Aftermath of the Trump Administration, January 2023


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


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Sunday, 1 January 2023:


Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger; I ‘fear for the future of this country’ if Trump isn’t charged with a crime related to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak and Jack Forrest, Sunday, 1 January 2023: “Outgoing Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Sunday he fears for the future of the country if former President Donald Trump isn’t charged with a crime related to the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol, though he believes the Justice Department will ‘do the right thing.’ ‘If this is not a crime, I don’t know what is. If a president can incite an insurrection and not be held accountable, then really there’s no limit to what a president can do or can’t do,’ the Illinois lawmaker told CNN’s Dana Bash on ‘State of the Union.’ ‘I think the Justice Department will do the right thing. I think he will be charged, and I frankly think he should be,’ Kinzinger said of Trump. ‘If he is not guilty of a crime, then I frankly fear for the future of this country.’ Kinzinger served as one of two GOP members on the House select committee investigating the Capitol riot. The panel concluded its work last month and laid out a case for the DOJ and the public that there is evidence to pursue charges against Trump on multiple criminal statutes. The committee referred Trump to the department on at least four criminal charges: obstructing an official proceeding, defrauding the United States, making false statements, and assisting or aiding an insurrection. The panel also said in its executive summary that it had evidence of possible charges of conspiring to injure or impede an officer and seditious conspiracy.”

Lula da Silva is sworn in as Brazil’s president; outgoing president Jair Bolsonaro skips Lula’s inauguration, once again following the playbook of his close ally, Donald Trump, The Washington Post, Gabriela Sá Pessoa and Samantha Schmidt, Sunday, 1 January 2023: “Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former Brazilian president and stalwart of the Latin American left, was sworn in Sunday to the office he first held two decades ago, taking the helm of a polarized nation with promises to save the Amazon rainforest and preserve democracy. Lula, 77, won the presidency in October in the closest presidential election in Brazilian history, three years after being freed from prison on corruption charges that were later dropped. After a bitterly fought race against incumbent Jair Bolsonaro, marred by misinformation and disinformation, he will now be expected to unite the nation while keeping campaign pledges to rebuild the economy, tackle police brutality and combat deforestation. Brazil’s fiscal challenges will limit his ability to address poverty and hunger. During his inauguration speeches, he committed to fighting against economic inequality and racial and gender injustice. While nodding to political reconciliation, Lula also criticized the Bolsonaro administration’s management of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it amounted to ‘genocide’ and should ‘not stay unpunished.’ He said ‘democracy was the great winner’ of a violent election marked by ‘a hate campaign plotted to embarrass and manipulate the Brazilian electorate. The public machine was used by an authoritarian project of power,’ the president said. ‘To hatred we will respond with love, to lies we will respond with truth, and to terror and violence we will respond with the law and its harshest consequences.’ As he took office, one key person was missing. Bolsonaro flew to Florida on Friday and skipped the traditional handover of the presidential sash to his successor, a symbolic reaffirmation of Brazil’s young democracy. The outgoing leader once again appeared to follow the playbook of his close ally, Donald Trump, who also skipped the 2020 inauguration of his successor, President Biden.” See also, Lula Becomes Brazil’s President, With Jair Bolsonaro in Florida. Brazil inaugurates its new president, Liuz Inácio Lula da Silva, on Sunday. Facing investigations, former President Jair Bolsonaro has taken refuge in Orlando, Florida. The New York Times, Jack Nicas and André Spigariol, Sunday, 1 January 2023: “President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took the reins of the Brazilian government on Sunday in an elaborate inauguration, complete with a motorcade, music festival and hundreds of thousands of supporters filling the central esplanade of Brasília, the nation’s capital. But one key person was missing: the departing far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. Mr. Bolsonaro was supposed to pass Mr. Lula the presidential sash on Sunday, an important symbol of the peaceful transition of power in a nation where many people still recall the 21-year military dictatorship that ended in 1985. Instead, Mr. Bolsonaro woke up Sunday thousands of miles away, in a rented house owned by a professional mixed-martial-arts fighter a few miles from Disney World. Facing various investigations from his time in his office, Mr. Bolsonaro flew to Orlando on Friday night and plans to stay in Florida for at least a month. Mr. Bolsonaro had questioned the reliability of Brazil’s election systems for months, without evidence, and when he lost in October, he refused to concede unequivocally. In a sort of farewell address on Friday, breaking weeks of near silence, he said that he tried to block Mr. Lula from taking office but failed. ‘Within the laws, respecting the Constitution, I searched for a way out of this,’ he said. He then appeared to encourage his supporters to move on. ‘We live in a democracy or we don’t,’ he said. ‘No one wants an adventure.'”

Continue reading Aftermath of the Trump Administration, January 2023:


Monday, 2 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Moscow says dozens of Russian soldiers killed in Ukrainian strike; Kyiv says many more are dead, The Washington Post, Bryan Pietsch, Annabelle Timsit, and Maham Javaid, Monday, 2 January 2023: “A Ukrainian strike on a building in the Russian-controlled Donetsk region killed dozens of soldiers, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Monday, in what appears to be one of the deadliest attacks on Russian troops since the start of the war. Moscow claims there were 63 fatalities, while Kyiv says many more are dead. The Washington Post could not independently verify either figure. The attack in Donetsk comes as Russia continues targeting key infrastructure facilities in Ukraine’s capital, with the latest wave of strikes over New Year’s weekend leaving at least four civilians dead.

  • Russia’s Defense Ministry said 63 service members were killed in a Ukrainian strike in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day. The ministry said Monday that Ukrainian forces struck a building near the city of Makiivka, where Russian service members were stationed. The Post could not independently verify the reports of a strike or the number of casualties, which varied widely. Without claiming responsibility for the attack, Kyiv’s military command said at least 400 Russian soldiers were killed and hundreds more injured.
  • The Ukrainian military fired four long-range missiles from U.S.-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) at Makiivka, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry, The Post reported. Two of the missiles were shot down. ‘A massive blow was dealt to the vocational school from American MLRS Himars,’ Daniil Bezsonov, a senior Moscow-backed official for the region, wrote on Telegram. ‘There were dead and wounded; the exact number is still unknown.’
  • Several waves of drones that Russia launched targeted infrastructure facilities in the Kyiv region on Sunday evening and into Monday, said Oleksiy Kuleba, Kyiv’s regional governor. The Kyiv City Military Administration said 20 drones were shot down, with Kuleba saying on Telegram: ‘Air defense works.’ Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said early Monday that the attacks had damaged energy facilities, forcing emergency power outages in the city. He said earlier that a 19-year-old man was hospitalized during the attacks on Kyiv.
  • At least four civilians were killed and dozens injured during attacks throughout Ukraine on New Year’s Eve, officials said. The dead included one in Kyiv, one in Zaporizhzhia and one in Kherson, according to regional and federal officials. In the city of Khmelnytskyi in western Ukraine, a 22-year-old woman who was wounded in Saturday’s attacks died of her injuries, the regional governor said.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Admits Dozens of Its Soldiers Are Killed in Ukrainian Strike in East. Russia said it lost 63 soldiers, while Ukraine claimed that 400 Russians were killed. Even the lower toll would represent one of Moscow’s biggest losses in a single strike. The New York Times, Monday, 2 January 2023:

  • A Russian proxy official calls the attack in Donetsk a ‘massive blow.’

  • A U.S.-made long-range rocket system has helped give Ukraine momentum in the war.

  • Russia launches a new round of attacks on the Ukrainian capital.

  • In his first address of 2023, Zelensky strikes notes of defiance and gratitude.

  • Away from the spotlight, Ukraine and Russia trade border fire in rural villages.

  • Putin’s jailed critics offer New Year messages of hope and defiance.

Trump Moved to Trademark the Phrase ‘Rigged Election,’ and Other Revelations From the January 6 House Select Committee Transcripts. The January 6 committee released a whirlwind of documents in its final days and wrapped up its work on Monday. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater Maggie Haberman, Alan Feuer, and Emily Cochrane, Monday, 2 January 2023: “The nation’s top military officer saw the Jan. 6 attack as similar to the ‘Reichstag moment’ that led to Nazi dictatorship. Aides for former President Donald J. Trump saw their future job opportunities slipping away, and predicted being ‘perpetually unemployed.’ Mr. Trump himself saw the push to overturn the 2020 election as a financial opportunity, moving to trademark the phrase ‘Rigged Election.’ These were among the latest revelations from the House Jan. 6 committee, which released a whirlwind of documents in its final days and wrapped up its work on Monday. Since Friday night, the panel has released several troves of evidence, including about 120 previously unseen transcripts along with emails and text messages obtained during its 18-month inquiry, totaling tens of thousands of pages. The evidence touched on nearly every aspect of Mr. Trump’s push to overturn the 2020 election. It provided new details about how some of his top allies lobbied for aggressive plans to keep him in power, while others lamented how the dark day of Jan. 6, 2021, had negatively affected their employment prospects. The panel said it has now turned over an ‘enormous volume of material’ to the Justice Department as Jack Smith, the special counsel, conducts a parallel investigation into the events of Jan. 6. ‘Accountability is now critical to thwart any other future scheme to overturn an election,’ the committee’s leaders, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, said in a statement. In the end, the committee released about 280 transcripts of interviews. Though the panel interviewed more than 1,000 witnesses, only a few hundred sessions took the form of formal depositions or transcribed interviews. Lawmakers said they withheld certain transcripts that contained sensitive information.” See also, Inside the January 6 House Select Committee’s massive new evidence trove. The committee’s evidence provides the clearest glimpse yet at the well-coordinated effort by some Trump allies to help Trump seize a second term he didn’t win. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Monday, 2 January 2023: “The Jan. 6 select committee has unloaded a vast database of its underlying evidence — emails between Trump attorneys, text messages among horrified White House aides and outside advisers, internal communications among security and intelligence officials — all coming to grips with then-President Donald Trump’s last-ditch effort to subvert the 2020 election and its disastrous consequences. The panel posted thousands of pages of evidence late Sunday in a public database that provide the clearest glimpse yet at the well-coordinated effort by some Trump allies to help Trump seize a second term he didn’t win. Much of the evidence has never been seen before and, in some cases, adds extraordinary new elements to the case the select committee presented in public — from voluminous phone records to contemporaneous text messages and emails. Trump lawyers strategized which federal courts would be likeliest to uphold their fringe constitutional theories; Trump White House aides battled to keep unhinged theories from reaching the president’s ears; as the Jan. 6 attack unfolded, West Wing aides sent horrified messages about Trump’s incendiary tweets and inaction; and after the attack, some Trump allies discussed continued efforts to derail the incoming Biden administration. Here’s a look at some of the most extraordinary and important evidence in the select committee’s files.” See also, Highlights from the latest release of January 6 House Select Committee transcripts, CNN Politics, Sara Murray, Annie Grayer, and Tierney Sneed, Monday, 2 January 2023: “The House January 6 committee on Sunday released another wave of witness interview transcripts. The new release is part of a steady stream of transcript drops from the House select committee in recent days, complementing the release of its sweeping 845-page report. The latest transcript drop comes as the panel winds down its work with the House majority set to change hands from Democrats to Republicans on Tuesday at the start of the new Congress. The transcripts released so far have shed new light on how the House committee conducted its investigation of the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol – and new details about what key witnesses told the panel. Here are some of the highlights from the latest disclosures.” See also, The most intriguing revelations and new evidence from the January 6 House Select Committee transcripts. The committee that investigated the Capitol riot spent the past two weeks publishing thousands of transcripts, emails, text exchanges, videos, and other documents. The Washington Post, Patrick Marley, Hannah Allam, Rosalind S. Helderman, Mary Jo Murphy, and Dan Lamothe, published on Wednesday, 3 January 2023: “The congressional committee that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot spent the past two weeks publishing thousands of transcripts, emails, text exchanges, videos and other documents to back up the findings of its 845-page report. The material, released in batches over the holidays, provides a detailed account of what happened that journalists, academics and researchers will pore over for years. The committee raced to release the documents before Tuesday, when Republicans took control of the House. The committee’s most important revelations were disclosed in hearings throughout 2022, but the material released in recent weeks offers new insights. Here are some of the most intriguing findings from the committee’s documents.”

President Biden has made choosing diverse federal judges a priority, NPR, Carrie Johnson, Monday, 2 January 2023: “The Senate confirmed 97 federal judges during President Biden’s first two years in office, setting records for the sheer numbers of jurists and their diversity. In the end, federal courts may be one of Biden’s deepest legacies, since judges often get the last word on what the law means and how it plays out in people’s lives. White House chief of staff Ron Klain said the judiciary has been a ‘top priority’ for the president, and there’s a simple reason why. ‘When he talks about rights and liberties, he knows that in the end those rights and liberties are decided by federal judges, so the makeup of the federal judiciary is connected to everything else we do,’ Klain said. White House lawyer Paige Herwig says the effort is a ‘sea change’ designed to make the courts look like the rest of America. ‘We’ve confirmed 74 women as federal judges during this administration so far,’ Herwig said. ‘That’s actually more than were confirmed during the four years of President Trump’s term or during the eight years of President George W. Bush’s administration.'”

Brazilian Authorities Will Revive Fraud Case Against George Santos. A 2008 court case had been suspended because Brazilian law enforcement officials could not find Mr. Santos. The New York Times, Grace Ashford and André Spigariol, Monday, 2 January 2023: “When Representative-elect George Santos takes his seat in Congress on Tuesday, he will do so under the shadow of active investigations by federal and local prosecutors into potential criminal activity during his two congressional campaigns. But an older criminal case may be more pressing: Brazilian law enforcement authorities intend to revive fraud charges against Mr. Santos, and will seek his formal response, prosecutors said on Monday. The matter, which stemmed from an incident in 2008 regarding a stolen checkbook, had been suspended for the better part of a decade because the police were unable to locate him. A spokeswoman for the Rio de Janeiro prosecutor’s office said that with Mr. Santos’s whereabouts identified, a formal request will be made to the U.S. Justice Department to notify him of the charges, a necessary step after which the case will proceed with or without him. The criminal case in Brazil was first disclosed in a New York Times investigation that uncovered broad discrepancies in his résumé and questions about his financial dealings.” See also, Brazil to reopen probe of George Santos in 2008 checkbook fraud case, The Washington Post, Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Niha Masih, and Claire Parker, published on Tuesday, 3 January 2023: “Authorities in Brazil are seeking to reinstate a 15-year-old fraud charge against George Santos, the latest controversy to hit the New York Republican, who was due to be sworn in to Congress on Tuesday. The charge, news about which was first reported by the New York Times on Monday, stems from the alleged theft and use of a checkbook in Rio de Janeiro state in 2008, when Santos was 19. Authorities opened an investigation but suspended it when they were unable to find him. He is also under investigation by the Nassau County, N.Y., district attorney, who is probing the ‘numerous fabrications and inconsistencies’ about his biography that have come to light since his election.”


Tuesday, 3 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Anger in Russia over Donetsk strike; Zelensky talks to world leaders, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Annabelle Timsit, Adam Taylor, and Ben Brasch, Tuesday, 3 January 2023: “A deadly Ukrainian strike in the country’s eastern Donetsk region has sparked a wave of criticism of Russia’s military leadership, after dozens were killed in one of the deadliest attacks on Russian service members since the start of the war. Troops appear to have been lodging in the same premises as an ammunition depot, with at least 89 dead, Russia’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday. Ukraine did not claim responsibility for the attack in the occupied city of Makiivka, though it said a building housing Russian troops had been destroyed, leaving hundreds of Russians dead. On Tuesday, Russian state media and Telegram channels posted videos showing memorial services across the Samara region, in southern Russia, where some of those killed in the strike were apparently conscripted during a controversial military mobilization in the fall.

  • Russia’s Defense Ministry said 89 service members were killed in the strike in Donetsk shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day. Ukraine’s armed forces said at least 400 Russian soldiers were killed with hundreds more injured. In addition, ‘military equipment of various types’ was destroyed or damaged, Ukraine said.
  • Moscow’s acknowledgment of the attack has ‘generated criticism towards the Russian military command,’ the Institute for the Study of War think tank reported. Russian military bloggers have questioned why a large group of service members was apparently stationed in one location. They also criticized claims from Kremlin-backed officials that some soldiers inside the building were using their cellphones, which may have allowed Ukrainian forces to locate them more easily.
  • Satellite images appear to show that the building targeted in the Makiivka strike was intact on Dec. 20, 2022 and destroyed as of Tuesday. Both images, shared by Planet, a company that has provided hundreds of images of Russian military activities in Ukraine, were captured at about 10 a.m. local time.
  • Russian officials said Ukrainian forces targeted the building with long-range rockets using U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS). The Russian military said it destroyed the HIMARS that targeted Makiivka, Russian state media reported Tuesday — a claim to which Ukraine has not responded.
  • Zelensky spoke with the prime ministers of Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom on Tuesdayaccording to his nightly address. Zelensky said Norway was willing to provide Ukraine with gas to get through winter. The office of U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak posted a summary of the call that included: ‘The Prime Minister said Ukraine could count on the U.K. to continue to support it for the long term, as demonstrated by the recent delivery of more than 1,000 anti-air missiles.’
  • A Russian missile destroyed an arena in the Donbas region on Tuesday, Zelensky said in his address. The Ukrainian ice hockey federation posted on Telegram that is the fifth such arena destroyed since the start of the war, according to Reuters.
  • Ukraine’s air defense forces have downed 500 drones since Septembera Ukrainian official said, according to state news agency Ukrinform on Tuesday. Yuriy Ignat, spokesman for Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said on television: ‘As you can see, 84 drones were shot down in two days — on New Year’s Eve and the following day. 100% [of the drones] were shot down by air defense forces. Such results have never been achieved before.’
  • The relatively warm and sunny winter weather in Ukraine has led to reduced daytime demand on the country’s beleaguered electricity grid, the national energy company said Tuesday. But Ukrenergo said it expected demand to rise again overnight and would introduce some consumption limits to prevent the grid from becoming overwhelmed.
  • Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s Office said at least 452 children have been killed and 876 injured during the war. The number is in line with figures previously released by international institutions but is probably an underestimate because reliable casualty figures are difficult to obtain in conflict zones. Ukrainian prosecutors said more than 3,000 educational institutions have been damaged in the fighting, over 300 of which were destroyed.
  • More than 20,000 Ukrainian troops participated in trainings in partner countries in 2022, according to figures released by Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the most senior uniformed official in the Ukrainian military. Ukrainian personnel are being trained in 17 European countries, he said.
  • A suspect in the removal of a wartime mural by British street artist Banksy from a facade in Ukraine’s Kyiv region could face more than a decade in prison, Reuters reported.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Defends Against Russia’s Inexpensive Drones With Far Costlier Missiles. Analysts note that the damage the drones could cause would be extremely expensive, but question whether the cost imbalance between offense and defense can be sustained. The New York Times, Tuesday, 3 January 2023:

  • Defending against Russian drones is expensive, but Ukraine sees the cost as worth it.

  • In Russia, critics of the military avoid directing their ire at Putin after the Makiivka attack.

  • Ukrainian prosecutors identify a Russian torture site, adding to a list of more than 50.

  • Activist who removed Banksy mural from Kyiv suburb could face prison, police say.

  • A U.S.-made long-range rocket system has helped give Ukraine momentum in the war.

  • Firefighters in embattled Bakhmut are ‘doing what we did before the war, which is helping people here.’

  • Ukraine says it shot down all the drones Russia launched over the new year.

House of Representatives Adjourns Without a Speaker. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the party leader, fell short in a third vote as 20 Republicans rejected his bid and backed Jim Jordan of Ohio. The House will return at noon Wednesday. The New York Times, Tuesday, 3 January 2023: “Republicans were deadlocked on Tuesday over who would lead their new majority after Representative Kevin McCarthy of California lost three votes for the top job, as hard-right lawmakers in open revolt dealt their party leader a humiliating setback and prompted a historic struggle on the House floor. The mutiny, waged by ultraconservative lawmakers who for weeks have held fast to their vow to oppose Mr. McCarthy, paralyzed the House on the first day of Republican rule, delaying the swearing in of hundreds of members of Congress, putting off any legislative work and exposing deep divisions that threaten to make the party’s House majority ungovernable.” See also, House of Representatives adjourns with no speaker after Kevin McCarthy fails to win third ballot, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Mariana Alfaro, Amy B Wang, Eugene Scott, and Azi Paybarah, Tuesday, 3 January 2023: “Today, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) fell short a third time in his bid for House speaker as 20 Republicans rejected his candidacy and backed Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). A defiant McCarthy has vowed to press ahead, telling reporters, ‘we stay in until we win,’ but his path to the speakership was unclear. The House itself remained in limbo, with no action until a speaker is elected. Amid the stalemate, the House voted to adjourn until Wednesday. The new Senate also gaveled into session Tuesday but with far less drama. Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are back in their respective positions. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was elected as the new president pro tem.” See also, House of Representatives adjourns after chaotic day without electing a speaker as Kevin McCarthy fails to lock down votes, CNN Politics, Clare Foran, Annie Grayer, Melanie Zanona, and Kristin Wilson, Tuesday, 3 January 2023: “The new House [Republican] majority is locked in a chaotic once-in-a-century fight to determine who will serve as the next speaker after Republican Kevin McCarthy failed to secure the necessary support to win in three rounds of voting on Tuesday. The House is now adjourned until Wednesday at noon as Republicans scramble to find a path forward. McCarthy faces a small but determined contingent of hardline conservatives who are intent on denying him the votes to secure the gavel. The top House Republican has defiantly vowed to stay in the race as he continues his increasingly imperiled bid for speaker. But the longer the fight drags on, the more uncertainty there is over whether he can win. The last time an election for speaker went to multiple ballots was in 1923. The contentious, drawn out fight threatens to deepen divides among House Republicans with McCarthy’s political career on the line. And the deal-making McCarthy has engaged in to try to win over critics may mean he has a weaker hand to play in his position of authority if he does become speaker. For now, McCarthy remains adamant he will not give up, with people close to him summing up his mentality as this: ‘We’re going to war,’ a senior [Republican] source tells CNN. ‘Never backing down.’ The [ultra] conservatives opposing McCarthy are using the leverage they have in the razor-thin Republican majority to extract concessions as they threaten to deny the GOP leader critical votes. McCarthy has already given in to a number of their demands, including making it easier to topple the sitting speaker, but it is unclear whether his efforts will be enough.” See also, House leadership is in limbo as Kevin McCarthy loses 3 rounds of voting for speaker, NPR, Deirdre Walsh and Dustin Jones, Tuesday, 3 January 2023: “Leadership of the House of Representatives remains in limbo as California GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy faces internal opposition to his bid for speaker. On the first day of the new Congress, McCarthy failed to secure the 218 votes necessary to become speaker of the House in three rounds of voting. The House cannot conduct any business, including swearing in new members, until a speaker is chosen. Tuesday’s vote was the first time in a century that the election of a House speaker took multiple ballots to complete. The longest vote in U.S. history took place in 1855, lasting 133 rounds over two months, from December 1855 to February 1856. McCarthy faces a Republican bloc of critics who want changes to the way the House operates. Although he’s given in to many of their demands, he remains short of the votes needed.” See also, Behind the Humiliation of Kevin McCarthy. The Republican Party has gone from being a disciplined party of limited government to a party of anti-government protest to, now a party of performative verbiage. The New Yorker, John Cassidy, Tuesday, 3 January 2023: “When the voting to choose the next Speaker began, it turned out to be even more humiliating than expected for Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who had been confidently predicting a victory despite steadfast opposition from some of the ultra wingnuts in the G.O.P. conference. Until Monday, the most embarrassing moment of McCarthy’s career was when, three weeks after January 6th, he hightailed it down to Mar-a-Lago to pay homage to the disgraced instigator of a failed autogolpe [autocoup]. To a slave to ambition like McCarthy, though, that exercise in public self-abasement probably paled beside seeing Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat, get nine votes more than he did—even though Republicans had won a narrow majority in the new House…. At a conference of the Republican House members on Monday morning, McCarthy appealed for unity, and one of his supporters, Representative Mike Rogers, of Alabama, reportedly threatened to revoke committee assignments from anyone who voted against the Californian. Rather than quelling the rebellion, however, the meeting appears to have further stoked it. ‘This is bullshit,’ Boebert was heard to mutter. Another of the dissidents, the Texan Chip Roy, subsequently told Fox News that Rogers was emblematic of the problem. Explaining his opposition to McCarthy, Roy said, ‘We want a check against the swamp. . . . This is about changing this town.’ The irony is that McCarthy had already prostrated himself before the ultras, offering them a series of rule changes, one of which would allow just five representatives to force a vote on ousting the Speaker. Unsurprisingly, these entreaties failed. It is the essence of a revolution, especially one staged for social media and Fox News, that the revolutionaries cannot be bought off by members of the corrupt establishment.”

Trump’s offensive against Ruby Freeman reaches an ugly new level. As Donald Trump renews his offensive against an innocent election worker in Georgia, remember that his own team told him these claims weren’t true. MSNBC, Steve Benen, Tuesday, 3 January 2023: “Around midnight last night, for reasons that aren’t yet clear, Donald Trump used his social media platform to launch a new offensive against an old perceived foe. It started with this unfortunate missive: ‘Wow! Has anyone seen the Ruby Freeman “contradictions” of her sworn testimony? Now this is “BIG STUFF.” Look what was captured by Cobb County police body cameras on January 4, 2021…. Now it gets really bad.’ Soon after, the former president published another item, accusing Freeman of election crimes, followed by a third missive, in which the Republican asked, ‘What will the Great State of Georgia do with the Ruby Freeman MESS?’ Trump concluded that he’s battling ‘the evils and treachery of the Radical Left monsters who want to see America die.’ Both items referred to ‘suitcases’ filled with ballots that Trump believes Freeman opened, all as part of the crime that was committed only in his imagination.”


Wednesday, 4 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Moscow blames Russian soldiers’ cellphone use for Donetsk strike; Ukraine says Russia is low on missiles, The Washington Post, Kelsey Ables, Leo Sands, Miriam Berger, and Dan Lamothe, Wednesday, 4 January 2023: “In the aftermath of a strike on the occupied city of Makiivka in Ukraine’s Donetsk region that killed dozens of Russian service members, officials in Moscow have begun laying blame. The Russian Defense Ministry said the attack was a result of illicit cellphone use among its soldiers, in what some observers see as an attempt to shift culpability from top commanders. Ukraine has not directly confirmed its involvement in the attack but has claimed that at least 400 Russian soldiers were killed. The Washington Post could not independently verify the figures. The White House on Wednesday defended the strike, stressing that Kyiv is well within its rights to defend itself against Russia’s invasion. Russia is running low on missiles, especially its most advanced models, as evidenced by reduced-scale barrages and found fragments indicating that Moscow is firing missiles just off the production line, Gen. Vadym Skibitsky, Ukraine’s deputy intelligence chief, said in an interview Wednesday with news outlet RBC-Ukraine. He said that Russia would turn to new tactics, including increased use of drones, to make up for the shortage.

  • Russia’s Defense Ministry blamed on-site cellphone communication by soldiers in a Makiivka building for the deadly strike, saying it allowed Ukrainian forces to locate the target. ‘It is already obvious that the main reason, despite the restriction, was turning on and massive use of mobile phones by the personnel within the range area of enemy firepower,’ Kremlin officials said in an explanation of the attack posted to Telegram.
  • The ministry raised the Russian death toll to 89 in a statement early Wednesday — a rare acknowledgment of a significant loss.
  • The number of Russians killed in the strike is difficult for the United States to determine, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters Wednesday. The fighting in the region has been ‘quite intense in recent weeks,’ with Russia continuing to send in additional troops.’It’s war, and it’s bloody, and it’s vicious, and it has been over the last several weeks,’ Kirby said. ‘The winter is upon us. The fighting has not stopped, and the fighting in the east has been particularly intense, and I think we need to expect that that kind of fighting will continue for quite some time.’
  • Since the attack, Russian military leaders have faced scrutiny for squeezing soldiers into high-density barracks in the same buildings used to store ammunition. Igor Girkin, a former Russian paramilitary commander in Ukraine, wrote on Telegram that he ‘was warned that this could happen again at any moment,’ The Post reported. Russian officials said that the attack was carried out by Ukraine using the U.S.-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, and that Russia responded by destroying two launchers. Kirby said the United States has no information that Russia was able to do so.
  • France on Wednesday agreed to send French-manufactured light tanks to Ukraine for the first time, according to statements from the French and Ukrainian governments.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine Says Russia Is Struggling to Replenish Missile Stocks. Moscow has enough missiles for ‘two to three’ more large strikes and is rushing newly produced munitions into service, a senior Ukrainian intelligence official says. The New York Times, Wednesday, 4 January 2023:

  • Lacking precision missiles, Russia is increasing its use of drones, Ukraine says.

  • Putin says he is deploying hypersonic weapons by ship, but whether they work as Russia claims is uncertain.

  • France promises Ukraine armored vehicles as the U.S. weighs doing the same.

  • Russia says soldiers’ cellphone use led to the deadly Makiivka strike.

  • Defending against Russian drones is expensive, but Ukraine sees the cost as worth it.

  • ‘The Daily’ podcast hears from Russian soldiers on military setbacks in Ukraine.

  • Ukrainian prosecutors identify a Russian torture site, adding to a list of more than 50.

Kevin McCarthy Flounders as Right-Wing Republican Rebellion Paralyzes the House for a Second Day. The House continued a historic floor showdown–the first in a century–prompted by the Republican leader’s failure to secure a majority to become speaker. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Wednesday, 4 January 2023: “A right-wing Republican revolt paralyzed the House for a second painful day on Wednesday, leaving Representative Kevin McCarthy of California fighting for political survival after losing a half-dozen consecutive votes for speaker and no clear path forward to allow Congress to function. In a spectacle on the House floor not seen in 100 years, unrelenting hard-right lawmakers refused repeatedly to throw their support behind Mr. McCarthy, the party leader, who suffered another three humiliating defeats in a grim replay of the three he endured on Tuesday. The episode again put Republican divisions on vivid display, grinding the House to a standstill and extending an ignominious start to the new Republican majority, potentially foreshadowing an era of dysfunction and disarray. Mr. McCarthy vowed to keep fighting, and he and his allies adjourned the House temporarily late Wednesday afternoon so he could huddle with his top deputies and the ringleaders of the opposition to explore a resolution. But there was little sign that the stalemate could be broken, and even an entreaty from former President Donald J. Trump for the party to unite around Mr. McCarthy fell flat. By Wednesday night, the House had adjourned again with no resolution, agreeing to return at noon to plunge back into the fight. The historic deadlock — the first of its kind since 1923, when it took the House nine ballots to elect a speaker — effectively blocked Congress from functioning, preventing lawmakers from being sworn in, putting off the adoption of new rules to govern the chamber and making legislative work impossible. Rank-and-file Republicans groused that it had scuttled their vows to immediately use their new power to unleash a torrent of oversight investigations as their first order of business.” See also, Trump, Mum as Kevin McCarthy Flailed, Calls on Republicans to Embrace Him for Speaker. Trump made a direct appeal to House Republicans on Wednesday to support McCarthy on his website. The New York Times, Annie Karni, Wednesday, 4 January 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump on Wednesday made a direct appeal to House Republicans to support Representative Kevin McCarthy of California for speaker, after Mr. McCarthy lost three successive votes for the post amid a hard-right rebellion led by some of Mr. Trump’s most loyal allies in Congress. ‘Some really good conversations took place last night, and it’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY,’ Mr. Trump, who is running for president, wrote on his website, Truth Social. On Tuesday, as the California Republican suffered defeat after humiliating defeat on the House floor, Mr. Trump had refused to reiterate his endorsement for Mr. McCarthy, telling NBC News’ Garrett Haake, simply, ‘We’ll see what happens.’ Mr. Trump and Mr. McCarthy then spoke Tuesday night, after the embarrassing once-in-a-century debacle on the House floor and after Mr. Trump made his tepid comment on NBC. After the conversation, Mr. Trump arrived at a more full-throated statement reiterating his backing for Mr. McCarthy, though he still tempered his praise. ‘REPUBLICANS, DO NOT TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT,’ he wrote. ‘IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE, YOU DESERVE IT. Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB — JUST WATCH!’ Whether Mr. Trump can sway enough of the holdouts who are opposing Mr. McCarthy is an open question, and one that will test Mr. Trump’s ongoing influence over the House Republican conference, a wing of which has crafted itself in his image, as he mounts his third presidential campaign.” See also, How Far Right Are the 20 Republicans Who Voted Against Kevin McCarthy? The Republicans who voted against the bid by Representative Kevin McCarthy of California for House speaker include some of the chamber’s most hard-right lawmakers. Most denied the 2020 election, are members of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, or both. Here’s a closer look at the 20 lawmakers. The New York Times, Wednesday, 4 January 2023. “More than half of the lawmakers who voted against Mr. McCarthy explicitly denied the results of the 2020 election, compared with about 15 percent of the 222 total members in the Republican caucus, according to a New York Times analysis. These Republicans said that the election had been stolen or rigged — or that Donald J. Trump was the rightful winner — even though Joe Biden earned seven million more votes and 74 more electors than Mr. Trump. ‘President Trump won that election,’ said Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, one of the five newcomers who opposed Mr. McCarthy’s speaker bid. Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida and Andy Biggs of Arizona, who have emerged as ringleaders against Mr. McCarthy’s bid, have also called the 2020 election stolen. Nearly all of the lawmakers who voted against Mr. McCarthy made statements casting doubt on the 2020 election, often repeatedly, not unlike the overall Republican caucus. At least 180 of the 222 House Republicans have questioned the 2020 election, according to The Times’s analysis.” See also, House adjourns without electing a speaker after negotiations among Republicans, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Mariana Alfaro, Eugene Scott, Amy B Wang, and Azi Paybarah, Wednesday, 4 January 2023: “Today,House majority Republicans, in turmoil, were unable to elect a speaker as GOP nominee Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) failed on the sixth ballot. Republican foes have kept him from getting close to a majority in the latest round of voting for speaker that has now stretched over two days. After the latest tally, the House adjourned until 8 p.m., giving Republicans time to confer on their next steps. With [Republican] members saying the evening’s conversations were productive but didn’t yield a resolution, the motion to adjourn was passed, 216-214. Twenty Republicans voted for Byron Donalds (Fla.) as an alternative to McCarthy. One Republican, Victoria Spartz (Ind.), voted present. Donalds, 44, one of the few Black Republicans in Congress, has represented a Florida district since 2021.” See also, Trump endorses Kevin McCarthy after three failed speaker votes. Republicans are now expected to resolve the leadership dispute behind closed doors, with McCarthy and his allies already in talks with the 20 dissenters before the House resumes at noon on Wednesday. Politico, Kelly Hooper, Wednesday, 4 January 2023: “Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday pushed Republicans to vote for Kevin McCarthy to become House speaker, a day after the GOP leader struck out in three straight votes for the gavel. ‘Some really good conversations took place last night, and it’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN, CLOSE THE DEAL, TAKE THE VICTORY’ Trump said in a post on Truth Social, the social media platform he helped found.”

President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell show off their bipartisan bonafides in Kentucky, CNN Politics, MJ Lee, Kevin Liptak, and Sam Fossum, Wednesday, 4 January 2023: “A rare scene unfolded Wednesday in Covington, Kentucky: President Joe Biden stood alongside Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as the two men promoted a major bipartisan legislative accomplishment they achieved together. The president’s visit to McConnell’s home state to herald the implementation of the massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that McConnell and 18 other Senate Republicans voted for, and that Biden signed into law in 2021, marked his first domestic trip of the new year. The trip was aimed at sending an unmistakable message as Biden kicks off the second half of his first term: Even in a newly divided Congress, the Biden White House still sees room for bipartisanship. Biden thanked McConnell for working across the aisle on the law…. The scene was a stark message of bipartisanship and pragmatism sent by Biden and McConnell as the two old Senate colleagues came together at the same time that House Republicans found themselves falling further into divisive chaos over Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become speaker. As Biden spoke in Covington, McCarthy suffered a fourth defeat in his push to lead the House of Representatives.”

The Justice Department has issued a legal opinion that the U.S. Postal Service may deliver abortion pills to people in states that have banned or sharply restricted the procedure, saying that federal law allows the mailing of the pills because the sender cannot know for sure whether the recipient would use them illegally, The Washington Post, Perry Stein, Wednesday, 4 January 2023: “The 21-page opinion, posted online late Tuesday, is the latest attempt by Attorney General Merrick Garland to shore up abortion access after a Supreme Court decision last June that allowed states to outlaw the procedure. More than a dozen states have implemented strict bans on most abortions — including medication abortions — since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling, which overturned the Roe v. Wade decision that for 50 years had enshrined the right to terminate a pregnancy. Some states are specifically attempting to block access to abortion pills and crack down on providers who send them by mail. And more states are poised to enact restrictions, prompting new efforts to preserve access to the medications, which can be used to terminate early-stage pregnancies at home and — even before the Dobbs decision — accounted for more than half of all abortions in the United States.”


Thursday, 5 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky responds to Putin Holiday cease-fire order; U.S. and Germany to send combat vehicles to Ukraine, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Karen DeYoung, Dan Lamothe, Victoria Bisset, Claire Parker, Mary Ilyushina, Isabelle Khurshudyan, and Ben Brasch, Thursday, 5 January 2023: “Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his invading forces to implement a unilateral cease-fire for Orthodox Christmas, beginning at noon Friday and continuing through Saturday, according to a Kremlin statement. Putin said he was acting on an appeal from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, and called on Ukraine to join the temporary truce — which would be the first comprehensive cease-fire since the conflict began. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address that Putin’s order will only increase the death toll. ‘Everyone in the world knows how the Kremlin uses respites at war to continue the war with renewed vigor,’ he said. Also on Thursday, the United States and Germany announced they would send armored combat vehicles to Ukraine, in a major shift after months of turning down Kyiv’s requests for the vehicles. France said Wednesday it would provide Ukraine with an unspecified number of light tanks.

  • Zelensky responded to Putin’s cease-fire order in his nightly address: ‘Even when your missiles and drones are not hitting our cities, the terror in the occupied territories continues. You don’t give Ukrainians any respite. People are tortured, electrocuted, raped. This continues every day while your soldiers are on our soil.’
  • Patriarch Kirill, a close ally of Putin’sangered many priests by vocally supporting the invasion of Ukraine. The war has opened a rift in the Orthodox Church, pitting the Russian wing and its pro-Kremlin patriarch against Orthodox leaders in Kyiv and around the globe. Following the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said congregations could celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25 instead, as many Ukrainians seek to dissociate themselves from Russia. Kirill’s call for a truce this weekend was met with derision from Kyiv.
  • President Biden told reporters Thursday he is ‘reluctant to respond to anything Putin says.’ He added: ‘I found it interesting that [Putin] was ready to bomb hospitals and nurseries and churches on the 25th and New Year’s. I think he’s trying to find some oxygen.’
  • Serhiy Nykyforov, Zelensky’s spokesman, said a cessation of hostilities would come only when Russia withdraws its troops from Ukrainian territory. Russia ‘must leave the occupied territories,’ Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in a tweet following Putin’s announcement. ‘Only then will it have a temporary truce.’ Oleksiy Danilov, Ukraine’s national security secretary, issued a threat to ‘a bunch of little Kremlin devils’: ‘We will bite you in the singing silence of the Ukrainian night.’
  • Putin’s cease-fire order represents ‘a sign that Putin and his army are getting weaker,” Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s minister of internal affairs, said in a tweet on Thursday. ‘He wants to use any pause in the destruction of his soldiers and equipment,’ he wrote, adding that negotiations with Moscow ‘are possible only on the issues of reparations and contributions for the damages caused to Ukraine and compensations for dozens of thousands lost lives.’
  • Limited, temporary cease-fires earlier in the conflict, such as an agreement meant to facilitate evacuations from the devastated port city of Mariupol in March, did not hold. Russia has a history of violating cease-fires in Syria as well.
  • Denis Pushilin, head of the separatist, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, saidthere could be no truce.’ Putin’s decision means the cessation of ‘offensive actions on our side’ while Russia would continue to respond to ‘enemy provocations.’ ‘This doesn’t mean … we will give the enemy any chance to improve their positions on the line of contact during these festive hours,’ Pushilin added.
  • The joint announcement from Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that their countries would send armored combat vehicles to Ukraine came after the two leaders spoke over the phone Thursday. Germany will transfer Marder infantry fighting vehicles, while the United States will provide Bradley Fighting Vehicles, the statement said. Both countries will train Ukrainian forces on the systems, it added. U.S. officials said the Bradleys could be included in a weapons package to be announced as soon as this week. Germany will also supply a Patriot air defense battery to Ukraine.
  • A French official confirmed Thursday that France would send AMX-10 RC armored fighting vehicles to Ukraine. ‘Modern Western armored vehicles, Western-type tanks’ are key to ending the war, Zelensky said in his nightly address Wednesday.
  • The war in Ukraine has led to the largest drop in the country’s GDP since it gained independence from the Soviet Union, Ukrainian Economy Minister Yulia Svyrydenko said in a statement Thursday. Ukraine’s gross domestic product had fallen by an estimated 30.4 percent by the end of 2022, according to the Economy Ministry — although the figure is better than previously feared.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin Orders Brief Unilateral Cease-Fire; Ukraine Calls It ‘Hypocrisy.’ President Vladimir V. Putin told Russian forces to observe a 36-hour Christmas truce, but Ukraine dismissed it as hypocrisy. The New York Times, Thursday, 5 January 2023:

  • Putin orders a brief, unilateral cease-fire for his forces in Ukraine.

  • Analysts and Ukrainian officials see Putin’s cease-fire order as a public relations ploy.

  • The U.S. and Germany pledge to send Ukraine armored vehicles and another Patriot system.

  • What is the Bradley Fighting Vehicle?

  • Ukraine recorded its largest annual fall in G.D.P. in over 30 years, a top minister says.

  • The kind of armored vehicle France is sending isn’t a game changer, analysts say.

  • Citing a security stalemate, the U.N. disbands a fact-finding mission into a prison explosion in the east.

House Adjourns Again With No Resolution on Speaker. Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid failed for an 11th time, after his latest concessions failed to win over enough Republican hard-liners. The chamber has been deadlocked for three days and cannot move on to any other business until a speaker is chosen. Lawmakers will return at noon Friday. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Thursday, 5 January 2023: “Representative Kevin McCarthy of California contorted himself on Thursday to try to win over right-wing holdouts as his battle to become speaker limped toward a fourth day, offering concessions that could substantially weaken his authority and empower a strident right flank. After a humiliating three-day stretch of 11 consecutive defeats in an election that is now the most protracted such contest since 1859, Mr. McCarthy dispatched his emissaries to hammer out a deal with the ultraconservative rebels, including agreeing to conditions he had previously refused to countenance in a last-ditch effort to sway a critical mass of defectors. They included allowing a single lawmaker to force a snap vote at any time to oust the speaker, a rule that would effectively codify a standing threat that Mr. McCarthy would be at the mercy of the right wing at all times, and could be removed instantly if he crossed them. That concession and several others, which Mr. McCarthy hoped would win over a large bloc of dissidents, would diminish the speaker’s power considerably and make for an unwieldy environment in the House, where the slim Republican majority and a hard-right faction with an appetite for disarray had already promised to make it difficult to govern. Some of the changes left little doubt that the House would struggle to carry out even its most basic duties in the coming two years, such as funding the government, including the military, or avoiding catastrophic federal debt default. Already, the struggle has ground the House to a halt just as Republicans were assuming their majority, preventing any lawmakers from being sworn in, rules from being adopted or legislative business from being conducted.” See also, House of Representatives adjourns until noon Friday, without a speaker, as Republicans continue to work on a deal, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Mariana Alfaro, Azi Paybarah, Amy B Wang, and Eugene Scott, Thursday, 5 January 2023: “Today, with allies of California Republican Kevin McCarthy finding a potential breakthrough in their stalemate with some of the holdouts and wanting time to work on furthering a deal, the House voted to adjourn largely along party lines after a third day of voting failed to produce a speaker. Republicans may have broken through with a possible deal, according to three individuals familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The potential break in the stalemate comes as the House broke a 100-year record and McCarthy failed on the 11th ballot in his bid for speaker. In 1923, Speaker Frederick Gillett (R-Mass.) was reelected on the ninth ballot. No other business in the House can proceed without a speaker.” See also, In House Speaker Fight, Trump Struggles to Play Kingmaker. Donald Trump held separate rounds of calls with those opposing Kevin McCarthy as speaker and was surprised when he was met with resistance. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman and Michael C. Bender, Thursday, 5 January 2023: “After Kevin McCarthy failed to win enough votes to become House speaker on Tuesday, former President Donald J. Trump held a call with Mr. McCarthy and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, one of the key Republican members of Congress blocking Mr. McCarthy’s bid. Mr. Trump’s goal was to break the logjam. But if Mr. Trump had wanted Mr. Perry to quickly flip, it wasn’t to be: The next day, Mr. Perry voted against Mr. McCarthy three more times. At 1:15 a.m. Thursday on his social media platform, Truth Social, Mr. Trump said the turmoil was good for the process and predicted a ‘big Republican victory.’ But by about 7:45 p.m., Mr. McCarthy had lost 11 consecutive votes in three days, with no end to the stalemate in sight. Mr. McCarthy’s inability to corral enough votes this week has underscored the limits of Mr. Trump’s political potency inside a party that has not controlled the House since 2018, lost the Senate and White House after 2020 and has failed, so far, to identify the next leader of their narrow majority in the House. Even if Mr. McCarthy is eventually successful, Mr. Trump has, once again, struggled in his role as his party’s kingmaker. His handpicked candidates failed to usher in the red wave Republicans had hoped for in the midterm elections in November. His attempt to install a new Republican leader in the Senate was crushed. His third consecutive presidential campaign, launched six weeks ago, has underwhelmed. Now, Mr. Trump’s sway over many of his own loyalists in the House has fizzled in the most public of ways and on the most public of stages — a reminder that the insurgency in Congress isn’t so much a creature of his creation but a force that predated him and helped fuel his political rise. For over a decade, a group of House Republicans has sought to disrupt the establishment leadership. The House Freedom Caucus evolved out of the vestiges of the Tea Party, playing a key role in the ouster of John Boehner in 2015 and blocking Mr. McCarthy’s efforts to become the Republican leader at the time.”

State Supreme Court Rules South Carolina Constitution Includes Abortion Right. The decision overturns the state’s six-week ban on abortion, a major victory for abortion rights in the South, where the procedure is strictly limited. The New York Times, Kate Zernike, Thursday, 5 January 2023: “The South Carolina Constitution provides a right to privacy that includes the right to abortion, the state’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, saying ‘the decision to terminate a pregnancy rests upon the utmost personal and private considerations imaginable.’ The decision overturns the state’s law banning abortions after roughly the sixth week of pregnancy. More broadly, it is a victory for abortion rights in the South, where states have severely restricted access. It is the first final ruling by a state Supreme Court on the state constitutionality of abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, which ended the right to abortion under the federal constitution that had been in force for half a century, and left the matter to the states. Abortion rights groups responded to that decision by filing suits in 19 states, seeking to establish a right to abortion under state constitutions, in many cases citing explicit provisions in those documents protecting a woman’s privacy and equal rights. The South Carolina case was a critical first test — and success — for that strategy.” See also, South Carolina Supreme Court strikes down state’s 6-week abortion law, The Washington Post, Kim Bellware and Silvia Foster-Frau, Thursday, 5 January 2023: “The South Carolina Supreme Court struck down the state’s six-week abortion ban on Thursday, ruling that the law that restricted abortions after detectable fetal cardiac activity ‘an unreasonable restriction upon a woman’s right to privacy’ and unconstitutional. The 3-2 decision means abortion in South Carolina is now legal until around 20 weeks of pregnancy. The ruling comes nearly two years after the state enacted the law, known as the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act, which banned abortion after six weeks except in limited cases like pregnancies that would endanger the pregnant person’s life or that were the result of rape or incest. ‘Few decisions in life are more private than the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy. Our privacy right must be implicated by restrictions on that decision,’ said Justice Kaye G. Hearn, writing for the majority. The decision by the state’s highest court comes as fierce legislative and judicial battles over abortion access are being waged across the country more than six months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.”

Judge Rules for Justice Department in Dispute With Trump Over Documents Search. The court said the former president had to provide the government the names of private investigators he hired to search his properties last year for any classified material still in his possession. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 5 January 2023: “A federal judge has ordered lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump to give the government the names of the private investigators who searched Mr. Trump’s properties late last year for any remaining classified documents, part of what appeared to be a step by the Justice Department toward questioning the investigators about their efforts, two people familiar with the matter said. The order, issued on Wednesday by Beryl A. Howell, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in Washington, was the latest twist in a monthslong dispute between prosecutors and Mr. Trump’s lawyers about how forthcoming the former president has been in returning classified material that he removed from the White House after he left office. Hundreds of classified documents were later recovered by the government from Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida. The fact that the Justice Department sought a formal order for the investigators’ names suggests an increasing breakdown in trust between prosecutors investigating the documents case and Mr. Trump’s legal team. And the request comes as a special counsel has taken over the inquiry into whether Mr. Trump willfully retained sensitive records or obstructed the government’s efforts to retrieve them.”

U.S. Capitol police officer’s family sues Trump over death, Reuters, Dan Whitcomb, Thursday, 5 January 2023: “The estate of a U.S. Capitol Police officer who died a day after the Jan. 6, 2021, riots sued former President Donald Trump for wrongful death on Thursday, claiming that he incited his supporters to commit violence that day. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington against Trump on behalf of the estate of Officer Brian Sicknick, who died at age 42 from a series of strokes on Jan. 7. A medical examiner said that Sicknick had not suffered any injuries during the attack on the U.S. Capitol, where lawmakers were certifying results of the presidential election, ruling that Sicknick’s death was due to natural causes, but said the violent events of Jan. 6 likely ‘played a role in his condition.'” See also, Trump and two rioters are sued over the death of Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, NPR, Juliana Kim, published on Friday, 6 January 2023: “The longtime partner of a U.S. Capitol Police officer who died following the Jan. 6. insurrection has sued former President Donald Trump and two rioters for wrongful death. Sandra Garza, who is representing the estate of Brian Sicknick, claims her partner’s death was ‘a direct and foreseeable consequence’ of Trump’s words that day. She also assigns liability to Julian Elie Khater and George Pierre Tanios, two men accused of assaulting Sicknick with chemical spray during the breach.”


Friday, 6 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Putin’s Orthodox Christmas cease-fire order is dismissed by Ukraine and the U.S., The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Niha Masih, Adela Suliman, Mary Ilyushina, Claire Healy, and Karen DeYoung, Friday, 6 January 2023: “Ukraine and Russia on Friday accused the other of continued shelling ahead of the Orthodox Christmas holiday, with Kyiv and its allies dismissing Moscow’s unilateral 36-hour cease-fire order as a potential ploy to regroup and move more troops and equipment to the battlefield. ‘I can confirm that there is fighting,’ Laura Cooper, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, said at a news conference. ‘It’s Russians on the ground fighting.’ In his nightly address Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said a real cease-fire would come only when Russian troops withdraw from the country. In his address Friday, and in Christmas Eve remarks ahead of the Orthodox holiday, he did not mention the cease-fire.

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cease-fire began at noon Friday and is scheduled to run through Saturday, Orthodox Christmas. The Kremlin said the move was a response to an appeal from the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. Patriarch Kirill is a fierce supporter of Putin and his bloody invasion of Ukraine. The truce applies to the entire front.
  • Some Ukrainians celebrated Christmas on Dec. 25 rather than the traditional Orthodox date, in part to distance themselves from Russia.
  • Some regional officials reported shelling around the time the cease-fire began, and fighting appeared to continue in Soledar, a city in the Donetsk region.
  • President Biden said he thinks Putin is ‘trying to find some oxygen’ after 10 months of war and tens of thousands of casualties on the Russian side. He made the remark in a White House briefing. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a tweet that the ‘so-called’ cease-fire would not bring freedom or security to Ukrainians.
  • The Biden administration announced Friday a $2.8 billion military aid package for Ukraine, the largest drawdown from U.S. defense stockpiles to date, and said it will include Bradley Fighting Vehicles, additional howitzers and various types of ammunition. The drawdown is part of $3.75 billion in new military assistance, including $682 million to allies and $225 million to build the ‘long-term capacity’ of Ukraine’s military. The decision to supply Bradley Fighting Vehicles was first announced in a joint statement between Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday, and marks a significant policy shift after months of resisting Kyiv’s pleas for armored vehicles. In his nightly address, Zelensky praised the aid package as ‘exactly what [Ukraine] needed.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Shelling Undercuts Putin’s Cease-Fire Order. Fighting in Ukraine continued despite a 36-hour Russian cease-fire announced by the Kremlin. The New York Times, Friday, 6 January 2023:

  • There’s no sign of a cease-fire on the war’s most hotly contested front.
  • Continued shelling backs up Ukraine’s doubts about Putin’s cease-fire.
  • Comments by Kremlin allies suggest that Putin’s cease-fire order was motivated by domestic concerns.
  • The U.S. announces a $3 billion package of military aid to Ukraine, including armored fighting vehicles.
  • 2 U.S. senators on the Armed Services Committee meet with Zelensky in Kyiv.
  • The U.S. imposes sanctions on more Iranians over the drones Russia is using in Ukraine.
  • The leader of Belarus visits a military base where Russian forces are stationed.
  • Battered and strained by war, Ukraine’s economy adapts to survive.

Kevin McCarthy Wins House Speakership on 15th Vote After Concessions to Hard Right. An agreement with ultraconservative Republicans delivered a breakthrough for the California Republican, but he still had to claw his way to the post during a dramatic post-midnight session. The New York Times, Annie Karni, Friday, 6 January 2023: “Representative Kevin McCarthy of California won election early Saturday as House speaker in a historic five-day, 15-ballot floor fight, after giving major concessions to right-wing holdouts and weathering a dramatic late-night setback that underscored the limits of his power over the new Republican majority. Mr. McCarthy clawed his way to victory by cutting a deal that won over a sizable contingent of ultraconservative lawmakers on the 12th and 13th votes earlier in the day, and then wearing down the remaining holdouts in a tense session that dragged on past midnight, ultimately winning with a bare majority, after a spectacle of arm-twisting and rancor on the House floor. The protracted fight foreshadowed how difficult it would be for him to govern with an exceedingly narrow majority and an unruly hard-right faction bent on slashing spending and disrupting business in Washington. The speakership struggle that crippled the House before it had even opened its session suggested that basic tasks such as passing government funding bills or financing the federal debt would prompt epic struggles over the next two years…. The concessions Mr. McCarthy agreed to, which he detailed in a party conference call early Friday, would diminish the speaker’s power considerably and make for an unwieldy environment in the House, where the slim Republican margin of control and the right-wing faction’s appetite for disarray had already promised to make it difficult to control…. Mr. McCarthy agreed to allow a single lawmaker to force a snap vote at any time to oust the speaker, a rule that he had previously refused to accept, regarding it as tantamount to signing the death warrant for his speakership in advance. Also part of the proposal, Republicans familiar with it said, was a commitment by the leader to give the ultraconservative faction approval over a third of the seats on the powerful Rules Committee, which controls what legislation reaches the floor and how it is debated. He also agreed to open government spending bills to a freewheeling debate in which any lawmaker could force votes on proposed changes.” See also, Kevin McCarthy elected House Speaker, breaking historic deadlock, The Washington Post, Liz Goodwin, Marianna Sotomayor, Jacqueline Alemany, Amy B Wang, and Dylan Wells, Friday, 6 January 2023: “Republican leader Kevin McCarthy became the 55th speaker of the House early Saturday morning, overcoming a fierce challenge to his leadership by a group of far-right members that led him to make steep concessions and suggests a contentious two years ahead. ‘I’m glad it’s over,’ McCarthy told reporters after gaining the 216 votes he needed after midnight. ‘As Speaker of the House my ultimate responsibility is not to my party,’ he said in a speech after 1 a.m. in the chamber. ‘Our responsibility is to our country.’ His election capped four days of bitter infighting among Republicans over their future that finally appeared to be headed to a resolution Friday night, with McCarthy and his allies projecting confidence as they headed into a 14th vote around 10 p.m. But that vote failed as well, in a stunning turn of events that blindsided McCarthy. Lacking just one vote to elect a speaker after days of negotiations and roll-call votes, at least one lawmaker was seen wiping tears away and a McCarthy ally charged angrily at one of the holdouts, his frustration boiling over. Republicans’ infighting over the speakership caused a logjam unprecedented in modern history. With 14 failed rounds of voting, the House surpassed the number of votes it endured — nine — the last time such a stalemate occurred, in 1923.” See also, Kevin McCarthy is elected House speaker after 15 votes and days of negotiations, NPR, Barbara Sprunt and Susan Davis, Friday, 6 December 2023: “Kevin McCarthy is now officially speaker of the House. The California Republican eked out a victory after a historic 15 rounds of voting and a dramatic series of events on the House floor late Friday night. The result also meant elected representatives have finally been sworn in as members of the 118th Congress, and the House can get to work. McCarthy had been in tense negotiations for days with a small but critical group of far-right conservative lawmakers who made extended demands for concessions that would essentially make it easier to depose a speaker and weaken the powers of the speaker’s office to drive the legislative agenda and assign committee posts.” See also, A Confluence of Republicans: Anti-Kevin McCarthy and Pro-2020 Election Lies. Some of the same Republicans who were former President Donald Trump’s lieutenants in seeking to overturn the 2020 election led the charge against Representative Kevin McCarthy as speaker. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Friday, 6 January 2023: “They helped lead the efforts to keep former President Donald J. Trump in power after he lost the 2020 election. They refused to certify that President Biden was the rightful winner. They spread lies that helped ignite a mob of Trump supporters to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. On Friday, the two-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack, many of the same hard-right lawmakers who served as top lieutenants to Mr. Trump during the buildup to the assault spent the day blocking the bid of Representative Kevin McCarthy of California to be speaker and extracting major concessions before softening their opposition enough to allow him to claim the speakership. While some had received subpoenas in the Jan. 6 investigations and were later referred to the House Ethics Committee, their power showed they were far from outcasts and had paid little price for their actions. Among the ringleaders in both the effort to block Mr. McCarthy and the push to overturn the 2020 election were Representative Scott Perry, the leader of the far-right Freedom Caucus, and Representatives Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona. (On Friday, Mr. Gosar and Mr. Perry swung behind Mr. McCarthy after he caved to their demands to dilute the power of the post he is seeking and to give their faction more sway in the House.) Other hard-right holdouts who for days have refused to vote for Mr. McCarthy were Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Andy Harris of Maryland. All three met with Mr. Trump or White House officials as they discussed how to fight the election results, according to evidence gathered by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack.”

Two Years Later, Prosecutions of January 6 Rioters Continue to Grow. The Justice Department’s investigation of the Capitol attack, already the largest it has ever conducted, has resulted in 900 arrests, with the potential for scores or hundreds more to come. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Friday, 6 January 2023: “The investigation into the storming of the Capitol is, by any measure, the biggest criminal inquiry in the Justice Department’s 153-year history. And even two years after Jan. 6, 2021, it is only getting bigger. In chasing leads and making arrests, federal agents have already seized hundreds of cellphones, questioned thousands of witnesses and followed up on tens of thousands of tips in an exhaustive process that has resulted so far in more than 900 arrests from Maine to California. But the inquiry, as vast as it has been, is still far from complete: Scores, if not hundreds, more people could face charges in the year — or years — to come, spread out over the course of many months so as not to flood the courts. The Capitol siege investigation, as the government likes to call it, has been, among other things, a highly publicized and sophisticated effort to bring to justice extremist groups like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers militia. Both played central roles in attacking the Capitol and disrupting a pillar of American democracy on Jan. 6: the lawful transfer of presidential power. But it has also lumbered on at a quieter level, with a series of less prominent trials and arrests that have touched the lives of more ordinary people: the members of the mob who may not have planned for violence but nonetheless broke into the Capitol that day — many after falling victim to the lies about election fraud spread by President Donald J. Trump.”

President Joe Biden Awards Presidential Citizens Medal to Officers Who Defended Democracy on January 6, 2021. Rather than focus on the darkness, President Joe Biden today marked the second anniversary of the horrific Capitol insurrection by hosting a ceremony at the White House to honor individuals who have made exemplary contributions to our democracy. Harper’s Bazaar, Rosa Sanchez, Friday, 6 January 2023: “On January 6 2021, crowds of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol—many with viking gear, QAnon paraphernalia, and weapons—breeching security and entering the building as Congress debated to officially certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. Their violent actions came after then-President Donald Trump spread false information that Biden had stolen the election from him. At least five people died in the riot. Today at the White House, Biden delivered remarks while remembering the day. Two years ago, he said, ‘our democracy was attacked,’ and ‘all of it was fueled by lies about the 2020 election.’ The president then awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal to 12 heroes who demonstrated courage and selflessness at the moment the country’s democracy was attacked. They include a Capitol Police sergeant, four Capitol Police officers (including Brian Sicknick, who died protecting elected officials during the attack), two Metropolitan Police officers, election workers, and officials at the state and local level. The honorees embody the best before, during and after January the 6, 2021, Biden said.” See also, Biden Honors ‘Extraordinary Americans’ Who Defended Democracy on January 6, 2021. Biden marked the second anniversary of the January 6 attack by awarding the Presidential Citizens Medal to 14 people. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Friday, 6 January 2023: “President Biden on Friday honored 14 people who stood against election denialism in 2020 and fought the violent mob at the Capitol two years ago, telling them in a White House ceremony that history ‘will remember your names, remember your courage, remember your bravery.’ Speaking from the East Room, he awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal to nine police officers — three of whom died after protecting the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 — and five local officials who were subjected to personal violence but resisted pressure to undermine the election in 2020. Together, Mr. Biden said, the individuals he honored represented the ‘extraordinary Americans’ whose service to the country helped thwart the efforts of former President Donald J. Trump and his allies as they sought to keep Mr. Trump in power. ‘A violent mob of insurrectionists assaulted law enforcement, vandalized sacred halls, hunted down elected officials, all for the purpose of attempting to overthrow the will of the people and usurp the peaceful transfer of power,’ Mr. Biden said. ‘All of it — all of it — was fueled by lies about the 2020 election. But on this day, two years ago, our democracy held because we the people, as the Constitution refers to us, we the people did not flinch.'”

Three-Judge Federal Panel Rules South Carolina Congressional District Is Illegal Gerrymander. The three-judge federal panel unanimously ruled that South Carolina’s redrawn First Congressional District illegally removed 62 percent of the Black voters in Charleston County. The New York Times, Michael Wines, Friday, 6 January 2023: “South Carolina’s First Congressional District is an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, and its boundaries must be redrawn before future elections are held, a panel of three federal judges unanimously ruled on Friday. But the judges rejected arguments that two more of the state’s seven House districts were also illegally gerrymandered, saying voting-rights advocates had failed to show that their boundaries were predominantly drawn to dilute Black voting power. Legal scholars said the ruling was notable because it relied on a legal doctrine that has largely been used by conservatives to limit the creation of political districts that empower minorities — not, as in this case, to justify them. Both state and local legislators have long sought to draw political maps that give minority voters a chance to elect leaders of their choice, both for moral reasons and to avoid lawsuits under the Voting Rights Act. In a series of decisions dating to the early 1990s, however, the Supreme Court has said that while mapmakers can take race into account in drawing such districts, making it the predominant factor would violate the constitutional rights of white voters. The South Carolina ruling embraces the predominance test to conclude that the state’s Republican-dominated Legislature deliberately shunted tens of thousands of Black voters from one congressional district to another for partisan gain. Doing so, the judges said, denied those voters equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.”

Saturday, 7 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Relative quiet on Orthodox Christmas; fighting continues despite cease-fire, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Adela Suliman, Nick Parker, and Kyle Rempfer, Saturday, 7 January 2023: “On Saturday, a relatively quiet one in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky celebrated ‘the spiritual independence of our people’ who were fighting invading Russian forces on Orthodox Christmas. Fighting continued despite a 36-hour cease-fire declared unilaterally by Russian President Vladimir Putin to mark the holiday. Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other for the continued shelling, while Ukraine, the United States and others have dismissed the cease-fire, which was to start at noon Friday, as a ploy. The British Ministry of Defense said Saturday that fighting in Ukraine had continued ‘at a routine level,’ and the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia said Friday that Putin’s call for a pause in hostilities should be taken ‘with a grain of salt. … This is the same man who said he would not invade Ukraine.’

  • The Ukrainian president was encouraged by the turnout for Christmas services at the historic Pechersk Lavra, he said in Saturday’s nightly address. ‘It’s very important to continue staying in the mood that was felt today,’ Zelensky said, lamenting that the feeling has been rare during Russia’s invasion. Kyiv retook the Pechersk Lavra from a church run by a Moscow-affiliated patriarchate this week, according to the Associated Press, and services were held in Ukrainian for the first time there in decades.
  • Zelensky congratulated Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) for becoming House speaker, adding that Kyiv was ‘counting on your continued support and further U.S. assistance to bring our common victory closer.’ U.S. support ‘has been vital for Ukraine’s success on the battlefield,’ Zelensky tweeted Saturday morning. Zelensky made a historic address to Congress last month, after the GOP won control of the House, and some Republicans have pushed back on future funding for Ukraine. In October, McCarthy said that if Republicans won control of Congress, further military aid for Ukraine should not be taken for granted.
  • Putin marked Orthodox Christmas alone at the Kremlin on Saturday, Russian media said. The Russian leader took part in a religious service by himself in a Kremlin cathedral rather than attending a public Mass, and brief clips on state television showed him alongside priests, Reuters reported. In Ukraine, which has large Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic communities, worshipers marked the day in churches and with muted festivities.
  • The Biden administration announced a $2.85 billion military aid package for Ukraine, the largest drawdown from U.S. defense stockpiles to date. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday that the package will include additional howitzers, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, known as MRAPs. In his nightly address, Zelensky praised the military aid package and said the armored vehicles — for which Kyiv had long called — were ‘exactly what [Ukraine] needed.'”

From Newt Gingrich to Kevin McCarthy, the Roots of Governance by Chaos. Mr. Gingrich began the zero-sum politics that mutated into the brand of the Tea Party and Trump M.A.G.A. Republicans and that presaged the raucous speaker battle in the House. The New York Times, Robert Draper, Sunday, 7 January 2023: “Mr. Gingrich’s triumph in 1994 in wresting the House from a Democratic majority for the first time since 1952 was the starting point for the zero-sum brand of politics that mutated into the Tea Party movement, the grievance-based populism of the Trump era, and what was garishly displayed on the House floor in a raucous four-day speaker battle that ended in the small hours of Saturday. Those mutations have culminated in a tissue-thin Republican majority, auguring legislative episodes likely long on melodrama and short on happy endings, thanks to cameo actors such as Mr. Gaetz who have already demonstrated their zeal to seize the spotlight from the new speaker. Such actors appear to interpret their roles as opposing anything that the Biden administration might support, including sending military aid to Ukraine and avoiding a default on government obligations by raising the federal debt ceiling. The bitterly partisan stalemates of the Gingrich era may well have metastasized into a state of governance by chaos.” See also, How Kevin McCarthy survived the House chaos to win the speaker’s gavel, CNN Politics, Melanie Zanona, Manu Reju, Annie Grayer, Lauren Fox, and Jeremy Herb, Saturday, 7 January 2023: “Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz strode into House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office on Monday night with a list of demands. Among them: The chairmanship of a key House Armed Services subcommittee. McCarthy rejected the offer. That decision set in motion a chain of events that left Gaetz and McCarthy locked in open confrontation on the House floor late Friday night. Gaetz, McCarthy’s staunchest opponent, dramatically denied McCarthy the final vote he needed to become speaker – then Gaetz and the last holdouts abruptly changed course allowing McCarthy to win the speaker’s gavel on his 15th attempt.” See also, In Speaker Fight’s Final Hours, Arm-Twisting, Flaring Tempers, and Calls From Trump. Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s slog to his post ended with a remarkably public show of intraparty strife that played out in a history-making overnight session. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Saturday, 7 January 2023: “The final hours of Mr. McCarthy’s ultimately triumphant struggle for the speakership featured back-room dealing with the hard right and arm-twisting out in the open; phone calls from Donald J. Trump, the twice-impeached former president, to try to win over holdouts; haggling over how the House would operate in the coming two years; and even a narrowly avoided physical altercation inside the chamber.” See also, After Dramatic 14th Vote, Trump Calls Holdouts Who Refused to Back McCarthy. The former president made crucially timed calls to Representative Matt Gaetz and others who sunk McCarthy’s 14th effort to be elected House speaker. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Saturday, 7 January 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump made a crucially timed call to Representative Matt Gaetz on Friday night after the Florida congressman voted ‘present’ and sunk Kevin McCarthy’s 14th effort to be elected House speaker. Mr. Trump’s call may have played a role in Mr. Gaetz opting to continue with another round of balloting, along with a small group of other members who had been opposing McCarthy’s candidacy. Mr. Trump called Mr. Gaetz, according to two people briefed on the call who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly. CNN reported that Mr. Trump also called Representative Andy Biggs, who switched from voting against Mr. McCarthy to voting ‘present’ on the 15th round. A photo taken of members on the House floor showed Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican from Georgia and an ally of Mr. McCarthy, holding up her cellphone, with ‘DT’ on the other end, and trying to give the phone to Representative Matt Rosendale, who had voted for a different candidate on the most recent ballot. Mr. Rosendale appeared to brush her off as she tried to hand him the phone.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries Just Made History–and Gave a Helluva Speech, Mother Jones, Arianna Coghill, Saturday, 7 January 2023: “On Saturday, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries made history as the first Black lawmaker to lead a congressional party, making a splash with his first official speech as House Minority leader in the wee hours of the morning. ‘As John Lewis would sometimes remind us on this floor, we may have come over on different ships but we’re all in the same boat now,’ said the New York Democrat, referencing the Civil Rights icon and longtime politician while addressing the 118th Congress. While the entire speech was well received, it was the final portion that really struck a chord with people, both in the chamber and online. Adopting a unique alphabetical format, the congressman’s inaugural speech cleverly lists the Democratic Party’s values with a Sesame Street-esque flair. He even made mention of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago scandal, earning a cheer from the audience. ‘House Democrats,’ he said, ‘will always put American values over autocracy, benevolence over bigotry, the Constitution over the cult, democracy over demagogues, economic opportunity over extremism, freedom over fascism, governing over gaslighting, hopefulness over hatred, inclusion over isolation, justice over judicial overreach, knowledge over kangaroo courts, liberty over limitation, maturity over Mar-a-Lago, normalcy over negativity, opportunity over obstruction, people over politics, quality of life issues over QAnon, reason over racism, substance over slander, triumph over tyranny, understanding over ugliness, voting rights over voter suppression, working families over the well-connected, xenial over xenophobia, “yes, we can” over “you can do it,’”and zealous representation over zero-sum confrontation.'” 

Proposed Republican select panel would be empowered to review ‘ongoing criminal investigations.’ The proposed ‘select subcommittee’ would operate under the Judiciary Committee expected to be chaired by Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Politico, Kyle Cheney, Saturday, 7 January 2023: “A proposed subcommittee to investigate ‘weaponization’ of the federal government — a key demand of House conservatives who delivered Speaker Kevin McCarthy the gavel — would be given sweeping investigatory powers that include explicit authority to review ‘ongoing criminal investigations.’  The language of the proposed ‘select subcommittee,’ which would operate under the Judiciary Committee expected to be chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), also gives the panel power to access any information shared with the House Intelligence Committee. That panel typically receives the highest-level classified intelligence and briefings of any committee in Congress. Both provisions appear to have been added during final negotiations between McCarthy and a band of hardline detractors that briefly denied him the speakership. An earlier version of the proposal made no mention of ongoing criminal investigations or the Intelligence Committee and limited the probe to the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.”

Sunday, 8 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Cease-fire failed to halt fighting; Ukraine hit power plants, Kremlin proxies say, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Jennifer Hassan, and Paulina Villegas, Sunday, 8 January 2023: “Moscow’s unilaterally declared cease-fire — which brought no sign of a pause in fighting in the 36 hours that it was supposedly in place — came to an end early Sunday. Both sides traded blame for the ongoing shelling, which threatened to mar Orthodox Christmas celebrations on both sides. Ukraine had not agreed to a truce, viewing it as a ploy for Russian forces to regroup. Russian media and Moscow’s proxy officials accused Ukraine of shelling two power plants in Russian-controlled areas of the eastern Donetsk region. Ukraine has not acknowledged reports of the attack.

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of not adhering to its promise to temporarily suspend hostilities. ‘The world was once again able to see today how false any words of any level that sound from Moscow are,’ he said in a video address Saturday.
  • The Starobeshevskaya and Zuevskaya thermal power plants sustained damage after rocket attacks by Ukraine, Russia’s Interfax news agency and Kremlin proxies in Donetsk reported. It is not clear whether there were casualties.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin marked Orthodox Christmas by attending a service at the Kremlin on Saturday and praising the Russian Orthodox Church for supporting the nation’s troops. In Ukraine — which has large Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic communities — worshipers marked the day in churches and with muted festivities.

Bolsonaro Supporters Lay Siege to Brazil’s Capital. Backers of former President Jair Bolsonaro ransacked government offices, denouncing what they falsely claim was a rigged election. Hundreds were arrested. The New York Times, Jack Nicas and André Spigariol, Sunday, 8 January 2023: “Thousands of supporters of Brazil’s ousted former president, Jair Bolsonaro, stormed Brazil’s Congress, Supreme Court and presidential offices on Sunday to protest what they falsely claim was a stolen election, the violent culmination of years of conspiracy theories advanced by Mr. Bolsonaro and his right-wing allies. In scenes reminiscent of the Jan. 6 storming of the United States Capitol, protesters in Brasília, Brazil’s capital, draped in the yellow and green of Brazil’s flag surged into the seat of power, setting fires, repurposing barricades as weapons, knocking police officers from horseback and filming their crimes as they committed them.” See also, Thousands of radical backers of far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro breached and vandalized Brazil’s presidential office building, Congress, and Supreme Court on Sunday in scenes that hauntingly evoked the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, The Washington Post, Anthony Faiola and Marina Dias, Sunday, 8 January 2023: “The attack — the most significant threat to democracy in Latin America’s largest nation since a 1964 military coup — came a week after the inauguration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to succeed Bolsonaro. It suggested a spreading plague of far-right disrupters in Western democracies, as hard-liners radicalized by incendiary political rhetoric refuse to accept election losses, cling to unfounded claims of fraud and undermine the rule of law. Bolsonaristas occupied the National Congress building, many of them sitting or lying on the ground. A flag placed in front of the building read ‘intervention’ — a reference to calls for the military to depose Lula, who defeated Bolsonaro in October.” See also, Bolsonaro supporters break into Brazilian Congress and presidential palace, CNN, Flora Charner, Marcia Reverdosa, Rodrigo Pedroso, Dakin Andone, Alaa Elassar, and Heather Chen, Sunday, 8 January 2023: “Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Sunday pledged to punish hundreds of supporters of the country’s former leader Jair Bolsonaro after they stormed major government buildings, smashing windows and using furniture to form barricades against security forces. In a news conference, Lula da Silva described events in the capital Brasilia as ‘barbaric’ and said ‘a lack of security’ had allowed Bolsonaro’s ‘fascist’ supporters to breach barriers set up by the Armed Forces outside the congressional building, the Supreme Court and the Planalto Presidential Palace. ‘These people are everything that is abominable in politics,’ he said, adding that ‘all the people who did this will be found and punished.’ Footage Sunday showed massive crowds in Brasília walking up a ramp to the congressional building, where they had reached the Green Room, located outside the lower House of Congress’ chamber, Interim Senate President Veneziano Vital do Rogo told CNN Brasil. Other outlets showed Bolsonaro supporters entering the Supreme Court and the presidential palace, where CNN Brasil showed the arrivals of anti-riot police and the Brazilian Armed Forces. The floor of the Congress building was flooded after the sprinkler system activated when protesters attempted to set fire to the carpet, according to CNN Brasil. Additional videos showed protesters inside the building taking gifts received from international delegations and destroying artwork.”

House Republicans Preparing Broad Inquiry Into F.B.I. and Security Agencies. Republicans plan to create a special subcommittee, led by a Trump ally, with a mandate to scrutinize open criminal investigations and classified intelligence. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Luke Broadwater, Sunday, 8 January 2022: “Newly empowered House Republicans are preparing a wide-ranging investigation into law enforcement and national security agencies, raising the prospect of politically charged fights with the Biden administration over access to sensitive information like highly classified intelligence and the details of continuing criminal inquiries by the Justice Department. The House plans to vote this week on a resolution to create a special Judiciary subcommittee on what it calls the ‘weaponization of the federal government,’ a topic that Republicans have signaled could include reviewing investigations into former President Donald J. Trump. The panel would be overseen by Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, who is also poised to become the Judiciary Committee’s chairman. It remains to be seen who else Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who made numerous concessions to a far-right faction of his party to win the speakership, will put on it. In a Fox News interview on Friday evening, Representative Chip Roy of Texas, a lead negotiator for hard-right lawmakers who pushed Mr. McCarthy’s team for concessions, portrayed the panel as part of the agreement they struck for their support. He said Mr. McCarthy had committed to giving the subcommittee at least as much funding and staffing as the House special committee in the last Congress that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. ‘So we got more resources, more specificity, more power to go after this recalcitrant Biden administration,’ Mr. Roy said. ‘That’s really important.'”

Monday, 9 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Iran may be contributing to ‘war crimes’ in Ukraine; Zelensky says troops hold out in Bakhmut, The Washington Post, Annabelle Timsit, Rachel Pannett, and Adam Taylor, Monday, 9 January 2023: “Iran could be contributing to war crimes in Ukraine by providing military support to Russia, the White House said Monday. Russia has used hundreds of Iranian attack drones to target civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, according to U.S. and Ukrainian officials. ‘Their weapons are being used to kill civilians in Ukraine and to try to plunge cities into cold and darkness, which, from our point of view, puts Iran in a place where it could potentially be contributing to widespread war crimes,’ national security advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters during President Biden’s trip to Mexico.

  • Two British volunteers went missing in the Donetsk region over the weekend, Ukrainian police said Monday. The two men — Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry — were last seen leaving Kramatorsk for the frontline city of Soledar early Friday morning, British media reported. Bagshaw was in the country helping deliver humanitarian aid and evacuating elderly Ukrainians from their homes near the battlefield, New Zealand’s public broadcaster reported.
  • Russian forces ‘have now concentrated their greatest efforts on Soledar,’ a salt mining town near the eastern city of Bakhmut, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday. Russian troops and allied forces from the Wagner mercenary group attacked the city but were repelled, Ukrainian defense officials said. ‘Due to the resilience of our warriors there… we have gained additional time and additional power for Ukraine,’ Zelensky said.
  • Russian forces struck a market in a village southeast of Kharkiv, killing two women, regional governor Oleh Synyehubov reported Monday morning on Telegram. At least four more people, including a child, were injured, he said. Images shared on social media appeared to show a building on fire and emergency workers sifting through rubble.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Battle Rages Near Bakhmut, as Ukraine Fights to Hold Off Russian Forces. Ukraine says it repelled a Russian attempt to seize a city near Bakhmut, which Moscow has sought to capture for months. The New York Times, Monday, 9 January 2023:

  • Heavy fighting and competing claims surround the key eastern city of Bakhmut.

  • Russian prison recruits are used to draw fire in the ‘savage’ fighting for Bakhmut, a U.S. official says.

  • The fight over Soledar underscores the divisions between Russia’s Army and a Russian mercenary force.

  • The pace of offensives has been slower in the east.

  • Ukraine rejects Russia’s claim of a deadly strike on troops in the east.

  • A Russian strike on a market killed two women, Ukraine says.

  • In the bitter cold, a Ukrainian team searches ‘not for bodies, but for souls.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: The Russian Christmas cease-fire that wasn’t, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 9 January 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: At NATO headquarters on Tuesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel will sign the third Joint Declaration on NATO-E.U. Cooperation. Human Rights Watch will issue its annual human rights report Friday, including a chapter on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Also on Friday, the United Nations Security Council is scheduled to discuss the conflict in Ukraine. What happened last week: Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a 36-hour cease-fire for Jan. 6 and 7, when many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas, but the weekend saw no break in violence across Ukraine. The Ukrainian military announced that Russia fired nine rockets and conducted three airstrikes on Saturday, and claimed that Russia carried out 40 shelling attacks across Ukraine, killing and wounding civilians. The U.S. announced more than $3.75 billion in new military assistance to Ukraine ‘and countries impacted by Russia’s war in Ukraine.’ Russia said 89 of its soldiers were killed in a Ukrainian attack on New Year’s Day — and blamed them for using cellphones which gave away their location. Russia’s Defense Ministry later claimed its rockets struck a Ukrainian military barracks in retaliation, killing 600 people. Ukraine disputed that attack took place — and Western news organizations found no visible evidence of casualties. Russia stepped up drone strikes at the start of the new year.”

Special Grand Jury In Georgia Trump Inquiry concludes Its Investigation. A hearing will be held to determine whether the report will be made public. Any criminal charges would have to be brought by a regular grand jury. The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Monday, 9 January 2023; “Eight weeks into Donald J. Trump’s latest run for president, a special grand jury investigating Mr. Trump and his allies for possible election interference in 2020 concluded its work on Monday. But the panel’s findings remain private for now, including whether it recommended criminal charges against the former president. The special grand jury was dissolved days after producing a report that was reviewed by the 20 judges on the Superior Court of Fulton County, which encompasses most of Atlanta. Its members were sworn in last May. ‘The court thanks the grand jurors for their dedication, professionalism and significant commitment of time and attention to this important matter,’ Judge Robert McBurney, who oversaw the panel, wrote in an order dissolving it. A hearing will be held on Jan. 24 to determine whether the report will be made public, as the special grand jury is recommending, according to the judge’s order. Special grand juries cannot issue indictments, so any criminal charges would have to be sought from one of the regular grand juries that consider criminal matters in the county.” See also, Georgia special grand jury completes Trump election interference investigation, The Washington Post, Holly Bailey, Monday, 9 January 2023: “An Atlanta-area grand jury investigating efforts by President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Trump’s 2020 election loss in Georgia has concluded its investigation, according to the judge overseeing the panel. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney issued a court order Monday morning saying that the special grand jury had completed a final report on its investigation. He said the report was accepted by a majority of the county’s judicial bench and that the 26-member panel was being officially dissolved. The grand jury’s recommendations were not made public, including whether criminal charges should be filed. McBurney scheduled a Jan. 24 hearing to determine whether to release the report. His order noted the grand jury had ‘voted to recommend that its report be published’ and appeared to make its release ‘mandatory’ — though the judge said he would hear ‘argument’ on the issue…. The special grand jury was investigating whether Trump and his allies violated Georgia law when they spread rumors about alleged election fraud in the state and pressured Georgia officials to undertake efforts that would change the results of the presidential election, which Trump lost by fewer than 12,000 votes.”

Giuliani Receives Grand Jury Subpoena for Records Related to Trump. The subpoena to Rudolph W. Giuliani in November came as prosecutors have been examining the workings of former President Donald J. Trump’s fund-raising vehicle. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Monday, 9 January 2023: “Rudolph W. Giuliani, the lawyer who oversaw former President Donald J. Trump’s legal challenges to the 2020 election, has received a grand jury subpoena for records related to his representation of Mr. Trump, including those that detailed any payments he received, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday. The subpoena, which was sent in November, bore the name of a prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington. It predated the appointment of Jack Smith, the special counsel chosen to take over the Justice Department’s investigation of the roles that Mr. Trump and several of his aides and lawyers played in seeking to overturn the results of the election. It remained unclear, however, if Mr. Smith and his team have assumed control of the part of the inquiry related to Mr. Giuliani. As part of its investigation, the special counsel’s office has been examining, among other things, the inner workings of Mr. Trump’s fund-raising vehicle, Save America PAC. The records subpoenaed from Mr. Giuliani could include some related to payments made by the PAC, according to the person familiar with the matter.” See also, Giuliani subpoenaed amid special counsel investigation into Trump’s fundraising, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz and Sara Murray, Monday, 9 January 2023: “Special counsel Jack Smith’s team has subpoenaed Donald Trump’s former attorney Rudy Giuliani, asking him to turn over records to a federal grand jury as part of an investigation into the former president’s fundraising following the 2020 election, according to a person familiar with the subpoena. The subpoena, which was sent more than a month ago and has not been previously reported, requests documents from Giuliani about payments he received around the 2020 election, when Giuliani filed numerous lawsuits on Trump’s behalf contesting the election results, the person said. Prosecutors have also subpoenaed other witnesses who are close to Trump, asking specifically for documents related to disbursements from the Save America PAC, Trump’s primary fundraising operation set up shortly after the 2020 election, according to other sources with insight into the probe. Taken together, the subpoenas demonstrate prosecutors’ growing interest in following the money after the 2020 election as part of their sweeping criminal probe around Trump’s efforts to overturn his loss of the presidency.”

U.S. attorney reviewing documents marked classified from Joe Biden’s vice presidency found at Biden think tank, CBS News, Adriana Diaz, Andres Triay, and Arden Farhi, Monday, 9 January 2023: “Attorney General Merrick Garland has assigned the U.S. attorney in Chicago to review documents marked classified that were found at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement in Washington, two sources with knowledge of the inquiry told CBS News. The roughly 10 documents are from President Biden’s vice-presidential office at the center, the sources said. CBS News has learned the FBI is also involved in the U.S. attorney’s inquiry. The material was identified by personal attorneys for Mr. Biden on Nov. 2, just before the midterm elections, Richard Sauber, special counsel to the president confirmed. The documents were discovered when Mr. Biden’s personal attorneys ‘were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C.,’ Sauber said in a statement to CBS News. The documents were contained in a folder that was in a box with other unclassified papers, the sources said. The sources revealed neither what the documents contain nor their level of classification. A source familiar with the matter told CBS News the documents did not contain nuclear secrets. Sauber also said that on the same day the material was discovered, Nov. 2, the White House counsel’s office notified the National Archives, which took possession of the materials the following morning. ‘The discovery of these documents was made by the President’s attorneys,’ Sauber said. ‘The documents were not the subject of any previous request or inquiry by the Archives. Since that discovery, the President’s personal attorneys have cooperated with the Archives and the Department of Justice in a process to ensure that any Obama-Biden Administration records are appropriately in the possession of the Archives.'” See also, Biden Lawyers Found Classified Material at His Former Office. the White House said it was cooperating as the Justice Department scrutinizes the matter. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Charlie Savage, Glenn Thrush, and Adam Goldman, Monday, 9 January 2023: “President Biden’s lawyers discovered ‘a small number’ of classified documents in his former office at a Washington think tank last fall, the White House said on Monday, prompting the Justice Department to scrutinize the situation to determine how to proceed. The inquiry, according to two people familiar with the matter, is a type aimed at helping Attorney General Merrick B. Garland decide whether to appoint a special counsel, like the one investigating former President Donald J. Trump’s hoarding of sensitive documents and failure to return all of them. The documents found in Mr. Biden’s former office, which date to his time as vice president, were found by his personal lawyers on Nov. 2, when they were packing files at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, according to the White House. Officials did not describe precisely how many documents were involved, what kind of information they included or their level of classification. The White House said in a statement that the White House Counsel’s Office notified the National Archives and Records Administration on the same day the documents were found ‘in a locked closet’ and that the agency retrieved them the next morning. Mr. Biden had periodically used an office at the center from mid-2017 until the start of the 2020 presidential campaign, and the lawyers were packing it up in preparations to vacate the space. The discovery was not in response to any prior request from the archives, and there was no indication that Mr. Biden or his team resisted efforts to recover any sensitive documents. Mr. Garland has assigned John R. Lausch Jr., the U.S. attorney in Chicago who was appointed by Mr. Trump, to look into the matter, according to two people familiar with the decision, confirming a CBS News report. Mr. Lausch has been scrutinizing the situation since November, according to one of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.” See also, Justice Department is reviewing classified documents found in Biden’s post-VP office, The Washington Post, Tyler Pager, Devlin Barrett, Jacqueline Alemany, and Perry Stein, Monday, 9 January 2023: “The Justice Department has launched a review into the discovery of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, an institute in downtown Washington that Joe Biden started after serving as vice president, according to people familiar with the matter. The White House confirmed the ongoing inquiry and said it is cooperating with the Justice Department and quickly handed over the documents to the National Archives and Records Administration — the agency tasked with handling presidential records. Roughly 10 documents were found, said one person familiar with the inquiry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The discovery was first reported by CBS News. ‘The White House is cooperating with the National Archives and the Department of Justice regarding the discovery of what appear to be Obama-Biden Administration records, including a small number of documents with classified markings,’ Richard Sauber, special counsel to President Biden, said in a statement.” See also, Classified documents from Biden’s time as Vice President discovered in his former private office, CNN Politics, Jamie Gangel, Marshall Cohen, Evan Perez, and Phil Mattingly, Monday, 9 January 2023: “Several classified documents from President Joe Biden’s time as vice president were discovered last fall in a private office, Biden’s attorneys acknowledged Monday. Attorney General Merrick Garland has asked the US attorney in Chicago to investigate the matter, a source familiar with the matter tells CNNand congressional Republicans are also taking notice. Biden’s lawyers say they found the government materials in November while closing out a Washington, DC-based office – the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement – that Biden used as part of his relationship with the University of Pennsylvania, where he was an honorary professor from 2017 to 2019. Fewer than a dozen classified documents were found at Biden’s office, another source told CNN. It is unclear what the documents pertain to or why they were taken to Biden’s private office. Federal officeholders are required by law to relinquish official documents and classified records when their government service ends.”

House Narrowly Approves Rules Amid concerns About McCarthy’s Concessions. After initially balking at a package of changes to House rules that enshrine concessions the speaker made to ultraconservative members, Republicans united to push them through. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Monday, 9 January 2023: “House Republicans on Monday pushed through an overhaul of operating rules for the new Congress, overcoming the concerns of some rank-and-file members about concessions that Speaker Kevin McCarthy made to the hard right last week in the desperate and drawn-out process of securing his job. Mr. McCarthy clinched the speaker’s gavel early Saturday after a historic 15 rounds of voting that stretched across five days, and after giving in to a sweeping series of demands from the ultraconservative rebels who opposed him, including allowing any single lawmaker to call a snap vote to oust him. The struggle underscored how difficult it would be for him to corral his narrow majority, and in the hours before the vote on Monday, he was already confronting his first challenge, uncertain whether he would have the votes even to approve the rules that would allow the House to begin legislative business. In the end, a handful of holdouts dropped their opposition and supported the measure, putting aside reservations about Mr. McCarthy’s concessions, including some that they worried could lead to deep cuts in military spending. The package passed on Monday evening in a mostly party-line vote of 220-213, with just one Republican voting ‘no.’ It includes the so-called Holman rule, which allows lawmakers to use spending bills to defund specific programs and fire federal officials or reduce their pay; makes it harder for lawmakers to raise the debt limit; and paves the way for the creation of a new select subcommittee under the Judiciary Committee focused on the ‘weaponization’ of the federal government.” See also, McCarthy-led House passes Republican rules package, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Mariana Alfaro, Amy B Wang, and Azi Paybarah, Monday, 9 January 2023: “Today, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), fresh off a contentious fight over whether he should wield the gavel, presided over his first session in the role. In a 220-213 vote largely along party lines, the House passed the rules under which it will operate for the 118th Congress. Among the provisions: one that would make it easier for McCarthy’s detractors to start the process of removing him. Passing the rules package was the first test of McCarthy’s leadership: He could afford to lose only four GOP votes, and there had been grumbling from some GOP lawmakers about parts of the package leading up to the vote. One Republican voted against the rules package and another GOP lawmaker missed the vote. The House also passed its first piece of legislation, a bill to rescind $80 billion in new funding for the IRS, a measure that is unlikely to be given consideration in the Democratic-controlled Senate.”

Nonpartisan watchdog says George Santos broke campaign finance laws. The complaint against the New York congressman could prompt an investigation by the Federal Election Commission. The Washington Post, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Monday, 9 January 2023: “A complaint filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission accused Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), who has admitted to fabricating key details of his biography, of wide-ranging campaign finance violations. The alleged wrongdoing includes masking the true source of his campaign’s funding, misrepresenting his campaign’s spending and using campaign resources to cover personal expenses. The complaint, filed by the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, could propel a formal investigation into Santos by the federal regulator, the latest chapter in a saga testing the boundaries of political falsehood. Santos has been revealed to have lied about his heritage, education and professional qualifications during his campaign for Congress last year.”


Tuesday, 10 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Brutal fighting for salt mining town; Canada to buy air defense system for Kyiv, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Bryan Pietsch, Victoria Bisset, Natalia Abbakumova, and Claire Parker, Tuesday, 10 January 2023: “Fighting is raging in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region as both sides battle for Soledar, a salt mining town just three miles from Bakhmut. Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, said late Tuesday in a statement on Telegram that his units had seized control of the city. The channel, which is affiliated with Prigozhin’s press service, also posted a photo it said showed Wagner units inside Soledar’s salt mine tunnels, although the image could not be independently verified. Earlier Tuesday, Britain’s Defense Ministry said that Russian forces and Wagner fighters were ‘likely in control of most of the settlement.’ ‘This is what madness looks like,’ Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had said of Soledar in his nightly address Monday. ‘Everything is completely destroyed. There is almost no life.’

  • The Kyiv-appointed governor in Donetsk described the Russian attacks on Soledar and Bakhmut as relentless, the Associated Press reported. ‘The Russian army is reducing Ukrainian cities to rubble using all kinds of weapons in their scorched-earth tactics,’ Pavlo Kyrylenko said in televised remarks. ‘Russia is waging a war without rules, resulting in civilian deaths and suffering.’
  • The Pentagon will bring Ukrainian troops to the United States for training, possibly as early as this month, according to a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the development. The training will take place at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, a base that is home to the U.S. military’s basic Patriot missile defense training program. The move came after President Biden decided last month to approve the transfer of a Patriot missile defense system to Ukraine.
  • Canada will purchase a surface-to-air missile system, or NASAMS, from the United States to donate to Ukraine, the country’s Defense Minister said Tuesday. A NASAMS is a short to medium range ground-based air defense system that ‘protects against drone, missile and aircraft attack, with a high success rate,’ Canada’s Department of National Defense said in a statement.
  • Ukrainian authorities have indicted a leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church for backing Russia’s invasion, Ukraine’s intelligence service said in a statement on Telegram. The head of the Tulchyn Diocese of the church, which is aligned with the Russian Orthodox Church, distributed ‘propaganda leaflets’ calling for changes to Ukraine’s borders and posted statements online in support of Russian forces, according to the SBU. Ukrainian law enforcement officers found ‘pro-Kremlin propaganda and literature’ during a search of his residence and church buildings in the region of Vinnytsia, in western Ukraine, the statement said. The church official, who was not named in the post, faces up to eight years in prison.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Mercenaries Working for Wagner Group Claim to Take Embattled Eastern Ukrainian Town of Soledar. Ukraine denied the claim that Soledar had fallen to soldiers-for-hire working for Wagner Group. The assault on the city is part of Russia’s broader push in the area around the city of Bakhmut. The New York Times, Tuesday, 10 January 2023:

  • A Russian mercenary group claims to have taken Soledar, a small town in eastern Ukraine.

  • Ukrainian troops will travel to Oklahoma to learn to operate the Patriot missile system.

  • The president of Ukraine, a former actor, thanked the ‘free people of the free world’ for their support.

  • Russia posts a $47 billion budget deficit for 2022, its second highest in the post-Soviet era.

  • Britain is considering sending tanks to Ukraine, in what would be a first.

  • More than 200 Russian doctors petition Putin to give medical care to Navalny.

  • Prompted by Russian aggression, the E.U. and NATO vow new cooperation.

  • Zelensky says Ukraine’s tough fighting in the east has allowed time for critical reinforcements.

Biden ‘Surprised’ to Learn Classified Documents Were Found in His Former Private Office. The papers include briefing materials on foreign countries dating from President Biden’s time as vice president. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 10 January 2023: “President Biden said Tuesday he was ‘surprised’ to learn in November that his lawyers found classified government documents in his former office at a think tank in Washington, and he said he does not know what information they contain. Mr. Biden spoke a day after the White House acknowledged that his lawyers had discovered a small cache of Obama-era documents as they packed up his former office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. The Justice Department is reviewing the discovery to determine how to proceed. The revelation has created a political headache for Mr. Biden, who has called former President Donald J. Trump irresponsible for hoarding sensitive documents at his private club and residence in Florida, and a tactical opportunity for Republicans who have been badly divided in the aftermath of the 2022 midterm elections. The White House has stressed that the circumstances are different — that Mr. Biden had neither been notified that he had official records nor been asked to return them, and his team promptly revealed the discovery to the archives and returned them within a day. Mr. Biden on Tuesday said he takes ‘classified documents seriously’ and that his team had immediately contacted the National Archives to turn over the materials. ‘We’re cooperating fully — cooperating fully — with the review,’ he said. He also distanced himself from the matter, suggesting that someone else had brought the files there without his knowledge.” See also, How the Discovery of Classified Files in Biden’s Office Compares With the Trump Case. The Justice Department is scrutinizing how both presidents came to have classified records after they left office. But there are major differences. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Tuesday, 10 January 2023. See also, Biden ‘surprised’ by classified documents as Democratic and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill demand more information. Representative James Comer (R-KY.) and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA.) both requested more details from the administration about the discovery. The Washington Post, Tyler Pager, Jacqueline Alemany, and Matt Viser, Tuesday, 10 January 2023: “President Biden said Tuesday that he was ‘surprised’ to learn classified documents were taken to his personal office after he served as vice president and does not know what is in the records, as Democratic and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill called for more information about a discovery that has spurred a review by the Justice Department. The classified documents, about 10 in total, were found at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, an institute in downtown Washington that Biden started after leaving the White House in 2017. Biden’s personal lawyers found the documents on Nov. 2 and immediately turned them over to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The White House on Monday confirmed it was cooperating with the Justice Department.” See also, The Trump and Biden classified-document revelations are not the same, The Washington Post, Philip Bump, Tuesday, 10 January 2023.

Two New York Democratic Lawmakers Request House Ethics Investigation of George Santos. The two Democrats filed an official complaint about Mr Santos’s financial disclosures with the House’s bipartisan ethics committee. The New York Times, Michael Gold, Tuesday, 10 January 2023: “Representatives Daniel Goldman and Ritchie Torres, both Democrats of New York, filed an official complaint on Tuesday asking the House Committee on Ethics to investigate Representative George Santos, the Republican who admitted to lying about his background after a report last month in The New York Times. The congressmen requested that the House committee explore whether Mr. Santos, a first-year lawmaker representing parts of Long Island and Queens, broke the law when he filed his required financial disclosures late and without key details about his finances.” See also, Two New York Democratic representatives request House ethics investigation of Representative George Santos, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Tuesday, 10 January 2023: “Rep. George Santos (R), who has admitted to fabricating key details of his biography, is the target of a new ethics complaint filed by two of his Democratic colleagues in the New York congressional delegation, Reps. Ritchie Torres and Daniel Goldman. In a letter to the House Ethics Committee on Tuesday, Torres and Goldman detail discrepancies in Santos’s biography — saying he misled voters about “his ethnicity, his religion, his education, and his employment and professional history, among other things” — and in his financial disclosure forms. The two Democrats described Santos’s disclosure forms as ‘sparse and perplexing,’ noting that his public statements have contradicted some of the information he reported in the forms.”

Divided House Approves Republican Inquiry Into ‘Weaponization’ of Government. Republicans pushed through a measure to create a powerful new committee to scrutinize what they have charged is an effort by the government to target and silence conservatives. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater and Catie Edmondson, Tuesday, 10 January 2023: “A divided House voted on Tuesday to launch a wide-ranging investigation into federal law enforcement and national security agencies, as Republicans promised to use their new power in Congress to scrutinize what they said was a concerted effort by the government to silence and punish conservatives at all levels, from protesters at school board meetings to former President Donald J. Trump. On a party-line vote of 221 to 211 with all Democrats opposed, the House approved the formation of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, which is to be chaired by Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, the incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a staunch ally of Mr. Trump. Mr. Jordan, who was deeply involved in Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, has for months been investigating what he says is a bias in federal law enforcement against conservatives. Now that Republicans have the majority, he plans to use his gavel and his subpoena power to escalate and expand that inquiry, including searching for evidence that federal workers have become politicized and demanding documents about ongoing criminal investigations.” See also, Republican-led House of Representatives votes to investigate the investigators, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro, Tuesday, 10 January 2023: “The Republican-led House on Tuesday voted to create a panel to probe Biden administration investigations, including ‘ongoing criminal investigations’ at the Justice Department such as those involving former president Donald Trump. The panel, which House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) agreed to create in response to demands by hard-line conservatives, is being referred to as the ‘Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.’ During floor debate, Democrats argued that Republicans were trying to undermine the rule of law. Rep. Daniel S. Goldman (D-N.Y.) said a better name for the panel would be ‘the Republican Committee to Obstruct Justice.'”

The rules package House Republicans approved on Monday includes a provision allowing lawmakers to reduce or eliminate federal agency programs and to slash the salaries of individual federal employees, The Washington Post, Eric Yoder, Tuesday, 10 January 2023: “Called the Holman Rule, the measure was proposed in 1876 but was sparingly used until it was reinstated by Republicans in 2017 and then dropped by Democrats two years later. In theory, it could apply to any federal worker or agency — but for now the move is seen as mostly symbolic, as the Democratic Senate could block Republicans from using the provision. Even if an attempt to use the rule is ultimately blocked, though, ‘It’s the potential use that makes it so concerning,’ said Max Stier, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. ‘If you’re a federal employee, this now becomes a risk that you have to think I may get myself get in hot water or have my salary dropped to zero or my job could get axed‘ when making a professional decision. ‘Symbols can cause harm. We need a workforce that is committed to the public good and feels safe to make that choice. That’s what’s at risk here,’ he said.”

Trump’s Longtime Finance Chief Allen Weisselberg Is Sentenced to 5 Months in Jail. Weisselberg served the family company for decades but agreed to testify about its tax fraud in exchange for a lighter punishment. The New York Times, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, and William K. Rashbaum, Tuesday, 10 January 2023: “Allen H. Weisselberg, once one of Donald J. Trump’s most loyal lieutenants, was sentenced on Tuesday to five months at the Rikers Island jail complex for his role in a tax fraud scheme that led to the conviction of the Trump Organization last year. A state court judge handed down the sentence after Mr. Weisselberg, 75, who worked for the Trump family for the past half-century, testified as the prosecution’s star witness at the trial of the company. Mr. Weisselberg, its former chief financial officer, had been facing years in prison. Under a plea deal, he agreed to testify truthfully in exchange for a punishment that, with good behavior, might last no more than 100 days. Still, Mr. Weisselberg’s lawyer, Nicholas A. Gravante Jr., pleaded with the judge in State Supreme Court in Manhattan on Tuesday to impose a lighter sentence, citing his client’s military service, lack of a criminal record and the many hours he had spent with prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office preparing for the testimony. ‘Each month makes a big difference when you’re 75 years old,’ Mr. Gravante said. But the judge, Juan Merchan, rejected the defense’s request and said that had he not promised the sentence of five months in August, the evidence at trial would have prompted him to impose a significantly longer sentence. ‘The entire case was driven by greed,’ Justice Merchan said.”

The Last 8 Years Were the Hottest on Record, The New York Times, Henry Fountain and Mira Rojanasakul, Tuesday, 10 January 2023: “The world remained firmly in warming’s grip last year, with extreme summer temperatures in Europe, China and elsewhere contributing to 2022 being the fifth-hottest year on record, European climate researchers said on Tuesday. The eight warmest years on record have now occurred since 2014, the scientists, from the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, reported, and 2016 remains the hottest year ever. Overall, the world is now 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.1 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than it was in the second half of the 19th century, when emissions of planet-warming carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels became widespread.”


Wednesday, 11 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Battle rages over salt mining town of Soledar; Poland pledges Leopard tanks to Ukraine, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Bryan Pietsch, Victoria Bisset, Natalia Abbakumova, Claire Parker, and Justine McDaniel, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “Russian and Ukrainian forces are locked in a fierce fight over the salt mining town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine, just six miles from the strategic city of Bakhmut. Russia said Wednesday that its units had blocked the town from the north and south, while ‘assault units are fighting in the city.’ Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group, meanwhile, said its units had seized control of the town. Ukrainian officials dismissed the claim, calling it propaganda. ‘Heavy fighting continues in Soledar,’ Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said in a Telegram post. ‘After suffering losses, the enemy once again carried out replacement of its units, increased the number of Wagnerites, tried to break through the defense of our troops and fully capture the city, but was unsuccessful.’ The capture of Soledar would mark a symbolic victory for Russia, which has faced a large number of battlefield setbacks, although analysts have downplayed its strategic significance.

  • Fighting continued in Soledar as both sides sought to control the narrative. A Telegram channel affiliated with Wagner’s founder posted a photo it said showed Wagner units inside Soledar’s salt mines, with the mercenary group claiming to control the city. Russian officials struck a more cautious tone, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claiming ‘positive dynamics’ and ‘advancement’ in Soledar on Wednesday and describing it as one of Russia’s ‘tactical successes.’
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed Russian claims to have taken over the town as propaganda intended to ‘give hope to those who support aggression.’ He said in his address Wednesday evening that fighting continues in Soledar and ‘the Donetsk direction is holding out.’ In a Wednesday update, the military reported shelling in Soledar and said it had ‘repelled’ attacks in nearby Bakhmut.
  • Poland will transfer Leopard tanks to Ukraine as part of an international coalition, Polish President Andrzej Duda announced Monday after meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda in Lviv. Ukraine has repeatedly asked European countries for the battle tanks, but Germany — which manufactures them — must sign off on their re-export. German Defense Ministry spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said the German government was not aware of any such requests. The meeting of the Ukrainian, Polish and Lithuanian leaders was aimed at shoring up the Lublin Triangle, a trilateral alliance focused on regional cooperation. Poland and Lithuania signed a declaration Wednesday reiterating their support for Ukraine’s bid to join NATO.
  • Putin admitted ‘there is still fighting’ in some Ukrainian territories that Russia claimed illegally to have annexed last year. Speaking at a government meeting Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin emphasized the need to invest in these regions — Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson — so residents feel their lives will be better under Russian control. He also pledged to ‘solve all the problems related to supplying the armed forces’ and other units fighting for Russia, as well as ‘to implement large-scale socioeconomic programs and plans aimed at improving the well-being of people, at opening up the huge potential of Russia, at expanding our international relations.’
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu appointed Gen. Valery Gerasimov to lead Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff of the Russian armed forces, replaces Sergei Surovikin, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Wednesday. Surovikin, known for his brutal tactics in Syria, has helmed Russia’s military operations in Ukraine since October. His tenure in the role saw Russian forces launch repeated missile attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. He’s been demoted to serve as Gerasimov’s deputy, alongside Gen. Oleg Salyukov and Col. Gen. Alexey Kim. The reshuffle could have resulted from concerns among some in Moscow who believed Surovikin was becoming too powerful, military analyst Rob Lee wrote on Twitter.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Shakes Up Military Leadership Again. A general named just three months ago to lead Russian forces in Ukraine has been replaced with a Kremlin insider who helped orchestrate the invasion. The New York Times, Wednesday, 11 January 2023:

  • The appointment of a Kremlin loyalist signals Putin’s focus on stability over performance.

  • Poland says it’s willing to provide Ukraine with German-made tanks, adding pressure on Berlin to agree.

  • The battle for Soledar isn’t over, Ukraine says.

  • ‘The smell of smoke and death’: Ukrainian forces describe months of fighting in Soledar.

  • With the battle for Soledar, the founder of a mercenary army seeks a bigger role in Russia’s power structure.

  • The wife of a jailed Russian opposition leader [Aleksei A. Navalny] urges he be given medical treatment.

  • Ukraine strips a wealthy pro-Russian politician of his citizenship.

Biden aides find second batch of classified documents at new location, NBC News, Carol e. Lee and Ken Dilanian, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “Aides to President Joe Biden have discovered at least one additional batch of classified documents in a location separate from the Washington office he used after leaving the Obama administration, according to a person familiar with the matter. Since November, after the discovery of documents with classified markings in his former office, Biden aides have been searching for any additional classified materials that might be in other locations he used, said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide details about the ongoing inquiry. The White House did not return a request for comment. The Justice Department had no comment.” See also, Discovery of More classified Records Raises Questions Over Biden’s Handling of Documents. The revelation is sure to intensify Republican attacks on the president, who has called former President Donald Trump irresponsible for hoarding sensitive documents at his estate in Florida. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “President Biden’s aides have found a new batch of classified documents at a second location associated with Mr. Biden, a person familiar with the situation said on Wednesday. It was the second such disclosure in three days, and it was sure to intensify Republican attacks. Republicans reveled in the new disclosures, accusing Mr. Biden of hypocrisy in calling former President Donald J. Trump irresponsible for hoarding sensitive documents at his private club and residence in Florida. This week, the new Republican chairman of the House oversight committee issued a far-ranging request to the National Archives and Records Administration, which is supposed to receive all highly sensitive materials after an administration leaves office, for documents and correspondence. It is not clear where or when the records were recovered. But Mr. Biden’s aides have scoured various places since November, when his lawyers discovered a handful of classified files, including briefing materials on foreign countries, as they closed a think tank office in Washington. The Justice Department is reviewing the discovery to determine how to proceed.” See also, Second Biden search yields additional classified documents, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Matt Viser, Tyler Pager, and Perry Stein, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “President Biden’s legal team found additional classified documents when they searched a second location after finding secret government papers in a different Biden office in early November, according to a person familiar with the investigation. Earlier this week, an attorney for Biden said the president’s personal lawyers had discovered a small number of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, an institute in downtown Washington that Biden started after serving as vice president. People familiar with the matter said that discovery involved about 10 classified documents. Biden’s lawyers notified government agencies, and the Justice Department opened an investigation to see how the classified material got there and whether there was any other material that should be under government lock and key.”

Hunter Biden’s Tangled Tale Comes Front and Center. Federal prosecutors could decide soon whether to indict the president’s son on tax and gun charges, and he faces a fresh round of hostile congressional hearings. But a close look at his story shows that it differs in important ways from the narrative promoted by Republicans. The New York Times, Adam Entous, Michael S. Schmidt, and Katie Benner, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “The way Republicans tell it, President Biden has been complicit in a long-running scheme to profit from his position in public life through shady dealings around the world engineered by his son, Hunter Biden. Taking a first step in their long-promised investigation, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday demanded information about the Bidens’ banking transactions from the Treasury Department. And in an earlier report on the Bidens intended to lay the groundwork for hearings they plan to hold, they said they had evidence ‘demonstrating deliberate, repeated deception of the American people, abuse of the executive branch for personal gain, use of government power to obstruct the investigation’ and more. The real Hunter Biden story is complex and very different in important ways from the narrative promoted by Republicans — but troubling in its own way.” See also, Here Are All the Ways Republicans Plan to Investigate Biden. House Republicans are preparing a cascade of investigations, some overlapping, into the Biden administration and its policies. Right-wing lawmakers have said the ultimate goal is to impeach the president. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “With Washington in a state of divided government, newly empowered House Republicans are all but certain to be unable to enact their legislative agenda into law. Instead, they have made it clear that their primary mission in the 118th Congress will be investigating the Biden administration, including inquiries they say could lead to the potential impeachment of President Biden and several cabinet members. Preparing to use their new subpoena power, Republicans have already created three special investigative committees or subcommittees, but they expect to carry out many more inquires under existing committees they now control. Some of the investigations may involve multiple panels, and top Republicans are jockeying for the biggest and most prominent pieces. While Speaker Kevin McCarthy said last year that he had not yet seen grounds for impeaching Mr. Biden, Republicans have already introduced a host of impeachment articles against the president and members of his cabinet, and some influential members on the right have said they relish the prospect of trying him for high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Representative George Santos faces calls to resign from fellow New York Republicans, The Washington Post, Azi Paybarah, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “Top New York Republicans, including freshman Rep. Anthony D’Esposito and the chairman of the state GOP, called on Rep. George Santos (R) to resign over his multiple fabrications about his biography that have prompted inquiries into his finances and campaign spending. Chairman Joseph G. Cairo Jr. of the Nassau County Republican Committee, which initially backed Santos’s candidacy, said Wednesday morning that the lawmaker, who was elected in November, no longer had the support of Republicans in the 3rd Congressional District.” See also, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says Santos will remain in office as New York Republicans call for his ouster, NPR, Brian Mann, published on Wednesday, 11 January 2023, and updated on Thursday, 12 January 2023: “House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Thursday that Rep. George Santos is a member in good standing of the Republican conference, despite a growing scandal linked to widespread deceptions. ‘The voters have elected George Santos,’ McCarthy said in a news conference. ‘He is seated.’ After calls from GOP leaders in New York that Santos step down, McCarthy acknowledged Santos ‘has a long way to go to build trust.’ ‘I don’t see any way that he’s going to have top secret [information],’ McCarthy said referring to Santos’s committee assignments. Acknowledging widespread concern about Santos’s deceptions before the November election, McCarthy said an ethics panel will review his behavior. ‘He will go before [the House Ethics committee]. If anything is found to be wrong, he will be held accountable exactly as anybody else in this body would be,’ McCarthy said. Previously, McCarthy suggested voters should be the ones to hold Santos accountable in 2024, if Santos seeks re-election. Local Republican leaders from Long Island, meanwhile, condemned Santos, R-N.Y., Wednesday as a ‘pathological liar’ and demanded he give up the House seat he won in November.” See also, Representative George Santos Faces Calls to Resign From 4 Republican Congressmen. Republican officials in New York sharply denounced the embattled representative, even as leaders in Washington have said they will not push him to step down. The New York Times, Michael Gold and Grace Ashford, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “Dozens of Republican officials in New York State, including four recently elected congressmen, urged Representative George Santos to resign on Wednesday in a fracturing of local party support for Mr. Santos. Their call represented a sharp break from congressional Republican leaders, who insisted they would not push the embattled congressman to resign. Even as Mr. Santos’s former allies in New York insisted that his fabrications on the campaign trail had significantly violated the public trust, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said that he not only would resist calls to push Mr. Santos out, but that he planned to seat him on a congressional committee.”

House Republicans open long-promised investigation into Biden family, Associated Press, Farnoush Amiri, Wednesday, 12 August 2023: “House Republicans on Wednesday opened their long-promised investigation into President Joe Biden and his family, wielding the power of their new majority to demand information from the Treasury Department and former Twitter executives as they laid the groundwork for public hearings. ‘Now that Democrats no longer have one-party rule in Washington, oversight and accountability are coming,’ Rep. James Comer, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said in a statement. The Republican-led committee sent a series of letters requesting financial information from the Treasury Department about financial transactions by members of the Biden family that were flagged as suspicious activity. Those reports are routine, with larger financial transactions automatically flagged to the government, and are not evidence on their own of misconduct. Lawmakers also requested testimony from multiple former Twitter executives who were involved in the company’s handling of an October 2020 story from the New York Post about Hunter Biden, the president’s younger son. Republicans say that story was suppressed for political reasons. Moving quickly after taking control of the House, Republicans are setting up a messy, politically explosive showdown with the White House that could delve deeply into the affairs of the president’s family and shape the contours of the 2024 race for the White House.” See also, Representative James Comer (R-Kentucky) Asks Treasury for Biden Family Financial Records as Republican Inquiries Begin. With Republicans in control of the House, they have begun to unleash the cascade of investigations of the Biden administration that they have long promised. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “The House Oversight Committee took its first significant action under new Republican leadership on Wednesday, pressing the Treasury Department for information about President Biden’s family finances and demanding that Twitter executives appear before lawmakers next month to address accusations that they sought to hide information about the Bidens’ business dealings. Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and the new chairman of the committee, has pledged for months to investigate Mr. Biden’s family and its business connections. His staff members obtained the contents of a laptop owned by Hunter Biden, the president’s son, whose business activities are under federal investigation. But now that Mr. Comer has subpoena power, he is in a position to expand and escalate his inquiry. He has repeatedly said that his focus will be on the occupant of the White House. ‘This is an investigation of Joe Biden,’ he has said.” See also, House Oversight chairman seeks Biden family financial transaction data, CNN Politics, Sara Murray and Annie Grayer, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “Rep. James Comer, in one of his first moves as House Oversight Chairman, is seeking information from the Treasury Department about the Biden family’s financial transactions and calling on a handful of former Twitter executives to testify at a public hearing. The new round of letters from the committee come as House Republicans are looking to flex their investigative might and make good on promises to delve into the Biden family finances and alleged political influence over technology companies after Twitter temporarily suppressed a 2020 story about Hunter Biden and his laptop.”

Supreme Court allows New York gun law placing restrictions on concealed firearms to remain in effect pending legal challenges, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed a New York gun law that places restrictions on carrying a concealed firearm to remain in effect while legal challenges play out. In a brief order, the justices rebuffed an emergency request from challengers to the law who say it violates their constitutional right to keep and bear arms. They asked the justices to lift a federal appeals court order that froze a district court decision that invalidated key provisions. The justices declined to do so. Justice Samuel Alito wrote, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, to say they agreed with their colleagues but stressed they were not ruling on the merits of the law, but simply declining to intervene in the dispute at this juncture. The case is currently before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.”

Trump campaign officials got subpoena asking new questions about January 6. Subpoena sought information and documents on legal representation, voting machines, fundraising around false election claims, and more. The Washington Post, Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett, and Rosalind S. Helderman, Wednesday, 11 January 2023: “A wide-ranging subpoena sent to Trump campaign officials last month shows new areas of investigative interest as part of the Justice Department’s extensive Jan. 6 criminal probe, according to a copy reviewed by The Washington Post, and lawyers say a grand jury focused on the day’s events and related fundraising has increased its activities in recent months. The subpoena was received in early December, according to a former Trump campaign official who provided the document to The Post on the condition of anonymity because a criminal investigation is ongoing. The document seeks more than two dozen categories of information, and includes some questions that were not part of a series of similar subpoenas reviewed by The Post that were sent to several dozen people in September.”


Thursday, 12 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Grinding Battle for Soledar rages; ‘don’t count the Ukrainians out,’ White House says, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Ellen Francis, Natalia Abbakumova, Adam Taylor, and Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Ukrainian troops are waging ‘fierce battles’ against Russian forces for control of Soledar, Ukraine’s army said, as both sides seek to control the narrative of a bloody fight for the salt mining town in eastern Ukraine. But as of Thursday night, Russian forces likely control most of the city, according to geolocated footage cited by analysts. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed claims that Russian or Wagner Group fighters have seized the town near the embattled city of Bakhmut, where a Russian advance could give Moscow a symbolic win. The United States is not in a position to predict the outcome of the battle, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters Thursday, but even if Russian forces did take the town, ‘it’s not going to have a strategic impact on the war itself. And it certainly isn’t going to stop the Ukrainians or slow them down in terms of their efforts to regain their territory.’ Particularly in Donbas, ‘towns and villages have swapped hands quite frequently,’ he said. ‘So … don’t count the Ukrainians out.’

  • The ‘top issue is Soledar, Bakhmut, the struggle for the Donetsk direction in general,’ Zelesnky said Thursday in his nightly address. ‘We have analyzed in detail what decisions are needed, what reinforcements are needed, what steps should be taken by commanders in the coming days.’ Zelensky also praised the performance of soldiers from the 77th and 46th airmobile brigades who are fighting in the area.
  • Geolocated footage from Wednesday and Thursday shows Russian forces likely control ‘most if not all of Soledar,’ according to an assessment by the Institute for the Study of War, a U.S.-based think tank. However, a Russian victory in Soledar does not necessarily mean that the larger nearby city of Bakhmut faces an imminent encirclement, the assessment added. Brig. Gen. Oleksii Hromov, a top Ukrainian military official, said in a briefing Thursday that battles for Soledar are ongoing, though he did not say which side controls what.
  • Russia’s defense ministry has not announced the capture of Soledar, but Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said ‘a really gigantic job has been done’ there, when asked about the town Thursday. ‘But there is still a lot of work ahead’ in the town and other contested cities, Peskov added. ‘This is not the time to stop. The main work is yet to come.’
  • Taylor Dudley, 35, a U.S. citizen who had been detained in Russia for nine months, was released on Thursdayaccording to U.S. officials and others familiar with the matter. He was released at a border crossing with Poland and was traveling to the United States with a team working for former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, according to a statement from his center, which negotiates for the release of hostages and prisoners abroad. U.S. officials confirmed the release.
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu replaced Gen. Sergei Surovikin with Gen. Valery Gerasimov, longtime chief of the Russian military’s General Staff, in Wednesday’s shake-up. Surovikin, nicknamed ‘General Armageddon’ for his brutal tactics in Syria, had led the Russian campaign in Ukraine for just over three months. The move ‘likely does reflect some of the systemic challenges that the Russian military has faced since the beginning of this invasion,’ Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters Thursday, Reuters reported.
  • The Wagner Group said it found the body of one of two missing British men in Soledar. In a post on Telegram, the group included photos of two British passports allegedly found with the body and bearing the names of the two men. Volunteers Christopher Parry and Andrew Bagshaw were reported missing this week. Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said it was ‘supporting the families of two British men who have gone missing in Ukraine.’
  • Poland intends to transfer a company of German-developed Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Polish President Andrzej Duda told reporters during a Wednesday visit to western Ukraine. But Warsaw wants the tanks to be sent as part of a broader package of military aid backed by an international coalition, he said, suggesting that Poland will not unilaterally or immediately ship the advanced tanks to Ukraine. Germany wouldn’t stand in the way if Poland decides to transfer the tanks, Robert Habeck, Germany’s vice-chancellor and economy and climate minister, said Thursday.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart will hold talks in Moscow next week on ‘global and regional affairs,’ Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday. The comments did not mention the conflict in Ukraine. Kyiv and Washington have accused Moscow of seeking military support from Tehran for the war, including Iranian-made drones. Russia and Iran have denied the charges.
  • A majority of Republicans want their member of Congress to oppose further Ukraine funding, according to a CBS News-YouGov poll this week, the first to test the issue since Zelensky spoke before Congress in December. The poll is the latest to track pessimism among Republicans about Ukraine’s ability to win the war. More Republicans now favor making concessions to Russia in the name of ending the conflict, The Post’s Aaron Blake reports.
  • On Thursday, a group of 225 Ukrainians landed in Spainwhere they will receive antiaircraft system training in the coming weeks. Roughly 200 of the troops have no previous military experience and will complete basic training in Toledo, according to Spain’s Ministry of Defense. A small handful will train for two weeks in Seville on U.S.-made HAWK air defense missiles. This is the second group of Ukrainian troops to train in Spain after 64 arrived at the end of 2022.
  • Ten Russian ‘oligarchs’ used a now-shuttered British visa plan designed to lure wealthy foreigners to obtain residency, according to British Home Secretary Suella Braverman. She did not name the individuals, but said they were sanctioned ‘as part of our extensive response to Russian aggression in the Ukraine.’ The visa plan was shut down last year, though a review of it began in 2018. ‘I recognize that the UK’s openness to global business carries risks that malign actors will take advantage of our systems to pursue corrupt and criminal ends. We must ensure that kleptocracies such as Russia are not able to act with impunity overseas,’ Braverman said.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Is Sending More Troops to Eastern Ukraine, Kyiv Says. Moscow is building up troop numbers in the east as a fierce battle for the small town of Soledar continues, a top Ukrainian official said. The New York Times, Thursday, 12 January 2023:

  • The fight for the small town of Soledar grinds on, costing lives.

  • A Russian victory in Soledar would be a symbolic win but have limited strategic value, analysts say.

  • The Pentagon says ‘systemic problems’ in the Russian Army led to its military shake-up.

  • Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the new head of Russia’s war effort, is the Kremlin’s top military commander.

  • A funeral near Kyiv bears witness to the toll of fierce fighting in Ukraine’s east.

  • Russia releases a U.S. Navy veteran quietly detained in Kaliningrad in April of last year.

  • A worldwide recession might be averted, the I.M.F. chief says, but the war in Ukraine is a caveat.

  • As Poland and Britain weigh sending tanks to Kyiv, pressure on other allies mounts.

Special Counsel Will Investigate Biden Documents Case. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Robert K. Hur as special counsel after the discovery of two batches of classified documents from Mr. Biden’s time as vice president. One set was recovered from the garage of his home in Wilmington, Delaware. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Peter Baker, and Charlie Savage, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed a special counsel on Thursday to investigate how classified documents had ended up in President Biden’s private office and home, opening a new legal threat to the White House and providing ammunition to its Republican opponents. Mr. Garland assigned Robert K. Hur, a veteran prosecutor who worked in the Trump administration, to examine ‘the possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records discovered’ at Mr. Biden’s think tank in Washington and his residence in Wilmington, Del., according to an order signed by the attorney general. The White House promised to fully cooperate while insisting prosecutors would find only unintentional errors. People close to the situation said several Biden associates had already been interviewed. But the decision to open a full investigation put both the president and the attorney general in awkward positions at the same time another special counsel appointed by Mr. Garland considers whether to charge former President Donald J. Trump or his associates with mishandling sensitive documents and obstructing efforts to retrieve them. The circumstances in the Biden and Trump cases are markedly different. Mr. Trump resisted requests to return documents for months, even after being subpoenaed, while as far as is known, Mr. Biden’s lawyers found the papers without being asked and turned them over promptly. But as a political matter, the new investigation will muddy the case against Mr. Trump, who is already using it to argue that he is being selectively persecuted by the administration of a president he plans to challenge in 2024.” See also, What is a Special Counsel and What Can They Do? There are now two special counsels looking into presidents–Jack Smith was appointed in November by the attorney general to oversee the two investigations into President Trump. Here’s more about the powers of a special counsel and why they are used. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 12 January 2023. See also, White House Says Second Set of Classified Documents Were Found at Biden’s Wilmington Home. A statement by the president’s special counsel confirmed reports that more documents had been uncovered after a previous batch was found at a think tank. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “The second set of classified documents from President Biden’s time as vice president were discovered at a storage space in the garage of his home in Wilmington, Del., a top White House lawyer said on Thursday. The Times reported on Wednesday that this second set of documents had been found at a location ‘associated’ with Mr. Biden. On Thursday the White House statement offered more detail by specifying that the location was his private residence, where he often spends weekends. The White House statement, by Richard Sauber, a special counsel to Mr. Biden, did not answer fundamental questions about the contents of the documents, who packed them and whether anyone had gained access to them after he left office. It also did not say when the second batch had been found.” See also, Timeline of the Biden Documents Case: What We Know So Far. Attorney General Merrick Garland provided more details on Thursday regarding the discovery of classified files associated with President Biden. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 12 January 2023. See also, Robert Hur, Special Counsel for Biden’s Inquiry, Knows Pitfalls of the Job. Mr Hur spent time during the Trump administration as a top aide in the Justice Department when it installed a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Adam Goldman, and Luke Broadwater, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Robert K. Hur, appointed on Thursday to oversee the investigation into President Biden’s handling of classified documents, has two attributes that suit the task — years of prosecutorial experience and a vivid understanding of the perils inherent in high-wire special counsel investigations. Mr. Hur, 49, was President Donald J. Trump’s pick to run the U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland, where he earned bipartisan praise for his handling of violent crime and public corruption cases. But it is his 11-month stint as the top aide to the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein — as Mr. Rosenstein oversaw the appointment of a special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, to investigate Mr. Trump’s dealings with Russia — that might be most critical…. In selecting Mr. Hur, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland is continuing a pattern of asking current and former Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys to handle politically sensitive investigations — like the inquiry into the president’s son, Hunter Biden — to allay any concerns about political bias. By contrast, Mr. Barr repeatedly used fellow Trump appointees to oversee politically charged investigations that arose on his watch, including a review of the Russia investigation; the prosecution of Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn; and allegations that proved to be false, that Obama officials had illegally ‘unmasked’ Trump campaign associates in intelligence reports.” See also, Attorney General Merrick Garland appoints special counsel to probe Biden classified documents. Robert K. Hur is a former U.S. attorney from Maryland who served as a senior official in the Trump Justice Department. The Washington Post, Perry Stein, Devlin Barrett, and Matt Viser, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Attorney General Merrick Garland, citing what he called ‘extraordinary circumstances,’ appointed a special counsel Thursday to investigate the handling of classified documents found at a former office and the Delaware home of President Biden — raising the legal stakes and increasing potential political consequences of national security cases ensnaring both Biden and his predecessor. The nation’s top law enforcement official made the announcement Thursday, tapping Robert K. Hur, a former U.S. attorney in Maryland who served as a senior Justice Department official during the Trump administration. Hur’s investigation will proceed separately from a different, longer-running probe into the retention of classified documents at the Florida home of former president Donald Trump. Thursday’s appointment could ultimately redefine the relationship between Biden and the attorney general he chose to run the Justice Department as an independent arm of the government. It also means that for some indefinite period of time, the two potential rivals for the White House in 2024 will each proceed toward that race under the shadow of criminal investigations.” See also, Where Biden classified documents were found, and what led to investigation, The Washington Post, Adela Suliman and Devlin Barrett, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed Robert K. Hur as special counsel to investigate the handling of classified documents found at a former office and the Delaware home of President Biden, an extraordinary development that comes two months after Garland named a different special counsel to oversee the criminal probe of former president Donald Trump’s handling of classified information. Biden’s lawyers have said they quickly turned all the classified documents over to authorities and have cooperated fully with the appropriate government agencies. Trump, in contrast, resisted government entreaties to hand over official documents for months, including after a grand jury subpoena demanded the return of any material marked classified. Elected officials’ handling of sensitive government material has been the subject of fierce political debates since at least 2016, when Trump made a Justice Department investigation of the use of a private email server by his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, central to his presidential campaign.” See also, Who is Robert Hur, special counsel for Biden classified documents investigation? The Washington Post, Mark Berman, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday that he had appointed Robert K. Hur, a former federal prosecutor and senior Justice Department official, to serve as a special counsel investigating the handling of classified documents found at a former office of President Biden and at his Delaware home. Here is a brief primer on Hur.” See also, A special counsel will investigate government documents at Biden’s home and private office, NPR, Carrie Johnson, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed a special counsel to investigate how classified documents came to be located at President Biden’s Delaware residence and a think tank office in Washington he used for about three years. Garland named former Justice Department official Robert Hur to conduct the high-profile inquiry after the White House confirmed that Biden’s private attorneys found ‘a small number’ of materials with classified markings both in storage in Biden’s Wilmington, Del., garage and in an adjacent room as well as in a locked closet at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C. The attorneys said in both cases they turned over the Obama-Biden administration-era records to the National Archives. The Justice Department said Hur is assigned to probe ‘possible unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or other records.’ Hur released a statement promising to handle the probe ‘with fair, impartial, and dispassionate judgment.’ He said, ‘I intend to follow the facts swiftly and thoroughly, without fear or favor, and will honor the trust placed in me to perform this service.'” See also, Former US attorney named special counsel in Biden document investigation, CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak, Evan Perez, Phil Mattingly, and Marshall Cohen, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday appointed a special counsel to take over the investigation into the Obama-era classified documents found at President Joe Biden’s home and former private office. The special counsel is Robert Hur, who was nominated to be US attorney in Maryland by then-President Donald Trump in 2017 and he served in the role until his resignation in 2021. He had most recently been working in private practice in Washington, DC. ‘I strongly believe that the normal processes of this department can handle all investigations with integrity. But under the regulations, the extraordinary circumstances here require the appointment of a special counsel for this matter,’ Garland said. ‘This appointment underscores for the public the department’s commitment to independence and accountability, and particularly sensitive matters and to making decisions indisputably guided only by the facts and the law.’ He said that Hur will receive ‘all the resources he needs to conduct his work.'” See also, How Biden’s discovery of classified files compares with the Trump case. The Justice Department is scrutinizing how both presidents came to have classified records after they left office. But there are major differences. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Thursday, 12 January 2023. See also, Attorney General Merrick Garland appoints special counsel to investigate Biden documents, Associated Press, Zeke Miller and Eric Tucker, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday appointed a special counsel to investigate the presence of classified documents found at President Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, and at an unsecured office in Washington dating from his time as vice president. Robert Hur, a onetime U.S. attorney appointed by former President Donald Trump, will lead the investigation and plans to begin his work soon. His appointment marks the second time in a few months that Garland has appointed a special counsel, an extraordinary fact that reflects the Justice Department’s efforts to independently conduct high-profile probes in an exceedingly heated political environment. Both of those investigations, the earlier one involving Trump and documents recovered from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, relate to the handling of classified information, though there are notable differences between those cases.”

The Mysterious, Unregistered Fund That Raised Big Money for George Santos. A review of records and newly uncovered documents reveals that efforts to elect George Santos may have run afoul of campaign finance rules. The New York Times, Alexandra Berzon and Grace Ashford, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “A month before George Santos was elected to Congress, one of his large donors received a call asking him to consider making another sizable contribution. The request came from a Republican loyalist calling on behalf of RedStone Strategies, which was described in an email to the donor as an ‘independent expenditure’ group that was supporting Mr. Santos’s bid to flip a Democratic House seat in New York. The group had already raised $800,000 and was seeking to raise another $700,000, according to the email, which was reviewed by The New York Times. The donor came through: Days later, on Oct. 21, he sent $25,000 to a Wells Fargo Bank account belonging to RedStone Strategies. Three months later, Mr. Santos is now in Congress, but where the donor’s money went is unclear. The Federal Election Commission said it had no evidence that RedStone Strategies was registered as a political group, and there do not appear to be any records documenting its donors, contributions or spending. Mr. Santos and his lawyer refused to answer questions about RedStone’s fund-raising efforts and whether Mr. Santos was involved in them. But he did have ties to a Redstone Strategies LLC, registered to an address in Merritt Island, Fla., in November 2021, as Mr. Santos was preparing his second run for Congress. The firm listed the Devolder Organization, a company owned by Mr. Santos, as one of its managing officers.” See also, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy stands by Representative George Santos despite growing calls for resignation from other Republican lawmakers, CNN Politics, Clare Foran and Manu Raju, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Rep. George Santos, the recently elected GOP congressman from New York who has admitted to lying about parts of his resume, is facing escalating backlash from his own party as a growing number of House Republican lawmakers call for him to resign or say he can’t serve effectively even as Speaker Kevin McCarthy has stood by the embattled congressman. Santos has so far been defiant, pushing back on calls for his resignation – and House GOP leadership has not called on him to do so. Instead, McCarthy, a Republican from California, has indicated he will not join demands from New York GOP leaders, and others, for Santos’ resignation – and has indicated that Santos is on track to still receive committee assignments. McCarthy told reporters on Thursday that Santos has ‘a long way to go to earn trust’ and that concerns could be investigated by the House Ethics Committee, but emphasized that Santos is a part of the House GOP conference.” See also, Republican Leaders Stand by George Santos as New York Republicans Call on Him To Resign. Republican congressional leaders badly need the newly elected representative’s vote, but local officials and lawmakers are eager to distance themselves from his scandal. The New York Times, Annie Karni and Michael Gold, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “New York Republicans are ready to rid themselves of Representative George Santos, the newly elected congressman from Long Island who has admitted to fabricating parts of his résumé and is under multiple local and federal investigations into his yearslong pattern of political deception. House Republican leaders, not so much. Amid mounting calls for his resignation from Republican members of Congress from New York and state party officials, Mr. Santos still has the backing of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other House Republican leaders. In a news conference at the Capitol on Thursday, Mr. McCarthy made it clear that he had no intention of barring Mr. Santos from congressional committees or otherwise penalizing him for winning election under false pretenses.”

Prosecutors Open Arguments Against Proud Boys in Sedition Trial. The Justice Department began its case by telling the jury that five members of the far-right pro-Trump group had led scores of others in a coordinated attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. The New York Times, Alan Feuer and Zach Montague, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Encouraged by former President Donald J. Trump, five members of the Proud Boys led scores of others in the far-right group in a coordinated attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, using violence at key moments during the assault to disrupt what prosecutors described on Thursday as ‘the heart of our democracy’: the lawful transfer of presidential power. In their opening statement at the seditious conspiracy trial of the five Proud Boys, prosecutors sought not only to place the extremist group at the center of the riot at the Capitol, but also to tie it directly to Mr. Trump — a figure whom the organization has revered for years. During their 90-minute presentation in Federal District Court in Washington, the prosecutors told the jury how several members of the Proud Boys — including their leader at the time, Enrique Tarrio — were inspired by Mr. Trump’s own words to descend on Washington on Jan. 6 for a ‘wild’ protest. The prosecutors said that by following his call, the group cemented a relationship that had intensified in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election, when Mr. Trump famously asked the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by.’ ‘These men were calling for war if their preferred candidate was not elected,’ said Jason McCullough, the lead prosecutor in the case. ‘These men did not stand back, they did not stand by. Instead, they mobilized.’ The trial of Mr. Tarrio and his four co-defendants — Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola — was the latest landmark in the Justice Department’s investigation of the Capitol attack, an inquiry that has so far led to more than 950 arrests and could result in another 1,000 people being charged.” See also, ‘Lords of war’: Department of Justice lays out case that Proud Boys leaders led Capitol breach. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough urged jurors to convict five men of seditious conspiracy–a plot to use force to prevent Joe Biden from taking office. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Leaders of the far-right Proud Boys loyal to then-President Donald Trump mounted a sophisticated effort to stop the transfer of power to then-President-elect Joe Biden that culminated in an organized push to breach the Capitol, prosecutors argued Thursday. Proud Boys chair Enrique Tarrio and four allies took cues from Trump’s refusal to cede the election to Biden and inspiration from his debate-stage call for the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by,’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason McCullough said. He urged jurors to convict the five men of seditious conspiracy — a plot to use force to prevent Biden from taking office. ‘These “lords of war” joined together to stop the transfer of presidential power,’ McCullough said during opening arguments, citing the Proud Boys’ own description of themselves sent in messages prior to Jan. 6, 2021. The trial is the most significant to emerge from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Though prosecutors had already won a conviction in a separate seditious conspiracy trial against Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys have long been seen as more central to the Capitol attack.” See also, Some things to know about the Proud Boys January 6 seditious conspiracy trial, The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Tom Jackman, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Former Proud Boys chairman Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio and four top lieutenants are the second group of far-right extremist leaders to face trial on seditious conspiracy charges in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. In November, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and a deputy were found guilty of that charge in the most high-profile conviction so far in the Jan. 6 investigation. U.S. authorities have accused leaders from both groups of steering a weeks-long effort to prevent by force the swearing-in of President Biden. Where Rhodes was accused of calling for ‘civil war’ and armed rebellion against federal authorities to obstruct the presidential transition and keep President Donald Trump in office, Tarrio and Proud Boys are accused of guiding violence by themselves and others at the Capitol with aggressive, early maneuvers to destroy barriers, challenge police and chase lawmakers into hiding.”

Trump says Special Counsel Jack Smith might ‘turn out to be a criminal.’ Donald Trump is lashing out at special counsel Jack Smith in increasingly hysterical ways. MSNBC, Steve Benen, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Immediately after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Jack Smith to oversee the criminal investigations into Donald Trump, the former president lashed out, but the Republican focused more on the process and less on the person. As we discussed at the time, Trump initially insisted the ‘rigged’ investigation is ‘sort of like double jeopardy’ since he’s been impeached twice. But in time, the former president turned his attention to Smith personally, labeling him a ‘Trump Hater’ and ‘political hit man’ who shouldn’t be ‘allowed’ to investigate him because someone Smith is related to doesn’t like Trump. He went on to condemn Smith as a ‘fully weaponized monster.’ This morning, the former president got a bit more hysterical, publishing this missive by way of his social media platform: ‘The Special “Prosecutor” assigned to the “get Trump case,” Jack Smith(?), is a Trump Hating THUG whose wife is a serial and open Trump Hater, whose friends & other family members are even worse, and as a prosecutor in Europe, according to Ric Grenell, put a high government official in prison because he was a Trump positive person. Smith is known as “an unfair Savage,” & is best friends with the craziest Trump haters….’ For good measure, the Republican published a follow-up item, saying Smith ‘may very well turn out to be a criminal.’ Trump added, ‘His conflicts, unfairness, and mental state of derangement make him totally unfit for the job of getting Trump.’” See also, Donald Trump Calls Jack Smith, Special Counsel Investigating Him, a ‘Terrorist,’ Newsweek, Ewan Palmer, published on Friday, 13 January 2023: “Donald Trump has accused special counsel Jack Smith of being a ‘terrorist’ as he continues his attacks on the federal prosecutor overseeing the classified materials criminal investigation involving the former president. In an appearance on The Mark Levin Show on Thursday, Trump called on Smith to resign and end his probe into allegations the former president mishandled top secret materials found at his Mar-a-Lago resort, and attempted to obstruct the federal attempts to retrieve them. Trump said that Smith has a conflict as his wife, Katy Chevigny—who worked as a producer on the Michelle Obama documentary Becoming and twice donated to Joe Biden‘s 2020 presidential campaign—also ‘hates’ him, and is friends with Andrew Weissmann, who worked on special counsel Robert Mueller‘s Russia inquiry. ‘The prosecutor should resign, he’s got a conflict,’ Trump said. ‘He is a terrorist. He is a Trump hater. His best friends are Weissmann and all of these characters, Lisa Monaco at the Justice Department, one of the top officials. This is a disgraceful situation. He should resign! His wife hates Trump, probably even beyond him. And his wife has a sister who openly hates like a level that you can’t even believe.'”

Study Finds Exxon Scientists Predicted Global Warming, Even as Exxon Cast Doubts. Starting in the 1970s, scientists working for the oil giant made remarkably accurate projections of just how much burning fossil fuels would warm the planet. The New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “In the late 1970s, scientists at Exxon fitted one of the company’s supertankers with state-of-the-art equipment to measure carbon dioxide in the ocean and in the air, an early example of substantial research the oil giant conducted into the science of climate change. A new study published Thursday in the journal Science found that over the next decades, Exxon’s scientists made remarkably accurate projections of just how much burning fossil fuels would warm the planet. Their projections were as accurate, and sometimes even more so, as those of independent academic and government models. Yet for years, the oil giant publicly cast doubt on climate science, and cautioned against any drastic move away from burning fossil fuels, the main driver of climate change. Exxon also ran a public relations program — including ads that ran in The New York Times — emphasizing uncertainties in the scientific research on global warming.” See also, Exxon climate predictions were accurate decades ago. Still it sowed doubt. NPR, Jeff Brady, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “Decades of research by scientists at Exxon accurately predicted how much global warming would occur from burning fossil fuels, according to a new study in the journal Science. The findings clash with an enormously successful campaign that Exxon spearheaded and funded for more than 30 years that cast doubt on human-driven climate change and the science underpinning it. That narrative helped delay federal and international action on climate change, even as the impacts of climate change worsened. Over the last few years, journalists and researchers revealed that Exxon did in-house research that showed it knew that human-caused climate change is real. The new study looked at Exxon’s research and compared it to the warming that has actually happened. Researchers at Harvard University and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research analyzed Exxon’s climate studies from 1977 to 2003. The researchers show the company, now called ExxonMobil, produced climate research that was at least as accurate as work by independent academics and governments — and occasionally surpassed it. That’s important because ExxonMobil and the broader fossil fuel industry face lawsuits nationwide claiming they misled the public on the harmful effects of their products. ‘The bottom line is we found that they were modeling and predicting global warming with, frankly, shocking levels of skill and accuracy, especially for a company that then spent the next couple of decades denying that very climate science,’ says lead author Geoffrey Supran, who now is an associate professor of environmental science and policy at the University of Miami.” See also, Exxon Knew Absolutely Everything, Bill McKibben Substack, Bill McKibben, Thursday, 12 January 2023: “An important new study that came out a few minutes ago makes painfully clear precisely how much (and precisely how precisely) Exxon understood climate change, back in the days when it could have made a huge difference if they’d simply been honest. It’s not, of course, as if we didn’t know a lot of this story already, and in some depth. In 2015, the Pulitzer Prize-winning website Inside Climate News published a landmark series of reports drawing on archives and whistleblowers to demonstrate that Exxon had set its scientists to work studying what we then called the greenhouse effect back in the 1970s, and that those scientists had reached the same conclusion as researchers working at NASA and elsewhere: the carbon dioxide coming from the fossil fuel industry was about to heat the earth in dramatic fashion. That was huge news…. But this new study—from Harvard’s Naomi Oreskes and Geoffrey Supran, and Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research—actually looks at the specific results that Exxon’s scientists predicted back in those years, and sees how well they panned out. Remarkably well: their temperature projections had an average ‘skill score’ of roughly 75%, which is higher than many government researchers. ‘These findings corroborate and add quantitative precision to assertions by scholars, journalists, lawyers, politicians and others that ExxonMobil accurately foresaw the threat of human-caused global warming, both prior to and parallel to orchestrating lobbying and propaganda campaigns to delay climate action action,’ the authors write. As lead author Geoffery Supran (who has just taken up a new post at the University of Miami) put it, ‘This is the nail-in-the-coffin of Exxon Mobil’s claims that it has been falsely accused of climate malfeasance. Our analysis shows that ExxonMobil’s own data contradicted its public statements, which included exaggerating uncertainties, criticizing climate models, mythologizing global cooling, and feigning ignorance about when—or if—human-caused global would be measurable.’ What Supran is referring to is the decades-long effort, organized by Exxon and others, to minimize and obfuscate the reality of climate change; its high point may have come when then CEO Lee Raymond went to the World Petroleum Congress in Beijing, just weeks before the Kyoto climate talks, and insisted that the world was cooling, and that even if it wasn’t it would make no difference if people delayed action for a few decades. We now know in greater detail just how precisely Exxon’s scientists had been saying the opposite.”


Friday, 13 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia claims control of Soledar, but Zelensky says battle continues; civilians trapped in ‘bloodbath,’ The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Ellen Francis, Andrew Jeong, and Claire Healy, Friday, 13 January 2023: “Russia claimed Friday to have seized control of Soledar, a heavily contested salt-mining town in eastern Ukraine where fighting has raged in recent days, but in his nightly address on Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky maintained that the battle was not yet over. Taking Soledar — a gateway to the embattled city of Bakhmut — would give Moscow its first significant gain after months of military setbacks. Ukrainian officials also disputed earlier assertions this week that Russian troops or the Wagner Group’s private military forces had captured the town. Competing claims by the combatants have been a feature of the bloody, months-long fight in the eastern Donetsk region, a struggle that has intensified in recent days in Soledar. Nearly 600 residents — out of a prewar population of more than 10,000 — remained in the town trying to survive a ‘bloodbath,’ according to one Ukrainian official. On Friday, the Russian state-owned news agency Tass reported that 170 of those residents had been evacuated, with another 108 expected to follow.

  • The Russian Defense Ministry announced that its forces had taken ‘complete’ control of Soledar, calling it an ‘important’ step to help Moscow’s offensive in the Donetsk region, Russia’s Tass news agency reported. Serhiy Cherevaty, a spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces in the east, said otherwise. The ‘fighting continues in Soledar,’ he said, but would not say how many Ukrainian troops remained or what area they held. The Washington Post could not verify the claims.
  • In his nightly address Friday, Zelensky thanked fighters near Soledar for ‘their decisive actions to destroy the enemy.’
  • Russian advances in Soledar would not ‘have a strategic impact on the war itself,’ according to John Kirby, communications coordinator for the U.S. National Security Council. ‘It certainly isn’t going to stop the Ukrainians or slow them down in terms of their efforts to regain their territory,’ he told reporters in a briefing Thursday.
  • Western fighting vehicles bound for Ukraine, including U.S. Bradley Fighting Vehicles, could help Ukraine scout out the positions of Russian troops, transport soldiers and fire on Russian armored vehicles, The Post’s Claire Parker reports. ‘While none of these vehicles by themselves are going to determine the course of the war, they will — if they’re employed properly and well supported in the field — provide Ukrainians with a big tactical advantage, particularly if the Ukrainians look to launch an offensive to recapture territory this year,’ said Sonny Butterworth, an analyst at Janes, the intelligence firm.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency is set to station nuclear safety and security experts at each of Ukraine’s nuclear power facilities, according to a statement released Friday, ramping up its efforts to prevent a nuclear accident during the war. Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi will visit Ukraine next week to launch the program and meet with senior Ukrainian government officials in Kyiv.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to arrive at the White House on Friday to discuss global security, including Ukraine, The Washington Post reported. ‘I intend to affirm our common understanding regarding the current situation, including that we are now in a severe security environment, with Russian aggression against Ukraine among other factors, and that the global economy is also facing the possibility of downside risk,’ Kishida said.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is set to greet his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, in Moscow on Jan. 17. Iran’s nuclear program as well as Syria and Afghanistan will be on the agenda, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
  • Russia is seeking to raise the minimum age for conscription from 18 to 21, Russian media reported, citing a senior Russian lawmaker. Russian President Vladimir Putin supports the idea, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the Tass news agency.
  • U.S. citizen Taylor Dudley, 35, was released after nine months of detention in Russia, according to U.S. officials and others familiar with the matter. He was freed Thursday and was traveling to the United States with a team working for former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, according to a statement from Richardson’s center, which negotiates for the release of hostages and prisoners abroad. U.S. officials confirmed the release. Dudley served briefly in the U.S. Navy in 2007.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Says It Has Taken Besieged Town as Kyiv Denies the Claim. There have been conflicting reports for days about who controls the small eastern town of Soledar, which has taken on outsize attention as Moscow seeks a victory. The New York Times, Friday, 13 January 2023:

  • A Russian victory in Soledar would be a symbolic win but have limited strategic value, analysts say.

  • As Wagner leaders demand credit for Soledar victory, the rift in Moscow’s war effort widens.

  • The battle in Kreminna on the eastern front has become a frozen slog.

  • The show goes on at Kyiv’s National Opera and Ballet Theater, but with some wartime changes.

  • A worldwide recession might be averted, the I.M.F. chief says, but the war in Ukraine is a caveat.

  • The Pentagon says ‘systemic problems’ in the Russian Army led to its military shake-up.

Trump’s Company Gets Maximum Punishment for Evading Taxes. The Trump Organization must pay $1.6 million for giving executive off-the-books benefits and pay. The New York Times, Jonay E. Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William K. Rashbaum, Friday, 13 January 2023: “Former President Donald J. Trump’s family real estate business was ordered on Friday to pay a $1.6 million criminal penalty for its conviction on felony tax fraud and other charges, a stinging rebuke and the maximum possible punishment. The sentence, handed down by a judge in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, caps a lengthy legal ordeal for Mr. Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, which was convicted in December of doling out off-the-books perks to some of its top executives. One of the executives who orchestrated the scheme, Allen H. Weisselberg, pleaded guilty and testified at the company’s trial. He was sentenced on Tuesday to serve five months at the notorious Rikers Island jail complex. The financial penalty is a pittance to the company and the former president, who collected hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue each year while in office. But the verdict branded the company a lawbreaker, exposed a culture that nurtured illegality for years and handed political ammunition to Mr. Trump’s opponents. Prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney’s office also continue to press a criminal investigation against the man himself.”

Judge Rules E. Jean Carroll’s Lawsuit Accusing Trump of Rape Can Proceed. In allowing Carroll’s lawsuit to move forward, Judge Lewis Kaplan upheld the legality of New York’s Adult Survivors Act. The New York Times, Benjamin Weiser, Friday, 13 January 2023: “A federal judge on Friday rejected former President Donald J. Trump’s effort to dismiss a lawsuit in which the writer E. Jean Carroll accuses Mr. Trump of raping her in a dressing room at a Fifth Avenue department store in the mid-1990s. In letting the suit proceed, the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan, upheld a 2022 New York law that gives adults who claim to have been sexually assaulted years ago a one-time window to sue those they say abused them even if the period for doing so under the statute of limitations has long since expired. In his ruling, which the law’s chief State Senate sponsor described as a first in New York, Judge Kaplan labeled ‘absurd’ Mr. Trump’s argument that the legislation violated the state’s Constitution. Ms. Carroll, an author and a former longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, sued Mr. Trump on Nov. 24, the start of the period in which the law, the Adult Survivors Act, allows such suits to be brought.”

George Santos’s Lies Were Known to Some Well-Connected Republicans. Santos inspired no shortage of suspicion during his 2022 campaign, including in the upper echelons of his won party, yet many Republicans looked the other way. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Friday, 13 January 2023: “In late 2021, as he prepared to make a second run for a suburban New York City House seat, George Santos gave permission for his campaign to commission a routine background study on him. Campaigns frequently rely on this kind of research, known as vulnerability studies, to identify anything problematic that an opponent might seize on. But when the report came back on Mr. Santos, the findings by a Washington research firm were far more startling, suggesting a pattern of deception that cut to the heart of the image he had cultivated as a wealthy financier. Some of Mr. Santos’s own vendors were so alarmed after seeing the study in late November 2021 that they urged him to drop out of the race, and warned that he could risk public humiliation by continuing. When Mr. Santos disputed key findings and vowed to continue running, members of the campaign team quit, according to three of the four people The New York Times spoke to with knowledge of the study. The episode, which has not been previously reported, is the most explicit evidence to date that a small circle of well-connected Republican campaign professionals had indications far earlier than the public that Mr. Santos was spinning an elaborate web of deceits, and that the candidate himself had been warned about just how vulnerable those lies were to unraveling. Fraudulent academic degrees. Involvement in a firm accused of a Ponzi scheme. Multiple evictions and a suspended driver’s license. All of it was in the report, which also said that Mr. Santos, who is openly gay, had been married to a woman. The report did not offer conclusive details, but some people briefed on the findings wondered whether the marriage was done for immigration purposes.”

Treasury secretary Janet Yellen warns US could default on its debt as soon as June, CNN Politics, Nikki Carvajal and Tami Luhby, Friday, 13 January 2023: “The Treasury Department said Friday the US could default on its debt as soon as June, setting up one of the first major battles on Capitol Hill after Republicans took control of the House. The US will reach the debt limit on January 19 and then ‘extraordinary measures’ will need to be taken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote in a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. She said that the Treasury Department will pursue those measures, but they will only last a limited amount of time. It is unlikely that the government will exhaust its cash and the ‘extraordinary measures’ before early June, though she said there is ‘considerable uncertainty’ around that forecast, Yellen wrote. She urged lawmakers to ‘act in a timely matter’ to increase or suspend the debt limit.”


Saturday, 14 January 2022:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine; Ukrainian officials say Russian missile attack on Dnipro kills at least 14 at apartment block; Kyiv also hit, The Washington Post, Siobhán O’Grady, Anastacia Galouchka, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Ellen Francis, Niha Masih, Andrea Salcedo, David L. Stern, and Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Saturday, 14 January 2023: “Dozens of first responders scrambled through a huge pile of rubble in the wreckage of an apartment block Saturday, searching for survivors in the aftermath of an attack that killed at least 14 people, including a 15-year-old girl. Ukrainian officials blamed a Russian missile strike for the most significant attack on this city since the war began in February. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shared a video of the destruction and vowed to find and punish ‘everyone involved’ in the strike. Other cities across Ukraine reported explosions Saturday after a morning attack in the capital that awoke residents before air sirens could be heard. Ukraine’s air force said the first Kyiv attack was ‘most likely’ conducted by Russian ballistic missiles.

  • At least 14 people were killed and 64 hospitalized in the residential building attack, Dnipro regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said on Telegram. Twelve of the wounded were children, a 9-year-old girl was in critical condition and a 15-year-old girl was dead, he said in an earlier update. Residents were trapped as flames engulfed part of the structure, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the president’s office, said on Telegram. At least 38 people had been rescued, three of them children, Reznichenko said. ‘The death toll is growing every hour,’ Zelensky said, though rescuers believe there are still people alive under the rubble.
  • The Dnipro strike may have destroyed as many as 30 apartments inside the sprawling complex. Zelensky said all upper floors of the building, from the second to the ninth, were smashed by the missile. Residents from damaged units hurried to cars, carrying luggage as they fled the scene. Police and soldiers hurried about as construction workers dug through rubble using cranes, and firefighters climbed a ladder to look for survivors in parts of the building still standing.
  • The initial Kyiv blasts hit the city early Saturday, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said, urging residents to go to shelters. He said missile fragments landed in a nonresidential part of the city, where a fire erupted with no casualties. The regional administration reported a fire at an infrastructure site, and the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office said the strike targeted ‘critical infrastructure facilities.’
  • The Washington Post could not immediately verify the type of weapon or the target of the Kyiv blasts, but the Ukrainian military said Russia launched ‘Kh-101/Kh-555, Kh-22 air-based cruise missiles, Kalibr sea-based cruise missiles, Kh-59 guided air missiles’ and more. Ukraine’s air force believes a Kh-22 missile was used in the Dnipro strike. Yuri Ignat, a spokesman for the air service, said Saturday that Ukraine was unable to detect or shoot down some ballistic missiles. The forthcoming Patriot system, though, would likely help intercept Kh-22 missiles, according to Ukraine’s air force.
  • On the eastern front, Russia and Ukraine disputed control of the salt mining town of Soledar, a gateway to the city of Bakhmut that has become a recent focus of the fighting. The Kremlin claimed to have seized the town, while Ukraine’s 46th Air Assault Brigade said fighters were surrounded but holding on.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Strike Destroys Apartment Building in Dnipro, Killing 14. A 15-year-old girl was among the people killed when a Russian missile hit a nine-story residential building. Rescuers were still searching for survivors. The New York Times, Saturday, 14 January 2023:

  • Rescuers rush to save people buried in rubble of a building destroyed by a Russian missile.

  • The U.K. says it aims to give tanks to Ukraine, a move long resisted by allies.

  • Russia unleashes dozens of missiles on Ukraine.

  • Ukrainian officials say the eastern city of Soledar remains under Kyiv’s control, despite Russia’s claims.

  • A Turkish official says Sweden still needs to pass antiterrorism laws to win support for its NATO bid.

  • Kyiv residents hunting for steady electricity set up makeshift offices in furniture showrooms and grocery stores.

White House Says Additional Documents Found at Biden’s Wilmington Home. The revelation came as the White House defended its public statements about the extent of the documents that remained in Mr. Biden’s possession. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Saturday, 14 January 2023: “Five more pages containing classified information were found at President Biden’s Delaware home on Thursday, the White House said on Saturday, bringing the tally to six such pages uncovered this week. The additional pages, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said, were discovered hours after a White House statement on Thursday morning that cited only one that Mr. Biden’s aides had discovered the night before in a storage area adjacent to the garage of the president’s home in Wilmington. Thursday evening, the White House said, Justice Department officials had gone to retrieve that page, and a White House lawyer had met them to oversee the transfer. Five additional classified pages were then identified among the materials with it. The revelation came as Mr. Biden’s lawyers provided new details about their unfolding discovery over the past two months of classified materials from his time as vice president at his house and an office he used before beginning his 2020 campaign for the White House. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland appointed a special counsel on Thursday to investigate Mr. Biden’s handling of sensitive records. They also defended their decision not to be fully forthcoming about the matter. The White House has been criticized over its public disclosures, including why it did not reveal the discoveries much earlier, and why, when it acknowledged on Monday that some classified files had been found at Mr. Biden’s office on Nov. 2, it did not indicate that more had been found at his house the next month. Mr. Biden’s lead personal lawyer, Bob Bauer, said in a statement on Saturday that the president’s legal team had tried to balance being transparent with ‘the established norms and limitations necessary to protect the investigation’s integrity. These considerations require avoiding the public release of detail relevant to the investigation while it is ongoing,’ he added.” See also, White House says more classified documents found at Biden’s Wilmington home. In effort to show cooperation with the Justice Department, Biden’s personal lawyer released new details about the timeline of events regarding the finding of classified documents, a matter under investigation by a special counsel. The Washington Post, Tyler Pager, Carol D. Leonnig, and Devlin Barrett, Saturday, 14 January 2023: “President Biden’s lawyers found additional classified documents at his home in Wilmington, Del., this week, the White House disclosed Saturday, the latest in a string of revelations about the discovery of top-secret government material that is now the subject of a Justice Department special counsel investigation. Biden’s personal lawyers initially found one document with a classified marking on Wednesday in a room adjacent to the garage and stopped searching the property because they do not have security clearance. A White House lawyer with a clearance, Richard Sauber, then arrived at the Wilmington residence Thursday and found five additional documents with classified markings, Sauber said in a statement. ‘Because I have a security clearance, I went to Wilmington Thursday evening to facilitate providing the document the President’s personal counsel found on Wednesday to the Justice Department,’ Sauber said. ‘While I was transferring it to the DOJ officials who accompanied me, five additional pages with classification markings were discovered among the material with it, for a total of six pages. The DOJ officials with me immediately took possession of them.’ Also on Saturday, Bob Bauer, the president’s personal attorney, released a public timeline of events regarding the discovery of classified documents at Biden’s personal office and his Wilmington home in an effort to demonstrate cooperation with the Justice Department’s investigation. The statement outlines the various steps Biden’s lawyers have taken since last November, when they discovered what the White House described as a ‘small number’ of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, an institute in Washington where Biden kept an office after serving as vice president.”


Sunday, 15 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky says at least 30 killed in weekend strike on Dnipro apartments; Kyiv renews calls for defense systems, The Washington Post, Siobhán O’Grady, Anastacia Galouchka, Annabelle Timsit, Rachel Pannett, Maham Javaid, Francesca Ebel, and Ben Brasch, Sunday, 15 January 2023: “The death toll of a weekend missile attack on an apartment building has risen to at least 30, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday. Another 30 people who could have been inside at the time of the strike are unaccounted for, he added. Rescue workers continued to sift through the gigantic pile of rubble outside the damaged building, and emergency personnel and rescue dogs searched for survivors inside the remains of the building and in the wreckage outside. Kyiv renewed its calls for more advanced Western air defense systems after the strike, which Ukrainian officials said Russia carried out with a long-range missile that Ukraine’s military was not ‘capable of shooting down.’ Ukraine’s armed forces said defensive weapons such as the Patriot missile system that the Pentagon is preparing to send could have been capable of intercepting such an attack.

  • One of the dead is a 15-year-old girl, Zelensky said during his nightly address. Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, tweeted that Maria Lebid, 15, was killed in the attack. His tweet said her sister described Maria as super smart, super talented and super funny.
  • Dozens in Dnipro were rescued Sunday, Zelensky said. Among the rescued were six children, he said. A digging machine hacked at the rubble in an attempt to access the collapsed apartments below. A worker on a cherry picker leaned into the fourth-floor balcony, ripping away debris with a shovel as he tried to get to the unit inside.
  • At least 73 people, including 13 children, were wounded, Zelensky said. Authorities will seek to resettle hundreds of residents after 72 apartments were destroyed and 164 damaged, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian presidential office, said on Telegram.
  • The attack was the worst in Dnipro since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and occurred just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed his most senior military officer, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, to oversee the war effort.


Monday, 16 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.K. to send ‘most significant’ military aid package for Ukraine; no more survivors are expected in Dnipro rescue efforts, The Washington Post, Annabelle Timsit, Rachel Pannett, Siobhán O’Grady, Emily Rauhala, Loveday Morris, and Paulina Villegas, Monday, 16 January 2023: “The United Kingdom on Monday detailed its ‘most significant package of combat power’ that it has pledged to Ukraine to bolster its military capacity, according to the British defense minister. The package includes Challenger 2 tanks, AS90s self-propelled guns, hundreds of armored vehicles, more than 100,000 artillery rounds and aerial systems, Defense Minister Ben Wallace said, while detailing a tranche of military support. Wallace said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s resolve to ‘continue inflicting wanton violence’ must be met with greater combat power, and he urged the international community to accelerate its diplomatic, economic and military efforts. Ukraine’s calls for more advanced Western air defense systems and tanks — which have intensified after a strike on a Dnipro apartment building killed at least 40 people — will be front and center this week as top U.S. officials and allies meet in Europe to discuss support for Ukrainian forces.

  • The U.K. will send self-propelled guns, artillery rounds, armored vehicles and other equipment to make sure Ukraine ‘seizes its upper hand’ in the next phase of the conflict, Wallace said in an address at the House of Commons, urging nations to keep ‘the pressure on Putin.’ In response to the military aid package, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he was ‘deeply grateful to the UK for standing with Ukraine resolutely.’
  • Putin’s resolve to ‘continue inflicting wanton violence’ must be met with greater combat power, Wallace said.
  • Rescue workers in Dnipro made significant progress overnight. On Monday afternoon, they were removing mounds of rubble from the blast site, and smoke was no longer rising in the air, Washington Post reporters observed. But the death toll had risen to 40, Dnipro Mayor Borys Filatov told The Post, and dozens of people were missing. Filatov said authorities do not expect to find many more survivors in the wreckage. By the end of Monday, 39 people were still missing.
  • Ukrainian intelligence is gathering information about Russian military personnel ‘who prepared and carried out’ the Dnipro strike, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening address Monday, adding that ‘every person guilty of this war crime will be identified and brought to justice.’ He also thanked Britain for the military assistance package, saying it was ‘exactly what we need.’
  • Several Ukrainian parliament members are demanding the resignation of presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych after he said a Russian cruise missile could have been shot down by Ukrainian forces and fallen on a house in Dnipro, a statement he later recanted. Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksiy Goncharenko said on Telegram that several parliament members are collecting signatures to demand Arestovych’s dismissal. They also sent an ‘appeal’ to the nation’s main internal security service, the SBU, because the false statements amounted to ‘treason,’ Goncharenko added.
  • U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will meet with officials from roughly 50 nations Thursday in Germany. ‘We are focused on doing everything we can to help make sure that the Ukrainians have the capabilities that they need to be successful in their efforts to defend their sovereign territory,’ Austin said last week. NATO chiefs of defense will also gather in Brussels to talk about the war in Ukraine, among other issues.
  • German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht resigned after missteps sparked a debate about her ability to lead Germany’s response to the war in Ukraine. Criticism of her handling of the ministry during the crisis mounted after she gave a New Year’s Eve message on video that was slammed for being tone deaf, as well as revelations that she took her son on a government helicopter. In a statement, Lambrecht blamed the ‘media focus on my person.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Death Toll in Apartment Strike Rises to 40. Russia’s attack on an apartment complex in Dnipro on Saturday was one of the deadliest for civilians away from the front line since the war began and came as Western support for Ukraine escalates. The New York Times, Monday, 16 January 2023:

  • A 15-year-old dancer, a coach: As the toll in Dnipro climbs, details on the victims begin to emerge.

  • The United States begins special training in Germany and Oklahoma for Ukrainian soldiers.

  • Britain pledges just 14 tanks, but with the aim of prompting more transfers from Ukraine’s allies.

  • A Zelensky adviser says he will resign after outrage over comments on the Dnipro strike.

  • A U.S. delegation went to Kyiv to meet with Zelensky.

  • The Dnipro strike is one of Russia’s deadliest single attacks on civilians during the war.

  • The U.N. confirms civilian deaths in Ukraine have surpassed 7,000, but says the real toll is far higher.

  • Germany’s defense minister quits after criticism over her handling of the war.

White House Says It Does Not Keep Visitor Logs at Biden’s Delaware Home Because It Is Not an Official Government Property. A top House Republican demanded the logs after classified documents were found at President Biden’s personal residence. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Monday, 16 January 2023: “White House officials said on Monday that there are no visitor logs that keep track of who comes and goes from President Biden’s personal residence in Wilmington, Del., where six classified documents were discovered in recent days. A top House Republican demanded on Sunday that the White House turn over visitor logs for Mr. Biden’s home, citing what he called the ‘serious national security implications’ of the fact that the documents may have been accessible to people without security clearances. ‘It is troubling that classified documents have been improperly stored at the home of President Biden for at least six years, raising questions about who may have reviewed or had access to classified information,’ wrote Representative James R. Comer, Republican of Kentucky and the chairman of the Oversight and Accountability Committee. But a spokesman for the White House Counsel’s Office said no such logs exist because Mr. Biden’s home is not an official government property. ‘Like every president across decades of modern history, his personal residence is personal,’ said the spokesman, Ian Sams. ‘But upon taking office, President Biden restored the norm and tradition of keeping White House visitors’ logs, including publishing them regularly, after the previous administration ended them.'”

Republican Ex-Candidate Arrested in Shootings Targeting New Mexico Democrats. The authorities in Albuquerque said that Solomon Peña, who lost his bid for a State House seat in November, was behind a series of recent shootings targeting Democratic elected officials. The New York Times, Remy Tumin and Mike Ives, Monday, 16 January 2023: “The authorities in Albuquerque said on Monday that a former Republican candidate who lost his bid for a State House seat in November had been arrested in connection with a series of recent shootings at the homes of four Democratic elected officials. Chief Harold Medina of the Albuquerque Police Department said at a news conference that the former candidate, Solomon Peña, was ‘the mastermind’ behind a conspiracy in which four other men were paid to shoot at the homes of two county commissioners and two state legislators. Mr. Peña, 39, lost the election on Nov. 8 in a landslide to an incumbent Democrat, Miguel P. Garcia. Days later, Mr. Peña went on Twitter to express support for former President Donald J. Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign and to say that he had not conceded his own State House race.” See also, Police say election-fraud conspiracies behind plot to shoot at New Mexico Democrats’ homes. Solomon Peña, a defeated candidate for the state legislature, paid people to fire on the houses of four Democratic office-holders, authorities say. The Washington Post, Amy Gardner and Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, published on Tuesday, 17 January 2023: “The arrest of a defeated candidate for the New Mexico legislature on charges that he orchestrated a plot to shoot up the homes of four Democratic officials in Albuquerque prompted widespread condemnation Tuesday as well as accusations that the stolen-election rhetoric among supporters of former president Donald Trump continues to incite violence. Following the Monday arrest, new details emerged Tuesday about the alleged conspiracy, including how close a spray of bullets came to the sleeping 10-year-old daughter of a state senator. Albuquerque police said in charging documents released Tuesday that Solomon Peña, 39, who lost a state House seat in November by a nearly 2-1 margin but complained that his defeat was rigged, hatched the plot. Police accused him of conspiring with four accomplices to drive past the officials’ homes and fire at them. Peña ‘provided firearms and cash payments and personally participated in at least one shooting,’ the documents said. They alleged he intended to cause ‘serious injury or death’ to the people inside their homes, the documents said. The group allegedly stole at least two cars used in the incidents, police said.”


Tuesday, 17 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky says 45 killed in apartment strike in Dnipro; Zelensky adviser resigns for ‘fundamental error,’ The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Leo Sands, David L. Stern, Sammy Westfall, Ben Brasch, and Emily Rauhala, Tuesday, 17 January 2023: “Fatalities from a weekend strike on a Dnipro apartment have risen to at least 45 Ukrainians — including an 11-month-old boy — and the number of injured people is now 79, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Tuesday in his nightly address. An adviser to Zelensky resigned after suggesting that Ukrainian air defense systems may have been responsible for the deadly strike on Saturday. Oleksiy Arestovych later distanced himself from the remarks, which the Kremlin used to cast doubt on who was to blame for the destruction. He apologized on Ukrainian television and said in a letter announcing his resignation that he had made a ‘fundamental error.’ Ukrainian forces have arrived in the United States to begin training focused on the Patriot air defense system, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

  • Authorities do not expect to find many more survivors in Dnipro. The State Emergency Service of Ukraine reported Tuesday that at least 44 people were dead, including four children, and 20 were missing. Britain’s Defense Ministry said it was ‘highly likely’ that a Russian bomber hit the Dnipro building with an AS-4 ‘Kitchen’ anti-ship missile, adding that the missile is notoriously inaccurate in urban settings. Zelensky said Tuesday that officials receive more information about the attack every day. ‘And all this will end with sentences for all these Russian murderers,’ he said.
  • Training has begun for about 90 to 100 Ukrainian soldiers at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a briefing Tuesday. The training will focus on the use of the Patriot air defense system and will last several months, he said. Oklahoma state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R) said last week that he filed a resolution to reject foreign soldiers on Oklahoma soil. ‘The last thing we need is them misfiring a missile into Oklahoma,’ he said in a Jan. 11 tweet.
  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Tuesday that the Netherlands plans to ‘join’ efforts to train and arm Ukraine with Patriot defense systems, the Associated Press reported. In remarks ahead of a bilateral meeting with President Biden at the White House, Rutte said: ‘We have the intention to join what you are doing with Germany on the Patriot project.’ It was unclear whether the Netherlands plans to send Patriot systems to Ukraine or to participate in the training. Zelensky thanked Rutte in his evening speech to the nation.
  • ‘The world hears Ukraine in Davos,’ Zelensky said during his nightly address in reference to the World Economic Forum that just began in Switzerland. ‘I am confident that following this week, the world will see more active and influential supporters of the establishment of a tribunal for Russian aggression and a special mechanism to compensate for the losses from the war at the expense of Russian assets,’ he said. Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska is in attendance.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russian Strike on Dnipro Adds to Western Urgency on Aid for Ukraine. The Dutch prime minister cited the deadly strike on civilians as a factor in his country’s intent to provide Ukraine with a Patriot missile system. The New York Times, Tuesday, 17 January 2023:

  • The Netherlands weighs sending Ukraine a Patriot system.

  • The top generals from the U.S. and Ukraine meet in Poland, face to face for the first time.

  • ‘We cannot allow this to drag on’: A U.K. official defends his country’s provision of tanks to Ukraine.

  • Pressure grows on Germany to authorize tanks for Ukraine.

  • While Putin praises Russia’s economic and military resilience, Britain calls for bolstering Ukraine now.

  • Ukraine’s first lady urges leaders at Davos to use their influence to help her country.

  • Germany’s chancellor taps a new defense minister, who will soon be put to the test over the war.

Biden and House Republicans refuse to budge as key debt ceiling deadline looms. While Treasury can employ extraordinary measures to keep making payments for the next few months, it’s a bad sign for how messy the standoff will grow. Politico, Olivia Beavers, Caitlin Emma, and Zachary Warmbrodt, Tuesday, 17 January 2023: “The Biden administration and House Republicans are heading toward an initial Thursday debt ceiling deadline without even a hint of an endgame, ensuring a months-long standoff that’s poised to rattle financial markets amid worries about a recession this year. The two sides are effectively shrugging as the Treasury Department warns the country will hit the $31.4 trillion borrowing cap Thursday — though it’s not a hard deadline, as the department can still use extraordinary measures to pay the bills for another few months. But it means the potential economic doomsday clock is officially ticking, with House Republicans still insisting on massive spending cuts before they help raise the debt ceiling and Democrats refusing to engage the idea.”

Revealed: Who visited the Trump White House before January 6, 2021. The Trump administration never publicly released White House visitor records. But new data released by the January 6 committee offers a never-before-seen glimpse. Politico, Kyle Cheney, Paula Friedrich, and Allan James Vestal, Tuesday, 17 January 2023: “Donald Trump spent his time in office fighting the release of his White House visitor logs. Then came the Jan. 6 select committee. In late December, the committee uploaded hundreds of documents as it wrapped up its exhaustive investigation into the attacks on the Capitol. Tucked into that release was an excel spreadsheet detailing seven full days of Trump’s White House visitor manifests.”

A Georgia Republican Brags That Voter Suppression Helped Them in 2022. This is a perfect example of how even comparative Republican ‘moderates’ are promoting the Big Lie–and have participated in deranging their own party and eroding US democracy. The Nation, Joan Walsh, Tuesday, 17 January 2023: “Just last week, we learned that a Wisconsin Republican election commissioner boasted of the party’s success in dampening Black turnout, especially in Milwaukee, last November. Thanks to the state GOP’s ‘well thought out multi-faceted plan,’ commissioner Robert Spindell e-mailed colleagues, 37,000 fewer voters cast ballots there than in 2018, ‘with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.’ It could have cost Democrat Mandela Barnes a Senate seat. Now comes news that former Georgia GOP senator Kelly Loeffler is bragging that her party reelected Governor Brian Kemp and scored big wins in the state legislature at least partly because of voter-suppressing Senate Bill 202, the February 2021 law that severely curtailed the state’s absentee ballot and vote by mail programs and limited other polling options. Loeffler doesn’t quite claim that the bill suppressed Black votes—though it probably did: After the bill imposed restrictions on voting by mail, mail-in ballots plunged by 81 percent from 2020, and Black voter turnout dropped from 2018 midterm levels.”


Wednesday, 18 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Investigators probe cause of helicopter crash that killed interior minister, The Washington Post, Isabelle Khurshudyan, Leo Sands, Emily Rauhala, Erin Cunningham, Whithey Juckno, and Adam Taylor, Wednesday, 18 January 2023: “Investigators from the SBU, Ukraine’s internal security service, have begun a probe into the cause of a helicopter crash that killed at least 14 people, including Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky, near a kindergarten Wednesday morning. At least one child, other ministry officials and helicopter crew members were also among those killed in the crash in Brovary, a city next to Kyiv, officials said. Police identified the helicopter as a State Emergency Service aircraft but provided no details about the cause of the crash, which happened around 8:20 a.m. local time while students were attending the kindergarten nearby. At least 25 people, including 11 children, were injured, emergency officials said. Speaking to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by video on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the incident could not be considered an accident because it stemmed from the war.

  • ‘Several versions of the tragedy are being considered,’ SBU officials said at the crash site. Possible causes include a violation of flight rules, a technical malfunction or even sabotage, the SBU said in a statement. Emergency services said earlier that 17 people died in the crash, including three children, but revised the number down later in the day after search and rescue work was concluded.
  • Monastyrsky was traveling to a ‘hot spot’ on the front line when the helicopter crashed, said Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office. He was flying in an EC225 Super Puma helicopter — designed for long-range passenger flights — on a morning when there was heavy fog in Kyiv.
  • Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said senior ministry officials Yevhen Yenin and Yuri Lubkovych were among those killed alongside Monastyrsky. He described the crash as a ‘tragedy.’ Interior Ministry adviser Anton Gerashchenko remembered his three colleagues as ‘patriots who worked to make Ukraine stronger.’
  • Zelensky urged the world to act with ‘resolve and speed’ to help Ukraine ‘outpace’ Russia’s next push to claim territory. ‘The supplies of Western tanks must outpace another invasion of Russian tanks,’ Zelensky, speaking via video from Kyiv, told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. NATO countries and other backers are currently debating a response to Ukraine’s pleas for battle tanks.
  • NATO defense chiefs are gathering in Brussels for a two-day meeting focused on the war in Ukraine and Euro-Atlantic security. The gathering comes amid a broader diplomatic push to answer Kyiv’s call for more advanced weapons, including tanks, at a crucial moment in the war. In recent weeks, Ukrainian officials have campaigned hard for additional missile defense systems, as well as the Western battle tanks once seen as off-limits.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Helicopter Crash in Ukraine Kills at Least 14, Including Cabinet Official. It was not immediately clear what caused the helicopter crash, near a kindergarten, but there were no initial signs that it had been shot down. The New York Times, Wednesday, 18 January 2023:

  • Ukraine’s minister for internal affairs is among at least 14 people killed in a helicopter crash near Kyiv.

  • At the crash site, an anguished mother waited for word on her child.

  • The minister killed in the crash oversaw police and emergency workers and helped shape Ukraine’s war policy.

  • ‘Tragedies are outpacing life’: In a video address at Davos, Zelensky mourns the dead and pleads for help.

  • Dozens of Russian officials publicly denounce Navalny’s treatment in prison.

  • Russia shells villages close to Soledar, the scene of intense recent battles.

  • Scholz confirms Germany’s support for Ukraine at Davos, but makes no mention of tanks.

Right-Wing Trump Allies Win Seats on the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, Reflecting Republican Priorities. Some of the former president’s most outspoken defenders will sit on the House’s main investigative committee, underscoring their high-profile roles in the new Republican majority. The New York Times, Annie Karni, Wednesday, 18 January 2023: “They were deeply involved in President Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. They have come to the defense of people being prosecuted for participating in the deadly storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Some have called for violence against their political enemies online, embraced conspiracy theories or associated with white supremacists. Several of the most extreme Republicans in Congress and those most closely allied with Mr. Trump have landed seats on the Oversight and Accountability Committee, the main investigative organ in the House. From that perch, they are poised to shape inquiries into the Biden administration and to serve as agents of Mr. Trump in litigating his grievances as he plots his re-election campaign. Their appointments are the latest evidence that the new Republican majority is driven by a hard-right faction that has modeled itself in Mr. Trump’s image, shares his penchant for dealing in incendiary statements and misinformation, and is bent on using its newfound power to exact revenge on Democrats and President Biden. Many of the panel’s new Republican members — including Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania — are among Mr. Trump’s most devoted allies in Congress. Their appointments underscore that, while the former president may be a shrunken presence in the current political landscape, he still exerts much control over the base of his party. They are also an unmistakable signal from Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who won his post after an excruciating battle with hard-right rebels, that he plans to reward such lawmakers — even some who led the opposition to his election — with high-profile roles. Mr. McCarthy, who credited Mr. Trump with getting him over the finish line in the speaker’s race, said last week that he would study the idea of expunging the former president’s impeachment record.”


Thursday, 19 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: NATO allies consider sending tanks to Kyiv as U.S. readies $2.5 billion in military aid, The Washington Post, Loveday Morris, Erin Cunningham, Niha Masih, Leo Sands, Claire Parker, Kyle Rempfer, and Stefanie Le, Thursday, 19 January 2023: “U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met his newly appointed German counterpart for talks that have taken on a new urgency as Berlin has placed conditions on the delivery of tanks and top Ukrainian officials continue their appeal for them. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed in a call with President Biden that for Germany to unlock a package of Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine, Washington should send tanks, too, according to a German and a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private conversation. Earlier this week, the United Kingdom became Ukraine’s first backer to pledge to send tanks. The Biden administration announced Thursday afternoon a new military package for Ukraine worth about $2.5 billion that includes 59 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers. The package will also include restocking of ammunition for howitzers and rocket artillery, as well as 53 mine-resistant vehicles and eight Avenger air defense systems. Modern Western tanks, though, remain a priority, President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Thursday. Ukraine’s foreign affairs and defense ministries also released a statement Thursday describing modern tanks as one of the country’s ‘most pressing and urgent needs.’ ‘I thank Mr. Charles Michel, president of the European Council, who was in Kyiv today and who very clearly calls on Europe to make a decision on tanks,’ Zelensky said Thursday night. ‘[N]ow we are waiting for a decision from one European capital that will activate the prepared chains of cooperation on tanks. I believe that the strength of German leadership will remain unchanged.’

  • Austin arrived Thursday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he is to be joined by Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which is set to include defense ministers and chiefs ‘from nearly 50 nations,’ the Pentagon said in a statement.
  • CIA Director William J. Burns secretly traveled to Kyiv at the end of last week, John Hudson reports for The Washington Post. Burns made the trip to brief Zelensky on his expectations for Russia’s military plans in the coming weeks and months, according to a U.S. official and other people familiar with the visit.
  • The latest U.S. military aid package for Ukraine could include nearly 100 Strykers, people familiar with the plan told The Post, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss it before a formal announcement. It would be the first time the Pentagon has supplied Ukrainian forces with the armored vehicles, which would boost their firepower and allow the swift movement of troops around the battlefield. Canada will send an additional 200 armored vehicles to Ukraine, its defense minister said.
  • Russian officials have opened a criminal case against a U.S. national suspected of espionage. The individual was not identified by the Federal Security Service, or FSB, in its announcement of the case early Thursday. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and it was not clear whether the U.S. national has been detained by Russian authorities.
  • Ukraine’s security services opened a criminal investigation into the helicopter crash near a kindergarten that killed at least 14 people, including Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address. One child was among the dead, and 25 people, including 11 children, were injured. Zelensky said the rescue operation lasted nine hours and involved hundreds of people. Ihor Klymenko, head of the national police service, has been appointed as acting interior minister. In remarks Thursday, Austin expressed ‘deep sorrow’ over the crash.
  • European Council President Charles Michel visited Kyiv on Thursday in a show of ongoing support for Ukraine. ‘We hear your message. You need more air defense and artillery systems, more ammunitions,’ he said. ‘I believe that tanks must be delivered.’ Michel also said he was ‘firmly committed’ to working with Ukrainian officials and E.U. partners to advance Ukraine’s candidacy for membership in the European Union. Ukraine was granted candidate status in June. Zelensky reiterated Friday that his country has ‘a great desire’ to join the bloc.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: allies Will Ship More Heavy Arms to Ukraine. The latest American military aid package amounts to $2.5 billion and includes nearly 100 Stryker combat vehicles. The New York Times, Thursday, 19 January 2023:

  • The new U.S. aid aims to help Ukraine ‘break through’ Russian defenses.

  • Ukraine allies announce new military aid ahead of a key meeting of defense ministers.

  • What is the Leopard 2 tank, and how could it help Ukraine?

  • The C.I.A. director visited Kyiv last week for a meeting with Zelensky, a U.S. official says.

  • Russia’s security service says it has opened an espionage case against a U.S. citizen.

  • South Africa plans joint naval drills with Russia and China next month.

  • Russian paramilitaries claim to capture a Ukrainian stronghold in the Donbas region.

Supreme Court Says It Hasn’t Identified Who Leaked Draft Abortion Opinion. The leak of the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, published by Politico in May, was an extraordinary breach of the court’s usual secrecy. The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Adam Liptak, Thursday, 19 Janauary 2023: “The Supreme Court announced on Thursday that an internal investigation had failed to identify who leaked a draft of the opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that had established a constitutional right to abortion. In a 20-page report, the court’s marshal, Gail A. Curley, who oversaw the inquiry, said that investigators had conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees, all of whom had denied being the source of the leak. But several employees acknowledged that they had told their spouses or partners about the draft opinion and the vote count in violation of the court’s confidentiality rules, the report said. The investigation did not determine that any of those discussions led to a copy of the draft opinion becoming public, however. Investigators also found no forensic evidence of who may have leaked the opinion in examining the court’s ‘computer devices, networks, printers and available call and text logs,’ the report said. The findings raised the possibility that no one will be held to account for one of the most stunning breaches of secrecy in the Supreme Court’s history. The leak left the court in a state of mutual suspicion about whether a clerk or even a justice betrayed its code of silence about rulings before they are announced.” See also, Supreme Court says it can’t determine who leaked draft Dobbs opinion, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Thursday, 19 January 2023: “The Supreme Court said Thursday that it cannot identify the person who in the spring leaked a draft of the opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade, an inconclusive likely finale to what the justices declared “one of the worst breaches of trust” in the court’s history. After months of investigation and interviews, Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley reported ‘it is not possible to determine the identity of any individual who may have disclosed the document or how the draft opinion ended up with Politico.’ ‘No one confessed to publicly disclosing the document and none of the available forensic and other evidence provided a basis for identifying any individual as the source of the document,’ her 20-page report said, adding that the leak probably came from within…. Curley said more than 80 people besides the nine justices had access to the draft opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and a total of 97 individuals were interviewed as part of the leak investigation — some more than once. But she concluded that ‘based on a preponderance of the evidence standard,’ a relatively low legal standard meaning there is proof that something is probably true, it was impossible to identify the leaker. The report did not indicate clearly whether the justices themselves or others close to them were questioned, and a spokeswoman for the court did not respond to inquiries Thursday afternoon. ‘The investigation focused on Court personnel — temporary (law clerks) and permanent employees — who had or may have had access to the draft opinion during the period from the initial circulation until the publication,’ the report said.” See also, Supreme Court issues report on Dobbs leak but says it hasn’t identified the leaker, CNN Politics, Ariane de Vogue, Tierney Sneed, and Devan Cole, Thursday, 19 January 2023: “The Supreme Court issued an investigative report on Thursday, announcing that it has yet to determine who leaked a draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade to the media last year, but at least 90 people had access to the document at one point. In a statement, the court said that the investigative team ‘has to date been unable to identify a person responsible by a preponderance of the evidence.’ It is also unlikely the leak resulted from a computer hack, the statement said. Investigators said they conducted 126 formal interviews of 97 employees, all of whom denied disclosing the opinion. They also conducted a fingerprint analysis, ‘looked closely into any connections between employees and reporters,’ and ‘especially scrutinized any contacts with anyone associated with Politico.'”

U.S. Hit Its Debt Limit, Setting Up Bitter Fiscal Fight. The Treasury Department said it would begin a series of accounting moves to keep the U.S. from breaching its borrowing cap and asked Congress to raise or suspend the limit. The New York Times, Jim Tankersley and Alan Rappeport, Thursday, 19 January 2023: “The United States hit its debt limit on Thursday, prompting the Treasury Department to begin using a series of accounting maneuvers to ensure the federal government can keep paying its bills ahead of what’s expected to be a protracted fight over whether to increase the borrowing cap. In a letter to Congress, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said the government would begin using what is known as extraordinary measures to prevent the nation from breaching its statutory debt limit and asked lawmakers to raise or suspend the cap so that the government could continue meeting its financial obligations. ‘The period of time that extraordinary measures may last is subject to considerable uncertainty, including the challenges of forecasting the payments and receipts of the U.S. government months into the future,’ Ms. Yellen said. ‘I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States.’… Newly empowered House Republicans have vowed that they will not raise the borrowing limit again unless President Biden agrees to steep cuts in federal spending. Mr. Biden has said he will not negotiate conditions for a debt-limit increase, arguing that lawmakers should lift the cap with no strings attached to cover spending that previous Congresses authorized.” See also, U.S. begins ‘extraordinary’ steps to avoid debt ceiling. The Treasury Department says it is taking action to prevent a default that could do ‘irreparable harm’ to the economy. The Washington Post, Jacob Bogage, Thursday, 19 January 2023: “The Biden administration began ‘extraordinary measures’ Thursday to prevent the federal government from breaching its debt limit and hurtling toward default, a grim scenario with the potential to destabilize markets and devastate the economy. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen told lawmakers that officials will alter certain federal investments to preserve the nation’s credit until summer — largely through technical moves that will buy lawmakers time to pass legislation that raises or suspends the amount the government is allowed to borrow, currently capped at $31.4 trillion. ‘I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,’ Yellen wrote to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday.” See also, U.S. hits the debt limit, setting June deadline as Capitol Hill fight intensifies. The Treasury Department says it can continue to pay the bills using ‘extraordinary measures’ for several more months before Congress must act to avert default. NBC News, Sahil Kapur, Thursday, 19 January 2023: “The U.S. government hit its statutory debt limit Thursday, and the Treasury Department said it has begun resorting to ‘extraordinary measures’ to pay the bills. In a letter to congressional leaders Thursday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said those special financial tools to meet the country’s obligations can continue until at least Monday, June 5. After they expire, Congress will need to act to prevent default. Yellen said in the letter that ‘the period of time that extraordinary measures may last is subject to considerable uncertainty, including the challenge of forecasting the payments and receipts of the U.S. Government months into the future. I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States,’ she wrote.”

Florida Rejects A. P. African American Studies Class. The state’s Department of Education said in a letter that the course content was ‘inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.’ The New York Times, Patricia Mazzei and Anemona Hartocollis, Thursday, 19 January 2023: “Florida will not allow a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies to be offered in its high schools, stating that the course is not ‘historically accurate’ and violates state law. In a letter last week, the Florida Department of Education informed the College Board, which administers A.P. exams, that it would not include the class in the state’s course directory. Rigorous A.P. courses allow high school students to obtain credit and advanced placement in college. ‘As presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value,’ the department’s office of articulation, which oversees accelerated programs for high school students, wrote on Jan. 12. In the future, should the College Board ‘be willing to come back to the table with lawful, historically accurate content, FDOE will always be willing to reopen the discussion.’ The letter, with no name attached to it, did not cite which law the course violated or what in the curriculum was objectionable. The department did not respond to questions asking for more details. But last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, signed legislation that restricted how racism and other aspects of history can be taught in schools and workplaces. The law’s sponsors called it the Stop WOKE Act. Among other things, it prohibits instruction that could make students feel responsibility for or guilt about the past actions of other members of their race. On Thursday, the College Board said that the A.P. African American studies course was still undergoing a multiyear pilot phase. The course is multidisciplinary and addresses not just history but civil rights, politics, literature, the arts, even geography.” See also, Florida blocks high school Advanced Placement African American studies class. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration has blocked a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies from being taught in high schools. ABC News, Anthony Izaguirre, Associated Press, Thursday, 19 January 2023: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration has blocked a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies from being taught in high schools, saying it violates state law and is historically inaccurate. The state education department rejected the program in a letter last week to the College Board, which oversees AP classes. Florida education officials did not specify exactly what content the state found objectionable but said, ‘As presented, the content of this course is inexplicably contrary to Florida law and significantly lacks educational value.'”

Judge Orders Trump and Lawyer to Pay Nearly $1 Million for Bogus Suit. Following a scathing ruling, the former president also dropped a lawsuit against New York’s attorney general that had been pending before the same judge. The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt, Maggie Haberman, and Charlie Savage, Thursday, 19 January 2023: “In a scathing ruling, a federal judge in Florida on Thursday ordered Donald J. Trump and one of his lawyers together to pay nearly a million dollars in sanctions for filing a frivolous lawsuit against nearly three dozen of Mr. Trump’s perceived political enemies, including Hillary Clinton and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey. The ruling was a significant rebuke of Mr. Trump, who has rarely faced such consequences in his long history of using the courts as a weapon against business rivals and partners, as well as former employees and reporters. In an indication that the ruling may have had immediate consequences, other Florida-based lawyers for Mr. Trump filed a terse notice on Friday that he was voluntarily dropping a lawsuit he had filed against the attorney general of New York, Letitia James. Mr. Trump had filed the suit against Ms. James over the objections of his own longstanding legal advisers, who had told him it was frivolous. Thursday’s sanctions ruling in the Clinton conspiracy case — which followed an earlier imposition of sanctions for one defendant in the same case — was the latest setback for Mr. Trump as he faces a broad range of legal problems and criminal investigations. His lawyers are increasingly under scrutiny themselves for their actions in those cases, as well as divided in the advice they are offering him.” See also, Trump fined nearly $1M for ‘revenge’ lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and others, The Washington Post, Adela Suliman, published on Friday, 20 January 2023: “Former president Donald Trump and his lawyer, Alina Habba, have been fined almost $1 million by a federal judge in Florida for what was ruled a frivolous lawsuit brought against his 2016 presidential rival Hillary Clinton and others. Trump is a ‘prolific and sophisticated litigant who is repeatedly using the courts to seek revenge on political adversaries,’ wrote U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks in his searing 46-page judgment published late Thursday. ‘He is the mastermind of strategic abuse of the judicial process, and he cannot be seen as a litigant blindly following the advice of a lawyer. He knew full well the impact of his actions,’ said Middlebrooks. ‘As such, I find that sanctions should be imposed upon Mr. Trump and his lead counsel, Ms. Habba.'”

Here Are the Lies Told by George Santos, New York Magazine, Matt Stieb, Thursday, 19 January 2023: “Since the New York Times revealed that George Santos was not quite the man he sold himself as to voters, it’s been hard to track down exactly what is true about the incoming representative’s life story. Is he broke or rich? Is he Jewish or Catholic? Did his family members really die in the Holocaust or September 11? Most often, it’s best to assume what the Republican from Long Island has said about his life is bogus, but in case you need to double-check, here is the guide to everything he has made up about himself — and the few things that actually appear to be true.”

John Eastman Is Unbowed as Investigations Proliferate. A legal reckoning awaits a chief architect of Donald Trump’s effort to reverse his election loss. But in Mr. Eastman’s telling he was far from a criminal. The New York Times, Danny Hakim and Michael S. Schmidt, Thursday, 19 January 2023: “John C. Eastman, a legal architect of Donald J. Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, invoked the Fifth Amendment more than 100 times under questioning by the House Jan. 6 committee. But in recently released testimony from the committee’s investigation, other witnesses had plenty to say about him. Many White House lawyers expressed contempt for Mr. Eastman, portraying him as an academic with little grasp of the real world. Greg Jacob, the legal counsel to former Vice President Mike Pence, characterized Mr. Eastman’s legal advice as ‘gravely, gravely irresponsible,’ calling him the ‘serpent in the ear’ of Mr. Trump. Eric Herschmann, a Trump White House lawyer, recounted ‘chewing out’ Mr. Eastman. Pat A. Cipollone, the chief White House counsel, is described calling Mr. Eastman’s ideas ‘nutty.’ In the coming months, Mr. Eastman will be facing a legal reckoning. He has been drawn into the criminal investigation into election interference in Atlanta, which is nearing a decision on potential indictments. The F.B.I. seized his iPhone. And the Jan. 6 committee, in one of its last acts, asked the Justice Department to investigate Mr. Eastman on a range of criminal charges, including obstructing a congressional proceeding. For good measure, he faces a disciplinary bar proceeding in California. A once-obscure scholar at the right-wing Claremont Institute, Mr. Eastman joined the Trump camp shortly after the election and was soon among a group of lawyers who, with the president’s blessing, largely commandeered decision-making from lawyers at the White House and on the Trump campaign. He championed a two-pronged strategy that the Jan. 6 committee portrayed as a coup plot. The first was enlisting party officials to organize slates of bogus electors in swing states where Mr. Trump lost, even after the results had been certified and recertified, as in Georgia. The second was pressuring Mr. Pence to deviate from the vice president’s traditionally ceremonial role and decline to certify all the electoral votes on Jan. 6.”


Friday, 20 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Western allies divided over tanks to Ukraine; U.S. labels Wagner Group a ‘criminal organization,’ The Washington Post, Dan Lamothe, Loveday Morris, Kelsey Ables, Erin Cunningham, Victoria Bisset, Natalia Abbakumova, Claire Healy, Missy Khamvongsa, and Alex Horton, Friday, 20 January 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested Friday that Western allies, meeting at the Ramstein Airbase in Germany, were unable to resolve a rift over which countries would supply Kyiv with battle tanks. ‘We will still have to fight for the supply of modern tanks,’ Zelensky said in a nightly address. ‘But every day we make it more obvious there is no alternative to making the decision’ to send them, he said. Germany has been under pressure to supply Ukraine with its Leopard 2 tanks as the country continues to battle invading Russian forces. At a news conference Friday, new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Berlin was still weighing the pros and cons of supplying the tanks. But the idea that Germany is ‘standing in the way’ of allies who are ready to do so is ‘wrong,’ he said.

  • The Treasury Department will designate Russia’s Wagner Group as a ‘significant transnational criminal organization,’ John Kirby, communications coordinator for the National Security Council, said Friday. Additional sanctions will be imposed against Wagner next week, he said in a briefing. The group, a private military contractor founded by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has committed ‘widespread atrocities and human rights abuses,’ including in Ukraine, Kirby said.
  • Kirby also showed satellite images of what he said were Russian rail cars entering North Korea to transport weapons to Wagner. ‘North Korea delivered infantry rockets and missiles into Russia for use by Wagner toward the end of last year,’ Kirby said. He urged North Korea to halt those deliveries, but added that the weapons have ‘not changed battlefield dynamics in Ukraine.’
  • A former Navy SEAL who deserted from the service in 2019 was killed in Ukraine this week, military officials said.
  • Pistorius said Friday that he had ordered an audit of Leopard tank stocks, but added that ‘none of us can yet say when a decision will be made and what the decision will look like.’ Germany has so far declined to provide its powerful Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, saying it will only do so if the United States sends tanks as well.
  • Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) exhorted the Biden administration and Germany to send tanks to Ukraine as he and Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said they met with Zelensky in Kyiv on Friday.
  • The United States on Thursday announced a $2.5 billion military aid package for Ukraine, including hundreds of armored vehicles, as well as ammunition and Avenger air defense systems. ‘This isn’t about one single platform — our goal … is to provide the capability that Ukraine needs to be successful in the near term,’ Austin told reporters in Germany on Friday, praising ‘deepened cooperation’ among the contact group. Allies ‘will support Ukraine’s self-defense for as long as it takes,’ he said.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Allies Fail to Reach Agreement on Providing Western Tanks to Ukraine. After a meeting of Ukraine’s allies, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Germany had not yet made a decision on sending the Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. He added the U.S. had no announcement to make on providing Kyiv with M1 Abrams tanks. The New York Times, Friday, 20 January 2023:

  • A meeting of Ukraine’s allies ends with no consensus on sending Kyiv Western tanks.

  • European nations that support sending Ukraine tanks denounce the failure to reach a deal to do so.

  • A Navy SEAL who deserted in 2019 has been killed in Ukraine.

  • The U.S.’s top general says it would be ‘very, very difficult’ to eject Russian forces from Ukraine this year.

  • Video of Serbian mercenaries training with Russian troops stirs anger in Belgrade.

  • The U.S. will name the Wagner mercenary group a transnational criminal organization.

  • What is the Leopard 2 tank, and how could it help Ukraine?

Supreme Court’s Inquiry Into Leak Included Interviews With Justices. But the justices were not asked to sign sworn affidavits, unlike law clerks and other employees, the court’s marshal said. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Friday, 20 January 2023: “The Supreme Court’s internal investigation into who leaked a draft of the opinion last year overturning the landmark decision that had established a constitutional right to abortion included talking to all nine justices, the marshal of the court said on Friday. But the justices — unlike dozens of law clerks and permanent employees of the court — were not made to sign sworn affidavits attesting that they had not been involved in the leak of the draft opinion overruling Roe v. Wade and that they knew nothing about it. The clarification by the marshal, Gail A. Curley, who oversaw the inquiry, followed widespread speculation over its scope and limitations. In a 20-page report on Thursday, Ms. Curley disclosed that the investigation had not turned up the source of the leak while leaving ambiguous whether it had extended to interviewing the justices themselves. ‘During the course of the investigation, I spoke with each of the justices, several on multiple occasions,’ Ms. Curley said on Friday. ‘The justices actively cooperated in this iterative process, asking questions and answering mine.’ She added: ‘I followed up on all credible leads, none of which implicated the justices or their spouses. On this basis, I did not believe that it was necessary to ask the justices to sign sworn affidavits.'” See also, Supreme Court Marshal Gail Curley says Supreme Court justices were questioned in leak investigation but not implicated. Unlike court employees who were questioned, they were not asked to sign affidavits. The Washington Post, Robert Barnes, Friday, 20 January 2023: “None of the Supreme Court justices nor their spouses were implicated in the investigation of the leaked draft opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade, the court’s marshal said in a statement Friday — but unlike court employees who were questioned, they were not asked to sign affidavits. A report about the eight-month leak investigation released on Thursday did not say whether the justices had been interviewed as part of the probe. Nor did a court spokesperson respond to questions on that topic on Thursday. On Friday afternoon, however, after speculation that the omission meant the nine justices had not been included in the probe, the court issued a clarification. ‘During the course of the investigation, I spoke with each of the Justices, several on multiple occasions,’ said Marshal Gail A. Curley. ‘The Justices actively cooperated in this iterative process, asking questions and answering mine. I followed up on all credible leads, none of which implicated the Justices or their spouses. On this basis, I did not believe that it was necessary to ask the Justices to sign sworn affidavits.'” See also, Supreme Court marshal says justices were interviewed about the leaked draft opinion on abortion in May 2022, NPR, Nina Totenberg, Friday, 20 January 2023: “The Supreme Court marshal is clarifying the report issued Thursday on her investigation into last May’s leak of the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. The court has never been known for its political acumen. That may be why Thursday’s report produced some important unanswered questions. Namely whether the justices were interviewed by investigators, or whether they, like others who were interviewed, were asked to sign sworn affidavits. Now Court Marshal Gail Curley, who oversaw the probe, is answering those questions. In a written statement, Curley said she spoke with ‘each of the justices, some several times,’ and that the justices ‘actively cooperated, asking questions and answering mine. I followed up on all credible leads, none of which implicated the justices or their spouses,’ she said, adding that ‘on this basis, I did not believe that it was necessary to ask the justices to sign sworn affidavits.'”

Justice Department tells Jim Jordan it won’t share information about ongoing investigations, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, Sara Murray, and Paula Reid, Friday, 20 January 2023: “The Justice Department signaled Friday it’s unlikely to share information about ongoing criminal investigations with the new GOP-controlled House, in a move that’s certain to frustrate Republicans in the chamber. In a letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan responding to a flurry of document requests, the DOJ said that ‘any oversight requests must be weighed against the department’s interests in protecting the integrity of its work.’ The letter added: ‘The Department’s mission to independently and impartially uphold the rule of law requires us to maintain the integrity of our investigations, prosecutions, and civil actions, and to avoid even a perception that our efforts are influenced by anything but the law and the facts.'”

Three active-duty Marines with intelligence jobs charged in January 6 attack on the US capitol. Rare arrests of active US military members highlight challenge of policing extremist ideologies in the ranks. The Washington Post, Spencer S. Hsu and Alex Horton, Friday, 20 January 2023: “Three active duty members of the Marine Corps assigned to intelligence-related jobs, including one at the National Security Agency headquarters in Maryland, have been charged with participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol, according to court filings unsealed Thursday and military service records. Cpl. Micah Coomer, Sgt. Joshua Abate and Sgt. Dodge Dale Hellonen were arrested Tuesday and Wednesday near Camp Pendleton, Calif., Fort Meade, Md., and Camp Lejeune, N.C., respectively, and appeared in local federal courts. The FBI said Abate admitted to entering the Capitol ‘with two buddies’ during a June 2022 interview that was part of his security clearance process while assigned to the Marine Corps’ Cryptologic Support Battalion, which is partnered and headquartered with the NSA at Fort Meade. According to charging papers, Abate said they ‘walked around and tried not to get hit with tear gas,’ and ‘admitted he heard how the event was being portrayed negatively and decided that he should not tell anybody about going into the U.S. Capitol Building.’ Each faces counts including trespassing, disorderly conduct and illegal parading or picketing in a restricted Capitol building or grounds, in connection with the riots that injured scores of police officers, left offices ransacked, and forced lawmakers to evacuate the premises amid Congress’s meeting to confirm the results of the 2020 presidential election.” See also, Three Active-Duty Marines Charged in January 6 Violent Attack on the U.S. Capitol. One of the marines said that he was waiting for ‘the boogaloo,’ or a second civil war, according to court records. The New York Times, Amanda Holpuch, published on Saturday, 21 January 2023: “Three active-duty Marines assigned to intelligence-related jobs were charged this week with participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to court records, which showed that one of the Marines said that he was waiting for a second civil war. The Marines, Cpl. Micah Coomer, Sgt. Joshua Abate and Sgt. Dodge Dale Hellonen, were arrested on Wednesday and face charges of disorderly conduct and unlawfully entering the Capitol building, according to court records. Video footage and photographs taken during the attack showed that the three Marines were inside the Capitol for about 52 minutes while demonstrators fought with police officers and ransacked the building, according to a federal affidavit.”

Memphis police fire five officers involved in arrest of Tyre Nichols. Nichols, 29, died three days after a traffic stop in Memphis. His family says he was brutally beaten during a traffic-stop arrest. The Washington Post, Robert Klemko, Friday, 20 January 2023: “The Memphis Police Department fired five officers Friday evening who were involved in an arrest that appears to have led to the death of a 29-year-old Black motorist earlier this month. The five officers — all of whom are Black — were found to have violated department policies pertaining to use of force, duty to render aid and duty to intervene, the department said in a news release. Their ouster comes in advance of the department’s pledged release of video footage depicting the arrest of Tyre Nichols on Jan. 7. Nichols died on Jan. 10, three days after the officers pulled him over for reckless driving, according to the department. Nichols fled on foot, but was eventually caught and taken into custody. After his arrest, he complained of shortness of breath. According to his family, Nichols suffered a broken neck and went into cardiac arrest during the confrontation with police. The family released a photo of Nichols in a hospital bed, eyes swollen shut from bruising and nose askew.”


Saturday, 21 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Baltic states urge Germany to provide tanks ‘now’ after no deal reached, The Washington Post, Niha Masih, Victoria Bisset, Timothy Bella, and Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Saturday, 21 January 2023: “Germany faced continued pressure Saturday after a key meeting of Western allies did not come up with a deal to supply Ukraine with the battle tanks that Kyiv says are a crucial part of its bid to take on entrenched Russian forces. Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania issued a joint appeal, urging Berlin to provide tanks ‘now,’ adding: ‘Germany as the leading European power has special responsibility in this regard.’ Germany has been unwilling to supply its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, or authorize other nations that use the German-made vehicles to transfer them. It has linked its position on the Leopards to U.S. reluctance to transfer its own M1 Abrams tanks, which Pentagon officials have said are not the best fit for Ukraine in terms of operability and the time they would take to arrive. In his evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky named and memorialized the 14 killed in a helicopter crash on Wednesday, including Ukrainian Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky. Zelensky called Monastyrsky a ‘professional, genuine person, exactly what the Minister of Internal Affairs should be.’ At least one child was also killed when the government helicopter crashed near a kindergarten.

  • Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau also criticized the pace of discussions, tweeting on Friday that ‘Ukrainian blood’ was the ‘price of hesitation’ over the delivery of tanks. Poland has said it is ready to send its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, but under deals with purchasers, Germany has a say over any transfer.
  • The United States will designate Russia’s Wagner Group a ‘transnational criminal organization,’ the White House said Friday. John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the White House National Security Council, said in a briefing that the mercenary group will face additional punitive sanctions next week. Wagner, founded by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has committed ‘widespread atrocities and human rights abuses,’ Kirby said.
  • Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak on Saturday urged countries to ‘think faster,’ writing on Twitter that the international community would eventually ‘help Ukraine with the necessary weapons anyway and realize that there is no other option to end the war. … Today’s indecision is killing more of our people. Every day of delay is the death of Ukrainians.’
  • Zelensky joined mourners in Kyiv on Saturday at a memorial for Monastyrsky and other top officials who were killed in the helicopter crash just outside Kyiv this week. The incident appears to have been an accident and is under investigation, according to the Ukrainian government. The deaths brought Zelensky ‘indescribable sadness,’ according to his Telegram post. ‘Every day we lose people, whom we will always remember and regret that they’re not coming back,’ he said in his nightly address.

Investigators Seize More Classified Documents From Biden’s Home. A team from the Justice Department conducted a 13-hour search of the president’s Wilmington residence on Friday. The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Katie Rogers, Saturday, 21 January 2023: “Investigators for the Justice Department on Friday seized more than a half-dozen documents, some of them classified, at President Biden’s residence in Wilmington, Del., after conducting a 13-hour search of the home, the president’s personal lawyer said Saturday evening. The remarkable search of a sitting president’s home by federal agents — at the invitation of Mr. Biden’s lawyers — dramatically escalated the legal and political situation for the president, the latest in a series of discoveries that has already led to a special counsel investigation. During Friday’s search, six more items with classified markings — including some documents from his time as a senator and others from his time as vice president — were taken by investigators, along with surrounding materials, according to the statement from Bob Bauer, Mr. Biden’s attorney. Mr. Bauer did not indicate what had prompted the search, saying only that the president’s lawyers had offered to provide access for a search ‘in the interest of moving the process forward as expeditiously as possible.’ Justice Department investigators coordinated the search with Mr. Biden’s lawyers in advance, Mr. Bauer said, and the president’s personal and White House lawyers were present at the time.” See also, Justice Department search of Biden home in Wilmington turns up more documents, The Washington Post, Matt Viser and Tyler Pager, Saturday, 21 January 2023: “The Justice Department on Friday completed an extensive search of President Biden’s home in Wilmington and turned up additional classified documents, some of which date to his time in the United States Senate and others from his eight-year tenure as vice president, the president’s personal attorney announced Saturday night. After being given full access to Biden’s home — including personally handwritten notes, files, papers, and binders that covered decades of his work — the Justice Department took possession of six items. Those items, according to the president’s personal attorney Bob Bauer, consisted of ‘documents with classification markings and surrounding materials.’ The Justice Department also took some of Biden’s handwritten notes from his vice-presidential years to further review them. It is the latest striking development in a fast-moving investigation, with the personal residence of a sitting president now having been subject to a 13-hour search by federal agents. Biden aides said the wide-ranging search and the fact that it was conducted with the president’s permission were indications of how eager they are to resolve the matter.” See also, The Department of Justice searched Biden’s home and found more classified documents, NPR, Scott Detrow, Saturday, 21 January 2023: “Officials from the Department of Justice spent more than 12 hours searching President Biden’s Wilmington, Del. residence Friday, and found six new classified documents. Biden’s personal attorney, Bob Bauer, announced the extraordinary development in a Saturday night statement. The Department of Justice is declining to comment on the search. Some of the documents date back to Biden’s time as a senator, while others were from his time as vice president, Bauer said. The DOJ also took some handwritten notes for further review, he said.”


Sunday, 22 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock says Germany won’t object if Poland sends tanks to Ukraine, The Washington Post, Paulina Villegas and Jennifer Hassan, Sunday, 22 January 2023: “The German government won’t oppose Poland sending German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, if Warsaw makes such a request, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told French TV channel LCI on Sunday. Her remarks came as pressure mounted on Germany over its reluctance to send its own tanks or approve the export of German-made tanks from other nations, which prompted backlash from Western allies that say it’s urgent to get them to Ukraine to bolster its fighting capacity this year. The Polish government has condemned Berlin’s hesitancy as ‘unacceptable’ and said it stands ready to send some of its own, though it requires Germany’s legal authorization before doing so.

  • President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was confident Ukraine would win its war against Russia in 2023, as long as it continues to be ‘united and strong’ and receives the military and financial support needed from key allies like the United States and European leaders he said in a meeting with students at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv Sunday. Zelensky said the speed of victory depends on ‘the help of partners,’ and added ‘we must not allow the processes to slow down either outside or inside, as it will prolong the war.’
  • Former British prime minister Boris Johnson visited two war-torn cities outside of Kyiv: Bucha and Borodyanka this weekend. Johnson, who is popular among Ukrainians for the support he gave the country when he was in office, met with Zelensky at the Taras Shevchenko National University and said Ukraine’s allies should provide the country with ‘all the necessary weapons as soon as possible.’
  • Zelensky said Ukraine needs support to protect the nation’s energy infrastructure to avoid the blackout that Russia is aiming to cause with targeted attacks on power stations across the country. ‘And we have to make sure that people stay in the cities, because this is about jobs, about taxes,’ he said. ‘We have to protect them economically to make sure that the businesses are operating,’ he said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that aired Sunday.
  • Representatives from France and Germany were meeting in Paris on Sunday for talks on Europe’s security and energy. The meeting is the first in-person meeting between the two governments since 2019. Lawmakers were also expected to discuss military support for Ukraine, the Associated Press reported, citing French and German officials.
  • New German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius will travel to Ukraine soon, he said in an interview with the German newspaper Bild, probably within the next month. Asked when a decision on Leopard tanks will be made, he said only that Germany is in close dialogue with its international partners about it.

Biden Lawyers Initially Thought Official Files Went to Think Tank Only. The mistaken premise helps explain why nearly two months elapsed before Mr. Biden’s lawyers searched the garage of his Delaware home for classified records. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Sunday, 22 January 2023: “President Biden’s lawyers told the Justice Department in November that they had no reason to believe that copies of official records from his vice presidency had ended up anywhere beyond a think tank in Washington, where several classified documents had been found that month, two people familiar with the matter said on Sunday. That assertion, the people said, was based on interviews with former officials who had been involved in the process of packing and shipping such material. The Biden legal team had surveyed them after the discovery on Nov. 2 of a small number of classified files in a closet of his former office at the Penn Biden Center, seeking to understand how the files got there. But it would turn out that a handful of classified records were at Mr. Biden’s residence in Wilmington, Del., too. The mistaken premise, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter, helps explain why roughly seven weeks elapsed before Mr. Biden’s lawyers searched boxes in the garage at his Wilmington home on Dec. 20 and found several more classified papers.”


Monday, 23 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: German defense minister Boris Pistorius says Germany’s tank decision is coming ‘soon,’ as Poland pushes to send Leopard 2 tanks, The Washington Post, Adam Taylor, Dan Lamothe, and Paulina Villegas, Monday, 23 January 2023: “Germany will decide ‘soon’ on whether to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine or approve the export of German-made equipment by other countries, Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said, as pressure mounts on Europe’s largest economy. The German government has to sign off on any transfers of the tanks, about 2,000 of which are scattered across Europe. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Monday that Warsaw would formally submit such a request, after Berlin indicated it would not block the move. The Polish government had previously maintained that it would send the tanks with or without permission. Kyiv has implored Western allies to send battle tanks to help boost its fighting capacity and retake territory Russia has captured in Ukraine’s south and east. Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister tweeted that the country has been asking Germany for Leopard tanks since early March. ‘Maybe it’s time to speed up this process?’ Andrij Melnyk said. Britain recently became the first country to promise Western-produced main battle tanks to Ukraine. In his nightly address on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did not mention Leopards, but he praised the United States for agreeing to send more fighting vehicles, including Bradleys, and said Ukraine was ‘looking closely’ at U.S. M1 Abrams tanks. Washington has declined to send the M1 Abrams tanks, despite the urging of some lawmakers, citing concerns over requisite training and maintenance.

  • Zelensky said Monday he has signed a decree that bans state officials from traveling abroad during martial law, except for on official business trips.
  • Charles McGonigal, the former head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in the New York field office, has been indicted on charges related to improper foreign ties, including allegedly violating U.S. sanctions on Russians by trying to get billionaire Oleg Deripaska — an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — removed from the sanctions list, the U.S. Justice Department announced Monday. McGonigal’s alleged involvement with Deripaska may have affected a significant push by the Justice Department to hit wealthy Russians with economic sanctions for conducting business in the United States, an effort that accelerated last year with Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, The Washington Post reports.
  • Morocco has provided Ukraine with some 20 Soviet T-72B tanks, a make that Ukraine already uses widely, the United States confirmed Monday. The move is helpful for Ukraine in that it can use the tanks immediately, without new training, said a senior U.S. military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the Pentagon.
  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Sweden’s bid to join NATO into question Monday after protesters near the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm reportedly burned a copy of the Quran. ‘Those who allow such blasphemy in front of our embassy can no longer expect our support for their NATO membership,’ Erdogan said in remarks following a cabinet meeting, Reuters reported. Turkey has pushed to extract concessions from Finland and Sweden in their push to join the alliance after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Russian human rights activists claim that of the estimated 50,000 fighters recruited in Russian prisons to fight in Ukraine, only 10,000 are still with the troops and the rest have either died or deserted, the independent Russian news website Meduza reported.
  • German defense group Rheinmetall, one of Europe’s biggest suppliers of armored vehicle systems, is ready to deliver 139 Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine if required, according to a spokesperson for the company, Reuters reported.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Poland Says It Will Push to Send Tanks to Ukraine. Warsaw says that it will ask Berlin for permission to ship German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine but will seek to provide them even without formal approval. The New York Times, Monday, 23 January 2023:

  • Poland says permission from Germany is ‘a secondary issue’ with Leopard tanks.

  • Zelensky vows action against corruption after a minister is fired for embezzlement.

  • A former top F.B.I. official is charged with aiding a Russian oligarch.

  • Russia and Estonia order each other’s ambassadors out as their diplomatic relationships grow colder.

  • Germany’s reluctance to send tanks to Ukraine stems from its history and politics.

  • In Dnipro, a seemingly ordinary Saturday turned tragic in an instant.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Waiting for Germany’s Leopard tanks, NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 23 January 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: Attention continues to be fixed on Germany as it weighs whether to send Ukraine its Leopard 2 battle tanks. The country has come under increasing criticism for so far declining calls to send its tanks. On Tuesday, the German defense minister is due for talks with NATO’s secretary-general in Berlin. Meanwhile, Poland is eager to send its Leopard tanks to Ukraine and is awaiting a response from Berlin, which needs to give permission for other countries to transfer the German-made tanks. Germany’s foreign minister said in an interview with French television Sunday that Germany would not object. Russia expelled Estonia’s ambassador and downgraded relations with the NATO-member Baltic state. The move came after Estonia expelled Russian diplomats and provided weapons to Ukraine. Estonia is expected to follow suit by expelling Russia’s ambassador. What happened last week: Ukrainians mourn the residents killed when a Russian missile struck an apartment building in the southeastern city of Dnipro last week. It was one of the deadliest recent attacks on civilians of the war, with more than 40 people dead and 80 wounded. Russia claimed to take control of the eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar last week, but Ukrainian and U.S. officials have disputed the claim. Britain pledged to send Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine last Tuesday, calling it the ‘most modern tank at Ukraine’s disposal.’ Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky and over a dozen other people died last Wednesday when a helicopter crashed into a kindergarten building in a suburb of Kyiv. One child was killed and 11 children were among more than two dozen injured. The U.S. and other NATO countries pledged to ship a huge package of heavy weapons to Ukraine. The U.S. part is worth $2.5 billion. But Germany and the U.S. declined to deliver one thing Ukraine wants: tanks. The White House said the administration will designate the Wagner Group a significant transnational criminal organization and impose stronger sanctions on the Russian private military company last Friday over its role in the Ukraine war.”

Four More Oath Keepers Members Convicted of Sedition in Second Trial. The four members of the far-right militia were found guilty of seditious conspiracy nearly two months after the group’s leader, Stewart Rhodes, was convicted of the same charge in a separate proceeding. The New York Times, Zach Montague, Monday, 23 January 2023: “Four members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia were found guilty of seditious conspiracy on Monday for their roles in trying to keep Donald J. Trump in office after his 2020 election defeat, nearly two months after the group’s leader — Stewart Rhodes — was convicted of the same offense in a separate trial in November. A jury in Federal District Court in Washington also found the four defendants guilty of two separate conspiracy charges. The defendants — Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel and Edward Vallejo — were originally charged along with Mr. Rhodes and other members of the group. But their trial was broken off as a separate proceeding by the judge in the case, Amit P. Mehta, because of space constraints in the courtroom.” See also, Four other Oath Keepers found guilty of January 6 seditious conspiracy. The verdict is the second of three seditious conspiracy cases charged in the U.S. Capitol breach. The Washington Post, Rachel Weiner, Monday, 23 January 2023: “Four members of the far-right Oath Keepers group were convicted of seditious conspiracy Monday, joining founder Stewart Rhodes in being found guilty by a jury of plotting to keep President Donald Trump in power by force. Seditious conspiracy charges are rarely used and even more rarely successful, making the verdict a significant victory for the Justice Department. Of the nearly 1,000 people charged with committing crimes at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, fewer than 20 were charged with seditious conspiracy, identified by the Justice Department as not just participants in a violent mob but also leaders using brutality to further a political plot. At Rhodes’s trial, only he and Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs were found guilty of conspiring to commit sedition, while three associates were convicted of less politically loaded felonies that did not require plans to use force. Monday’s verdict — which came after the jury deliberated for about 13 hours — comes as five members of the Proud Boys face trial down the hall on seditious conspiracy charges.” See also, Oath Keepers members found guilty of seditious conspiracy, CNN Politics, Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand, Monday, 23 January 2023: “Three members of the Oath Keepers and a fourth person associated with the far-right militia group were convicted of seditious conspiracy by a Washington, DC, jury on Monday for their role in the January 6, 2021, insurrection. The four men – Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel and Edward Vallejo – were accused of plotting to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 electoral college victory, a conspiracy that culminated in the attack on the US Capitol. The convictions are another win for the Justice Department who brought the rare charge against members of the far-right militia early last year. After a 10-week trial this fall, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes as well as Kelly Meggs, a leader of the group in Florida, were the first of the group to be found guilty of seditious conspiracy.”

Jury Convicts Man Who Posed With Boot on Desk in Pelosi’s Office. Richard Barnett became one of the highest-profile defendants charged in the January 6 storming of the Capitol after he was photographed with his boot on a desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. The New York Times, Michael Levenson, Monday, 23 January 2023: “An Arkansas man who posed with his boot propped on a desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol was convicted by a federal jury on Monday of eight counts, including disorderly conduct in a capitol building, prosecutors said. The man, Richard Barnett, 62, of Gravette, Ark., became one of the highest-profile defendants charged in the storming of the Capitol after he was photographed in Ms. Pelosi’s office, wearing a hat, plaid jacket, bluejeans and brown boots, with a stun gun dangling from his belt, prosecutors said. Mr. Barnett faces up to 47 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 3, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Mr. Barnett’s lawyer, Joseph D. McBride, said that his client, a former window salesman, planned to appeal the verdict, which he said a jury had returned after deliberating for only two hours.” See also, Jury convicts January 6 rioter Richard Barnett seen in infamous images with feet on desk in Pelosi’s office, ABC News, Alexander Mallin and Beatrice Peterson, Monday, 23 January 2023: “A federal jury in Washington returned a guilty verdict Monday against a rioter seen in images from the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol putting his feet up on a desk in then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. The photos of Richard ‘Bigo’ Barnett kicked back in an office chair with his feet on the desk quickly became among the most infamous to emerge early on out of the Capitol riot — as emblematic of the pro-Trump mob ransacking the nation’s seat of government. Within days, Barnett was arrested and charged in January 2021, with then-acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen calling the photos of him at the Capitol ‘repulsive.’ The jury only took a couple of hours to return Monday’s guilty verdict against Barnett on all counts, including felonies for obstruction of an official proceeding and civil disorder as well as several misdemeanors.”

Charles McGonigal, Former Senior F.B.I. Official in New York, Charged With Aiding Oligarch. Prosecutors say McGonigal, who was chief of counterintelligence, worked secretly for Oleg Deripaska to investigate a Russian rival. The New York Times, Benjamin Weiser and William K. Rashbaum, Monday, 23 January 2023: “A former senior F.B.I. official in New York who oversaw some of the agency’s most secret and sensitive counterintelligence investigations was accused on Monday of taking money from a former Albanian intelligence employee and from a representative of Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch. The charges against the former official, Charles F. McGonigal, came in separate indictments unsealed in New York and Washington, D.C., after an investigation by his own agency and federal prosecutors. In the New York case, he was charged with violating economic sanctions that the United States has imposed on Russia because of its aggression in Ukraine. Before he retired in 2018, Mr. McGonigal had been the special agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence division in New York. In that post, he supervised investigations of Russian oligarchs, including Mr. Deripaska, whom the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan charged him with aiding. Mr. Deripaska is an aluminum magnate with ties to President Vladimir V. Putin. Federal prosecutors said Mr. McGonigal, 54, broke U.S. law by agreeing to help Mr. Deripaska, who was indicted himself last year on sanctions charges, investigate a rival oligarch and try to get off the sanctions list. The charges are a serious and rare accusation against a senior F.B.I. official, and they demonstrate that the reach of Russia’s oligarchs can extend into the heart of American law enforcement.” See also, Former senior FBI official Charles McGonigal accused of working for Russian he investigated. McGonigal, a former counterintelligence chief, is also accused of taking $225,000 from a former Albanian intelligence worker while still at the FBI. The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Spencer S. Hsu, Devlin Barrett, and Shane Harris, Monday, 23 January 2023: “The FBI’s former top spy hunter in New York was charged Monday with taking secret cash payments of more than $225,000 while overseeing highly sensitive cases, and breaking the law by trying to get Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska removed from a U.S. sanctions list — accusations that shocked the cloistered world of his fellow high-ranking intelligence officials. Charles McGonigal, 54, who retired from the FBI in September 2018, was indicted in federal court in Manhattan on charges of money laundering, violating U.S. sanctions and other counts stemming from his alleged ties to Deripaska, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In his role at the FBI, McGonigal had been tasked with investigating Deripaska, whose own indictment on sanctions-violation charges was unsealed in September. A second indictment, filed in Washington, accused McGonigal of hiding payments totaling $225,000 that he allegedly received from a New Jersey man employed decades ago by an Albanian intelligence agency. The indictment also accused him of acting to advance that person’s interests. McGonigal’s alleged crimes may undercut Justice Department efforts to ramp up economic sanctions on wealthy Russians after last year’s invasion of Ukraine. The twin indictments are also a black eye for the FBI, alleging that one of its most senior and trusted intelligence officials accepted large sums of money and undermined the bureau’s overall intelligence-gathering mission.”


Tuesday, 24 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: U.S. to send Abrams tanks; reports say Germany agrees to supply Leopard 2 tanks, The Washington Post, Loveday Morris, Rachel Pannett, Adela Suliman, Karen DeYoung, and Dan Lamothe, Tuesday, 24 January 2023: “The United States plans to supply Kyiv with roughly 30 M1 Abrams tanks, U.S. officials said Tuesday, a move aimed at resolving a dispute with Germany over which nation would send battle tanks to Ukraine. German media reported Tuesday that Berlin will send at least one company of its own Leopard 2 tanks and also allow other European nations to deliver theirs. A senior European official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the topic, confirmed the reports and said the government plans to announce the decision Wednesday. Germany had previously said that a U.S. decision to send Abramses would help ease the way for it to send its own Leopard 2s, but later denied that there was any ‘linkage.’

  • Several senior Ukrainian officials resigned or were removed Tuesday as President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to make wide-ranging personnel changes amid a public outcry over corruption allegations involving government and law enforcement officials. Zelensky said Ukrainian officials would not be permitted to travel abroad for vacation or any reason other than work.
  • Two British men who went missing this month in eastern Ukraine were killed while attempting to evacuate civilians, according to a family statement. Andrew Bagshaw and Chris Parry were volunteers delivering humanitarian assistance to the front lines. The two men were last seen departing for the town of Soledar, the sight of heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces earlier this month. ‘It is with great sadness we have to announce that our beloved Chrissy has been killed along with his colleague Andrew Bagshaw whilst attempting a humanitarian evacuation from Soledar, eastern Ukraine,’ the statement said.
  • The United States will order the Abrams tanks from manufacturers rather than transfer them from existing U.S. stocks, officials said Tuesday. That means they are unlikely to arrive by spring when Russian forces are expected to begin a new offensive. The tanks are ‘probably not for the near fight,’ one U.S. official said, and are not likely to arrive for many months, if not years.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Officials Say the U.S. Plans to Send M1 Abrams Tanks to Ukraine. The announcement, expected as early as Wednesday, comes as Germany appears close to sending Leopard 2 tanks, opening the way for other countries in Europe. The New York Times, Tuesday, 24 January 2023:

  • The U.S. decision to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine breaks new ground.

  • Several Ukrainian officials are fired amid a scandal involving military purchases.

  • The State Department says corruption cases in Ukraine don’t appear to involve U.S. aid.

  • The shake-up of government officials ‘responds to a key public demand,’ a Zelensky adviser says.

  • An advocacy group estimates that only 1 in 5 of Wagner’s recruits remain active in Russian forces.

  • Ukrainians have donated nearly $500 million to the country’s military.

First on CNN: Classified documents found at Pence’s Indiana home, CNN Politics, Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb, and Evan Perez, Tuesday, 24 January 2023: “A lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence discovered about a dozen documents marked as classified at Pence’s Indiana home last week, and he has turned those classified records over to the FBI, multiple sources familiar with the matter told CNN. The FBI and the Justice Department’s National Security Division have launched a review of the documents and how they ended up in Pence’s house in Indiana. The classified documents were discovered at the former vice president’s new home in Carmel, Indiana, by a lawyer for Pence in the wake of the revelations about classified material discovered in President Joe Biden’s private office and residence, the sources said. The discovery comes after Pence has repeatedly said he did not have any classified documents in his possession. It is not yet clear what the documents are related to or their level of sensitivity or classification.” See also, Classified Documents Found at Pence’s Home in Indiana. The documents were ‘inadvertently boxed and transported’ to the former vice president’s home at the end of the Trump administration, Mr. Pence’s representative wrote in a letter to the National Archives. The New York Times, Maggie Haberman, Tuesday, 24 January 2023: “Aides to former Vice President Mike Pence found a ‘small number of documents’ with classified markings at his home in Indiana during a search last week, according to an adviser to Mr. Pence. The documents were ‘inadvertently boxed and transported’ to Mr. Pence’s home at the end of President Donald J. Trump’s administration, Greg Jacob, Mr. Pence’s representative for dealing with records related to the presidency, wrote in a letter to the National Archives. The discovery of the classified documents in Mr. Pence’s home was reported earlier by CNN. The letter, dated Jan. 18, said that the former vice president was unaware of the existence of the documents and reiterated that he took seriously the handling of classified materials and wanted to help.” See also, Classified documents discovered at home of former Vice President Mike Pence, The Washington Post, Azi Paybarah and Hannah Knowles, Tuesday, 24 January 2023: “A lawyer for former vice president Mike Pence, a potential 2024 Republican presidential candidate, found what he called ‘a small number’ of documents bearing classified markings during a search of Pence’s Indiana home, according to letters to the National Archives. Greg Jacob, a designated representative for Pence’s vice-presidential records, said Pence gave permission for the FBI to collect the classified documents from his home Jan. 19 while the former vice president was in Washington to attend the March for Life, the yearly gathering of antiabortion advocates. Jacob noted he would deliver the boxes in which those documents were found, along with other vice-presidential papers, to the National Archives on Jan. 23.”

Trump withdraws second lawsuit against New York attorney general Letitia James, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Tuesday, 24 January 2023: “Former president Donald Trump on Tuesday withdrew a second lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) related to her office’s fraud probe of his business practices. A stipulation of voluntary dismissal signed by Trump lawyer Alina Habba and a lawyer for James’s office was filed with a federal appeals court in Manhattan. No reason was given for the withdrawal. Trump first filed the lawsuit in federal court in Syracuse, N.Y., claiming James was violating his rights and that of his company by pursuing a politically motivated investigation. After a judge in May found ‘no evidence’ that James had acted with bias, Trump appealed the ruling. Tuesday’s withdrawal of that appeal was the second time in five days that Trump had abandoned litigation against James, who is pursuing a $250 million lawsuit against Trump. It accuses the former president, three of his grown children and executives at his company of flagrantly manipulating property and other asset valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers and tax authorities into giving them better bank-loan and insurance-policy rates and to reduce their tax liabilities.”

Atlanta District Attorney Fani Willis Wants Grand Jury Findings Kept Private in Trump Inquiry. The prosecutor asked that a report on efforts to overturn former President Donald Trump’s election loss not be released, saying that she was ‘mindful of protecting future defendants’ rights.’ The New York Times, Richard Fausset and Danny Hakim, Tuesday, 24 January 2023: “Fani T. Willis, the local prosecutor overseeing the investigation into efforts by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia, asked a judge in Atlanta on Tuesday not to make public the findings of a special grand jury that heard months of testimony in the case, saying that she was ‘mindful of protecting future defendants’ rights.’ In a two-hour hearing before Judge Robert C.I. McBurney of Fulton County Superior Court, Ms. Willis argued that disclosing the jury’s recently completed investigative report could complicate potential efforts to seek indictments. ‘We want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly,’ Ms. Willis said, ‘and we think for future defendants to be treated fairly it is not appropriate at this time to have this report released.’ Judge McBurney said he would rule on the matter at a later date. The Trump team did not send a lawyer to the hearing, but a lawyer representing a coalition of news organizations asked Judge McBurney to make the report public. Nearly 20 people known to have been named targets of the criminal investigation, as well as others, could face charges, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, and David Shafer, the head of the Georgia Republican Party.”

George Santos Admits $500 Thousand Personal Loan to Campaign Wasn’t ‘Personal.’ It has been one of the biggest mysteries surrounding George Santos: Where did he get his money? In an amended filing, Santos admits a big chunk wasn’t his. The Daily Beast, Roger Sollenberger, Tuesday, 24 January 2023: “George Santos promised reporters a surprise on Tuesday. When he brought coffee and donuts for the journalists staking out his office, it was a letdown. But Santos apparently had another surprise. Late Tuesday afternoon, Santos’ political operation filed a flurry of amended campaign finance reports, telling the feds, among other things, that a $500,000 loan he gave to his campaign didn’t, in fact, come from his personal funds as he’d previously claimed. However, while the newly amended filing told us where the funds did not come from, it also raised a new question—where did the money come from?” See also, Mystery Deepens Around George Santos’s $700,000 in Campaign Loans. In amended campaign finance reports, Mr. Santos seemed to suggest that the loans did not come from his personal funds, as he had originally stated. The New York Times, Michael Gold and Nicholas Fandos, Tuesday, 24 January 2023: “An updated campaign finance report filed on Tuesday raised new questions about the source of six-figure loans that Representative George Santos gave his congressional campaign. In previous filings with the Federal Election Commission, the Santos campaign has reported that Mr. Santos, a Republican from New York who is already facing inquiries from federal and local investigators over his lies and financial dealings, lent his own campaign more than $700,000. But in an update to a report originally filed in April 2022, the Santos campaign unmarked a box that had originally indicated that $500,000 of those loans came from Mr. Santos’s own personal funds. The significance of the change, which was earlier reported by The Daily Beast, was not immediately clear to campaign finance experts. Mr. Santos’s lawyer, Joe Murray, said it ‘would be inappropriate’ to comment given pending investigations. The experts said they were struggling to interpret the change, especially because in filings from later in 2022, the box marking ‘personal funds of the candidate’ remains checked.” See also, George Santos admits ‘personal’ loans to his campaign were not from personal funds. New campaign finance filings reported by The Daily Beast do not shed light on real source of $600,000 in funding. The Guardian, Martin Pengelly, published on Wednesday, 25 January 2023: “In a new twist to one of the most bizarre American political scandals in decades, the New York Republican congressman George Santos appeared to admit on Tuesday that more than $600,000 in loans to his campaign did not come from personal funds, as was originally claimed. But new campaign finance filings first reported by the Daily Beast did not shed light on where the funds actually came from. One expert said he had ‘never been this confused’ by a campaign finance form. Santos, 34, won election to Congress last year in New York’s third district, which covers parts of Long Island and Queens. But he swiftly came under pressure over a résumé which has been shown to be largely made-up; local, state, federal and international investigations; and increasingly picaresque allegations and revelations including an alleged past as a drag queen in Brazil.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy blocks Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the Intelligence Committee, The Washington Post, Mariana Alfaro and Marianna Sotomayor, Tuesday, 24 January 2023: “House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday he will block Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee, days after House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) formally recommended the reappointment of the California Democrats to the panel. McCarthy had vowed retribution if Republicans won the majority after the Democratic-led House stripped two Republicans, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.), of their committee assignments in 2021 for embracing violence against political foes in social media posts. McCarthy also seethed after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) refused to seat Republicans who had voted to overturn the 2020 election on the select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. McCarthy has argued that both Schiff and Swalwell are unfit to serve on the committee, citing Schiff’s work conducting the first impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump and Swalwell’s alleged ties to a Chinese intelligence operative. There has been no evidence of wrongdoing in relation to the allegation against Swalwell.” See also, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Ejects Schiff and Swalwell From Intelligence Committee. In an act of official retribution for how Democrats treated Republicans when they were in the majority, the speaker barred the Californians from the panel, arguing that they were not fit to serve. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Karoun Demirjian, Tuesday, 24 January 2023: “Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday unilaterally exiled Representatives Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, making good on a longstanding threat to expel the California Democrats in his first major act of partisan retribution since taking the majority. The move was a much-anticipated tit-for-tat after Democrats, then in the majority, voted in 2021 to eject two Republicans, Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona, from congressional committees for internet posts that advocated violence against their political enemies. It was also payback for the decision by Nancy Pelosi, then the House speaker, to bar Republicans who had helped former President Donald J. Trump spread the election lies that fueled the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol from sitting on the special committee investigating the riot.”


Wednesday, 25 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Germany and the U.S. to send battle tanks to Ukraine; Ukraine confirms Soledar withdrawal, The Washington Post, Adela Suliman, Rachel Pannett, Loveday Morris, David L. Stern, Claire Parker, Erin Cunningham, and Kyle Rempfer, Wednesday 25 January 2023: “Berlin announced plans Wednesday to send German-made Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine after weeks of international pressure. Germany will send 14 tanks from its own military stocks and begin training Ukrainian forces on German territory, the government said, adding that it would also ‘issue the appropriate transfer permits’ enabling other European nations to reexport their Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. The decision came as the Biden administration also announced that it would provide 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, despite previous concerns that they might require too much training and maintenance for Ukrainian forces. ‘To liberate their land, they need to be able to counter Russia’s evolving tactics and strategy on the battlefield in the very near term,’ President Biden said of the Ukrainians in remarks at the White House. In his evening address Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for the Leopard tanks and Biden for the Abrams tanks. ‘The key thing now is speed and volume,’ Zelensky said. ‘The speed of training of our military; the speed of supplying tanks to Ukraine; the volume of tank support.’ On the battlefield, a Ukrainian military chief confirmed to The Washington Post that his forces had withdrawn from the eastern town of Soledar. Russia’s capture of the small salt mining city in the eastern Donetsk region marks its first significant territorial gain since July.

  • Germany aims to have the Leopard 2 tanks integrated on the battlefield by the end of March, the Defense Ministry said, helping arm Ukraine for a potential spring offensive. That leaves a tight window for logistics and training, which will begin in Germany ‘basically immediately,’ said ministry spokesperson, Arne Collatz.
  • The M1 Abrams tanks are unlikely to arrive by spring when both Russian and Ukrainian forces are set to begin new offensives. They will be ordered from manufacturers rather than transferred from existing U.S. stocks, officials said.
  • Russia condemned the moves to send tanks to Ukraine. ‘This extremely dangerous decision takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation,’ said Russia’s ambassador to Germany, Sergey Nechayev. In Moscow, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the decision left little prospect for a ‘diplomatic way out’ of the war.
  • With tanks on the way, top Ukrainian officials have their eyes on Western aircraft. ‘We have new tasks ahead: Western-type fighter jets, sanctions, Peace Formula implementation,’ Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Wednesday. The need for newer weapons was also raised by Zelensky after he said he spoke with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. ‘We have to unlock the supply of long-range missiles to Ukraine; it is important for us to expand our cooperation in artillery. We have to achieve the supply of aircraft to Ukraine,’ Zelensky said during his Wednesday night address.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: With a Pledge of Tanks for Ukraine, Biden Strengthens Allied Commitment. The U.S. move follows Berlin’s decision to both send its Leopard tanks and allow other European countries to do the same. The New York Times, Wednesday, 25 January 2023:

  • Biden announces 31 Abrams tanks for Ukraine, but says the move is not meant to escalate the war.

  • Germany says it will send an initial shipment of 14 tanks to Ukraine.

  • Russian officials say Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams tanks are a ‘losing scheme.’

  • The M1 Abrams, headed to Ukraine, is the main U.S. battle tank.

  • Two British men went to Soledar. Neither came back.

  • Olympic officials prepare the way for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete in the Paris Games.

  • A video appears to show Novak Djokovic’s father with pro-Putin tennis fans at the Australian Open.

Meta to Reinstate Trump’s Facebook and Instagram Accounts. Meta said the suspensions of Donald Trump’s accounts would be lifted ‘in the coming weeks,’ with measures in place to discourage repeat offenses. Twitter reinstated Mr. Trump last year. The New York Times, Sheera Frenkel and Mike Isaac, Wednesday, 25 January 2023: “Just over two years after Donald J. Trump’s accounts were suspended from Facebook and Instagram, Meta, the owner of the platforms, said on Wednesday that it would reinstate the former president’s access to the social media services. Mr. Trump, who had the most followed account on Facebook when he was barred, will ‘in the coming weeks’ regain access to his accounts that collectively had hundreds of millions of followers, Meta said. In November, Mr. Trump’s account was also reinstated on Twitter, which had barred him since January 2021, collectively giving the former president more of a megaphone as he campaigns for the White House in 2024. Meta suspended Mr. Trump from its platforms on Jan. 7, 2021, the day after hundreds of people stormed the Capitol in his name, saying his posts ran the risk of inciting more violence. Mr. Trump’s accounts on other mainstream social media services, including YouTube and Twitter, were also removed that week. But Meta, which critics have accused of censoring Mr. Trump and other conservative voices, said on Wednesday it had decided to reverse the bans because it had determined that the risk to public safety had ‘sufficiently receded’ since January 2021. The company added that it would add guardrails to ‘deter repeat offenses’ in the future. ‘The public should be able to hear what their politicians are saying — the good, the bad and the ugly — so that they can make informed choices at the ballot box,’ said Nick Clegg, Meta’s president of global affairs. ‘But that does not mean there are no limits to what people can say on our platform.'” See also, Meta says it will restore Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, CNN Business, Clare Duffy, Wednesday, 25 January 2023: “Facebook-parent Meta said on Wednesday that it will restore former President Donald Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram in the coming weeks, just over two years after suspending him in the wake of the January 6 Capitol attack. ‘Our determination is that the risk [to public safety] has sufficiently receded,’ Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg said in a blog post. ‘As such, we will be reinstating Mr. Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts in the coming weeks. However, we are doing so with new guardrails in place to deter repeat offenses.’ Trump could be suspended for as much as two years at a time for violating platform policies in the future, Clegg said.” See also, Meta reinstates Trump on Instagram and Facebook ahead of 2024 election. The company’s president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, said Trump will face ‘heightened penalties’ for repeat offenses. The Washington Post, Naomi Nix, Wednesday, 25 January 2023: “Meta announced on Wednesday that it was reinstating former president Donald Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram after a two-year suspension over his role in praising the rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Nick Clegg, the company’s president of global affairs, wrote in a blog post that Trump’s accounts would be reinstated in the coming weeks but that the former president will face ‘heightened penalties’ if he breaks the social media giant’s content rules.”

The private angst over Donald Trump’s racist attacks on Elaine Chao goes public. His rhetoric ‘says a whole lot more about him than it will ever say about Asian Americans.’ Politico, Meredith McGraw, Wednesday, 25 January 2023: “Over the past several months, the leading Republican presidential candidate has launched a series of racist attacks on the wife of the Republican Party’s Senate leader, a woman who once served in his Cabinet. But while former President Donald Trump’s taunts at Elaine Chao — demeaning her as ‘Coco Chow’ or a variation of Mitch McConnell’s ‘China-loving wife’ — have been mostly met with silence from fellow GOP officials, the main target of them is now speaking out. ‘When I was young, some people deliberately misspelled or mispronounced my name. Asian Americans have worked hard to change that experience for the next generation,’ Chao said in a statement to POLITICO. ‘He doesn’t seem to understand that, which says a whole lot more about him than it will ever say about Asian Americans.’ Chao’s statement is an extremely rare case of the former Transportation Secretary wading into the political thicket that her former boss has laid around her since the end of his administration. It suggests that discomfort with Trump’s anti-Asian rhetoric has reached a new level amid several high-profile shootings targeting Asian Americans.” See also, Elaine Chao has had enough of Donald Trump’s racist taunts. Trump has repeatedly used racism to taunt his former cabinet secretary, Elaine Chao. She’s tired of it. Will other Republicans side with her or not? MSNBC, Steve Benen, published on Thursday, 26 January 2023: “About a month before the 2022 midterm elections, Donald Trump went after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in an unusually ugly way, suggesting the Republican lawmaker ‘has a DEATH WISH’ for legislating in ways the former president didn’t like. But Trump didn’t stop there. In the same online missive, he thought some racism would help his case. McConnell ‘must immediately seek help and advise [sic] from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!’ the Republican added, referring to Elaine Chao. In other words, the former president not only raised the specter of political violence against his own party’s Senate leader, he also published a racist message against the senator’s wife, who happens to have served in Trump’s cabinet as transportation secretary. Ever since, he’s repeatedly targeted his former cabinet secretary, whom he now routinely derides as ‘Coco Chow,’ suggesting he finds juvenile racism entertaining. This week, the former president went so far as to publish another item that read, ‘Does Coco Chow have anything to do with Joe Biden’s Classified Documents being sent and stored in Chinatown? Her husband, the Old Broken Crow, is VERY close to Biden, the Democrats, and, of course, China.’ It’s difficult to say why, exactly, Trump has been so preoccupied with taunting and trying to smear Chao. Maybe he’s trying to upset McConnell. Maybe he’s trying to stoke anti-Asian animus. Maybe he holds a grudge against Chao for having resigned in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack. Maybe the former president wants to remind the public that he ends up hating many of the people he hired for his own administration.”


Thursday, 26 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Deadly Russian strikes hit Ukraine; U.S. names Wagner Group a ‘transnational criminal’ entity, The Washington Post, David L. Stern, Niha Masih, Adela Suliman, and Adam Taylor, Thursday, 26 January 2023: “Officials across the country reported several Russian strikes, including in the capital and the regions of Vinnytsia and Odessa, which left at least 11 people dead and 11 injured, according to emergency services spokesman Oleksandr Khorunzhyi. Washington Post correspondents in Kyiv heard at least two explosions early Thursday, while the head of the Kyiv military administration, Serhiy Popko, said that ‘about 20 missiles of various types were detected in Kyiv’s airspace’ and that ‘all aerial targets [were] destroyed.’ The strikes were launched a day after allies agreed to send tanks to the battlefield. Ukrainian officials welcomed the U.S. and German decisions to send M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks, respectively, and pressed for more military support, including fighter jets and long-range missiles. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said such international weapons support would be ‘perceived as direct involvement in the conflict.’ The United States on Thursday designated the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary outfit fighting in Ukraine, a ‘transnational criminal organization.’ The White House had said the move was coming. A slate of sanctions announced by the Treasury Department under the new designation is meant to target the group’s international support network. The company, which Washington says has 40,000 convicts, some acquired directly from Russian prisons, and 10,000 contractors deployed to Ukraine, is also active in the Central African Republic and Mali.

  • ‘Every Russian missile against our cities, every Iranian drone used by terrorists is an argument why we need more weapons,’ President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address Thursday. ‘Only weapons neutralize terrorists.’ He praised the Ukraine ‘tank coalition’ for sending modern battle tanks, and Canada for joining the group Thursday with the announcement that it would send four German-made Leopards.
  • The variant of the American tank going to Ukraine will be the M1A2 Abrams, Pentagon spokesman Sabrina Singh said Thursday, disclosing for the first time new details about what kind of tank will be purchased and sent to the government in Kyiv. The M1A2 is more modern than the M1A1 that is still in service, with more advanced electronics and targeting ability, according to U.S. military specifications. The U.S. military owns both versions. Singh, speaking at a news conference, declined to address Thursday whether the United States has declined to send some of the thousands of Abrams tanks in its own arsenal because of classified aspects to its depleted uranium armor. The Pentagon, she said, has no ‘excess’ tanks in its own inventory to provide Ukraine.
  • Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the Russian tycoon behind the Wagner mercenary group, decried the new U.S. sanctions, calling them illegal. In a statement, Prigozhin said that he alone funded the group and said that he would ‘spit on’ any sanctions, which he said would not impact him. Prigozhin and Wagner have been accused of working to evade sanctions in the past; some U.S. lawmakers feel that Wagner should be designated a terrorist organization, a label that would carry with it even stronger financial restrictions.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Launches Missile Strikes at Targets Across Ukraine. At least 11 people were killed in the attacks, Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said. The strikes came a day after Western allies pledged to send tanks to aid Ukraine’s war effort. The New York Times, Thursday, 26 January 2023:

  • Ukraine shot down 47 Russian missiles, the country’s air force said.

  • White House officials tell senators that Ukraine is committed to anti-corruption.

  • Russia cracks down on the free press and outlaws Meduza, a leading independent news site.

  • UNESCO moves to protect Odesa, designating the city a World Heritage Site.

  • After securing tanks, Ukraine turns to the next weapon on its wish list: Fighter jets.

  • Western allies have pledged to send more than 100 tanks. Here is a look at what happens next.

  • The war is shifting the balance of power from ‘Old Europe’ to newer nations of the east.

How Attorney General William Barr’s Quest to Find Flaws in the Russia Inquiry Unraveled. The review by John Durham at one point veered into a criminal investigation related to Donald Trump himself, even as it failed to find wrongdoing in the origins of the Russia inquiry. The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner, Thursday, 26 January 2023: “It became a regular litany of grievances from President Donald J. Trump and his supporters: The investigation into his 2016 campaign’s ties to Russia was a witch hunt, they maintained, that had been opened without any solid basis, went on too long and found no proof of collusion. Egged on by Mr. Trump, Attorney General William P. Barr set out in 2019 to dig into their shared theory that the Russia investigation likely stemmed from a conspiracy by intelligence or law enforcement agencies. To lead the inquiry, Mr. Barr turned to a hard-nosed prosecutor named John H. Durham, and later granted him special counsel status to carry on after Mr. Trump left office. But after almost four years — far longer than the Russia investigation itself — Mr. Durham’s work is coming to an end without uncovering anything like the deep state plot alleged by Mr. Trump and suspected by Mr. Barr. Moreover, a monthslong review by The New York Times found that the main thrust of the Durham inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws — including a strained justification for opening it and its role in fueling partisan conspiracy theories that would never be charged in court — that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation. Interviews by The Times with more than a dozen current and former officials have revealed an array of previously unreported episodes that show how the Durham inquiry became roiled by internal dissent and ethical disputes as it went unsuccessfully down one path after another even as Mr. Trump and Mr. Barr promoted a misleading narrative of its progress.

  • Mr. Barr and Mr. Durham never disclosed that their inquiry expanded in the fall of 2019, based on a tip from Italian officials, to include a criminal investigation into suspicious financial dealings related to Mr. Trump. The specifics of the tip and how they handled the investigation remain unclear, but Mr. Durham brought no charges over it.
  • Mr. Durham used Russian intelligence memos — suspected by other U.S. officials of containing disinformation — to gain access to emails of an aide to George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who is a favorite target of the American right and Russian state media. Mr. Durham used grand jury powers to keep pursuing the emails even after a judge twice rejected his request for access to them. The emails yielded no evidence that Mr. Durham has cited in any case he pursued.
  • There were deeper internal fractures on the Durham team than previously known. The publicly unexplained resignation in 2020 of his No. 2 and longtime aide, Nora R. Dannehy, was the culmination of a series of disputes between them over prosecutorial ethics. A year later, two more prosecutors strongly objected to plans to indict a lawyer with ties to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign based on evidence they warned was too flimsy, and one left the team in protest of Mr. Durham’s decision to proceed anyway. (A jury swiftly acquitted the lawyer.)

Five fired Memphis police officers are charged with murder in death of Tyre Nichols: ‘This was wrong. This was criminal.’ CBS News, Thursday, 27 January 2023: “Five fired Memphis police officers were charged with second-degree murder in the death of Tyre Nichols, Tennessee authorities announced Thursday. Nichols died three days after a violent arrest by police earlier this month. ‘This was wrong. This was criminal,’ Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said during a press conference announcing the charges. A grand jury handed down indictments against Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills, Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith on charges of second-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated kidnapping, official misconduct and official oppression, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said. Mulroy said although the fired officers each played different roles in the death of Nichols, ‘they are all responsible.’ Video footage of the arrest would be released Friday sometime after 6 p.m., Mulroy said. The footage has been shown to Nichols’ family, but has not yet been made public.” See also, 5 fired Memphis officers charged with second-degree murder of Tyre Nichols. ‘Simply put, this should not have happened,’ David B. Rausch, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said of the fatal beating. ‘I’m sickened by what I saw.’ The Washington Post, Robert Klemko, Thursday, 26 January 2023: “Five former Memphis police officers are facing second-degree murder and other charges in the brutal beating death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old motorist who was fatally injured after being pulled over by police this month. A grand jury returned indictments Thursday against Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III, Justin Smith and Tadarrius Bean, said Shelby County District Attorney Steven Mulroy. All five were fired last week in connection with the beating. Each was being held Thursday afternoon at the Shelby County jail. All five suspects joined the Memphis police within the past six years. Each of them is Black, as was Nichols. They are charged with second-degree murder, ‘aggravated assault — acting in concert,’ two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of official misconduct and one count of official oppression. Additionally, the Justice Department is conducting a civil rights investigation into Nichols’s death. The arrest of the ex-officers sets the stage for the impending public release Friday evening of surveillance and body-camera footage of their interaction with Nichols, which local officials have said could spark violence in Memphis. Mulroy said footage of the arrest would be released to the public some time after 6 p.m. Central time.”

Representative Adam Schiff, a Trump Impeachment Manager, Runs for Senate in California. Mr. Schiff, who led the first impeachment trial of President Donald Trump and later served on the House panel investigating the Capitol riot, will seek the seat held by Senator Dianne Feinstein. The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein and Neil Vigdor, Thursday, 26 January 2023: “Representative Adam B. Schiff, the California Democrat who emerged as one of President Donald J. Trump’s chief congressional tormentors from his perch atop the House Intelligence Committee, announced on Thursday that he would seek the Senate seat long held by Dianne Feinstein. ‘I wish I could say the threat of MAGA extremists is over,’ he said in a video on Twitter. ‘It is not. Today’s Republican Party is gutting the middle class, threatening our democracy. They aren’t going to stop. We have to stop them.’ Mr. Schiff, 62, is the second member of California’s Democratic congressional delegation to join the 2024 race, after Representative Katie Porter. He enters the campaign with the largest national profile, built from his position as the manager of Mr. Trump’s first impeachment trial. He later served on the House committee responsible for investigating the origins of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. On Tuesday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, exiled Mr. Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell, another Democrat, from the House Intelligence Committee in retribution for their actions toward Republicans when Democrats held the majority. Ms. Feinstein, 89, has not said whether she will run again in 2024 but is widely expected not to do so as she faces Democratic worries about her age and ability to serve. Last year, she declined to serve as president pro tem of the Senate, and in 2020 she ceded her post as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee after coming under pressure from her party during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Justice Amy Coney Barrett. In an interview with The New York Times on Thursday, Mr. Schiff said he had first apprised Ms. Feinstein of his plans several weeks ago, in person, on Capitol Hill and again by phone on Wednesday. ‘She was very gracious,’ he said. ‘I let her know that I wanted to make my announcement, and she could not have been nicer about it.'” See also, Representative Adam Schiff, who led the first Trump impeachment trial, announces Senate run, The Washington Post, Amy B Wang, Thursday, 26 January 2023: “Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) has announced that he is running for U.S. Senate in 2024, joining a growing field of Democrats who are seeking to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has not explicitly said she would run for reelection. ‘We’re in the fight of our lives for the future of our country,’ Schiff said in a statement Thursday. ‘Our democracy is under assault from MAGA extremists, who care only about gaining power and keeping it. And our economy is simply not working for millions of Americans, who are working harder than ever just to get by.'”

Biden Administration Sets a Mining Ban in Boundary Waters Wilderness in Minnesota. A 20-year moratorium on new mining activity for more than 225,000 acres of federal land in Minnesota could deal a fatal blow to a proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine. The New York Times, Lisa Friedman, Thursday, 26 January 2023: “The Biden administration on Thursday said it will establish a 20-year moratorium on mining upstream from Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a vast preserve of lakes and woods that has been at the center of a fierce dispute over a proposed copper and nickel mine. The plan withdraws from mineral leasing about 225,504 acres of watershed in the Superior National Forest. It could doom a proposed bid from Twin Metals Minnesota LLC, which had sought to build an underground mine in Ely, at the doorstep of the wilderness area. The Biden administration had already canceled the company’s two federal minerals-rights leases, and the new move drastically reduces the chance that the project will be revived. The company has sued to reinstate the leases, which are critical to its $1.7 billion project, and the moratorium is expected to trigger fresh legal action. Meanwhile Republicans, who now control the House, are seeking to ease federal rules for the mine permitting process, an effort that could also complicate the administration’s plans.” See also, Biden protects vast wilderness area in Minnesota from mining. The move comes as the administration faces a string of tough decisions on federal conservation for spots in Alaska and Nevada. The Washington Post, Timothy Puko, Thursday, 26 January 2023: “The Biden administration is banning mining for 20 years in a giant watershed near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the president’s latest effort to deliver on conservation pledges that would shape the future of America’s wild lands. The move, announced Thursday, extends a temporary decision from a year ago to block copper, nickel and other hard-rock mining that the Trump administration had tried to greenlight near the Canadian border. Officials said they determined the potential toxic leaching from mining would be too threatening to nature, local Native American communities and a growing recreation economy. Boundary Waters is the most heavily visited wilderness area in the country, according to the Interior Department. And Thursday’s decision will affect 225,000 acres of federal lands and waters in the Rainy River Watershed, which abuts the wilderness area northwest of Lake Superior.”

First on CNN: National Archives asks former presidents and vice presidents to check for classified and presidential documents, CNN Politics, Jamie Gangel, Jeremy Herb, and Elizabeth Stuart, Thursday, 26 January 2023: “The National Archives is formally asking former presidents and vice presidents to re-check their personal records for any classified documents or other presidential records in the wake of classified documents discovered in the homes of former President Donald Trump, former Vice President Mike Pence and President Joe Biden over the last year. The Archives sent a letter Thursday to representatives of former presidents and vice presidents from the last six presidential administrations covered by the Presidential Records Act (PRA) – from former President Ronald Reagan’s White House to the present. The letter, which was reviewed by CNN, requests that they check their files to ensure that material thought to be personal does not ‘inadvertently’ contain presidential records that are required by law to be turned over to the Archives.” See also, National Archives Asks Ex-Presidents and Vice Presidents to Scour Their Files. The responsibility to comply with federal records law ‘does not diminish after the end of an administration’ the archives said in a letter. The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker, Thursday, 26 January 2023: “The National Archives has asked former presidents and vice presidents to check their personal files for classified or presidential records that might have been missed in previous searches, according to people with knowledge of the situation. The archives, which oversees materials covered by the Presidential Records Act and other federal laws, sent a letter to representatives on Thursday asking for any materials that were inadvertently retained. The request comes after documents with classified markings were found at former President Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, President Biden’s Delaware home and his think tank in Washington, and former Vice President Mike Pence’s residence in Indiana. The responsibility to comply with federal records law ‘does not diminish after the end of an administration,’ William J. Bosanko, the chief operating officer with the National Archives and Records Administration, wrote in the letter. ‘Therefore, we request that you conduct an assessment of any materials’ to determine ‘whether bodies of materials previously assumed to be personal in nature might inadvertently contain presidential or vice-presidential records,’ Mr. Bosanko said in his request, which covered both classified and unclassified materials. The letter was sent to representatives for former Presidents Trump, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, and former Vice Presidents Pence, Biden, Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Dan Quayle, according to CNN, which reported on the letter earlier on Thursday. Former President Jimmy Carter did not receive a request because the Presidential Records Act took effect after he left office in 1981.”

No dad jokes here: Newly launched Congressional Dads Caucus to focus on policies for working families. ‘Dads need to do our part, both at home and in the halls of Congress,’ said Representative Jimmy Gomez, Democrat-California, one of the group’s co-founders. NBC News, Dareh Gregorian, Thursday, 26 January 2023: “A group of House Democrats announced Thursday they were forming the Congressional Dads Caucus to focus on family issues. The group is the brainchild of Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., who said the caucus ‘is rooted in a simple idea: Dads need to do our part advancing policies that will make a difference in the lives of so many working families across the country.’ Gomez, who famously brought his now-5-month-old son, Hodge, with him onto the House floor for what turned out to be a long day of voting for a new speaker this month, said the caucus will champion policies such as paid family and medical leave and expanding the Child Tax Credit. When he voted for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., in the speaker’s race this month, Gomez said, ‘On behalf of my son, Hodge, and all the working families who need an expanded child tax credit, I cast my vote for Hakeem Jeffries.'”


Friday, 27 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Power outages hit Ukraine after strikes; U.S. to send newer Abrams Tanks, The Washington Post, Andrew Jeong, Ellen Francis, Natalia Abbakumova, and Claire Healy, Friday, 27 January 2023: “Ten regions of Ukraine were hit by emergency power outages Friday, a day after a Russian barrage, the state power grid operator said. Ukrenergo said the latest of the missile and drone attacks that have battered energy facilities across the country for months knocked out electricity around the capital, the city of Kharkiv in the northeast and the western city of Lviv, near the Polish border. As Western countries pledged to ship battle tanks to Kyiv, Japan expanded its ban on exports to Russia, while the Kremlin maintained that it was ‘increasingly adapting to life under sanctions.’

  • Russia’s Defense Ministry said its forces hit Ukraine’s energy system on Thursday with drones and a ‘massive missile strike’ from the air and the sea. The attacks disrupted the ‘transportation of weapons and ammunition,’ the ministry said Friday. A Ukrainian official said at least 11 people were killed and 11 others injured in the strikes.
  • The type of American tank going to Ukraine will be the M1A2 Abrams, according to Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh. The M1A2 has more-advanced electronics and targeting ability than the M1A1 Abrams, according to U.S. military specifications. The Biden administration announced this week that it will send 31 of the U.S. main battle tanks, which are not expected to arrive in Ukraine for many months.
  • ‘These decisions do not bring anything terrible for us,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Friday after Japan announced new sanctions. He also accused President Biden of blocking an end to the war instead of pressuring Kyiv to stop fighting. ‘We now see that the current White House leader does not want to use this key. On the contrary, he chooses to continue pumping Ukraine with weapons,’ Peskov said.
  • The U.N. refugee agency said Moscow is giving Ukrainian children Russian passports and putting them up for adoption. In a Reuters interview during his visit to Kyiv, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi accused Russia on Friday of violating the ‘fundamental principles of child protection in situations of war.’
  • U.S. government auditors are in Kyiv this week as part of steps to ensure that ‘no aid or weapons’ are diverted, Victoria Nuland, undersecretary for political affairs at the State Department, told lawmakers Thursday. Several senior Ukrainian officials resigned or faced dismissal this week over corruption allegations.
  • Russia plans to change the official time in territories it illegally annexed during the conflict to Moscow time, an hour ahead of clocks in Ukraine, according to a statement by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Ukraine’s Dispute with the International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) Over Russian Athletes Escalates. President Volodymyr Zelensky denounced the notion of athletes competing under neutral flags. ‘There is no such thing as neutrality’ in wartime, he said. In eastern Ukraine, Russian shelling killed civilians near the front lines. The New York Times, Friday, 27 January 2023:

  • Zelensky admonishes the I.O.C. president over plan to allow Russian athletes at the Paris Olympics.

  • Russian shelling kills eight civilians in Donetsk Province in eastern Ukraine.

  • Hackers target Germany after Berlin decides to send tanks to Ukraine.

  • Ukraine observes Holocaust Remembrance Day amid a war that Putin falsely claimed was about ‘denazification.’

  • Russia blocks access to the C.I.A. and F.B.I. websites for spreading ‘inaccuracies.’

  • Russia says it will switch four occupied Ukrainian regions to Moscow time.

  • Nuclear experts at the Zaporizhzhia power plant raise concerns about nearby explosions.

  • In a liberated village, a sense of rebuilding a community takes hold.

Video Captures Brutal Beating of Tyre Nichols. The footage shows the Memphis police kicking, punching, and using a baton on the 29-year-old Black man, who died days later. Five officers were fired and charged with murder. Memphis police kept clubbing as Nichols screamed, ‘Mom, Mom, Mom.’ The New York Times, Rick Rojas and Jessica Jaglois, Friday, 27 January 2023: “America was shocked anew on Friday by a display of police violence caught on video, as Memphis released body camera and surveillance footage of police officers kicking and punching a 29-year-old Black man who later died. The man, Tyre Nichols, ran after being pepper sprayed by officers, but shows no signs of fighting back as the police beat him with a baton. ‘To me, that’s worse than Rodney King,’ said Ed Obayashi, a police training expert and use-of-force expert, after watching the video.

Here are the details:

  • A New York Times analysis of the video footage found that police officers deployed an escalating spiral of physical force and gave conflicting orders, repeatedly demanding that Mr. Nichols show his hands, even as other officers held his arms behind his back while another punched him. After officers pepper sprayed and beat Mr. Nichols, they left him sitting on the ground unattended and handcuffed, and once the medics were on the scene, they stood by for more than 16 minutes without administering treatment. Here is a timeline of the lethal encounter.

  • Mr. Nichols, who was pulled out of his car by officers, can be heard saying, ‘I’m just trying to go home,’ and at one point repeatedly screams, ‘Mom, Mom, Mom’ as he is clubbed. Lawyers have said that his mother’s home was about 100 yards away from where he was beaten. Here is what we know about Mr. Nichols.

  • Five Memphis police officers accused of causing Mr. Nichols’s death — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Emmitt Martin III, Desmond Mills Jr. and Justin Smith — were fired last week and charged on Thursday with murder and other crimes. The officers, who are all Black, posted bail on Friday and were released from jail. Here are the charges they face.

  • The sheriff of Shelby County, which includes Memphis, said that two of his deputies who were on the scene after the beating had been ‘relieved of duty’ on Friday night, pending an investigation, after he watched the video. Earlier this week, the Memphis Fire Department said two of its employees had been relieved of duty pending an internal investigation.

  • Despite concern in many big cities, there was little sign of protests turning violent in Memphis or across America. Officials and the Nichols family had pleaded with the public not to let outrage spill into unrest. Here is the scene from New York.

Video shows brutal Memphis police beating of Tyre Nichols, The Washington Post, Emily Davies, Robert Klemko, and Joyce Sohyun Lee, Friday, 27 January 2023: “In a beating caught on police surveillance and body cameras, Memphis police officers shocked, pepper-sprayed, kicked, punched and swung a baton at an unarmed, 29-year-old Black man as he screamed repeatedly for his mother, who sat unaware in her home less than 100 yards away. Tyre Nichols died three days later, on Jan. 10. On Friday evening, police released that footage to the public, days after showing it to Nichols’s family. Five now-fired officers, all of whom are Black, are facing charges including second-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault stemming from the incident which began as a traffic stop for what police said was reckless driving. ‘To find out that my son was calling my name, and I was only feet away, and didn’t even hear him — you have no clue how I feel right now,’ Nichols’s mother, RowVaughn Wells, said Friday. ‘My son loved me to death, and I loved him to death.’ Scattered protests across the country were largely peaceful after Nichols’s family, as well as law enforcement officers, urged nonviolence.” See also, 5 former Memphis officers indicted on murder and kidnapping charges in Tyre Nichols’ death as nation braces for release of police video, CNN, Eric Levenson, Melissa Alonso, Jamiel Lynch, and Christina Maxouris, Friday, 27 January 2023: “Five former Memphis police officers who were fired for their actions during the arrest of Tyre Nichols earlier this month were indicted on charges including murder and kidnapping, Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy announced Thursday. The former officers, Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Justin Smith, Emmitt Martin and Desmond Mills Jr., have each been charged with second-degree murder, aggravated assault, two charges of aggravated kidnapping, two charges of official misconduct and one charge of official oppression, Mulroy said. Second-degree murder is defined in Tennessee as a ‘knowing killing of another’ and is considered a Class A felony punishable by between 15 to 60 years in prison. The criminal charges come about three weeks after Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, was hospitalized after a traffic stop and ‘confrontation’ with Memphis police that family attorneys have called a savage beating. Nichols died from his injuries on January 10, three days after the arrest, authorities said. Police nationwide have been under scrutiny for how they treat Black people, particularly since the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd in May 2020 and the mass protest movement known as Black Lives Matter.”

Exclusive: Supreme Court did not disclose financial relationship with expert brought in to review leak investigation, CNN Politics, Joan Biskupic, Friday, 27 January 2023: “The Supreme Court did not disclose its longstanding financial ties with former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff even as it touted him as an expert who independently validated its investigation into who leaked the draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. The court’s inquiry, released last week with Chertoff’s endorsement, failed to identify who was responsible for the unprecedented leak. The decision to keep the relationship with Chertoff quiet is a reflection of a pattern of opacity at the nation’s highest court, whose rulings affect every American. CNN has learned from sources familiar with the arrangements that the court in recent years has privately contracted with The Chertoff Group for security assessments, some broadly covering justices’ safety and some specifically related to Covid-19 protocols at the court itself. The estimated payments to Chertoff’s risk assessment firm, for consultations that extended over several months and involved a review of the justices’ homes, reached at least $1 million. The exact amount of money paid could not be determined. Supreme Court contracts are not covered by federal public disclosure rules and elude tracking on public databases.”

See the evolution of lies in George Santos’s campaign biography, The Washington Post, Azi Paybarah, Luis Melgar, and Tyler Remmel, Friday, 27 January 2023: “George Santos began introducing himself to the world in 2020 when he ran for Congress. By the time he was elected in November 2022, his campaign website had described him as a highly educated Wall Street financier whose family fled the Holocaust and mother escaped 9/11 and who also found time to rescue cats and dogs. By December, journalists began discovering that most of his biography was untrue. What is Santos saying about himself now? Here’s a look at how Santos defined and redefined himself in his biography on his campaign website.”


Saturday, 28 January 2023:


Memphis Police Disband Unit Whose Officers Were Charged in Tyre Nichol’s Death. Mr Nichols’s family and activists had demanded the scuttling of the group, the Scorpion unit, which patrolled high-crime areas of the city. The New York Times, Rick Rojas, Saturday, 28 January 2023: “The Memphis Police Department said on Saturday that it had disbanded a specialized group known as the Scorpion unit after five of its officers were charged with second-degree murder in the death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who was shown on video being kicked, struck and pepper-sprayed by those officers. Mr. Nichols’s family and activists in the city had demanded that the Police Department dismantle the unit, which deployed officers to patrol higher-crime areas of the city and had drawn scorn in the communities it served even before Mr. Nichols’s death this month. ‘It is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the Scorpion unit,’ the Police Department said in a statement on Saturday. Police officials said the decision had been reached after ‘listening intently to the family of Tyre Nichols, community leaders and the uninvolved officers who have done quality work in their assignments.’ Cerelyn Davis, the Memphis police chief, met with other members of the unit on Saturday.”

Trump’s Evolution in Social-Media Exile: More QAnon, More Extremes. The former president, now free to post again on Facebook and Twitter, has increasingly amplified far-right accounts on Truth Social. Experts on extremism worry that he will bring this approach to a far wider audience. The New York Times, Ken Bensinger and Maggie Haberman, Saturday, 28 January 2023: “In September, former President Donald J. Trump went on Truth Social, his social network, and shared an image of himself wearing a lapel pin in the form of the letter Q, along with a phrase closely associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory movement: ‘The storm is coming.’ In doing so, Mr. Trump ensured that the message — first posted by a QAnon-aligned account — would be hugely amplified, visible to his more than four million followers. He was also delivering what amounted to an unmistakable endorsement of the movement, which falsely and violently claims that leading Democrats are baby-eating devil worshipers. Even as the parent company of Facebook and Instagram announced this past week that Mr. Trump would be reinstated — a move that followed the lifting of his ban from Twitter, though he has not yet returned — there is no sign that he has curtailed his behavior or stopped spreading the kinds of messages that got him exiled in the first place. In fact, two years after he was banished from most mainstream social media sites for his role in inciting the Capitol riot, his online presence has grown only more extreme — even if it is far less visible to most Americans, who never use the relatively obscure platforms where he has been posting at a sometimes astonishing clip. Since introducing his social media website in February 2022, Mr. Trump has shared hundreds of posts from accounts promoting QAnon ideas. He has continued to falsely insist that the 2020 election was stolen and that he is a victim of corrupt federal law enforcement agencies. And he has made personal attacks against his many perceived enemies, including private citizens whose names he has elevated.”


Sunday, 29 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Zelensky writes to French President Emmanuel Macron about Russia competing in Olympics; Ukraine calls for long-range missiles, The New York Times, Rachel Pannett, Annabelle Timsit, Nick Parker, and Ben Brasch, Sunday, 29 January 2023: “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he sent a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron encouraging him to bar Russian athletes from competing in the 2024 Paris Olympics as the war rages on. The International Olympic Committee earlier this week reaffirmed that it will allow ‘neutral athletes’ from Russia and Belarus to participate without representing their state. ‘The International Olympic Committee’s attempt to get Russian athletes back to compete and participate in the Olympics is an attempt to tell the world that terror can allegedly be something acceptable,’ Zelensky said during his nightly address Sunday. He also reiterated his plea for Western nations to supply Ukraine with more potent weapons, including the Army Tactical Missile System, known as ATACMS, to help Kyiv defend against Russian attacks from places far from the front line. Kyiv has long argued that it needs the U.S.-made weapons to strike Russian targets in places such as Crimea — which have been used to launch missile and drone attacks across Ukrainian cities, with devastating effect. Washington has so far resisted Kyiv’s calls, concerned that providing Ukraine with a weapon capable of hitting targets inside Russia could escalate the nearly year-long conflict. ‘We have to make time our weapon. We must speed up the events, speed up the supply and opening of new necessary weaponry options for Ukraine,’ Zelensky said during his address.

  • ‘In the first half of the [20th] century, too many mistakes were made in Europe that led to horrific tragedies. There was also a major Olympic mistake. The Olympic movement and terrorist states should definitely not intersect,’ Zelensky said during his nightly address.
  • Germany and Poland are set to begin tank training programs for Ukrainian forces in days as they rush deliveries for spring. Ukraine has said that it needs at least 300 tanks to support a large-scale spring offensive. Several days of nonstop negotiations last week broke a stalemate among Kyiv’s allies, paving the way for the delivery of German-made Leopard 2 tanks and, eventually, the U.S. M1 Abrams.
  • German Chancellor Olaf Scholz defended the decision to supply tanks, but he said Germany would avoid sending troops or bringing NATO into a war against Russia, according to a government readout of Scholz’s interview with Tagesspiegel. In the interview, which published this weekend, Scholz said his conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin should continue because they show that the West will not budge from its demand that Russian forces leave Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian state media outlet RIA Novosti that Putin is open to more talks, though none are scheduled.
  • Britain’s Defense Ministry said Ukrainian tank operators have arrived in the United Kingdom to receive training on how to use the Challenger 2 tanks that London recently pledged to send Kyiv. The ministry posted photos of more than a dozen individuals, with their faces blurred, disembarking from a Royal Air Force plane.
  • Intense fighting continues on the front lines in eastern Ukraine, where Western and Ukrainian officials and military analysts have warned that Moscow is probably gearing up for a major offensive in the spring, in a bid to regain the upper hand after a string of Ukrainian military successes in recent months.
  • Ukraine’s energy system remains under heavy strain, with the country’s electric transmission operator warning on Sunday that Russian attacks on Thursday ’caused significant damage’ to parts of the high-voltage network. Ukrenergo said one of the country’s thermal power plants was shut down for technical repairs, further reducing the electricity supply. Repair work is ongoing, it added.

71 Commands in 13 Minutes: Officers Gave Tyre Nichols Impossible Orders. A Times analysis found that officers gave dozens of contradictory and unachievable orders to Mr. Nichols. The punishment was severe–and eventually fatal. The New York Times, Robin Stein, Alexander Cardia, and Natalie Reneau, Sunday, 29 January 2023: “Police officers unleashed a barrage of commands that were confusing, conflicting and sometimes even impossible to obey, a Times analysis of footage from Tyre Nichols’s fatal traffic stop found. When Mr. Nichols could not comply — and even when he managed to — the officers responded with escalating force. The review of the available footage found that officers shouted at least 71 commands during the approximately 13-minute period before they reported over the radio that Mr. Nichols was officially in custody. The orders were issued at two locations, one near Mr. Nichols’s vehicle and the other in the area he had fled to and where he would be severely beaten. The orders were often simultaneous and contradictory. Officers commanded Mr. Nichols to show his hands even as they were holding his hands. They told him to get on the ground even when he was on the ground. And they ordered him to reposition himself even when they had control of his body.”


Monday, 30 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: France and Australia to produce artillery shells for Ukraine; Zelensky calls for faster weapons deliveries, The Washington Post, Rachel Pannett, Jennifer Hassan, Adam Taylor, and Sammy Westfall, Monday, 30 January 2023: “France and Australia will jointly supply Ukraine with thousands of 155-millimeter shells, the two nations’ defense ministers said Monday, calling the ammunition an ‘urgent need’ as Ukrainian forces battle Russian troops in the east. The first shells, produced by a French manufacturer in cooperation with Australian companies, will be sent in the coming weeks. The move comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged allies to speed up weapons deliveries. ‘Russia hopes to drag out the war, to exhaust our forces. So we have to make time our weapon,’ he said in a nightly address Tuesday. ‘We must speed up the events, speed up the supply and opening of new necessary weaponry options for Ukraine.’

  • The Kremlin denounced as false a claim by former British prime minister Boris Johnson that Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to kill him with a missile strike in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. ‘What Boris Johnson said is not true. More precisely, it is a lie,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday after Johnson discussed Putin’s alleged threat in a BBC documentary — though he conceded that Putin might have been joking.
  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged South Korea to increase military support to Ukraine during a visit to Seoul on Monday. In a speech, he noted that other countries have changed their stance on not providing weapons to countries in conflict since Russia’s invasion, and he said there is an ‘urgent need’ for ammunition, Reuters reported.
  • Poland plans to increase its defense spending to 4 percent of its GDP, a boost Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called ‘unprecedented’ in remarks to reporters Monday, Deutsche Welle reported. The nation currently spends about 2.2 percent of its GDP on defense, according to the International Trade Administration.
  • Ukrainians can trade in five old lightbulbs for energy-efficient LEDs to help their nation save up to 10 percent of its energy during peak hours through a winter of Russian attacks, the European Union’s delegation to Ukraine announced Monday. Thirty million bulbs have been supplied by the E.U., and 5 million by France, Ukrainian Economy Minister Yuliia Svyrydenko said in a statement.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: As Zelensky Calls for Speedy Tank Deliveries, Timing Remains Key Question. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has asked allies to quickly supply pledged armaments and ‘new necessary weaponry,’ but getting promised tanks will take time, as will training for Ukrainian troops. The New York Times, Monday, 30 January 2023:

  • When will Western tanks arrive in Ukraine? It depends on training and logistics.

  • ‘We have to make time our weapon,’ Zelensky says.

  • The new U.S. ambassador to Russia takes up her duties.

  • NATO’s chief hints that South Korea should consider military aid for Ukraine, a move Seoul has resisted.

  • Turkey’s upcoming elections have delayed Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids.

  • Ukraine ramps up calls to bar Russian and Belarusian athletes from the 2024 Olympics.

  • Boris Johnson says that Vladimir Putin threatened to fire a missile at him. The Kremlin calls it ‘a lie.’

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: British tank training for Ukrainian troops has begun (January 30), NPR, NPR Staff, Monday, 30 January 2023: “Here’s a look ahead and a roundup of key developments from the past week. What to watch: Ukrainian troops will begin training in the United Kingdom to use the country’s Challenger 2, following the British government’s pledge to send a squadron of the tanks to Ukraine. The International Monetary Fund releases its latest World Economic Outlook (Tuesday morning in Singapore, Monday night ET). The IMF has stressed that the Russia-Ukraine war is a big factor causing economic slowdown and recession in some countries. A group of European Commission leaders is expected to visit Ukraine on Thursday and European Union leaders plan to hold a summit with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy the following day. On Sunday, the EU’s ban on Russian petroleum products takes effect. What happened last week: The U.S. and Germany each announced they would send tanks to Ukraine, after months of resistance to the Ukrainian government’s repeated requests. Germany also said other countries, like Poland, can give Ukraine their German-made Leopard 2 tanks. A wave of corruption-related resignations, dismissals and reassignments shook Ukraine’s government. Ukraine’s military acknowledged the Russian takeover of Soledarretreating from the eastern town after a tough battle. Russian forces continued their offensive around Bakhmut and other parts of the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. New U.S. Ambassador to Russia Lynne Tracy arrived in Moscow, at a time of strong tensions between the two governments over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On Monday, Tracy was reportedly heckled by protesters as she entered the Russian Foreign Ministry to present her credentials. Estonia and Latvia told Russia’s ambassadors to leave after the Kremlin said it expelled the Estonian ambassador and downgraded relations with the Baltic NATO member state over what it called ‘Russophobia.'”

Manhattan Prosecutors Begin Presenting Trump Case to Grand Jury. The Manhattan district attorney’s decision represents a dramatic escalation of the inquiry, and potentially sets the case on a path toward criminal charges against the former president. The New York Times, William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich, and Hurubie Meko, Monday, 30 January 2023: “The Manhattan district attorney’s office on Monday began presenting evidence to a grand jury about Donald J. Trump’s role in paying hush money to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign, laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The grand jury was recently impaneled, and the beginning of witness testimony represents a clear signal that the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, is nearing a decision about whether to charge Mr. Trump. On Monday, one of the witnesses was seen with his lawyer entering the building in Lower Manhattan where the grand jury is sitting. The witness, David Pecker, is the former publisher of The National Enquirer, the tabloid that helped broker the deal with the porn star, Stormy Daniels.” See also, Grand jury said to evaluate Trump role in hush money paid to adult-film star, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Monday, 30 January 2023: “The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has convened a new grand jury to evaluate former president Donald Trump’s role in 2016 hush money payments to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, part of a long-running probe that had previously seemed dormant for many months, people with knowledge of the investigation confirmed. The team headed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) has refocused on the payments to Daniels by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who has said in federal court that he gave Daniels $130,000 at Trump’s behest to keep her quiet about an alleged affair she had with the then-candidate for president years before his campaign, one of the people said. The individual spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation…. The development, first reported by the New York Times, comes as Trump is pursuing a third bid for president and recently held campaign events in New Hampshire and South Carolina.”

Two More Memphis Police Officers Are Suspended in Tyre Nichols’s Death. One officer, Preston Hemphill, used a stun gun that hit Mr. Nichols in the torso, according to a police report on the incident. The New York Times, Jessica Jaglois and Rick Rojas, Monday, 30 January 2023: “The Memphis Police Department confirmed on Monday that two additional officers had been taken off duty in connection with the death of Tyre Nichols, saying little except that the two were under investigation as city officials and prosecutors worked to determine who beyond the five officers already charged with second-degree murder should be held responsible. Those investigations also led to the firing on Monday of two medics and a lieutenant by the Memphis Fire Department for failing to follow protocols, including properly assessing Mr. Nichols’s condition while he was slouched on the ground against a police vehicle, officials said. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department is conducting its own investigation into the actions of two of its deputies at the scene; both have been relieved of duty pending the inquiry’s findings.” See also, Seventh officer suspended in Tyre Nichols death investigation, The Washington Post, Maham Javaid, Mark Berman, Emily davies, and Meryl Kornfield, Monday, 30 January 2023: “A seventh Memphis police officer has beenrelieved of duty’ during the investigation of Tyre Nichols’s death after a beating by police. The Memphis Police Department said in a statement Monday evening that the ‘actions and inactions’ of Officer Preston Hemphill and another officer, whom the department did not name, were the subject of an administrative investigation. The two officers were among the seven ‘relieved of duty,’ including five officers who were terminated, the statement said. The department had said earlier Monday that Hemphill was relieved of duty pending the outcome of the investigation.” See also, Initial Police Report on Tyre Nichols Arrest Is Contradicted by Videos. The police report was the latest instance in which video evidence offered a starkly different account of police violence than what officers had reported themselves. The New York Times, Jessica Jaglois, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, and Mitch Smith, Monday, 30 January 2023: “A police report written hours after officers beat Tyre Nichols was starkly at odds with what videos have since revealed, making no mention of the powerful kicks and punches unleashed on Mr. Nichols and instead claiming that he was violent. The police report painted Mr. Nichols, 29, who died three days after the Jan. 7 beating, as an irate suspect who had ‘started to fight’ with Memphis police officers, even reaching for one of their guns. The videos, which were released last week, showed nothing of the sort. Instead, they captured police officers yanking Mr. Nichols from a car, threatening to hurt him and then — after he ran away — catching up with him and inflicting the deadly beating. All the while, it appears from the videos, Mr. Nichols never struck back.”


Tuesday, 31 January 2023:


Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Biden says no to F-16s for Kyiv, The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham, Bryan Pietsch, Leo Sands, and Claire Parker, Tuesday, 31 January 2023: “President Biden said the United States will not send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, rejecting renewed calls by Kyiv officials for these advanced weapons to turn the tide of the conflict and boost Ukraine’s command of its airspace. Buoyed by long-sought commitments last week from the United States and Germany to send tanks, a Ukrainian official described fighter jets as Kyiv’s ‘next big hurdle.’ But other allies also voiced reluctance to send them. British intelligence officials warned that Moscow is probably preparing to open up a fresh offensive front in Ukraine’s east, with small-scale gains a realistic possibility. ‘Russian commanders are likely aiming to develop a new axis of advance into Ukrainian-held Donetsk Oblast,’ British officials said in an update. The escalation would also serve to divert Ukrainian forces from defending the heavily contested Bakhmut area, the Defense Ministry update added.

  • The United States accused Russia on Tuesday of not complying with its obligations under New START, the only remaining treaty limiting the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals. The State Department said Russia is refusing to ‘facilitate’ inspections on its territory required under the treaty but insisted that the United States remains committed to restoring compliance with the accord. At the start of the Biden administration, the United States agreed with Russia to extend the treaty for five years. The demise of New START would mark the near-total collapse of the nuclear nonproliferation architecture that the United States and the Soviet Union built during the 1980s and 1990s.
  • President Biden simply responded ‘no’ when he was asked by a reporter whether the United States would send F-16 fighter jets to UkraineSpeaking afterward on CNN, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby pointed to last week’s commitment to send tanks and said that ‘there is a lot of capability that is being sent and will be sent.’ Britain, Germany and the Netherlands also have suggested that they don’t intend to send fighter jets soon.
  • France will send 12 additional Caesar howitzers to Ukraine, French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu said after meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Reznikov, in Paris on Tuesday. France will also send 150 military personnel to Poland to train up to 600 Ukrainian troops per month, he added. The two officials talked about aviation ‘platforms’ to aid Ukraine’s defense but did not discuss specific fighter jets, Reznikov said. Lecornu said there are ‘no taboos’ on sending the aircraft, though French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris would do so only under certain criteria, including barring Kyiv from using the jets to attack Russian territory.
  • Ukraine will receive between 120 and 140 Western tanks in the first batch of contributions from allies, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Tuesday, Reuters reported. Those will include the German Leopard 2, the British Challenger 2 and the U.S. M1 Abrams, he said. A coalition of 12 countries has agreed to send the tanks, which Kyiv has requested for months. Kuleba did not specify the timeline for deliveries.
  • Ukrainian forces may have fired rockets carrying banned antipersonnel mines into Russian-controlled territory, according to a report Tuesday by Human Rights Watch. Its authors urged the Ukrainian government — which is a signatory to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty prohibiting the weapon — to investigate. Russian forces were previously accused of using seven types of antipersonnel mines in the invasion last year.
  • U.S. officials visited Ukraine, Poland and Germany last week to discuss efforts to ensure oversight of U.S. aid to Ukraine. Leaders from the Offices of Inspector General for the State Department, the Defense Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development met with Ukrainian officials to emphasize the importance of Kyiv providing ‘timely and transparent access to information’ to Washington about the use of U.S. funds, the Defense Department said in a news release Tuesday. ‘It is critical for the American people to have confidence in the integrity of taxpayer dollars sent to support Ukraine and its people,’ Nicole Angarella, a USAID official, was quoted as saying. Several top Ukrainian officials were fired or resigned last week amid corruption allegations.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Russia Pours Fighters Into Battle for Bakhmut. Part of Moscow’s strategy appears to be overwhelming Ukrainian defenses with waves of soldiers as it tries to gain its first significant victory in months. The New York Times, Tuesday, 31 January 2023:

  • Russia owes its recent gains to increased troop numbers, Ukrainian forces say.

  • The eastern city of Bakhmut becomes an epicenter of fighting.

  • Ukraine used banned land mines in the formerly occupied city of Izium, a new report claims.

  • The U.S. says Russia isn’t complying with the two countries’ last remaining nuclear arms control treaty.

  • France increases its aid to Ukraine with 12 more Caesar howitzers and stepped-up training.

  • Fighting rages around Vuhledar, 60 miles from Bakhmut.

  • Iran and Russia move toward linking their banking systems, helping both withstand Western sanctions.

  • A surge in trade via friendly countries helps explain how Russia’s economy has weathered sanctions.

Jane Sullivan Roberts, the Wife of Chief Justice John Roberts, Has Made Millions in Her Career Recruiting Lawyers to Prominent Law Firms, Some of Which Have Business Before the Court. Now, a letter sent to Congress claims that may present a conflict of interest. The New York Times, Steve Eder, Tuesday, 31 January 2023: “After Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the Supreme Court, his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, gave up her career as a law firm partner to become a high-end legal recruiter in an effort to alleviate potential conflicts of interest. Mrs. Roberts later recalled in an interview that her husband’s job made it ‘awkward to be practicing law in the firm.’ Now, a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts has raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice. Seeking an inquiry, the ex-colleague has provided records to the Justice Department and Congress indicating Mrs. Roberts has been paid millions of dollars in commissions for placing lawyers at firms — some of which have business before the Supreme Court, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times. In his letter last month, Kendal Price, a 66-year-old Boston lawyer, argued that the justices should be required to disclose more information about their spouses’ work. He did not cite specific Supreme Court decisions, but said he was worried that a financial relationship with law firms arguing before the court could affect justices’ impartiality or at least give the appearance of doing so. ‘I do believe that litigants in U.S. courts, and especially the Supreme Court, deserve to know if their judges’ households are receiving six-figure payments from the law firms,’ Mr. Price wrote.” See also, ‘They come to me’: Jane Roberts’ legal recruiting work involved officials whose agencies had cases before the Supreme Court. In newly revealed testimony, the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts said she worked for ‘U.S. attorneys, cabinet officials, former senators’ and more. Politico, Hailey Fuchs and Josh Gerstein, Tuesday, 31 January 2023: “Jane Roberts, the wife of Chief Justice John Roberts, acknowledges having represented a wide variety of public officials — including senior Justice Department officials and Cabinet members — as they transitioned to jobs in the private sector, according to testimony in an arbitration hearing to resolve a lawsuit filed by an ex-colleague against her former legal recruiting business. A partial transcript of that testimony was included in a complaint submitted to the House, Senate and Justice Department filed in December on behalf of the former colleague. The complaint, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, accuses the chief justice of failing to acknowledge the full extent of his wife’s work in his ethical disclosures, presenting her as a salaried employee of her firm rather than one who receives commissions from law firms, some of which have cases before the Supreme Court. Jane Roberts’ placements included at least one firm with a prominent Supreme Court practice, according to the complaint, which also includes sworn testimony from Roberts herself, in which she notes the powerful officials — whose agencies have had frequent cases before her husband — for whom she has worked.”






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!