Aftermath of the Trump Administration, December 2022


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


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Thursday, 1 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Shelling leaves Kherson dark; Biden and Macron condemn Russia, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Erin Cunningham, Adela Suliman, Beatriz Rios, Claire Parker, and Ben Brasch, Thursday, 1 December 2022: “Russian shelling on Thursday left Ukrainians in recently liberated Kherson cold and in the dark, just days after the power was restored following Russian occupation, according to the Associated Press. The attacks came as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the barrages are intended to ‘knock out energy facilities that allow you to keep pumping deadly weapons into Ukraine in order to kill the Russians,’ referring to the United States and NATO. President Biden and French Presidential Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed their support for Ukraine and condemnation of the Russian invasion in a joint news conference in Washington on Thursday. Biden also said he would be willing to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin if the Russian leader expresses interest in ending the conflict. ‘I’m prepared to speak with Mr. Putin if in fact … he’s looking for a way to end the war,’ Biden told reporters at the White House. ‘He hasn’t done that yet.’

  • Spanish officials stepped up security Thursday after confirming that at least six letter bombs had been sent to high-profile targets in recent days, including the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid, the U.S. Embassy, the Spanish prime minister’s office, the Defense Ministry, a military air base and an arms manufacturer. The one sent to the Ukrainian Embassy caused a minor injury, but the others were ‘neutralized by the security services,’ the Interior Ministry said. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has ordered security at all of Ukraine’s embassies to be strengthened in response. It remains unclear why the sites in Spain were targeted.
  • The United States and France ‘deplore Russia’s deliberate escalatory steps,’ Biden and Macron said in a joint statement following their meeting on Thursday, pointing in particular to ‘its irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and its disinformation regarding alleged chemical attacks, and biological and nuclear weapons programs.’ The leaders expressed their commitment to provide ‘significant resources’ to support Ukraine’s citizens through the winter, and said their countries would work with allies at an international conference in Paris on Dec. 13 to coordinate assistance to Ukraine. They also pledged to hold Russia accountable for atrocities and war crimes.
  • The United Nations called for a record $51.5 billion in funding for 2023, citing ‘shockingly high’ emergency needs, including the Ukraine war. Emergency relief official Martin Griffiths pointed to the war, the coronavirus pandemic and climate change as factors that have contributed to a year of ‘suffering,’ and he warned of ‘an acceleration’ of those crises in 2023.
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the Ukraine war has ‘shattered peace in Europe.’ At the Berlin Security Conference on Thursday, he also called for more arms support to Kyiv and for its allies to ‘stay the course.’ He warned of Europe’s ‘dangerous dependency’ on Russian natural gas and economic reliance on other ‘authoritarian states,’ including China.
  • Ukraine’s defense intelligence branch accused representatives of Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear energy company, of ‘laundering’ money allocated to manage the occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. In a statement Thursday, the agency alleged that Rosatom employees and Russian occupation authorities were redirecting funds earmarked to pay the station staff. A ‘significant part’ of the occupation authorities have left the plant since Russia seized it in early March. About 500 Russians remain, ‘to intimidate the staff and encourage them to cooperate with the occupiers,’ the statement said.
  • Russia’s Foreign Ministry blasted the decision by Germany on Wednesday to recognize the Holodomor as genocide carried out by the Soviet leadership. The famine in the early 1930s under the rule of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin is believed to have killed about 4 million Ukrainians. The vote in the German parliament came several days after commemorations of the 90th anniversary of the famine. Moscow decried the move on Thursday as being part of a ‘Western-sponsored campaign aimed at demonizing Russia.’
  • Switzerland has frozen about $8 billion in Russian assets as of Nov. 25, the Swiss state secretariat for economic affairs said in a news release Thursday. Fifteen properties belonging to sanctioned individuals or entities are also blocked. Nearly $50 billion in Russian deposits have been referred to the Swiss authorities for investigation.
  • Four lion cubs rescued from Ukraine have been flown to an animal sanctuary in Minnesota, according to the International Fund for Animal Welfare, one of a number of groups working to rescue animals from the war. The cubs, who were orphaned at a few weeks old and survived sporadic bombing and drone attacks, ‘have endured more in their short lives than any animal should,’ said Meredith Whitney, a wildlife program manager with the nonprofit group. They spent the past three weeks at Poznan Zoo in Poland.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Shelling Cuts Power to Kherson as Lavrov Defends Strikes. Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, claimed Ukraine’s civilian energy infrastructure is a legitimate military target. The United Nations has said the strikes could amount to war crimes. The New York Times, Thursday, 1 December 2022:

  • Recently recaptured Kherson is hit by Russian shelling, as misery mounts.

  • Lavrov defends strikes on civilian infrastructure as six million in Ukraine remain without power.

  • Biden signals his willingness to talk to Putin, but only in consultation with NATO.

  • Orphaned Ukrainian lion cubs find a new home in Minnesota.

  • Talks among E.U. diplomats on a Russian oil price cap drag on.

  • The severity of Ukraine’s winter could affect the course of the war.

Appeals Court Scraps Special master Review in Trump Documents Case. The panel’s decision removed a major obstacle to the Justice Department’s investigation into Mr. Trump’s handling of sensitive government documents. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Charlie Savage, Thursday, 1 December 2022: “A federal appeals court on Thursday removed a major obstacle to the criminal investigation into former President Donald J. Trump’s hoarding of government documents, ending an outside review of thousands of records the F.B.I. seized from his home and freeing the Justice Department to use them in its inquiry. In a unanimous but unsigned 21-page ruling, a three-member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta shut down a lawsuit brought by Mr. Trump that has, for nearly three months, slowed the inquiry into whether he illegally kept national security records at his Mar-a-Lago residence and obstructed the government’s efforts to retrieve them. The appeals court was sharply critical of the decision in September by Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a Trump appointee who sits in the Southern District of Florida, to intervene in the case. The court said Judge Cannon never had legitimate jurisdiction to order the review or bar investigators from using the files, and that there was no justification for treating Mr. Trump differently from any other target of a search warrant. ‘It is indeed extraordinary for a warrant to be executed at the home of a former president — but not in a way that affects our legal analysis or otherwise gives the judiciary license to interfere in an ongoing investigation,’ the court wrote. Limits on when courts can interfere with a criminal investigation ‘apply no matter who the government is investigating,’ it added. ‘To create a special exception here would defy our nation’s foundational principle that our law applies to all, without regard to numbers, wealth or rank.’” See also, Trump Mar-a-Lago special master struck down by appeals court. The three-judge panel said Judge Aileen Cannon erred in appointing a special master to review documents seized by the FBI. The Washington Post, Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett, Thursday, 1 December 2022: “A federal appeals court panel on Thursday halted an outside review of thousands of documents seized from former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence, ruling that a lower court judge was wrong to appoint an expert to decide whether any of the material should be shielded from criminal investigators. Trump sought the outside arbiter, known as a special master, after the FBI executed a court-approved search of Mar-a-Lago, his home and private club, on Aug. 8, retrieving more than 13,000 documents related to Trump’s time in the White House. About 100 of the documents were classified, and some contained extremely sensitive government secrets, according to court records. The appeals court decision was an emphatic win for the Justice Department, and the latest legal loss for Trump, who has gone to court multiple times to try to stop the government from getting access to records or personal information. Just last week, the Supreme Court denied the former president’s request to block a congressional committee from receiving copies of six years of his tax returns, clearing the way for them to be handed over to lawmakers.” See also, Appeals court halts special master review of documents seized at Mar-a-Lago in major defeat for Trump, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed, Thursday, 1 December 2022: “In a major defeat for former President Donald Trump, a federal appeals court on Thursday halted a third-party review of documents seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate. The ruling removes a major obstacle to the Justice Department’s investigation into the mishandling of government records from Trump’s time in the White House. The three-judge panel of the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals reversed US District Judge Aileen Cannon’s order appointing a so-called special master to sort through thousands of documents found at Trump’s home to determine what should be off limits to investigators. The court said the judge should not have intervened in the first place. ‘The law is clear,’ the appeals court wrote. ‘We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of the warrant. Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so.’ The 11th Circuit said that either approach would be a ‘radical reordering of our caselaw limiting the federal courts’ involvement in criminal investigations’ and that ‘both would violate bedrock separation-of-powers limitations.’”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, December 2022:

Supreme Court to Hear Student Debt Forgiveness Case. The justices left in place an injunction blocking the Biden administration’s authority to forgive up to $20,000 in debt per borrower. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Thursday, 1 December 2022: “The Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to decide whether the Biden administration had overstepped its authority with its plan to wipe out billions of dollars in student debt. The justices put the case on an unusually fast track, saying they would hear arguments in February. In the meantime, though, they left in place an injunction blocking the program. The court’s brief order gave no reasons and did not note any dissents. The court acted after the Justice Department filed an emergency application asking the justices to lift the injunction, which had been issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, at the request of six Republican-led states. The program, which forgives up to $20,000 in debt for millions of federal borrowers, has set off a flurry of legal battles, but the one filed by the six states — Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina — may represent the most serious threat. The states have said that Mr. Biden’s proposal exceeds his executive authority and would deprive them of future tax revenue.” See also, Supreme Court to review legality of Biden’s student loan forgiveness program, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, Thursday, 1 December 2022: “The Supreme Court on Thursday announced it will expedite review of the legality of President Biden’s plan to cancel federal student loan debt for millions of borrowers, and hold oral arguments in February. Lower courts have put the program, which the administration said was justified by repayment problems amplified by the pandemic, on hold. The Biden administration asked the justices to either allow it to go forward while legal challenges continue or to take up the issue themselves. It recently extended the pause on federal loan repayment, which was scheduled to expire at the end of the year, to give the high court time to act. The plan will remain on hold as the court deferred action on the administration’s request to restore it.” See also, Supreme Court says Biden’s student loan forgiveness program remains blocked for now and schedules arguments for February, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue, Thursday, 1 December 2022: “The Supreme Court said Thursday that President Joe Biden’s student loan debt forgiveness program will remain blocked for now, but the justices agreed to hear oral arguments in the case in February, with a decision expected by June. Biden’s program would offer up to $20,000 of debt relief to millions of qualified borrowers, but it has been met with legal challenges since it was announced. Nearly two weeks ago, the Biden administration began notifying people who are approved for federal student loan relief. About 26 million people had already applied to the program by the time it was frozen prompting the government to stop taking applications. No debt has been canceled thus far.”

Federal judge orders former Trump White House top lawyers Pat Cipollone and Patrick Philbin  to testify in criminal grand jury probe, CNN Politics, Sara Murray, Evan Perez, and Katelyn Polantz, Thursday, 1 December 2022: “A federal judge has ordered former top Trump White House lawyers to provide additional grand jury testimony, rejecting former President Donald Trump’s privilege claims in the Justice Department’s criminal investigation of his effort to overturn the 2020 election, people briefed on the matter said. Pat Cipollone, the Trump White House counsel, and his deputy, Patrick Philbin, appeared in September before the grand jury in Washington, DC, as part of the Justice Department probe, which is now being overseen by newly appointed special counsel Jack Smith. Cipollone and Philbin declined to answer some questions at that time, citing Trump’s claims of executive and attorney-client privilege. Cipollone and Philbin didn’t respond to CNN’s request for comment. Trump is expected to appeal. CNN has reached out to his representatives. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.”


Friday, 2 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: E.U. agrees to $60 price cap on Russian oil; German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks with Putin, The Washington Post, Claire Parker, Emily Rauhala, Andrew Jeong, Ben Brasch, Adela Suliman, and John Hudson, Friday, 2 December 2022: “After lengthy negotiations in Brussels, European diplomats proposed a limit on the price of Russian oil Friday, a move lauded by the Biden administration that has long sought to hit the Kremlin’s energy revenue without wreaking additional havoc on markets. If the Group of Seven nations and Australia concur, it will take effect Monday — the same day the European Union’s embargo on Russian seaborne crude goes into force. It remains unclear whether the move will hit Moscow’s finances, since the $60-per-barrel cap is so close to current prices. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, who pushed to create the global price cap, said in a statement that it will ‘help further constrain Putin’s finances and limit the revenues he’s using to fund his brutal invasion.’ Russia has warned that if a price cap is implemented, it will retaliate. In Washington, John Kirby, strategic coordinator for the National Security Council, called the agreement ‘welcome news’ after President Biden had pushed for the price cap. ‘We still believe that a price cap will help limit Mr. Putin’s ability to profiteer’ with oil sales, Kirby told reporters. Also Friday, the Kremlin responded to Biden’s comment that he would meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Moscow was willing to end the invasion, saying that Russia would not give up the Ukrainian territory it has declared to be Russian land. ‘The special military operation is continuing,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Friday. Peskov added that while Putin remains open to negotiations, the United States’ refusal to recognize territories annexed by Russia ‘complicates the search for the ground for mutual discussion.’

  • A half-dozen Ukrainian embassies across Europe, as well as several consulates, have received ‘bloody packages’ containing animal eyes, in what Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Friday was a ‘well-planned’ campaign of intimidation and terror. Those packages, combined with a spate of letter bombs detected in Spain, have raised suspicion about links to Russia, while prompting Kyiv to ask for increased security at its overseas offices. One of the letter bombs injured a staffer at the Ukrainian Embassy in Madrid.
  • Putin told German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in a phone call Friday that ‘Western states, including Germany,’ were to blame for Kyiv’s refusal to negotiate with Russia, charging that they are ‘pumping up the Kyiv regime with weapons and training the Ukrainian military,’ according to a Kremlin readout of the call — the first conversation between an E.U. leader and the Russian president since Russia’s recent attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure and its string of battlefield defeats this fall. Putin called for Germany to ‘reconsider its approaches’ to the conflict and defended Russian missile strikes on ‘certain targets’ in Ukraine.
  • As many as 13,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in the war so far, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak told state television. ‘We have official figures from the General Staff, we have official figures from the top command, and they amount to [between] 10,000 and 12,500 to 13,000 killed,’ Podolyak told Kanal 24. The figures could not be independently verified by The Washington Post.
  • American Paul Whelan, imprisoned in Russia for espionage, called his family Friday after a break in communication that led the Biden administration to express concern about his well-being. Whelan, who had missed a scheduled call home, told U.S. Embassy officers Friday that he had been transferred to a prison hospital on Thanksgiving Day and returned to his penal colony Friday, according to a senior State Department official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The U.S. has sought to secure the release of Whelan and WNBA star Brittney Griner.
  • Senior U.S. defense officials are considering a major expansion in military training for Ukraine. The move could involve thousands of Kyiv’s fighters training with the U.S. military in Grafenwöhr, Germany, where the United States has instructed smaller numbers of Ukrainian troops for years.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for ‘spiritual independence’ in Ukraine as he lambasted churches with Russian links. He said in his nightly address that he met with national security and defense officials regarding the ‘connections of certain religious circles in Ukraine with the aggressor state.’ A draft law is also being prepared, he added, to make it ‘impossible for religious organizations affiliated with centers of influence in the Russian Federation to operate in Ukraine.’
  • The United States and France ‘deplore Russia’s deliberate escalatory steps,’ Biden and Macron said in a joint statement after their meeting in Washington. The statement highlighted Russia’s ‘irresponsible nuclear rhetoric’ and misinformation about weapons of mass destruction. The leaders committed to providing ‘significant resources’ to support Ukraine through the winter and pledged to hold Russia accountable for atrocities and war crimes.
  • Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden swore allegiance to Moscow and received his Russian passport, his lawyer told state media Friday. Snowden, 39, is wanted by Washington on espionage charges for his role in disclosing the existence of the NSA’s collection of millions of Americans’ phone records. Snowden was granted asylum in Russia in 2013 and became a citizen in September. Under Russia’s Constitution, he cannot be extradited to another country.
  • Finland’s prime minister says Europe ‘would be in trouble without the United States’ in dealing with the Ukraine war. On a visit to Australia, Sanna Marin said she had to be ‘brutally honest’ that ‘Europe isn’t strong enough right now,’ Agence France-Presse reported. She called for the development of a European defense industry. ‘We should have listened to our Baltic and Polish friends much sooner,’ she said. Finland, which shares a large land border with Russia, is in the midst of trying to join the NATO alliance.
  • European Council President Charles Michel urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to use Beijing’s influence over Russia to work for peace. Michel also told reporters that the leaders had agreed during a meeting that the use of nuclear weapons was not acceptable. Xi expressed support for preventing escalation or expansion of the war, Chinese state media reported.
  • The Disney Channel will stop broadcasting in Russia after Dec. 14, Russian newspaper Kommersant reported Friday. It will be replaced by a new channel for children called ‘Sun,’ according to Kommersant. Disney did not respond to a request for comment.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: E.U. Agrees to a Price Cap for Sale of Russian Oil. Following protracted negotiations, European Union diplomats set a price limit of $60 a barrel that they and their allies will try to enforce for buyers of Russian oil. The New York Times, Friday, 2 December 2022:

  • Zelensky proposes preventing Orthodox churches ‘affiliated’ with Moscow from operating in Ukraine.

  • Here is how the so-called price cap on Russian oil will work.

  • Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia, contacts his family after weeks of silence.

  • Ukrainian embassies receive packages containing animal eyes, the Foreign Ministry says.

  • A Zelensky aide says that up to 13,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed.

  • Germany’s leader, in a call with Putin, vows continued support for Ukraine.

  • Amid Ukraine’s calls to ban his church, the Russian Orthodox leader reiterates his support for the war.

Trump expresses solidarity with January 6 rioters who stormed the Capitol, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Friday, 2 December 2022: “Former president Donald Trump expressed solidarity with the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, sending a video of support to a fundraising event Thursday night hosted by a group called the Patriot Freedom Project that is supporting families of those being prosecuted by the government. ‘People have been treated unconstitutionally, in my opinion, and very, very unfairly, and we’re going to get to the bottom of it,’ he said in the video, which appeared to have been shot at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla. ‘It’s the weaponization of the Department of Justice, and we can’t let this happen in our country.’ Trump, who last month announced a 2024 White House bid, pledged that in coming months, he would take a close look at what he characterized as ‘a very unfair situation.’ The Patriot Freedom Project advertises itself as ‘a non-profit organization providing legal, financial, mental-health, and spiritual support for individuals and their families — including young children — who are suffering at the hands of a weaponized justice system.’ Trump repeatedly has made clear that he stands with the mob that stormed the Capitol to stop Congress from counting the electoral votes for Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election. In September, Trump said he would issue full pardons and a government apology to the rioters, some of whom violently attacked law enforcement to stop the democratic transfer of power.”

Prosecutors Assert Trump Approved Key Aspect of a Tax Fraud Scheme at His Family Business. Jurors at the Trump Organization trial will begin deliberating Monday after prosecutors presented a document they said showed that the former president had sanctioned tax fraud. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich and Lola Fadulu, Friday, 2 December 2022: “Donald J. Trump approved a key aspect of a tax fraud scheme orchestrated by several top executives at his family business, prosecutors said on Friday in their closing arguments at the company’s trial, an explosive claim as the jury prepares to deliberate next week. Prosecutors have not charged Mr. Trump with participating in the scheme, through which, they say, the executives were compensated in off-the-books perks so that they could evade taxes. But on Friday, Joshua Steinglass, a prosecutor, told the jury that Mr. Trump had signed off on part of the scheme, and that one document proved it. ‘Mr. Trump is explicitly sanctioning tax fraud,’ Mr. Steinglass said, referring to a paper signed by the former president that showed an executive asking that his salary be reduced. ‘That’s what this document shows,’ Mr. Steinglass added, arguing that the lower salary corresponded with the perks the executive, Matthew Calamari, had received. Although prosecutors have shown that Mr. Trump knew about some of the perks his executives were getting, his awareness of the extent of the scheme is murky. Defense lawyers objected strongly to Mr. Steinglass’s statement, and the judge, Justice Juan Merchan of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, sustained their objection. Still, jurors heard what Mr. Steinglass said.”

President Joe Biden condemned antisemitism and took an apparent shot at former President Donald Trump days after he dined with rapper Ye and white nationalist Nick Fuentes, CNBC, Emma Kinery, Friday, 2 December 2022: “President Joe Biden denounced antisemitism and took a veiled jab at Donald Trump days after the former president dined with rapper Ye, who has made a string of recent antisemitic comments, and white nationalist Nick Fuentes. ‘I just want to make a few things clear,’ Biden posted Friday on his official Twitter account. The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure. And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides. Silence is complicity.’ The message comes a day after the rapper, formerly known as Kanye West, told right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones ‘I like Hitler’ during an antisemitic rant on Jones’ InfoWars show. Ye also tweeted out a swastika in a Star of David, prompting a suspension from Twitter. Trump, the presumptive frontrunner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, had dinner last week with Ye and Fuentes at his Mar-a-Lago club, sparking widespread condemnation. Ye’s comments have only become more inflammatory since the meal, and Trump has not yet disavowed his connection with the rapper.”

Hate Speech’s Rise on Twitter Is Unprecedented, Researchers Find. Problematic content and formerly barred accounts have increased sharply in the short time since Elon Musk took over, researchers said. The New York Times, Sheera Frenkel and Kate Conger, Friday, 2 December 2022: “Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day. Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day. And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site. These findings — from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups that study online platforms — provide the most comprehensive picture to date of how conversations on Twitter have changed since Mr. Musk completed his $44 billion deal for the company in late October. While the numbers are relatively small, researchers said the increases were atypically high. The shift in speech is just the tip of a set of changes on the service under Mr. Musk. Accounts that Twitter used to regularly remove — such as those that identify as part of the Islamic State, which were banned after the U.S. government classified ISIS as a terror group — have come roaring back. Accounts associated with QAnon, a vast far-right conspiracy theory, have paid for and received verified status on Twitter, giving them a sheen of legitimacy.” See also, Current and former federal officials are warning that a surge in Twitter antisemitism and hate speech unites extremist fringe and encourages violence. Online comments often lead to real-world actions, social media experts warn. The Washington Post, Joseph Menn, published on Saturday, 3 December 2022: “Current and former federal officials are warning that a surge in hate speech and disinformation about Jews on Twitter is uniting and popularizing some of the same extremists who have helped push people to engage in violent protests including the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress. The officials are predicting that Twitter will contribute to more violence in the months ahead, citing the proliferation of extreme content, including support for genocidal Nazis by celebrities with wide followings and the reemergence of QAnon proselytizers and white nationalists. Since billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk bought Twitter just over a month ago, he has slashed more than half the staff, including most of the people who made judgment calls about what counts as impermissible slurs against religious or ethnic groups.”

Released Twitter emails show how employees debated how to handle 2020 New York Post Hunter Biden Story, CNN Business, Brian Fung, Friday, 2 December 2022: “For days, Twitter owner Elon Musk had teased a massive bombshell disclosure based on internal company documents that he claimed would reveal ‘what really happened’ inside Twitter when it decided to temporarily suppress a 2020 New York Post story about Hunter Biden and his laptop. But on Friday, instead of releasing a trove of documents to the public, Musk’s big reveal pointed to a series of tweets by the journalist Matt Taibbi, who had been provided with emails that largely corroborated what was already known about the incident. Attracting thousands of retweets, Taibbi’s winding tweet thread reaffirmed how, in the initial hours after the Post story went live, Twitter employees grappled with fears that it could have been the result of a Russian hacking operation. It showed employees on Twitter’s legal, policy and communications teams debating – and at times disagreeing – over whether to restrict the article under the company’s hacked materials policy, weeks before the 2020 election, where Joe Biden, Hunter Biden’s father, ran against then-President Donald Trump. While some questioned the basis for the decision and warned that Twitter would be inviting allegations of anti-conservative bias, others within the company, including senior officials, said the circumstances surrounding the Post story were unclear and recommended caution, according to screenshots of internal communications shared by Taibbi.”

Kanye West Is Suspended From Twitter After Posting a Swastika. The tweet was deleted before the rapper’s account was shut down. Twitter’s chief executive, Elon Musk, said the post violated a rule against inciting violence. The New York Times, John Yoon, Friday, 2 December 2022: “Elon Musk, Twitter’s chief executive, said late Thursday that Kanye West would be suspended from Twitter after the rapper and fashion designer tweeted an image of a swastika inside the Star of David. Mr. Musk said the post violated the social media outlet’s rule against the incitement of violence. The tweet was deleted shortly before Mr. West’s account became no longer accessible. His page was soon replaced with a label: ‘Account suspended.’ So continued the controversy stirred by Mr. West — who goes by Ye — and his string of antisemitic remarks on social media. Instagram blocked him from posting after he suggested on the platform that Sean Combs, the rapper known as Diddy, was being controlled by Jewish people. Ye has also lashed out against Jewish people via Twitter. The indefinite Twitter suspension happened on the same day that Ye had appeared on a podcast hosted by the Infowars conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones, during which he told Mr. Jones, ‘I like Hitler.'”

Former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone and his deputy Patrick Philbin testify to January 6 criminal grand jury, CNN Politics, Casey Gannon, Katelyn Polantz, and Kristen Holmes, Friday, 2 December 2022: “Former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone and deputy counsel Patrick Philbin testified to a federal grand jury for several hours in Washington, DC, on Friday, indicating the Justice Department had compelled the men to answer more questions in the January 6, 2021, criminal investigation despite challenges from Donald Trump’s legal team. The January 6 grand jury activity is the latest indication the investigation – now led by special counsel Jack Smith – has pushed in recent months to unearth new details about direct conversations with the former president and advice given to him after the election.”

Alan Dershowitz and Other Counsel for Failed Arizona Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Kari Lake Were Sanctioned for Making False and Unsupported Assertions in a Lawsuit Seeking to Change the State’s Voting Mechanisms Ahead of the 2022 Election, Bloomberg Law, Friday, 2 December 2022: “Judge John J. Tuchi of the US District Court for the District of Arizona granted a Rule 11 sanctions request by Maricopa County, which argued that Lake’s claims were ‘unfounded, asserted without a reasonable inquiry, and asserted for an improper purpose.’ Lake and Arizona House Member Mark Finchem (R) filed suit in April, seeking to prohibit the use of electronic voting machines in Arizona’s 2022 midterm election, which was held Nov. 8. In addition to Dershowitz of Alan Dershowitz Consulting LLC, Lake is represented by Parker Daniels Kibort LLC and Olsen Law PC. Tuchi said that Lake’s claims in support of the notion that the electronic voting machines certified for use in Arizona are ‘potentially unsecure’ were ‘false, misleading, and unsupported,’ and that they warrant sanctions under Rule 11 and 28 U.S.C. § 1927. The court further said the ‘claims for relief did not have an adequate factual or legal basis grounded in a reasonable pre-filing inquiry.’ Lake’s counsel also acted at least recklessly in prolonging the proceedings by seeking a preliminary injunction based on the frivolous claims, Tuchi wrote Thursday.”


Saturday, 3 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian defense minister meets with Belarusian president; Kremlin decries price cap on oil, The Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt, Erin Cunningham, Katerian Ang, Adela Suliman, Emily Rauhala, Andrea Salcedo, and Meryl Kornfield, Saturday, 3 December 2022: “Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on Saturday, a publicized meeting that underscores their nations’ military alliance and preparedness for a potential escalation in the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Lukashenko called Russia’s and Belarus’s forces ‘a single army’ that is ready to ‘fight to either the last Ukrainian or the last Pole,’ Belarusian state-news outlet Belta reported Saturday. Belarus has hosted Russian military members and supported their attacks in Ukraine since the early days of the war. Meanwhile, Moscow on Saturday denounced an international price cap imposed on Russian oil, describing it as a ‘dangerous and illegitimate instrument.’ The Group of Seven nations and Australia agreed a day earlier to cap the price they pay for Russian oil at $60 per barrel, although it is not clear whether the move will seriously hit Moscow’s finances in the near term, since the cap is close to current prices. The cap was good news but did not go far enough and would be better lowered to $30 per barrel ‘to destroy the enemy’s economy quicker,’ Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak said Saturday. In his nightly address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the limit a ‘weak position,’ considering Russia has already caused huge losses to all countries of the world by deliberately destabilizing the energy market.

  • Lukashenko reiterated his nation’s commitment to Russia’s military goals Saturday, saying in his meeting with Shoigu that ‘Both our and your officers train Belarusian and Russian soldiers, so that, if necessary, our defenders of the Union State could repel any aggression.’ Neither Ukraine nor its allies have attacked Belarus, though Lukashenko has insisted that Western forces are gunning for his nation and Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was to have met this week with his Belarusian counterpart, Vladimir Makei, who died suddenly last week.
  • ‘Russian oil will continue to be in demand,’ Moscow’s Embassy in the United States said Saturday while decrying a Western price cap as ‘a reshaping of the basic principles of free markets.’ It added that ‘from now on no country is immune to the introduction of all sorts of “caps” on its exports, rolled out for political reasons.’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia ‘will not accept the ceiling on oil prices.’
  • The Biden administration called the oil price cap ‘welcome news,’ even as financial analysts said the current cap was so high that it may not hit the Kremlin’s war chest. The cap will involve regular reviews to make sure the ceiling stays at least 5 percent below average market prices for Russian seaborne crude oil, and Biden administration officials have stressed that the cap will allow Russian oil flows to continue but ensure that Moscow cannot benefit from a price surge.
  • The cap is set to be implemented starting Monday, the day the European Union’s embargo on Russian seaborne crude goes into force. The idea of the cap, pitched hard by U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, is to limit how much Putin can make on the oil he diverts elsewhere in the world without creating a massive disruption in global supply.
  • The U.S. is ‘disappointed’ Russia postponed negotiations over a nuclear arms treaty but remains ready to meet, the State Department said Friday. The Kremlin postponed talks on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty — the sole remaining strategic nuclear arms control treaty between Washington and Moscow — this week, citing ‘political reasons’ and Washington’s weapons supplies to Ukraine.
  • A wealthy Russian businessman was arrested Thursday at his multimillion-pound home in London on alleged financial crimes including money laundering, the National Crime Agency said in a statement Saturday. The 58-year-old man, whom authorities did not identify, is believed to have conspired to defraud the Home Office and conspired to commit perjury, the agency said. He was released on bail. In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, British authorities have cracked down on Russian oligarchs with ties to Putin.
  • Putin is expected ‘eventually’ to visit the Donbas region, Peskov told state media, without giving a timeline. This would be Putin’s first known visit to the eastern Ukrainian territory since his full-scale invasion began in February. Russia illegally annexed the Donbas region in late September despite its forces not having full control there. The Donbas region holds a significant meaning for Putin because it was controlled by the Russian Empire in the mid-18th century.
  • A Banksy mural near Kyiv was almost stolen, the regional governor of the capital said. Thieves tried to remove the artwork by the anonymous British graffiti artist painted amid the rubble in Ukraine. One person was detained and the artwork is being protected by police, said Oleksiy Kuleba on Telegram, calling the images ‘a symbol of our struggle against the enemy.’ Banksy is one of the world’s best-known street artists, and his work has sold for millions of dollars.
  • Several Ukrainian embassies and European government buildings received ‘bloody packages’ containing animal eyes and letter bombs, in what Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Friday was a ‘well-planned’ campaign of intimidation and terror. Outposts in Spain, Italy and elsewhere are stepping up their security in response.
  • Putin blamed “Western states, including Germany,” for Ukraine’s refusal to negotiate any matters relating to the war, in a phone call Friday with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Ukraine has said it is willing to negotiate but that Russia first needs to withdraw. The Russian president also accused the West of ‘pumping up the Kyiv regime with weapons.’ The conversation was the first between an E.U. leader and Putin since the Kremlin’s recent string of battlefield defeats.
  • Kremlin and White House officials minimized the idea of talks between Putin and President Biden. Earlier this week, Biden suggested that he was prepared to meet with Putin if the latter was serious about pulling his troops out of Ukraine. But Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, dismissed that Friday, saying the United States must recognize the Ukrainian territories Russia annexed in September. Later Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that ‘the president has said he has no plans to speak with Mr. Putin since Mr. Putin has shown no signs that he’s willing to end the brutal war against the people of Ukraine.’

Trump calls for the termination of the Constitution in Truth Social post, CNN Politics, Kristen Holmes, Saturday, 3 December 2022: “Former President Donald Trump called for the termination of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 election and reinstate him to power Saturday in a continuation of his election denialism and pushing of fringe conspiracy theories. ‘Do you throw the Presidential Election Results of 2020 OUT and declare the RIGHTFUL WINNER, or do you have a NEW ELECTION? A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,’ Trump wrote in a post on the social network Truth Social and accused ‘Big Tech’ of working closely with Democrats. ‘Our great “Founders” did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!’ Trump’s post came after the release of internal Twitter emails showing deliberation in 2020 over a New York Post story about material found on Hunter Biden’s laptop.” See also, White House rebukes Trump’s suggestion to suspend Constitution over 2020 election, The Washington Post, Karoun Demirjian and Toluse Olorunnipa, Saturday, 3 December 2022: “The White House issued a stern rebuke on Saturday after former president Donald Trump suggested suspending the Constitution in his ongoing crusade to discredit the results of the 2020 election. ‘Attacking the Constitution and all it stands for is anathema to the soul of our nation and should be universally condemned,’ White House spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement, calling the Constitution a ‘sacrosanct document.’ ‘You cannot only love America when you win,’ he added. Trump’s message on the Truth Social platform reiterated the baseless claims he has made since 2020 that the election was stolen. But he went further by suggesting that the country abandon one of its founding documents. ‘A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,’ Trump wrote. The post came a day after Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, claimed he would expose how Twitter engaged in ‘free speech suppression’ in the run-up to the 2020 election. But his ‘Twitter Files’ did not show that the tech giant bent to the will of Democrats. ‘UNPRECEDENTED FRAUD REQUIRES UNPRECEDENTED CURE!’ Trump followed up in another post on Saturday afternoon on Truth Social.”

Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter Files’ ignite divisions, but they haven’t changed minds. The company’s new chief executive detailed Twitter’s decision-making around a controversial story. The Washington Post, Cat Zakrzewski and Faiz Siddiqui, Saturday, 3 December 2022: “It was billed as a bombshell: Elon Musk, after rifling through his new company’s internal files, would finally expose how Twitter engaged in ‘free speech suppression’ in the critical run up to the 2020 election. ‘This will be awesome,’ Musk tweeted, teasing the announcement with a popcorn emoji. But by the time the dust settled Saturday, even some conservatives were grumbling that it was a dud. Musk’s Twitter Files produced no smoking gun showing that the tech giant had bent to the will of Democrats. A handful of screenshots from 2020, posted over the course of two hours Friday evening in a disjointed, roughly 40-tweet thread, show the San Francisco company debating a decision to restrict sharing of a controversial New York Post story about the son of then Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The Twitter thread, based on internal communications posted by Substack writer Matt Taibbi, showed the company independently decided to limit the spread of the article, without Democratic politicians, the Biden campaign or FBI exerting control over the social media network. In fact, the only input from a sitting politician that Taibbi noted was from Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna (D), who told Twitter executives they should distribute the story, regardless of the potential consequences for his party. ‘I’m not persuaded these are anything close to a bombshell,’ said Jameel Jaffer, the director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, in an interview.”


Sunday, 4 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Few are crossing the Dnieper River into Kherson; U.S. intel chief says ‘reduced tempo’ of war to continue, The Washington Post, Samantha Schmidt, Serhii Korolchuk, Kendra Nichols, Annabelle Timsit, Ben Brasch, and Nick Parker, Sunday, 4 December 2022: “On Saturday, more than three weeks after Ukraine regained control of this city, Ukrainian officials lifted a ban on crossing the Dnieper River, encouraging residents on the occupied eastern bank to flee to Kherson. But those hoping to cross in the opposite direction remained barred Sunday. Few have taken up Ukrainian officials’ offer, though one person was killed by a gunshot while trying. Ukrainian forces have reportedly crossed the river onto the eastern bank, and Russian forces have battered Kherson with shelling from the east in recent days. The United States expects the ‘reduced tempo’ of fighting in Ukraine to continue over coming months, National Intelligence Director Avril Haines told a panel on Saturday. Her assessment comes as the Institute for the Study of War, a D.C.-based think tank, said that mud has prevented large vehicles from traversing eastern Ukrainian terrain during much of the past week, though the weather probably will become more conducive to combat in the winter.

  • Ukrainian authorities offered no assistance to those crossing the river. The Kherson City Council announced the death of a woman, 65, who was killed crossing the river with her husband, who survived. Local authorities did not respond immediately to requests for more information, and they did not say whether Russian or Ukrainian forces had fired the shots.
  • There has been a ‘slowdown’ in fighting following Russia’s retreat from Kherson and that is ‘likely to be what we see in the coming months,’ Haines told the Reagan National Defense Forum in an interview with NBC News’s Andrea Mitchell on Saturday. ‘Most of the fighting right now is around Bakhmut and the Donetsk area,’ Haines added.
  • Russia and Ukraine will both probably ‘try to refit, resupply, in a sense, reconstitute’ in the spring, so they are prepared for the other side’s counteroffensive, Haines said. However, she added that U.S. intelligence officials ‘actually have a fair amount of skepticism as to whether or not the Russians will be in fact prepared to do that. I think more optimistically for the Ukrainians in that time frame.’ As The Washington Post has reported, Ukraine’s military appears to be pondering its next move.
  • The ground in Luhansk will soon harden as temperatures drop, according to its regional governor, Serhiy Haidai. Troops in the area have been sinking into the mud, Haidai said Friday on Telegram, hindering the advances of Ukrainian forces. The Institute for the Study of War said Saturday that December is ‘one of the most optimal times of year for mechanized maneuver warfare in this region.’
  • Russia will not sell oil to nations that cap its prices, according to a Kremlin official. Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said a Western move to penalize Russia’s seaborne oil was ‘interference,’ according to Reuters. ‘We will sell oil and petroleum products only to those countries that will work with us under market conditions, even if we have to reduce production a little,’ he added.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Moscow Insists It Will Not comply with Oil Price Cap. Moscow says it will ignore the G7’s limit on the price of Russian oil, which takes effect Monday, even if it means cutting production. The New York Times, Sunday, 4 December 2022:

  • The Kremlin’s defiance adds to questions over whether the price cap will work.

  • Amid a churning oil market, OPEC and Russia leave production quotas unchanged.

  • With a raised flag, Ukraine hints at a continued push in the south.

  • Security guarantees for Russia are an ‘essential’ part of any peace talks, Macron says.

Trump’s Call for ‘Termination’ of Constitution Draws Rebukes. Republicans were still cautious–or silent entirely–about shunning the former president-turned-2024 candidate. The New York Times, Maggie Astor, Sunday, 4 December 2022: “An extraordinary antidemocratic statement from former President Donald J. Trump, suggesting the ‘termination’ of the Constitution to overturn the 2020 election, drew a degree of bipartisan condemnation over the weekend, with a flood from Democrats and a trickle from Republicans. But it did not appear to do any more than similar past actions in prompting Republican officials to rule out supporting Mr. Trump in 2024. Inaccurately describing the contents of a just-released report about Twitter’s moderation decisions during the 2020 campaign, Mr. Trump again demanded that the 2020 election be overturned or rerun, for the first time explicitly calling to set aside the supreme law of the land. ‘A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,’ he wrote in a post on Saturday on his social network, Truth Social. Mr. Trump was responding to a report Friday night about Twitter employees’ internal deliberations over the company’s decision in 2020 to block links to a New York Post article that described emails found on a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son. The report, a Twitter thread by the writer Matt Taibbi, also criticized the fact that the Biden campaign had a back channel to ask Twitter to remove certain tweets, though it noted that Republicans had such a back channel, too. The explicit suggestion of suspending the Constitution was astonishing even by the standards of Mr. Trump, who has spent the past two years spreading lies about the 2020 election, which he lost, and promoting various illegal mechanisms for overturning it.” See also, Republican lawmakers largely silent after Trump suggests ‘termination’ of Constitution, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Sunday, 4 December 2022: “Donald Trump’s suggestion this weekend that the U.S. Constitution should be terminated in response to his baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen drew a largely muted response from Republicans, the latest sign that many GOP officials remain reluctant to take on the former president even as he challenges the country’s founding precepts. Trump’s online posts Saturday — including a message in which he wrote that ‘UNPRECEDENTED FRAUD REQUIRES UNPRECEDENTED CURE!’ — represented a significant escalation in his attacks on American institutions and democratic norms, one that scholars said must be heeded as a sign of how far he is willing to go to regain power. ‘A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,’ Trump posted on the Truth Social platform. ‘Our great “Founders” did not want, and would not condone, False & Fraudulent Elections!’ But only a handful of Republican lawmakers have joined the White House and Democrats in condemning Trump’s assertions. Representatives for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) did not respond on Sunday to requests for comment. Last month, McCarthy announced that Republicans would read every word of the Constitution out loud on the floor of the House when the GOP takes control of the chamber in January. Some GOP lawmakers who were asked on Sunday political shows about Trump’s latest missive said they disagreed with the former president. However, most still hesitated to say that they would oppose Trump if he becomes the GOP’s 2024 presidential nominee.” See also, Are the Frogs Boiled? Civil Discourse with Joyce Vance, Joyce Vance, Sunday, 4 December 2022: “Early on in the Trump administration, it was popular to use the metaphor of frogs being boiled. The idea was that people didn’t perceive the seriousness of the threat Trump posed because, like frogs who are put into a pot of cold water with the temperature raised gradually, the danger wouldn’t be perceived until it was too late. Frogs, boiled. Yesterday, an increasingly deranged and desperate former president wrote this post on his ironically named social media platform, Truth Social.


‘…the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.’ Trump is calling for a coup. Again. He’s calling for the end of American democracy. It is, of course, nothing new from him. But it is done here in a precise manner. It is not open to a benign interpretation. His intent is clear. It’s in print. So the real question today is for elected officials in the Republican party. Do you still support Trump? We’re entitled to know. They work for us, too. All too often, elected officials get away with ducking. They avoid the cameras, they say it was a joke or that Trump didn’t mean it. They refuse to hold public meetings with constituents to avoid being asked point blank questions. Sometimes they condemn Trump, as on January 6, but then return to the fold. They know they can do that, because the media moves on with the news cycle. And they get away with it. So this, what’s happened now, has to be a job for all of us. It’s civil discourse. Let’s ask our elected officials where they stand and stay on them until they answer. Or not. Because sometimes a repeated, documented, failure to respond tells us what we need to know.”


Monday, 5 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Kremlin says Ukrainian drones attacked bases deep in Russia; Russian missile strikes cause power outages in Ukraine, The Washington Post, Jeff Stein, Annabelle Timsit, Rachel Pannett, Emily Rauhala, Claire Parker, Alex Horton, and Maham Javaid, Monday, 5 December 2022: “Moscow has accused Ukraine of using drones to attack two military installations inside Russia, where three military personnel were killed, on Monday. Kyiv did not respond to Moscow’s allegations. If confirmed, these would be the deepest strikes by Ukraine in Russia. Shortly after the explosions, Russia launched a barrage of missiles at multiple Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, prompting residents to seek shelter and cutting off power and water in some regions. Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces carried out a ‘massive strike’ on Ukrainian military targets using high-precision weapons, according to a Telegram statement.

  • Moscow claimed Ukrainian drones struck two Russian military installations hundreds of miles from the Ukrainian border, The Washington Post reported on Monday. One strike was at an airfield that served as a base for bombers allegedly used in Moscow’s relentless airstrikes on Ukraine’s critical civilian infrastructure. In the barrage that followed the drone attack, Russia launched 70 missiles on Ukraine, most of which were shot down, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly speech.
  • Emergency shutdowns were planned across Ukraine as authorities worked to restore power in certain regions, state electricity operator Ukrenergo said Monday. A Russian attack that damaged two infrastructure sites in Odessa also cut off the city’s water supply and some electric public transport in the region, according to officials. In coming days, about half of the Kyiv region will be without electricity, Oleksiy Kuleba, the region’s military leader, said on Telegram.
  • The European Union’s embargo on seaborne Russian crude and the Group of Seven’s price cap on oil went into effect Monday, sending oil markets into uncharted territory as the West seeks to hit Russia’s oil revenue without causing price spikes. The Kremlin will still sell oil to countries that ‘will work with us on market conditions,’ Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak told the Russian news agency Tass.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin drove a Mercedes across a repaired bridge in Crimea on Monday, Russian media reported. The Crimean Bridge, also called the Kerch Bridge, connects mainland Russia to the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed illegally in 2014. Russia has been racing to repair damage caused by a powerful explosion in early October. Moscow accused Kyiv of orchestrating a truck bombing; Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the blast.
  • Ukraine and Russia are not negotiating directly regarding the security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the Russian foreign ministry said Monday. Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, had said last week that the officials from the two countries were coming to an agreement.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukrainian Drones Hit 2 Bases Deep in Russia. The brazen attacks escalated the war. Hours later, Ukraine said that Moscow had launched a new barrage of airstrikes. The New York Times, Monday, 5 December 2022:

  • Ukraine attacks military bases hundreds of miles inside Russia.

  • Russia fired a barrage of missiles across Ukraine on Monday.

  • When the air raid sirens ring out, residents of Kyiv head underground.

  • Putin inspects a bridge linking Russia and Crimea, two months after a damaging explosion.

  • A woman is shot and killed trying to cross into Ukrainian-held territory in Kherson.

  • An E.U. embargo of Russian oil and the G7’s price cap take effect.

  • Ukraine will auction a yacht seized from a Putin ally.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: new Russian strikes, oil price cap, no Biden-Putin talks, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 5 December 2022: “As the week begins, here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch this week: New measures targeting Russian oil revenue took effect Monday. They include a European Union embargo on most Russian oil imports and a Russian oil price cap. Ukraine will be working again to repair its energy grid after new Russian strikes Monday. U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman is touring Europe this week, including visits to London, Rome, Paris, Berlin and Prague. The United Nations high commissioner on human rights is due to give a news conference Wednesday after a trip to several Ukrainian locations. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to give remarks virtually on Wednesday for a discussion with the United States Institute of Peace on how to hold Russian officials accountable. What happened last week: The U.S. is helping Ukraine bolster its war-battered energy system. In Romania for NATO meetings on Nov. 29, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced $53 million for Ukraine to acquire key equipment for its electricity grid. The European Union has frozen billions of euros of Russian money and wants to set up a United Nations-backed court to try Russia’s alleged crimes in Ukraine, EU officials said. The Russia-Ukraine war was a central focus of French President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to Washington. President Biden said Dec. 1 the U.S., France and NATO allies stand strong against Russia’s war. And the two leaders remarked to reporters about the idea of speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Western countries reached a deal for a price cap on Russian oil, and the EU is banning most Russian oil imports. The $60 per barrel price ceiling and embargo are aimed at hurting Moscow’s fuel revenues but some analysts and officials are skeptical the efforts will work. The Kremlin said ‘nyet’ to the idea of talks with President Biden, after the U.S. leader remarked he’d be willing to have contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin also said Putin had a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, in which the Russian leader defended his assault on Ukraine’s energy grid. The U.S. sees a ‘reduced tempo’ in fighting in Ukraine and remains optimistic about the prospects for a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the spring, the national intelligence chief said Dec. 3.”

Supreme Court Seems Ready to Back Web Designer Opposed to Same-Sex Marriage. The justices are expected to settle a question left open in 2018: how to reconcile claims of religious liberty with laws barring discrimination based on sexual orientation. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 5 December 2022: “The Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed prepared on Monday to rule that a graphic designer in Colorado has a free speech right under the First Amendment to refuse to create websites celebrating same-sex weddings because of her Christian faith, despite a state law that forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation. Such a ruling would be the latest in a string of victories for religious people and groups, especially Christian ones, at a court that has shifted to the right in recent years. It would also chip away at the right to same-sex marriage established in 2015, which two current justices have urged their colleagues to reconsider. Several justices leaning in favor of the designer appeared to be searching for limiting principles so as not to upend all sorts of anti-discrimination laws…. The bottom line … seemed to be that the court would not require the designer to create customized websites celebrating same-sex marriage despite the state anti-discrimination law. The court’s three liberal members expressed deep qualms about the damage a ruling in favor of the designer could do to gay rights and to efforts to combat discrimination.”


Tuesday, 6 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine; Russia hit by a third drone strike, signaling strengthened Ukrainian ability, The Washington Post, David L. Stern, Erin Cunningham, Mary Ilyushina, Jeff Stein, Kelly Kasulis Cho, Jennifer Hassan, Miriam Berger, and Justine McDaniel, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “Russia on Tuesday was hit with the third drone attack on its soil in 24 hours, an apparent escalation of the already full-scale drone war with Ukraine. All three strikes were carried out by Ukrainian drones, said a senior Ukrainian official Tuesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation. After reports of the third attack, the State Department said the U.S. had not enabled or urged Ukraine to strike Russia. The drones reached far into Russia, signaling an emboldened Ukrainian military’s ability to hit its enemy outside the active combat zone and exposing vulnerabilities in Russia’s air defenses. The Tuesday incident caused a fire at an oil facility near an airfield in Russia’s Kursk oblast, which borders Ukraine, regional governor Roman Starovoit said on Telegram. The strike came a day after explosions at two military installations deep inside Russia, including an airfield that served as a base for bombers allegedly used in Moscow’s strikes on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. Three Russian service members died in those blasts, which Russia’s Defense Ministry blamed on Ukraine after intercepting low-flying drones in the area.

  • ‘These were Ukrainian drones — very successful, very effective,’ the senior Ukrainian official said of the strikes, which signal a potentially serious security lapse by Russia. The official added that Moscow has ‘sowed the seeds of anger, and they’ll reap the whirlwind.’ He said he could not comment on whether the drones were launched from Ukrainian territory or whether special forces were involved.
  • The U.S. ‘have neither encouraged nor enabled the Ukrainians to strike inside of Russia,’ Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said, speaking to reporters during a U.S.-Australia event in Washington. The United States has provided Ukraine with defensive supplies to use against Russia on its own territory; citing ongoing Russian attacks on Ukraine and its energy grid, Blinken said the U.S. remained determined to ensure Ukraine could defend itself. The U.S. is ‘absolutely not’ working to prevent Ukraine from developing its own ability to strike Russia, said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who appeared with Blinken.
  • Russia appears to have run out of Iranian drones, and there is no sign that fresh supplies are on the way, a Western official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, said Tuesday. Russia has not used Iranian drones in its attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure since mid-November, and there is also no indication that a proposed deal to manufacture the drones in Russia is near completion, the official said. The slow-moving, noisy drones have in any case proved increasingly ineffective as Ukrainian air defenses have adapted, Western and Ukrainian officials say.
  • Russia said there are no direct negotiations between Moscow and Kyiv on the issue of a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, after Rafael Mariano Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said he was nearing an agreement between the two sides to safeguard the facility. ‘We are discussing the possible parameters of a declaration on the establishment of a zone of protection,’ said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. But under no circumstances would Russian forces withdraw from the plant, she added.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. State Department Walks Careful Line on Ukrainian Drone Attacks Inside Russia. After two days of drone attacks inside Russia, a State Department spokesman said the United States was not ‘enabling Ukraine to strike beyond its borders.’ The New York Times, Tuesday, 6 December 2022:

  • The U.S. stops short of condemning attacks inside Russia, but says it didn’t encourage them.

  • The latest drone strike hits an oil facility near an air base 80 miles from the Ukrainian border.

  • Experts say it’s likely old Soviet surveillance drones were used to strike inside Russia.

  • Western officials see little immediate threat of Russia escalating over strikes within its territory.

  • A timeline of attacks on Russian territory during the Ukraine war.

  • Embassies in Denmark and Romania receive ‘dangerous parcels,’ Ukraine says.

  • Russia strikes Ukraine’s energy grid on one of the coldest days of the year.

Senator Raphael Warnick Defeats His Republican Challenger, Herschel Walker, in Georgia’s Senate Runoff, The New York Times, Jonathan Weisman and Maya King, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “Senator Raphael Warnock defeated his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, in a runoff election that capped a grueling and costly campaign, securing a 51-seat Democratic majority and giving the first Black senator from Georgia a full six-year term. Mr. Warnock’s victory was called by The Associated Press late Tuesday evening as the senator’s lead was expanding to 51 percent compared with Mr. Walker’s 49 percent. It ended a marathon midterm election cycle in which Democrats defied history, limiting the loss of House seats that typically greets the party that holds the White House, and now gaining a seat in the Senate. Throughout one of the most expensive Senate races in American history, Mr. Warnock used the cadences and lofty language he honed as the senior pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church to ask Georgia voters to rise above the acrimony and division of Donald J. Trump’s politics…. The defeat of Mr. Walker, who was handpicked by Mr. Trump, culminated a disastrous year for the former president, who set himself up as a Republican kingmaker, only to watch his Senate candidates in Nevada, Arizona, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire — as well as his picks for governor in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia — go on to defeat in primaries or in last month’s general election.” See also, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock beats Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia runoff, increasing Democrats’ Senate majority, The Washington Post, Sabrina Rodriguez, Dylan Welles, Matthew Brown, and Hannah Knowles, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “Democrat Raphael G. Warnock on Tuesday was projected to win reelection to represent Georgia in the Senate, defeating Republican Herschel Walker in a tight runoff and expanding his party’s slim majority in the chamber. It was a hard-fought victory for Democrats in an increasingly purple state that was central to the party’s gains last election cycle and is expected to be a key battleground in 2024. Rural turnout for Walker, 60, a former Georgia football star, was not enough to offset a strong Atlanta-area performance by Warnock, 53, a pastor at a historic church in the city. Warnock’s win gave Democrats their 51st Senate seat — handing them more leverage in a chamber that for two years has been evenly split, with Vice President Harris empowered to break ties and two swing-vote Democrats able to make or break their party’s plans. The result also capped a disappointing midterm cycle for Republicans, who expected a red wave but fell short of retaking the Senate and reclaimed the House majority by a margin of just a few seats. Walker, a first-time candidate ridiculed for gaffes, accused of serious misconduct and elevated by former president Donald Trump, exemplified broader Republican concerns that their nominees — and Trump — undermined their chances. His loss spurred more calls to rethink the party’s direction and strategy.” See also, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock defeats Republican Herschel Walker in Georgia runoff, NPR, Sam Gringlas, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock has won a full term in the U.S. Senate, defeating Republican football legend Herschel Walker in a campaign that tested Georgia’s position as a purple state and spurred debates about race, celebrity and partisan politics. Warnock’s victory gives Democrats a 51-49 Senate majority, ending their reliance on the vice president to break ties in an evenly divided chamber and improving the party’s prospects for holding its majority in 2024. ‘After a hard-fought campaign, or should I say campaigns, it is my honor to utter the four most powerful words ever spoken in a democracy: the people have spoken,’ Warnock told supporters gathered in a hotel ballroom lit in the campaign’s signature gold and blue. More than 3.5 million voters cast ballots in the runoff, down from about 3.9 million in November. In an election that hinged as much on the personalities of the two candidates as the policies they promoted, Warnock embraced his identity as a pastor to draw contrasts with his opponent, whose candidacy was dogged by controversy. Throughout the campaign, Walker stumbled to respond to allegations of domestic violence and claims that he paid for ex-girlfriends’ abortions, despite expressing support for a nationwide ban on the procedure. He was also prone to gaffes and false claims, exaggerating his record in academics and business and displaying a loose grasp of policy.” See also, Georgia Senate Runoff Live Updates: Democrats Expand Slim Senate Majority as Warnock Beats Walker, The New York Times, Tuesday, 6 December 2022. See also, Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock defeats Republican Candidate Herschel Walker, giving Democrats a 51-49 majority in the Senate. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Greg Bluestein and Shannon McCaffrey, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock fended off a challenge from Republican Herschel Walker to win a full six-year term that broadens the Democratic majority in the chamber after a turbulent runoff campaign that sharpened partisan divides in one of the nation’s most politically competitive states. Warnock’s victory Tuesday was a rare bright spot for Democrats in Georgia after a midterm that ended in triumph for every other statewide Republican candidate, and his win prevented an outright reversal just two years after Democrats swept the U.S. Senate runoffs and helped Joe Biden win the White House. The $401 million race was the nation’s most expensive. The victory gives Democrats 51 seats in the Senate, meaning they can claim a majority on committees and exert more influence without having to depend exclusively on Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote.”

Trump Organization Trial: Trump’s Company Is Guilty of Tax Fraud, a Blow to the Firm and the Man. Prosecutors did not indict the former president, but they invoked him throughout the monthlong trial, The Trump Organization had been his springboard to fame and power. The New York Times, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, William K. Rashbaum, and Lola Fadulu, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “The Trump Organization, the family real estate business that made Donald J. Trump a billionaire and propelled him from reality television to the White House, was convicted on Tuesday of tax fraud and other crimes, forever tarring the former president and the company that bears his name. The conviction on all 17 counts, after more than a day of jury deliberations in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, stemmed from the company’s practice of doling out off-the-books perks to executives: They received luxury apartments, leased Mercedes-Benzes, extra cash at Christmas, even free cable television. They paid taxes on none of it. The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case, had previously obtained a guilty plea from the scheme’s architect, Allen H. Weisselberg, the company’s longtime chief financial officer. Mr. Weisselberg, one of Mr. Trump’s most loyal lieutenants, testified as the prosecution’s star witness but never implicated the former president. Prosecutors did not charge Mr. Trump, but they invoked him throughout the monthlong trial, telling jurors that he had personally paid for some of the perks and had even approved a crucial aspect of the scheme. The prosecution sounded a drumbeat of damning evidence about a freewheeling culture at his company, revealing that pervasive illegality flourished there for years. ‘We got to see the inner workings of the Trump Organization: the greed, the lies, the cheating,’ the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, said in an interview on Tuesday evening, reflecting on a victory that marked the height of his young tenure. The verdict carries limited financial repercussions and will not directly threaten to imperil Mr. Trump’s company. But the conviction, and the prosecution’s explosive claim in closing arguments that Mr. Trump had been ‘explicitly sanctioning tax fraud,’ could reverberate through his nascent 2024 presidential campaign, providing fodder for political opponents.” See also, Trump Organization Found Guilty in Tax Fraud Scheme. The former president’s company had been accused of providing off-the-book benefits to executives. The Testimony of its former chief financial officer proved crucial to the case. The New York Times, Tuesday, 6 December 2022. See also, Trump Organization convicted in New York criminal tax fraud trial, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “Former president Donald Trump’s namesake company was convicted Tuesday of tax crimes committed by two of its longtime executives after a Manhattan trial that gave jurors a peek at some of the inner workings of the Trump Organization’s finances. The real estate, hospitality and golf resort operation headquartered at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue faces the possibility of a $1.6 million fine at a sentencing scheduled Jan. 13. New York Supreme Court jurors began deliberations Monday. The company was charged with scheme to defraud, conspiracy, criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records. Trump has not been charged with wrongdoing. The verdicts Tuesday came amid other troubles for the Trump family business, which was sued by New York Attorney General Letitia James in September in a civil case that accuses Trump, three of his adult children and longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg of manipulating the valuations of their properties to get better terms on loans and insurance policies, and to get tax breaks. The suit seeks to recover more than $250 million and has the potential to cripple the Trump Organization’s ability to continue doing business in the state. In the criminal case, jurors saw a number of Trump Organization payroll and expense records spanning years that showed how executives received perks like luxury apartments and Mercedes Benzes while purposely concealing them from tax authorities.” See also, Trump Organization found guilty on all counts of criminal tax fraud, CNN Politics, Kara Scannell and Lauren del Valle, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “A Manhattan jury has found two Trump Organization companies guilty on multiple charges of criminal tax fraud and falsifying business records connected to a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities by failing to report and pay taxes on compensation for top executives. The Trump Corp. and Trump Payroll Corp. were found guilty on all charges they faced. Donald Trump and his family were not charged in this case, but the former president was mentioned repeatedly during the trial by prosecutors about his connection to the benefits doled out to certain executives, including company-funded apartments, car leases and personal expenses. The Trump Organization could face a maximum of $1.61 million in fines when sentenced in mid-January. The company is not at risk of being dismantled because there is no mechanism under New York law that would dissolve the company. However, a felony conviction could impact its ability to do business or obtain loans or contracts.”

House January 6 Committee Signals It Will Issue Criminal Referrals. Speaking before a formal decision had been made, Representative Bennie Thompson said his panel had not yet agreed on who would be the subject of the referrals or what the charges would be. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Luke Broadwater, and Alexandra Berzon, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “Representative Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, on Tuesday gave the strongest signal yet that the panel planned to make criminal referrals to the Justice Department, raising the prospect of a history-making finding that former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to cling to power after he lost the 2020 election amounted to a crime. In comments to reporters that appeared to pre-empt a formal decision by the committee, Mr. Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat, said the panel had yet to agree on whom to recommend for charges or which crimes to name. But his remarks — including a contorted attempt to qualify his initial statement — suggested that, as the committee members wrap up their work, they are heavily inclined toward calling for prosecutions of those involved in the Jan. 6 riot and the monthslong election subversion effort, directed by Mr. Trump, that gave rise to it. A criminal referral by the panel would be largely symbolic, holding no legal weight because Congress has no enforcement power and no formal say in what the Justice Department does. The department has already been carrying out a criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, including the appointment last month of a special counsel who authorized a round of subpoenas after taking over. Yet a referral would be another remarkable development in a precedent-shattering investigation by Congress of Mr. Trump’s bid to nullify his defeat, and could increase the pressure on Merrick B. Garland, the attorney general, to bring prosecutions.” See also, January 6 committee will make criminal referrals to Department of Justice. Chairman Bennie Thompson said no decision has been made on who could face a referral. The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “The House Select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol will make criminal referrals to the Department of Justice, though no decision has been made on the target of a referral or what allegations of crimes the potential referrals would cover. ‘There’s general agreement we will do some referrals,’ the committee chairman, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), told reporters Tuesday, adding that there’s been no formal vote among committee members, nor have they voted on whom they will refer. The committee will meet Tuesday evening when members are expected to discuss next steps.” See also, Sources tell CNN the House January 6 committee is considering criminal referrals for Trump, CNN Politics, Sara Murray, Annie Grayer, and Zachary Cohen, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack is weighing criminal referrals for former President Donald Trump and a number of his closest allies, multiple sources tell CNN. The sources would not elaborate on who besides Trump is being considered. Criminal referrals would largely be symbolic in nature. The committee lacks prosecutorial powers, and the Justice Department does not need a referral from Congress to investigate crimes as it has its own criminal investigations into the Capitol attack ongoing. Committee members see criminal referrals as a critical part of their work, putting their views on the record in order to complete their investigation – not as a way to pressure DOJ, one of the sources told CNN.”

Justice Department subpoenas Arizona, Michigan, and Wisconsin officials in Trump January 6 investigation. The requests to multiple counties Trump targeted in effort to reverse 2020 loss are among the first issued since Jack Smith was appointed special counsel. The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, and Patrick Marley, Tuesday, 6 December 2022: “Special counsel Jack Smith has sent grand jury subpoenas to local officials in Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin — three states that were central to President Donald Trump’s failed plan to stay in power following the 2020 election — seeking any and all communications with Trump, his campaign, and a long list of aides and allies. The requests for records arrived in Dane County, Wis.; Maricopa County, Ariz.; and Wayne County, Mich., late last week, and in Milwaukee on Monday, officials said. They are among the first known subpoenas issued since Smith was named last month by Attorney General Merrick Garland to oversee Trump-related aspects of the investigation of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, as well as the criminal probe of Trump’s possible mishandling of classified documents at his Florida home and private club. The subpoenas, at least three of which are dated Nov. 22, indicate that the Justice Department is extending its examination of the circumstances leading up to the Capitol attack to include local election officials and their potential interactions with the former president and his representatives related to the 2020 election. The virtually identical requests to Arizona and Wisconsin seek communications with Trump, in addition to employees, agents and attorneys for his campaign. Details of the Michigan subpoena, confirmed by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, were not immediately available.”


Wednesday, 7 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin warns of ‘long process’ in Ukraine and says Russia has ‘not gone crazy’ over nuclear threats, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Missy Ryan, Jennifer Hassan, Emily Rauhala, and Miriam Berger, Wednesday, 7 December 2022: “The war in Ukraine, which Russian President Vladimir Putin calls a ‘special military operation,’ will ‘be a long process,’ he said during a televised meeting on Wednesday. After months of veiled nuclear threats, Putin defended Russia’s nuclear policies. While the threat of nuclear war has risen, ‘we have not gone crazy, we are aware of what nuclear weapons are,’ Putin said, adding that Russia’s nuclear strategy is centered on ‘retaliatory strikes.’

  • Russian forces killed extrajudicially at least 441 civilians outside of Kyiv, in what likely amounted to war crimes, in the first weeks of the invasion of Ukraine, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report released Thursday. The actual number of civilians summarily killed is likely to be ‘considerably higher,’ the report found.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was on Wednesday named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2022.
  • Ukraine’s allies are walking a fine line after drone strikes targeting Russian military airfields this week, seeking to acknowledge Ukraine’s right to defend itself by hitting military targets, while also balancing concerns about escalating the conflict. Kyiv has not publicly claimed responsibility for the attacks, which are the most brazen and far-reaching inside Russia since its invasion in February. But a senior Ukrainian official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive operation, told The Washington Post on Tuesday that all three attacks were carried out by Ukrainian drones.
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called a U.S. plan to deliver a further $800 million to Ukraine ‘extremely confrontational’ on Wednesday. The measure was adopted by lawmakers Tuesday as part of a larger defense spending bill. The United States has pledged more than $19 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, including Stinger missiles, air defense systems, combat drones and artillery equipment.
  • The Biden administration is set to convene a meeting with oil and gas executives on Thursday to discuss U.S. support for Ukrainian energy infrastructure ahead of winter. The meeting is part of a broader effort to explore areas of collaboration with and support for allies abroad, according to a statement from the Department of Energy.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Acknowledges Fighting in Ukraine ‘Might Be a Long Process.’ Amid setbacks on the battlefield, and fears in Russia that more soldiers will be conscripted, the Russian leader says he is not mobilizing additional forces for now. The New York Times, Wednesday, 7 December 2022:

  • Putin warns the fighting in Ukraine would be protracted but downplays any new mobilization.
  • Ukrainian official says 6 civilians were killed when Russians shelled a town center.
  • Ukrainian officials investigating Russian spies raid 13 Orthodox monasteries and churches.
  • Britain’s top tennis body was fined $1 million for banning Russian and Belarusian athletes.
  • A U.N. report documents 441 killings of civilians around Kyiv.
  • How Russia’s campaign of terror in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha unfolded.
  • Ukraine escalates its offensive in Luhansk, aided by a winter freeze, officials say.
  • Zelensky is named Time’s person of the year.

Supreme Court Seems Split Over Case That Could Transform Federal Elections. The justices are considering whether to adopt the ‘independent state legislature’ theory, which could give state lawmakers nearly unchecked power over federal elections. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Wednesday, 7 December 2022: “The Supreme Court seemed splintered on Wednesday about whether to adopt a legal theory that would radically reshape how federal elections are conducted, giving state legislatures largely unchecked power to set all sorts of election rules and draw congressional maps warped by partisan gerrymandering. The justices’ questioning over three hours of arguments suggested that they were roughly divided into three camps. The three most conservative justices appeared prepared to embrace an expansive version of the theory, while the three liberal justices were adamant that it should be rejected. The remaining members of the court — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — seemed to be searching for a compromise under which state supreme courts would generally have the last word on disputes over state laws governing federal elections but be subject to oversight from federal courts in rare cases. The case concerned the ‘independent state legislature’ theory, which is based on a reading of the Constitution’s Elections Clause, which says, ‘The times, places and manner of holding elections for senators and representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof.’ Proponents of the strongest form of the theory say this means that no other organs of state government — not courts, not governors, not election administrators, not independent commissions — can alter a legislature’s actions on federal elections. The arguments on Wednesday focused on whether state supreme courts can reject state laws on federal elections under their constitutions. David H. Thompson, a lawyer for Republican state lawmakers in North Carolina, said the theory means that the state’s Supreme Court should not be permitted to strike down a congressional voting map drawn by the Legislature on the ground that it was a partisan gerrymander that violated the state Constitution. Justice Elena Kagan warned that position had ‘big consequences.’ ‘It would say that if a legislature engages in the most extreme forms of gerrymandering, there is no state constitutional remedy for that,’ she said, adding: ‘It would say that legislatures could enact all manner of restrictions on voting, get rid of all kinds of voter protections that the state Constitution in fact prohibits. This is a proposal,’ she said, ‘that gets rid of the normal checks and balances.'” See also, Supreme Court majority questions massive shift of election authority, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Wednesday, 7 December 2022: “A majority of Supreme Court justices on Wednesday seemed reluctant to conclude that state legislators may manipulate congressional district lines and set federal voting rules without any oversight from state courts, after nearly three hours of debate over what would be a fundamental change in the way elections are conducted. But some justices also indicated they believed state courts could be restrained from becoming too big a player in election decisions — at some point when ‘the state court would not be acting as a court but would be acting more as a legislature,’ in the words of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Under the theory advanced by North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders, state lawmakers throughout the country could have exclusive authority to structure federal elections, subject only to intervention by Congress. The ‘independent state legislature theory’ holds that the U.S. Constitution gives that power to lawmakers even if it results in extreme partisan voting maps for congressional seats and violates voter protections enshrined in state constitutions. The case could have a major influence on results in the 2024 election. It has drawn attention in part because of the nation’s polarized politics, where former president Donald Trump and his allies still advocate to overturn the 2020 election, and the midterms showed that control of Congress can depend on the drawing of congressional district lines. The court’s three most conservative justices — Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch — seemed receptive to a reading of the Constitution in line with that of the North Carolina legislators. The court’s liberals — Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson — did not. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Brett M. Kavanaugh and Barrett seemed more conflicted, and perhaps looking for ways to ensure that state courts do not take over the supervision of election processes in which legislatures are the primary actors. All of the justices seemed to agree that was a goal. But drawing a line to decide when a court stops acting as a court and moves into legislative territory could be a difficult task.” See also, Five Things to Know About the Supreme Court Case That Could Radically Change Elections. The Supreme Court heard arguments today on a legal theory that holds that state courts cannot review their legislatures’ rules for federal elections, even when the rules violate the state constitution. The New York Times, Michael Wines, Wednesday, 7 December 2022: “The Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday about whether to adopt a legal theory that would radically reshape how federal elections are conducted. The case, Moore v. Harper, No. 21-1271, concerns a congressional district map drawn by the North Carolina Legislature that was rejected as a partisan gerrymander by the state’s Supreme Court. The Legislature, citing a once-fringe idea known as the independent state legislature doctrine, claims that the Constitution gives state legislatures power over the rules for federal elections, and that those rules cannot be overruled by state courts or constitutions. The theory, if accepted, would give state legislatures enormous and largely unchecked power to set all sorts of election rules, particularly by drawing congressional maps warped by partisan gerrymandering. Both legal scholars and respected political figures, including prominent conservative legal figures who have warned against adopting the theory, are calling the case the most important debate over federalism in decades, if not in the nation’s history.”

Items with Classified markings found at Trump storage unit in Florida. The former president’s lawyers have told federal authorities no classified material was found in additional searches of Trump Tower in New York and his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey, Spencer S. Hsu, Devlin Barrett, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Wednesday, 7 December 2022: “Lawyers for Donald Trump found at least two items marked classified after an outside team hired by Trump searched a storage unit in West Palm Beach, Fla., used by the former president, according to people familiar with the matter. Those items were immediately turned over to the FBI, according to those people, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. The search was one of at least three searches for classified materials conducted by an outside team at Trump properties in recent weeks, after Trump’s legal team was pressed by a federal judge to attest that it had fully complied with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all materials bearing classified markings, according to people familiar with the matter. There has been a lengthy and fierce battle between Trump’s attorneys and the Justice Department in a Washington federal court in recent weeks, according to people familiar with the matter. Much of the legal wrangling remains under seal by a federal judge, but people familiar with the matter say the Justice Department has raised concerns about what prosecutors view as a long-standing failure to fully comply with the May subpoena by Trump’s team.” See also, Classified Documents Found in Trump Search of Storage Site. The discovery came as series of searches were conducted by a team hired by the former president, after a federal judge directed his lawyers to look for any materials still in his possession. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Alan Feuer, Wednesday, 7 December 2022: “Former President Donald J. Trump hired people to search four properties after being directed by a federal judge to look harder for any classified material still in his possession, and they found at least two documents with classified markings inside a sealed box in one of the locations, according to a person familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump’s search team discovered the documents at a federally run storage site in West Palm Beach, Fla., the person said, prompting his lawyers to notify the Justice Department about them. The New York Times reported in October that Justice Department officials had told the former president’s lawyers that they believed he might have more classified materials that were not returned in response to a subpoena issued in May. The F.B.I. searched Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida, in August for additional classified documents and other presidential records. People close to Mr. Trump had said earlier on Wednesday that no classified material had been found during the searches, a claim that was later proved incorrect. The Washington Post first reported on the locating of the two additional documents, as well as the searches of the properties.” See also, Trump team finds two documents with classified markings in a Florida storage unit, CNN Politics, Kaitlan Collins and Sara Murray, Wednesday, 7 December 2022: “Two documents with classified markings were found in a Florida storage unit during a search by a team hired by former President Donald Trump’s lawyers, a person familiar with the situation told CNN. Those documents were handed over to the FBI. No other documents with classified markings were found during a search of four of Trump’s properties, the source said. The discovery of the documents was first reported by The Washington Post. The team of two searched Trump Tower in New York, the Bedminster golf club, an office location in Florida, and the storage unit where the two documents were found and where the General Services Administration had shipped Trump’s belongings after he left the White House. The four searches came amid lingering concerns from the Justice Department that not all documents had been returned to the federal government. Carried out in recent weeks, the searches were overseen by Trump’s legal team, another source familiar with the matter told CNN.”


Thursday, 8 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: European Union calls Russia’s invasion a ‘brutal wake-up’ for Europe; Women’s National Basketball Association star Brittney Griner released from detention in Russia, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Rachel Pannett, Jennifer Hassan, and John Hudson, Thursday, 8 December 2022: “WNBA star Brittney Griner has been released from Russian detention in a prisoner swap for arms dealer Viktor Bout, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday and two senior Biden administration officials told The Washington Post. ‘Moments ago I spoke to Brittney Griner,’ President Biden tweeted Thursday. He approved the release of Bout for Griner, commuting his 25-year prison sentence, a senior Biden administation official told The Post. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a ‘brutal wake-up’ for Europe, which lacks the capabilities needed to defend itself from ‘higher level threats,’ European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Thursday. ‘We lack critical defense capabilities,’ Borrell said, adding that Europe’s military stockpiles have been ‘quickly depleted’ amid the conflict and blaming underinvestment for Europe’s vulnerabilities.

  • Russia is not seeking to annex more Ukrainian territories, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday, a day after President Putin hailed the absorptions as positive results of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Peskov also described some of the regions illegally annexed by Russia in September as ‘occupied territories’ that needed to be ‘liberated.’
  • The conflict in Ukraine has made oligarchs in the country less powerful, The Washington Post reports. The group of fewer than 20 wealthy people have long wielded outsize — and often, anti-corruption activists contend, malign — influence over the country — but experts say vast losses from the war and a newly energized population unwilling to accept the politics of the past could give Ukraine the opportunity to rebuild a postwar society that is more democratic.
  • Kyiv’s mayor warned that the Ukrainian capital faces an ‘apocalypse’ this winter if Russian airstrikes continue. ‘Kyiv might lose power, water and heat supply. The apocalypse might happen, like in Hollywood films, when it’s not possible to live in homes considering the low temperature,’ Mayor Vitali Klitschko told Reuters. He added that officials are doing ‘everything we can’ to prevent this and said there is currently no need to evacuate residents.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Women’s National Basketball Association Star Brittney Griner Is Flying Home After Prisoner Swap With Russia. Griner, an American basketball star who had been imprisoned in Russia on drug charges, was traded for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer. Bout is already in Moscow, where state television showed him hugging his wife and his mother. The New York Times, Thursday, 8 December 2022:

  • Brittney Griner is freed in a prisoner swap with Russia.
  • The Kremlin plays down Putin’s claim of territorial gains in Ukraine.

House Passes Bill to Protect Same-Sex Marriage Rights. The House gave final approval to the measure, with lawmakers from both parties voting in favor. It now heads to President Biden to be signed into law. The New York Times, Annie Karni, Thursday, 8 December 2022: “The House on Thursday gave final approval to legislation to mandate federal recognition for same-sex marriages, with a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers voting in favor of the measure in the waning days of the Democratic-led Congress. With a vote of 258-169, with one member voting ‘present,’ the landmark legislation cleared Congress, sending it to President Biden to be signed into law and capping an improbable path for a measure that only months ago appeared to have little chance at enactment. Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the tally triumphantly, banging the gavel repeatedly as if to applaud as members of the House cheered…. In a statement, Mr. Biden called the action by Congress ‘a critical step to ensure that Americans have the right to marry the person they love.’ The measure’s success reflected a broader cultural and political shift on the issue of same-sex marriage, which only a decade ago was regarded by members of both parties as divisive and risky terrain. It has become so broadly accepted in American society that it can now generate decisive bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress. In the years since, same-sex marriage has become widely accepted by members of both parties, and polls show that more than 70 percent of voters support same-sex marriage.” See also, House passes landmark legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Marianna Sotomayor, and Cara McGoogan, Thursday, 8 December 2022: “The House on Thursday passed landmark legislation that would enshrine marriage equality in federal law, granting protections to same-sex and interracial couples and clearing the way for President Biden’s signature. ‘Today, Congress sends the Respect for Marriage Act to the president’s desk, a glorious triumph of love and freedom,’ said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), quoting the gay rights activist Edith Windsor in comparing marriage to magic. ‘This legislation honors that magic, protecting it from bigoted extremism, defending the inviolability of the same-sex and interracial marriages.’ The House had already passed an earlier version of the Respect for Marriage Act in July, but the Senate delayed its vote on the bill until after the midterm elections. Late last month, the Senate passed the bill with a bipartisan amendment to allay some Republicans’ concerns about religious liberty. The amended bill passed the Senate in a 61-36 vote, with 12 Republican senators joining Democrats in favor of it. In a 258-169 vote, the House on Thursday passed the bill with the amendment, which clarifies that the federal government would not be authorized to recognize polygamous marriages and confirms that nonprofit religious organizations would not be required to provide ‘any services, facilities, or goods for the solemnization or celebration of a marriage.’ Thirty-nine Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting the measure.” See also, Respect for Marriage Act clears Congress with bipartisan support, NPR, Ximena Bustillo, Juma Sei, and Deepa Shivaram, Thursday, 8 December 2022: “Both the House and the Senate have passed the Respect for Marriage Act, which codifies same-sex and interracial marriages. The bill will head to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law, which is expected to happen soon. The legislation passed 258-169 in the House Thursday with bipartisan support, after passing through the Senate last week with a 61-36 vote. Twelve Republican senators voted in favor of the bill…. The bill requires that all states recognize same-sex and interracial marriages performed in any other state. It does not require that states individually allow these marriages to be performed. The measure also would recognize these marriages for consideration of federal benefits such as Medicare and Social Security. Amendments to the original House-passed bill, led by GOP negotiators Sens. Susan Collins, Thom Tillis and Rob Portman, make sure that nonprofit religious organizations are not required to help perform a same-sex marriage.” See also, House passes bill to protect same-sex and interracial marriage in landmark vote sending it to Biden, CNN Politics, Daniella Diaz, Clare Foran, and Kristin Wilson, Thursday, 8 December 2022: “The House voted to pass legislation on Thursday to protect same-sex and interracial marriage, the last step before the measure goes to President Joe Biden for his signature and becomes law. The House vote was 258 to 169 with 39 Republicans joining the Democrats voting in favor. Loud applause broke out in the chamber when the vote was gaveled to a close. While the bill would not set a national requirement that all states must legalize same-sex marriage, it would require individual states to recognize another state’s legal marriage. The push for a vote on federal legislation protecting same-sex marriage rapidly gained momentum after the Supreme Court in June overturned its landmark Roe v. Wade decision. The bill, called the Respect for Marriage Act, passed the Senate with a vote of 61 to 36 last week. The bill was supported by all members of the Senate Democratic caucus and 12 Republicans. In the event the Supreme Court might overturn its 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision that legalized same-sex marriage, a state could still pass a law to ban same-sex marriage, but that state would also be required to recognize a same-sex marriage from another state.”

Special Master’s Review in Trump Case Ends as Appeal Court’s Ruling Takes Effect. A federal judge in Florida had shocked experts by intervening after the F.B.I. seized sensitive files from the former president’s residence and club. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Alan Feuer, Thursday, 8 December 2022: “A federal appeals court on Thursday brought to an end a special master’s review of sensitive documents the F.B.I. had seized from former President Donald J. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida, concluding a court fight that had delayed the Justice Department’s investigation for nearly three months. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta acted after Mr. Trump’s lawyers chose not to contest its decision last week shutting down a lawsuit by Mr. Trump that had imposed a special master. The court had given him a week to challenge the decision before it took effect. The move ended the special master’s review and lifted an injunction that had blocked prosecutors from using the seized materials as evidence. The step formally removed a significant obstacle to the inquiry into whether Mr. Trump illegally retained national security secrets at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., and obstructed government efforts to recover them. The ruling last week by the appeals court panel, which included two Trump appointees, vacated an order issued in September by a fellow Trump appointee, Judge Aileen M. Cannon of the Southern District of Florida. It also ordered her to dismiss the lawsuit. Judge Cannon’s decision to impose the special master, Judge Raymond J. Dearie, was unusual because she intervened before there were any charges — treating Mr. Trump differently from ordinary targets of search warrants. She also directed Judge Dearie to consider whether some of the seized files should be permanently kept from investigators under executive privilege, a claim that has never successfully been made in a criminal case.” See also, Mar-a-Lago special master is formally dismissed; Trump is not expected to appeal, The Washington Post, Perry Stein, Thursday, 8 December 2022: “A federal appeals court in Atlanta on Thursday formally ended the outside examination of materials seized by the FBI from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property, a week after a three-judge panel overturned the lower-court ruling authorizing the review. Judge Aileen M. Cannon, a federal judge in Florida, granted Trump’s request in September to appoint the outside arbiter‚ known as a special master. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled last week that she erred in making that decision. Trump could have appealed that 11th Circuit ruling to the Supreme Court but is not expected to do so. The order filed Thursday allows the government to again use all of the seized materials as part of its criminal investigation of whether Trump mishandled classified documents, obstructed an investigation or destroyed government property. The government had regained access to the classified material seized from Mar-a-Lago as a result of an earlier appeal, but prosecutors had been barred from using the nonclassified materials until the special master had completed the review. This dismissal closes a protracted legal saga around the appointment of the special master, with the case pinging through the appeals courts as the Justice Department attempted to shut down what its representatives argued was an ‘intrusion’ into the criminal investigation of the alleged mishandling of sensitive government documents after Trump left the White House.”

Justice Department asks judge to hold Trump team in contempt over Mar-a-Lago case, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Josh Dawsey, Jacqueline Alemany, Devlin Barrett, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Thursday, 8 December 2022: “Prosecutors have urged a federal judge to hold Donald Trump’s office in contempt of court for failing to fully comply with a May subpoena to return all classified documents in his possession, according to people familiar with the matter — a sign of how contentious the private talks have become over whether the former president still holds any secret papers. In recent days, Justice Department lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell to hold Trump’s office in contempt, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sealed court proceedings. The hearing is scheduled for Friday, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The request came after months of mounting frustration from the Justice Department with Trump’s team — frustration that spiked in June after the former president’s lawyers provided assurances that a diligent search had been conducted for classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago Club and residence. But the FBI amassed evidence suggesting — and later confirmed through a court-authorized search — that many more remained. One of the key areas of disagreement centers on the Trump legal team’s repeated refusal to designate a custodian of records to sign a document attesting that all classified materials have been returned to the federal government, according to two of these people. The Justice Department has repeatedly sought an unequivocal sworn written assurance from Trump’s team that all such documents have been returned, and Trump’s team has been unwilling to designate a custodian of records to sign such a statement while also giving assurances that they have handed documents back.” See also, Justice Department is seeking to hold Trump in contempt over classified documents, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Kaitlan Collins, Evan Perez, and Zachary Cohen, Thursday, 8 December 2022: “The Justice Department is asking a federal judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt of court for failing to comply with a subpoena issued this summer ordering the former president to turn over records marked classified, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. The development comes after Trump’s legal team said it conducted searches at four locations just before Thanksgiving, finding two documents with classified markings at a storage facility in Florida. The Trump team turned over those two documents to the FBI and announced to a federal judge in Washington, DC, that they believed Trump was now in compliance with a 6-month-old subpoena. But the Justice Department disagreed. And in an escalation last week, department prosecutors told DC District Chief Judge Beryl Howell, who oversees federal grand jury proceedings there, that the searches weren’t satisfactory. The contempt proceedings before Howell are under seal.”


Friday, 9 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin says Griner talks have not led to further dialogue, The Washington Post, Ellen Francis, James Bikales, Natalia Abbakumova, and Claire Healy, Friday, 9 December 2022: “U.S. government officials hailed the arrival of WNBA star Brittney Griner in Texas on Friday, after 10 months in Russian custody. ‘So happy to have Brittney back on U.S. soil,’ the U.S. special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, Roger D. Carstens, tweeted. “Welcome home BG!’ Washington secured her release in a prisoner deal with Moscow in exchange for notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. The Kremlin said Friday the high-profile swap, after months of negotiations, did not indicate a step toward resolving U.S.-Russian diplomatic tensions over the conflict in Ukraine. The talks about swapping Griner and Bout created ‘a certain atmosphere’ between officials but did not evolve into broader dialogue, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a televised news conference Friday during a visit to Kyrgyzstan. ‘Are any other [prisoner] exchanges possible? Everything is possible,’ he said.

  • The basketball star landed in San Antonio, to receive treatment at an Army medical center and reunite with her family. Bout, who was imprisoned in Illinois for conspiring to kill U.S. nationals and arms trafficking, arrived earlier in Moscow, Russian media reported Friday. He and Griner passed each other in a dramatic moment in Abu Dhabi on the tarmac Thursday. In his first interview since his release, Bout told Russia’s state-controlled RT television network that the West is shocked to see Russia being a ‘truly independent power,’ but that he did not encounter any ‘Russophobia’ from U.S. prison staff.
  • ‘We sincerely thank you all for the kind words, thoughts and prayers — including Paul and the Whelan family who have been generous with their support for Brittney and our family during what we know is a heartbreaking time,’ Griner’s family said in a statement obtained by ESPN. ‘We pray for Paul and for all wrongfully detained Americans’ swift and safe return.’
  • Moscow said bilateral relations with Washington ‘are still in quite a sad state,’ according to Russian news agency Tass. The talks ‘were exclusively about the topic of the exchange,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying.
  • The White House said it would keep working for the release of former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who was charged with spying in Russia and is serving a 16-year sentence. ‘We are actively working to try to get Paul home,’ National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Friday. Whelan told CNN in a phone interview earlier that he was glad Griner was free but disappointed not to have been included in the exchange.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Brittney Griner Evaluated After Prisoner Swap. The American basketball star went immediately to an Army hospital after her 10-month ordeal in which she became a bargaining chip between Moscow and Washington. It wasn’t clear where she would go next. The New York Times, Friday, 9 December 2022:

  • Russia and Iran are strengthening their defense partnership, the Biden administration warns.
  • Blowback over Griner’s release exposes the depth of U.S. divisions.
  • Russia wanted one of its assassins, jailed in Germany, for Paul Whelan’s freedom.
  • Russia is expanding its nuclear arsenal, the U.S. defense secretary says.
  • Nato’s secretary general warns that a ‘full blown war’ with Russia is ‘a real possibility.’

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema Says She Will Leave the Democratic Party. The Arizona senator is registering as an independent, noting that she ‘never fit perfectly in either national party.’ The New York Times, Carl Hulse, Friday, 9 December 2022: “Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona announced on Friday that she would leave the Democratic Party and become an independent, unsettling the party divide anew just days after Democrats secured an expanded majority in the Senate. ‘I have joined the growing numbers of Arizonans who reject party politics by declaring my independence from the broken partisan system in Washington,’ she wrote in an opinion column published in The Arizona Republic. Ms. Sinema’s decision put an abrupt damper on the jubilance Democrats experienced this week after their caucus secured a 51st seat in the Senate with Senator Raphael Warnock’s victory in Georgia. It was likely to provide new complications for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democrats going forward, even though she wrote in her column that ‘becoming an independent won’t change my work in the Senate; my service to Arizona remains the same.’ Still the move by the first-term senator, who was facing a likely Democratic re-election challenge in 2024 after angering her party by opposing key elements of its agenda, was unlikely to change the day-to-day reality in Washington for Democrats, who have long had to contend with her unpredictability and diversions from the party line. The bigger practical effect was likely to be on Ms. Sinema’s political standing in Arizona, where she would have had difficulty prevailing in a Democratic primary.” See also, In Senate shake-up, Democratic Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema changes her party affiliation to independent. Democrats say not much will change on the Hill, but the switch casts a long shadow on 2024. The New York Times, Liz Goodwin, John Wagner, Eugene Scott, and Leigh Ann Caldwell, Friday, 9 December 2022: “Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) announced she was leaving the Democratic Party on Friday, dampening Senate Democrats’ post-midterms celebrations and potentially endangering Democrats’ chances of holding onto the seat in 2024. ‘Registering as an independent and showing up to work with the title of independent is a reflection of who I’ve always been, and it’s a reflection of who Arizona is,’ Sinema said in a video detailing her decision. ‘We don’t line up to do what we’re told. We do what’s right for our state and for our country.’ Sinema’s new independent label is unlikely to significantly change the workings of the Senate next year, which Democrats will still narrowly control after their runoff win in Georgia this week. Sinema — who has voted with President Biden over 90 percent of the time, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis — will keep her Democratic committee assignments and said she doesn’t plan to change how she votes. But the break with the party caps a long-simmering rift between Sinema and Democrats in her home state, and sets up a potentially bruising Senate contest in 2024, when Democrats already face several challenging races in red and purple states that will put their majority at risk. Some Arizona Democrats on Friday accused the senator of making the switch for political reasons, to avoid a near-certain Democratic primary challenge in 2024 if she decides to run as an independent in that race. (Sinema has not announced her plans for 2024.)” See also, Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema is leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Friday, 9 December 2022: “Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is leaving the Democratic Party and registering as a political independent, she told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an exclusive TV interview. ‘I’ve registered as an Arizona independent. I know some people might be a little bit surprised by this, but actually, I think it makes a lot of sense,’ Sinema said in a Thursday interview with Tapper in her Senate office. ‘I’ve never fit neatly into any party box. I’ve never really tried. I don’t want to,’ she added. ‘Removing myself from the partisan structure – not only is it true to who I am and how I operate, I also think it’ll provide a place of belonging for many folks across the state and the country, who also are tired of the partisanship.’ Sinema’s move away from the Democratic Party is unlikely to change the power balance in the next Senate. Democrats will have a narrow 51-49 majority that includes two independents who caucus with them: Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine. While Sanders and King formally caucus with Democrats, Sinema declined to explicitly say that she would do the same. She did note, however, that she expects to keep her committee assignments – a signal that she doesn’t plan to upend the Senate composition, since Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer controls committee rosters for Democrats.”

Judge Beryl A. Howell declines Department of Justice request to hold Trump team in contempt over classified documents. Howell urged the Department of Justice and Trump’s team to resolve the dispute themselves. ABC News, Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, and Alexander Mallin, Friday, 9 December 2022: “A federal judge in Washington declined to hold former President Donald Trump or his legal team in contempt of court following a court hearing Friday as the Justice Department had requested, sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. The judge instead urged the Justice Department and Trump’s legal team to resolve the dispute themselves, the sources said. The DOJ had urged the judge to hold Trump’s team in contempt over failure to fully comply with a May subpoena for documents with classified markings that was directed to Trump’s custodian of records — a person the Trump legal team has not identified.” See also, Judge Beryl A. Howell Declines to Act on Justice Department Contempt Request in Trump Documents Case. The department had asked a federal judge to force a representative of Donald J. Trump to swear under oath that there are no more classified documents at any of his properties. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 9 December 2022: “A federal judge in Washington on Friday ended a hearing without acting on a Justice Department request to find representatives of Donald J. Trump’s post-presidential office in contempt of court for failing to comply fully with a subpoena demanding that he return all classified documents he had taken with him when he left office, two people familiar with the matter said. They said that the judge left it to the Justice Department and Mr. Trump’s team to resolve the department’s concerns about whether the former president might have more classified documents at his properties after more than a year of efforts by the federal government to retrieve them. It was unclear after the closed-door proceeding if the judge, Beryl A. Howell, had left open the possibility of ruling on the matter at a future date. Several news outlets filed a letter asking the judge to unseal the proceedings, including The New York Times. Judge Howell had been asked by the Justice Department to decide whether to impose financial penalties or issue a contempt finding if no one from Mr. Trump’s office agreed to state under oath that, to the best of their knowledge, all of the classified materials he took from the White House when he left office last year have been returned to the government.”

Lawmakers find Big Oil has engaged in a long-running climate disinformation campaign while raking in record profits, CNN Politics, Rene Marsh, Friday, 9 December 2022: “Big Oil companies have engaged in a ‘long-running greenwashing campaign’ while raking in ‘record profits at the expense of American consumers,’ the Democratic-led House Oversight Committee has found after a year-long investigation into climate disinformation from the fossil fuel industry. The committee found the fossil fuel industry is ‘posturing on climate issues while avoiding real commitments’ to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Lawmakers said it has sought to portray itself as part of the climate solution, even as internal industry documents reveal how companies have avoided making real commitments. ‘Today’s documents reveal that the industry has no real plans to clean up its act and is barreling ahead with plans to pump more dirty fuels for decades to come,’ House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney told CNN in a statement.”

Kari Lake Sues Arizona’s Largest County, Seeking to Overturn Her Defeat. Ms. Lake, who fueled the false claims that the 2020 election had been stolen from Donald Trump, lost the Arizona governor’s race by 17,000 votes. The New York Times, Alexandra Berzon, Ken Bensinger, and Charles Homans, Friday, 9 December 2022: “Kari Lake, the losing Republican candidate for governor of Arizona, filed a lawsuit Friday contesting the results of an election that was certified by the state this week. Ms. Lake’s lawsuit came after she had spent weeks making a series of public statements and social media posts aimed at sowing doubt in the outcome of a contest she lost by more than 17,000 votes to her Democratic opponent, Katie Hobbs. That loss was certified in documents signed on Monday by Ms. Hobbs, who currently serves as secretary of state. A former news anchor, Ms. Lake centered her candidacy on false conspiratorial claims that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen from Donald J. Trump, who had endorsed her. For the past month, Ms. Lake, her campaign and other allies have been soliciting Election Day accounts from voters on social media and at rallies.” See also, Republican Kari Lake files lawsuit against Arizona elections officials, The Washington Post, Justine McDaniel and Kyle Rempfer, Friday, 9 December 2022: “Republican Kari Lake, who lost the race for Arizona governor, sued state elections officials Friday, challenging the ballot counting and certification of the midterm election and asking a court to declare her the winner. Lake, who rose to national attention backing former president Donald Trump’s false claims of 2020 election fraud, had been expected to file the suit, which came after Arizona’s election results were certified Monday. The lawsuit targets Lake’s opponent, Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs (D), who is currently Arizona’s secretary of state, along with top officials in Maricopa County, the most populous in the state. As secretary of state, Hobbs certified Arizona’s election results. In the 70-page lawsuit, Lake asks the Maricopa County Superior Court for an order ‘declaring that Kari Lake is the winner of the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election,’ or, alternatively, throwing out the results of the election and requiring the county to conduct a new election.”


Saturday, 10 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Nobel Peace Prize winners decry authoritarianism; U.S. says Russia is expanding nuclear arsenal, The Washington Post, Justine McDaniel, Kyle Rempfer, Niha Masih, Ellen Francis, Andrea Salcedo, Nick Parker, and Meryl Kornfield, Saturday, 10 December 2022: “A trio of human rights defenders in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine received the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize at a ceremony in Oslo on Saturday in another rebuke of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. The honorees are Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties, which is working to document alleged war crimes; the Russian human rights group Memorial; and Belarusian human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski, who was imprisoned after criticizing President Alexander Lukashenko, a Putin ally. On Friday, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Russia is adding to its nuclear stockpiles; the head of NATO said he worried that the conflict in Ukraine could spin ‘out of control.’ The comments follow a prisoner swap that secured the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner from Russian custody. Those negotiations did not thaw U.S.-Russian relations, Putin told a televised news conference Friday.

  • Nobel laureates and a proxy highlighted their desire for an end to the region’s authoritarian bent. In her speechOleksandra Matviichuk, head of the Center for Civil Liberties board, asked foreign leaders to ‘adequately respond to systemic violations’ in Ukraine and to ‘stop making concessions to dictatorships.’ Jan Rachinsky, historian and representative of the human rights society Memorial, asked countries to stop the ‘chain of unpunished crimes.’ In her speech on Saturday, Natallia Pinchuk, who spoke on behalf of her imprisoned husband, Ales Bialiatski, decried Lukashenko’s ‘dependent dictatorship’ that supports Putin’s military aims in Ukraine.
  • Russia is ‘modernizing and expanding its nuclear arsenal,’ Austin said Friday at a ceremony at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, where the U.S. Strategic Command oversees the country’s nuclear operations. He said the United States is on the verge of facing ‘two major nuclear powers as strategic competitors,’ as China is also increasing and updating its nuclear forces.
  • The conflict in Ukraine could become ‘a major war’ between NATO countries and Russia if things go wrong, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned in an interview with Norway’s public broadcaster. He said that a wider conflict must be prevented and that ‘we are working every day to avoid that.’
  • Griner was taken to Brooke Army Medical Center in her home state of Texas after landing in the United States on Friday. She ‘is resilient and so happy to be home and be with her wife,’ said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.). U.S. officials said she was in good spirits. Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer released in the exchange, was treated well during the swap, his wife told Russian news agency Tass.
  • More than 1.5 million people in Odessa and much of the southern Ukrainian region were without electricity on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address that same day, blaming Russian drone strikes. Crews were working to restore power near the Black Sea after a Russian strike knocked out power, according to Odessa’s Telegram page, but a local energy agency predicted it could take as long as two to three months to recover. Germany on Saturday said it has provided $21 million worth of generators for Ukraine, some of which will go to Odessa, to help keep the lights and heat on as Kremlin-backed troops target Ukrainian electricity infrastructure.
  • The European Union Council announced Saturday that it had reached a tentative agreement to loan 18 billion euros to Ukraine in 2023 to finance the war-torn nation’s immediate needs, such as rehabilitating critical infrastructure. The European Parliament will consider adopting the proposal next week.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Nobel Peace Prize Winners Decry Russian Aggression at Peace Prize Ceremony. The laureates, from Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, have become symbols of resistance amid Russia’s invasion. The New York Times, Saturday, 10 December 2022: “Human rights advocates from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus being honored on Saturday at the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo denounced the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, as the Biden administration expressed new worries about the lengths to which Moscow might go to regain its momentum after recent setbacks. Russia launched more than a dozen Iranian-made attack drones at targets in Ukraine’s south before dawn on Saturday, in a continued assault on the country’s infrastructure. The strikes came after Biden administration officials warned on Friday that Russia was expanding its nuclear arsenal and said that Russia and Iran were strengthening their military ties into a ‘full-fledged defense partnership.’ President Vladimir V. Putin suggested Moscow was rethinking its stance on using nuclear weapons, remarks made as part of a string of public appearances in which the Russian leader held forth on his version of reality at a time when a victory for his forces in Ukraine appears as distant as ever.

  • The American basketball star Brittney Griner is receiving evaluations and treatment at a military hospital in San Antonio after landing in Texas following 10 months of incarceration in Russia.

  • As Ms. Griner returned to the United States, the Russian government and its allies were lauding the release of the man she was exchanged for: Viktor Bout, a notorious arms dealer. Reactions to the trade in the United States were revealing deep divisions along ideological lines, with much of the right criticizing President Biden for the decision.

  • A spat over Patriot missiles has highlighted the bitter political and diplomatic rift between Germany and Poland, both important members of the European Union and NATO, which has worsened as Russia’s war in Ukraine has ground on, undermining cohesion and solidarity in both organizations.

  • President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said that the situation was ‘very difficult’ in parts of the Donbas region, with the fighting around Bakhmut particularly vicious. He said overnight that Russian forces had ‘destroyed’ Bakhmut, turning the city into ‘burnt ruins.’


Sunday, 11 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Deadly strikes in occupied Melitopol; Freed Russian arms dealer voices support for the war, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Leo Sands, and Ben Brasch, Sunday, 11 December 2022: “Ukrainian and Russian-backed officials reported deadly attacks in the occupied city of Melitopol on Saturday night, both saying that a recreational center was struck and that there were deaths and injuries. The pro-Moscow officials blamed Ukraine, though Kyiv has not taken responsibility. Meanwhile, Viktor Bout, the Russian arms dealer who returned to Moscow following a prisoner swap with WNBA star Brittney Griner, told Russian state media he ‘wholeheartedly’ supports the war in Ukraine and would volunteer for the effort if he could. Russian President Vladimir Putin previously said negotiations over the prisoner swap did not thaw U.S.-Russian relations.

  • Ukraine deployed HIMARS rockets in Melitopol, Russian-installed officials said on Telegram, with regional governor Yevgeny Balitsky adding that the recreation center they hit was ‘destroyed’ and civilians were eating dinner there. The Washington Post could not independently verify the claims. The United States has throughout the war supplied Ukraine with multiple High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, which are capable of striking precise targets from up to 50 miles away and have wreaked havoc on command posts and logistical hubs behind Russian lines.
  • Ukrainian and pro-Russian officials reported different death tolls in the Melitopol strikes, with Balitsky claiming two deaths and more than 10 injuries. Ivan Fedorov, the exiled Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol, said 200 people were killed or injured. The Post could not independently verify the figures, but such tolls have often been inflated by Ukraine and undercounted by Russia in the war.
  • Russian shelling of a residential neighborhood in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region killed two people, regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said in a Telegram post. He said the Saturday attacks targeted a hospital, cafe, infrastructure facility and residential buildings, and also injured five other people.
  • Utility workers in the Black Sea port city of Odessa are working to restore power and water supplies to residents after the city’s civilian infrastructure was targeted overnight Friday. City officials warned Sunday afternoon that 43 of the city’s 140 boiler houses were not working and that water was being delivered by car to streets without running supplies. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed the blackouts, which at one point affected 1.5 million people, on Iranian drones being used by Russia.
  • Both Zelensky and Putin spoke on the phone Sunday with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan, according to reports. Reuters reported that Erdogan and Putin discussed a deal to secure grain exports from Ukraine and Russia — a lack of grain from two of the world’s largest producers could mean famine, especially in Africa and the Middle East. Zelensky posted on Telegram that his chat with Erdogan also revolved around grain. Ankara has continued to play a unique role as a NATO member: supplying Ukraine while also negotiating a grain deal that would benefit Kyiv and Moscow.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Strikes Russian-Occupied City of Melitopol. The Ukrainian authorities said the strike on the southern city of Melitopol hit a church that was being used as a base by Russian soldiers. A state-owned Russian news agency said two people were killed and 10 wounded in the attack. The New York Times, Sunday, 11 December 2022:

  • The strike on Melitopol signals the importance of longer-range weapons in Ukraine’s campaign to recapture land in the south.

  • All of Ukraine’s thermal and hydroelectric power plants are damaged from Russian strikes, the prime minister says.

  • Zelensky says it will take days to restore electricity to the Odesa region.

  • Biden’s top hostage negotiator details Brittney Griner’s flight home.

  • In a string of appearances, a chatty Putin sends an underlying message.

  • The war in Ukraine is bringing an energy crunch, and paid protests, to Moldova.


Monday, 12 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: G-7 leaders pledge ‘unwavering support’ for Kyiv; European Union approves major economic assistance, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Leo Sands, Adam Taylor, and Maham Javaid, Monday, 12 December 2022: “President Biden met virtually with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, and leaders of the Group of Seven industrialized nations Monday. ‘I joined G7 Leaders and President Zelenskyy to discuss the progress we’ve made under Germany’s presidency to address pressing challenges of our time — Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, climate, food and energy security, infrastructure, and more,’ Biden said on Twitter. ‘We’re more united than ever.’ In a joint statement, the G-7 leaders condemned Russia’s ‘unprovoked war of aggression’ and nuclear brinkmanship, reaffirmed commitments to move away from Russian fossil fuels and pledged ongoing support for Ukraine’s economy and military.

  • WNBA star Brittney Griner is undergoing medical evaluations at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio after Russian authorities released her from a Moscow jail last week in a prisoner exchange with the United States. Roger D. Carstens, the Biden administration’s hostage affairs envoy, described Griner as healthy and full of energy in an interview with CNN on Sunday.
  • The White House will engage with Russia this week on efforts to free Paul Whelan, a former Marine who is serving 16 years in a Russian prison, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday. Members of the Biden administration virtually met with Elizabeth Whelan, Paul Whelan’s sister, earlier Monday. ‘The conversations with Paul Whelan’s family have been substantive,’ Sullivan said. ‘We are bound and determined to ensure that we work through a successful method of securing Paul Whelan’s release at the earliest possible opportunity.’
  • Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who was swapped by the United States for Griner, joined an ultranationalist political party just days after returning to Russia. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDPR) confirmed Bout’s membership Monday, posting a video to Telegram that showed him standing on a stage next to party leader Leonid Slutsky.
  • The European Council approved 18 billion euros ($18.9 billion) in financial assistance for Ukraine for 2023. In a statement Monday, the council said the assistance will provide short-term financial relief, finance Ukraine’s immediate needs and rehabilitate critical infrastructure.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin will not hold his traditional end-of-year news conference, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday, the first time he will skip the event in at least a decade. The conference is infamous among reporters in Moscow for lasting several hours. It is one of the rare occasions when journalists from outside the Kremlin pool can question Putin directly.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: G7 Nations Focus on Helping Ukraine Rebuild. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine addressed a virtual G7 meeting where leaders discussed the details of a donor system to aid reconstruction. Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, will skip his annual December news conference. The New York Times, Monday, 12 December 2022:

  • The G7 nations agree to set up a donor platform to funnel money to Ukraine.

  • The E.U.’s foreign ministers agreed to give Ukraine 2 billion euros in military aid.

  • The E.U. imposes fresh sanctions on Iranians over supplying drones to Russia.

  • Putin won’t hold a news conference that has been a December tradition.

  • Ukraine says it struck a hotel where members of Russia’s Wagner security force had gathered.

  • Kyiv’s gyms remain havens for reassuring routines, even in darkness.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: A weekly recap and look ahead at Russia’s war, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 12 December 2022: “As the week begins, here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch this week: Leaders of the Group of Seven countries are to meet online Monday, and the Russia-Ukraine war is likely to be on the agenda. European Union foreign ministers have been discussing further sanctions on Russia and arms deliveries for Ukraine Monday. Ukrainian authorities have been stepping up raids on churches accused of links with Moscow, and many are watching to see if Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy follows through on his threat of a ban on the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. French President Emmanuel Macron hosts European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store for a working dinner Monday in Paris. Also in France, on Tuesday, the country is set to co-host a conference with Ukraine in support of Ukrainians through the winter, with a video address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Following Brittney Griner’s release from Russian prison, fans, friends and family are celebrating the basketball player‘s return to the U.S. Meanwhile, some Republican politicians have been complaining about the prisoner swap and other U.S. citizens still held by Russia. Russian-speaking listeners will be tuning into a new station, Z-FM, billed as Russia’s ‘front-line radio’ for Russians fighting in Ukraine. What happened last week: New measures targeting Russian oil revenue took effect Dec. 5. They include a price cap and a European Union embargo on most Russian oil imports and a Russian oil price cap. Russia launched another barrage of strikes targeting Ukraine’s energy grid Dec. 5, knocking out electricity and water for many residents. Five days later, Russian attacks left over a million people without power in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa. Ukraine struck two military bases inside Russia. The New York Times reported that drones launched from Ukrainian territory to attack Russia demonstrated Ukraine’s willingness to take the fight deep into Russia and capabilities to attack at a distance. U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner was freed Dec. 8 after nearly 10 months in Russian detention and following months of negotiations. Her release came in exchange for the U.S. handing over convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout. Griner is back in the U.S. and reunited with her wife. Bout is back in Russia and is reported to have joined an ultranationalist party. Ukraine hit targets in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, including a church reported to be used as a Russian military base. Officials said Ukrainian forces used long-range artillery to reach targets in the city in southeastern Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia region.

Obstruction Charge Takes Center Stage at January 6 Court Hearing. A federal appeals court ruling could affect the cases of hundreds of people charged in connection with the attack on the Capitol–and potentially any prosecution of Donald Trump. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Monday, 12 December 2022: “Prosecutors and defense lawyers squared off on Monday at a federal appeals court hearing in Washington over the use of a criminal charge whose viability could affect the cases of hundreds of people indicted in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol — and could help decide what, if any, charges could ultimately be brought against former President Donald J. Trump. The charge at the center of the arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was the obstruction of an official proceeding before Congress. The Justice Department has used the count in scores of Capitol riot cases to describe how a pro-Trump mob disrupted the central event on Jan. 6: the certification of the 2020 election that took place during a joint session of Congress. Defense lawyers want the appeals court to rule that the count has been applied incorrectly by the Justice Department and dismiss it from all the Jan. 6 cases in which it has been charged. The arguments presented at the 90-minute hearing, while highly technical, hit on a critical issue that has shaped the contours of the government’s vast investigation of Jan. 6. That issue was how prosecutors in hundreds of cases have decided between charging people with petty offenses like trespassing or disorderly conduct, which carry a maximum of six months in jail, or the much more serious obstruction count, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.” See also, Federal appeals judges weigh fate of hundreds of January 6 cases, The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner and Spencer S. Hsu, Monday, 12 December 2022: “Hundreds of prosecutions in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot were hanging in the balance as a panel of federal judges on Monday debated the constitutionality of the Justice Department’s lead felony charge. Three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will decide the scope of a felony obstruction charge that members of Congress and a federal judge have suggested could be used to prosecute former president Donald Trump. Two of the judges on the panel were appointed by Trump. The other was appointed by President Biden. The law punishes ‘whoever corruptly alters, destroys, mutilates or conceals a record, document or other object … or otherwise obstructs, influences or impedes any official proceeding.’ Prosecutors have used the charge against nearly 300 people they say intentionally tried to delay, prevent or block Congress from formally counting electoral votes as required on Jan. 6, such as by entering sensitive areas like the Senate chamber.”

Special counsel Jack Smith sends Trump subpoena to Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger. State or local officials in the contested battlegrounds where former president Donald Trump tried to reverse his defeat have received similar subpoenas. The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Monday, 12 December 2022: “Special counsel Jack Smith has sent grand jury subpoenas to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and to authorities in Clark County, Nev., bringing to six the number of 2020 battleground states where state or local election officials are known to have received such requests for any and all communications with Trump, his campaign, and a long list of aides and allies. State and local officials in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have received similar subpoenas — all of them, like Georgia and Nevada, central to President Donald Trump’s failed plan to stay in power after the 2020 election.”

Mark Meadows Exchanged Texts With 34 Members of Congress About Plans to Overturn the 2020 Election. The Messages Included Battle Cries Crackpot Legal Theories, and ‘Invoking Marshall Law!!’ Talking Points Memo (TPM), Hunter Walker, Josh Kovensky, and Emine Yücel, Monday, 12 December 2022: “White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows exchanged text messages with at least 34 Republican members of Congress as they plotted to overturn President Trump’s loss in the 2020 election. Those messages are being fully, publicly documented here for the first time. The texts are part of a trove Meadows turned over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack that was obtained by TPM. For more information about the story behind the text log and our procedures for publishing the messages, read the introduction to this series. Meadows’ exchanges shed new light on the extent of congressional involvement in Trump’s efforts to spread baseless conspiracy theories about his defeat and his attempts to reverse it. The messages document the role members played in the campaign to subvert the election as it was conceived, built, and reached its violent climax on Jan. 6, 2021. The texts are rife with links to far-right websites, questionable legal theories, violent rhetoric, and advocacy for authoritarian power grabs. One message identified as coming from Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) to Meadows on January 17, 2021, three days before Joe Biden was set to take office, is a raw distillation of the various themes in the congressional correspondence. In the text, despite a typo, Norman seemed to be proposing a dramatic last ditch plan: having Trump impose martial law during his final hours in office. ‘Mark, in seeing what’s happening so quickly, and reading about the Dominion law suits attempting to stop any meaningful investigation we are at a point of no return in saving our Republic !! Our LAST HOPE is invoking Marsahll Law!!. PLEASE URGE TO PRESIDENT TO DO SO!!'”

White House condemns Georgia Republican Representative marjorie Taylor Greene over claim she would have ‘won’ January 6 insurrection, The Washington Post, Eugene Scott, Monday, 12 December 2022: “The White House on Monday strongly condemned the claim from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) that she and former Trump aide Stephen K. Bannon would have executed a successful attack on Jan. 6, 2021, if they had organized the storming of the U.S. Capitol and they would have ‘been armed.’ The divisive Republican pushed back on theories that she was a ringleader of the violent incident that left more than 100 law enforcement officers injured. ‘I want to tell you something, if Steve Bannon and I had organized that, we would have won. Not to mention, we would’ve been armed,’ Greene said Saturday at a dinner hosted by the New York Young Republican Club, according to the New York Post. Deputy White House press secretary Andrew Bates said the comments were a ‘slap in the face’ to the law enforcement officers who risked their lives to keep Greene and other lawmakers safe from the violent mob seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election and stop Congress from counting the electoral votes for Joe Biden’s win over President Donald Trump. ‘It goes against our fundamental values as a country for a Member of Congress to wish that the carnage of January 6th had been even worse, and to boast that she would have succeeded in an armed insurrection against the United States government,’ Bates said in a statement. ‘This violent rhetoric is a slap in the face to the Capitol Police, the DC Metropolitan Police, the National Guard, and the families who lost loved ones as a result of the attack on the Capitol.'”


Tuesday, 13 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: $1B in additional aid pledged at Paris conference; U.S. prepares to provide advanced Patriot  missile system, The Washington Post, Rick Noack, Kelsey Abies, Victoria Bisset, and Adam Taylor, Tuesday, 13 December 2022: “Dozens of countries pledged more than $1 billion in additional aid to Ukraine at a conference in Paris on Tuesday, offering short-term support for Ukraine’s energy network and other civilian infrastructure as the country faces a difficult winter. The conference, meant to coordinate support for Ukraine, brought together representatives from 24 international organizations and 46 countries. It came amid sustained Russian attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure that have strained the country’s power grid. Ukraine could see further aid in the days and weeks ahead: The Pentagon is preparing to send the Patriot missile system to Ukraine, two senior U.S. officials said Tuesday, a move that would provide the government in Kyiv with the most advanced air defense system in the U.S. arsenal.

  • The pledges are contributions ‘that can be mobilized immediately, between now and the winter months,’ French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said in a news conference. The participating countries, which are mostly Western, also included a number of Asian nations, which French President Emmanuel Macron said was ‘tangible proof that Ukraine is not alone.’ Countries pledged at least $67 million for food and water in Ukraine, $18 million for the country’s health sector and $23 million for its transportation networks.
  • In an interview, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk called the Paris conference ‘a success,’ highlighting the presence of countries such as India and Indonesia. ‘The hope would be that countries, many countries across the world, not just in Europe, really step up and help the Ukrainian people,’ Turk said. ‘And I think we made some progress on that front at this meeting.’
  • A U.S. shipment of power equipment was on its way to Ukraine on Tuesday, with a handover expected in Poland, as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to help rebuild Ukraine’s battered electrical grid. Two additional planes with equipment will depart from the United States this week. The aim, Turk said, was to geta first tranche over there as quickly as we possibly can to show the partnership, to show the resolve — not only from the Department of Energy and the U.S. government but from U.S. industry and all of society.’
  • More than $440 million of the total aid pledged is expected to be directed to Ukraine’s energy network. French officials said the final amount probably would rise. In a video Tuesday address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged the international community to make maintaining the country’s energy supply a priority, calling for at least $850 million in aid for the sector.
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen pledged practical support at the conference. The bloc of 27 nations is ‘working to increase the amount of electricity we can trade between Ukraine and Moldova, and the rest of Europe,’ she said, adding that ‘we need to keep the Ukrainian grid functioning, despite the Russian bombs.’
  • The plan to send the Patriot missile system to Ukraine, not yet approved by President Biden or Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, would represent the administration’s most significant step so far to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses. The system could be sent soon, two senior U.S. officials told The Washington Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity to detail sensitive internal deliberations.
  • According to new polling data, Russians narrowly support negotiations to end the war in Ukraine, but they also overwhelmingly reject the return of annexed regions such as Crimea or Donbas. The findings, from a joint survey conducted in November by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Moscow-based Levada Center, were released Tuesday and suggest that even if Russians are tired of the war, peace negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow could face significant constraints.
  • In a statement Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency committed to maintaining a continuous presence at nuclear power plants controlled by Ukraine, including the defunct Chernobyl site, and to work to establish a presence at and safe zone around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest. ‘While we are not yet there and more work is required, I’m increasingly optimistic that such a zone — which is of paramount importance — will be agreed and implemented in the near future,’ IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said in a statement. ‘I will continue my high-level consultations in the coming days — both with Ukraine and Russia — with the clear aim to get this done as soon as possible. We can’t afford to lose more time.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: 2 U.S. Nationals Charged for Conspiring to Feed Russia’s ‘War Machine.’ Five Russians were also charged in the scheme. And U.S. officials are said to be answering Kyiv’s plea for Patriot missiles, the premier air-defense weapon in the American arsenal. The New York Times, Tuesday, 13 December 2022:

  • Federal prosecutors say 2 U.S. nationals and 5 Russians conspired to feed Moscow’s ‘war machine.’

  • The U.S. is poised to send a Patriot missile battery to Ukraine, officials say.

  • Paris hosts a vast gathering to coordinate urgent aid for Ukraine.

  • Ukraine ratchets up attacks in a Russian-occupied city described as a ‘gateway to Crimea.’

  • The U.N. nuclear watchdog will send permanent teams to all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.

  • Ukraine’s Black Sea ports resume operations after Russian strikes on Odesa.

  • Ukraine could see another exodus as winter bites, a senior aid official says.

Biden Signs Bill to Protect Same-Sex Marriage Rights. Proponents of the legislation argued that Congress needed to be proactive in ensuring a future Supreme Court would not invalidate same-sex marriages around the country. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Tuesday, 13 December 2022: “President Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law on Tuesday, mandating federal recognition for same-sex marriages and capping his own personal evolution toward embracing gay rights over the course of a four-decade political career. In an elaborate signing ceremony on the South Lawn, complete with musical performances from Cyndi Lauper and Sam Smith, Mr. Biden told thousands of supporters and lawmakers that the new law represents a rare moment of bipartisanship when Democrats and Republicans came together.” See also, Biden signs Respect for Marriage Act, reflecting his and the country’s evolution, NPR, Domenico Montanaro, Tuesday, 13 December 2022: “President Biden signed into law Tuesday a bipartisan bill that codifies same-sex and interracial marriages with a large celebration on the South Lawn of the White House. The president spoke before a crowd of thousands gathered to celebrate the federal protections in the Respect for Marriage Act. ‘The road to this moment has been long, but those who believe in equality and justice – you never gave up,’ Biden said.

Trump Organization Was Held in Contempt After Secret Trial Last Year. The company was fined $4,000 after failing to turn over documents. The case is one of several in which investigators have found the ex-president or his company loath to hand over papers. The New York Times, Jonah E. Bromwich, William K. Rashbaum, and Ben Protess, Tuesday, 13 December 2022: “Donald J. Trump’s family business lost a criminal contempt trial that was held in secret last fall [2021], according to a newly unsealed court document and several people with knowledge of the matter, with a judge ruling against the company almost exactly a year before it was convicted of a tax fraud scheme last week. The document, a judicial order released Tuesday, showed that in October 2021, a one-day contempt trial was held after prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office requested that the company be punished for ‘willfully disobeying’ four grand jury subpoenas and three court orders enforcing compliance. The order, dated Dec. 8, 2021, was unsealed by the judge who presided over the tax fraud trial of the Trump Organization, which ended last week with the conviction of the company. It redacted the name of the entities on trial in October, but the people with knowledge of the case confirmed that those entities were the Trump Organization corporations that later went on trial for tax fraud. The judge, Juan Merchan, convicted the two corporations of criminal contempt of court and fined them $4,000, the maximum under the law.”

Nevada, New Mexico, and Georgia officials subpoenaed by Department of Justice for records related to 2020 election, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen and Jason Morris, Tuesday, 13 December 2022: “Local officials in Nevada, New Mexico and Georgia have received federal subpoenas for records related to the 2020 election as the Justice Department’s investigation intensifies in battleground states. Special counsel Jack Smith sent the subpoenas to the New Mexico secretary of state’s office and to the Clark County, Nevada, elections division in late November, according to copies of the requests obtained by CNN. Smith oversees the Justice Department’s investigation into efforts to overturn the election results. The subpoenas ask for any and all communications from June 1, 2020, through January 20, 2021, with former President Donald Trump, his campaign and a number of aides and allies. CNN previously reported that similar requests were sent to local officials in Wisconsin, Michigan and Arizona. In addition, the Cobb County, Georgia, election board received an FBI subpoena this week, according to Ross Cavitt, the county’s communications director. Cobb County, which incorporates a large part of Atlanta’s northern suburbs, had been the focus of false claims of voter fraud.”

House Oversight Committee asks National Archives to review Trump storage unit. Representative Carolyn Maloney says the storage facility and  other properties ‘may contain presidential records that were not the focus of the search and therefore have not been turned over to the federal government.’ The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany and Josh Dawsey, Tuesday, 13 December 2022: “The House Oversight Committee sent a letter to the National Archives on Tuesday requesting a review to determine whether former president Donald Trump has retained any additional presidential records at his storage facility in Florida. The request from the committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), follows a report from The Washington Post that at least two items marked classified were found by an outside team hired by Trump to search a storage unit, along with at least two of his properties, after his legal team was pressed by a federal judge to attest that it had fully complied with a May grand jury subpoena to turn over all materials bearing classified markings. According to the letter obtained by The Post, Maloney expressed concern to acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall that Trump’s storage facility and other properties ‘may contain presidential records that were not the focus of the search and therefore have not been turned over to the federal government.'”

An intel analyst tried to prevent the January 6 attack, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to act, Yahoo!News, Jana Winter, Tuesday, 13 December 2022: “On Dec. 20, 2020, a 21-year-old intelligence analyst went online to search for local Washington, D.C., fishing holes and stumbled upon the blueprint of a plot to storm the Capitol and execute members of Congress and law enforcement officers to prevent the certification of electoral votes to make Joe Biden the next president. The domestic terrorism analyst with the Department of Homeland Security saw a link to a website where people ‘actively at that moment were discussing the commission of acts of terroristic violence and the violent overthrow of the government of the United States,’ according to the analyst’s written account later provided to investigators. There the analyst ‘witnessed upwards of 500 pages worth of potential threats to national security,’ including people urging others — and discussing how — to smuggle illegal weapons into the nation’s capital and avoid detection by law enforcement. The DHS intelligence analyst also saw ‘discussion references of overthrowing the US Government by force/sparking a second civil war, and veiled credible threats of violence toward other US persons who were perceived enemies, specifically Members of Congress and other federal employees.'”


Wednesday, 14 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Drones shot down over Kyiv; U.S. Air Force veteran freed in swap with Russia, The Washington Post, David L. Stern, Kelsey Ables, Victoria Bisset, and Claire Parker, Wednesday, 14 December 2022: “Ukraine fought off a swarm of drones over central Kyiv on Wednesday, shooting down more than a dozen, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine’s military identified the drones as Iranian-made. There were no immediate reports of casualties in what marked the first attack by drones in weeks. ‘We are constantly strengthening our air defense and anti-drone defense,’ Zelensky said in a nightly address. ‘And we are doing everything to get more modern and more powerful systems for Ukraine.’

  • U.S. Air Force veteran Suedi Murekezi was freed after a prisoner swap with Russia, a senior Ukrainian official announced Wednesday.State Department spokesman Vedant Patel later confirmed at a news briefing that a U.S. citizen was released by Russian forces, saying that he had departed Russian-controlled territory.
  • Murekezi’s family said he moved to Ukraine in 2018 and was captured by pro-Russian separatists in the southern city of Kherson in early June. In a phone call Wednesday, Murekezi’s brother, Sele Murekezi, said he was released in October but was barred from leaving the separatist areas of Ukraine. ‘He’s relieved,’ Sele said of his brother. ‘Basically, he was stuck where he was.’
  • The United States charged five Russian nationals, an American citizen and a U.S. permanent resident with helping Russia evade sanctions by assisting with the global procurement of weapons and money laundering on behalf of the Russian government. One of the Russians is a suspected Federal Security Service officer who was arrested in Estonia and will undergo proceedings for extradition to the United States, the Justice Department said. The other four Russians remain at large, it said, while the U.S. citizen and resident were also arrested.
  • Ukraine’s security service said Wednesday on Telegram that it raided facilities belonging to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in nine regions. ‘These measures are carried out, among other things, to prevent the use of religious communities as a center of “Russian peace” and to protect the population from provocations and terrorist attacks,’ the post said. Ukraine’s national security council introduced sanctions Monday against seven members of the church, which has come under scrutiny for its links to Moscow.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Air Defenses Shoot Down Russian Drones, but Kyiv Sustains Damage. The Iranian-made drones were intercepted by Ukrainian air defense systems. Russia has focused attacks on infrastructure for weeks as the harsh winter sets in. The New York Times, Wednesday, 14 December 2022:

  • Ukraine’s capital wakes to explosions as air defenses shoot down drones.

  • Ukraine’s Parliament passes a bill to regulate the news media, drawing criticism from press freedom groups.

  • Zelensky urges the E.U. to create a war tribunal as he accepts the Sakharov Prize.

  • The Kyiv attack suggests that Russia may have resolved a glitch with Iranian-made drones.

  • Zelensky says Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be allowed at the 2024 Olympics.

  • Russia warns that it would ‘undoubtedly’ target U.S. Patriot air defense systems in Ukraine.

  • A U.S. citizen captured by Russian forces in Ukraine is released.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis targets Covid vaccine manufacturers and CDC in latest anti-vaccine moves, CNN Politics, Eric Bradner and Kit Maher, Wednesday, 14 December 2022: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday asked his state’s Supreme Court to green-light an investigation of ‘any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to Covid-19 vaccines,’ his latest move to cast doubt on the vaccines’ effectiveness and amplify fears about side effects. In the petition filed with the Florida Supreme Court, the Republican governor requests the empaneling of a grand jury to investigate a broad group of entities associated with the development, distribution and promotion of the vaccines, including pharmaceutical manufacturers and their executive officers, as well as medical associations. DeSantis also said Tuesday he was launching a public health integrity committee – a panel that would counter the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which DeSantis said ‘is not serving a useful function; it’s really serving to advance narratives rather than do evidence-based medicine.’ The panel would assess guidance and actions from federal agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, US Food and Drug Administration and the CDC. DeSantis has made Covid-19 vaccine skepticism his calling card ahead of a potential run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. The governor, who cruised to victory in his bid for a second term in November, is positioning himself to the right of former President Donald Trump, a potential rival who who was in office when the vaccine was developed.”


Thursday, 15 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: European Union approves Ukraine support; U.S. hits Russian oligarch Vladimir Potanin with sanctions, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Dan Lamothe, Niha Masih, Annabelle Timsit, Emily Rauhala, and Claire Parker, Thursday, 15 December 2022: “European Union leaders met in Brussels to discuss the escalation of Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure and the fallout from the war, as well as to approve an 18 billion euro package of aid to rebuild the war-ravaged country in the coming year. ‘We are in the process of discussing how to keep the consequences of this war under control for our economies and the world,’ German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told reporters before the meeting, citing inflation and high energy prices. The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on one of Russia’s richest men, Vladimir Potanin, the Treasury Department announced. The billionaire businessman is a major shareholder of one of the world’s largest producers of palladium and refined nickel. Potanin played an instrumental role in the ‘loans for shares’ programs in the 1990s that enabled some Russians to amass great wealth after the fall of the Soviet Union. Known to regularly meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the years, Potanin was already under British sanctions. The United States plans to send Ukraine advanced ‘smart bomb’ equipment that would allow it to target Russian military positions with better accuracy, senior U.S. officials said, another significant step by Washington to help Ukraine fight off invading Russian forces. The Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM, to be offered by the United States uses global positioning devices for precision and can be bolted to other weapons.

  • The United States announced new sanctions on 18 entities in Russia’s financial services sector Thursday. ‘By sanctioning additional major Russian banks, we continue to deepen Russia’s isolation from global markets,’ the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a news release. One of them is Rosbank, a Russia-based commercial bank acquired by Potanin this year. In addition to Potanin and members of his ‘network,’ the State Department also designated 40 people linked to the Russian government on the sanctions list, according to the Treasury Department.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said ‘the next six months will be decisive’ in an address delivered virtually to E.U. leaders in Brussels. He called for more support. European Council President Charles Michel said the E.U. must discuss ‘how to guarantee the sustainability of our military and financial support to Ukraine’ in the long term as questions arise about how Ukraine’s economy can survive the Russian onslaught.
  • Separately, in an interview with the Economist published Thursday, Zelensky warned against allowing the conflict to become ‘frozen,’ underscoring the necessity, in Ukraine’s eyes, of reclaiming all of the land within its 1991 borders that Russia has illegally annexed. Zelensky and his top military commanders said Russia is preparing another big offensive, potentially to begin next month. Zelensky voiced concerns about Russia’s information warfare in territories it occupies, saying, ‘I must admit that this propaganda model of the Kremlin — it works.’
  • Ukraine has made ‘important progress’ on strengthening its air defense capabilities, Zelensky said in his nightly address, after officials said this week that the Pentagon was preparing to provide Ukraine with a Patriot missile system, the U.S. military’s most sophisticated air defense weapon. The Kremlin warned that if the United States were to send Patriot missile systems to Ukraine, they would be legitimate targets for Russia’s military. Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Thursday that Washington ‘has nearly become a party to the conflict.’
  • A gift given by a member of the Ukrainian police to Poland’s police chief exploded on Wednesday in Warsaw, injuring the chief and a civilian employee at the National Police Headquarters, the Polish Ministry of the Interior and Administration said Thursday. The police commander, Gen. Jaroslaw Szymczyk, ‘suffered minor injuries’ and was hospitalized for observation, the statement said. Polish officials have asked their Ukrainian counterparts for an explanation and the case is being handled by the Polish prosecutor’s office, it added. Ukraine’s police and emergency services did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
  • E.U. ambassadors on Thursday agreed on a ninth package of sanctions targeting Russia. The latest measures will list additional people and businesses in an aim to hit Russia’s war effort. The package is expected to be formally confirmed on Friday.
  • Ukraine is experiencing a ‘significant deficit’ of electricity amid Russian strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure, national grid operator Ukrenergo said in a Telegram post. Winter weather, particularly snow and ice, has further complicated matters, it said. The U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said almost every child in Ukraine is without regular access to electricity, heat and water in biting winter cold amid Russian attacks.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. to Expand Training for Ukrainian Forces. The Pentagon aims to instruct one Ukrainian battalion each month in advanced battlefield tactics, beginning early next year, U. S. officials said. The New York Times, Thursday, 15 December 2022:

  • The U.S. plans to more than double the number of Ukrainian troops it trains in Germany.

  • Expanded U.S. training aims to fill a gap in Ukraine’s military capabilities.

  • The U.S. imposes sanctions on a Russian oligarch and other officials.

  • Zelensky calls for the United Nations to send observers to energy infrastructure targeted by Russian strikes.

  • Russia’s espionage charge against Paul Whelan adds to the difficulty of securing his freedom.

  • Ukraine’s Parliament passes a bill to regulate the news media, drawing criticism from press freedom groups.

  • Zelensky says Russian and Belarusian athletes should not be allowed at the 2024 Olympics.

Inside Mar-a-Lago, Where Thousands Partied Near Secret Files. A Times investigation shows how Donald J. Trump stored classified documents in high-traffic areas at Mar-a-Lago, where guests may have been within feet of the materials. The New York Times, Anjali Singhvi, Mika Gröndahl, Maggie Haberman, Weiyi Cai, and Blacki Migliozzi, Thursday, 15 December 2022: “Mar-a-Lago is the primary home of former President Donald J. Trump. It is also a private club reserved for 500 members and a venue for parties and fund-raisers that are frequently attended by hundreds of people at a time. With the exception of the Trump family suite, members and their guests have access to much of the 20-acre property. Since January, the federal government has retrieved three batches of classified documents from Mar-a-Lago. In a search in August, the F.B.I. seized the third batch — more than 13,000 items, including 103 classified documents — from a storage area and Mr. Trump’s office. Classified documents are supposed to be turned over to the National Archives at the end of a presidential term. But after the end of his term in 2021, Mr. Trump stored the materials at Mar-a-Lago. A New York Times investigation reveals how easily accessible classified documents may have been to the thousands of guests who visited Mar-a-Lago in the months after Mr. Trump left office. The Times created a 3-D model of Mar-a-Lago and reviewed images from social media and other sources to show how people were, at times, within feet of the materials.”

Trump Sells a New Image as the Hero of $99 Trading Cards. Money from sales of the digital trading cards, which depict the former president as characters like a superhero and a ‘Top Gun’-style fighter pilot, will go directly to him instead of his 2022 campaign. The New York Times, Michael C. Bender and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 15 December 2022: “Donald J. Trump’s political opponents have long criticized him as something of a cartoon character. On Thursday, the former president made himself into one — but with the aim of turning a profit. In his first significant public move since opening his 2024 presidential campaign last month, Mr. Trump announced an online store to sell $99 digital trading cards of himself as a superhero, an astronaut, an Old West sheriff and a series of other fantastical figures. He made his pitch in a brief, direct-to-camera video in which he audaciously declared that his four years in the White House were ‘better than Lincoln, better than Washington.’ The sale of the trading cards, which Mr. Trump had promoted a day earlier as a “major announcement” on his social media website, Truth Social, perplexed some of his advisers and drew criticism from some fellow conservatives.”

D.C. Bar lawyer calls for Giuliani’s disbarment as board weighs case. A panel with the Board on Professional Responsibility preliminarily found Giuliani violated the terms of his license as it weighs what discipline he should face. The Washington Post, Keith L. Alexander, Thursday, 15 December 2022: “An arm of the D.C. Bar found Thursday that Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and personal attorney to President Donald Trump, violated the terms of his license to practice law in the nation’s capital when he filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania trying to block certification of the results in the 2020 presidential election. The preliminary finding by a subcommittee of the D.C. Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility means Giuliani and his legal team will have to file additional briefs detailing his defense and his role in the lawsuit, as officials consider what discipline he should face. Robert C. Bernius, the panel’s chairman, said after a private 15-minute discussion Thursday that the finding was ‘preliminary and nonbinding.'” See also, Attorney disciplinary committee says Giuliani violated ethics rules with 2020 election fraud claims, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed, Thursday, 15 December 2022: False election fraud claims that Rudy Giuliani made when he was representing former President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2020 should make the former New York mayor liable for professional sanctions, an attorney disciplinary committee said Thursday. The decision by the hearing committee for the DC Bar’s Board on Professional Responsibility is preliminary and non-binding. After another round of hearings in front of the committee, the proceedings then move to the board and eventually to DC’s local court of appeals, the final arbiter on whether Giuliani should be sanctioned. But the committee’s decision represents a significant step forward in efforts to hold Trump attorneys accountable for their willingness to use the courts to promote his unsubstantiated voter fraud narrative.”

Three Michigan Men Sentenced to Prison Terms for Aiding Plot Against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The men, who were convicted of aiding a plan to kidnap Whitmer, were given sentences that could put all three in prison for at least seven years. The New York Times, Eliza Fawcett, Thursday, 15 December 2022: “Three men convicted of aiding a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan in 2020 were sentenced on Thursday to lengthy sentences that could put them in prison for at least seven years. The three men, Paul Bellar, 24, Joseph Morrison, 28, and Pete Musico, 45, were convicted in October of aiding a plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer, a Democrat, as part of a right-wing backlash over her role in the state’s Covid restrictions. The men, all Michigan residents, were found guilty of providing material support for terrorist acts and illegal gang membership, as well as felony firearms charges. The trial was one in a series of cases that grew out of a sprawling domestic terrorism investigation into the kidnapping plot. Federal prosecutors have delivered mixed results, with some convictions and other acquittals. As a whole, the cases have been seen as underscoring the rising threat of political violence in America.”

Twitter suspends several journalists who shared information about Musk’s jet, NPR, Bobby Allyn, Thursday, 15 December 2022: “Press freedom advocates on Thursday criticized Twitter owner Elon Musk, who has suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists who cover the billionaire and his chaotic leadership of the social media site. Musk took the highly unusual move of booting journalists from Twitter following a sudden change in policy about accounts that share the travels of private jets using publicly available information. Musk tweeted that those who violate Twitter’s new policy will be suspended for 7 days. Many of the journalists who were suspended Thursday night had tweeted or written about the rift between Musk and the jet-tracking account. Reporters whose accounts were suspended include Donie O’Sullivan of CNN; Ryan Mac of the New York Times; Drew Harwell of the Washington Post; Micah Lee of the Intercept; and journalist Aaron Rupar…. Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, called Musk’s move disturbing. ‘Musk suspending journalists’ accounts is petty and vindictive and absolutely disgraceful—and especially so because Musk has styled himself, however absurdly, as a champion of free speech,’ Jaffer said in a statement.” See also, Elon Musk bans several prominent journalists from Twitter, calling into question his commitment to free speech, CNN Business, Oliver Darcy, Thursday, 15 December 2022: “Twitter on Thursday evening banned the accounts of several high-profile journalists from the nation’s top news organizations, marking a significant attempt by new owner and self-described free speech absolutist Elon Musk to wield his unilateral authority over the platform to censor the press. The accounts belonging to CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell and other journalists who have covered Musk aggressively in recent weeks were all abruptly permanently suspended. The account of progressive independent journalist Aaron Rupar was also banned. Neither Musk nor Twitter responded to CNN’s request for comment and the platform did not say formally why the journalists were exiled from the platform. But, in a series of sporadic tweets, Musk claimed that the journalists had violated his new ‘doxxing’ policy by sharing his ‘exact real-time’ location, amounting to what he described as ‘assassination coordinates.’ None of the banned journalists appeared to have shared Musk’s precise real-time location.” See also, Twitter Suspends Accounts of Half a Dozen Journalists. The social media service, which is owned by Elon Musk, said that it suspends accounts that ‘violate the Twitter rules’ but did not provide details. The New York Times, Mike Isaac and Kate Conger, Thursday, 15 December 2022: “Twitter suspended the accounts of roughly half a dozen prominent journalists on Thursday, the latest change by the social media service under its new owner, Elon Musk. The accounts suspended included Ryan Mac of The New York Times; Drew Harwell of The Washington Post; Aaron Rupar, an independent journalist; Donie O’Sullivan of CNN; Matt Binder of Mashable; Tony Webster, an independent journalist; Micah Lee of The Intercept; and the political journalist Keith Olbermann. It was unclear what the suspensions had in common; each user’s Twitter page included a message that said it suspended accounts that ‘violate the Twitter rules.’ The moves came a day after Twitter suspended more than 25 accounts that tracked the planes of government agencies, billionaires and high-profile individuals, including that of Mr. Musk. Many of the accounts were operated by Jack Sweeney, a 20-year-old college student and flight tracking enthusiast who had used Twitter to post updates about the location of Mr. Musk’s private plane using publicly available information.”

It Was an Attempted Auto-Coup: The Cline Center’s Coup d’État Project Categorizes the January 6, 2021 Assault on the US Capitol, Cline Center, Thursday, 15 December 2022: “Using the Cline Center’s Coup d’État Project definitions, the storming of the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 was an attempted coup d’état: an organized, illegal attempt to intervene in the presidential transition by displacing the power of the Congress to certify the election. In terms of the type of coup attempt, the complex nature of this event leads it to be categorized as both an attempted auto-coup and as an attempted dissident coup, reflecting the distinctive activities of different actors involved in the event. The Cline Center’s Coup d’État Project has categorized the storming of the US Capitol Building on January 6, 2021  as both an attempted auto-coup and as an attempted dissident coup, reflecting the distinctive activities of different actors involved in the event. Labels matter when it comes to political violence, because each type has distinctive consequences and implications for societal stability. Coups and attempted coups are among the most politically consequential forms of destabilizing events tracked by the Cline Center for Advanced Social Research.”


Friday, 16 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: ‘Massive’ wave of missiles strike Ukraine; civilian and infrastructure targets hit, The Washington Post, David L. Stern, Jeff Stein, Victoria Bisset, Erin Cunningham, Claire Healy, and Kyle Rempfer, Friday, 16 December 2022: “A wave of explosions and missile strikes was reported across Ukraine Friday — from the capital, Kyiv, to Kharkiv and Sumy in the northeast and Poltava in central Ukraine. Critical infrastructure across seven cities took another wave of hits. Reporters with The Washington Post heard blasts in Kyiv and the central city of Dnipro. Kyiv officials said the city had experienced ‘one of the biggest missile attacks’ since the beginning of the war. A Ukraine air force spokesman said that Russia had launched more than 60 missiles at the country in the latest barrage. At least three people were killed and 13 injured when a residential building was hit in the central city of Kryvyi Rih, local officials said. Meanwhile, Ukrenergo, Ukraine’s energy operator, said emergency shutdowns were taking place in all regions of Ukraine as a result of the strikes.

  • Friday’s strikes come after the United States and the European Union announced additional measures to support Ukraine. The Pentagon announced Thursday that it will begin training large formations of Ukrainian soldiers beginning in January, while the E.U. approved 18 billion euros ($19.1 billion) in financing for Ukraine next year.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in a video posted to Telegram on Friday, issued a message of assurance that the missile strikes ‘won’t change the balance of power in this war.’ Workers in Kyiv have been rushing to restore water and heat to two-thirds of the capital city’s residents.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning a visit next week to Belarus. There is rising concern among Ukrainian officials that Russia may attempt another incursion into Ukraine from the north — not necessarily to retry its failed attempt to seize Kyiv but perhaps to hit from behind at Ukrainian forces pushing east. The Pentagon has acknowledged Ukraine’s concerns but says it sees no signs that such an attack is imminent.
  • The vast majority of Russians would not support the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, although three-quarters continue to support the Kremlin’s war, according to a survey conducted by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Moscow-based Levada Center.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine; Ukraine Officials Warn Russia May Renew Its Offensive Early Next Year. Ukraine’s top commander said in a published interview that Russia appeared to be massing troops, though the White House said it had seen no signs of an imminent assault. The New York Times, Friday, 16 December 2022:

  • Ukraine fears Russia will try again to take Kyiv.

  • Missiles knock out heating systems in towns and cities amid freezing temperatures.

  • In her first statement since her release, Griner pledges to help Biden seek freedom for Paul Whelan.

  • ‘We are fed up’: Anger boils over in Kyiv after another wave of missiles.

  • The E.U. agrees on new sanctions against Russia.

  • Russia keeps its key interest rate steady amid worries of inflation.

  • Russian official in Africa is wounded by a package bomb, Moscow says.

Justice Department Examines Emails from Trump Lawyers in Fake Elector Inquiry. Prosecutors have combed through more than 100,000 documents from John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark, and Ken Klukowski, who played roles in the effort to reverse the outcome of the 2020 election. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman, Friday, 16 December 2022: “Federal prosecutors have examined more than 100,000 documents seized from the email accounts of three lawyers associated with former President Donald J. Trump in a continuing investigation into the roles they played in a wide-ranging scheme to help Mr. Trump overturn the results of the 2020 election, according to court papers released on Friday. The material came from email accounts belonging to John Eastman, who helped devise and promote a plan to create fake slates of pro-Trump electors in states that were actually won by Joseph R. Biden Jr., and two former Justice Department lawyers, Jeffrey Clark and Ken Klukowski, who have faced scrutiny for their own roles in the fake electors scheme, the papers say. As part of their inquiry, federal investigators in Washington obtained a search warrant for the three men’s email accounts in May and the following month seized their cellphones and other electronic devices. The court papers, unsealed by Beryl A. Howell, the chief judge in Federal District Court in Washington, revealed for the first time the extent of the emails that investigators had obtained. The court papers, which emerged from a behind-the-scenes review of the material for any that might be protected by attorney-client privilege, said little about the contents of the emails. But they noted that each of the men was in contact with a leader of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, Representative Scott Perry, Republican of Pennsylvania, whose own phone was seized in August as part of the investigation into the fake elector scheme.”

North Carolina court strikes down voter ID law as intentional racial discrimination, The Washington Post, Eugene Scott, Azi Paybarah, and Amy Gardner, Friday, 16 December 2022: “The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday struck down a state voter identification law, ruling that Republican lawmakers acted unconstitutionally to minimize Democratic voters’ power with a law that intentionally discriminated against Black voters. ‘We hold that the three-judge panel’s findings of fact are supported by competent evidence showing that the statute was motivated by a racially discriminatory purpose,’ Associate Justice Anita Earls wrote for the majority in the 89-page ruling. ‘The provisions enacted … were formulated with an impermissible intent to discriminate against African American voters in violation of the North Carolina Constitution.'”

Judge unseals new details of contacts among Republican Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania and Trump-connected attorneys. The document addressed communications among Perry, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, his aide Ken Klukowski, and conservative lawyer John Eastman. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Nicholas Wu, and Josh Gerstein, Friday, 16 December 2022: “A federal judge revealed Friday that earlier this year she granted Justice Department investigators access to emails between three Trump-connected attorneys and Rep. Scott Perry as part of the federal investigation into election subversion efforts by the former president and others. At the request of DOJ, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Beryl Howell unsealed a June opinion in which she determined that 37 emails sent among Trump-era Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, his aide Ken Klukowski and conservative attorney John Eastman and Perry (R-Pa.) — another top Donald Trump ally who chairs the House Freedom Caucus — were not protected by attorney-client privilege.”


Saturday, 17 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Power restored to millions, Zelensky says, but some areas struggle after major bombardment, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Adela Suliman, David L. Stern, Natalia Abbakumova, Nick Parker, and Kyle Rempfer, Saturday, 17 December 2022: “Residents of major Ukrainian cities were digging their way out of rubble and rebuilding infrastructure on a relatively quiet Saturday after Friday’s barrage of Russian missile strikes. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday evening that power had been restored to 6 million Ukrainians. The worst of Russia’s infrastructure strikes was felt in the Kyiv, Vinnytsia and Lviv regions, he said, but water access had returned to the capital, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko posted to Telegram earlier. Many of Russia’s attacks this summer and fall had been focused on the eastern front near areas that the Kremlin had annexed territory illegally, but recent strikes have targeted infrastructure in central and western Ukraine. ‘Find an opportunity to give Ukraine reliable protection of the sky, a reliable air defense shield,’ Zelensky said in an appeal for more help from his Western allies.

  • Russia claimed Saturday that Friday’s missile barrage using airborne and sea-based weapons prevented the delivery of foreign weapons to Ukraine. ‘The strike prevented the transfer of foreign-made weapons and ammunition, blocked the movement of reserves to combat areas, and halted Ukraine’s defense enterprises producing and repairing weapons, military equipment and ammunition,’ Russia’s defense ministry said in a daily briefing.
  • Zelensky thanked his allies for their help in countering Russia’s airstrikes, and he urged them to send more support. The United States and other allied nations have rushed air defenses and other assistance to Ukraine, which Russia has bombarded for months. ‘It’s necessary to exceed it with even more help to the people against whom this terror is directed,’ Zelensky said Saturday. Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to escalate his attacks on Ukraine because of Western support for the nation he invaded.
  • Putin met with military commanders to determine next steps in the offensive, the Kremlin said Saturday. ‘We will listen to the commanders in each operational direction, and I would like to hear your proposals on our immediate and medium-term actions,’ Putin said as he toured military headquarters Friday alongside Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had ‘heard a report on the progress of the special military operation and also held a joint meeting and separate meetings with commanders.’
  • Putin’s meeting with military leaders could be a move by the Kremlin to depict Putin as ‘a competent wartime leader,’ the Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, suggested Saturday afternoon. ‘The Kremlin also likely publicized Putin’s meeting with the joint headquarters to rehabilitate the image of the Russian MoD [Ministry of Defense] in response to the pro-war community’s routine criticism of the Russian MoD,’ ISW stated.
  • Russia probably will not enter ‘a real negotiation’ to end the war, said CIA Director William J. Burns. ‘Most conflicts end in negotiations, but that requires a seriousness on the part of the Russians in this instance that I don’t think we see,’ he told PBS. ‘It’s not our assessment that the Russians are serious at this point about a real negotiation.'”

Twitter Reinstates Suspended Accounts of Several Journalists. The brief bans, which came after Elon Musk had suggested the journalists were violating Twitter’s rules on personal privacy, had alarmed free-speech advocates. The New York Times, Yan Zhuang and Euan Ward, Saturday, 17 December 2022: “Elon Musk said early Saturday that Twitter was reinstating the accounts of several journalists whose accounts were suspended after he had accused them of violating the social media platform’s rules on personal privacy. Mr. Musk said he was restoring most of the accounts, which had been deactivated on Thursday, after a majority of respondents in his informal Twitter survey voted that the suspensions should be lifted immediately. But for at least some of the reporters, including Drew Harwell of The Washington Post and Ryan Mac of The New York Times, the restoration of their accounts appeared to be contingent on them deleting posts that Twitter had flagged as ‘violating our rules against posting private information.’ In Mr. Harwell’s case, he was told to delete a Twitter post reporting on the suspension of Mastodon, one of Twitter’s competitors, according to a screenshot he posted to Mastodon on Saturday. If he attempted to appeal the decision, the message said, his account would remain locked while Twitter reviewed his appeal. On Thursday evening, Twitter suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists who had written about Mr. Musk’s ownership of the company, including Donie O’Sullivan of CNN, Mr. Mac and Mr. Harwell.”


Sunday, 18 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Drones attack Kyiv, officials say; Zelensky pushes for ‘modern air defense systems,’ The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit, David L. Stern, Ben Brasch, and Kyle Rempfer, Sunday, 18 December 2022: “Air defense remains a top concern for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky after a barrage of Russian missiles hit critical infrastructure across seven cities last week. The Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, came under attack again in the early hours of Monday, with the city’s military administration saying nine drones were shot down in the city’s airspace. Zelensky renewed calls during his nightly address Sunday for ‘modern air defense systems in sufficient numbers’ to protect Ukraine’s skies. ‘This will be one of the most powerful steps that will bring the end of aggression closer,’ Zelensky added. ‘Russia will have to follow the path of cessation of aggression, when it can no longer follow the path of missile strikes.’ Ukrainians in major cities, including the capital, Kyiv, spent the weekend rebuilding after Russia launched more than 60 missiles Friday. Power was restored to 6 million Ukrainians as of Saturday night, and water access had returned to the capital. Russia’s Defense Ministry, which has increasingly targeted infrastructure in central and western Ukraine, said Friday’s missile barrage was meant to prevent the transfer of foreign weaponry and hurt Ukraine’s defense industry. The missile attack came as Russian President Vladimir Putin prepares to visit Minsk on Monday for talks with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Putin could be trying to set conditions for a renewed offensive against Ukraine, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War think tank suggested. Lukashenko has not committed Belarusian troops to Russia’s invasion but he has allowed Russia to use Belarus as a staging ground. ‘Protection of the border with both Russia and Belarus is also a constant priority,’ Zelensky said Sunday night. ‘We are preparing for all possible defense scenarios. Whoever inclines Minsk to whatever, it will not help them.’

  • ‘War must fail,’ Zelensky said in his World Cup peace message, which Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry shared Sunday on Facebook. Ukraine’s presidential office told The Washington Post in a statement that ‘FIFA refused to show’ the video. FIFA did not respond to The Post’s request for comment Sunday morning. CNN reported the news earlier.
  • Although power has been restored to millions after Friday’s attacks, there was still a lot of work to do to stabilize the system, Zelensky said Saturday. He described the situation as ‘most difficult’ in the capital, Kyiv, and the surrounding region, as well as in the Vinnytsia and Lviv regions. Heating was restored in Kyiv early Sunday, the city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said on Telegram, as temperatures there dipped below 26 degrees Fahrenheit (-3 Celsius). Ukraine’s electricity transmission operator said work is underway to repair distribution networks throughout the country, but that the frost and strong winds are making it more difficult.
  • Putin isn’t the only leader meeting with allies this week. Zelensky said his government is preparing several proposals to strengthen ‘all the countries of Europe,’ ahead of a meeting Monday of the leaders of Britain, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Iceland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Discusses ‘Unified’ Defense With Belarus During Visit to Its Capital. The Russian president said he and his Belarusian counterpart talked about a ‘unified defensive space.’ Ukraine has warned that Russian forces could be preparing a new offensive from Belarus. The New York Times, Sunday, 18 December 2022:

  • Putin and his closest ally, Lukashenko of Belarus, speak of deepening their collaboration.

  • Overnight drone attacks target Kyiv and two other regions of Ukraine.

  • The Pentagon says it has helped Ukraine thwart Russian cyberattacks.

  • The U.N. secretary general isn’t optimistic about peace talks in the near future, but maybe sometime in 2023.

  • Russia’s pre-dawn drone strikes are part of a pattern: attacking under the cover of darkness.

  • Families mourn in Kherson, where Russian attacks continue.

  • In a bomb shelter-turned-TV set, Ukraine selects its Eurovision contestant.


Monday, 19 December 2022:


January 6 House Committee Refers Former President Trump for Criminal Prosecution. The committee accused the former president of inciting insurrection and other federal crimes as it referred him to the Justice Department, which does not have to act on its recommendations. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Monday, 19 December 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol accused former President Donald J. Trump on Monday of inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an act of Congress and one other federal crime as it referred him to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. The action, the first time in American history that Congress has referred a former president for criminal prosecution, is the coda to the committee’s 18-month investigation into Mr. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election that culminated in a violent mob of the former president’s supporters laying siege to the Capitol. The criminal referrals were a major escalation for a congressional investigation that is the most significant in a generation. The panel named five other Trump allies — Mark Meadows, his final chief of staff, and the lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani, John Eastman, Jeffrey Clark and Kenneth Chesebro — as potential co-conspirators with Mr. Trump in actions the committee said warranted Justice Department investigation. The charges, including a fourth for Mr. Trump of conspiracy to make a false statement, would carry prison sentences, some of them lengthy, if federal prosecutors chose to pursue them. The committee’s referrals do not carry legal weight or compel any action by the Justice Department, which is conducting its own investigation into Jan. 6 and the actions of Mr. Trump and his allies leading up to the attack. But the referrals sent a powerful signal that a bipartisan committee of Congress believes the former president committed crimes.” See also, Read the January 6 Committee Report Executive Summary, The New York Times, Monday. 19 December 2022. See also, January 6 House committee announces 4 criminal referrals for Donald Trump, NPR, Monday, 19 December 2022: “After more than a year of investigating, the House select committee probing the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol has just wrapped up its final meeting and sent its final report to Congress. The panel voted to issue four criminal referrals for former President Donald Trump. It also referred four Republican members of Congress — Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Scott Perry, R-Pa., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. — to the House Ethics Committee for failure to comply with subpoenas. The committee has released a 154-page document that it describes as its ‘introductory material’ into the report. The document lays out 16 key findings, putting Trump’s ‘plotting to overturn the election outcome’ squarely at the center. The four charges that the committee is referring against Trump include obstruction, conspiracy and inciting an insurrection.” See also, Read the executive summary of the January 6 House committee’s final report, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 19 December 2022. See also, 7 things we’ve learned from the January 6 committee report so far, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, Monday, 19 December 2022. See also, What’s in the House January 6 committee report summary, CNN Politics, Tierney Sneed, Sara Murray, Zachary Cohen, Annie Grayer, and Marshall Cohen, Monday, 19 December 2022: “The House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol has concluded that former President Donald Trump was ultimately responsible for the insurrection, laying out for the public and the Justice Department a trove of evidence for why he should be prosecuted for multiple crimes. ‘That evidence has led to an overriding and straight-forward conclusion: the central cause of January 6th was one man, former President Donald Trump, who many others followed,’ the committee writes in a summary of its final report released on Monday. ‘None of the events of January 6th would have happened without him.’ The summary describes in extensive detail how Trump tried to overpower, pressure and cajole anyone who wasn’t willing to help him overturn his election defeat – while knowing that many of his schemes were unlawful. His relentless arm-twisting included election administrators in key states, senior Justice Department leaders, state lawmakers, and others. The report even suggests possible witness tampering with the committee’s investigation. The committee repeatedly uses forceful language to describe Trump’s intent: that he ‘purposely disseminated false allegations of fraud’ in order to aid his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and to successfully solicit about $250 million in political contributions. ‘These false claims provoked his supporters to violence on January 6th.’ The full report, based on 1,000-plus interviews, documents collected including emails, texts, phone records and a year and a half of investigation by the nine-member bipartisan committee, will be released Wednesday, along with along with transcripts and other materials collected in the investigation.” See also, Key Findings From the January 6 Committee’s Report, Annotated. The panel included 17 specific findings in the executive summary of its final report. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Monday, 19 December 2022. See also, 6 Takeaways From the Final January 6 Hearing. The House January 6 committee focused almost exclusively on former President Donald J. Trump. The panel’s legacy will most likely be determined by the federal prosecutors in the coming months. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Monday, 19 December 2022. See also, House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol refers Trump to Justice Department for prosecution, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Eugene Scott, Amy B Wang, Mariana Alfaro, and Azi Paybarah, Monday, 19 December 2022: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol voted Monday to send to Justice Department prosecutors a recommendation that former president Donald Trump be charged with four crimes: inciting or assisting an insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress, conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to make a false statement. The move has no legal weight, but marks the first time Congress has made such a referral for a former president.

  • The committee is also referring four Republican House members — Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), Scott Perry (Pa.), and Andy Biggs (Ariz.) — to the Ethics Committee for ignoring the panel’s subpoenas.
  • The committee released the first part of its final report. Panel members have agreed to make all evidence and transcripts of depositions publicly available. Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said most ‘non-sensitive’ materials would be released by the end of the year.
  • Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the panel’s vice chairwoman, accused Trump of an ‘utter moral failure and a clear dereliction of duty’ and said he is ‘unfit for any office.’
  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a panel member, said that Trump used prolific fundraising based on his false claims of voter fraud in ‘concerning’ ways. Some of the money was used to ‘provide or offer employment to witnesses,’ Lofgren said.”

Chief Justice John Roberts Briefly Halts Decision Banning Border Expulsions. At issue is Title 42, a public health measure invoked by the Trump administration during the pandemic to block migrants from seeking asylum in the United States. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Monday, 19 December 2022: “Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. issued an order on Monday temporarily maintaining a Trump-era public health emergency measure that allows the government to expel migrants seeking asylum who cross the southern border unlawfully. The chief justice’s order, known as an administrative stay, was provisional and meant to give the Supreme Court time to consider the question of whether to maintain the program, Title 42, which a trial judge had ordered to be ended by Wednesday. The court is likely to act in the coming days. The order was prompted by an emergency application filed on Monday by 19 states led by Republicans. Lawyers for the states asked the justices to issue an emergency stay of a federal judge’s order blocking the program, saying it was needed to prevent a surge of border crossings. ‘The failure to grant a stay will cause a crisis of unprecedented proportions at the border,’ they wrote, adding that ‘daily illegal crossings may more than double.’ Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, of the Federal District Court in Washington, ruled last month that the measure, imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did little to advance public health and much to endanger immigrants.” See also, Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily keeps pandemic-era Title 42 border policy in place. Republican governors have asked the Supreme Court to stop the Biden administration from again allowing all border crossers to seek asylum. The Washington Post, Ann E. Marimow and Maria Sacchetti, Monday, 19 December 2022: “Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Monday temporarily left in place a pandemic-era policy that allows the government to quickly expel millions of migrants from U.S. borders and had been set to expire Wednesday. Roberts’s brief order was an ‘administrative stay’ that allows the court to consider an emergency application from Republican state officials who want the Title 42 policy to remain while litigation continues. The action follows a ruling by a federal appeals court in Washington on Friday that paved the way for the Biden administration to terminate the policy on Wednesday, and to once again allow migrants who cross the southern border illegally to seek asylum without the risk of being expelled. Roberts, who reviews emergency requests from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, gave the Department of Homeland Security and immigrant advocates until 5 p.m. Tuesday to respond to the request from Republican state officials, which was submitted on Monday. The call for responses typically means that the full court will be involved in deciding the matter. More than 2.4 million people have been expelled, mostly from the southern border, since the Trump administration first imposed the emergency order in March 2020, saying it was intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”

Nearly Every Country Signs On to a Sweeping Deal to Protect Nature. Roughly 190 nations, aiming to halt a dangerous decline in biodiversity, agreed to preserve 30 percent of the planet’s land and seas. The United States is not officially a participant. The New York Times, Catrin Einhorn, Monday, 19 December 2022: “Roughly 190 countries early on Monday approved a sweeping United Nations agreement to protect 30 percent of the planet’s land and oceans by 2030 and to take a slew of other measures against biodiversity loss, a mounting under-the-radar crisis that, if left unchecked, jeopardizes the planet’s food and water supplies as well as the existence of untold species around the world. The agreement comes as biodiversity is declining worldwide at rates never seen before in human history. Researchers have projected that a million plants and animals are at risk of extinction, many within decades. The last extinction event of that magnitude was the one that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. While many scientists and advocates had pushed for even stronger measures, the deal, which includes monitoring mechanisms that previous agreements had lacked, clearly signals increasing momentum around the issue…. Overall, the deal lays out a suite of 23 environmental targets. The most prominent, known as 30×30, would place 30 percent of land and sea under protection. Currently, about 17 percent of the planet’s land and roughly 8 percent of its oceans are protected, with restrictions on activities like fishing, farming and mining. The United States is just one of two countries in the world that are not party to the Convention on Biological Diversity, largely because Republicans, who are typically opposed to joining treaties, have blocked United States membership. That means the American delegation was required to participate from the sidelines. (The only other country that has not joined the treaty is the Holy See.) President Biden has signed an executive order that would similarly place 30 percent of United States land and waters under protection, but any legislative efforts to support that goal are expected to face strong opposition when Republicans take control of the House in January.”

Who Is Representative-Elect George Santos? His Résumé May Be Largely Fiction. Mr. Santos, a Republican from New York, says he’s the ’embodiment of the American dream.’ But he seems to have misrepresented a number of his career highlights. The New York Times, Grace Ashford and Michael Gold, Monday, 19 December 2022: “George Santos, whose election to Congress on Long Island last month helped Republicans clinch a narrow majority in the House of Representatives, built his candidacy on the notion that he was the “full embodiment of the American dream” and was running to safeguard it for others. His campaign biography amplified his storybook journey: He is the son of Brazilian immigrants, and the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent. By his account, he catapulted himself from a New York City public college to become a ‘seasoned Wall Street financier and investor’ with a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties and an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats. But a New York Times review of public documents and court filings from the United States and Brazil, as well as various attempts to verify claims that Mr. Santos, 34, made on the campaign trail, calls into question key parts of the résumé that he sold to voters. Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, the marquee Wall Street firms on Mr. Santos’s campaign biography, told The Times they had no record of his ever working there. Officials at Baruch College, which Mr. Santos has said he graduated from in 2010, could find no record of anyone matching his name and date of birth graduating that year. There was also little evidence that his animal rescue group, Friends of Pets United, was, as Mr. Santos claimed, a tax-exempt organization: The Internal Revenue Service could locate no record of a registered charity with that name.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin pushes even closer to Belarus in rare visit, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit, Sammy Westfall, and Maham Javaid, Monday, 19 December 2022: “Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko Monday, in a rare visit to the Belarusian capital, Minsk. Analysts suggest Putin could be trying to set conditions for a renewed offensive against northern Ukraine or Kyiv, after a failed attempt to seize the capital early in the war. At his meeting with Lukashenko, Putin said Belarus was ‘not only a good neighbor,’ but ‘certainly our ally in the truest sense of the word.’ Lukashenko said that the closer integration of Belarus and Russia will ‘once again demonstrate … that only together we can overcome any pandemics, crises or sanctions.’ He said Russian troops were conducting exercises in Belarusian territory. Early on Monday, Kyiv came under attack again, with the city’s military administration saying drones were shot down in Kyiv’s airspace. At least two people were injured, and critical infrastructure was hit, officials said. The attacks follow a barrage of Russian missiles that struck seven cities last week, prompting President Volodymyr Zelensky to renew his appeal to allies for better air defenses.

  • The discussions between Putin and Lukashenko focused on economic cooperation, according to readouts from their offices. It is Putin’s first visit to Belarus in three years, and he was accompanied by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, suggesting the talks were more far-reaching than the economy. Following their talks, Putin and Lukashenko held a joint news conference in Minsk. Despite Belarus acting as a launch pad for the Russian assault on Ukraine, journalists present at the conference did not ask questions about the war, Reuters said.
  • Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called speculation that Putin is trying to persuade Lukashenko to join the war ‘stupid and baseless.’ Belarus has served as a base for Russia to train thousands of conscripts, but Lukashenko has refused to commit his own troops to the conflict. Russian forces dispatched to Belarus in October are conducting tactical exercises to determine their combat readiness, the Russian Interfax news agency reported, citing the Defense Ministry.
  • ‘The two of us are co-aggressors, the most harmful and toxic people on this planet. We have only one dispute: who is the bigger one. That’s all,’ Lukashenko said in tongue-in-cheek remarks after his meeting with Putin.
  • Iranian-made drones struck critical infrastructure in Ukraine’s capital on Monday, damaging a roadway and a high-rise building, Kyiv’s military administration said. The attacks came after officials worked through the weekend to restore power and heat, which were knocked out by strikes on Friday, to millions of city residents. Two people were injured in Monday’s strikes, according to Kyiv regional governor Oleksiy Kuleba. National operator Ukrenergo said the energy system is under strain from the latest attacks, with emergency shutdowns scheduled for several cities and regions, including Kyiv. In a statement, Zelensky said that 34 drones took part in the attack and that Russia had received a new shipment of the Shahed drones from Iran.
  • The United States has accused the United Nations of ‘yielding to Russian threats’ and not investigating the Iranian drones that Russia is using in Ukraine, U.S. diplomat Robert Wood said on Monday at a U.N. Security Council Briefing on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resolution. “We see a disturbing trend of this Council turning a blind eye to open violations of its provisions. Tolerating these violations undermines the authority of this Council – and gravely harms our ability to respond credibly to threats around the world,’ Wood said.
  • Zelensky asked Northern European leaders for better air defense systems. Ukraine’s leader addressed a meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force, a military and political coalition led by the United Kingdom that includes Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Iceland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway, and reiterated his request for ‘a 100 percent air shield for Ukraine,’ according to Reuters.
  • Ukrainian officials are preparing for a ‘peace summit’ this winter, Zelensky said in his nightly address. Kyiv’s formula for peace will create a ‘new, globally important security architecture’  that is applicable to Ukraine and a guarantee for other nations, he said. Zelensky indicated earlier that Ukraine was working on several proposals ahead of the Joint Expeditionary Force meeting.
  • After months of talks, E.U. energy ministers on Monday reached an agreement to cap gas prices in the bloc when they hit 180 euros ($191) per megawatt hour for three days. Given the cap’s limited scope, however, it not clear what impact it will have on prices.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Visits Belarus, Stirring New Concern on Future of Ukraine War. Belarus has resisted being drawn more centrally into the war. But the visit raised worries that a new Russian ground offensive could aim again at Kyiv, near the Belarusian border. The New York Times, Anatoly Kurmanaev, Andrew E. Kramer, and Michael Levenson, Monday, 19 December 2022: “President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia made a rare visit to Belarus on Monday to strengthen his bond with the country’s president and his closest regional ally, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, a fellow strongman who has been under growing pressure from Moscow to provide more support for the war in Ukraine. Appearing together at a palace in Minsk after their talks, Mr. Putin and Mr. Lukashenko spoke about the need to withstand Western economic pressure. Mr. Putin said the two had also discussed the formation of a ‘unified defense space,’ without describing what that would entail, and had agreed to continue joint military exercises. Mr. Putin’s visit took place as Russia continued its nighttime bombardment campaign against Ukraine’s power plants and other crucial infrastructure, deepening the country’s misery. And the trip seemed certain to escalate concerns in Kyiv about the possibility of a fresh ground offensive that could use Belarus as a launching pad. Ukraine has repeatedly warned in recent days that Russian forces could be preparing a new assault from Belarus aimed at trying once again to seize Kyiv, only about 55 miles from the Belarusian border, or at disrupting the flow of Western arms and aid into Ukraine from Poland.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia’s invasion marks 10 months on Christmas Eve, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 19 December 2022: “As Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine approaches the 10-month mark — on Nov. 24 — here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: The world is watching for the possible launch of a major winter offensive by Russia or counteroffensive by Ukraine, or both. Russian President Vladimir Putin meets for talks with Belarus’ leader, Alexander Lukashenko, in Minsk on Monday. An official announcement is expected on a European Union cap on natural gas prices, the latest measure to tackle an energy crisis largely spurred by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak makes his first appearance as prime minister before the Commons Liaison Committee, where the Ukraine war and other global issues are discussed. That follows Sunak’s meeting on Monday in Latvia with members of a U.K.-led European military force. Foreign ministers in the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation are also due to meet Tuesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will hold virtual talks sometime this month, according to Russian news reports. And Ukrainians and Russians are heading into their first Christmas or Hanukkah festivities since the Kremlin launched its full-on invasion of Ukraine in late February. What happened last week: The International Atomic Energy Agency said Dec. 13 it made an agreement with Ukraine’s government to send nuclear safety and security experts to each of the country’s nuclear power plants. Russia launched waves of attacks on Kyiv, including on Dec. 14Dec. 16 and again before dawn on Monday. Ukraine said it managed to shoot down many of the incoming explosive drones, but some caused destruction. An American was freed from Russian-controlled territory as part of a 65-person prisoner exchange. Suedi Murekezi told ABC News he spent weeks in a basement, where he was tortured, and months in a prison in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. EU lawmakers approved about $19 billion in financing for Ukraine, Dec. 14, and more sanctions on Russia. The aid package followed pledges earlier in the week from dozens of countries and global institutions to support more than $1 billion in winter relief funds for Ukraine, helping the country with power, heat, food and medical supplies. The United States is expected to provide Patriot missiles to Ukraine, an apparent response to the Ukrainian government’s urgent call for more weapons to shoot down Russian missiles, according to several U.S. news reports. The surface-to-air guided missile system can target aircraft and missiles. While the single battery the U.S. is expected to supply would help, some analysts say, it may not be a game changer.”


Tuesday, 20 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky travels to ‘hottest spot on the entire front line,’ The Washington Post, Adela Suliman, David L. Stern, Natalia Abbakumova, Rachel Pannett, Claire Parker, and John Hudson, Tuesday, 20 December 2022: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday made an unexpected trip to Bakhmut, a city in the eastern Donetsk region where some of the bloodiest fighting is taking place. Zelensky spokesman Sergii Nykyforov said in a Facebook post the president had visited ‘the front positions of one of the mechanized brigades.’ Photos posted to his Telegram account showed Zelensky shaking hands with soldiers and distributing medals. Zelensky had singled out Bakhmut a day earlier, calling it ‘the hottest spot on the entire front line’ with more than 800 miles of ‘active hostilities,’ as he continued to appeal for more weapons. In a video released by his office from the Bakhmut visit, Zelenskyy was handed a Ukrainian flag and alluded to delivering it to U.S. leaders, the Associated Press reported. ‘The guys handed over our beautiful Ukrainian flag with their signatures for us to pass on,’ Zelenskyy said in the video. ‘We are not in an easy situation. The enemy is increasing its army. Our people are braver and need more powerful weapons. We will pass it on from the boys to the Congress, to the president of the United States. We are grateful for their support, but it is not enough. It is a hint — it is not enough.’ Russian President Vladamir Putin, meanwhile, held a government award ceremony in the Kremlin, which celebrated one of the fiercest war proponents state-run media network RT’s chief Margarita Simonyan, who thanked him for ‘whacking the cannibals’ in Ukraine. In an address to mark Security Forces’ Day in Russia, Putin made a rare admission that conditions were ‘extremely difficult’ in the four Ukrainian regions that Russia had illegally claimed to annex in September. ‘Yes, it is difficult for you now,’ he said in a speech. ‘But the people living there, the citizens of Russia, are relying on you, on your protection. And it is your duty to do everything necessary to ensure their safety.’

  • ‘The East is holding out because Bakhmut is fighting. This is the fortress of our morale,’ Zelensky said in a Telegram post. ‘In fierce battles and at the cost of many lives, freedom is being defended here for all of us.’
  • In his speech, Putin called for the surveillance work of the Federal Security Services, or FSB, to be ‘strengthened’ to combat any ‘new threats’ that could emerge across Russia’s borders.
  • Russia is conflicted about launching a new offensive in Ukraine, a senior U.S. State Department official said Tuesday. Some Russian officials are eager to capture more Ukrainian territory and others are concerned about whether Russian forces have the necessary equipment and ammunition to undertake such a military operation, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive military matters. ‘Certainly there are some who I think would want to pursue offensives in Ukraine,’ the official said. ‘There are others who have real questions about the capacity for Russia to actually do that.’
  • Russia is facing ‘very significant shortages of ammunition,’ which is ‘increasingly a problem’ for Kremlin forces, the senior State Department official said. Russia has recruited hundreds of thousands of new fighters from its population but large numbers of those civilians do not have military training, said the official. ‘These are often not cohesive units.’ Even as winter weather worsens, Ukrainian forces remain committed to fighting, the official said. ‘The Ukrainians themselves show no intention of slowing down within the constraints of the weather,’ he said.
  • A gas pipeline explosion in Russia on Tuesday killed three workers and put the pipeline, which supplies Ukraine, out of service, according to a local official and Russian media reports. Oleg Nikolayev, head of Chuvashia, the region where the accident took place, said gas had flared up as four people were working on the Urengoi-Pomary-Uzhgorod pipeline. Only one survived. The export pipeline carries gas from Russia to Ukraine. Nikolayev said it remained unclear when the pipeline would resume operation; a former official in Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations told Russian media outlet RIA Novosti repairs could take three days.
  • Russia intends to send Iran ‘advanced military components’ in exchange for more than 300 kamikaze drones Iran has supplied Russia, U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Parliament Tuesday. The move would undermine ‘both Middle East and international security’ so ‘we must expose that deal,’ he added. Wallace also said Britain is helping Ukraine to ‘better coordinate and synchronize their air defense,’ helping the Ukrainian military target incoming Russian or Iranian-made drones.
  • Russia and China are using shared techniques to undermine NATO, Julianne Smith, the U.S. ambassador to the transatlantic alliance, warned. The two countries are ‘increasingly sharing a toolkit’ that includes threats to energy supplies and cybersecurity, she said in an interview with the Financial Times.
  • U.S. lawmakers unveiled a roughly $1.7 trillion deal to fund the U.S. government through most of 2023, a measure that would include an additional $44.9 billion in emergency military and economic assistance for Ukraine. They have until the end of Friday to approve the financial package.
  • Canada started the process of seizing $26 million from a company owned by Roman Abramovich, the sanctioned Russian oligarch, the federal government said Monday. It’s the first time Ottawa has used new powers that allow it to seize assets belonging to sanctioned people. ‘Putin’s oligarchs are complicit in Russia’s illegal and barbaric invasion of Ukraine,’ Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said. ‘Canada will not be a haven for their ill-gotten gains.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky Is Expected to Visit Washington. A risky trip to Washington would be the first time the Ukrainian leader left his country since Russia invaded in February. The New York Times, Tuesday, 20 December 2022:

  • Zelensky is expected to make a trip to Washington to meet Biden and address Congress on Wednesday.

  • Ukrainian and Russian medal ceremonies offer a stark contrast on the war’s 300th day.

  • Congress’s sprawling spending bill includes more than $44 billion for Ukraine.

  • A Times investigation tracks the Ukrainian cultural sites destroyed in the war.

  • At a holiday celebration in southern Ukraine, ‘kids still need miracles.’

  • Canada targets a Russian oligarch’s assets to redistribute in Ukraine.

  • Acknowledging struggles in the war, Putin orders his security services to intensify their efforts.

  • The U.S. says Russian officials are torn over whether to launch a new offensive this winter.

House Ways and Means Committee Finds That, Despite Mandate, I.R.S. Delayed Auditing Trump in Office. Mr. Trump refused to disclose his taxes. A committee’s vote to release them ended an oversight battle Democratic lawmakers waged since 2019. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Emily Cochrane, Stephanie Lai, and Alan Rappeport, Tuesday, 20 December 2022: “The Internal Revenue Service failed to audit former President Donald J. Trump during his first two years in office despite a program that makes the auditing of sitting presidents mandatory, a House committee revealed on Tuesday after an extraordinary vote to make public six years of his tax returns. Mr. Trump filed returns in 2017 for the two previous tax years, but the I.R.S. began auditing those filings only in 2019 — the first on the same day in April the Ways and Means Committee requested access to his taxes and any associated audits, a report by the panel said. The I.R.S. has yet to complete those audits, it said, and the agency started auditing his filings covering his income while president only after he left office. The revelation could transform the political context of the committee’s nearly four-year fight to obtain information about Mr. Trump’s taxes and any related audits. Its chairman, Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, had said the panel needed the data to assess the I.R.S.’s mandatory presidential audit program, but Mr. Trump’s lawyers and Republicans called that a pretext for a politically motivated fishing expedition. The suggestion of dysfunction in the auditing program was an early takeaway in what could be a series of disclosures related to the release of Mr. Trump’s returns. Democrats said it might be several days before thousands of pages of tax filings from Mr. Trump and several associated businesses from 2015 to 2020 became public as they redacted sensitive details, like street addresses and bank account numbers. But a Joint Committee on Taxation staff report released Tuesday night included some details from his tax filings.” See also, Document: Report on Trump’s Tax Returns. The New York Times, Tuesday, 20 December 2022. See also, The IRS did not audit Trump during his presidency’s first 2 years, Democrats say, NPR, Dustin Jones, Tuesday, 20 December 2022: “The Internal Revenue Service failed to audit former President Donald Trump during the first two years of his presidency, a Democratic-controlled House committee said Tuesday. The committee’s probe said it found that only one audit was started while Trump was in office and no audits were completed. The findings were announced after the House Ways and Means Committee voted earlier Tuesday to release a report related to Trump’s tax returns. The report covers 2015 through 2020 of the former president’s tax filings. ‘The Committee expected that these mandatory audits were being conducted promptly and in accordance with IRS policies,’ Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., said in a statement. ‘However, our review found that under the prior administration, the program was dormant. We know now, the first mandatory audit was opened two years into his presidency. On the same day this Committee requested his returns.'” See also, Trump Tax Records Shed New Light on Chinese Business Pursuits. As he raises questions about his opponent’s standing with China, President Trump’s taxes reveal details about his own activities there, including a previously unknown bank account. The New York Times, Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner, and Susanne Craig, Tuesday, 20 December 2022: “President Trump and his allies have tried to paint the Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., as soft on China, in part by pointing to his son’s business dealings there. Senate Republicans produced a report asserting, among other things, that Mr. Biden’s son Hunter ‘opened a bank account’ with a Chinese businessman, part of what it said were his numerous connections to ‘foreign nationals and foreign governments across the globe.’ But Mr. Trump’s own business history is filled with overseas financial deals, and some have involved the Chinese state. He spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing projects in China, operating an office there during his first run for president and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company. And it turns out that China is one of only three foreign nations — the others are Britain and Ireland — where Mr. Trump maintains a bank account, according to an analysis of the president’s tax records, which were obtained by The New York Times. The foreign accounts do not show up on Mr. Trump’s public financial disclosures, where he must list personal assets, because they are held under corporate names. The identities of the financial institutions are not clear.”

Trump aide Nick Luna testified he saw Trump ‘tearing’ documents; Mark Meadows also once told him, ‘Don’t come into the room,’ CBS News, Robert Costa, Chrissy Hallowell, Grace Kazarian, Tuesday, 20 December 2022: “Nick Luna, a former White House aide to President Donald Trump, told the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol that he witnessed Trump ‘tearing’ documents, according to audio files of Luna’s deposition that were obtained by CBS News. ‘Did I ever see him tear up notes? I don’t know what the documents were but there [was] tearing,’ Luna said in his Mar. 21 testimony before the committee. According to the Presidential Records Act, federal law requires that presidential records are carefully preserved and then handed over to the National Archives. When asked again by Dan George, the committee’s senior investigative counsel, whether Trump tore up some documents, Luna replied, ‘That’s correct.’ But Luna said that he did not recall any details about documents that might have been destroyed. Luna, who served as Trump’s personal aide inside the White House, had extraordinary access to the president during the final weeks of Trump’s term and managed Oval Office operations. And he was one of the staffers who was regularly with Trump on the day of the attack on the Capitol. The audio files also reveal that Luna testified that White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had instructed him to not enter the room ahead of a meeting with state Republican legislators who wanted to overturn the 2020 presidential election. ‘There was one instance where it would normally be my job to go in and make sure that [the] president is comfortable in wherever  the situation is,’ Luna told the committee. ‘And I remember, specifically, this instance [Meadows] had said, Do not, don’t come in, don’t come into the room today.'”

The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection has begun extensively cooperating with the Justice Department’s special counsel charged with overseeing investigations into former President Donald Trump, Punchbowl News, Punchbowl News Staff, Tuesday, 20 January 2022: “Jack Smith, who Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed as special counsel last month, sent the select committee a letter Dec. 5 requesting all of the panel’s materials from the 18-month probe. Punchbowl News has reviewed Smith’s letter. Starting last week, the select committee began sending Smith’s team documents and transcripts. Much of the production from the Jan. 6 committee is in relation to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and John Eastman, the Trump lawyer at the center of the ‘fake elector’ scheme. The select committee has also sent the Justice Department all of Meadows’ text messages and related evidence. In addition, the House panel shared transcripts of interviews with several witnesses related to the ‘fake elector’ scheme and the efforts by Trump and his allies to pressure states to overturn their election results, specifically in Georgia. The Jan. 6 committee plans to share additional transcripts and other documents with the special counsel’s office in the coming days, according to the source. Smith was appointed on Nov. 18. This cooperation represents a new phase in the select committee’s interaction with DOJ.”


Wednesday, 21 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky tells Congress Ukraine is ‘alive and kicking,’ The Washington Post, John Wagner, Amy B Wang, Mariana Alfaro, Azi Paybarah, Eugene Scott, Annabelle Timsit, and Kelsey Ables, Wednesday, 21 December 2022: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Wednesday that Ukraine is ‘alive and kicking’ and has defeated invading Russia ‘in the battle for minds of the world.’ In his address to a joint meeting of Congress, where he received a rousing welcome, Zelensky thanked the United States for billions of dollars in military aid. ‘Your money is not charity. It is an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.’

  • President Biden announced a new $1.85 billion security assistance package that will include the Patriot missile system, the most advanced ground-based air defense system.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a meeting Wednesday with the Defense Ministry, spoke of ‘new’ Russian territories and claimed that what is happening in Ukraine ‘is not the result of our policies but the result of third countries.’
  • Both Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called on their colleagues to approve additional aid to Ukraine. McConnell said defeating the ‘Russian invaders’ is in ‘cold, hard, practical American interests.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky Tells Congress ‘You Can Speed Up Our Victory.’ Making his first trip outside Ukraine since Russia invaded, Zelensky urged a joint session of Congress to continue support for the defense of his country. Some Republicans skipped his speech. The New York Times, Wednesday, 21 December 2022: “President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine capped his visit to Washington by asking Congress to approve nearly $50 billion in additional aid to his country. Swift passage would not only stop Russian influence in the region, but preserve democracy as a whole, he said. Addressing a joint session of Congress, Mr. Zelensky spoke for roughly 25 minutes, mixing doses of humor with pleas for the future safety and stability of Ukraine. He delivered the speech in English, giving it more impact than if it had been translated from Ukrainian. ‘Your money is not charity,’ Mr. Zelensky said. ‘It’s an investment.’ After his speech, which was warmly received by members on both sides of the aisle, Mr. Zelensky presented Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, with a Ukrainian flag that soldiers had signed. Ms. Pelosi gave Mr. Zelensky an American flag that had flown over the Capitol earlier in the day.

  • After a two-hour meeting at the White House, President Biden told reporters at a joint news conference with Mr. Zelensky that the United States would continue to support Ukraine ‘for as long as it takes.’

  • Mr. Zelensky, asked what he would consider a fair way to end the war, said that he would not compromise the sovereignty, freedom and territorial integrity of his country. He said Ukraine shared values with the United States and was fighting ‘for our common victory against this tyranny.’

    ‘We will win and I really want to win together,’ he said.

  • Mr. Biden said Mr. Zelensky’s visit underscored ‘the need to stand together through 2023,’ suggesting the United States doesn’t believe the war will end anytime soon. ‘The American people have been with you every step of the way, and we will stay with you,’ Mr. Biden said.

  • Earlier in the day, the secretary of state, Antony J. Blinken, said that the United States was sending Ukraine an additional $1.8 billion in military aid, including a Patriot missile battery, one of its most advanced air defense systems.

Full Transcript of Zelensky’s Speech Before Congress. The Ukrainian president delivered an emotional appeal for further U.S. support, vowing that his country would prevail in its war with Russia. The New York Times, Wednesday, 21 December 2022.

Trump Paid $1.1 Million in Taxes During Presidency, but $0 in 2020, Report Shows. The former president reported a burst of income after entering the Oval Office, but by the end of his term, his tax filings had reverted to large losses, according to data released by a House panel. The New York Times, Mike McIntire, Russ Buettner, and Susanne Craig, Wednesday, 21 December 2022: “In his first three years as president, Donald J. Trump paid $1.1 million in federal income taxes before paying no tax as his income dwindled and losses once again mounted in 2020, according to tax data released Tuesday by a House committee. The data, which includes details of Mr. Trump’s federal tax returns from 2015 through his full term in the White House, shows that he began his presidency suffering the sort of large business losses that had defined much of his career and paid almost nothing in income tax. But his fortunes changed in 2018, as he reported $24.3 million in adjusted gross income and paid nearly $1 million in federal tax. Mr. Trump’s tax returns show that he was in the black the following year as well, reporting $4.4 million in income and paying $133,445 in tax. But in 2020, as the country staggered under the coronavirus pandemic, his finances reversed course: Mr. Trump reported a loss of $4.8 million and zero income tax. The fresh details of Mr. Trump’s taxes emerged from two reports released late Tuesday by the House Ways and Means Committee, which had waged a legal battle to obtain the records from the Internal Revenue Service that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The reports contain the committee’s summation of its findings but not the raw tax returns, which are expected to be released in coming days.” See also, Here Are the Key Numbers From Trump’s Tax Returns. The New York Times, Charlie Smart, Wednesday, 21 December 2022: “New figures in a report by the House Ways and Means Committee showed that Donald J. Trump paid $1.1 million in federal income taxes in his first three years as president, and that he paid no taxes in 2020 as his income began to dwindle.” See also, House Ways and Means Committee votes to make public Trump’s tax returns. Panel says IRS did not perform mandatory audits during Trump’s first two years in office despite signs there was much to investigate. The Washington Post, Michael Kranish, Jonathan O’Connell, Amy B Wang, Azi Paybarah, and Marianna Sotomayor, Wednesday, 21 December 2022: “The House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday voted 24 to 16 to release former president Donald Trump’s tax returns, capping a protracted legal and political battle that began when Trump was in the Oval Office. Democrats have for more than three years pushed to make Trump’s tax returns public, and the documents were finally made available to the Ways and Means Committee late last month after the Supreme Court denied a last attempt by Trump to withhold the records. After the vote, the committee revealed that the Internal Revenue Service did not audit Trump’s returns during his first two years in office, despite a rule mandating such reviews, and never completed any audits while he served. The IRS began its first audit of Trump’s returns on the same day that Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) sent a written request in April 2019 for the information and then assigned the bulk of the work to just one agent, the panel said. Democrats on the committee said their investigation suggests Trump had not been correct in claiming during his 2016 campaign that he could not release the records himself because of an ongoing IRS audit. They also urged Congress to adopt a new law ordering mandatory IRS reviews of presidential taxes and the public release of some information. The IRS’s inaction came despite the fact that Trump’s tax forms raise serious questions about how he used deductions to avoid paying taxes in some years, according to a separate report released on Tuesday by the Joint Committee on Taxation. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a CNN interview that the returns showed there were ‘tens of millions of dollars in these returns that were claimed without adequate substantiation.'” See also, Takeaways from the House committee’s report on Trump taxes, CNN Business, Jeanne Sahadi, Katie Lobosco, and David Goldman, Wednesday, 21 December 2022: “It will take time for lawmakers and the public to digest the trove of documents relating to former President Donald Trump’s tax returns released Tuesday night by the House Ways and Means Committee. Trump repeatedly defied convention and refused to release his tax returns both as a presidential candidate and as a sitting president. The committee, which is responsible for IRS oversight and writing tax policy, had long sought and finally obtained just a few weeks ago Trump’s tax returns for 2015 through 2020. Its stated aim was to review ‘how the IRS enforces the federal tax laws against, and ensures compliance by a president.’ Here are some of the top initial takeaways from the committee’s report, which includes both its analysis of the IRS presidential audit program and an analysis of Trump’s returns by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.” See also, The IRS did not audit Trump during his presidency’s first 2 years, NPR, Dustin Jones, Wednesday, 21 December 2022: “After the Democratic-controlled House Ways and Means Committee announced the Internal Revenue Service failed to audit former President Donald Trump during the first two years of his presidency, it voted along party lines to release its findings, as well as all additional documentation. Part of that release late Tuesday night included a separate report from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, which outlined the numbers behind its own findings and suggestions for the IRS. That report looking into Trump’s tax returns from 2015-2020 raised questions about just what an IRS audit would have uncovered in terms of tax liability. The report very clearly stated the Joint Committee on Taxation ‘did not have any investigatory powers.’ On page 1, the committee states: ‘we express no opinion regarding whether any adjustment, or increase or decrease in tax, would have resulted if these issues had been pursued on examination.’ This message is repeated throughout the nearly 40-page document. Still, the report found many areas of additional interest. In both 2017 and 2020, the former president reported no taxable income on his personal, joint return with wife Melania Trump. Further, in 2016, the former president reported just $978 in wages for the year, though his income mostly came (in all six years examined) from capital gains, taxable interest and ordinary dividends. In 2016 and 2017, he paid just $750 in net tax on his income. In 2020, he paid $0 in net tax on his income. He reported millions in losses across various areas of personal and business income during his time in the White House.”

I.R.S. Routinely Audited Obama and Biden, Raising Questions Over Delays for Trump. The revelation that the agency had not audited Donald J. Trump during his first two years in office despite a mandatory presidential audit program raised concerns about potential politicization. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Alan Rappeport, Wednesday, 21 December 2022: “The I.R.S. subjected both President Donald J. Trump’s predecessor and his successor to annual audits of their tax returns once they took office, spokespeople for Barack Obama and President Biden said on Wednesday, intensifying questions about how Mr. Trump escaped such scrutiny until Democrats in the House started inquiring. Late Tuesday, a House committee revealed that the I.R.S. failed to audit Mr. Trump during his first two years in office despite a rule that states that ‘the individual tax returns for the president and the vice president are subject to mandatory review.’ But its report left unclear whether that lapse reflected general dysfunction or whether Mr. Trump received special treatment. The disclosure of routine audits of Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden during their time in office suggested that the agency’s treatment of Mr. Trump was an aberration.”

Trump’s former White House ethics lawyer Stefan Passantino told Cassidy Hutchinson to give misleading testimony to January 6 House committee, sources say, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz, Pamela Brown, Jamie Gangel, and Jeremy Herb, Wednesday, 21 December 2022: “The January 6 committee made a startling allegation on Monday, claiming it had evidence that a Trump-backed attorney urged a key witness to mislead the committee about details they recalled. Though the committee declined to identify the people, CNN has learned that Stefan Passantino, the top ethics attorney in the Trump White House, is the lawyer who allegedly advised his then-client, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, to tell the committee that she did not recall details that she did, sources familiar with the committee’s work tell CNN. Trump’s Save America political action committee funded Passantino and his law firm Elections LLC, including paying for his representation of Hutchinson, other sources tell CNN. The committee report notes the lawyer did not tell his client who was paying for the legal services. Over the summer, Hutchinson emerged as a blockbuster witness for the committee, providing key insight into Trump’s state of mind and his actions leading up to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. Before her public testimony, Hutchinson dropped Passantino and got a new lawyer.” See also, Cassidy Hutchinson claims Trump figures sought to influence her testimony, The Washington Post, Jacqueline Alemany, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Amy Gardner, and Carol D. Leonnig, published on Thursday, 22 December 2022: “Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that she was advised by her first lawyer to deliberately withhold information from investigators and was wooed with job offers and promises of financial stability in exchange for her loyalty to former president Donald Trump. The claims — which, if true, amount to possible witness tampering — were detailed at length by Hutchinson in interview transcripts that the committee released Thursday. In her testimony, Hutchinson accuses her first lawyer, former Trump White House ethics counsel Stefan Passantino, of coaching her to tell committee investigators during her interviews that she did not recall certain things. She said he also discouraged her from jogging her memory or even bringing notes to her interviews that investigators could then collect. ‘The less you remember, the better,’ Hutchinson recalled Passantino telling her. ‘Don’t read anything to try to jog your memory. Don’t try to put together timelines. … Especially if you put together timelines, we have to give those over to the committee.’ In addition to her own lawyer, Hutchinson claimed that Trump’s former campaign lawyer, chief of staff, White House lawyers and other close confidants to the former president showered her with praise and promised that her loyalty would be rewarded. ‘We’re gonna get you a really good job in Trump world,’ Hutchinson said Passantino told her in one phone call days ahead of her scheduled testimony. ‘You don’t need to apply other places. We’re gonna get you taken care of. We want to keep you in the family.'” See also, January 6 Witness Cassidy Hutchinson Told House Select Committee Lawyer Stefan Passantino Tried to Influence Her Testimony. Hutchinson recounted to the committee how Passantino, a lawyer with ties to former President Donald J. Trump, said to her that sho should ‘focus on protecting the president.’ The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Alan Feuer, published on Thursday, 22 December 2022: “Cassidy Hutchinson, a former White House aide who was a standout witness of the House Jan. 6 committee investigation, told the panel in an interview in September that a lawyer aligned with former President Donald J. Trump had tried to influence her testimony, the latest example of what the committee says was an effort to stonewall its inquiry. ‘We just want to focus on protecting the president,’ Ms. Hutchinson recalled Stefan Passantino, a former Trump White House lawyer who represented her during her early interactions with the committee, telling her. ‘We all know you’re loyal,’ she said Mr. Passantino told her. ‘Let’s just get you in and out, and this day will be easy, I promise.’ The revelation was included in transcripts of Ms. Hutchinson’s testimony the panel released on Thursday as it prepared to publish its lengthy final report into the Capitol riot and the attempt to overturn the 2020 election. The transcripts were of closed-door interviews Ms. Hutchinson conducted with the committee after she had parted ways with Mr. Passantino, whose legal fees were being covered by allies of Mr. Trump, and hired a different lawyer. Ms. Hutchinson would go on to provide the Jan. 6 committee with some of its most explosive testimony at a widely watched televised hearing during which she detailed — relying at times on secondhand accounts — how Mr. Trump raged against Secret Service agents, demanded to join a crowd of his supporters at the Capitol, showed approval for his supporters carrying weapons and endorsed chants of hanging his own vice president.”

Informant warned FBI weeks before January 6 that the far-right saw Trump tweet as ‘a call to arms.’ The email, which has not previously been made public, adds to the mounting evidence that the FBI had intelligence warnings that January 6 was a major threat. NBC News, Ryan J. Reilly, Wednesday, 21 December 2022: “On Dec. 19, 2020, the day that then-President Donald Trump sent a tweet summoning his supporters to a ‘wild’ protest in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, one of the FBI’s own confidential sources warned the bureau that the far-right considered Trump’s message ‘a call to arms,’ according to an email reviewed by NBC News. That tip to the FBI, from a source who is still used by the bureau and spoke on the condition of anonymity, warned there was a ‘big’ threat of violence on Jan. 6. It was among hundreds of pages of reports viewed by NBC News that this source sent to the FBI in the weeks before the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. The email, which has not been previously reported, warned that the Trump tweet was ‘gaining hold’ on social media. ‘Trump tweeted what people on the right are considering a call to arms in DC on Jan 6,’ the confidential source wrote on the afternoon of Dec. 19, the day of Trump’s 1:42 a.m. ‘will be wild’ tweet. The information the source sent to the bureau in the weeks before the attack, pulled from extremist chatter on a variety of social media forums, included discussion of civil war, talk of hanging traitors and calls for militias to take up arms. It highlighted messages like ‘war is inevitable’; ‘hell is going to break loose’; ‘locked and loaded’; ‘my powder is dry, my guns are clean’; and ‘I’m not afraid of death and I’ll gladly take lives for the preservation of our country.’ It included information on a ‘boogaloo’ extremist who was prepared to die in D.C.”

In Testimony, Sean Hannity and Other Fox Employees Said They Doubted Trump’s Election Fraud Claims. On Wednesday, lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems shared some of the strongest evidence yet that some Fox Employees knew what they broadcast about the claims was false. The New York Times, Jeremy W. Peters, Wednesday, 21 December 2022: “On Nov. 30, 2020, Sean Hannity hosted Sidney Powell on his prime-time Fox News program. As she had in many other interviews around that time — on Fox and elsewhere in right-wing media — Ms. Powell, a former federal prosecutor, spun wild conspiracy theories about what she said was ‘corruption all across the country, in countless districts,’ in a plot to steal re-election from the president, Donald J. Trump. At the center of this imagined plot were machines from Dominion Voting Systems, which Ms. Powell claimed ran an algorithm that switched votes for Mr. Trump to votes for Joseph R. Biden Jr. Dominion machines, she insisted, were being used ‘to trash large batches of votes.’ Mr. Hannity interrupted her with a gentle question that had been circulating among election deniers, despite a lack of supporting proof: Why were Democrats silencing whistle-blowers who could prove this fraud? Did Mr. Hannity believe any of this? ‘I did not believe it for one second.’ That was the answer Mr. Hannity gave, under oath, in a deposition in Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, according to information disclosed in a court hearing on Wednesday. The hearing was called to address several issues that need to be resolved before the case heads for a jury trial, which the judge has scheduled to begin in April. Mr. Hannity’s disclosure — along with others that emerged from court on Wednesday about what Fox News executives and hosts really believed as their network became one of the loudest megaphones for lies about the 2020 election — is among the strongest evidence yet to emerge publicly that some Fox employees knew that what they were broadcasting was false.” See also, Fox News’ Sean Hannity says he knew all along Trump lost the election, NPR, David Folkenflik and Maddy Lauria, published on Thursday, 22 December 2022: “Fox News star Sean Hannity – one of former President Donald Trump’s strongest allies on the air and one of his closest advisers off it – admitted under oath that he never believed the lie that Trump was cheated of victory in the 2020 presidential election by a voting tech company. That stands in contrast to what played out on some of Fox’s biggest shows – including Hannity’s. On television, Fox News hosts, stars and guests amplified and embraced such wild and false claims, made by Trump, his campaign lawyers and surrogates, presenting them to millions of viewers. Hannity and a top Fox News executive who oversees prime-time programs told a different story about Trump’s false claims of fraud under oath and in front of attorneys, during separate depositions in a $1.6 billion defamation suit. While the depositions happened in August, their statements emerged yesterday in a Delaware Superior Court hearing relating to a series of motions by the two sides in the case. ‘I did not believe it for one second,’ Hannity testified, according to an attorney for Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems, who was offering it as a precise quote.”


Thursday, 22 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: In wake of Zelensky visit, House to debate spending bill that includes $44.9 billion for Ukraine, The Washington Post, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Tyler Pager, Marianna Sotomayor, Kendra Nichols, Victoria Bisset, and Adam Taylor, Thursday, 22 December 2022: “The day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s meeting with President Biden at the White House, the Senate on Thursday approved a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, agreeing to send $44.9 billion in emergency military, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. The House of Representatives would also have to pass the package, and has until Friday to do so. Biden and Zelensky presented a united front during the Ukrainian leader’s first public international appearance since Russia invaded his country in February. Zelensky told lawmakers he needs more aid and weapons to defeat Russia. ‘Your money is not charity,’ Zelensky said. ‘It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.’ Russia criticized the visit Thursday, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying there ‘were no real calls for peace.’ Responding to the U.S. decision to provide Ukraine with the Patriot missile system, the most advanced air-defense weapon in the U.S. arsenal and one of Ukraine’s top requests, Peskov claimed that weapons shipments were ‘prolonging the suffering of the Ukrainian people.’ ‘There is always an antidote,’ Russian President Vladimir Putin said in remarks Thursday, referencing the Patriot missiles.

  • Both Biden and Zelensky cast Ukraine’s fight as a broader one that is important for democracies around the world. ‘We understand in our bones that Ukraine’s fight is part of something much bigger,’ Biden said. ‘The American people know if we stand by with such blatant attacks on democracy and liberty … the world would surely face worse consequences.’
  • Putin on Thursday finally called his invasion of Ukraine a ‘war.’ Previously, Putin has called the war in Ukraine ‘a special military operation.’ Putin’s admission set off an uproar among antiwar Russians who have been prosecuted for merely challenging the Kremlin-approved euphemism.
  • The upcoming Patriot missile delivery comes as part of a new $1.85 billion security assistance package for Ukraine announced by Biden. It brings the total U.S. military assistance for Ukraine to $21.9 billion since the beginning of the Biden administration. Russia’s ambassador in Washington warned that the Patriot systems in Ukraine could be targeted.
  • At least 230 cultural sites have been damaged in Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February, according to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Among the damaged sites are monuments, libraries and historic buildings, Krista Pikkat, director of UNESCO’s Culture and Emergencies Entity, said in an interview. The tally represents ‘the tip of the iceberg,’ she said.
  • Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday dismissed ‘rumors’ about recent military activity near the country’s border with Ukraineas concerns grow in Kyiv that Moscow could launch a new offensive from Belarus. Lukashenko said Thursday that drills for the country’s recently created joint military task force with Russia were taking place at ‘a larger scale due to the current situation and threats,’ but he insisted there was ‘no other plan, no conspiracy theories,’ according to Belarus’ state news agency Belta. On Monday, Putin made a rare visit to Belarus, furthering speculation over Russia’s next plans for the war in Ukraine.”

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Hero’s Welcome for Zelensky in Washington Lifts Mood in Kyiv. Ukrainians said they hoped their president’s appeal to Congress would keep American aid flowing, while Moscow cast the visit as a publicity stunt. The U.S. said North Korea is arming Russian mercenaries. The New York Times, Thursday, 22 December 2022:

  • Zelensky’s U.S. trip lifts spirits during a cold winter for Ukraine.

  • Washington says North Korea is delivering arms to the Wagner Group for Russia’s use in Ukraine.

  • Putin says giving Patriot missiles to Kyiv ‘is simply prolonging the conflict.’

  • The Senate supports using seized oligarchs’ assets to fund Ukraine’s reconstruction.

  • The U.S. imposes new sanctions on companies that supply the Russian Navy.

  • Returning from Washington, Zelensky meets with another staunch ally: Poland’s president.

  • Germany accuses one of its intelligence officers of being a Russian spy.

  • The U.N. nuclear chief says he is working with ‘utmost urgency’ to get a nuclear safety zone at Zaporizhzhia.

Volodymyr Zelensky’s Critical Visit to Washington, D.C. The Ukrainian President’s trajectory is often cast as surprising, but what makes him compelling as a political leader is the former comics talent for exposing the crux of the matter. The New Yorker, Masha Gessen, Thursday, 22 December 2022: “Political humor is often not funny, even when it gets a laugh. On Wednesday, during President Biden’s joint press conference with the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a reporter for the Ukrainian television channel One Plus One asked a question about the logic of American military aid to Ukraine. ‘When the full-scale invasion started,’ she said, ‘U.S. officials said that Ukraine cannot receive Patriot [missiles] because, as you said, it might be unnecessary escalation.’ But just that day—three hundred days into the war—the Administration had announced that a Patriot battery would be shipped to Ukraine as part of the latest aid package. Much of what Ukraine has asked for, including long-range missiles, remains off limits, however. ‘Maybe I sound naïve,’ the reporter said, ‘but can we make long story short and give Ukraine all capabilities it needs and liberate all territories rather sooner than later?’ ‘His answer is yes,’ Biden said, pointing at Zelensky. The audience—several dozen journalists seated in gold Chiavari chairs—laughed. Zelensky laughed, gesturing at Biden. ‘I agree,’ he said. The audience laughed harder. ‘Let me be straightforward,’ Biden said. The United States had given Ukraine ‘what they needed,’ at an expense of more than twenty billion dollars, but decisions regarding the kinds of arms provided had to be made jointly with nato and European Union partners. ‘We are going to give Ukraine what it needs to be able to defend itself, to be able to succeed, and to succeed in the battlefield,’ Biden said. But European allies ‘are not looking to go to war with Russia. They are not looking for the Third World War. I think it can all be avoided by making sure that Ukraine is able to succeed in the battlefield.’ The room was quiet. What had made everyone laugh was that the Presidents’ initial responses—and, indeed, the reporter’s question itself—had been obscene: they exposed what is usually hidden. The United States and its allies have not done enough to stop the war in Ukraine. They could, but they have not, and so for ten months Russian troops have tortured and executed Ukrainians, erased entire towns from the face of the earth, and targeted civilian infrastructure in order to deprive civilians of heat, light, and running water in winter. In his response, Biden covered this obscenity back up, by talking about giant sums of money, complicated international politics, and U.S. hope for an eventual Ukrainian victory. Zelensky was silent.”

Final Report From the House Committee Investigating the Capitol Riot Places Blame for the Assault on ‘One Man.’ The report expanded on this summer’s televised hearings, describing in detail what it called former President Donald J. Trump’s ‘multipart plan’ to overturn the 2020 election. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Maggie Haberman, Thursday, 22 December 2022: “Declaring that the central cause of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was ‘one man,’ the House committee investigating the assault delivered its final report on Thursday, describing in extensive detail how former President Donald J. Trump had carried out what it called “a multipart plan to overturn the 2020 presidential election” and offering recommendations for steps to assure nothing like it could happen again. It revealed new evidence about Mr. Trump’s conduct, and recommended that Congress consider whether to bar Mr. Trump and his allies from holding office in the future under the 14th Amendment’s ban on insurrectionists. ‘The central cause of Jan. 6 was one man, former President Donald Trump, whom many others followed,’ the report said. ‘None of the events of Jan. 6 would have happened without him.’ The release of the full report was the culmination of the panel’s 18-month inquiry and came three days after the committee voted to formally accuse Mr. Trump of inciting insurrection, conspiracy to defraud the United States, obstruction of an act of Congress and one other federal crime as it referred him to the Justice Department for potential prosecution. While the referrals do not compel federal prosecutors to take any action, they sent a powerful signal that a select committee of Congress believes the former president committed crimes.” See also, Final Report From the January 6 Committee, The New York Times, Thursday, 22 December 2022: “The lengthy, eight-chapter document details former President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Each chapter roughly mirrors the presentation of the committee’s investigative hearings this past year.” See also, Major Highlights of the January 6 House Committee Report, Just Security, Ryan Goodman and Justin Hendrix, published on Friday, 23 December 2022: “What follows are highlights of the January 6th Select Committee’s final report from our initial review. Our discussion includes but is not limited to the report’s findings and treatment of issues including:

  • Criminal misconduct in efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
  • Racism as a driver of efforts to overturn the popular vote in different parts of the country and in fueling some of the organized groups and individuals who attacked the Capitol.
  • The apparent intelligence and law enforcement failure and the Committee’s perspective on it.
  • The pressure campaign on state election officials to deviate from their legal obligations, and
  • The role of social media in propagating false claims about the election and serving as a mechanism to plan acts of violence.

With so much at stake for American democracy, the January 6th Report provides the public an opportunity to reflect on persistent threats to the rule of law, elections, racial justice, and freedom from political violence.” See also, January 6 House committee issues final report and suggests banning Trump from office. The House committee’s advice came as part of an 800-plus page report that marks the culmination of its 18-month investigation. The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Jacqueline Alemany, Thursday, 22 December 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol on Thursday recommended that Congress consider barring former president Donald Trump from ever holding public office again as a result of his role inciting that day’s insurrection. The committee issued its final, 800-plus-page report late Thursday, along with a list of 11 recommendations to prevent an event such as the attack on the U.S. Capitol from occurring again. Among the proposals: reform of the Electoral Count Act to clarify that a vice president has no authority to reject electoral slates submitted by the states; wholesale expansion of federal law enforcement agencies’ scrutiny of extremist groups, including white nationalists and violent anti-government groups; and designation of the counting of electoral votes by Congress every four years as a ‘National Special Security Event,’ like inaugurals and State of the Union addresses. The recommendations came as the committee released its final report, concluding 18 months of work with a carefully footnoted document intended to cement its findings that Trump’s conduct following the 2020 presidential election was to blame for the unprecedented assault on Congress.” See also, Key findings from the January 6 committee’s final report, The Washington Post, Aaron Blake, published on Friday, 23 December 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol released its full, final report late Thursday night.” See also, January 6 report recommends Congress ban Trump from running again, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, Thursday, 22 December 2022: “The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol released its final 845-page report Thursday, the culmination of an exhaustive 18-month investigation into the violent insurrection and President Donald Trump’s role inciting it. The report finds that Trump actively inspired his supporters to commit violence in his name as he attempted to remain in office despite losing the 2020 election. It comes nearly two years after a pro-Trump mob of supporters stormed the Capitol to stop the counting of votes for election winner Joe Biden, and follows a unanimous vote by the committee Monday to refer Trump to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. The report, released as Trump begins his bid for reelection, recommends that Congress consider banning the former president from holding office again, citing the 14th Amendment, which bars those who have ‘engaged in an insurrection’ or offered ‘aid and comfort to the enemies’ of the Constitution. It also details how ahead of the Jan. 6 attack, red flags about potential deadly violence were ignored. The committee behind the report will disband within days.

  • ‘The central cause of January 6th was one man,’ the report’s authors wrote, adding that ‘none of the events … would have happened without’ Trump. The president’s advisers first discussed the Jan. 6 march on Dec. 29, offering evidence that the march was premeditated.
  • The committee found that Trump tried contacting more than 190 GOP state lawmakers in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan in a campaign to convince them to overturn the election results.
  • Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas — a conservative activist who believed the election was stolen, and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — is not mentioned in the report despite interviewing with the committee in September.
  • The panel also voted to refer four Republican lawmakers, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), to the House Ethics Committee for failing to comply with the investigative committee’s subpoenas.
  • Read the report in full here.

The Devastating New History of the January 6th Insurrection. The House report describes both a catastrophe and a way forward. The New Yorker, David Remnick, Thursday, 22 December 2022: ‘In the weeks while the House select committee to investigate the insurrection at the Capitol was finishing its report, Donald Trump, the focus of its inquiry, betrayed no sense of alarm or self-awareness. At his country-club exile in Palm Beach, Trump ignored the failures of his favored candidates in the midterm elections and announced that he was running again for President. He dined cheerfully and unapologetically with a spiralling Kanye West and a young neo-fascist named Nick Fuentes. He mocked the government’s insistence that he turn over all the classified documents that he’d hoarded as personal property. Finally, he declared that he had a ‘major announcement,’ only to unveil the latest in a lifetime of grifts. In the old days, it was Trump University, Trump Steaks, Trump Ice. This time, he was hawking ‘limited edition’ digital trading cards at ninety-nine dollars apiece, illustrated portraits of himself as an astronaut, a sheriff, a superhero. The pitch began with the usual hokum: ‘Hello everyone, this is Donald Trump, hopefully your favorite President of all time, better than Lincoln, better than Washington.’ In his career as a New York real-estate shyster and tabloid denizen, then as the forty-fifth President of the United States, Trump has been the most transparent of public figures. He does little to conceal his most distinctive characteristics: his racism, misogyny, dishonesty, narcissism, incompetence, cruelty, instability, and corruption. And yet what has kept Trump afloat for so long, what has helped him evade ruin and prosecution, is perhaps his most salient quality: he is shameless. That is the never-apologize-never-explain core of him. Trump is hardly the first dishonest President, the first incurious President, the first liar. But he is the most shameless. His contrition is impossible to conceive. He is insensible to disgrace.”

Congress passes legislation that reforms the Electoral Count Act in order to ward off another January 6-style attack on the U.S. Capitol, NPR, Miles Parks, Friday, 23 December 2022: “Lawmakers have said over and over that they want to prevent another Jan. 6-style attack on the U.S. Capitol from ever happening again. It took almost two years, but on Friday, as part of a government spending package, Congress passed the first federal elections legislation to that aim. The omnibus spending bill includes a section that would reform the Electoral Count Act, a 1887 law that governs the counting of Electoral College votes in Congress. For years, legal scholars have worried the law was poorly written and in need of clarification, and former President Donald Trump and his allies targeted the law’s ambiguities in their attempts to overturn the 2020 election.”


Friday, 23 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: House approves additional $44.9 billion to Ukraine, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Victoria Bisset, Natalia Abbakumova, and Claire Healy, Friday, 23 December 2022: “The House of Representatives on Friday passed a $1.7 trillion bill that includes nearly $44.9 billion in aid to Ukraine. Biden is expected to sign the bill in the days ahead. The funding includes military, economic and humanitarian assistance, as well as money for related policy work in Washington. Approval of the bill, which passed a Senate vote Thursday, comes after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to D.C. on Wednesday. He asked lawmakers for more aid and weapons, telling them, ‘Your money is not charity.’

  • Earlier on Friday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry denied a Japanese newspaper report that the country had provided weapons to Russia, following claims by the Biden administration that North Korea has been covertly supplying Russia’s Wagner mercenary group with artillery rounds.
  • Russian students will be required to take basic military training, starting the next school year in September, according to the country’s Education Ministry, state media outlets reported Friday.
  • Ukraine is set to open 10 new embassies across Africa, Zelensky announced Friday. ‘There is colossal economic potential and considerable diplomatic avenues’ for Ukraine in the Global South, he said during his nightly address, Reuters reported.
  • Putin publicly called his invasion of Ukraine a ‘war’ for the first time Thursday. The change sparked anger among critics of the Russian president who pointed out that others had been prosecuted for challenging the Kremlin-approved euphemism ‘special military operation’ previously used to describe the war.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Congress Approves Nearly $50 Billion in New Aid for Ukraine. The vote came two days after President Volodymyr Zelensky made his first wartime trip abroad, visiting Washington. Some Republicans questioned the allocation’s size, while some progressives called for peace talks. The New York Times, Friday, 23 December 2022:

  • The nearly $50 billion Congress approved for Ukraine consists mostly of military support.

  • Ukraine’s spy chief says Russian activity in Belarus is an attempt to divert Ukraine’s forces.

  • Christmas is still coming to Ukraine, with a few adjustments.

  • Ukraine’s president defiantly predicts victory after trip to Washington.

  • Russian shelling hits Ukraine’s south and east as Zelensky returns to Kyiv.

  • When Putin called the conflict a ‘war,’ he wasn’t reversing course.

  • Zelensky’s wish list of weapons went mostly unfulfilled on his trip to Washington.

With Detailed Evidence and a Call for Accountability, January 6 Panel Seeks a Legacy. The final report of the committee provides many new details on former President Donald J. Trump’s actions and a record for history. But Republicans will soon begin a campaign to discredit it. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Friday, 23 December 2022: “The House Jan. 6 committee’s 845-page final report is chock-full of new details about former President Donald J. Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election. It documents how Mr. Trump and his allies tried at least 200 times to convince state or local officials to throw out President Biden’s victory. It reveals that Mr. Trump did, in fact, push for the National Guard to be present on the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021 — but to protect his supporters as they marched on Congress, not lawmakers. And it has new testimony from Trump aides like Hope Hicks, who became overwhelmed with disgust at the president’s behavior and the mob riot they were witnessing. ‘We all look like domestic terrorists now,’ she wrote in a text. But even as the committee continues to reveal damning evidence about the attack on the Capitol and what led to it, it has reached the end of its run. The publication of the report, the result of an exhaustive monthslong effort, has created a permanent record intended at a minimum to hold Mr. Trump accountable in history. Criminal referrals have been issued. Much of the panel’s staff has moved on, accepting other jobs. To be sure, there is still some final work to do. The panel has an interactive website to unveil and hundreds of transcripts to release — even after a batch of nearly 50 more on Friday evening that included testimony by former Attorney General William P. Barr; Pat A. Cipollone, the former White House counsel; and Mr. Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump.” See also, After 18 months of investigations, the January 6 report is out, NPR, Deepa Shivaram, Friday, 23 December 2022: “After roughly 18 months of investigations, the House committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol has released their full report. The document, which is more than 800 pages long, recommends the Justice Department pursue criminal charges against former President Donald Trump for his role in the attack. And they say Congress should act to bar Trump, and others involved in the Jan. 6 insurrection, from ever holding federal office again. A summary of the full report was released Monday after the committee concluded its final public hearing. More documents are still expected to be released. ‘As the Select Committee concludes its work, their words must be a clarion call to all Americans: to vigilantly guard our Democracy and to give our vote only to those dutiful in their defense of our Constitution,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in the report. Despite criminal referrals against him and a mountain of evidence showing otherwise, Trump — now a presidential candidate once again — has continued to post on social media since the report was released to repeat his lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. In addition to the criminal referrals to the DOJ, the committee laid out 11 recommendations aimed at better protecting the American democratic system from future attacks. Those recommendations include clarifying that the role of the vice president in the transition of power is purely ceremonial and a new federal law enforcement emphasis on anti-government extremist groups.” See also, January 6 House committee releases transcripts of dozens more witness interviews, The Washington Post, Washington Post Staff, Friday, 23 December 2022: “On Friday, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol released transcripts of the testimony it collected from 46 witnesses. The latest transcripts include interviews with the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump, White House counsel Pat Cipollone, former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, attorney Sidney Powell and more than a dozen rioters. The transcripts’ new developments include:

  • After the possibility was proposed at a Dec. 18, 2020, meeting, it took days to dissuade Trump from appointing Powell special counsel to investigate voter-fraud claims. Powell told the committee she was convinced the election results were fraudulent based on what she saw on television.
  • Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was one of at least three lawmakers who called Ivanka Trump as the attack on the Capitol unfolded, probably to ask for her help.
  • Asked by the committee whether anyone contacted her after she was subpoenaed, McEnany said she believed she received a call from former president Donald Trump, but says she did not answer it.
  • Cipollone told the House committee that, after Jan. 6, 2021, he was concerned that Trump would issue a broad pardon for people involved in the attack on the Capitol, for members of Congress and even for himself.

Inside the January 6 House Committee: Power struggles, resignations, and made-for-TV moments–the untold story of the most important congressional investigation in generations. The New York Times, Robert Draper and Luke Broadwater, Friday, 23 December 2022: “The most consequential congressional committee in generations was immersed in high drama from beginning to end. It originated six months after a domestic siege of the Capitol. It devoted a year to seeking evidence from sources who were often reluctant or even hostile. It then presented that evidence in the form of captivating televised hearings that were watched by more than 10 million Americans at a time, leading up to the November 2022 midterms in which a clear majority cast their ballots against election denialism. And then the committee concluded its work by making history with its criminal referrals of a former president to the Department of Justice. But the inner workings of the Jan. 6 committee — members of Congress, lawyers, video producers and assorted staff members totaling about 80 people tasked with investigating a violent attack on American democracy and a sitting president’s role in that attack — have been almost completely shrouded from public view. Through extensive interviews with all nine of the committee’s members and numerous senior staff members and key witnesses, we have been able to reconstruct a previously unreported account of the committee’s fevered, fraught and often chaotic race to a finish line that has always been understood to be Jan. 3, 2023, when the new Congress is sworn in and a new Republican majority in the House would immediately dissolve the committee. Those same efforts took place at a time when the Republican Party was resolutely united behind the committee’s principal target, Trump, with politicians and voters alike joining the former president in lustily condemning the inquiry at every opportunity…. The committee’s chairman, Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, and its vice chairwoman, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, had worked with the staff to organize the hearings around seven specific methods by which Trump and his allies sought to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election: the willful spreading of lies that the election had been stolen; trying to coerce the Department of Justice into disputing the election results; pressuring Vice President Mike Pence; pressuring state and local officials; seeking to recruit phony electors in several contested states; summoning a mob to Washington; and then, upon inciting that mob, sitting back for more than three hours and doing nothing to stop the violence.”


Saturday, 24 December 2022:


Mitch McConnell team raised worries about attack on Biden inauguration, ex-National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told the January 6 House committee. O’Brien described urgent calls and texts from Senate allies, including McConnell, not to resign during the final days of Trump’s presidency. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Saturday, 24 December 2022: “Two days after pro-Donald Trump rioters attacked the Capitol, then-national security adviser Robert O’Brien got a call from Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and an aide who asked him to look into something he’d been hearing: retired military personnel sympathetic to Donald Trump might be preparing to prevent Joe Biden’s inauguration. ‘[H]e was concerned that there were reports that there were retired military personnel who were sympathetic to the president and might be organizing,’ O’Brien said in the interview. McConnell’s own national security aide, Robert Karem, was on the call as well and raised similar concerns about Navy SEALs, O’Brien said…. [T]he extraordinary conversation underscored the intense fears and instability that gripped Washington in the two weeks between the Jan. 6 assault and Biden’s ascension to the presidency. Those fears were prevalent throughout O’Brien’s testimony, a 210-page transcript of which was released Friday.”

Arizona Judge Rejects Kari Lake’s Effort to Overturn Her Election Loss. Lake, a Republican who was defeated by Katie Hobbs in the Arizona governor’s race, had made false election claims the centerpiece of her campaign. The New York Times, Alexandra Berzon and Charles Homans, Saturday, 24 December 2022: “A state judge on Saturday rejected Kari Lake’s last-ditch effort to overturn her defeat in the Arizona governor’s race, dismissing for lack of evidence her last two claims of misconduct by Maricopa County election officials. The ruling, after a two-day trial in Phoenix that ended Thursday, follows more than six weeks of claims by Ms. Lake, a Republican, that she was robbed of victory last month — assertions that echoed the false contention that was at the heart of her campaign: that an even larger theft had stolen the 2020 presidential election from Donald J. Trump. Ms. Lake and her supporters conjured up what they called a deliberate effort by election officials in Maricopa County, the state’s largest county, to disenfranchise her voters. But they never provided evidence of such intentional malfeasance, nor even evidence that any voters had been disenfranchised.” See also, Arizona judge rules against Kari Lake in bid to overturn Arizona election results. The defeated Republican candidate for Arizona governor claimed that illegal voting and printer malfunctions had cost her the November election. The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, Saturday, 24 December 2022: “An Arizona judge on Saturday rebuffed an effort by Kari Lake, the defeated [Republican] candidate for governor in Arizona, to reverse the outcome of her November election, ruling against her after a two-day trial that showcased speculation about systematic malfeasance at the polls but failed to prove it. The finding was in line with recent judgments against Abe Hamadeh and Mark Finchem, the unsuccessful candidates for attorney general and secretary of state, respectively, who also challenged their losses. Taken together, the rulings show how the judiciary in Arizona, a state rife with distrust in the democratic process, rejected challenges to election results and affirmed the will of voters.”


Sunday, 25 December 2022:


More migrants dropped off outside vice president’s home in freezing weather on Christmas Eve, CNN Politics, Noah Gray, Sunday, 25 December 2022: “Several busloads of migrants were dropped off in front of Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, DC, on Christmas Eve in 18 degree weather late Saturday. An initial two busloads were taken to local shelters, according to an administration official. More buses arrived outside the vice president’s residence later Saturday evening. A CNN team saw migrants being dropped off, with some migrants wearing only T-shirts in the freezing weather. They were given blankets and put on another bus that went to a local church. Amy Fischer, a volunteer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, which has been receiving migrants sent to DC since the spring, said the organization had been prepared for Saturday night’s arrivals, having been informed about it earlier by an NGO working at the border in Texas.” See also, Migrants from Texas dropped off outside VP Harris’ home on freezing Christmas Eve. The stunt appears to be the latest example of an effort by officials in Republican-led states of busing migrants to liberal strongholds. NBC News, Adam Edelman, Sunday, 25 December 2022: “Three buses from Texas dropped off about 140 recent migrants — including babies and young children — near Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington in historically frigid temperatures on Saturday evening. The drop-off appears to be the latest example of an effort by governors in Republican-led states — including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott — to bus migrants to liberal strongholds like New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. But immigration activists said Saturday’s incident was particularly cruel because of the freezing temperatures in the nation’s capital and because it was Christmas Eve. Madhvi Bahl, an organizer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, confirmed the arrival of the migrants on Saturday to NBC News. Bahl called the stunt ‘awful’ and said that ‘it shows that the cruelty is the point.’ Her organization was one of several that helped provide shelter to the migrants arriving Saturday. ‘D.C. was prepared and we showed up and welcomed folks, as we’ve been doing for months now,’ she said.” See also, Buses of Migrants Arrive at Kamala Harris’s Home on Christmas Eve. About 130 migrants from Texas were bused to the vice president’s home on one of the coldest Christmas Eves on record in the nation’s capital. The New York Times, Stephanie Lai, Sunday, 25 December 2022: “Over a hundred migrants arrived near Vice President Kamala Harris’s home on Saturday evening, one of the chilliest Christmas Eves on record in the capital, according to a mutual aid group. Volunteers anticipated three buses with about 130 immigrants to arrive in New York on Christmas Day, but the buses were rerouted to the Washington area because of road closures and frigid conditions, said Madhvi Bahl, an organizer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network. Migrants arrived in Washington after a 36-hour journey, some with little more than a T-shirt or a light blanket, Ms. Bahl added. The mutual aid group helped coordinate travel and housing for the migrants and provided food, coats, shoes and other warm articles of clothing to combat temperatures that plunged below 20 degrees. The mutual aid group said the buses were sent by the Texas Division of Emergency Management, which follows the directive of Gov. Greg Abbott’s office. ‘They have been doing that for a few months now; it’s all for the spectacle,’ Ms. Bahl said of the governor’s office. ‘The cruelty is the point. It’s awful to use people in this manner, for political reasons.’ The three buses appeared to be the latest sent by Republican governors along the southern border to Democratic-led cities, and the scores of migrants were not the first to be dropped off near Ms. Harris’s home on the grounds of the Naval Observatory.”


Monday, 26 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: With More Strikes in Russia, Ukraine makes Calculation Moscow Has Reached Limit, Analysts Say. A drone attack over Engels air base, the latest behind Russian lines, suggests that the allure of curtailing Moscow’s missile capabilities at home outweighs any concern of escalation, analysts say. The New York Times, Monday, 26 December 2022:

  • Attacks inside Russia potentially complicate Moscow’s campaign of striking Ukraine’s energy grid.

  • The drone attack is the second aimed at Engels air base this month.

  • Zelensky warns Ukrainians that Russia might strike the electrical grid before New Year’s Eve.

  • Ukraine’s foreign minister proposes peace summit for February.

  • After a deadly weekend attack, the authorities in Kherson renew their appeal for people to evacuate.

  • The president of Belarus is in Russia amid concerns of a new offensive in Ukraine.

Representative-elect George Santos (Republican-New York) Admits to Lying About His College and Work History. The congressman-elect confirmed The New York Times’s findings that he had not graduated from college or worked at two major Wall Street firms, as he had claimed. The New York Times, Michael Gold and Grace Ashford, Monday, 26 December 2022: “Ending a weeklong silence, Representative-elect George Santos admitted on Monday to a sizable list of falsehoods about his professional background, educational history and property ownership. But he said he was determined to take the oath of office on Jan. 3 and join the House majority. Mr. Santos, a New York Republican who was elected in November to represent parts of northern Long Island and northeast Queens, confirmed some of the key findings of a New York Times investigation into his background, but sought to minimize the misrepresentations. ‘My sins here are embellishing my résumé,’ Mr. Santos told The New York Post in one of several interviews he gave on Monday. Mr. Santos admitted to lying about graduating from college and making misleading claims that he worked for Citigroup or Goldman Sachs. He once said he had a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties; on Monday, he admitted he was not a landlord. Mr. Santos, the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent, also acknowledged owing thousands in unpaid rent and a yearslong marriage he had never disclosed.” See also, Representative-elect George Santos (Republican-New York) acknowledges ‘résumé embellishment’ but answers little on finances. The Long Island Republican was pressed to address questions about whether he fabricated his biography and why he reported skyrocketing wealth. The Washington Post, Michael Kranish, Azi Paybarah, and Hannah Knowles, Monday, 26 December 2022.


Tuesday, 27 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin bans sale of Russian oil to countries involved in price cap; Kyiv seeks U.N. Peace summit, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Leo Sands, Sammy Westfall, and Praveena Somasundaram, Tuesday, 27 December 2022: “Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday banned the sale of crude and other petroleum products to Western nations involved in limiting the price of Russian oil on the global market. This month, the Group of Seven nations, the European Union and Australia together agreed to cap the price of Russian oil at $60 a barrel, as part of an effort to pressure Moscow over the war in Ukraine. The decree late Tuesday said it was a response to ‘actions that are unfriendly and contradictory to international law by the United States and foreign states and international organizations joining them,’ the Reuters news agency reported. ‘Deliveries of Russian oil and oil products to foreign entities and individuals are banned, on the condition that in the contracts for these supplies, the use of a maximum price fixing mechanism is directly or indirectly envisaged,’ the decree said, adding that the ban would be in place for five months, from Feb. 1 to July 1.

  • Ukraine is seeking a United Nations-backed peace summit to end the war with Russia, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with the Associated Press. The U.N. responded with caution, however, saying it could only mediate if all parties agreed.
  • Another Russian tycoon has died under mysterious circumstances. Russian sausage magnate and lawmaker Pavel Antov died after apparently falling from a third-floor hotel room in India on Saturday, two days after another member of his group died at the same hotel, local officials said. In June, Antov had appeared to criticize a Russian missile attack in Ukraine, posting and then deleting a comment on Telegram that said it was ‘extremely difficult to call all this anything but terror,’ the BBC reported.
  • About 9 million Ukrainians were without power across the country as of Monday evening, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address. He thanked repair crews who helped get more energy to people over Christmas and noted that the ‘number and duration of outages is still gradually decreasing.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Refuses to Export Oil to Countries Honoring West’s Price Cap. Putin signed a decree to cut off oil sales to the European Union and Group of 7. Many of those nations, however, have already banned most Russian oil imports. The New York Times, Tuesday, 26 December 2022:

  • Putin bans oil exports to nations that agreed to a Western price cap.

  • A Russian tycoon and his travel companion are found dead in India.

  • Ukrainian forces edge closer to a heavily guarded city in the east.

  • Lukashenko and Putin affirm their close ties but say nothing publicly about Ukraine.

  • Navalny accuses the prison authorities of using his health as a tool to put pressure on him.

  • The U.S. is sending satellite-guided weapons to Kyiv. How will they help?

Supreme Court Says Migrant Expulsion Policy Must Stay in Place for Now. The temporary stay in lifting the pandemic rule known as Title 42 is a provisional victory for 19 states, led mostly by Republicans, that had sought to keep it in place on the border. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Miriam Jordan, and Eileen Sullivan, Tuesday, 27 December 2022: “The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that a pandemic-era health measure that restricted migration at the southern border would remain in place for the time being, delaying the potential for a huge increase in unlawful crossings. In a brief unsigned order, the justices halted a trial judge’s ruling that would have lifted the measure, known as Title 42, which has allowed even migrants who might otherwise qualify for asylum to be swiftly expelled at the border. The court said that it would hear arguments in the case in February and that the stay would remain in place pending a ruling. The justices said they would address only the question of whether the 19 mainly Republican-led states that had sought the stay could pursue their challenge to the measure. Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissented.” See also, Supreme Court leaves in place Title 42 border policy for now. The Trump-era policy allows quick expulsion of migrants from U.S. borders without the chance to seek asylum. The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Tuesday, 27 December 2022: “The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked the Biden administration’s plans to end a pandemic-era policy allowing the quick expulsion of migrants from U.S. borders without the opportunity to seek asylum. The Trump-era policy, known as Title 42, had been set to expire last week, but Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. paused that plan to give the high court time to weigh the issue. In Tuesday’s order, five conservative justices sided with Republican officials in 19 states, including Texas and Arizona, who sought to maintain Title 42, which has been used to expel migrants more than 2 million times since it was implemented in March 2020. But the court’s action was temporary, and it will consider in February whether the states had the legal standing to intervene in the dispute. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration will comply, but said ‘Title 42 is a public health measure, not an immigration enforcement measure, and it should not be extended indefinitely.'” See also, Supreme Court allows border restrictions for asylum-seekers to continue for now, NPR, Joel Rose, Tuesday, 27 December 2022: “The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling Tuesday, granted a GOP request to prevent the winding down of the pandemic border restrictions known as Title 42 – and agreed to decide in its February argument session whether 19 states that oppose the policy should be allowed to intervene in its defense in the lower courts. Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court’s three liberals in dissent…. Under Title 42, immigration authorities are able to quickly remove many of the migrants they encounter – without giving them a chance to ask for asylum protection or other protections under U.S. law. The restrictions were put in place as a public health order by former President Donald Trump’s administration in March 2020 when COVID-19 was just beginning to surge in this country. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court blocked the Biden administration’s plans to end the pandemic restrictions, at least temporarily.

Adam Fox Sentenced to 16 Years in Prison for Plotting to Kidnap Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. Jurors convicted Fox of scheming to kidnap Governor Whitmer in what federal prosecutors described as a threat to American democracy. The New York Times, Mitch Smith, Tuesday, 27 December 2022: “A man convicted in a plot to abduct Michigan’s Democratic governor from her vacation home was sentenced on Tuesday to 16 years in prison, the longest sentence yet for a federal defendant in one of the country’s most closely watched domestic terrorism cases but far less than the life term that prosecutors sought. At two trials earlier this year, prosecutors repeatedly showed recordings and online posts in which the defendant, Adam Fox, called Gov. Gretchen Whitmer a ‘tyrant,’ railed against her Covid-19 restrictions and mused about a second American revolution. Prosecutors described him as a threat to the governor’s safety and to democracy itself.” See also, Adam Fox, the ‘driving force’ in plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, is sentenced to 16 years, The Washington Post, Kim Bellware, Tuesday, 27 December 2022: “The co-leader of the failed plot by right-wing extremists to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to 16 years in prison, far below the life sentence sought by federal prosecutors but the longest sentence yet in what was the highest-profile domestic terrorism case in recent years. Adam Fox, 39, of Wyoming, Mich., was convicted in August on two conspiracy charges relating to the kidnapping scheme and another to obtain and use a weapon of mass destruction. Federal prosecutors pegged Fox as the ‘driving force’ behind the 2020 plan to kidnap Whitmer (D) from her vacation home, blow up a bridge to distract responding police and provoke a civil war ahead of the 2020 presidential election.”

January 6 Transcripts Shed New Light on How Trump Considered Blanket Pardons. The transcripts build on a growing body of evidence about the extent to which many in Mr. Trump’s orbit were seeking pardons after the 2021 attack on the Capitol. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Catie Edmondson, and Stephanie Lai, Tuesday, 27 December 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol released on Tuesday 18 additional transcripts that provided more details about how former President Donald J. Trump considered ‘blanket pardons’ for those charged in connection with the Capitol riot, and how several of his top political allies pushed unsuccessfully to be included in such pardons. The transcripts, which come from the committee’s trove of hundreds of interviews, build on a growing body of evidence about the extent to which many in Mr. Trump’s orbit, including rioters, White House staffers, Republican members of Congress and some of the president’s own lawyers were seeking pardons after the events of Jan. 6, 2021. Johnny McEntee, Mr. Trump’s director of personnel, recalled in an interview how, during his final days in office, the former president had floated the idea of a ‘blanket pardon’ for the breach of the Capitol, but Pat A. Cipollone, the White House counsel, had rejected it.”

Former Trump White House aide told January 6 House committee Mark Meadows burned documents a dozen times during the transition period, CNN Politics, Jeremy Herb, Marshall Cohen, Hannah Rabinowitz, Geneve Sands, Veronica Stracqualursi, Kate Sullivan, and Kristen Holmes, Tuesday, 27 December 2022: “The January 6 committee released another batch of transcripts Tuesday, including two more of its interviews with blockbuster witness Cassidy Hutchinson and testimony from several other Trump White House officials. The transcripts shed new light on how then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows regularly burned documents during the transition period, according to Hutchinson. She also described how Meadows occasionally told staffers to keep some Oval Office meetings ‘close hold’ and potentially omitted from official records. There were also additional details about Hutchinson’s dueling loyalties that led her to ultimately switch lawyers and provide damning testimony about what she saw and heard at the White House after the 2020 election. The latest cache of transcripts also revealed some of the rumors, gossip and wild conspiracies that were floating around the White House – including conversations about QAnon conspiracies – while then-President Donald Trump refused to concede and tried to overturn the election results.”


Wednesday, 28 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: French defense minister visits Kyiv; Paul Whelan marks four years in Russian detention, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Leo Sands, and Sammy Westfall, Wednesday, 28 December 2022: “In his first visit to Ukraine since the war started, French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu on Wednesday pledged that France would increase aid to Kyiv, including 200 million euros to buy weapons. In Kyiv, officials warned that the capital would see emergency power outages all winter, despite workers racing to repair infrastructure damaged by shelling.

  • Lecornu discussed France’s ‘reliable and lasting support’ to Ukraine with his counterpart, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, as well as the needs of its military in the next year, Lecornu wrote on Twitter. The French official is also set to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. While France has provided support for Ukraine, many Ukrainians have criticized French President Emmanuel Macron, who continued phone contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the invasion.
  • American Paul Whelan has now been detained in Russia for four years. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that Whelan’s ‘detention remains unacceptable, and we continue to press for his immediate release at every opportunity.’ National security adviser Jake Sullivan also said that Whelan and his family showed the ‘meaning of generosity of spirit’ by celebrating the return of fellow American detainee Brittney Griner while ‘Russia continues its deplorable treatment of Paul as a bargaining chip.’
  • Emergency power outages continued to affect Ukraine’s capital. Kyiv City Council Deputy Chairman Petro Panteleev said Wednesday on Telegram that teams were working nonstop to try to restore electricity.
  • Any peace plan must take into account ‘today’s realities regarding Russian territory,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday, the Tass news agency reported. Without considering the ‘entry of four regions into Russia’ — including the occupied areas of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia — the plan ‘cannot be peaceful,’ he said.
  • At least 6,884 civilians are confirmed to have been killed in Ukraine since February, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights’ latest tally. The toll represents deaths independently verified by the agency, so the true figure is probably far higher. Most of the killings were recorded in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, with ‘explosive weapons’ blamed for the majority of the casualties.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Steps Up Efforts to Evacuate Kherson Residents. The government is offering free train rides and cash payments to those who choose to leave the embattled city. The New York Times, Wednesday, 28 December 2022:

  • Moscow takes aim at Kherson City with missiles and rockets.

  • Exxon Mobil sues to try to block a European windfall tax.

  • ‘An awful milestone’: Paul Whelan’s detention in Russia hits four years.

  • France’s defense minister visits Kyiv to discuss further military support.

  • Russia rejects a new Ukrainian proposal for peace talks.

  • A Russian tycoon and his travel companion are found dead in India.

  • In a wartime mystery, the Baltic seabed provides a nearly ideal crime scene.

George Santos Faces Federal and Local Investigations, and Public Dismay. Prosecutors said on Wednesday that they would examine Mr. Santos, who has admitted lying about his work and educational history during his campaign. The New York Times, Michael Gold, Ed Shanahan, Brittany Kriegstein, and Rebecca Davis O’Brien, Wednesday, 28 December 2022: “Federal and local prosecutors are investigating whether Representative-elect George Santos committed any crimes involving his finances and lies about his background on the campaign trail. The federal investigation, which is being run by the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, is focused at least in part on his financial dealings, according to a person familiar with the matter. The investigation was said to be in its early stages. In a separate inquiry, the Nassau County, N.Y., district attorney’s office said it was looking into the ‘numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated with Congressman-elect Santos’ during his successful 2022 campaign to represent parts of Long Island and Queens. It was unclear how far the Nassau County inquiry had progressed, but the district attorney, Anne Donnelly, said in a statement that Mr. Santos’s fabrications ‘are nothing short of stunning.’ She added: ‘No one is above the law, and if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.’ A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on Wednesday. The office’s interest in Mr. Santos was reported earlier by ABC News, and the Nassau County inquiry was first reported by Newsday.” See also, New York Representative-elect George Santos is being investigated for lying about his past, Associated Press, Bobby Caina Calvan, Wednesday, 28 December 2022: “U.S. Rep.-elect George Santos of New York was under investigation by Long Island prosecutors on Wednesday, after revelations surfaced that the now-embattled Republican lied about his heritage, education and professional pedigree as he campaigned for office. Despite intensifying doubt about his fitness to hold federal office, Santos has shown no signs of stepping aside — even as he publicly admitted to a long list of lies. Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly, a Republican, said the fabrications and inconsistencies were ‘nothing short of stunning.’ ‘The residents of Nassau County and other parts of the third district must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress,’ she said. ‘If a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.'”

Barry Croft Jr., architect of the plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, is sentenced to more than 19 years in prison, The Washington Post, Kim Bellware, Wednesday, 28 December 2022: “A man who was convicted as one of the key orchestrators in the 2020 scheme to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and blow up a bridge in hopes of inciting a civil war was sentenced Wednesday to 19½ years in prison, the longest sentence of the four men convicted on federal charges in the most closely watched domestic terrorism case in recent years. Barry Croft Jr., 47, of Delaware was described by prosecutors in a federal courtroom in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Wednesday as the ‘spiritual leader’ and ‘the ideas guy’ of the plot, which was ultimately undone after a sting that involved informants and undercover FBI agents who embedded with the group of men drawn together by their association with the armed right-wing ‘Wolverine Watchmen’ group. Croft and his co-conspirator, 39-year-old Adam Fox of Michigan, were convicted by a federal jury after a second trial in August on two counts of conspiracy, while Croft also was found guilty of an additional weapons charge. Prosecutors depicted the two men as furious over covid-19 lockdowns and supposed ‘tyranny’ by elected officials, and said they poured their anger into a violent plot they were eager to see grow into a bloody ‘revolution.’ See also, Barry Croft Receives Nearly 20 Years in Prison for Plot to Kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Barry Croft planned to use guns and explosives to abduct Michigan’s governor, prosecutors said. He was the final federal defendant to face sentencing. The New York Times, Mitch Smith, Wednesday, 28 December 2022: “A man who prosecutors said had planned to travel from Delaware to Michigan to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her vacation home and possibly assassinate her was sentenced on Wednesday to 19 years and seven months in prison, far less than the life term that prosecutors requested. The man, Barry Croft, a truck driver who had spoken of wanting to foment civil war and had traveled repeatedly to the Midwest for training and planning sessions in the months before his arrest, was the last of the men convicted in federal court to learn his prison term. Judge Robert J. Jonker of the United States District Court in Western Michigan delivered the sentence, the longest for any federal defendant in the case, just four days before Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat, was scheduled to be sworn in for a second term as governor.”

January 6, 2021: The Facts. A very concise summary of the House Select Committee’s Final Report. Thinking About, Timothy Snyder, Wednesday, 28 December 2022: “What did Trump know, and when did he lie about it?  How did his Big Lie lead to specific actions to overturn and election and bring down the American system?  What did the coup attempt of 2020-2021 look like from within the Trump administration itself?  Thanks to the excellent ‘Final Report of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol,’ we now know the answers to these and many other questions. I provide here just the briefest of summaries of the report’s recounting of the events of November 2020-January 2021. It is very easy, when a long report is released, to underplay its basic findings.  There is a temptation to act as if something is not shocking if we have heard part of it before, as though this were a mark of political sophistication.  The American tendency to normalize threats to democracy is also present in retrospect. What is described in palpable and convincing detail in the Final Report is indeed profoundly shocking: a planned and coordinated attempt by the president of the United States and his allies to carry out regime change in the United States of America on the basis of a Big Lie. Here is my very brief summary of the factual part of the report, in fifteen quick points. I am deliberately understating here; the evidence, in the Final Report itself, permits much broader conclusions.

1.  Trump knew that he was likely to lose the 3 November 2020 election, and planned in advance to declare victory (to tell a Big Lie) if he lost.

2.  On 3 November 2020, Trump knew that he was very unlikely to have won the election of that day, and declared victory anyway.  In the days following, aware that he had lost, he continued to declare victory.

3.  Over and over again in November, December, and January, Trump publicized specific claims of electoral fraud shortly after being informed that they were false.

4.  Aware that his advisors, campaign officials, and cabinet knew his claims of fraud to be false, Trump promoted people, such as Rudolph Giuliani, who would lie for him in public.

5.  In the full knowledge that he had lost the election and that his claims of fraud were false, Trump made several deliberate efforts to overturn the election results and thus American democracy.

6.  In states he had lost, Trump personally pressured state officials to fraudulently and illegally alter the electoral outcome.

7.  Informed that the Department of Justice had investigated and found no evidence of fraud, Trump nevertheless sought to use its powers, via Jeffrey Clark, to intimidate state officials to change electoral outcomes.

8.  Knowing that he had lost the electoral college vote, Trump oversaw an effort to create fake slates of electors.  These entirely bogus documents were then sent to the vice-president (who refused them).

9.  Though aware that it was the vice-president’s role only to count the electoral votes, Trump pressured the vice-president not to do so, on the theory that the vice-president could, in effect, choose the president.

10.  Even the person who devised the plan regarding the vice-president, John Eastman, knew it to be illegal.

11.  Knowing by January 6th that all that remained was the formality of certifying Biden’s victory, Trump encouraged supporters he knew to be armed and angry to halt this procedure and violently overthrow our form of government.

12.  Trump’s call to violence was successful because enough of his supporters believed his lies and understood what he wanted them to do: prevent a peaceful transition of power.

13.  At a time when the Capitol was under attack, the vice-president was in flight, and the members of the vice-president’s security detail feared for their lives, Trump urged his supporters on to further violence.

14.  After the failed coup attempt, a number of Republican legislators sought presidential pardons, thereby acknowledging their fears that they had acted illegally.

15.  Even had Trump believed that he had won the 2020 election, which he did not, his coup attempt would remain a coup attempt, and his crimes would remain crimes.


Thursday, 29 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Belarus shoots down Ukraine missile; Russian strikes knock out power in Kyiv and Lviv, The Washington Post, David L. Stern, Ellen Francis, Kelsey Ables, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Miriam Berger, Erin Cunningham, and Daniel Wu, Thursday, 29 December 2022: “Ukraine’s air defenses thwarted a number of Russian missiles fired at targets across the country Thursday. The barrage was the most intense attack in weeks and knocked out power in several cities, including the capital, Kyiv. In his evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the military’s antiaircraft missile brigades, claiming Ukrainian defenses intercepted 54 of the 69 Russian missiles and 11 of 23 attack drones. Engineers and repair crews, Zelensky added, were trying to restore power, but he did not elaborate on the extent of the damage. ‘Unfortunately, there were several hits,’ Zelensky said. ‘And I thank everyone who is working to restore energy supply.’ Belarus also shot down a Ukrainian missile that strayed into Belarusian territory, the nation’s Defense Ministry said. A local official in the Brest region where the missile fell played down the incident in a video posted by Belarus’s state-run news agency, Reuters reported. Residents in the area had ‘absolutely nothing to worry about,’ military commissar Oleg Konovalov said. ‘Unfortunately, these things happen.’ Hours later, however, Minsk summoned Ukraine’s ambassador to demand a ‘thorough investigation’ into the missile launch. Such incidents ‘can lead to catastrophic consequences for everyone,’ a spokesman for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said, the state-run news agency reported.

  • Ukraine’s Defense Ministry responded to the reports from Belarus on Thursday, saying that it was ready to investigate the downed missile. ‘The Ukrainian side, reserving the unconditional right to defend and protect its own sky, is ready to conduct an objective investigation,’ the ministry said in a statement. It said Kyiv would invite independent experts not associated with Russia, which it ultimately blamed for the incident.
  • Lviv’s mayor said most of the city near the Polish border was ‘without light’ after Russia attacked Ukraine using air- and sea-based cruise missiles Thursday. Andriy Sadovyi also wrote that trams were not running in the city. Kyiv’s mayor said nearly 40 percent of the capital had lost electricity and that workers were trying to restore power. In Odessa, the region’s governor said the strikes prompted emergency outages.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba condemned the attacks as ‘senseless barbarism,’ writing on Twitter that there could be ‘no “neutrality” in the face of such mass war crimes.’ He said: ‘These are the only words that come to mind seeing Russia launch another missile barrage at peaceful Ukrainian cities ahead of the New Year. … Pretending to be “neutral” equals taking Russia’s side.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Cities Around Ukraine Rocked as Russia Launches New Wave of Strikes. The Ukrainian authorities had been warning for days that Russia was planning more strikes on the electrical grid ahead of New Year holidays. The New York Times, Thursday, 29 December 2022:

  • Russia’s barrage of cruise missiles and drones staggers Ukraine’s air defenses.

  • Washington condemns the latest Russian attacks in Ukraine as ‘barbaric.’

  • At a park in Kyiv, residents tell of weathering attacks and making the most of the time in between.

  • Russia’s strikes threaten to keep Ukraine in the dark for the New Year holidays.

  • For now, Russia’s economy is faring better than expected under Western sanctions.

  • Belarus says it shot down a Ukrainian missile, the type Ukraine uses for air defense.

January 6 Transcripts Detail Failures in Surveillance and National Guard Response. The latest batch of transcripts shed light on how threats before January 6 went unheeded and what led to an hourslong delay of the National Guard deployment to the Capitol. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Maggie Haberman, Catie Edmondson, and Stephanie Lai, Thursday, 29 December 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol released on Thursday 19 more transcripts of its interviews, bringing its total number of transcripts published to about 120. So far, the committee has added details to the public’s understanding of how witnesses stymied parts of the panel’s inquiryhow Trump-aligned lawyers allegedly tried to steer witness testimonyhow panicked lawmakers tried to persuade former President Donald J. Trump to call off the mob; and how Mr. Trump considered ‘blanket pardons’ for those charged. The committee is rushing to publish hundreds more interviews before Jan. 3, when Republicans will take control of the House. Here are some takeaways from the hundreds of pages of transcripts released this week, including details of police intelligence failures before the Capitol attack and insight into the delay in the response of the National Guard.”

D.C. mayor Muriel E. Bowser told the January 6 House committee that Capitol Police were unprepared for the violent assault because of a mistaken belief that white supremacists would not harm them. The transcripts of Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III’s interviews were part of the latest release of materials from the House January 6 select committee. The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner and Peter Hermann, Thursday, 29 December 2022: “The D.C. mayor told lawmakers investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack that Capitol Police were unprepared for the violent assault because of a mistaken belief that white supremacists would not harm them. ‘People thought they were friendly to law enforcement and that they loved their country,’ Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said in her January 2022 interview with the House committee, a transcript of which was released Thursday. She said, however, earlier D.C. rallies of ‘white nationalist groups … showed us that they were antagonistic to law enforcement.’ In interviews with the House committee, Bowser and D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III also faulted the Defense Department for not responding more quickly to the Capitol as rioters mobbed the building, while explaining their own reservations about deploying federal personnel on city streets. Bowser also described an attempt by President Donald Trump to take over the city’s police force in the summer of 2020, with some details emerging publicly for the first time with the release of her testimony. The transcripts of Bowser and Contee’s interviews were part of the latest release of materials from the House Jan. 6 select committee, which this month issued their final report on the attack and recommended that Trump be charged with insurrection and obstruction of Congress.”

January 6 House Committee Withdraws Its Subpoena of Trump. With the panel wrapping up its work in the final days before a new Congress, it has also pulled back its subpoenas for other witnesses. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 29 December 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on Wednesday withdrew the subpoena it had issued to former President Donald J. Trump, conceding that the lawmakers had run out of time to obtain his documents or testimony. The committee is set to dissolve on Jan. 3. It waited until October to issue a subpoena to Mr. Trump, who promptly sued the panel to try to block it. The panel had directed Mr. Trump to produce an extensive list of documents and communications — including phone calls, texts, encrypted messages and emails — related to nearly every aspect of his effort to invalidate the 2020 election between Nov. 3, 2020, and Jan. 6, 2021. But Mr. Trump’s suit made it highly unlikely that he would ever testify, given the committee’s end date.”


Friday, 30 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky looks to strengthen air defense in new year; Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi meet, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Ellen Francis, and Claire Healy, Friday, 30 December 2022: “As the war in Ukraine rolls into the new year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made his priority for 2023 clear: building the country’s air defense into ‘the most powerful in Europe.’ In his nightly address Friday, Zelensky said air defense will become ‘stronger’ and ‘more effective’ in the new year, and he underscored the need for a clear energy strategy. His comments follow a barrage of Russian missiles that pummeled the country Thursday, which officials say left 40 percent of Kyiv residents without power. It also came hours after an online meeting in which Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping affirmed the military ties between their countries.

  • Putin told Xi that their nations would continue strengthening military cooperation, according to a Kremlin summary of their meeting, and he invited the Chinese president to Moscow for a visit in the spring. Xi said China was ready to increase ‘strategic cooperation’ in the face of a ‘difficult’ situation on the world stage. Moscow has sought to boost ties with Beijing in the wake of Western penalties levied as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s air force said all 16 self-detonating drones that attacked the country were destroyed overnight. The Kyiv region’s governor, Oleksiy Kuleba, also said early Friday that Ukrainian forces repelled a drone raid during the night, and air raid sirens wailed in the capital early Friday.
  • The Ukrainian energy grid was restored Friday to the same level as before the missile strikes, the national energy company said in a Telegram statement, but Ukrenergo said challenges continue in the southern and eastern regions. Zelensky said Thursday that most regions of Ukraine had experienced power outages after the strikes.
  • With two new laws signed Thursday, Putin continues a pattern of manipulating Russian law to suppress opposition, according to a new report from the Institute for the Study of War. The report says the first law makes ‘assistance to subversive activities’ an offense punishable with up to life in prison. Another law, according to independent news agency Interfax, allows authorities to charge 3 million rubles or sentence an individual with up to three years in prison for the desecration of St. George’s Ribbon, a symbol of military strength.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Says It Thwarted Another Drone Strike on Kyiv. The authorities in Kyiv said that Russia had followed the previous day’s missile strikes with seven more drones, but that Ukrainian air defenses had shot them down. The New York Times, Friday, 30 December 2022:

  • ‘The enemy continues to launch massive air attacks on Ukraine’s capital city.’

  • NATO’s chief argues that giving more weapons to Ukraine is the fastest path to peace talks.

  • A call between Xi and Putin highlights their mutual dependence.

  • In a battered Ukrainian city, workers are battling winter, not the Russians.

  • Critics say a new media law signed by Zelensky could restrict press freedom in Ukraine.

  • A Catherine the Great statue is taken down in Odesa.

Trump Tax Returns Undermine His Image as a Successful Entrepreneur. The release of former President Donald J. Trump’s private tax documents by the House Ways and Means Committee shows heavy losses from his own ventures as he continued to cash in on inherited assets. The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Susanne Craig, and Russ Buettner, Friday, 30 December 2022: “House Democrats released six years of former President Donald J. Trump’s tax records on Friday, offering new insight into his business dealings that further undermined his long-cultivated image as a wildly successful businessman. The release on Friday morning contained thousands of pages of tax documents, including individual returns for Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, as well as business returns for several of the hundreds of companies that make up his sprawling business organization. It followed the release of reports from Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee that showed Mr. Trump had paid a total of $1.1 million in federal income taxes in the first three years of his presidency, but paid no tax in 2020 as his income dwindled and losses mounted. The document disclosure drew rebukes and threats of retaliation from Mr. Trump and his Republican allies in Congress, who suggested that once their party takes over the House on Jan. 3, they may seek to disclose tax returns filed by Democratic politicians, Supreme Court justices and members of President Biden’s family, such as his son Hunter. The documents appeared to show that Mr. Trump violated his campaign promise to donate his salary as president, at least in 2020, when he reported no charitable giving of any kind. They also suggested Mr. Trump’s tax bill may have gone up because of a change in his signature 2017 tax overhaul: a limitation on the deduction of state and local taxes paid. In a statement on Friday, Mr. Trump denounced Democrats and said the decision to release the returns had been ‘weaponized.’ ‘The ‘Trump’ tax returns once again show how proudly successful I have been and how I have been able to use depreciation and various other tax deductions as an incentive for creating thousands of jobs and magnificent structures and enterprises,’ he wrote. But the returns, which cover the tax years 2015 through 2020, do not show much success for Mr. Trump in his recent business dealings. They show Mr. Trump often reported heavy losses from his own ventures, even as he continued to cash in on assets he inherited. Mr. Trump’s history of inheriting wealth and then losing it was chronicled by The New York Times in 2020, when it obtained decades of Mr. Trump’s tax information, including much of which was disclosed on Friday.” See also, Former President Donald J. Trump, who fought for years to keep his returns private, made no charitable donations in 2020, and his own tax law may have cost him. The New York Times, Jim Tankersley, Susanne Craig, and Russ Buettner, Friday, 30 December 2022. See also, Here Are the Key Numbers From Trump’s Tax Returns, The New York Times, Charlie Smart, published on Wednesday, 21 December 2022. See also, Document: Report on Trump’s Tax Returns, The New York Times, published on Tuesday, 20 December 2022. See also, House Ways and Means Committee releases Trump tax returns in another setback for former president, The Washington Post, Marianna Sotomayor, Rosalind S. Helderman, Julie Zauzmer, and Toluse Olorunnipa, Friday, 30 December 2022: “The House Ways and Means Committee on Friday released Donald Trump’s tax returns, dealing yet another setback to the former president and 2024 White House candidate as he faces multiple federal and state investigations. The Democratic-led panel released the financial documents for six years, capping a protracted legal and political battle that could have been prevented had Trump followed presidential precedent and released his returns voluntarily. Democrats have pushed for more than three years to make Trump’s tax returns public, and thousands of pages of documents were finally made available to the Ways and Means Committee late last month after the Supreme Court denied a last attempt by Trump to withhold the records. The returns show that Trump paid little, if anything, in income taxes compared with his gross income over six years, including the four in which he served as president. Trump lost thousands of dollars in income from 2015 to 2017, largely due to net losses tied to real estate and other businesses. On his 2017 tax return, Trump claimed business expenses and other losses and deductions in excess of $279.5 million, significantly reducing the amount of tax he owed. Those deductions included ‘helicopter expenses’ and foreign taxes paid. That year, he paid $750 in federal income taxes. Due to significant business losses in 2020, Trump paid no taxes.” See also, What we’ve learned from Trump’s tax returns, The Washington Post, Julie Zauzmer Weil and Eugene Scott, Friday, 30 December 2022: “Thousands of pages of Donald Trump’s tax returns shed some light on his extensive business empire, both before and during his presidency, as well as his changing fortunes during his time in the Oval Office. While Trump endured sizable financial losses in the two years before entering the White House, he had an adjusted gross income of $15.8 million during his first three years as president when he paid $1.1 million in federal income tax. In his final year in office, 2020, he paid no income tax, according to his tax returns that were released Friday by the House Ways and Means Committee. Democrats spent years pursuing the financial documents that previous presidents and White House candidates voluntarily released.” See also, Key takeaways from six years of Donald Trump’s federal tax returns, CNN Politics, David Goldman, Jeremy Herb, Jeanne Sahadi, and Maegan Vazquez, Friday, 30 December 2022: “Six years of Donald Trump’s federal tax returns released on Friday show the former president paid very little in federal income taxes the first and last year of his presidency, claiming huge losses that helped limit his tax bill, among other revelations. The returns, long shrouded in secrecy, were released to the public on Friday by the House Ways and Means Committee, the culmination of a battle over their disclosure that went to the Supreme Court. They confirm a report issued from the Joint Committee on Taxation that Trump claimed large losses before and throughout his presidency that he carried forward to reduce or practically eliminate his tax burden. For example, his returns show that he carried forward a $105 million loss in 2015 and $73 million in 2016. The thousands of pages of documents from the former president’s personal and business federal tax returns – which spanned the years 2015 through 2020 – provide a complex web of raw data about Trump’s finances, offering up many questions about his wealth and income that could be pursued both by auditors and Trump’s political opponents.”

January 6 Transcripts Reveal Disagreements That Divided Trump Camp. Interviews revealed that people in President Donald J. Trump’s orbit had very different views on seizing voting machines, the Proud Boys, and each other’s roles. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Alan Feuer, Catie Edmondson, and Stephanie Lai, Friday, 30 December 2022: “The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol on Friday released more than 40 additional transcripts of its interviews, bringing the total number of transcripts published to more than 160. So far, the transcripts have added details to the public’s understanding of how police intelligence failures contributed to the Capitol attackhow former President Donald J. Trump considered “blanket pardons” for those charged, and how Trump-aligned lawyers allegedly tried to steer witness testimony. The committee is rushing to publish more interviews before Jan. 3, when Republicans will take control of the House. Though the committee conducted more than 1,000 interviews, many of them were informal; only a few hundred were transcribed sessions.”

The Environmental Protection Agency finalizes a water-protection rule that repeals Trump-era changes, Associated Press, Jim Salter and Michael Phillis, Friday, 30 December 2022: “President Joe Biden’s administration on Friday finalized regulations that protect hundreds of thousands of small streams, wetlands and other waterways, repealing a Trump-era rule that federal courts had thrown out and that environmentalists said left waterways vulnerable to pollution. The rule defines which ‘waters of the United States’ are protected by the Clean Water Act. For decades, the term has been a flashpoint between environmental groups that want to broaden limits on pollution entering the nation’s waters and farmers, builders and industry groups that say extending regulations too far is onerous for business. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army said the reworked rule is based on definitions that were in place prior to 2015. Federal officials said they wrote a ‘durable definition’ of waterways to reduce uncertainty. In recent years, however, there has been a lot of uncertainty. After the Obama administration sought to expand federal protections, the Trump administration rolled them back as part of its unwinding of hundreds of environmental and public health regulations. A federal judge rejected that effort. And a separate case is currently being considered by the Supreme Court that could yet upend the finalized rule.”


Saturday, 31 December 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky Vows Ukraine Will Fight Until Victory Is Won. In a New Year’s Eve address, the Ukrainian president called for all of his country’s lands, including Crimea, to be returned in 2023. Hours earlier, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia promised to continue the war, calling it a ‘sacred duty.’ The New York Times, Saturday, 31 December 2022:

  • Zelensky recounts a year that ‘struck our hearts’ in his final address of 2022.

  • Strikes leave at least one person dead in Kyiv, with damage reported in other cities.

  • The last hours of 2022 are a ‘usual day’ for Ukrainian soldiers.

  • ‘I just don’t have words.’ Kyiv residents express fury at New Year’s Eve attacks.

  • After repeated setbacks, Putin uses a speech to try to rally his countrymen.

  • On the last day of the year, the two warring sides exchange prisoners.

  • Russia says its officials and officers in Ukraine don’t have to declare income.

Chief Justice John Roberts ignores controversial Supreme Court term in annual report, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Saturday, 31 December 2022: “It was one of the most controversial terms in Supreme Court history, with the shocking leak of a draft opinion that eventually overturned a half century of abortion rights, public polls that showed record disapproval of the court’s work and biting dissension among the justices themselves about the court’s legitimacy. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. chose not to address those or any other controversies in his annual ‘Year-end Report on the Federal Judiciary,’ issued Saturday. Instead, he focused on a high mark of the judiciary’s past — a federal district judge’s efforts to implement school desegregation at Little Rock’s Central High School after the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education. ‘The law requires every judge to swear an oath to perform his or her work without fear or favor, but we must support judges by ensuring their safety,’ Roberts wrote in his nine-page report. ‘A judicial system cannot and should not live in fear. The events of Little Rock teach about the importance of rule by law instead of by mob.’ Roberts thanked Congress for recently passing the Daniel Anderl Judicial Security and Privacy Act, named for the son of New Jersey District Judge Esther Salas. Anderl was murdered in 2020 when he answered the door to their home in what was meant to be an attack on the judge. The legislation allows judges to shield on the internet certain personal information about themselves and their families, such as home addresses, some financial information and employment details of their spouses. It has an exception for media reporting, but some transparency groups have worried that broad interpretation of the law could inhibit watchdog efforts.” See also, In Year-End Report, Chief Justice John Roberts Addresses Threats to Judges’ Safety. The report, an annual tradition, shed no light on the investigation into the leak of a draft opinion in May or on calls for more rigorous ethics rules for the justices. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Saturday, 31 December 2022: “At the end of a wrenching year at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. devoted his annual report on the state of the federal judiciary to threats to judges’ physical safety. ‘The law requires every judge to swear an oath to perform his or her work without fear or favor, but we must support judges by ensuring their safety,’ he wrote. ‘A judicial system cannot and should not live in fear.’ Some observers had hoped that the chief justice would use his year-end report for an update on the investigation announced in May into the leak of a draft opinion eliminating the constitutional right to abortion. Others had wished that he would announce revisions to judicial ethics rules in the wake of revelations about the efforts of Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Instead, as is his custom, Chief Justice Roberts focused on a historical episode, this one from Arkansas in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education, drawing lessons from it. ‘The events of Little Rock teach about the importance of rule by law instead of by mob,’ he wrote. Chief Justice Roberts recounted the bravery of a judge in 1957, three years after a unanimous Supreme Court ruled in Brown that segregated public schools violated the Constitution.”

Greta Thunberg ends year with one of the greatest tweets in history. Thunberg’s funny exchange is a reminder of the connection between machismo, misogyny, and hostility to climate action. The Guardian, Rebecca Solnit, Saturday, 31 December 2022: “On 27 December, former kickboxer, professional misogynist and online entrepreneur Andrew Tate, 36, sent a boastfully hostile tweet to climate activist Greta Thunberg, 19, about his sports car collection. ‘Please provide your email address so I can send a complete list of my car collection and their respective enormous emissions,’ he wrote. He was probably hoping to enhance his status by mocking her climate commitment. Instead, she burned the macho guy to a crisp in nine words. Cars are routinely tokens of virility and status for men, and the image accompanying his tweet of him pumping gas into one of his vehicles, coupled with his claims about their ‘enormous emissions,’ had unsolicited dick pic energy. Thunberg seemed aware of that when she replied: ‘yes, please do enlighten me. email me at’ Her reply gained traction to quickly become one of the top 10 tweets of all time; as I write, it’s been liked 3.5 million times and shared directly 650,000 or so, and the interchange became the topic of countless news stories around the world, from India to Australia.”



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. I hope to return to this original project soon. You can find these muckraking pieces under the Home Page link at the top of this site. Thanks for reading!