 11 former Trump staffers, associates and others familiar with the habit reveal that Trump’s shredding of paper was far more widespread and indiscriminate than previously known and — despite multiple admonishments — extended throughout his presidency, resulting in special practices to deal with the torn fragments. Most of these people spoke on the condition of anonymity to share candid details of a problematic practice. The ripping was so relentless that Trump’s team implemented protocols to try to ensure that he was abiding by the Presidential Records Act. Typically, aides from either the Office of the Staff Secretary or the Oval Office Operations team would come in behind Trump to retrieve the piles of torn paper he left in his wake, according to one person familiar with the routine. Then, staffers from the White House Office of Records Management were generally responsible for jigsawing the documents back together, using clear tape.”


Sunday, 6 February 2022:


‘Taking the Voters Out of the Equation’: How the Republicans and Democrats are Killing Competition. The number of competitive House districts is dropping, as both parties use redistricting to draw themselves into safe seats. The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein and Nick Corasaniti, Sunday, 6 February 2022: “The number of competitive congressional districts is on track to dive near — and possibly below — the lowest level in at least three decades, as Republicans and Democrats draw new political maps designed to ensure that the vast majority of House races are over before the general election starts. With two-thirds of the new boundaries set, mapmakers are on pace to draw fewer than 40 seats — out of 435 — that are considered competitive based on the 2020 presidential election results, according to a New York Times analysis of election data. Ten years ago that number was 73. While the exact size of the battlefield is still emerging, the sharp decline of competition for House seats is the latest worrying sign of dysfunction in the American political system, which is already struggling with a scourge of misinformation and rising distrust in elections. Lack of competition in general elections can widen the ideological gulf between the parties, leading to hardened stalemates on legislation and voters’ alienation from the political process.”


Monday, 7 February 2022:


National Archives had to retrieve Trump White House records from Mar-a-Lago. The recovery of 15 boxes from Trump’s Florida resort, including letters from Barack Obama and Kim Jong Un, underscores the previous administration’s cavalier handling of presidential records. The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, and Ashley Parker, Monday, 7 February 2022: “The National Archives and Records Administration last month retrieved 15 boxes of documents and other items from former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence because the material should have been turned over to the agency when he left the White House, Archives officials said Monday. The recovery of the boxes from Trump’s Florida resort raises new concerns about his adherence to the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties…. Archives officials confirmed the transfer, which occurred in mid-January, following publication of a version of this story by The Washington Post earlier Monday. The National Archives and Records Administration said in a statement that ‘these records should have been transferred to NARA from the White House at the end of the Trump Administration in January 2021,’ and that Trump representatives are ‘continuing to search’ for additional records. ‘The Presidential Records Act is critical to our democracy, in which the government is held accountable by the people,’ Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said in the statement. ‘Whether through the creation of adequate and proper documentation, sound records management practices, the preservation of records, or the timely transfer of them to the National Archives at the end of an Administration, there should be no question as to need for both diligence and vigilance. Records matter.'” See also, Trump Gives Documents Improperly Taken From White House to the National Archives. The incident raised more questions about the former president’s adherence to the Presidential Records Act, which requires preservation of White House documents. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman, Monday, 7 February, 2022: “Former President Donald J. Trump last month handed over to the National Archives 15 boxes of documents, letters, gifts and mementos that he had taken with him when leaving office but that he had been legally required to leave in the custody of the federal government, officials said on Monday. The materials included the original versions of a letter that former President Barack Obama had left for Mr. Trump when he was first sworn in, as well as correspondence from the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. The items also included a map Mr. Trump famously drew on with a black Sharpie marker to demonstrate the track of Hurricane Dorian heading toward Alabama in 2019 to back up a declaration he had made on Twitter that contradicted weather forecasts. The boxes contained items taken from the White House’s residence during a hasty exit after Mr. Trump had spent the bulk of the presidential transition trying to find ways to stay in power, according to two people familiar with the process of how the boxes were returned. At the time, Mr. Trump’s aides were either preoccupied with helping him overturn the election, trying to stop him or avoiding him. The Washington Post reported earlier that Mr. Trump had handed over the boxes to the National Archives.”

Supreme Court lets Republican-drawn Alabama congressional map that critics say dilutes power of Black voters stay in place, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue and Tierney Sneed, Monday, 7 February 2022: “The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, allowed a congressional map drawn by Alabama Republicans to remain in place Monday, freezing a lower court ruling that said the map likely violates the Voting Rights Act by diluting the political power of Black voters. The lower court had ordered a new map to be drawn, which could have led to Democrats gaining another seat in the House in the fall. Chief Justice John Roberts joined the three liberal justices in dissent. The justices also said they would hear arguments over the map, adding another potentially explosive issue — concerning the scope of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act — to the court’s docket. The court’s order, the first dealing with the 2022 elections, means that the map will be used for the state’s upcoming primary, and likely be in place for the entire election cycle, while the legal challenge plays out. The order pauses an opinion by a panel of three judges that held that the Alabama map likely violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act because it only includes one district where Black voters have the opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice.” See also, Supreme Court, in 5-4 Vote, Restores Alabama’s Congressional Voting Map. A special three-judge court had ordered lawmakers to redraw the lines, saying Black voters ‘have less opportunity’ than other Alabamians to elect their favored candidates. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 7 February 2022: “The Supreme Court on Monday reinstated an Alabama congressional map that a lower court had said diluted the power of Black voters, suggesting that the court was poised to become more skeptical of challenges to voting maps based on claims of race discrimination. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent. The Supreme Court’s brief order, which included no reasoning, was provisional, staying a lower court’s decision while the case moves forward. The justices said they would hear Alabama’s appeal of the lower court’s ruling, but they did not say when. Both the stay and the decision to hear the case indicated that the court is open to weakening the role race may play in drawing voting districts for federal elections, setting up a major new test of the Voting Rights Act in a court that has gradually limited the reach of the law in other contexts. The dispute in Alabama is part of a pitched redistricting battle playing out across the country, with Democrats and Republicans alike challenging electoral districts as unlawful gerrymanders. Those challenges have mostly been filed in state courts, meaning the Supreme Court is unlikely to intervene.” See also, Supreme Court stops lower court order requiring Alabama to draw a new district voting map favorable to Black Residents, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Monday, 7 February 2022: “A divided Supreme Court on Monday restored an Alabama congressional map that creates only one district favorable to a Black candidate, and put on hold a lower court’s order that said a second district was necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act. Over the objections of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s three liberals, its five most consistently conservative justices halted a decision last month by three federal judges. The panel threw out Alabama’s new congressional map, which included only one congressional district with a majority of Black voters even though they make up more than a quarter of the state’s population. The court’s ruling was a blow to voting rights advocates and Democrats after a series of redistricting wins over the past several weeks. It means the 2022 congressional elections in Alabama will take place under a map drawn by the state’s Republican leaders. But it also signaled that the court’s more conservative majority is suspicious of a Voting Rights Act precedent that Alabama said requires legislatures to prioritize race over traditional redistricting techniques.”

Peter Thiel to Exit Meta’s Board to Support Trump-Aligned Candidates. The tech billionaire, who has been on the board of the company formerly known as Facebook since 2005, is backing numerous politicians in the midterm elections. The New York Times, Ryan Mac and Mike Isaac, Monday, 7 February 2022: “Peter Thiel, one of the longest-serving board members of Meta, the parent of Facebook, plans to step down, the company said on Monday. Mr. Thiel, 54, wants to focus on influencing November’s midterm elections, said a person with knowledge of Mr. Thiel’s thinking who declined to be identified. Mr. Thiel sees the midterms as crucial to changing the direction of the country, this person said, and he is backing candidates who support the agenda of former President Donald J. Trump. Over the last year, Mr. Thiel, who has a net worth estimated at $2.6 billion by Forbes, has become one of the Republican Party’s largest donors. He gave $10 million each last year to the campaigns of two protégés, Blake Masters, who is running for a Senate seat in Arizona, and J.D. Vance, who is running for Senate in Ohio.”


Tuesday, 8 February 2022:


Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Denounces the Republican National Committee (R.N.C.) Censure of January 6 Republican Panel Members. McConnell joined a small chorus of Republicans distancing themselves from the committee’s action, describing the Capitol riot as ‘a violent insurrection.’ The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman and Annie Karni, Tuesday, 8 February 2022: “Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, pushed back hard on Tuesday against the Republican Party’s censure of Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger and its characterization of the Jan. 6 riot as ‘legitimate political discourse,’ saying the riot was a ‘violent insurrection.’ The remarks from Mr. McConnell, the normally taciturn Kentucky Republican, added to a small but forceful chorus of G.O.P. lawmakers who have decried the action that the Republican National Committee took on Friday, when it officially rebuked Ms. Cheney and Mr. Kinzinger for participating in the House investigation of the Jan. 6 attack, accusing them of ‘persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.’ Mr. McConnell repudiated that description, saying of the events of Jan. 6, 2021: ‘We saw it happen. It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next. That’s what it was.'” See also, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calls January 6 a ‘violent insurrection’ breaking with the Republican National Committee (RNC). The RNC recently referred to the events of January 6 as ‘legitimate political discourse.’ NBC News, Sahil Kapur, Tuesday, 8 February 2022: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell disagreed Tuesday with the Republican National Committee’s recent censure of two GOP lawmakers, as well as its characterization of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. ‘We all were here. We saw what happened. It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election, from one administration to the next. That’s what it was,’ McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters at his weekly news conference. His remarks added to a backlash from Democrats and numerous Republicans after the RNC approved a resolution Friday accusing Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., of ‘participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse,’ a reference to the Jan. 6 committee. Cheney and Kinzinger are the only GOP members of the House panel. McConnell also said Tuesday that the RNC shouldn’t be ‘in the business of picking and choosing Republicans who ought to be supported,’ adding that the national committee’s role is to back all members of the party. ‘The issue is whether or not the RNC should be, sort of, singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority. That’s not the job of the RNC,’ he said.” See also, ‘Legitimate political discourse’: Three words about the January 6 violent attack on the Capitol spark rift among Republicans. Use of the phrase in connection with the Capitol insurrection has led to days of attempted political cleanup over a Republican Party resolution censuring Representatives Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey and Felicia Sonmez, Tuesday, 8 February 2022: “When the Republican Party voted to censure two of its own members of Congress last week at its winter meeting in Salt Lake City, it justified the move in part by declaring that efforts to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection amounted to the persecution of individuals engaging in ‘legitimate political discourse.’ Those three words have since sparked a massive backlash among GOP senators who fear the resolution could jeopardize the party’s fortunes in the midterm elections. The move has also led to days of attempted political cleanup by the Republican National Committee over the language and the accompanying censures of Reps. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.). On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) became the highest-ranking Republican elected official to criticize the RNC for the resolution censuring Cheney and Kinzinger for serving on the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob. McConnell described the attack as a ‘violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power, after a legitimately-certified election, from one administration to the next. The issue is whether or not the RNC should be sort of singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority. That’s not the job of the RNC,’ he said.”

Government Reveals Trove of Evidence in First January 6 Trial. With a Texas man set to go to trial this month, prosecutors released a detailed list of their witnesses and evidence, including testimony from the defendant’s two teenage children. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Tuesday, 8 February 2022: “Prosecutors have provided a revealing glimpse of their strategy for the first trial stemming from the attack on the Capitol, unveiling an inventory of the extensive evidence they intend to introduce, including surveillance videos, police communications, text messages, geolocation data and testimony from a Secret Service agent and the defendant’s own children. The defendant in the trial, set to begin on Feb. 28, is Guy Wesley Reffitt, an oil industry worker who prosecutors say was a member of the Texas Three Percenters, a far-right group connected to the gun rights movement. Mr. Reffitt stands accused of storming the Capitol with a pistol at his waist. The charges against him include interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder and obstructing Congress’s duty to certify the results of the 2020 election. The trial — the earliest of several related to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, scheduled this year — will mark a major turning point in the Justice Department’s vast investigation of the Capitol attack. About 200 people have pleaded guilty so far to charges connected to the violent assault that disrupted the peaceful transfer of power. Of those, nearly 90 have already been sentenced. The Reffitt trial, which will take place in Federal District Court in Washington, is expected to be the first time that prosecutors will publicly offer evidence of the allegations they have made against scores of other similar defendants. Under what is sure to be enormous scrutiny, the prosecutors will have to demonstrate that law enforcement officers were ‘adversely affected’ by the riot and that Mr. Reffitt was part of a pro-Trump mob that illegally stopped the work of Congress.” See also, Statement of Republican Leaders and Former Officials on the Republican National Committee’s Censure of Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger, Renew America Movement, published on Monday, 7 February 2022: “Last week the Republican National Committee (RNC) made clear that it would rather be the ‘Big Lie’ party than the ‘Big Tent’ party by condemning two principled elected leaders while condoning conspiracies, lies, and violent insurrection. By censuring Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Congressman Adam Kinzinger for their role in investigating the January 6th attacks, they have betrayed the GOP’s founding principles and ceded control of a once-great movement to grifters and extremists. The RNC has also signaled that it no longer welcomes people of conscience. The RNC’s description of the January 6th insurrection as ‘legitimate political discourse’ is an affront to the rule of law, peaceful self-government, and the constitutional order. There can be no justifying the horrific attack that day, and we condemn the Committee for excusing the actions of men and women who battered police officers, ransacked our nation’s Capitol, called for hanging the Vice President of the United States, and sought to overturn a free and fair election. History will mark this censure as a turning point for the RNC – a time of choosing between civility and patriotism, on the one hand, and conspiracy and political violence on the other. We stand firmly for the first set of values. We stand proudly next to principled leaders such as Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. And we stand united against efforts to defile our democracy.”

FBI probes pre-Capitol riot meeting of far-right groups, Reuters, Aram Roston, Tuesday, 8 February 2022: “The Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing a meeting in a downtown DC garage the day before the January 6 Capitol Hill riot between the then-leader of the Proud Boys extremist group, the now-indicted leader of the Oath Keepers militia and other far-right figures, according to two witnesses interviewed by FBI agents. Among the half dozen people gathered at a garage near the Phoenix Park Hotel was Oath Keepers head Stewart Rhodes, who was indicted this year on charges of ‘seditious conspiracy’ in the insurrection. Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio, who was not present at the riot, was also at the garage meeting but left Washington afterward. The meeting put the heads of the nation’s two best-known violent far-right pro-Trump groups in immediate proximity to each other 24 hours before the breach of the Capitol. Three attendees or their representatives contacted by Reuters say they did not discuss matters related to January 6.”

Erik Prince Helped Raise Money for Conservative Spy Venture. New details reveal the ambitions of an operation intended to infiltrate opponents of Donald Trump, including moderate Republicans as well as progressives and Democrats. The New York Times, Mark Mazzetti and Adam Goldman, Tuesday, 8 February 2022: “During the summer of 2018, as Richard Seddon, a former British spy, was trying to launch a new venture to use undercover agents to infiltrate progressive groups, Democratic campaigns and other opponents of President Donald J. Trump, he turned for help to a longtime friend and former colleague: Erik Prince, the private military contractor. Mr. Prince took on the role of celebrity pitchman, according to interviews and documents, raising money for Mr. Seddon’s spying operation, which was aimed at gathering dirt that could discredit politicians and activists in several states. After Mr. Prince and Mr. Seddon met in August 2018 with Susan Gore, a Wyoming heiress to the Gore-Tex fortune, Ms. Gore became the project’s main benefactor. Mr. Prince’s role in the effort, which has not been previously disclosed, sheds further light on how a group of ultraconservative Republicans employed spycraft to try to manipulate the American political landscape. Mr. Prince — a former C.I.A. contractor who is best known as the founder of the private military firm Blackwater and whose sister, Betsy DeVos, was Mr. Trump’s education secretary — has drawn scrutiny over the years for Blackwater’s record of violence around the world and his subsequent ventures training and arming foreign forces. His willingness to support Mr. Seddon’s operation is fresh evidence of his engagement in political espionage projects at home during a period when he was an informal adviser to Trump administration officials.”

Ginni and Clarence Thomas draw questions about Supreme Court ethics. Watchdog groups call for new, enforceable ethics code for justices. ABC News, Devin Dwyer and Gabriella Abdul-Hakim, Tuesday, 8 February 2022: “Clarence Thomas, the U.S. Supreme Court’s most senior justice, long celebrated by conservatives and reviled by liberals, is facing renewed scrutiny for potential conflicts of interest as he helms the court’s newly empowered conservative majority and as public opinion of the court slumps to a historic low. Independent ethics watchdogs have raised new questions about the activism of Clarence Thomas’ wife of 34 years, Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas, a longtime political consultant who lobbies for some of the same conservative causes — around abortion, gun rights and religious freedom — that are before the high court. A New Yorker magazine report last month documented a web of associations between Ginni Thomas and ‘conservative pressure groups that have either been involved in cases before the Court or have had members engaged in such cases.’ Thomas sits on the advisory board of a group opposing affirmative action that filed a Supreme Court amicus brief in cases the justices recently agreed to take up. She has also been highly critical in public of the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, whose business has also come before the court. Recently released emails obtained by the nonpartisan watchdog group American Oversight, first reported by Politico, also suggest close ties between the Thomases and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who has challenged federal COVID mandates before the high court. In a June 2021 message, not independently verified by ABC News, Ginni Thomas seeks the governor’s participation in a private gathering of activists, noting that Clarence Thomas had been in contact with DeSantis ‘on various things of late.'” See also, Clarence and Ginni Thomas, the Supreme Court’s Unethical ‘It’ Couple. How the Thomases have been able to get away with their decades long abuse of influence. The Nation, Elie Mystal, published on Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “It seems the wider world is becoming acquainted with the ethical disaster that is the conservative power couple Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas. A few weeks ago, The New Yorker published an excellent exposé by Jane Mayer of Ginni’s long history of conservative political activism on behalf of causes and even litigants who appear before her husband’s court. For people who hadn’t been following the couple for the past 30 years, the piece was a revelation. Long-term court watchers have been aware of the problem since at least 2000. That’s when Ginni was employed vetting potential staff and cabinet appointments for George W. Bush while the result of the election was in dispute. Eventually, the Supreme Court anointed Bush the winner of that election, with Ginni’s husband, Clarence, casting one of the deciding votes in the 5-4 ruling. But while it’s fun to dunk on Ginni, a right-wing social gadfly who has inserted herself on the wrong side of nearly every issue, it’s important to remember that the corrupt actor here is Clarence. Ginni Thomas is under no moral or ethical obligation to behave better than any other right-wing culture warrior. America doesn’t pay her salary. If she wants to spend her time fanning the flames of insurrection and drawing up enemies lists for Donald Trump, she is free to do so. It is her husband who has been elevated to a position of public trust. It is her husband who has held himself out as an impartial arbiter of justice. It is her husband who has been morally unfit for the Supreme Court every single day he’s been on it, and he is the one who should be investigated and called on to answer for his ethical failings. A report last week in Politico that hints at secret correspondence between the Thomases and Florida Governor and Covid pitchman Ron DeSantis illustrates why it is ultimately Clarence who is the ethical structure fire in this relationship. According to the website, documents turned over to a government watchdog group include an e-mail from Ginni to DeSantis. In it, she is trying to get him to speak to a group of ‘conservative patriots’ (whatever that means) and she needs to remind DeSantis who she is. She tells him that she’s interviewed him before, saw him at a state dinner, and ‘my husband has been in contact with him too on various things of late.'”

5G and QAnon: how conspiracy theorists steered Canada’s anti-vaccine trucker protest. Ottawa’s occupation was a result of unrivaled coordination between anti-vax and anti-government organizations. The Guardian, Justin Ling, Tuesday, 8 February 2022: “Thousands of demonstrators have successfully occupied Canada’s frigid capital for days, and say they plan on staying as long as it takes to thwart the country’s vaccine requirements. The brazen occupation of Ottawa came as a result of unprecedented coordination between various anti-vaccine and anti-government organizations and activists, and has been seized on by similar groups around the world. It may herald the revenge of the anti-vaxxers. The so-called ‘freedom convoy’ – which departed for Ottawa on 23 January – was the brainchild of James Bauder, an admitted conspiracy theorist who has endorsed the QAnon movement and called Covid-19 ‘the biggest political scam in history.’ Bauder’s group, Canada Unity, contends that vaccine mandates and passports are illegal under Canada’s constitution, the Nuremberg Code and a host of other international conventions.”


Wednesday, 9 February 2022:


The House Committee Investigating the Violent January 6 Attack on the Capitol by Trump Supporters Subpoenas Peter Navarro, Who Worked to Overturn the Election. Navarro, a White House adviser to former President Trump, has written and spoken about his work on a plan to get Congress to reject the results of the 2020 election. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued a subpoena on Wednesday to Peter Navarro, a White House adviser to former President Donald J. Trump who was involved in what he called an ‘operation’ to keep Mr. Trump in office after he lost the 2020 election. The subpoena was the committee’s latest attempt to obtain information about efforts underway in Mr. Trump’s White House to invalidate the election. In his book, titled ‘In Trump Time,’ and in interviews with The New York Times and other outlets, Mr. Navarro has said that he worked with Stephen K. Bannon and other allies of Mr. Trump to develop and carry out a plan to delay Congress’s formal count of the 2020 presidential election results to buy time to change the outcome. Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, highlighted how openly and proudly Mr. Navarro has discussed those machinations, saying he ‘hasn’t been shy about his role in efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, and has even discussed the former president’s support for those plans.'” See also, House January 6 committee issues subpoena to former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger, Josh Dawsey, and Felicia Sonmez, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “The House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on Jan 6, 2021 issued a subpoena Wednesday to former Trump White House official Peter Navarro seeking records and testimony from the former trade adviser, who has written and publicly discussed the effort to develop a strategy to delay or overturn certification of the 2020 election. Navarro is among a growing list of Trump advisers who have been subpoenaed by the panel and, like some of them, it seemed likely Wednesday that he would seek to avoid testifying by citing Trump’s claim of executive privilege. ‘Mr. Navarro appears to have information directly relevant to the Select Committee’s investigation into the causes of the January 6th attack on the Capitol,’ said the panel’s chair, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) in a statement accompanying the release of a formal letter to Navarro. ‘More than 500 witnesses have provided information in our investigation, and we expect Mr. Navarro to do so as well.'” See also, January 6 House committee subpoenas one-time Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, Annie Grayer, and Ryan Nobles, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection issued a subpoena Wednesday to Peter Navarro, former President Donald Trump’s one-time trade adviser who following the US Capitol riot has consistently defended efforts to overturn the election. Navarro is just the latest former Trump official to be subpoenaed by the committee in its sweeping investigation but, like others, it remains to be seen if the panel will ultimately succeed in compelling his testimony. In its subpoena letter, the panel said it wants to speak to Navarro because of press reports that suggest Navarro worked with Trump ally and adviser Stephen Bannon, among others, to help develop a plan to delay the certification of the 2020 presidential election results…. In response to the subpoena, Navarro told CNN that the committee must negotiate his potential appearance with Trump’s attorneys, claiming like others who have resisted subpoenas that the former President has asserted privilege. Navarro has also said in the press that Trump was ‘on board with the strategy’ along with ‘more than 100’ members of Congress, which the panel also cited in its subpoena letter.”

National Archives asks Justice Department to investigate Trump’s handling of White House records. The request came amid revelations that officials recovered 15 boxes of materials from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence that weren’t handed back to the government as they should have been. The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Jacqueline Alemany, Ashley Parker, and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “The National Archives and Records Administration has asked the Justice Department to examine Donald Trump’s handling of White House records, sparking discussions among federal law enforcement officials about whether they should investigate the former president for a possible crime, according to two people familiar with the matter. The referral from the National Archives came amid recent revelations that officials recovered 15 boxes of materials from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida that were not handed back in to the government as they should have been, and that Trump had turned over other White House records that had been torn up. Archives officials suspected Trump had possibly violated laws concerning the handling of government documents — including those that might be considered classified — and reached out to the Justice Department, the people familiar with the matter said. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a politically sensitive request. The two people said the discussions about the matter remained preliminary, and it was not yet clear whether the Justice Department would investigate. The department also might be interested in merely reclaiming classified materials. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. Trump’s years-long defiance of the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties, has long raised concerns among historians and legal observers. His penchant for ripping up official documents was first reported by Politico in 2018, but it has drawn new scrutiny in recent weeks because of a House select committee’s investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.” See also, National Archives Found Possible Classified Material in Boxes Returned by Trump. The National Archives consulted with the Justice Department about the discovery after the former president sent back documents that he had improperly taken from the White House when he left office. The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein and Michael S. Schmidt, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “The National Archives and Records Administration discovered what it believed was classified information in documents Donald J. Trump had taken with him from the White House as he left office, according to a person briefed on the matter. The discovery, which occurred after Mr. Trump returned 15 boxes of documents to the government last month, prompted the National Archives to reach out to the Justice Department for guidance, the person said. The department told the National Archives to have its inspector general examine the matter, the person said. It is unclear what the inspector general has done since then, in particular, whether the inspector general has referred the matter to the Justice Department. An inspector general is required to alert the Justice Department to the discovery of any classified materials that were found outside authorized government channels. Making a referral to the Justice Department would put senior officials in the position of having to decide whether to open an investigation, a scenario that would thrust the department into a highly contentious political matter. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the National Archives had asked the Justice Department to examine Mr. Trump’s handling of White House records.”

All the ways Trump tried to overturn the election, and how it could happen again. Here is a guide to the increasingly radical strategies attempted by Trump and his allies to reverse Joe Biden’s victory, beginning right after the election and persisting after the January 6 assault on the Capitol. The Washington Post, Rosalind S. Helderman, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “President Donald Trump made clear just hours after polls closed on Nov. 3 that he had no intention of conceding the 2020 election to Joe Biden. Instead, he and his allies engaged in overlapping strategies to try to overturn the results of the election, beginning in November and lasting and persisting even after his supporters violently breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The strategies became increasingly radical as efforts to use the courts or state recount procedures to change the election outcome failed. Since Trump left office, there have not been significant legal changes that would prevent a future president from trying similar tactics in the future, and much of the Republican Party has embraced Trump’s falsehoods about what happened in 2020.”

Biden calls Florida bill restricting LGBTQ discussion in schools ‘hateful’ after Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signals support, The Washington Post, Adela Suliman, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “President Biden has slammed legislation proposed by Republicans in Florida that aims to restrict some discussions in the state’s schools about sexual orientation and gender identity. Biden, in a tweet on Tuesday, called the proposal a ‘hateful bill’ and said he would give his full support to the young people who may be affected. Critics have dubbed it the ‘Don’t say gay’ bill — but supporters say it is about parental rights. ‘I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve,’ Biden wrote to the LGBTQ community.”

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene warns of Nancy Pelosi’s ‘gazpacho police.’ The Georgia Republican apparently meant to say ‘Gestapo’ but instead referred to the chilled soup. NBC News, Dareh Gregorian, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who has become known for her love of conspiracy theories and angry outbursts at Democratic leaders, apparently meant to accuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Gestapo police tactics in an interview Tuesday. But it didn’t quite come out that way, and the mistake she made immediately set off a chorus of delighted ridicule from her critics on social media. Rather than compare Pelosi’s tactics to the Nazi secret police, she instead compared them to a bowl of chilled soup. ‘Now we have Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho police spying on members of Congress, spying on the legislative work we do, spying on our staff and spying on American citizens,’ Greene said on One America News Network’s ‘Real America’ program. A video snippet of the interview posted online by the Republican Accountability Project went viral Wednesday…. Greene, who has a history of making Nazi comparisons and promoting conspiracy theories and misinformation, made the remark while referring to an incident Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, complained about Tuesday involving U.S. Capitol Police. In a Twitter thread, Nehls said that Capitol Police entered his office on Nov. 20 ‘without my knowledge and photographed confidential legislative products’ and that two days later ‘three intelligence officers attempted to enter my office while the House was in recess’ to ask about an item that had been photographed inside. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger denied Nehls’ claim that he had been ‘illegally’ spied on, saying instead that a ‘vigilant’ officer entered Nehls’ office because the door had been left open after hours. ‘If a Member’s office is left open and unsecured, without anyone inside the office, USCP officers are directed to document that and secure the office to ensure nobody can wander in and steal or do anything else nefarious,’ Manger said. His officers then ‘followed up with the Congressman’s staff and determined no investigation or further action of any kind was needed.'” See also, ‘Gazpacho police’: Nazi gaffe lands Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene in the soup. The Guardian, Guardian Staff, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “The extremist Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene triggered a wave of viral jokes on Wednesday after ranting about the ‘gazpacho police’ patrolling the Capitol building in Washington DC. Greene was apparently mixing up the famously cold Spanish soup gazpacho with the Gestapo – the brutal Nazi-era secret police in Germany. The Georgia congresswoman has made numerous bigoted statements and her spreading of Covid misinformation has seen her ousted from Twitter. She made the most recent comments in an interview on Real America with Dan Ball, produced by the rightwing One America News Network television channel. ‘Not only do we have the DC jail which is the DC gulag, but now we have Nancy Pelosi’s gazpacho police spying on members of Congress, spying on the legislative work that we do, spying on our staff and spying on American citizens,’ she said, referring to the Democratic speaker of the House.”

‘Blue’ suburban moms are mobilizing to counter conservatives in fights over masks, book bans, and diversity education, The Washington Post, Annie Gowen, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “Dozens of suburban moms from around the country dialed into an Ohio-based Zoom training session last month with the same goal — to learn how to combat the increasingly vitriolic rhetoric from parents whose protests over mask mandates and diversity education have turned school board meeting rooms into battlegrounds. The lessons: Show up at meetings with fact-based speeches ready and create text groups for real-time strategizing. Wave ‘jazz hands’ if told not to clap at meetings. Avoid using the divisive language of their opponents, such as ‘CRT’ for critical race theory, and instead replace it with alternatives like ‘culturally responsive instruction.’ Katie Paris, the founder of Red Wine and Blue — a national network of like-minded, mostly Democratic suburban women — believes the only way to fight back is to present a calm face to counter the angry groups that have dominated and disrupted board meetings and in some cases threatened officials. Her network of more than 300,000 women recently broadened its focus to fight the rising number of book bans across the country, launching a case tracker on Jan. 31, and is running training sessions to help women testify and manage highly charged government meetings. ‘We believe it’s time to get off defense,’ Paris said. ‘Why should we be the ones explaining ourselves? This is not why we moved to the suburbs. We moved to the suburbs for high-quality schools.'”

No, the federal government isn’t spending $30 million on ‘crack pipes,’ The Washington Post, Meryl Kornfield and Mariana Alfaro, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “Conservative figures have launched an online furor this week, claiming that the government planned to spend $30 million on pipes for smoking crack cocaine. The heightened concern came months after the Department of Health and Human Services announced a federal grant for local programs that provide myriad ‘harm reduction’ tools, or services that minimize the risks associated with drug use, including distributing drug paraphernalia such as clean needles. Republicans seized on ‘crack pipes,’ causing the phrase to trend on Twitter on Tuesday, the latest in continued resistance from the GOP against harm-reduction techniques at a time when people are dying of drug overdoses at record rates in the United States.”

Fatal police shootings in 2021 set record since The Post began tracking, despite public outcry, The Washington Post, Marisa Iati, Steven Rich, and Jennifer Jenkins, Wednesday, 9 February 2022: “Police shot and killed at least 1,055 people nationwide last year, the highest total since The Washington Post began tracking fatal shootings by officers in 2015 — underscoring the difficulty of reducing such incidents despite sustained public attention to the issue. The new count is up from 1,021 shootings the previous year and 999 in 2019. The total comes amid a nationwide spike in violent crime — although nowhere near historic highs — and as people increasingly are venturing into public spaces now that coronavirus vaccines are widely available. Despite setting a record, experts said the 2021 total was within expected bounds. Police have fatally shot roughly 1,000 people in each of the past seven years, ranging from 958 in 2016 to last year’s high. Mathematicians say this stability may be explained by Poisson’s random variable, a principle of probability theory that holds that the number of independent, uncommon events in a large population will remain fairly stagnant absent major societal changes. That the number of fatal police shootings last year is within 60 of the average suggests officers’ behavior has not shifted significantly since The Post began collecting data, said Andrew Wheeler, a private-sector criminologist and data scientist.”


Thursday, 10 February 2022:


Some Trump records taken to Mar-a-Lago were clearly marked as classified, including documents at ‘top secret’ level. The existence of documents officially labeled as classified in the trove, which has not previously been reported, raises new questions about why the materials were taken out of the White House. The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Devlin Barrrett, Matt Zapotosky, and Josh Dawsey, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “Some of the White House documents that Donald Trump improperly took to his Mar-a-Lago residence were clearly marked as classified, including documents at the ‘top secret’ level, according to two people familiar with the matter. The existence of clearly marked classified documents in the trove — which has not previously been reported — is likely to intensify the legal pressure that Trump or his staffers could face, and raises new questions about why the materials were taken out of the White House. While it was unclear how many classified documents were among those received by the National Archives and Records Administration, some bore markings that the information was extremely sensitive and would be limited to a small group of officials with authority to view such highly classified information, the two people familiar with the matter said. The markings were discovered by the National Archives, which last month arranged for the collection of 15 boxes of documents from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Archives officials asked the Justice Department to look into the matter, though as of Thursday afternoon FBI agents had yet to review the materials, according to two people familiar with the request. It remained unclear whether the Justice Department would launch a full-fledged investigation. The files were being stored in a sensitive compartmented information facility, also known as an SCIF, while Justice Department officials debated how to proceed, the two people familiar with the matter said.”

House Oversight asks National Archives for information about Trump’s handling of White House records, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “The chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee is moving quickly on her promise to investigate Donald Trump’s handling of White House records on the heels of revelations that 15 boxes of materials were recovered from the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence. In a letter sent Wednesday to Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) requested information ‘to examine the extent and impact’ of Trump’s apparent violations of the Presidential Records Act, which requires the preservation of memos, letters, notes, emails, faxes and other written communications related to a president’s official duties. The letter, provided to The Washington Post, asked for a detailed inventory of the contents of the recovered boxes, a description of records that Trump ‘destroyed or attempted to destroy’ without the approval of the Archives, and whether the contents are undergoing a review to determine if they contain classified information. Maloney also asked whether ‘the Archivist has notified the Attorney General that former President Trump removed presidential records from the White House.’ ‘Removing or concealing government records is a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison,’ Maloney wrote. ‘Former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, for example, was prosecuted for taking classified documents from NARA. Former President Trump and his senior advisors must also be held accountable for any violations of the law.’ The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the Archives asked the Justice Department to examine Trump’s handling of White House records, sparking discussions among federal law enforcement officials about whether they should investigate the former president for a possible crime, according to two people familiar with the matter. In her letter, Maloney went on to note that ‘Republicans in Congress obsessively investigated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server for official communications,’ while ‘Trump’s conduct, in contrast, involves a former president potentially violating a criminal law by intentionally removing records, including communications with a foreign leader, from the White House and reportedly attempting to destroy records by tearing them up.'”

Maggie Haberman’s book Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America: Flushed papers found clogging Trump White House toilet, Axios, Mike Allen, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “While President Trump was in office, staff in the White House residence periodically discovered wads of printed paper clogging a toilet — and believed the president had flushed pieces of paper, Maggie Haberman scoops in her forthcoming book, ‘Confidence Man.’ The revelation by Haberman, whose coverage as a New York Times White House correspondent was followed obsessively by Trump, adds a vivid new dimension to his lapses in preserving government documents. Axios was provided an exclusive first look at some of her reporting.”

Trump’s Missing Call Logs Present a Challenge for January 6 Investigators. Sparse call records and missing documents hinder the House panel as it tries to piece together what President Trump was doing during the violent attack on Congress by his supporters. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Jonathan Martin, Maggie Haberman, and Michael S. Schmidt, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has discovered gaps in official White House telephone logs from the day of the riot, finding few records of calls by President Donald J. Trump from critical hours when investigators know that he was making them. Investigators have not uncovered evidence that any official records were tampered with or deleted, and it is well known that Mr. Trump routinely used his personal cellphone, and those of his aides, to talk with other aides, congressional allies and outside confidants, bypassing the normal channels of presidential communication. But the sparse call records present a major obstacle to a central element of the panel’s work: recreating what Mr. Trump was doing behind closed doors during the assault on Congress by a mob of his supporters. The gaps in the call logs were the latest in a string of revelations this week about the extent of Mr. Trump’s flouting of the rules and norms of presidential conduct, and how his penchant for doing so has left an incomplete record of how he operated while in office. Some of the records that the Jan. 6 committee has received had been ripped to shreds and taped back together, reflecting the former president’s habit of tearing up documents. In addition, he removed more than a dozen boxes of presidential records from the White House when he left office, which the National Archives believes contained classified material, according to a person briefed on the matter. The House Oversight committee on Thursday announced an investigation into what it called ‘potential serious violations’ of the Presidential Records Act. Mr. Trump has been loath to return the boxes of documents he took from the White House, despite repeated efforts by the National Archives to obtain them. At some point during a monthslong negotiation between Mr. Trump’s team and the agency, officials at the National Archives threatened to send a letter to Congress or the Department of Justice if he continued to withhold the boxes, according to a person familiar with private discussions, who spoke about them on the condition of anonymity. And while he was president, staff in the White House residence periodically discovered wads of printed paper clogging a toilet — leading them to believe that Mr. Trump had attempted to flush documents, according to people familiar with the situation. He was known to do the same on foreign trips, the people said. (Those incidents are recounted in a forthcoming book, ‘Confidence Man,’ written by a New York Times reporter, about Mr. Trump and his presidency.)” See also, White House records obtained so far by January 6 committee show no record of calls to and from Trump during violent attack on Congress by Trump supporters, CNN Politics, Ryan Nobles, Zachary Cohen, Annie Grayer, and Jamie Gangel, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “White House call records now in the possession of congressional investigators do not reflect calls made to or from then-President Donald Trump as the violence unfolded on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, leaving them with gaps so far in their understanding of what transpired that day, three sources familiar with the House investigation into the insurrection tell CNN. The records the House select committee has obtained do not contain entries of phone calls between the President and lawmakers that have been widely reported in the press. Trump was known to make calls using personal cell phones, which could account for those. Two of the sources, who have also reviewed the presidential diary from that day, say it contains scant information and no record of phone calls for several hours after Trump returned to the Oval Office after giving a speech to his supporters at the Ellipse until he emerged to address the nation in a video from the Rose Garden.”

Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich: Newly Declassified Documents Reveal Previously Secret CIA Bulk Collection and Problems With CIA Handling of Americans’ Information. Wyden and Heinrich Call for Critically Needed Transparency About CIA Bulk Collection; Documents Were Declassified at Wyden and Heinrich’s Request., Thursday, 10 February 2022: “U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called for new transparency about bulk surveillance conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency, following the release of documents that revealed a secret bulk collection program and problems with how the agency searches and handles Americans’ information. Wyden and Heinrich requested the declassification of a report by the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board on a CIA bulk collection program, in a letter sent April 13, 2021. The letter, which was declassified and made public today reveals that ‘the CIA has secretly conducted its own bulk program,’ authorized under Executive Order 12333, rather than the laws passed by Congress. The letter notes that the program was ‘entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection, and without any of the judicial, congressional or even executive branch oversight that comes from [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] collection.’ ‘FISA gets all the attention because of the periodic congressional reauthorizations and the release of DOJ, ODNI and FISA Court documents,’ said Senators Wyden and Heinrich in response to the newly declassified documents.  ‘But what these documents demonstrate is that many of the same concerns that Americans have about their privacy and civil liberties also apply to how the CIA collects and handles information under executive order and outside the FISA law.  In particular, these documents reveal serious problems associated with warrantless backdoor searches of Americans, the same issue that has generated bipartisan concern in the FISA context.'” See also, CIA is secretly collecting bulk data pertaining to Americans, Senators Wyden and Heinrich say. A partially redacted letter from Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich said the program existed outside the normal bounds of oversight. NBC News/The Associated Press, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “The CIA has a secret, undisclosed data repository that includes information collected about Americans, two Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday. While neither the agency nor lawmakers would disclose specifics about the data, the senators alleged the CIA had long hidden details about the program from the public and Congress. Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico sent a letter to top intelligence officials calling for more details about the program to be declassified. Large parts of the letter, which was sent in April 2021 and declassified Thursday, and documents released by the CIA were blacked out. Wyden and Heinrich said the program operated ‘outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection.’ There have long been concerns about what information the intelligence community collects domestically, driven in part by previous violations of Americans’ civil liberties. The CIA and National Security Agency have a foreign mission and are generally barred from investigating Americans or U.S. businesses. But the spy agencies’ sprawling collection of foreign communications often snares Americans’ messages and data incidentally.” See also, Senators Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich Warn the C.I.A. Is Collecting in Bulk Certain Data Affecting Americans. A partly declassified letter from the senators does not say what the data is. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “The Central Intelligence Agency has for years been collecting in bulk, without a warrant, some kind of data that can affect Americans’ privacy, according to a newly declassified letter by two senators. The C.I.A. kept censored the nature of the data when it declassified the letter. At the same time, it declared that a report about the same topic, which had prompted the letter, must remain fully classified, except for some heavily redacted recommendations. That report, called ‘Deep Dive II,’ was part of a set of studies by a watchdog board scrutinizing intelligence community operations under Executive Order 12333, rules for intelligence activities that Congress has left unregulated by statute. The watchdog, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, and its staff members have access to classified information. In March 2021, the Senate Intelligence Committee received a copy of the report. In a letter the next month, two Democrats on the panel, Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, urged Avril D. Haines, the director of national intelligence, and William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, to declassify the activity and any internal rules about querying the data for information about Americans.

Congress Approves Bill to Nullify Forced Arbitration in Sex Abuse Cases. Senate passage was the latest evidence that Democrats, fresh off a string of legislative failures on their broader domestic agenda, are focusing on narrower measures with bipartisan support. The New York Times, Annie Karni, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “Congress approved bipartisan legislation on Thursday barring the use of forced arbitration to address sexual assault and harassment claims in the workplace, sending President Biden a measure aimed at ending a secretive practice often used to shield perpetrators from full and public accountability. The Senate passed the measure by a voice vote, clearing the bill three days after it had been approved overwhelmingly by the House. It could prompt a sea change in the way that businesses handle allegations of sexual abuse, and it was hailed by employment lawyers as one of the most significant changes to labor law in decades. The White House has indicated that Mr. Biden will sign it…. The forced arbitration bill brought together an unlikely coalition of liberals and conservatives. It would give survivors of sexual harassment and assault the ability to sue their abusers in state, tribal or federal court, even if a survivor had signed an employment agreement that barred such lawsuits and required misconduct claims to be settled through arbitration.” See also, Senate passes sweeping overhaul of workplace sexual misconduct law, CNN Politics, Ali Zaslav and Jessica Dean, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “The Senate passed one of the largest workplace reforms in decades, freeing victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault to seek justice in court when they had previously been bound to a closed, often-secretive legal proceeding commonly used in these types of cases by employers. The bipartisan legislation was approved by voice vote. It now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature, and the White House has expressed full support for the measure. Earlier this week, the bill was approved by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives, by 335-97. The legislation ends the use of forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment and assault claims. According to lawmakers, more than 60 million Americans are subjected to these provisions in employment contracts. The bill, called Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, bans forced arbitration in cases involving sexual misconduct and allows victims the option of bringing up the dispute in federal, tribal or state court.”

The Ottawa trucker protest is rooted in extreme views, a national security expert says. Some protestors have been showing off U.S. Confederate flags and swastikas. NPR, Nell Clark, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “Massive protests by truckers opposing pandemic precautions continue to ensnare traffic in Canada. Authorities are increasingly wary of the extremist views on display during the demonstrations, which some have dubbed the ‘Freedom Convoy.’ The drivers have been blocking major metropolitan areas in Ottawa, Ontario, for over a week and are becoming increasingly raucous, calling for the lifting of health regulations as well as a regime change in the country. Protestors in tractor-trailers and other vehicles have been running their engines and honking their horns day and night in the densely populated area. There are also hundreds of protestors on foot. Ottawa City Councilor Matthew Luloff told Morning Edition that hate symbols and acutely anti-Semitic writing have been seen at the rallies. Along with Canadian flags, some protestors have also been showing off U.S. Confederate flags and swastikas. ‘Some of the most well-known radicals in this country have now descended upon the capital. Some of them are calling for violence. Some of them are threatening individual politicians,’ said Luloff. Some of the protestors have legitimate concerns, noted Luloff. But what’s driving those using the protests to push hate? In fact, extremist groups are at the core of the movement, Stephanie Carvin, a national security expert, tells Morning Edition. Carvin reports groups with conspiratorial beliefs, anti-government and bigoted views have been trying for years to organize a convoy, but vaccine mandates helped to finally give their plan enough momentum in Ottawa.”

Federal judge restores protections for Gray wolves in much of the U.S., reversing Trump policy. The decision doesn’t restore protections for wolves in the northern Rockies, where they are being aggressively hunted. The Washington Post, Joshua Partlow, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “A federal judge restored protections for gray wolves in much of the country, reversing a decision by the Trump administration that stripped Endangered Species Act protections and exposed the animals to aggressive hunting in areas where they were nearly killed off years ago. The decision by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White in Northern California immediately reimposes safeguards for wolf populations in the Lower 48 outside of northern Rocky Mountain states — one of the hotbeds of wolf hunting — and puts federal officials in charge of managing wolf populations in places such as the Great Lakes region, the Pacific coast and other parts of their range. During the Trump administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had taken gray wolves off the list of endangered species and given control back to states. In his ruling, White challenged the rationale for doing so, saying the agency didn’t rely on the best available science or fully address threats to wolves outside of their main populations.”

The New York Times Is Allowed to Publish Project Veritas Documents Until a Full Appeal, The New York Times, Michael M. Grynbaum, Thursday, 10 February 2022: “The New York Times is free to publish documents pertaining to the conservative group Project Veritas after a New York State appeals court temporarily stayed an order by a state trial judge that had been decried by First Amendment advocates and journalism groups. In a decision made public on Thursday, the appeals court said the order would not be enforced until a formal appeal could be heard. The decision means that, for now, The Times can publish certain documents and will not have to turn over or destroy any copies of the documents in its possession. ‘We’re pleased with today’s decision to stop the enforcement of prior restraint while the case is being appealed and we look forward to explaining our position in the appeal,’ a Times spokeswoman, Danielle Rhoades Ha, said in a statement. ‘The use of prior restraint to prohibit news gathering and block the publication of newsworthy journalism is unconstitutional. No libel plaintiffs should be permitted to use their litigation as a tool to silence press coverage about them.’ The order by the Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court came as part of a libel lawsuit filed in 2020 by Project Veritas and its leader, the conservative provocateur James O’Keefe, that accused The Times of defamation.”


Friday, 11 February 2022:


Assessing Trump’s legal risk if he mishandled White House documents, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz and Laura Jarrett, Friday, 11 February 2022: “Reports of former President Donald Trump’s possible mishandling of federal documents found at his Mar-a-Lago resort have prompted legal experts this week to handicap: Could Trump be charged with a crime? Some were quick to speculate yes, though it’s not clear a former president could be charged by the Justice Department for mishandling documents, even classified information…. Legal experts tell CNN that any unauthorized retention or destruction of White House documents raises a red flag under a criminal law that prohibits the removal or destruction of official government records. But for a charge like this to fly, prosecutors would need to show that Trump had ‘willfully’ violated the law — a high bar, though one that prosecutors could potentially meet given the frequent efforts within the White House to try to preserve records Trump would habitually mutilate. Furthermore, other criminal laws could come into play as well, if an investigation by the Justice Department progresses. ‘If the intent was “Let me get these documents taken out of the way because they could look bad, they could be damning for me in an investigation, in a lawsuit,” then you’re talking about potential obstruction of justice. So the devil will be in the details here,’ said CNN legal analyst Elie Honig.”

Ontario Judge orders protesters to end blockade of Ambassador Bridge; Ontario premier declares state of emergency and threatens fines and prison time, The Washington Post, Maite Fernández Simon, Adela Suliman, and Andrew Jeong, Friday, 11 February 2022: “An Ontario court on Friday ordered protesters to end their blockade of a key bridge connecting Canada with the United States, as the country headed into a third weekend of ‘Freedom Convoy’ demonstrations. The protests have paralyzed the capital, slowed traffic at the border and caused manufacturers on both sides of the crossing to reduce operations. Ontario Superior Court Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz gave protesters until 7 p.m. to end the blockade at the Ambassador Bridge connecting Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, the busiest crossing on the U.S.-Canada border and a vital supply route between automakers on both sides. As the deadline passed, the number of protesters lessened but many chose to defy the order, chanting ‘freedom,’ waving flags, singing the national anthem and voting among themselves to stay put. Earlier Friday, Ontario Premier Doug Ford upped the pressure on the protesters when he declared a state of emergency in the province, and said that he would seek to impose steep fines and prison time for people who continued to obstruct highways and bridges. ‘We’re now two weeks into the siege of the city of Ottawa,’ Ford, whose government has some jurisdiction over the capital city, said at a news conference. ‘I call it a siege because that’s what it is. It’s an illegal occupation. This is no longer a protest.’ But in the hours after, little appeared to have changed in the blockaded streets of Ottawa, where protesters held dance parties between truck convoys and police intervened only to direct traffic and give out tickets to some illegally parked vehicles. One driver said he received a ticket for 80 Canadian dollars.” See also, Once again, Fox News stokes a protest against a Democratic president, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Friday, 11 February 2022: “The story of the protests that have upended the Canadian capital of Ottawa is not yet fully written. That’s true in part because the protest — or, as authorities have called it, the occupation — is ongoing; it’s not yet clear how it ends. It’s also true because all of the details of its genesis have likely not yet emerged. How did it come about? Who was involved in planning and amplifying the idea? Such details often take months to come to light. If, as seems likely, a similar truck-centered protest unfolds in the United States, that last question will have some obvious immediate answers. The American right has been very active in supporting the events in Ottawa and, often, in calling for something similar here. And when we talk about elements of the American right with a disproportionate ability to be heard, we’re talking about the hosts of Fox News’s prime-time programming. In the past month, Fox News has mentioned the truckers or Ottawa 2½ times as often as CNN and five times as often as MSNBC. Analysis by Matthew Gertz of the watchdog group Media Matters estimates that the network has spent more than 10 hours covering the story since the middle of January. The shows on which it has been mentioned the most, according to analysis of closed-captioning data? Those hosted by Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity. ‘It’s hard to overstate the historical significance of what we’re watching right here,’ Carlson said on his program Thursday night. ‘The Canadian trucker convoy is the single most successful human rights protest in a generation.’ At another point, Carlson reported that American truckers were planning their own convoy. The graphic over his shoulder read, ‘Here It Comes.'”


Saturday, 12 February 2022:


Rudy Giuliani in Talks to Testify to House January 6 Panel Investigating the Violent Attack on Congress by Trump Supporters. It is not clear how much assistance he might provide in the investigation into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to hold onto power. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Maggie Haberman, Michael S. Schmidt, and Luke Broadwater, Saturday, 12 February 2022: “Rudolph W. Giuliani, who as former President Donald J. Trump’s lawyer helped lead the effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election, is in discussions with the House Jan. 6 committee about responding to its questions, according to three people familiar with the matter. The extent of any assistance that Mr. Giuliani might provide remains unclear and the negotiations could easily fall apart, especially as Mr. Trump continues to publicly rail against the investigation. But Mr. Giuliani, through his lawyer, has signaled to the committee that he plans to take a less confrontational stance toward its requests than some other members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle who are fighting the committee’s subpoenas or have otherwise refused to cooperate. Mr. Giuliani’s discussions with committee officials suggest that he may be seeking to avoid a potentially costly legal fight over a subpoena that was issued to him last month. By engaging with the committee, Mr. Giuliani could also make it more difficult for the House to issue a criminal referral of him to the Justice Department for contempt of Congress if he in the end does not comply with the subpoena. Should Mr. Giuliani ultimately provide the committee with substantive cooperation, it would be a major breakthrough for the investigation and a breach in the relationship between Mr. Trump and one of his closest if most problematic advisers. Mr. Giuliani was instrumental not only in the post-Election Day effort to keep Mr. Trump in power but also in the pressure campaign on Ukraine that led to Mr. Trump’s first impeachment.”

Selling Trump: A Profitable Post-Presidency Like No Other. Much as he did while in the White House, Donald Trump has thoroughly blurred the lines between his political ambitions and his business interests, with a wide ranging set of money making ventures. The New York Times, Shane Goldmacher and Eric Lipton, Saturday, 12 February 2022: “In the year since Mr. Trump has left the White House, he has undertaken a wide-ranging set of moneymaking ventures, trading repeatedly on his political fame and fan base in pursuit of profit. Much as he did while in the White House, Mr. Trump has thoroughly blurred the lines between his political ambitions and his business interests…. For Mr. Trump, the monetization of his post-presidency represents a return to his roots. He expertly leveraged his celebrity as the host of ‘The Apprentice’ and his image as a decisive businessman to build credibility when he first entered politics. Now, he is executing the same playbook, only in reverse: converting a political following that provided hundreds of millions of dollars in small campaign contributions into a base of consumers for all things branded Trump.”

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Tennessee urges truckers to disrupt the Super Bowl and come to D.C.: ‘I hope they clog up cities,’ The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, Saturday, 12 February 2022: “As many anti-vaccine and anti-mandate protesters in trucks continue to paralyze Canada’s capital and block border crossings, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he hopes truckers would come to the United States as soon as this weekend to clog up streets in Los Angeles during the Super Bowl or next month to Washington. Participants in the self-styled “Freedom Convoy” are expected to flood Ottawa for a third straight weekend in what Ontario Premier Doug Ford called a ‘siege’ as he declared a provincial state of emergency. Protesters have also blocked several U.S.-Canada border crossings, affecting industries on both sides of the border. Yet when Paul was asked about his thoughts on the convoy and the potential for it to spill over into Los Angeles, home of Sunday’s Super Bowl, or into the District, he said ‘it’d be great’ if the anti-mandate demonstrators came to the United States to ‘clog things up. I’m all for it,’ Paul, a longtime opponent to masking and vaccine mandates, told the Daily Signal, a conservative outlet, on Thursday.”


Sunday, 13 February 2022:


Inside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Campaign to Take Back the Senate and Thwart Trump. McConnell is working furiously to bring allies to Washington who will Buck Donald Trump. It’s not going according to plan. The New York Times, Jonathan Martin, Sunday, 13 February 2022: “As Mr. Trump works to retain his hold on the Republican Party, elevating a slate of friendly candidates in midterm elections, Mr. McConnell and his allies are quietly, desperately maneuvering to try to thwart him. The loose alliance, which was once thought of as the G.O.P. establishment, for months has been engaged in a high-stakes candidate recruitment campaign, full of phone calls, meetings, polling memos and promises of millions of dollars. It’s all aimed at recapturing the Senate majority, but the election also represents what could be Republicans’ last chance to reverse the spread of Trumpism before it fully consumes their party. Mr. McConnell for years pushed Mr. Trump’s agenda and only rarely opposed him in public. But the message that he delivers privately now is unsparing, if debatable: Mr. Trump is losing political altitude and need not be feared in a primary, he has told Mr. Ducey in repeated phone calls, as the Senate leader’s lieutenants share polling data they argue proves it. In conversations with senators and would-be senators, Mr. McConnell is blunt about the damage he believes Mr. Trump has done to the G.O.P., according to those who have spoken to him. Privately, he has declared he won’t let unelectable ‘goofballs’ win Republican primaries. History doesn’t bode well for such behind-the-scenes efforts to challenge Mr. Trump, and Mr. McConnell’s hard sell is so far yielding mixed results. The former president has rallied behind fewer far-right candidates than initially feared by the party’s old guard. Yet a handful of formidable contenders have spurned Mr. McConnell’s entreaties, declining to subject themselves to Mr. Trump’s wrath all for the chance to head to a bitterly divided Washington.”

Trump Suggests Clinton Operatives Deserve Death for ‘Spying Operation,’ Newsweek, Jason Lemon, Sunday, 13 February 2022: “Former President Donald Trump suggested that operatives working for former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton deserve the death penalty after reports that lawyers for her campaign paid a tech company to ‘infiltrate’ Trump Tower and the White House. Trump has long insisted that he was unfairly smeared and targeted by Clinton’s campaign and Democratic operatives who aimed to connect him and his campaign to Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Special Counsel John Durham is currently investigating the origins of the FBI’s probe into Russian interference. In a court filing last week, Durham and his team alleged that Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussman paid tech companies and researchers ‘to mine Internet data to establish “an inference” and “narrative” tying then-candidate Trump to Russia,’ Fox News first reported on Saturday. Durham’s filing also states that a tech company employed by Sussman ‘had come to access and maintain dedicated servers’ at the Executive Office of the President. Sussman is charged with lying to federal investigators. Trump issued a Saturday evening statement responding to the news, suggesting the death penalty would have been warranted for such actions in a different time. ‘This is a scandal far greater in scope and magnitude than Watergate and those who were involved in and knew about this spying operation should be subject to criminal prosecution. In a stronger period of time in our country, this crime would have been punishable by death,’ the former president said. ‘In addition, reparations should be paid to those in our country who have been damaged by this.'” See also, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan echoes Trump’s claim that Clinton aides deserved to die. Jordan’s statement on Fox News is another example of violent rhetoric entering the Republican mainstream, analysts say. The Guardian, Richard Luscombe, Monday, 14 February 2022: “Anti-hate speech activists have condemned the Republican US congressman Jim Jordan for his apparent endorsement of Donald Trump’s declaration that members of Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff should have been executed. Jordan asserted on Fox & Friends that the former president was ‘right on target’ when he accused Clinton’s aides of spying on him, and that in another time in US history their ‘crime would have been punishable by death.’ But the position of the Ohio rightwinger and fierce Trump loyalist, who is resisting efforts from a congressional committee to explain his own role in the deadly 6 January Capitol riot that Trump incited, serves only to stoke further the country’s volatile political divisions and promote more violence, the groups say. ‘Trump and Jordan are escalating tensions at a time when this country sorely needs healing,’ Michael Edison Hayden, senior investigative journalist with the Southern Poverty Law Center’s intelligence project, told the Guardian. ‘Couple those words with Marjorie Taylor Greene’s statements about breaking apart the country and you can pretty easily see how integrated the extreme far-right fringe has become in the contemporary Republican party.”


Monday, 14 February 2022:


Accounting Firm Cuts Ties With Trump and Retracts Financial Statements. The firm, Mazars USA, said in a letter that it could no longer stand behind the annual statements, which are central to an investigation by the New York attorney general. The New York Times, Ben Protess and William K. Rashbaum, Monday, 14 February 2022: “Donald J. Trump’s longtime accounting firm cut ties with him and his family business last week, saying it could no longer stand behind a decade of annual financial statements it prepared for the Trump Organization, court documents show. The decision, which was disclosed to the company in a Feb. 9 letter from the accounting firm, comes amid criminal and civil investigations into whether Mr. Trump illegally inflated the value of his assets. The firm, Mazars USA, compiled the financial statements based on information the former president and his company provided. The letter instructed the Trump Organization to essentially retract the documents, known as statements of financial condition, from 2011 to 2020. In the letter, Mazars noted that the firm had not ‘as a whole’ found material discrepancies between the information the Trump Organization provided and the actual value of Mr. Trump’s assets. But given what it called ‘the totality of circumstances’ — including Mazars’ own investigation — the letter directed the Trump Organization to notify anyone who received the statements that they should no longer rely on them. The statements, which Mr. Trump used to secure loans, are at the center of the two law enforcement investigations into whether Mr. Trump exaggerated the value of his properties to defraud his lenders into providing him the best possible loan terms. Mazars’ acknowledgment that the statements were fundamentally flawed was a potential blow to the Trump Organization as it attempts to fend off the long-running scrutiny of its finances. And for Mr. Trump, whose personal finances are intertwined with those of his family business and who has long faced questions about his taxes, Mazars is the latest in a long line of companies to break with him over the last year, following in the path of several banks, insurers and lawyers. The disclosures about Mazars’ work for Mr. Trump appeared in new court documents filed by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, who is seeking to question the former president and two of his adult children under oath as part of her civil investigation.” See also, Mazars USA, the Trump Organization’s accounting firm, says it can no longer vouch for financial statements from the company. In a letter released by New York Attorney General Letitia James, Mazars USA said the Trump Organization’s ‘statement of financial condition from 2011-2020 should no longer be relied on.’ NBC News, Tom Winter and Dareh Gregorian, Monday, 14 February 2022: “The accounting firm Mazars USA said a decade’s worth of financial statements from the Trump Organization can no longer be viewed as reliable, according to a letter made public Monday by New York Attorney General Letitia James as part of her civil probe into the former president’s company. Mazars also said it will no longer work with the Trump Organization, meaning the company may have to get new financial statements that could complicate its ability to secure loans. In a Feb. 9 letter from Mazars Group General Counsel William J. Kelly to Trump Organization Chief Legal Officer Alan Garten, the auditing firm said its work from 2011 to 2020 ‘should not be relied upon. We write to advise that the Statements of Financial Condition for Donald J. Trump for the years ending June 30, 2011 — June 30, 2020, should no longer be relied upon and you should inform any recipients thereof who are currently relying upon one or more of those documents that those documents should not be relied upon,’ Kelly wrote in a letter released Monday by James. Kelly said ‘this conclusion based, in part, upon the filings made by’ James’ office and ‘our own investigation, and information received from internal and external sources.’ ‘While we have not concluded that the various financial statements, as a whole, contain material discrepancies, based upon the totality of the circumstances, we believe our advice to you to no longer rely upon those financial statements is appropriate,’ according to Kelly. The details laid out by Mazars are far from common in the accounting industry, said Lynn Turner, former chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission. ‘Getting a letter like this from your auditor is highly unusual,’ Turner said. ‘It indicates that there is something in the financial statements that is significant and needs to be revised.'” See also, Trump Organization’s accounting firm says 10 years of financial statements are unreliable, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell, Monday, 14 February 2022. See also, Trump’s longtime accountant says a decade of his financial statements are unreliable, NPR, Ilya Marritz and Hansi Lo Wang, Monday, 14 February 2022.

Federal judge orders John Eastman to detail legal work he did for Trump. Eastman, who helped develop a strategy to subvert the 2020 election, has tried to withhold emails by citing attorney-client and attorney work-product privileges. Politico, Kyle Cheney and Nicholas Wu, Monday, 14 February 2022: “A federal judge on Monday moved to speed up efforts to supply Jan. 6 investigators with a crucial set of emails from John Eastman, the attorney who helped develop then-President Donald Trump’s strategy to subvert the 2020 election. U.S. District Court Judge David Carter, based in California, specifically ordered an expedited schedule to review efforts by Eastman to shield 568 pages of emails — all sent and received between Jan. 4 and Jan. 7, 2021 — from the Jan. 6 select committee. ‘The Select Committee has repeatedly noted the significance of communications immediately before and after the January 6 attack on the Capitol,’ Carter said in a late-Monday order. ‘Given the investigation’s urgency, the Court finds it appropriate to expedite its privilege review of the January 4-7, 2021 documents.’ Eastman has tried to withhold the emails, held by his former employer Chapman University, by citing attorney-client and attorney work-product privileges. The select committee, represented by House Counsel Douglas Letter, has protested Eastman’s privilege claims, arguing that Eastman has provided no evidence of a formal legal relationship with Trump, the White House or the Trump campaign.”

Study finds Western megadrought is the worst in 1,200 years, NPR, Nathan Rott, Monday, 14 February 2022: “Shrunk reservoirs. Depleted aquifers. Low rivers. Raging wildfires. It’s no secret that the Western U.S. is in a severe drought. New research published Monday shows just how extreme the situation has become. The Western U.S. and northern Mexico are experiencing their driest period in at least 1,200 years, according to the new study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The last comparable — though not as severe — multidecade megadrought occurred in the 1500s, when the West was still largely inhabited by Native American tribes…. [Park] Williams [a bioclimatologist at the University of California, Los Angeles] looked at tree ring data from thousands of sites to conduct the research. The researchers sampled data collected from live trees, dead trees and wood beams preserved at Native American archeological sites. The tree rings gave Williams insight into drought events dating back to A.D. 800, around the time Charlemagne was being crowned emperor of Rome. He identified four other megadroughts in that time period, the most notable being a 23-year drought that ended in the late 1500s. There were hopes during a wet 2019 that the current megadrought was following a similar pattern, Williams said. ‘And then from summer 2020 through all of 2021, it was just exceptionally dry across the West … indicating that this drought is nowhere near done.'” See also, How Bad Is the Western Drought? Worst in 12 Centuries, Study Finds. Fueled by climate change, the drought that started in 2000 is now the driest two decades since 800 A.D. The New York Times, Henry Fountain, Monday, 14 February 2022: “The megadrought in the American Southwest has become so severe that it’s now the driest two decades in the region in at least 1,200 years, scientists said Monday, and climate change is largely responsible. The drought, which began in 2000 and has reduced water supplies, devastated farmers and ranchers and helped fuel wildfires across the region, had previously been considered the worst in 500 years, according to the researchers. But exceptional conditions in the summer of 2021, when about two-thirds of the West was in extreme drought, ‘really pushed it over the top,’ said A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who led an analysis using tree ring data to gauge drought. As a result, 2000-21 is the driest 22-year period since 800 A.D., which is as far back as the data goes. The analysis also showed that human-caused warming played a major role in making the current drought so extreme. There would have been a drought regardless of climate change, Dr. Williams said. ‘But its severity would have been only about 60 percent of what it was.'”


Tuesday, 15 February 2022:


House Committee Investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol Subpoenas 6 People Tied to False Pro-Trump Elector Effort. The committee is digging deeper into a plan by former President Donald Trump’s allies to reverse his election loss in key states by sending fake slates of electors who would say he won. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol subpoenaed two of Donald J. Trump’s campaign aides and Republican Party officials from battleground states on Tuesday as it dug deeper into a plan to use false slates of electors to help the former president stay in office after he lost the 2020 election. The use of bogus slates was one of the more audacious gambits employed by allies of Mr. Trump to try to keep the presidency in his hands, and the committee’s members and investigators have made it increasingly clear in recent days that they believe the effort — along with proposals to seize voting machines — was a major threat to democracy. Among those subpoenaed on Tuesday were Michael A. Roman and Gary Michael Brown, who served as the director and the deputy director of Election Day operations for Mr. Trump’s campaign. The panel also summoned Douglas V. Mastriano, a Pennsylvania state senator; Laura Cox, the former chairwoman of Michigan’s Republican Party; Mark W. Finchem, an Arizona state legislator; and Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of Arizona’s Republican Party. In letters accompanying the subpoenas, the committee said it had obtained communications that showed Mr. Roman’s and Mr. Brown’s ‘involvement in a coordinated strategy to contact Republican members of state legislatures in certain states that former President Trump had lost and urge them to “reclaim” their authority by sending an alternate slate of electors that would support former President Trump.’ ‘It appears that you helped direct the Trump campaign staffers participating in this effort,’ Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the chairman of the committee, wrote to Mr. Roman.” See also, The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol issues six new subpoenas. The committee is investigating a plan to send ‘false’ slates of Trump electors to Washington. The Washington Post, Tom Hamburger and Jacqueline Alemany, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol issued six subpoenas Tuesday seeking more information about the plan to have Donald Trump electors cast votes for the former president in states that were certified as having been won by Joe Biden. ‘The Select Committee is seeking information about efforts to send false slates of electors to Washington and change the outcome of the 2020 election,’ the committee’s chair, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), said in a statement Tuesday announcing the subpoenas. The subpoenas were sent to current and former Republican officials in Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan as well as to two advisers to President Donald Trump.” See also, House January 6 committee digs into fake elector plot, issuing subpoenas to 6 more people, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, Annie Grayer, and Ryan Nobles, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “The House January 6 committee issued another round of subpoenas Tuesday as congressional investigators dig more deeply into illegitimate electors from key swing states that former President Donald Trump lost, who were put forward to try to justify delaying the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. The committee issued subpoenas to six individuals, including two members of the Trump campaign and four prominent GOP officials from battleground states, as part of its investigation into the US Capitol attack on January 6, 2021.”

Sarah Palin’s Libel Claim Against The New York Times Is Rejected by a Jury. The verdict came a day after the judge said he planned to dismiss the case, ruling that Ms Palin’s legal team had failed to prove that the newspaper defamed her. The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “A jury rejected Sarah Palin’s libel suit against The New York Times on Tuesday, a day after the judge said he would dismiss the case if the jury ruled in her favor because her legal team had failed to provide sufficient evidence that she had been defamed by a 2017 editorial erroneously linking her to a mass shooting. The jury’s verdict, and the judge’s decision, served as a validation of the longstanding legal precedent that considers an occasional mistake by the media a necessary cost of discourse in a free society. And it came as those who want to see journalists pay a steeper legal cost for getting something wrong are pushing the Supreme Court to reconsider the issue. In absolving the The Times of liability, the jury concluded that the newspaper and its former opinion editor, James Bennet, had not acted with the level of recklessness and ill intent required to meet the high constitutional burden for public figures who claim defamation. Ms. Palin is expected to appeal, but appeals courts tend to be deferential to decisions made by juries. Even if she does not succeed, those who want to revisit the current standard of libel, which was set by the 1964 case The New York Times Company v. Sullivan, will continue their push to find a case to challenge the established precedent, legal experts said…. The Palin suit set up a high-stakes test of the law involving press freedoms. Lawyers for Ms. Palin, the former governor of Alaska and the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, argued that the legal protections in place for half a century to shield journalists from liability are overly broad relics of a pre-internet era. Under the Sullivan standards, a public figure like Ms. Palin has to prove that a news outlet acted with ‘actual malice’ in publishing false information, meaning it displayed a reckless disregard for the truth or knew the information was false. The Times, which acknowledged and corrected the error in question soon after it was published, has not lost a libel case in an American courtroom in at least 50 years.” See also, Sarah Palin loses jury trial in closely watched New York Times libel case.  Judge Jed S. Rakoff had already said he would toss out her case for not proving ‘actual malice,’ the high legal standard required. The Washington Post, Elahe Izadi and Sarah Ellison, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “For more than four years, Sarah Palin waited for her chance to go head-to-head with the New York Times in court. But after two weeks of testimony and nearly three days of deliberation, a jury decided Tuesday that the Times did not libel her in a faulty 2017 editorial — echoing a decision by the judge, who a day earlier said that he would dismiss her case regardless of its decision. The jury’s decision conformed with that of U.S. District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who said on Monday — while the jury was still deliberating and unaware of his comments — that the former Alaska governor had not demonstrated that the Times acted with ‘actual malice,’ the high legal standard that public figures must demonstrate to claim libel. Rakoff let the jury make their own decision, though, because he wanted future courts to have both his ruling and the jury’s to consider if the case goes to appeal — a process that could alter long-standing protections granted to journalists writing about prominent people.” See also, Sarah Palin loses defamation case against ‘The New York Times,’ NPR, David Folkenflik, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “Jurors found Tuesday that The New York Times did not defame Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and Republican vice-presidential candidate, in a June 2017 editorial that wrongly claimed a link between an ad from her political action committee and a mass shooting many months later. It was a one-two punch for Palin. The unanimous verdict came a day after the presiding judge, U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff, ruled that he would set aside the jury’s verdict – whatever it might be – and dismiss the case. He said Palin had failed to make a sufficient argument that the Times had acted with actual malice to let the case be determined by a jury. That legal standard, set in a 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that also involved the Times, requires that the newspaper either knowingly published damning and false information, or recklessly disregarded the likelihood that its claims were likely to prove false. ‘You decided the facts, I decided the law,’ Rakoff told jurors Tuesday. ‘It turns out they were both in agreement, in this case.'”

Sandy Hook Families Settle With Gunmaker for $73 Million Over Massacre. Victims’ families had sued Remington, the maker of the AR-15-style weapon used in the attack at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The New York Times, Rick Rojhas, Karen Zraick, and Troy Closson, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “The families of nine Sandy Hook school shooting victims settled a lawsuit for $73 million on Tuesday against the maker of the AR-15-style rifle used in the massacre, in what is believed to be the largest payout by a gun manufacturer in a mass shooting case. The agreement is a significant setback to the firearms industry because the lawsuit worked around the federal law protecting gun companies from litigation by arguing that the manufacturer’s marketing of the weapon had violated Connecticut consumer law. The families argued that Remington, the gunmaker, promoted sales of the weapon that appealed to troubled men like the killer who stormed into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, killing 20 first graders and six adults. The lawsuit was filed by relatives of five of the children and four of the adults.” See also, Sandy Hook families reach $73 million settlement with gun manufacturer Remington, CNN US, Sarah Jorgensen, Jason Hanna, and Erica Hill, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “The families of five children and four adults killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have reached a $73 million settlement with the now-bankrupt gun manufacturer Remington and its four insurers, the plaintiffs’ attorneys said Tuesday. The settlement comes more than seven years after the families filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Remington, the manufacturer of the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the massacre that left 20 children and six adults dead in Newtown, Connecticut. The families have also ‘obtained and can make public thousands of pages of internal company documents that prove Remington’s wrongdoing and carry important lessons for helping to prevent future mass shootings,’ the plaintiffs’ attorneys said in a news release. ‘We established what was clearly true … the immunity protecting the gun industry is not bulletproof,’ plaintiffs’ attorney Josh Koskoff said in a news conference in Trumbull, Connecticut. ‘We hope they realize they have skin in the game, instead of blaming literally everybody else.'”

Government report finds sea level will rise one foot along U.S. coastlines by 2050. ‘There will be water in the streets,’ said the nation’s top sea level scientist. The Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan and Brady Dennis, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “The shorelines of the United States are projected to face an additional foot of rising seas over the next three decades, intensifying the threat of flooding and erosion to coastal communities across the country, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Human-caused climate change, driven mostly by the burning of fossil fuels, has accelerated global sea level rise to the fastest rate in more than 3,000 years. The report by NOAA, NASA and five other federal agencies — updating a study from 2017 — predicts that ocean levels along U.S. coasts will increase as much by 2050 as they did over the past century.” See also, Seas could rise up to a foot by 2050, posing ‘a clear and present risk’ to the U.S. A new federal report says climate change means rising flood dangers for millions of coastal residents, and even many living inland. Politico, Zack Colman, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “Sea levels along U.S. coasts will rise by as much as a foot in the next 30 years as climate change accelerates, leading to a ‘dramatic increase’ in millions of Americans’ exposure to flooding, scientists warned in a federal report published Tuesday. Climate change driven largely by burning fossil fuels will raise average sea levels adjacent to the U.S. shoreline as much in the next 30 years as they rose in the previous century, according to the study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Even more certain is the projection that melting ice sheets, heavier rainfall and higher storm surges from rising temperatures risk lives and billions of dollars of property and infrastructure, the scientists wrote.”

California Returns as Climate Leader, With Help From the White House. The Biden administration is restoring the state’s power to set its own limits on tailpipe pollution and is largely adopting the state’s rules regarding heavy trucks. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “The Biden administration is preparing strict new limits on pollution from buses, delivery vans, tractor-trailers and other heavy trucks, the first time tailpipe standards have been tightened for the biggest polluters on the road since 2001. The new federal regulations are drawn from truck pollution rules recently enacted by California and come as the Biden administration is moving to restore that state’s legal authority to set auto emissions limits that are tighter than federal standards, according to two people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak on the record. The developments represent a revival of California’s influence on the nation’s climate and clean air policies, following four years in which President Donald J. Trump waged legal, political, and, at times, seemingly personal battles with the state. The Trump administration had stripped away California’s authority to institute its own vehicle pollution standards, power that the state had enjoyed for more than 40 years. Mr. Trump claimed that California’s tougher rules made cars more expensive and less safe. But now, California is reasserting itself as a leader in policies designed to fight pollution and global warming.” See also, Biden administration is finalizing a waiver for California to set its own vehicle emissions standards, CNN Politics, Ella Nilsen, Wednesday, 16 February 2022: “The Biden administration is finalizing a waiver to allow California to adopt its own, stricter vehicle emission standards, reversing yet another Trump-era rollback. Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson Nick Conger confirmed the EPA’s final decision on the waiver is expected soon…. E&E News first reported that the Biden administration would issue the waiver soon. In 2019, the Trump administration rolled back California’s decades-old waiver that allowed it to set its own air pollution standards. President Joe Biden’s administration announced last year that it would start the process of putting the waiver back in place. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, applauded the move.”

Should certain politicians be subject to disqualification under the Constitution’s ban on ‘insurrectionists’? Some critics say North Carolina Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn’s January 6 actions disqualify him. ABC News, Hannah Demissie, Tuesday, 15 February 2022: “A group of voters in North Carolina is challenging Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s eligibility to run for reelection, arguing his actions on Jan. 6 and support for overturning the election disqualifies him under a constitutional clause barring any federal official who has ‘engaged in insurrection’ from holding office. ‘I think there’s certainly enough evidence on the public record as it now stands for a finding that he engaged in, assisted, aided and abetted the insurrection on and surrounding Jan. 6,’ said Robert Orr, a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice and one of the lawyers representing the voters challenging Cawthorn, a conservative firebrand and diehard Donald Trump supporter. Enacted after the Civil War, the Disqualification Clause in the 14th Amendment bars any person from holding federal office who has previously taken an oath to protect the Constitution — including a member of Congress — who has ‘engaged in insurrection’ against the United States or ‘given aid or comfort’ to its ‘enemies.’ ‘The language of this particular disqualifier isn’t limited in any way to just those who served in the Confederacy, but to anybody who going forward has participated in or supported an insurrection or rebellion against the country, and who had taken an oath of office,’ Orr said. The alleged evidence cited by the challengers includes how Cawthorn voted to reject the electoral results in different battleground states, speaking at the Trump rally that proceeded the attack on the Capitol, tweeting out that he was ‘fighting a battle for our Constitution on the House floor,’ and that ‘the battle is on the House floor, not in the streets of D.C,’ and more. Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor emeritus at Harvard University, contends that, even if it’s determined Cawthorn didn’t ‘engage’ in an insurrection, if the public focuses ‘on the words giving aid and comfort to an insurrection — words in the 14th Amendment — the evidence seems more than sufficient.'”


Wednesday, 16 February 2022:


Biden Rejects Trump’s Claim of Privilege for White House Visitor Logs. Biden informed the National Archives that it should turn over the logs sought by the January 6 committee within 15 days. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Wednesday, 16 February 2022: “President Biden ordered the National Archives to hand over a range of visitor logs from the Trump White House to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, rejecting his predecessor’s claim that the material is protected by executive privilege. The decision boosts the committee’s efforts to gather information about who was coming and going from the White House not just on the day of the attack last year but also in the months preceding it as President Donald J. Trump sought to overturn the election. Mr. Biden had similarly decided last year not to support Mr. Trump’s claim of executive privilege over other batches of White House documents and records sought by the committee. Mr. Trump went to federal court to block the release of those earlier batches but lost.” See also, Biden orders Trump White House visitor logs to be turned over to January 6 committee, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Sean Sullivan, Wednesday, 16 February 2022: “President Biden has ordered visitor logs from the White House during President Donald Trump’s tenure to be turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — an order the National Archives said Wednesday that it would carry out by March 3. The former president claimed that the logs were subject to executive privilege. In a letter Tuesday, a White House lawyer rejected the claim, saying the National Archives should provide the records within 15 days to the House committee. ‘The President has determined that an assertion of executive privilege is not in the best interests of the United States, and therefore is not justified, as to these records and portions of records,’ White House counsel Dana Remus said in the letter.”

For Trump, a Perilous Exclamation Point to years of Wealth Inflation. The former president has spent decades inventing facts and figures to suit his needs. Now, dropped by his accountants, he is making new claims. The New York Times, Mike McIntire, Wednesday, 16 February 2022: “On Tuesday evening, former President Donald J. Trump, rattled by news that his longtime accountants had declared that years of his financial statements were not reliable, issued a statement of self-defense with new claims about his wealth. These, too, did not add up. In a rambling emailed message, Mr. Trump referred to a ‘June 30, 2014 Statement of Financial Condition’ prepared by the accounting firm, Mazars USA, showing that the year before his first presidential run his net worth had been $5.8 billion. But that is not what he said back then. When he declared his candidacy in 2015, he produced what he called his ‘Summary of Net Worth as of June 30, 2014’ with a very different number: $8.7 billion. A month later, he upped the ante, releasing a statement pronouncing that his ‘net worth is in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.’ The shape-shifting valuations, even in the face of mounting legal peril with Mazars’ decision to sever ties and disavow its past financial statements, get to the core of a problem for Mr. Trump. He has spent a lifetime bending reality to his will, often making it up as he went along, inventing facts and figures to support his needs in the moment. In fact, in his Tuesday email he suggested the intangible value of the ‘Trump brand’ was actually worth an extra $3 billion in 2014.”

Canadian truck drivers distance themselves from ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests, The Washington Post, Claire Parker, Wednesday, 16 February 2022: “In just a matter of weeks, Canadian truck drivers protesting coronavirus vaccine mandates became the unexpected darlings of the global right wing. Republican politicians showered the truckers, who descended on the Canadian capital, with praise. Copycat convoys gathered from New Zealand to France. The protests against U.S. and Canadian regulations barring unvaccinated truck drivers from crossing the border began Jan. 28 — and soon attracted a range of anti-government activists, far-right figures and opponents of pandemic restrictions more broadly. But even as the vocal group of truckers, known as the ‘Freedom Convoy,’ grabbed the world’s attention, many of Canada’s truck drivers were scrambling to distance themselves from the movement, which they view as radical and fringe. In their view, the protesters’ actions — including shutting down cross-border trade and laying siege to the capital — have hurt rather than helped drivers in the industry, and failed to advance the labor issues most truckers care about. They point out that only a small percentage of Canadian truckers have joined the demonstrations, and the vast majority of drivers are already vaccinated, according to trucking associations and Canadian authorities.”

Accusations of ‘greenwashing’ by big oil companies are well-founded, an new study finds, NPR, Joe Hernandez, Wednesday, 16 February 2022: “Four major oil companies aren’t taking concrete steps to live up to their pledges to transition to clean energy, new research has found. The study, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, found that Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP and Shell used terms like ‘climate,’ ‘low-carbon’ and ‘transition’ more frequently in recent annual reports and devised strategies around decarbonization. But their actions on clean energy were mostly pledges and the companies remain financially reliant on fossil fuels. ‘We thus conclude that the transition to clean energy business models is not occurring, since the magnitude of investments and actions does not match discourse,’ the researchers at Tohoku University and Kyoto University in Japan said. ‘Until actions and investment behavior are brought into alignment with discourse, accusations of greenwashing appear well-founded,’ they added. The four major oil companies the study focuses on account for more than 10% of global carbon emissions since 1965, the researchers said.”

Ryan Zinke broke ethics rules while leading Trump’s Interior Department, watchdog finds. The department’s inspector general found Zinke had repeated contact with developers about a real estate deal and lied about it to an ethics official. The Justice Department declined to bring charges. The Washington Post, Anna Phillips and Lisa Rein, Wednesday, 16 February 2022: “Facing serious allegations about his ethics and conduct in office, Ryan Zinke, then secretary of Donald Trump’s Interior Department, told a government official in 2018 that he had done nothing improper. Negotiations over a land deal in his hometown of Whitefish, Mont., were proceeding without him. His involvement was minimal, he said; his meeting with the project’s developers at Interior headquarters was ‘purely social.’ But a report released Wednesday by the department’s internal watchdog caught Zinke in a lie. Email and text message exchanges show he communicated with the developers 64 times between August 2017 and July 2018 to discuss the project’s design, the use of his foundation’s land as a parking lot, and his interest in operating a brewery on the site. ‘These communications, examples of which are set forth below, show that Secretary Zinke played an extensive, direct, and substantive role in representing the Foundation during negotiations with the 95 Karrow project developers,’ Inspector General Mark Greenblatt’s office wrote. Zinke ‘was not simply a passthrough for information,’ the report said. ‘He personally acted for or represented the Foundation in connection with the negotiations.’ The report found that Zinke broke federal ethics rules repeatedly by improperly participating in real estate negotiations with the then-chairman of the energy giant Halliburton and other developers. Zinke continued to represent his family’s foundation in the negotiations for nearly a year, investigators found, even after committing to federal officials that he would resign from the foundation and would not do any work on its behalf after he joined the Trump administration.” See also, Inquiry Finds Ryan Zinke Broke Ethics Rules When He Was Interior Secretary in the Trump Administration. Mr. Zinke, who left the department in 2019 amid multiple inquiries, misused his office and lied to investigators about his involvement in a Montana land deal, a government watchdog found. The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Wednesday, 16 February 2022: “Ryan Zinke, the former interior secretary, misused his position and lied to investigators about his involvement in a Montana land deal, repeatedly breaking federal ethics rules, a government watchdog said on Wednesday. The Interior Department’s inspector general found that while in office, Mr. Zinke continued to negotiate with developers about a real estate project in his hometown, Whitefish, Mont. His involvement violated an ethics agreement he had signed upon taking office to not participate in such matters. Mr. Zinke, who is running for Congress in Montana, was the subject of several ethics inquiries while he served under President Donald J. Trump. His campaign did not respond to repeated requests for comment but called the report a ‘political hit job’ in a statement to The Associated Press.”


Thursday, 17 February 2022:


Judge Rules New York Attorney General Letitia James Can Question Trump and Two of His Children. Trump and two of his children had sought to block James from interviewing them under oath. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William K. Rashbaum, Thursday, 17 February 2022: “The New York attorney general can question Donald J. Trump and two of his adult children under oath as part of a civil inquiry into his business practices, a judge ruled on Thursday — the latest in a string of legal defeats Mr. Trump has suffered since leaving office. The ruling came just three days after a court filing by the attorney general, Letitia James, in the same matter revealed that Mr. Trump’s longtime accounting firm had cut ties with him and had essentially retracted a decade’s worth of his financial statements. Ms. James’s inquiry, and a parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney, are both examining whether Mr. Trump used those statements to improperly inflate the value of his assets so he could receive favorable loans. Lawyers for the Trump family had sought to prohibit Ms. James, a Democrat, from interviewing Mr. Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump. They had argued that Ms. James was politically biased against Mr. Trump and was inappropriately using her civil inquiry to aid the district attorney’s criminal investigation, which she is also participating in. But in a written ruling, the judge, Arthur F. Engoron, dismissed that point, saying it ‘completely misses the mark.’ After dismantling several other arguments, he concluded that Ms. James had uncovered ‘copious evidence of possible financial fraud’ — evidence that entitled her to question the Trump family. ‘She has the clear right to do so,’ he wrote, ordering that Mr. Trump and his son and daughter face questioning in the next three weeks.” See also, Judge rules Trump and two of his children must be deposed by New York Attorney General Letitia James. The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell, Thursday, 17 February 2022: “Former president Donald Trump and two of his adult children must give depositions in a long-running civil investigation into the family’s business practices — a ruling that means the trio could face hours of uncomfortable questioning by investigators in the near future. Attorneys for Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump tried to get subpoenas for their testimony and related documents thrown out in court filings and at a hearing Thursday morning. They accused New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) of trying to circumvent the legal process by seeking evidence for the civil matter that she could also use to build a criminal case against the former president and his business. James, who has called herself a partner in a criminal probe originated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, is conducting a parallel civil inquiry that has covered the same subject areas: whether asset valuations Trump and the Trump Organization gave lenders, tax authorities and insurance brokers were false and amounted to wrongdoing.” See also, New York Supreme Court justice orders the Trumps to testify under oath, NPR, Ilya Marritz, Thursday, 17 February 2022: “A New York state judge on Thursday ordered that former President Donald Trump and his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. and eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, testify under oath within 21 days, rejecting arguments by attorneys for the Trumps who sought to block or stay subpoenas from New York state’s attorney general, Letitia James. The decision by Justice Arthur Engoron of the New York State Supreme Court came after two hours of at-times heated oral arguments in which the Trumps’ attorneys argued that James’ probe constituted selective enforcement and ‘viewpoint discrimination’ and could improperly mix the findings of a civil investigation with a separate criminal case that James is also a party to. ‘In the final analysis,’ Engoron wrote, ‘a State Attorney General commences investigating a business entity, uncovers copious evidence of possible financial fraud, and wants to question, under oath, several of the entities’ principals, including its namesake. She has the clear right to do so.’ The former president criticized James’ investigation in a statement after the ruling. ‘She is doing everything within their corrupt discretion to interfere with my business relationships, and with the political process,’ Trump said. ‘It is a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in history — and remember, I can’t get a fair hearing in New York because of the hatred of me by Judges and the judiciary. It is not possible!'”

John Durham, the Trump-era Special Counsel Scrutinizing the Investigation Into Russia’s 2016 Election Interference, Distances Himself From Furor in Right-Wing Media Over Filing. Durham implicitly acknowledged that White House internet data he discussed, which conservative outlets have portrayed as proof of spying on the Trump White House, came from the Obama era. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 17 February 2022: “John H. Durham, the Trump-era special counsel scrutinizing the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference, distanced himself on Thursday from false reports by right-wing news outlets that a motion he recently filed said Hillary Clinton’s campaign had paid to spy on Trump White House servers. Citing a barrage of such reports on Fox News and elsewhere based on the prosecutor’s Feb. 11 filing, defense lawyers for a Democratic-linked cybersecurity lawyer, Michael Sussmann, have accused the special counsel of including unnecessary and misleading information in filings ‘plainly intended to politicize this case, inflame media coverage and taint the jury pool.’ In a filing on Thursday, Mr. Durham defended himself, saying those accusations about his intentions were ‘simply not true.’ He said he had ‘valid and straightforward reasons’ for including the information in the Feb. 11 filing that set off the firestorm, while disavowing responsibility for how certain news outlets had interpreted and portrayed it. ‘If third parties or members of the media have overstated, understated or otherwise misinterpreted facts contained in the government’s motion, that does not in any way undermine the valid reasons for the government’s inclusion of this information,’ he wrote. But even as he did not acknowledge any problem with how he couched his filing last week, Mr. Durham said he would make future filings under seal if they contained ‘information that legitimately gives rise to privacy issues or other concerns that might overcome the presumption of public access to judicial documents.’ Former President Donald J. Trump has seized on the inaccurate reporting to declare that there is now ‘indisputable evidence’ of a Clinton campaign conspiracy against him — and to suggest that there ought to be executions. Mr. Trump, Fox News hosts and others have also criticized mainstream journalists for not covering the purported revelation.” See also, How the right embraced the false claim that Hillary Clinton ‘spied’ on President Donald Trump, The Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, published on Friday, 18 February 2022.

Florida House approves a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks, NPR, Nell Clark, Thursday, 17 February 2022: “Florida is preparing to pass a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, including in cases of incest or rape. The state appears poised to join others, including Texas, with ultra restrictive abortion laws as the U.S. Supreme Court considers the future of Roe v. Wade. Similar abortion measures also passed this week in West Virginia’s House and the Arizona Senate. The law in Florida is modeled after a Mississippi abortion law that is now being considered by the Supreme Court — their decision could affect abortion access nationwide.”


Friday, 18 February 2022:


Material Recovered From Trump by Archives Included Classified Information. The former president, who assailed Hillary Clinton in 2016 for her handling of sensitive material, was confirmed by the National Archives to have taken classified documents with him when he left office. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Micael S. Schmidt, Friday, 18 February 2022: “The National Archives confirmed on Friday that it had found classified information among material that President Donald J. Trump had taken with him to his home in Florida when he left office last year and that it had consulted with the Justice Department about the matter. The agency ‘has identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes,’ according to a letter posted on the National Archives and Record Administration’s website. Last month, the archives retrieved 15 boxes that Mr. Trump took with him to his Mar-a-Lago home from the White House residence when his term ended. The boxes included material subject to the Presidential Records Act, which requires that all documents and records pertaining to official business be turned over to the archives. The items in the boxes included documents, mementos, gifts and letters. The archives did not describe the classified material it found other than to say that it was ‘classified national security information.’ Because the National Archives ‘identified classified information in the boxes,’ the agency ‘has been in communication with the Department of Justice,’ said the letter, written by David S. Ferriero, the national archivist, and sent to Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, who has been scrutinizing how Mr. Trump handled presidential records. Mr. Trump made attacking Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of national security materials a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign. The latest revelations about Mr. Trump’s own laxity with classified information and his haphazard adherence to federal record-keeping laws have drawn cries of hypocrisy from Democrats.” See also, National Archives confirms classified material was in boxes at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Friday, 18 February 2022: “The National Archives and Records Administration confirmed in a letter Friday that it found items marked classified in boxes of White House records that former president Donald Trump took with him to his Mar-a-Lago residence. In a letter to Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), U.S. Archivist David S. Ferriero wrote that officials had ‘identified items marked as classified national security information within the boxes’ at Mar-a-Lago and had been in touch with the Justice Department over the matter. The Washington Post reported last week that some of the Mar-a-Lago documents were marked as classified, including some at the ‘top secret’ level — a revelation that seemed likely to intensify the legal pressure that Trump or his staffers could face. Ferriero’s letter, though, provides the first official confirmation of classified material being in the boxes, and it is likely to reignite calls that the Justice Department investigate to see how the information got out of secure facilities, and who might have seen it.”

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta rejects Trump claim of ‘absolute immunity’ from January 6 lawsuits. Court finds former president encouraged and plausibly incited January 6 violence as alleged in suits by House Democrats and Capitol Police officers, but drops as defendants Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and Representative Mo Brooks. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Friday, 18 February 2022: “A federal judge on Friday sweepingly rejected former president Donald Trump’s claim of ‘absolute immunity’ from lawsuits accusing him of inciting the violent Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, finding that there was evidence to plausibly suggest that he engaged in a conspiracy with organized groups to intimidate Congress into overturning the results of the 2020 election. In a searing, 112-page opinion that quoted repeatedly and at length from the former president’s own public statements, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta refused to dismiss three lawsuits against Trump by Democratic House members and police officers seeking damages for physical and emotional injuries they incurred in the assault. The judge did or said he would drop as defendants Donald Trump Jr., attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), who joined Trump in addressing rallygoers at the Ellipse before they marched to the Capitol that day. However, Mehta said Trump’s own words and conduct in falsely alleging a ‘stolen’ election were not immune on separation-of-powers grounds because they served only his personal aim of retaining office, falling beyond the ‘outer perimeter’ of a president’s official responsibilities. ‘The President’s actions here do not relate to his duties of faithfully executing the laws, conducting foreign affairs, commanding the armed forces, or managing the Executive Branch. They entirely concern his efforts to remain in office for a second term. These are unofficial acts,’ Mehta wrote. Read the judge’s opinion here. At the same time, the judge said, Trump allegedly went beyond simply trying to pressure state and local officials, Congress, or Vice President Mike Pence to overturn lawful election results. Rather, the judge said, he raised the threat of violence, culminating in the attack that delayed Congress’s certification of President Biden’s election victory, led to assaults on nearly 140 officers and contributed to five deaths. Trump’s statements in the weeks, hours and minutes before the attack on the Capitol were plausibly ‘an implicit call for imminent violence or lawlessness,’ the judge ruled. ‘He called for thousands “to fight like hell” immediately before directing an unpermitted march to the Capitol, where the targets of their ire were at work, knowing that militia groups and others among the crowd were prone to violence,’ the judge said. Trump’s role ‘was to encourage the use of force, intimidation or threat to thwart the Certification from proceeding, and organized groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers would carry out the required acts,’ the judge said. Such a ‘tacit agreement’ is made all the more plausible by Trump’s response to the Capitol breach, when he attacked Pence on Twitter for not having the courage to block the certification after rioters broke into the building. ‘It is reasonable to infer that the President would have understood the impact of his tweet, since he had told rallygoers earlier that, in effect, the Vice President was the last line of defense against a stolen election outcome,’ Mehta wrote. The decision by Mehta, an appointee of President Barack Obama who is also presiding over the seditious conspiracy prosecution of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, was a defeat for the former president, who moved to dismiss three lawsuits: one by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and nine other lawmakers; one from Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a former prosecutor and Trump impeachment manager; and another from Capitol Police officers James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby. The initial lawsuit was brought by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), who left his case in July after becoming co-chair of the Jan. 6 House select committee.” See also, Federal judge Amit Mehta says Trump could be culpable for January 6 and says lawsuits against the former President can proceed, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Marshall Cohen, and Tierney Sneed, Friday, 18 February 2022: “Civil lawsuits seeking to hold Donald Trump accountable for the January 6, 2021, insurrection can move forward in court, a federal judge said Friday in a ruling outlining how the former President could conceivably be responsible for inciting the attack on the US Capitol. Trump’s statements to his supporters before the riot ‘is the essence of civil conspiracy,’ Judge Amit Mehta wrote in a 112-page opinion, because Trump spoke about himself and rallygoers working ‘towards a common goal’ of fighting and walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. ‘The President’s January 6 Rally Speech can reasonably be viewed as a call for collective action,’ Mehta said.” See also, Judge Amit Mehta Allows Civil Suits to Proceed Against Trump Over January 6 Violent Attack on the Capitol by His Supporters. The ruling means the plaintiffs in three civil cases will likely be able to seek information from the former president over his role in the attack on the Capitol. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater, Friday, 18 February 2022: “A federal judge in Washington ruled on Friday that three civil lawsuits against Donald J. Trump related to the attack on the Capitol last January were able to move forward, saying that the former president was not shielded by the normal protections of immunity or the First Amendment. The ruling by the judge, Amit P. Mehta, meant that the plaintiffs in the suits — several members of Congress and police officers who served at the Capitol during the attack — will likely be able to seek information from Mr. Trump about the specific role he played in fostering the chaos at the building on Jan. 6, 2021. If ultimately found liable, Mr. Trump could also be on the hook for financial damages. Judge Mehta’s order capped a difficult week for Mr. Trump, one in which a judge in New York ruled that he had to answer questions from state investigators examining his company, the Trump Organization, for evidence of fraud. Officials at the National Archives also said that Mr. Trump had taken classified national security documents from the White House to his private club in Florida.”


Saturday, 19 February 2022:


Fringe Scheme to Reverse 2020 Election Splits Wisconsin Republicans. False claims that Donald Trump can be reinstalled in the White House are picking up steam in Wisconsin–and spiraling further from reality as they go. The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein, Saturday, 19 February 2022: “First, Wisconsin Republicans ordered an audit of the 2020 election. Then they passed a raft of new restrictions on voting. And in June, they authorized the nation’s only special counsel investigation into 2020. Now, more than 15 months after former President Donald J. Trump lost the state by 20,682 votes, an increasingly vocal segment of the Republican Party is getting behind a new scheme: decertifying the results of the 2020 presidential election in hopes of reinstalling Mr. Trump in the White House. Wisconsin is closer to the next federal election than the last, but the Republican effort to overturn the election results here is picking up steam rather than fading away — and spiraling further from reality as it goes. The latest turn, which has been fueled by Mr. Trump, bogus legal theories and a new candidate for governor, is creating chaos in the Republican Party and threatening to undermine its push to win the contests this year for governor and the Senate.”


Monday, 21 February 2022:


Putin orders troops to eastern Ukraine, drawing condemnation at emergency U.N. meeting. The Russian president’s recognition of two breakaway regions was seen by the United States and its European allies as a dramatic provocation. NBC News, Yuliya Talmazan, Alexander Smith, and Allan Smith, Monday, 21 February 2022: “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine on Monday, just hours after he formally recognized the independence of two Moscow-backed breakaway regions in the eastern part of the country. The order was seen by the United States and its European allies as a dramatic provocation after weeks of warnings that Moscow was trying to create a pretext to invade its neighbor. It led to the U.S. and the European Union announcing sanctions targeting the two areas, with more set to follow, and drew condemnation at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. Putin framed the troop movement as a ‘peacekeeping’ effort in both regions. The move came after days of escalation in the ongoing conflict between Kyiv’s forces and Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine’s east — and hours after he delivered a lengthy speech presenting his view of the relationship between the two nations.” See also, Putin orders troops to separatist regions of Ukraine, Kremlin widely condemned at U.N. Meeting, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Robyn Dixon, Brittany Shammas, and María Luisa Paúl, Monday, 21 February 2022: “Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees ordering military forces into two separatist regions of Ukraine for ‘peacekeeping’ purposes as Moscow recognized the breakaway regions’ independence Monday. Putin signed a decree recognizing the areas — a move that Russia could use to justify an attack in those locations — and an agreement of cooperation with the heads of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic. The separatists do not control the entirety of their regions, and it was not clear Monday evening whether a military incursion could occur. The Kremlin’s move was widely condemned at a late-night emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council. President Biden issued an executive order prohibiting U.S. investment and trade in the breakaway regions.” See also, Putin Orders Troops to Separatist Eastern Regions of Ukraine and Recognizes Their Independence, The New York Times, Monday, 21 February 2022: “Mr Putin hinted at the possibility of a wider military campaign and laid claim to all of Ukraine as a country ‘created by Russia.’ The U.S. and E.U. said they would begin imposing limited sanctions. Here’s [some of] what you need to know:

  • Moscow orders troops to Ukraine’s separatist regions after Putin recognizes their independence.

  • The U.S. and other nations blast Russia at an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting.

  • The U.S. said it will impose sanctions on the breakaway regions, but not for now on Russia.

  • U.S. diplomatic staff relocate from Ukraine to Poland.

  • Putin, in a fiery speech to Russians, says he will recognize the separatists in Ukraine.

  • Putin’s speech came after a day of escalating, choreographed action on Ukraine.

  • Why it matters that Russia just recognized Donetsk and Luhansk.

  • ‘Putin just put Kafka and Orwell to shame’: World leaders condemn Putin.

U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert Santos says the bureau needs to reduce chances of meddling after Trump, NPR, Hansi Lo Wang, Monday, 21 February 2022: “The U.S. Census Bureau needs to work on ways the limit the potential for political interference with future national headcounts, the bureau’s director, Robert Santos, told NPR on Monday. ‘I’m not too interested in looking back on and relitigating the events that occurred with the previous administration. But looking forward, I think it’s really important for us to make sure that there are policies and regulations that are in place to reduce the chance of meddling,’ Santos said in one of his first media interviews since becoming the bureau’s leader in January…. Last month, a report by [the Scientific Integrity Task Force], which included the bureau’s highest-ranking civil servant, Deputy Director Ron Jarmin, warned that the bureau and other federal statistical agencies ‘must protect against interference in their efforts to create and release data that provide a set of common facts to inform policymakers, researchers, and the public.’ The assessment came after years of meddling with the 2020 census by former President Donald Trump’s administration, which attempted to add a hotly contested question about U.S. citizenship status to the head count’s forms; added a series of political appointees with no obvious qualifications to the bureau’s top ranks; and cut short counting efforts after the COVID-19 pandemic delayed many of the bureau’s operations. The moves by the previous administration have fueled calls for new ways to safeguard the once-a-decade head count’s integrity.”


Tuesday, 22 February 2022:


Biden Calls Putin’s Actions the ‘Beginning of a Russian Invasion of Ukraine,’ The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Anton Trolanovski, Tuesday, 22 February 2022: “President Biden on Tuesday announced sanctions aimed at punishing Russia for what he called ‘the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine,’ joining European leaders in imposing economic consequences for blatant violations of national sovereignty. Speaking from the East Room of the White House, Mr. Biden condemned President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for his aggression against Ukraine, saying that the Russian action is ‘a flagrant violation of international law and demands a firm response from the international community.’ White House aides described the sanctions Mr. Biden announced as severe and far-reaching. But the moves were limited and fell short of the more sweeping economic warfare that some supporters of Ukraine — including some Republican members of Congress — have pushed the administration to engage in.” See also, Biden announces sanctions on Russia after Russia moves against Ukraine, The Washington Post, Robyn Dixon, Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, John Wagner, Amy B Wang, Mariana Alfaro, Eugene Scott, and María Luisa Paúl, Tuesday, 22 February 2022: “President Biden announced new sanctions on Russia on Tuesday after its moves against Ukraine, saying the actions amounted to a ‘flagrant violation of international law.’ In imposing economic penalties on Russia, the United States joins European allies in responding to Russia’s deployment of troops into two pro-Russian separatist regions of eastern Ukraine. Biden called Russia’s actions ‘the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.’ Biden said a ‘first tranche’ of U.S. sanctions against Russia would target two financial institutions, Russian sovereign debt and Russian elites and their family members. The Pentagon also announced that it was sending more fighter jets, attack helicopters and infantry to Eastern Europe.” See also, Biden announces new sanctions against Russia and says Ukraine is seeing the ‘beginning of a Russian invasion.’ The sanctions target large financial institutions, five Russian elites, and Moscow’s sovereign debt but do not go after Putin directly. NBC News, Lauren Egan, Tuesday, 22 February 2022: “President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, warning that President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine this week amounted to ‘the beginning of a Russian invasion.’ ‘We still believe that Russia is poised to go much further and launch a massive military attack against Ukraine,’ Biden said in remarks at the White House. ‘As Russia contemplates this next move, we have our next move prepared as well,’ the president added. ‘Russia will pay an even steeper price if it continues its aggression, including additional sanctions.’ Putin formally recognized the independence of two Moscow-backed breakaway regions in the eastern part of Ukraine on Monday and ordered troops into the territories to carry out what he called ‘peacekeeping functions.’ The sanctions announced Tuesday target large Russian financial institutions and Moscow’s sovereign debt, cutting the country off from Western financing. They also focus on five Russian elites with close ties to the Kremlin, but do not go after Putin directly.” See also, Trump praises Putin as ‘savvy’ amid Putin’s new escalations on Russia-Ukraine border, NPR, Alana Wise, Tuesday, 22 February 2022: “Former President Donald Trump praised Russian President Vladimir Putin’s moves in Ukraine, calling him ‘savvy,’ after the Kremlin recognized the independence of two breakaway, Russian separatist-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine. ‘I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, “This is genius.” Putin declares a big portion … of Ukraine, Putin declares it as independent,’ Trump said in an interview Tuesday on the conservative Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show. The former president was referencing two rebel-controlled territories, Luhansk and Donetsk, which make up a larger region called Donbas that borders Russia. The two territories have been led by pro-Russia separatists for nearly a decade. Putin on Monday recognized the independence of the two territories and ordered Russian troops to conduct ‘peacekeeping’ operations there — sparking international concern that the Kremlin was readying for an attack. ‘So, Putin is now saying, “It’s independent,” a large section of Ukraine. I said, “How smart is that?” And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s [the] strongest peace force,’ Trump said, adding that that was the kind of show of force the United States could use on its Southern border. Trump’s remarks come as tensions in Ukraine have escalated and the U.S. has ordered sanctions to try to kneecap Russia’s ability to do business with the West.” See also, Trump praises ‘genius’ Putin for moving troops to eastern Ukraine. Trump says Putin made ‘very savvy’ decision to recognise two territories of eastern Ukraine as independent. The Guardian, Oliver Milman, published on Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “Donald Trump has said that Vladimir Putin is ‘very savvy’ and made a ‘genius’ move by declaring two regions of eastern Ukraine as independent states and moving Russian armed forces to them. Trump said he saw the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis on TV ‘and I said: “This is genius.” Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine … Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.’ The former US president said that the Russian president had made a ‘smart move’ by sending ‘the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen’ to the area. Trump, a long-term admirer of Putin who was impeached over allegations he threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless it could help damage the reputation of Joe Biden, praised the Russian president’s moves while also claiming that they would not have happened if he was still president. ‘Here’s a guy who’s very savvy … I know him very well,’ Trump said of Putin while talking to the The Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show. ‘Very, very well. By the way, this never would have happened with us. Had I been in office, not even thinkable. This would never have happened. But here’s a guy that says, you know, “I’m gonna declare a big portion of Ukraine independent” – he used the word “independent” – and we’re gonna go out and we’re gonna go in and we’re gonna help keep peace. You gotta say that’s pretty savvy.'”

Three Men Are Found Guilty of Hate Crimes in Killing of Ahmaud Arbery, The New York Times, Tariro Mzezewa, Audra D.S. Burch, and Richard Fausset, Tuesday, 22 February 2022: “A jury on Tuesday found the three white Georgia men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery guilty of a federal hate crime, determining that they were motivated by racism when they chased the 25-year-old Black man through their neighborhood. The case was one of the most high-profile hate crime trials in years, and came after a rash of acts of violence against African Americans, including Mr. Arbery and George Floyd, led to protests and soul-searching around the nation. It was seen as a victory for the Justice Department, which has pledged to make such cases a priority. While legal analysts say that hate crimes are especially difficult to prove, federal prosecutors in the Georgia trial presented voluminous evidence of the defendants’ racist beliefs and crude language, leaving some jurors visibly shaken. It took them roughly four hours to reach a verdict. When it was read aloud in court, some jurors wept. National civil rights leaders hailed the conviction as a victory for racial justice.” See also, A jury finds Ahmaud Arbery’s 3 killers guilty of federal hate crimes, NPR, Liz Baker, Tuesday, 22 February 2022: “A jury in Brunswick, Ga., found defendants Travis McMichael, his father Greg McMichael, and their neighbor William ‘Roddie’ Bryan guilty on all counts in a federal hate crimes trial. The jury deliberated for four hours. At the heart of this case was a question of whether or not race was a motivating factor in why the three defendants chased and shot Ahmaud Arbery as he ran through their coastal Georgia neighborhood in February 2020. The defendants were charged with violating Arbery’s civil rights and kidnapping, and for the McMichaels, an additional charge of use of a firearm to commit a crime. All three men were convicted of murdering Arbery in a state trial last year and sentenced to life in prison. After the federal verdict Tuesday, members of Arbery’s family emerged from the courthouse with arms raised. ‘As a mother, I will never heal,’ said Wanda Cooper-Jones, his mother. ‘They gave us a small sense of victory, but we will never get victory because Ahmaud is dead.'” See also, Greg and Travis McMichael and William Bryan found guilty of hate crimes in Ahmaud Arbery killing. The trial was the first connected to high-profile 2020 killings of Black Americans to focus squarely on race. The Washington Post, David Nakamura and Margaret Coker, Tuesday, 22 February 2022: “A federal jury offered Ahmaud Arbery’s family and civil rights leaders another measure of justice Tuesday by convicting three White men of committing a hate crime when they chased and killed him — the first race-based conviction in any of the high-profile slayings of Black people that sparked mass protests in 2020. The verdict came after just a few hours of deliberations, following a trial in Brunswick, Ga., that focused on a history of racist and offensive statements from Gregory McMichael, 66, Travis McMichael, 36, and William ‘Roddie’ Bryan, 52. Jurors found the men guilty of all the federal charges they faced: using force and threats of force to intimidate and interfere with Arbery’s right to use a public street because of his race, and attempted kidnapping, for all three defendants; and a weapons violation for the McMichaels. U.S. District Judge Lisa Godbey Wood said she will determine their federal sentences in coming weeks. The convictions represent a victory for President Biden’s Justice Department, which has vowed to more aggressively prosecute hate crimes, and for civil rights groups that have demanded greater accountability in racially motivated attacks against Black people and other minorities.”

Supreme Court rejects Trump’s request to block access to January 6 records. House committee investigating the attack is already combing through Trump White House documents related to the insurrection. The Guardian, Joan E. Greve, Tuesday, 22 February 2022: “The supreme court has formally rejected Donald Trump’s request to block the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack from accessing White House records related to the events of 6 January 2021. The court announced on Tuesday in its latest list of orders that it would not take up Trump’s appeal to a lower-court ruling allowing the select committee access to the documents. The news comes a month after the supreme court rejected Trump’s emergency motion to block the release of the documents as his case regarding executive privilege claims made its way through the courts. That January ruling cleared the way for the select committee to start receiving Trump White House documents. They have already started combing through the records.”

Commenting on classified material found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, Attorney General Merrick Garland says the Justice Department will ‘look at the facts and the law,’ The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Tuesday, 22 February 2022: “Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday addressed for the first time the discovery of classified material in boxes of documents taken to former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, confirming the Justice Department has been in discussions with the National Archives about the matter but stopping short of promising a full investigation. Asked if the department would investigate how the boxes got to Mar-a-Lago, Garland said: ‘As the archivist said in a letter that was sent to the Congress, the National Archives has informed the Justice Department of this and communicated with it. And we will do what we always do under these circumstances — look at the facts and the law and take it from there.’ When classified information slips out into the world, that often sparks an FBI investigation, so officials can track down how the information got out and who might have accessed it inappropriately. It is a crime to mishandle classified information, though prosecutors must prove someone did so intentionally or was grossly negligent. Those can be high legal bars to clear. Garland did not respond to a follow-up question asking if his comment meant the department was, indeed, investigating.”

The Long Crusade of Clarence and Ginni Thomas. The Supreme court justice and his wife battled for years for a more conservative America. New reporting shows how far she was willing to go after Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss. The New York Times, Danny Hakim and Jo Becker, Tuesday, 22 February 2022: “The call to action was titled ‘Election Results and Legal Battles: What Now?’ Shared in the days after the 2020 presidential election, it urged the members of an influential if secretive right-wing group to contact legislators in three of the swing states that tipped the balance for Joe Biden — Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. The aim was audacious: Keep President Donald J. Trump in power. The group, the Council for National Policy, brings together old-school Republican luminaries, Christian conservatives, Tea Party activists and MAGA operatives, with more than 400 members who include leaders of organizations like the Federalist Society, the National Rifle Association and the Family Research Council. Founded in 1981 as a counterweight to liberalism, the group was hailed by President Ronald Reagan as seeking the ‘return of righteousness, justice and truth’ to America. As Trump insisted, without evidence, that fraud had cheated him of victory, conservative groups rushed to rally behind him. The council stood out, however, not only because of its pedigree but also because one of its newest leaders was Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas and a longtime activist in right-wing circles. She had taken on a prominent role at the council during the Trump years and by 2019 had joined the nine-member board of C.N.P. Action, an arm of the council organized as a 501(c)4 under a provision of the tax code that allows for direct political advocacy. It was C.N.P. Action that circulated the November ‘action steps’ document, the existence of which has not been previously reported. It instructed members to pressure Republican lawmakers into challenging the election results and appointing alternate slates of electors: ‘Demand that they not abandon their Constitutional responsibilities during a time such as this.’ Such a plan, if carried out successfully, would have almost certainly landed before the Supreme Court — and Ginni Thomas’s husband. In fact, Trump was already calling for that to happen. In a Dec. 2 speech at the White House, the president falsely claimed that ‘millions of votes were cast illegally in swing states alone’ and said he hoped ‘the Supreme Court of the United States will see it’ and ‘will do what’s right for our country, because our country cannot live with this kind of an election.’ The Thomases have long posed a unique quandary in Washington. Because Supreme Court justices do not want to be perceived as partisan, they tend to avoid political events and entanglements, and their spouses often keep low profiles. But the Thomases have defied such norms. Since the founding of the nation, no spouse of a sitting Supreme Court justice has been as overt a political activist as Ginni Thomas. In addition to her perch at the Council for National Policy, she founded a group called Groundswell with the support of Stephen K. Bannon, the hard-line nationalist and former Trump adviser. It holds a weekly meeting of influential conservatives, many of whom work directly on issues that have come before the court.”


Wednesday, 23 February 2022:


Biden says Russia launches attack on Ukraine, The Washington Post, Paul Sonne, Robyn Dixon, Rachel Pannett, Ellen Francis, John Wagner, Mariana Alfaro, Felicia Sonmez, Amy B Wang, Michael Birnbaum, María Luisa Paúl, John Hudson, Hannah Knowles, Amy Cheng, and Reis Thebault, Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “Russia on Thursday launched a military assault against Ukraine, President Biden said, with explosions occurring across a wide swath of the country, in what the president called an ‘unjustified attack’ that signals ‘a premeditated war.’ The explosions could be heard in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, and Kharkiv, in the country’s northeast. A senior Ukrainian official said there were also explosions at the country’s largest airport, in Kyiv. Air raid sirens were going off in the capital, though the official said that they were intended to wake up residents and that there were no indications of incoming warplanes. The attacks came as Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the launch of a ‘special military operation’ to carry out the ‘demilitarization and denazification’ of Ukraine and end eight years of war in the country’s east, where Kyiv government forces have been fighting Russian-backed separatists. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has declared martial law, a Ukrainian government official said Thursday. Biden and his Ukrainian counterpart were speaking on the phone just before midnight Eastern time, according to a White House official. In a statement, Biden said that Putin ‘has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way,’ he said. ‘The world will hold Russia accountable.’

  • Biden plans to speak early Thursday afternoon and will address ‘further consequences’ that the United States and its allies plan to impose on Russia, the White House said.
  • Zelensky pleaded with the Russian people late Wednesday to stop their leadership from sending troops across the border and into his country.
  • Members of the U.N. Security Council made a succession of pleas for peace and dialogue in an emergency session that laid bare the limits of the world body’s influence.
  • Civil aircraft flights across Ukraine’s airspace were suspended Thursday because of ‘potential hazard to civil aviation,’ according to a notice to airmen.
  • U.S. markets sank again Wednesday as uncertainty over the conflict in Ukraine continued to plague investors. The growing threat of war in Ukraine also moved oil prices higher.

Putin’s Forces Attack Ukraine. Ukraine’s government said it faced ‘a full-scale attack from multiple directions.’ World leaders condemned President Vladimir Putin’s actions. The New York Times, Wednesday, 23 February 2022. See also, Russia unleashes military assault on Ukraine that Biden calls ‘premeditated war,’ The Washington Post, Michael Birnbaum, Mary Ilyushina, Paul Sonne, and Isabelle Khurshudyan, Wednesday, 23 February 2022.

The Two Prosecutors Leading the Manhattan District Attorney’s Investigation Into Former President Donald Trump and His Business Practices Abruptly Resigned on Wednesday. The resignations came after the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, was said to have expressed doubts about the case. The New York Times, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, Kate Christobek, and Nate Schweber, Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “The two prosecutors leading the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into former President Donald J. Trump and his business practices abruptly resigned on Wednesday amid a monthlong pause in their presentation of evidence to a grand jury, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The unexpected development came not long after the high-stakes inquiry appeared to be gaining momentum and now throws its future into serious doubt. The prosecutors, Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, submitted their resignations because the new Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, indicated to them that he had doubts about moving forward with a case against Mr. Trump, the people said. Mr. Pomerantz confirmed in a brief interview that he had resigned but declined to elaborate. Mr. Dunne declined to comment. Without Mr. Bragg’s commitment to move forward, the prosecutors late last month postponed a plan to question at least one witness before the grand jury, one of the people said. They have not questioned any witnesses in front of the grand jury for more than a month, essentially pausing their investigation into whether Mr. Trump inflated the value of his assets to obtain favorable loan terms from banks. The precise reasons for Mr. Bragg’s pullback are unknown, and he has made few public statements about the status of the inquiry since taking office, but the prosecutors had encountered a number of challenges in pursuing Mr. Trump. Notably, they had thus far been unable to persuade any Trump Organization executives to cooperate and turn on Mr. Trump.” See also, Two prosecutors leading criminal probe into Trump business practices quit after new District Attorney seems to abandon plan to seek indictment of former president Trump. Former Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance approved seeking an indictment, but his successor, Alvin Bragg, seemed uninterested, people familiar with the situation said. The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs and Josh Dawsey, Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “Two prosecutors heading the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal probe into Donald Trump’s business dealings have resigned from their positions — frustrated that after their former boss authorized them to seek an indictment against the former president, the new district attorney appeared uninterested, multiple people familiar with the situation said. Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D), who declined to seek reelection as district attorney, had told a team led by seasoned litigators Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz to go to a grand jury to begin the process of securing a case against Trump, two people familiar with the situation said. Vance concluded there was enough evidence after a three-year probe to obtain an indictment and conviction, the people said. The final decision, however, would fall to Vance’s successor, Alvin Bragg (D), who was sworn into office Jan. 1. To Dunne and Pomerantz, the people familiar with the situation said, Bragg appeared not to be focused on the case, which centers on whether Trump and his business inflated the value of their assets to secure more favorable loans, insurance and tax rates.”

Ivanka Trump in Talks With January 6 Committee About Being Interviewed. Former President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter has yet to commit to appearing, but investigators regard her as an important witness to what he was doing and saying during the riot. The New York Times, Annie Karni and Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “Ivanka Trump, former President Donald J. Trump’s eldest daughter who served as one of his senior advisers, is in talks with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol about the possibility of sitting for an interview with the panel, according to two people familiar with the discussions. It was not immediately clear whether the negotiations, which aides described as preliminary, would result in Ms. Trump providing substantive information to the inquiry or whether they were simply a stalling tactic, as some committee aides fear. But it was the latest example of the panel trying to reach into the former president’s inner circle to ascertain what he was doing and saying as rioters stormed the Capitol in his name. Ms. Trump was one of several aides who tried and failed to persuade Mr. Trump to call off the violence that ultimately injured more than 150 police officers and sent lawmakers and the vice president, Mike Pence, fleeing for their lives. Ms. Trump’s lawyers have been in talks with the committee since January, when the panel sent her a letter requesting that she give voluntary testimony, according to a person familiar with the discussions. She has yet to agree on a date when she might talk with the committee’s investigators, and the panel has made no threat of an imminent subpoena, the people familiar with the discussions said. Those close to Ms. Trump said she had no intention of going down the road taken by her father’s ally Stephen K. Bannon, who refused to cooperate with the committee and then was indicted on contempt of Congress charges.”

Justice Department ends Trump-era China Initiative following bias concerns, CNN Politics, Evan Perez, Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “The Justice Department is ending its three-year-old China Initiative, a national security program intended to thwart China’s intelligence activities in the US, including those aimed at stealing emerging technology from research universities, in the wake of a string of dismissals of cases and complaints that it fueled suspicion and bias against innocent Chinese Americans. Matthew Olsen, assistant attorney general for national security, announced the change of strategy Wednesday, following a months-long review of the initiative and his conclusion that there was merit to some of the criticism from Asian Americans and from universities that the program was not only fueling discrimination but was also harming efforts to attract top talent and to pursue cutting edge research. ‘Anything that creates the impression that the Department of Justice applies different standards based on race or ethnicity harms the department and our efforts, and it harms the public,’ Olsen told reporters Wednesday. ‘I do believe that the China Initiative was driven by genuine national security concerns. But I’m also mindful that the department must maintain the trust of the people whom we serve.'”

US Postal Service finalizes plans to buy mostly gasoline-powered delivery trucks. Here’s what experts say is wrong with that. The Postal Service will spend up to $11.3 billion on a fleet that is 90 percent gasoline and 10 percent electric. The Washington Post, Jacob Bogage and Anna Phillips, Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “The U.S. Postal Service finalized plans Wednesday to purchase up to 148,000 gasoline-powered mail delivery trucks, defying Biden administration officials’ objections that the multibillion-dollar contract would undercut the nation’s climate goals. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy disregarded requests from the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency this month to reconsider replacing the delivery fleet with 90 percent gas-powered trucks and 10 percent electric vehicles, at a cost of as much as $11.3 billion. The contract, orchestrated by DeJoy, offers only a 0.4-mpg fuel economy improvement over the agency’s current fleet. The decision is a major blow to the White House’s climate agenda. President Biden has pledged to transition the federal fleet to clean power, and apart from the military, the Postal Service has more vehicles than any other government agency. It accounts for nearly one-third of federally owned cars and trucks, and environmental and auto industry experts argue that the agency’s stop-and-start deliveries to 161 million addresses six days a week provides an ideal scenario for using electric vehicles.”

Top companies are undermining their climate pledges with political donations to elect Republican attorneys general, The Washington Post, Maxine Joselow, Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “Some of the nation’s best-known corporations are undermining their promises to slash emissions by donating significant sums to elect Republican attorneys general, who have emerged as frequent courtroom foes of climate policies and regulations, according to a report shared exclusively with The Climate 202. The report by the Center for Political Accountability, a nonprofit organization focused on corporate political spending disclosures, looked at top companies that have set pledges to reduce planet-warming emissions, including household names such as Walmart, Amazon, AT&T, Uber and Citigroup. It found that in the 2016, 2018 and 2020 election cycles, 75 of these companies gave more than $772,000 to 16 Republican attorneys general candidates, according to contributions reported to the Internal Revenue Serviceand secretary of state offices. In addition, 58 of these companies each gave $100,000 or more to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which funnels money directly to candidates’ campaigns.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott Pushes to Investigate Medical Treatments for Trans Youth as ‘Child Abuse.’ While it’s unclear whether the order could be enforced, medical providers and child welfare advocates condemned the move as dangerous. The New York Times, Azeen Ghorayshi, Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “Gov. Greg Abbott told state health agencies in Texas on Tuesday that medical treatments provided to transgender adolescents, widely considered to be the standard of care in medicine, should be classified as ‘child abuse’ under existing state law. His statements, made in a letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, followed an opinion on Friday by Attorney General Ken Paxton that said providing medical treatments like puberty-suppressing drugs and hormones to transgender teenagers should be investigated as child abuse. Governor Abbott specified that the reporting requirements applied to ‘all licensed professionals who have direct contact with children who may be subject to such abuse, including doctors, nurses, and teachers, and provides criminal penalties for failure to report such child abuse.’ It is still unclear how and whether the orders, which do not change Texas law, would be enforced. While the state’s child welfare agency has said that it will investigate such claims, some county and district attorneys have stated that they will not enforce the opinion. ‘This is a complete misrepresentation of the definition of abuse in the family code,’ Christian Menefee, the Harris County attorney, said in an interview. Mr. Menefee said that any such investigations in Harris County, the state’s most populous county, will not be prosecuted. ‘We don’t believe that allowing someone to take puberty suppressants constitutes abuse,’ he said.” See also, Texas Governor Greg Abbott calls on citizens to report parents of transgender children for abuse. Abbott said those who fail to report instances of minors receiving gender-affirming medical care could face ‘criminal penalties.’ NBC News, Jo Yurcaba, Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is calling on ‘licensed professionals’ and ‘members of the general public’ to report the parents of transgender minors to state authorities if it appears the minors are receiving gender-affirming medical care. The directive was part of a letter Abbott, a Republican, sent Tuesday to the Department of Family and Protective Services, calling on it to ‘conduct a prompt and thorough investigation’ of any reported instances of minors undergoing ‘elective procedures for gender transitioning.’ Abbott’s letter follows an opinion released Monday by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which stated that allowing minors to receive transition care such as puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery is child abuse under state law. Paxton issued the opinion after the Legislature failed last year to pass a bill that would have made it a felony alongside physical and sexual abuse to provide such care to minors. An opinion is an interpretation of existing law; it does not change the law itself but can affect how it is enforced.”

North Carolina Court Imposes New District Map, Eliminating Republican Edge. The map appears to split the state’s 14 congressional districts roughly equally between Republicans and Democrats, with two seats seen as tossups. The New York Times, Michael Wines, Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “A North Carolina court rejected a Republican-drawn map of the state’s 14 congressional districts on Wednesday and substituted its own version, the second time in less than two weeks that a court in the state has invalidated a Republican House map as unconstitutionally partisan. The new map, drawn by a nonpartisan panel of four redistricting experts, appeared to split North Carolina’s congressional districts roughly equally between Republicans and Democrats, in a state where voters are divided evenly along partisan lines. It gives each party six relatively safe House seats and makes the remaining two winnable by either side. The Republican-drawn map that was rejected would have awarded the G.O.P. six safe seats and Democrats four, leaving the remaining four as tossups. Voting-rights advocacy groups and Democrats had argued to block the latest Republican map, saying it unlawfully favored Republicans. A three-judge panel of the state Superior Court in Raleigh agreed. It ruled Wednesday that the latest map failed to meet the standards for fairness set out by the State Supreme Court on Feb. 4, when that court invalidated the original map drawn by the Republican-controlled State Legislature. In the Feb. 4 ruling, the State Supreme Court said that Republican maps of congressional districts and State Legislature seats violated a host of provisions in the State Constitution that guarantee freedom of speech, free elections and equal protection. Any valid map, the justices said, would have to satisfy ‘some combination’ of five statistical measures of partisan fairness developed by political scientists in recent decades.”

Climate Scientists Warn of a ‘Global Wildfire Crisis.’ Worsening heat and dryness could lead to a 50 percent rise in off-the-charts fires, according to a United Nations report. The New York Times, Raymond Zhong, Wednesday, 23 February 2022: “A landmark United Nations report has concluded that the risk of devastating wildfires around the world will surge in coming decades as climate change further intensifies what the report described as a ‘global wildfire crisis.’ The scientific assessment is the first by the organization’s environmental authority to evaluate wildfire risks worldwide. It was inspired by a string of deadly blazes around the globe in recent years, burning the American West, vast stretches of Australia and even the Arctic. The images from those fires — cities glowing under orange skies, smoke billowing around tourist havens and heritage sites, woodland animals badly injured and killed — have become grim icons of this era of unsettled relations between humankind and nature. ‘The heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes,’ said the report, which was published on Wednesday by the United Nations Environment Program.”


Thursday, 24 February 2022:


Biden announces new sanctions: Putin and Russia ‘will bear the consequences’ of their war, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Thursday, 24 February 2022: “President Biden on Thursday said the United States is imposing what he said would be crushing sanctions on Russia for waging war on Ukraine, denouncing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia for launching a ‘brutal assault on the people of Ukraine’ overnight. ‘Putin is the aggressor. Putin chose this war,’ Mr. Biden said in remarks from the White House. ‘And now he and his country will bear the consequences.’ Mr. Biden said the United States would cut off Russia’s largest banks and largest companies from the western financial markets and would restrict exports of technology to Russia, saying that would vastly degrade the country’s ability to thrive in the weeks, months and years ahead. He also said the United States was freezing trillions of dollars in Russian assets, including the funds controlled by Russian elites and their families, making them pay for what Mr. Biden called ‘a premeditated attack’ against a free nation in Europe. And the president said that he had authorized sending more troops to Eastern European countries in the NATO alliance. While he vowed again that American troops will not engage with Russia in Ukraine, he said that the United States would defend its NATO allies if Russia moved beyond Ukraine’s borders.” See also, U.S. targets major Russian banks and tech sector with sweeping sanctions and export controls following Ukraine invasion, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima and Felicia Sonmez, Thursday, 24 February 2022: “President Biden on Thursday announced an unprecedented package of sanctions and export controls coordinated with European and Asian allies to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. With the new set of penalties and a beefed up troop presence in NATO’s eastern flank, the Biden administration and allies are seeking to isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin and turn him into a pariah on the international stage. And while the penalties imposed before Thursday did not deter Putin from attacking, Biden said it was nonetheless important to strike hard in unison with allies to try to constrain Putin. ‘If we don’t move against him now with these significant sanctions, he will be emboldened,’ Biden said at the White House on Thursday afternoon. ‘Putin chose this war. And now, he and his country will bear the consequences.’ The United States and its allies have now targeted all 10 of Russia’s largest financial institutions through a combination of ‘full blocking’ sanctions that choke off all transactions with U.S. entities, as well as ‘correspondent’ sanctions that bar transactions with U.S. banks, and debt and equity sanctions on institutions holding nearly 80 percent of Russian bank assets, the White House said. The sanctions target not only Russia’s largest state-owned banks but also a number of Russian political and business elites. They also penalize companies in virtually every major sector of the economy, including mining and minerals as well as telecommunications and railways.” See also, War in Ukraine, Financial Times, Thursday, 24 February 2022. See also, Putin’s Forces Attack Ukraine. Ukraine’s government said it faced ‘a full-scale attack from multiple directions.’ World leaders condemned Vladimir Putin’s actions. The New York Times, Thursday, 24 February 2022. See also, Trump Praises Putin, Leaving Republicans in a Bind. Republican leaders, while condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, were silent on comments made by the former president. Some figures on the right amplified them. The New York Times, David D. Kirkpatrick, Maggie Astor, and Catie Edmondson, Thursday, 24 February 2022: “As Russia prepared to strike Ukraine and the United States rushed to defend neighboring allies in Europe, former President Donald J. Trump had nothing but admiration for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. He is ‘pretty smart,’ Mr. Trump said on Wednesday at a Florida fund-raiser, assessing the impending invasion like a real estate deal. ‘He’s taken over a country for $2 worth of sanctions,’ he said, ‘taking over a country — really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people — and just walking right in.’ Historians called the remarks unprecedented. ‘The idea that a former president would praise the man or leadership who American troops are even now traveling to confront and contain,’ said Jeffrey Engel, a presidential historian at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, ‘is astounding.’ Yet Republican leaders, while condemning the invasion of Ukraine, stayed silent about the ex-president’s repeated praise this week for Mr. Putin, even as some Trump allies — from former administration figures to the Fox News host Tucker Carlson — amplified his Russian-friendly views to the party’s core. Foreign policy experts and Russia scholars said the apparent sympathy or ambivalence toward Moscow from elements of the right raised questions about the influence Mr. Trump continues to exert over candidates seeking to tap into his base, the legacy of a decade-old effort by the Kremlin to court American conservatives and the future of the G.O.P. amid a backlash against the Republican-led entanglements in Afghanistan and Iraq. Cold War-era Republicans, historians said, would have repudiated comments like Mr. Trump’s as un-American. Anders Stephanson, a historian of foreign policy at Columbia University, recalled an earlier Russian invasion. ‘Could one imagine Dwight Eisenhower praising Leonid Brezhnev for invading Czechoslovakia in 1968?’ he asked in an email. ‘I think not.'” See also, Your most-searched questions on the Russia-Ukraine crisis answered, The Washington Post, Amber Phillips and Caroline Anders, Thursday, 24 February 2022. See also live blogs: The New York Times; The Washington Post; CNN

3 Former Officers Are Convicted of Violating George Floyd’s Civil Rights, The New York Times, Tim Arango, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, and Jan Senter, Thursday, 24 February 2022: “Three former Minneapolis police officers were found guilty on Thursday of federal crimes for failing to intervene as another officer killed George Floyd by pressing his knee on his neck for more than nine minutes. The case was an extraordinarily rare example of the Justice Department prosecuting officers for their inaction while another officer used excessive force. The verdicts signal to police departments across America that juries may become more willing to convict not just officers who kill people on the job, but also those who watch them do it. A federal jury determined that the officers — Tou Thao, 36; J. Alexander Kueng, 28; and Thomas Lane, 38 — had willfully violated Mr. Floyd’s constitutional rights by not providing medical care when he lost a pulse and that two of them were also guilty of not intervening to stop a fellow officer, Derek Chauvin, from planting his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck.” See also, Three ex-Minneapolis police officers found guilty of violating George Floyd’s civil rights, NPR, Becky Sullivan, Thursday, 24 February 2022: “A federal jury found three former Minneapolis police officers guilty of depriving George Floyd of his civil rights when they helped with the restraint that led to his death. The jury found that Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao all deprived Floyd of his right to medical care, and that two of them failed to intervene as Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck. The three former officers each faced federal civil rights charges over their conduct on May 25, 2020, when they joined Derek Chauvin in holding Floyd to the ground for about nine minutes and keeping bystanders away.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg taps new attorney to head Trump investigation after two lead prosecutors quit, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Thursday, 24 February 2022: “Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) has asked his investigations chief to oversee the ongoing probe into former president Donald Trump and his business practices, a day after the abrupt resignations of two veteran attorneys who had been leading the case. Susan Hoffinger, also an experienced litigator and recent addition to Bragg’s executive team, will captain what has been described as a squad of about 25 lawyers, paralegals and analysts. Over more than three years, the group has pored through millions of records relating to Trump and operations at the Trump Organization, his family-run company, focusing most recently on whether assets were illegally overvalued to secure better terms on loans and insurance rates, and undervalued to get tax breaks. Bragg’s announcement Thursday follows the dramatic departure of Carey Dunne and Mark Pomerantz, whose resignations signaled a marked shift in the probe. Multiple people with knowledge of the matter said Dunne and Pomerantz felt Bragg, who took office Jan. 1, was not interested in pursuing a case against Trump and had not given them direction on how to proceed. Bragg’s office has said the case, which he inherited from his predecessor, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (D), is proceeding. On Thursday, his spokesperson said it was ‘not true’ that Bragg was unconcerned with advancing the matter.”

White House science office to hold first event on countering climate change denial and delay. Leading climate scientists will meet with officials in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The Washington Post,  Maxine Joselow, Thursday, 24 February 2022: “The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy will hold a first-of-its-kind roundtable with some of the nation’s leading scientists on Thursday to discuss the urgent need to combat the climate crisis and to counter arguments for delaying climate action. The event, which has not previously been reported, will bring together a diverse group of 17 climate scientists, social scientists, engineers and economists from 11 states and the District of Columbia. Jane Lubchenco, a marine ecologist who serves as OSTP deputy director for climate and environment and who ran the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration during President Barack Obama’s first term, will lead the discussion.”

Florida House passes controversial measure dubbed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill by critics, NPR, Joe Hernandez, Thursday, 24 February 2022: “Florida’s House of Representatives passed a controversial bill on Thursday limiting when and how teachers and school staff can discuss gender and sexual orientation in the classroom. Opponents — many of whom have taken to calling the measure the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill — say it will make life harder for LGBTQ youth, who already face a higher rate of bullying and a higher risk of suicide than their straight, cisgender peers. But the Republican sponsor behind HB 1557 says it aims to have schools teach gender and sexuality at an appropriate age and to keep parents informed about what’s happening in the classroom. The legislation prohibits any instruction about sexuality or gender between kindergarten and third grade ‘or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.’… Thursday’s vote drew condemnation from LGBTQ advocates and Democratic politicians in the state…. President Biden previously slammed the proposal as well. ‘I want every member of the LGBTQI+ community — especially the kids who will be impacted by this hateful bill — to know that you are loved and accepted just as you are,’ Biden tweeted earlier this month. ‘I have your back, and my Administration will continue to fight for the protections and safety you deserve.’ The bill passed the House by a vote of 69-47, according to the chamber’s website. Related legislation is under consideration in the state Senate.”


Friday, 25 February 2022:


Ukrainian Fighters Battle to Hold Kyiv. The Ukrainian capital is transformed into a battle zone, and President Volodymyr Zelensky warns against false reports of his demise. NATO leaders said more troops would be deployed. The New York Times, Friday, 25 February 2022: “The Ukrainian defense forces, outmanned and outgunned, waged a ferocious resistance to the Russian invasion on Saturday, battling to keep control of the capital, Kyiv, and other cities around the country. There was intense street fighting, and bursts of gunfire and explosions could be heard across the city, including its heart, Maidan square, where in 2014 Ukrainian protests led to the toppling of a pro-Moscow government. Here are the latest developments:

  • Russia has established attack lines into three cities — Kyiv in the north, Kharkiv in the northeast and Kherson in the south — and Ukrainian troops are fighting to hold all three.

  • Bloody battles were being waged in close quarters. Ukrainska Pravda, a Ukrainian news site, reported combat 400 yards from Maidan Square in central Kyiv.

  • President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine posted a video on Twitter, telling the public not to believe false reports. ‘I’m here,’ he said. ‘We are not putting down any arms. We will protect our country, because our weapons are our truth.’

  • Videos and photos showed a residential building struck by a missile in southwestern Kyiv, about 1.5 miles from Sikorsky Memorial Airport, on Saturday morning.

  • Across Ukraine, people huddled in air raid shelters, lined up at bank machines and stocked up on essentials.

Blasts heard in Kyiv as Russian forces close in, The Washington Post, Siobhán O’Grady, David L. Stern, Robyn Dixon, Chico Harlan, Amy Cheng, Dan Lamothe, Marisa Iati, Lateshia Beachum, Meryl Kornfield, María Luisa Paúl, and Ellen Francis, Friday, 25 February 2022: “A barrage of explosions thundered in Kyiv overnight Saturday, hours after the nation’s leader hauntingly predicted a full-scale attack on the capital city, determining the fate of the country. Shelling in northern Kyiv and a suburb near the city center sounded as Ukrainian and Russian forces clashed near the seat of government. Earlier in the evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged his citizens in a video message to prepare for Russians storming Kyiv, saying Ukraine ‘can’t lose the capital. This night they will begin to storm,’ Zelensky said. ‘We all have to know what awaits us, and we have to withstand. The fate of Ukraine is being decided right now.’ A senior U.S. defense official said Friday that the Russian military has lost momentum in its offensive, while cautioning that this could change in the coming days.

  • The United Nations failed to adopt a U.S.-backed resolution condemning the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine after Russia vetoed the measure. Beijing’s decision to abstain was seen as an achievement for the United States.
  • The United States plans to sanction Russian President Vladimir Putin, White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Friday after E.U. foreign ministers agreed to freeze the assets of Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
  • Putin has called on Ukraine’s armed forces to ‘take power’ from Zelensky and a group in Kyiv that the Russian president described as ‘neo-Nazis.’
  • Radiation levels at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant site in Ukraine remain in a safe range after Russian forces captured the facility Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.
  • More than 50,000 Ukrainians have fled the country in less than 48 hours, mostly to Poland and Moldova, according to the United Nations’ high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi.

Biden Picks Ketanji Brown Jackson for Supreme Court, The New York Times, Katie Rogers, Friday, 25 February 2022: “President Biden on Friday said he would nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, elevating a well-regarded federal appeals court judge who, if confirmed, would make history by becoming the first Black woman to serve as a justice. Mr. Biden’s decision, made after a monthlong search, fulfilled a campaign promise to nominate a Black woman to the bench, and set into motion a confirmation battle that will play out in an evenly divided Senate. He announced the nomination at the White House, flanked by Judge Jackson and Kamala Harris, the first Black woman to be elected vice president. ‘For too long our government, our courts, haven’t looked like America,’ Mr. Biden said in remarks delivered two years to the day after he made his campaign promise in South Carolina. ‘I believe it is time that we have a court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation.’ In Judge Jackson, 51, Mr. Biden selected a liberal-leaning jurist who earned a measure of Republican support when he nominated her last year to the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — an accomplishment the president, intent on curtailing the sort of partisan rancor touched off by recent nominations, took pains to emphasize.” See also, Biden nominates Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Jackson would be the first Black woman on the high court, and the first justice since Thurgood Marshall with significant experience as a criminal defense attorney. The Washington Post, Tyler Pager, Sean Sullivan, Seung Min Kim, and Ann E. Marimow, Friday, 25 February 2022: “President Biden announced Friday the nomination of federal Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace retiring Justice Stephen G. Breyer, a historic choice that fulfills the president’s pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court and would make Jackson, 51, just the third African American in the high court’s 233-year history. A former public defender, Jackson served as a trial court judge in Washington for eight years before Biden elevated her last year to the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She was confirmed to that court after a relatively uncontentious Senate hearing and with the backing of three Republican lawmakers. Biden introduced Jackson on Friday afternoon at the White House, praising her as ‘someone with extraordinary character’ who ‘will bring to the Supreme Court an independent-minded, uncompromising integrity.’ The president, who spent weeks considering whom to nominate, touted Jackson’s varied legal experience and her personal background.” See also, How Ketanji Brown Jackson found a path between confrontation and compromise, The Washington Post, Marc Fisher, Ann E. Marimow, and Lori Rozsa, Friday, 25 February 2022. See also, Ketanji Brown Jackson, Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, has blazed trails all her life, NPR, Nina Totenberg, Friday, 25 February 2022: “President Biden has selected Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as his Supreme Court nominee to fill the seat left when Judge Stephen Breyer retires this summer. At a White House event Friday introducing Jackson, Biden described her as a consensus-builder with a ‘pragmatic understanding that the law must work for the American people.’ Jackson, 51, has led a professional and personal life at once classic and unpredictable. Unlike most judges, her background is not as a prosecutor or major corporate lawyer, and her personal life also defies stereotypes. Professionally, she is an experienced judge. For eight years, she served as a federal trial court judge and last June was confirmed for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Prior to her becoming a judge, her legal experience was extensive and varied. While four members of the current court were at one time prosecutors, Jackson, if nominated, would be the first Supreme Court justice since Thurgood Marshall to have represented indigent criminal defendants.” See also, Biden Introduces Ketanji Brown Jackson, His Supreme Court Pick. President Biden’s choice ended a monthlong search to replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who is retiring. Few Republicans are expected to back her nomination. The New York Times, Friday, 25 February 2022. See also, Biden introduces historic nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, tapped to be the first Black female justice, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Mariana Alfaro, Felicia Sonmez, and Eugene Scott, Friday 25 February 2022: “President Biden on Friday announced his historic pick of federal judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court, following through on a campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the nation’s highest court in its 223-year history. During an event at the White House, Biden said Jackson is ‘someone with extraordinary character’ and ‘will bring to the Supreme Court an independent-minded, uncompromising integrity.’ After being introduced, Jackson said the United States is ‘the greatest beacon of hope and democracy.’ If confirmed, Jackson would replace Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who announced last month that he would retire when the court term ends this summer. Democrats are determined to move swiftly to confirm Jackson, whom Biden elevated last year to the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit


Saturday, 26 February 2022:


What Happened on Day 3 of Russia’s Assault on Ukraine. Western intelligence reports indicated that the Russian advance had been slowed, if only for the moment. The Russian priority remained the capture of Kyiv. The New York Times, Saturday, 26 February 2022: “As Russian forces pressed into Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Ukraine’s defense forces and civilian volunteers battled to hold off Russia’s invasion for a fourth day on Sunday as President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said his country’s fighters had ‘successfully repelled enemy attacks.’ Here are the latest developments:

  • A lawmaker from Mr. Zelensky’s faction, David Arakhamia, said Ukraine ‘has agreed to meet Russia with no conditions’ for talks on the conflict, but there were no immediate details on who would meet, or where. The government of Belarus said the two sides would hold talks at the Belarus-Ukraine border. Earlier, Mr. Zelensky had rejected the Kremlin’s offer to hold talks in Belarus, saying the country was not neutral territory because Russia had carried out part of its invasion from there.

  • President Vladimir V. Putin has ordered his military to place Russia’s nuclear forces on alert. He gave the order in a televised meeting with his defense minister and top military commander.

  • Fighting drew closer to the center of Kharkiv, in eastern Ukraine, according to videos and photographs analyzed by The New York Times. The footage showed Ukrainians firing rockets toward Russian troops, as well as some Russian military vehicles burning and others being ransacked by Ukrainian troops.

  • As Ukraine’s armed forces targeted Russian supply lines, the Kremlin’s offensive seemed likely to intensify, as U.S. officials said that most of the more than 150,000 Russian troops who had massed around Ukraine were now engaged in the fighting.

  • In response to the invasion, a growing number of European countries said they would ban Russian aircraft from their airspace, and Germany’s chancellor announced a significant increase in military spending, reversing a longstanding policy.

U.S., Canada, and European leaders vow to freeze Russian assets and target banks, The Washington Post, Chico Harlan, David L. Stern, Ellen Francis, Marisa Iati, Siobhán O’Grady, Robyn Dixon, María Luisa Paúl, and Amy Cheng, Saturday, 26 February 2022: “The United States, Canada and European allies are preparing to target Russian financial institutions, including the nation’s central bank, with major restrictions in what would be a significant escalation of their efforts to punish the Kremlin for its invasion of Ukraine, the allies said in a joint statement Saturday evening as air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv. The allies said they would block the Russian central bank from accessing hundreds of billions of dollars in reserves in the West, a move that could lead to financial panic in that country as it tries to pay for its new war. They also vowed to cut off Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system, a network that connects banks around the world and is considered the backbone of international finance. Fighting receded during daylight hours Saturday, but missile strikes continued to bombard the Ukrainian capital and other cities. Authorities imposed a 5 p.m. curfew.

  • On Saturday morning, a high-rise apartment building near one of Kyiv’s international airports was struck by a missile as air raids continued.
  • Ukraine’s health minister said 198 Ukrainians have been killed in the fighting, with more than 1,000 wounded. There were already signs of a mass exodus. The United Nations said Saturday that more than 150,000 Ukrainians have fled the country. Later it said there had been ‘at least 240 civilian casualties, including at least 64 dead.’
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video of himself at daybreak Saturday appearing resolved to remain in Kyiv, even as Western officials warned that Russia plans to capture or kill him.
  • Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have moved to shut their airspace to Russian airlines. Estonia’s prime minister called on all European Union countries to do the same.

U.S. and Europe take aim at Russian central bank reserves, threatening blow to economy, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Paul Sonne, Jeff Stein, and Tyler Pager, Saturday, 26 February 2022: “The Biden administration and its European allies vowed Saturday to block Moscow’s access to its sizable foreign currency reserves in the West, teeing up one of the most powerful financial penalties and threatening to send the Russian financial market into free fall. The United States and the Europe Union also announced they were moving to sever some Russian banks from SWIFT, a global messaging network that enables banks to communicate their financial transactions in a secure manner. The steps come as Russian President Vladimir Putin intensifies his military aggression against Ukraine in an attempt to topple its government and take the capital, Kyiv…. In a joint statement by the European Union, the United States, Britain and Canada, the countries announced they reached an agreement on what appear to be unprecedented measures to ‘ensure that this war is a strategic failure for Putin.'”

Germany abandons muted approach to aid for Ukraine, sending weapons and green-lighting sanctions, The Washington Post, Michael Birnbaum and Rick Noack, Saturday, 26 February 2022: “Germany on Saturday took significant steps toward shedding its post-World War II caution about being a significant global security player, announcing it would deliver extensive lethal weaponry to Ukraine and embracing broad restrictions on Russian banks that it had previously rebuffed. The double-barreled shift following the Russian invasion of Ukraine — ‘the turning of an era,’ Chancellor Olaf Scholz said — came after years in which German policymakers declared they could separate business from politics, even approving the construction of Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline linking Germany and Russia, in 2015, the year after the Kremlin annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Germany’s deep economic relationship with Russia is decades old and, many critics say, has led to a foreign policy orthodoxy that long held back Europe from sharper criticism of the Kremlin. But Saturday’s move opened up Europe’s weapons-packed armories to Ukraine, since Berlin retained a veto power over how German-manufactured armaments were used even after they were sold elsewhere. More broadly, Scholz’s decision to swing more directly into confrontation with a country that helped defeat the Nazis, Russia, was a major break for the richest and most-populous nation in the European Union. Berlin’s focus on trade rather than security has led it to spend far less on defense than NATO guidelines require.”


Sunday, 27 February 2022:


U.S. official says Belarus is preparing to join Russian invasion of Ukraine, The Washington Post, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Robyn Dixon, Chico Harlan, Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit, Jennifer Hassan, Hannah Knowles, and Reis Thebault, Sunday, 27 February 2022: “Belarus is preparing to send soldiers into Ukraine in support of the Russian invasion in a deployment that could begin as soon as Monday, a U.S. administration official said Sunday evening. ‘It’s very clear Minsk is now an extension of the Kremlin,’ said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive security development. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he has allowed Russian troops to assemble in Belarus and conduct large-scale military drills there. If Belarus joins the Russian invasion, it would significantly complicate proposed talks between Russia and Ukraine, which the two sides had planned to hold at the Ukrainian border with Belarus. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced the talks earlier Sunday — the first diplomatic discussion since the invasion began — but he did not say when they would occur. Adding to tensions, Putin stated Sunday that he had put his nuclear deterrence forces into alert, attributing the move to ‘aggressive statements’ from the West. The White House called the order an example of ‘manufacturing threats that don’t exist.’ The European Union, meanwhile, announced it will shut down airspace to Russian planes and finance weapons purchases to Ukraine as several nations, including the United States, vow to block the Kremlin’s access to its sizable foreign currency reserves in the West and to cut off some Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system.

  • Russian forces pushed into Kharkiv, sparking a battle for control in Ukraine’s second-largest city, but by afternoon, Kharkiv’s governor said the city remained in government control.
  • British oil giant BP said it will ‘exit’ its 20 percent stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, in one of the biggest signs yet of the Western business world cutting ties over the Kremlin’s actions.
  • More than 350 civilians have been killed, including 14 children, Ukrainian officials said Sunday. According to a U.N. refugee agency, 400,000 people have fled Ukraine after several days of fighting.

What Happened on Day 4 of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine? The New York Times, Sunday, 27 February 2022: “Fierce Ukrainian resistance continued to keep Russian forces from gaining control of key cities. World opposition to the Russian invasion hardened, with the E.U. banning Russian aircraft from its airspace.”

Former attorney general William Barr calls prospect of Trump running for president again ‘dismaying’ and says Republicans should ‘look forward’ to others, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Josh Dawsey, Sunday, 27 February 2022: “Former attorney general William P. Barr says in a new book that the prospect of Donald Trump running for president again is ‘dismaying’ and urges the Republican Party to ‘look forward’ to other candidates, concluding after a searing, behind-the-scenes account of his time in the president’s Cabinet that Trump is not the right man to lead the country. In the book, ‘One Damn Thing After Another,’ Barr takes shot after shot at Trump, especially over his leadership during the coronavirus pandemic and his false claims that the election was stolen from him. Barr, who had a famous falling-out with Trump late in his presidency, writes that Trump’s ‘constant bellicosity diminishes him and the office,’ and that in the final months of the administration, he came to realize that ‘Trump cared only about one thing: himself. Country and principle took second place.'” See also, Former Attorney General William Barr Rebukes Trump as ‘Off the Rails’ in New Memoir, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Sunday, 27 February 2022: “Former Attorney General William P. Barr writes in a new memoir that former President Donald J. Trump’s ‘self-indulgence and lack of self-control’ cost him the 2020 election and says ‘the absurd lengths to which he took his “stolen election” claim led to the rioting on Capitol Hill.’ In the book, ‘One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General,’ Mr. Barr also urges his fellow Republicans to pick someone else as the party’s nominee for the 2024 election, calling the prospect of another presidential run by Mr. Trump ‘dismaying.’ ‘Donald Trump has shown he has neither the temperament nor persuasive powers to provide the kind of positive leadership that is needed,’ Mr. Barr writes.”


Monday, 28 February 2022:


Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelinsky outraged at Russian bombing of Kharkiv as talks begin and Russian convoy nears Kyiv, The Washington Post, Steve Hendrix, Robyn Dixon, Rachel Pannett, Jennifer Hassan, Kim Bellware, Paulina Firozi, Brittany Shammas, Hannah Knowles, and Reis Thebault, Monday, 28 February 2022: “Even as Russian and Ukrainian officials held their first talks on Monday, Russia’s assault on Ukraine intensified, devastating its second-largest city in what President Volodymyr Zelensky described as a war crime and a ‘deliberate destruction of people.’ Delegations from the two nations met near Ukraine’s border with Belarus and spoke for five hours without coming to a resolution, but agreed to continue talks in the coming days. Zelensky said he would meet with advisers before deciding how to proceed in the second round of discussions, and he expressed outrage at the timing of the bombardment in Kharkiv, which came as talks began. ‘It was clear how the shelling was synchronized with the negotiation process,’ the Ukrainian president said in a video address late Monday. ‘We do not accept such tactics. Fair negotiations are when one side does not hit the other side with rocket artillery at the very moment of negotiations.’ At least 11 people were killed and dozens hospitalized in the shelling, according to local government officials. But both Kharkiv and Kyiv, the capital, remained in Ukrainian hands as Russia faced more resistance than it was expecting, the Pentagon reported.

What Happened on Day 5 of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, The New York Times, Monday, 28 February 2022. “President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine called for an international tribunal to investigate Russia for war crimes. Delegations from Kyiv and Moscow failed to make progress in Belarus.”

US cutting off Russia’s central bank from US dollar transactions, CNN Politics, Nikki Carvajal, Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Liptak, and Kate Sullivan, Monday, 28 February 2022: “The US is taking immediate action on Monday to prohibit American dollar transactions with the Russian central bank and fully block the Russian direct investment fund, senior administration officials said, an aggressive move that aims at some of Russia’s most powerful means of mitigating the effect of sanctions. The steps are meant to prevent Russia from accessing a ‘rainy day fund’ that officials said Moscow had been expecting to rely upon during the invasion of Ukraine. Instead of using the reserves to buffer a plummeting ruble, Russia will no longer be able to access the funds it keeps in US dollars. The sweeping new sanctions — taken with Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Canada, the European Union and others — come as Russia’s economy is already in freefall.”

Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Says Climate Change Is Harming the Planet Faster Than We Can Adapt. Countries aren’t doing nearly enough to protect against the disasters to come as the planet keeps heating up, a major new scientific report concludes. The New York Times, Brad Plumer and Raymond Zhong, Monday, 28 February 2022: “The dangers of climate change are mounting so rapidly that they could soon overwhelm the ability of both nature and humanity to adapt unless greenhouse gas emissions are quickly reduced, according to a major new scientific report released on Monday. The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the United Nations, is the most detailed look yet at the threats posed by global warming. It concludes that nations aren’t doing nearly enough to protect cities, farms and coastlines from the hazards that climate change has unleashed so far, such as record droughts and rising seas, let alone from the even greater disasters in store as the planet continues to warm. Written by 270 researchers from 67 countries, the report is “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership,” said António Guterres, the United Nations secretary general. ‘With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change.’ The perils are already visible across the globe, the report said. In 2019, storms, floods and other extreme weather events displaced more than 13 million people across Asia and Africa. Rising heat and drought are killing crops and trees, putting millions worldwide at increased risk of hunger and malnutrition, while mosquitoes carrying diseases like malaria and dengue are spreading into new areas. Roughly half the world’s population currently faces severe water scarcity at least part of the year.” See also, 5 Takeaways From the U.N. Report on Climate Hazards, The New York Times, Raymond Zhong, Monday, 28 February 2022. See also, Humanity has a ‘brief and rapidly closing window’ to avoid a hotter, deadly future, U.N. climate report says. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report details escalating toll, but top scientists say the world still can choose a less catastrophic path. The Washington Post, Sarah Kaplan and Brady Dennis, Monday, 28 February 2022: “In the hotter and more hellish world humans are creating, parts of the planet could become unbearable in the not-so-distant future, a panel of the world’s foremost scientists warned Monday in an exhaustive report on the escalating toll of climate change. Unchecked greenhouse gas emissions will raise sea levels several feet, swallowing small island nations and overwhelming even the world’s wealthiest coastal regions. Drought, heat, hunger and disaster may force millions of people from their homes. Coral reefs could vanish, along with a growing number of animal species. Disease-carrying insects would proliferate. Deaths — from malnutrition, extreme heat, pollution — will surge. These are some of the grim projections detailed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body dedicated to providing policymakers with regular assessments of the warming world. Drawing on thousands of academic studies from around the globe, the sweeping analysis finds that climate change is already causing ‘dangerous and widespread disruption’ to the natural world, as well as billions of people around the planet. Failure to curb pollution from fossil fuels and other human activities, it says, will condemn the world to a future that is both universally dangerous and deeply unequal.” See also, Climate change is killing people, but there’s still time to reverse the damage, NPR, Monday, 28 February 2022: “Billions of people on every continent are suffering because of climate change, according to a major new United Nations report released on Monday. And governments must do a better job of protecting the most vulnerable communities while also rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The report by nearly 300 top scientists from around the world paints a picture of a planet already transformed by greenhouse gas emissions and teetering on the brink of widespread, irreversible damage. ‘People are now suffering and dying from climate change,’ says Kristie Ebi, one of the lead authors of the report and an epidemiologist at the University of Washington. That’s because heat waves, droughts, floods, wildfires, disease outbreaks and other dire effects of climate change are accelerating more rapidly than scientists expected in many parts of the world, including in North America. And as oceans, rainforests and polar regions heat up, nature is less and less able to help us with the task of adapting to a hotter Earth, the report finds. Still, the authors of the report make clear, humans are not powerless. Repairing damaged ecosystems and reducing greenhouse gas emissions dramatically and immediately would spare billions of people from illness, poverty, displacement and death.”House Passes Bill to Make Lynching a Hate Crime, The New York Times, Emily Cochrane, Monday, 28 February 2022: “The House on Monday overwhelmingly approved legislation that would make lynching a federal hate crime, moving to formally outlaw a brutal act that has become a symbol of the failure by Congress and the country to reckon with the history of racial violence in America. Passage of the anti-lynching bill, named in honor of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Black teenager brutally tortured and murdered in Mississippi in 1955, came after more than a century of failed attempts. Lawmakers estimated they had tried more than 200 times to pass a measure to explicitly criminalize a type of attack that has long terrorized Black Americans. This bill was approved 422 to 3, and was expected to pass the Senate, where it enjoys broad support. ‘The House today has sent a resounding message that our nation is finally reckoning with one of the darkest and most horrific periods of our history, and that we are morally and legally committed to changing course,’ said Representative Bobby L. Rush, Democrat of Illinois, who had vowed to see the legislation become law before retiring at the end of his term. In a statement, Mr. Rush, who was a civil-rights leader and founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, recalled when, as an 8-year-old boy, he first saw a photograph of Emmett’s battered body, an image that he said ‘shaped my consciousness as a Black man in America, changed the course of my life, and changed our nation.’… The measure passed on Monday would categorize lynching as a federal hate crime, carrying a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says there is no space in the Republican Party for ‘white supremacists or anti-Semitism’ after two House Republicans participate in white nationalist’s conference, The Washington Post, Jonathan Edwards and Mariana Alfaro, Monday, 28 February 2022: “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Monday that there is no place in the Republican Party for ‘white supremacists or anti-Semitism’ after two House Republicans participated in a conference organized by a white nationalist who encouraged a chant supporting Russian President Vladimir Putin. McConnell issued a statement in response to reports that Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul A. Gosar of Arizona addressed the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) in Orlando. The event was organized by Nicholas Fuentes. Fuentes, a white-nationalist activist, rose to prominence after attending the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and then dropping out of Boston University because of ‘threats’ he said he received, according to the Anti-Defamation League. He once hosted the ‘America First’ podcast.” See also, Republican Leaders Condemn Lawmakers’ Appearance at White Nationalist Conference. The participation of Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar at a far-right event renewed calls for Republican leaders to root out extremism in their party. The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman and Annie Karni, Monday, 28 February 2022: “Republican congressional leaders on Monday broke their silence about the participation of two House Republicans at a far-right conference with ties to white supremacy, denouncing the actions of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona. Three days after Ms. Greene appeared in person and Mr. Gosar by video at the America First Political Action Conference, organized by a prominent white supremacist, Nick Fuentes, the responses reflected mounting pressure on top Republicans to denounce extremists in their ranks. They followed a sharp condemnation by the Republican Jewish Coalition and a more oblique one by the Republican National Committee, and marked a rare public rebuke by G.O.P. congressional leaders, who have more often stayed mum in response to outrageous language and conduct by their hard-right members.”



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 will 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. Recently I have been able to make time to return to this original project. You can find these muckraking pieces under the Home Page link at the top of this site. Thanks for reading!